Senate Officers Election 2020
Candidate Statements

For Chair-elect

Todd D. Steury

Associate Professor
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

One of the central tenets of university administration is the idea of shared governance, and without adequate communication between faculty and the administration, this tenet cannot be upheld. The University Faculty, the Faculty Senate, and the various university and senate committees are the main channels by which faculty can make their desires or suggestions for governance known to the administration. However, some faculty may not have a good understanding of the role of the Senate or those committees, and thus their ideas for university governance may go unheard. I believe it is the duty of the Senate officers to ensure that all faculty have the opportunity to voice their opinions and that transmission of information between faculty and the administration occurs smoothly, efficiently, and completely. I am a firm believer that the university works best when its constituents feel like their voices are heard. Thus, if elected to the position of Chair-Elect, I would pursue a number of goals related to improving information transfer between the administration and faculty at large, which would include:

• ensuring the website of the University Senate is always current;
• adding more information about the role, procedures, and actions of the Senate and its committees to the website, so that this information can be easily found;
• posting annual reports from each committee on the website (unless circumstances prevent such actions);
• creating a form on the senate website where individuals can submit suggestions for university governance;
• working to ensure that those in the university who want to be heard can easily do so.

If I were elected, I would work fervently to make sure that all faculty feel that they are well-represented in interactions with the university administration.


For Chair-elect

Robert A. Norton

Department of Poultry Science
College of Agriculture

I have been a faculty member at Auburn University, since July of 1995. One of my first service requirements was as Faculty Senator, which I did for several years. It was in the Senate that I learned the importance, complexities and wisdom of shared governance. Like all young faculty, I was often impatient for change. Sometimes goodness came quickly, sometimes not. As I gained more experience, I learned that fast decisions are certainly needed on occasion, but often it is more important to gather facts versus opinion, listen to all parties, be retrospective and most importantly, negotiate between parties to bring best results. That process continues to be my standard and will remain so, if I am chosen to serve as Faculty Senate Chair.

At the time of my arrival to the Senate, the campus was undergoing major change, as student numbers and programs expanded. Additional tuition dollars were badly needed for meeting mission needs, at the same time that budgetary threats and actual proration were realities never far from the budgeting process. Although, the era was filled with opportunity, success and failure occurred alike. This was a time when the media spotlight was cast brightly on the Auburn campus, sometimes warranted because of legitimate concerns, but more often unfairly.

That was the past. And now we must look to the present and future, which likewise are times that will be filled with challenges and incredible opportunities for expanding success across the four core missions of Teaching, Research, Extension and Outreach. Auburn University is on the cutting edge of the future and I am grateful every day that providence continues to allow me to serve. Our future as a university and a faculty depends upon shared governance as the means to success. Collectively, we must leverage success that maximally serves the many degree programs and wide ranging, world class expertise that is resident on our campus. Budgets matter and how we collectively manage those budgets affects us all.

Our campus is dramatically expanding and our facilities grow better every year. Our students successfully compete and often triumph alongside the best and the brightest this nation has to offer. Faculty, facilities and budgets must always serve their needs first. Our nation is full of leaders and decision makers, who were students at Auburn University. Our faculty also serve as expert advisors spanning business, the professions and industry. Our university must expand its mission to provide the leaders of tomorrow.

We have many long roads ahead in the coming months and years, including the selection of a new President. Events of the last several years have unfortunately caused some delays, but on the positive side of the ledger, these changes have cemented the wisdom and utility of shared governance.

For the last two years, I have had the honor of serving as a University Presidential Appointee on the Faculty Senate Steering Committee, first as Dr. Steven Leath’s representative and continuing as Dr. Jay Gogue’s. The first year on Steering was interesting, as I was learning more about the function of the Committee and my role in it. The second year started as a challenge, but quickly evolved in a positive way, as the importance of stability and continuity became manifest after the sudden departure of Dr. Leath and the reappointment of Dr. Gogue.

Having learned during my tenure more about shared governance, I can state categorically that the current Auburn University Administration is both willing and eager to promote dialogue and sharing appropriate decision making with Auburn faculty. The Faculty Senate is seen as playing a vital role today and will do so in the future. Knowing this, I feel confident that the next President of Auburn University will hold these same values.

It is my sincere wish and pledge, if I am chosen by the faculty to serve as their representative in leading the Faculty Senate that I will serve as an untiring advocate in representing the “faculty voice” and further promote the bridging of decision making between the Auburn University Administration and faculty. The future at Auburn University is as bright as the sun. Our students can be assured that the Faculty Senate and The Auburn University Administration will collectively and relentlessly strive always and only for excellence in all of our core missions. Together, we cannot fail. Our world-class academic institution, our state and our nation all depend upon our continued success!


For Chair-elect

Herbert Jack Rotfeld

College of Business
Administrative Fellow to the Graduate School

In service to the campus community in many ways over the decades, I repeatedly demonstrated a personal commitment to the best interests of all faculty, students, and academic programs, as well as a concern for fair treatment of the non-academic employees that are also represented in the University Senate. After more than two score of years working in higher education, I proudly state that “professor” is not just my job title. It is my identity. It is what I am, as a scholar and educator, no matter who might be the “student.” As an Auburn colleague once described me: When I see something wrong I work to fix it, and I have high standards when it comes to academic expectations, parliamentary procedures, faculty and student well-being, and the advancement of the principles of academic freedom and shared governance. I may be very blunt in approach with others when I disagree with them, but I am always willing to tell them directly. I will try to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, even if I have no stake in the outcome, or if the right outcome is contrary to my self-interest.

The Senate and University faculty should be working to improve the education programs, research environment, and general welfare of faculty and other university employees that support the education missions of the campus. However, the most important role of the Senate and Faculty leadership in that effort is not to be a conduit of information to the members. Instead, for the members of those groups, and for the people the Senate members represent, the leadership should provide them with an ability to express their concerns to the university administration. For the difficult reality of shared governance, faculty must participate in university or Senate committees. But the output of committees are the means to an end, not the end itself, as committees’ recommendations are then reviewed, discussed and subject to faculty or Senate votes.

There are a number of issues I have top of mind. If an item seems to be trivial to you, remember that every issue is significant to the people who face it. Some the Senate and University Faculty can directly address. For others, the Senate can provide a venue for members to express concerns and suggest improvements. After all, it was the Senate of the 1990s whose repeated votes fought the resistance of a past president toward finally recognizing Memorial Day as a holiday in the campus calendar. In the future, we can do more.

• Auburn should work with University of Alabama to encourage the state to provide tuition waivers to all veterans who are Alabama residents, as has been done in Illinois since the Vietnam era.

• Employees should be allowed to take all AU classes, whether on campus or distance format, without ANY tuition, with fees that are not tied to a direct cost of the course reduced or waived.

• A tenured faculty member should not be directed to teach classes for free in the summer to “make-up” for not teaching during a semester following birth of her son. (Yes, that has happened.) No employee should be forced into using up all sick leave and vacation pay when becoming a parent.

• Meetings that lack anything where members can cause a change or have influence should be cancelled.

• If the President and Provost are unable to attend a meeting of the University Faculty, the meeting must be postponed to a time that fits their schedules.

• When the current budget model was first proposed, some faculty predicted undesirable results that would be contrary to either (or both) the strategic plan or the Auburn Creed. Enough time has passed to review the impact of the budget model, and to encourage the early critics to evaluate their predictions via different standing committees that would report their assessments to the Senate, along with potential proposals that would be discussed, debated, and subject to votes.

• Committees asked by the Senate leadership to look into an issue and report to the Senate should not have “We don’t want to do it” as a response option.

• The Senate leadership should implement the recommendations from the January 2019 Teaching Effectiveness Committee report, having the Senate discuss and vote on its specific recommendation. After that, the Faculty Handbook Review Committee should bring to the Senate proposed revisions in keeping with that report’s findings and recommendations that the Senate accepted. Future TEC members should not be simply making new recommendations on revising student evaluations.

• When campus construction, building renovation and landscape design are presented at Senate or Faculty meetings, they should also report involvement of the Persons with Disabilities Committee from the beginning of the planning. They should be looking to end the increasing number barriers, stairways and fences that engender an impression that the campus motto is “You kids keep off my lawn.”

• Also following from the above, landscape design should take down all of the fences and allow “those kids” to go on our lawns. (Currently, the only open expanse of grass without significant fencing is in front of Samford.)

• Related to the above, current practices would indicate that it’s only a matter of time until the Duncan Road sidewalk from the Stadium parking deck to Peet Theatre becomes a long flight of stairs. In reality, for many on campus, a steep hill is easier to navigate than stairs. Instead, it should be an escalator, or better yet, a moving sidewalk.

• The Senate and Faculty should work with the Student Government Association and Graduate Student Association to have feminine hygiene supplies available for free in women’s restrooms on campus, as news stories report being done at Indiana’s land grant school, Purdue University.

• The Steering Committee minutes reported last fall that they were gathering reports from all committees. Those reports should be used for something other than dust-magnets in university archives.

• All non-academic support staff in the colleges and schools should have pay raises at a percentage that is equal to or greater than that of the largest academic administrator pay raise in their unit the prior year, an amount that would be taken off the top of the pool of pay raise funds. (This year, there are examples where the staff college or school or department support staff had only two percent pay raises while their deans and department heads had raises of three to five percent.)

These are just a few of my current thoughts.

I am running for chair-elect because I want to do something.

I am asking faculty to decide that they want to do something, too.


For Secretary-elect

Lucretia Octavia Tripp

Associate Professor-Elemenatry Education 
Curriculum and Teaching
College of Education

What is a secretary? A secretary, administrative professional, or personal assistant is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication, or organizational skills. I believe that my experiences in my past and present career qualifies me as a candidate for the position of secretary.

I was a NASA Education Program Coordinator in Washington DC for 5 years before joining the Auburn Family. As the program coordinator I supported management, using my organizational skills to ensure that my team’s task was successfully completed. I used my written and communication skills to meet with various US Congressman in supporting NASA’s education mission.

I served as recording and corresponding secretary for a national organization, Research Association of Minority Professors (RAMP), 2016-2018. During my tenure as secretary I was responsible for the organization’s minutes, written and communication correspondence, meeting with the executive board about projects, and management of project officers.

Lastly, I feel that my leadership task as Co-Chair of Washington DC Capital Regional Network of Project Kaleidoscope (STEM) along with being a member of the steering committee of Capital PKAL Regional Network afforded me many experiences to support the effective duties of this organization. I spent my 2015/2016 Sabbatical in DC as a Senior Scholar in Residence in this position.

All of these experiences I feel contribute to my overall suitability for this Senate position. My commitment, responsibility and dedication to shared governance further establishes me as a viable candidate.


For Secretary-elect

Ralph Kingston

Associate Professor
Department of History
College of Liberal Arts

I have spent more than twenty years of my life studying the history of the French Revolution, and you would think I would have learned that only maniacs get involved in governance. Nevertheless, I am honored to be nominated to run for the position of Secretary Elect in the Auburn University Faculty Senate. My priority, if I am elected, will be to make the institutions of faculty governance at Auburn stronger and more relevant to everyone who works at the university. My aim will be to facilitate faculty having a real say in how the university is managed, in principle and in practice.

The most important job of Senate Secretary is making sure faculty can get involved in faculty governance in ways that are meaningful. The Secretary chairs the Rules committee, organizing nominations for membership to Senate and University standing committees. We tend to think of the Faculty Senate in terms of large, sprawling, meetings in Broun Hall on Tuesday afternoons, but my experience of involvement with the Senate has been that it is in Senate and University committees that we can be most effective in making changes to Auburn that matter to faculty. One of the best ways to ensure enthusiasm for faculty governance – including for attending Faculty Senate meetings – is to give faculty the chance of getting things they want done.

I have been a member of the Faculty Handbook Review Committee for five years and chaired the committee for three of those years. I had the pleasure of working with colleagues from Agriculture, Education, Liberal Arts, and Nursing, who put thought and effort into ensuring transparency, prioritizing fairness, and consistently maintaining and extending faculty governance. Attending Senate leadership meetings as a committee chair, I saw the same enthusiasm for fairness in the work done by other committees, for example the Teaching Effectiveness Committee’s systematic explanation of why we should not privilege student evaluation numbers. There is already a lot of hard work being done in terms of communicating faculty priorities to the administration. My intention, if I am elected, is to encourage committees and committee chairs to be pro-active in terms of shaping their own agendas.

As well as serving as a Senate committee chair, I served for five years on the Executive committee of Auburn chapter of the American Association of University Professors. I belong to the College of Liberal Arts’ Diversity committee and served previously on the college’s Research committee. I have also worked closely with the Honors College in terms of preparing students as they apply for prestigious fellowships and grants, part of the pleasure of which is getting to work with faculty from all over the university.

It is an important moment for faculty governance at Auburn. The opacity surrounding the removal of President Leath has been troubling. In contrast, President Gogue has been clear that he wants to listen and respond to faculty ideas and concerns. The next couple of years will shape the priorities of Auburn University and its leadership going forward. If elected, my job and the job of Senate will be to make sure that faculty are centrally involved.


Last Updated:February 21, 2020

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