Yarnal to serve as Faculty Senate Chair-Elect for 2012–13

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 10:55am

“Good policies can and do make the University a better place.”


Associate Head in the Department of Geography Brent Yarnal was elected as the 2012–13 Chair-Elect for the University Faculty Senate. This means he will be the Chair in 2013–14 and the Immediate Past-Chair in 2014–15. It is a three-year commitment.


Yarnal said he was surprised to learn he had won the election. “I didn’t actively seek this responsibility.” But when nominated, he accepted. “Given my previous Senate and related experience, I figured I could probably give a helping hand.”


Yarnal, now in his seventh year on the Faculty Senate, has served on three committees: Intra-University Relations; Educational Equity and Campus Environment; and Faculty Affairs (Chair in 2011–12). “I have also filled in as needed on Senate Council, and have served on a Senate task-force,” he noted.


What are the duties of the Chair-Elect?  According to the Senate Bylaws, the Chair-Elect convenes the officers and chairs of the standing committees before each Senate meeting to exchange information and advise the officers.  The Chair-Elect also assumes the duties of the Chair in the absence of the Chair.

“Primarily, I will attend lots of meetings representing the Senate at University Park, other campuses, and even in the CIC-Big 10. I need to spend considerable time reading and commenting on reports.”


Why take on this extra responsibility? “The Senate is the representative body of the Penn State faculty, both tenure-line and non-tenure-line. It promotes shared governance among all the units and all the campuses of the University. It oversees the curriculum and engages in all aspects of faculty life. It recommends policies and collaborates with the administration to make sure that those policies work," Yarnal explained, adding, "Policies really matter. For instance, I helped rewrite the University's academic freedom policy, and this year I have been helping restructure and rewrite the instructional intellectual property and related scholarly intellectual property policies, both of which affect all faculty and students at Penn State every day. Good policies can and do make the University a better place.”


On a more personal level, Yarnal noted, “Being a Senator has changed my career trajectory from one focused on teaching and research to one focused more on governance and service. It's helped me understand how Penn State runs and who runs it; it's also helped me understand more about how higher education runs. Being a Senator has helped me better understand and engage in the concept of shared governance from the departmental to the university level. I think it has made me much more philosophical as a person.”


Questions or comments? geography@psu.edu