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Students might help College pick new faculty

The University's tradition of student involvement may get an additional boost in the College. The Arts and Sciences Council, comprised of students representatives from the College, hopes to start a program that would increase student involvement in faculty hiring within the College.

Although still in its preliminary stages, Council members said they hope the initiative will allow students to give input into who will be their next professor.

"At a big university there are so many aspects to consider when hiring a new professor," Council President Kerry McNabb said. "I think that the faculty considers certain aspects that are valid, but they are not the only aspects that the students think about."

The idea for the initiative came up at a February roundtable discussion between College Dean Edward L. Ayers and Council.

"I think it's a great idea for students to come to job talks and to ask good questions and to let people know in the department what they thought of it," Ayers said. "Student involvement in the hiring process would really be a welcome thing."

Currently, a few departments have students provide feedback on prospective hires, but it is not widely practiced, Council members said.

The initiative aims to compile lists of students who show a strong interest in each department within the College, for example, Distinguished Majors, academic fraternity members and club members.

The lists then would be provided to department heads for individualized use.

"We are going to have a lot of different ideas on how the departments can use us," Council Academic Affairs Committee Chair Steve Marchette said. "It will be an individual departmental decision on how they want to do it."

Possible student involvement could include listening to prospective hires lecture or teach a class. Students could then fill out evaluations or talk with hiring committees.

"We thought this was a really great way for students to have a voice in what they think will make a good professor," said Catherine Neale, current Council treasurer and president-elect. "I think it's a great opportunity for both the department and for students."

Student involvement would be limited to input, but both Ayers and Council members said they believe that would be very helpful.

"That leaves a lot of latitude for students to let us know who would be an interesting teacher and who appeals to them," Ayers said.

Council still is in the list-compiling stage, but hopes to have the program implemented in the upcoming year.

"The focus is to build the infrastructure for next year," Marchette said. "If it turns out that we can build the infrastructure quickly and efficiently then we can" start the initiative this year.

And Council is dedicated to making this happen.

"Arts and Sciences Council is working hard towards this and we hope to see it through," Neale said.