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Department of Mathematics and Statistics
College of Science and Mathematics
“You don’t create your mission in life – you detect it.” – Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning,
I detected my mission, my meaning, and my passion, 18 years ago when I arrived at Auburn University. Since then, I have been actively involved in all areas of Auburn University life: the pursuit of knowledge and teaching, inside and outside the classroom. Every aspect of the University functions should be examined through this lens. President Gogue has, on many occasions, wisely acknowledged that the faculty is the heart of the University. Indeed, our faculty are at the core of University life. Teaching and mentoring students, conducting research, publishing eureka moment ideas and results, consulting, and participating in outreach activities to meet the needs of our society all serve the University mission.
Just as I have grown and changed during my time here, I have watched Auburn grow and change in many ways. There are new and renovated buildings as well as a more modern, pedestrian-friendly, and technologically connected campus. There have also been many critical policy changes enacted, such as the new budget model and post-tenure review, which have many intended and unintended consequences. These policy changes need review, revision, and improvement. Such issues are constant reminders of the importance of shared governance and three-way communication between Auburn employees, Senate leadership, and the administration. The Auburn University Employee Conduct and Progressive Discipline Policy that recently sprang fully formed into our in-boxes is one glaring negative example, but, despite the bumps and bruises along the way, the campus-wide, still evolving COVID-19 policy serves as a positive example how shared governance can work even if the outcomes have been imperfect. This process can certainly be improved upon, but the framework for a productive future can be a result of this challenge.
If elected Faculty Senate Chair, I would serve as both a sounding board and a voice for the faculty. My aim would be to bridge the gaps between the constituencies of the Senate, the functions of the University that are not currently communicative with the Senate, and the administration. I am a strong advocate for transparency, open mindedness, inclusiveness, and, most importantly, true shared governance, which I would promote throughout my term. I would advocate for equity and diversity and incentivization of scholarship:
Given that divisive wounds are still open across our country and vestiges of issues still prevalent on campus, it is a moral imperative to serve as a conduit for more faculty interaction with the Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity (OIED). As Faculty Senate Chair, I would work with OIED toward determining what the faculty view as their role in these efforts. It is going to take everyone on campus to create the culture change that we need, and faculty must play a pivotal role. As the University works towards creating an inclusive and equitable environment, faculty need to know how offices like OIED can support and be supported by their efforts.
Additionally, I would
I am honored to be considered for chair-elect and, if elected, I will work diligently to make sure you are well represented, and your voices are heard.
Department of Poultry Science
College of Agriculture
Auburn University, like all of academia and our nation has undergone a year of both challenge and triumph. We have as the Auburn family faced the challenges and sometimes heartache that has been and continues to be COVID-19. As Faculty Liaison to the COVID Resource Center, I have had the privilege of working with some of the best people that Auburn University has to offer. I have been introduced and worked alongside faculty and staff, who were new acquaintances, that I now call friends. I have also met many of you virtually, as we collectively found solutions to your concerns and how to handle classroom issues in the safest manner possible. Through the many hours we have spent together, I have also grown to know Auburn leadership in a way that few faculty outside of the University Senate leadership are able to do. It has been a privilege. My most common question by leadership has always been and continues to be, “What are the faculty concerns?” As many of them would probably attest, I have never been shy to serve as your voice. Throughout COVID they have heard me tell your stories, your concerns and needs, oftentimes multiple times per day. I will not soon forget the first call I got from a senior leader late at night, who wanted to discuss possible solutions to some then circulating faculty concerns.
Amidst all of the late-night phone calls, the long weekends of work brought home and the countless emails with faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni and leadership, I have gained a new appreciation at what a special gift we have here in Auburn University. Auburn is certainly a world-class institution, but I now have confirmed again in my mind that we are indeed a family and what we have is because of the people that make this place so special. To all I have gotten to know, allow me to say thank you for all that you do and all that you contribute to Auburn University, the State of Alabama, our nation and global community.
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 first 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 look back on those early years, I realize now that the lessons learned carried over and how they aided me greatly throughout the last year. Sometimes COVID related decisions had to be made very quickly, as the situation changed from day to day and even at times, hourly. Other decisions had to be made more deliberatively, giving the time necessary to gather fact and then make informed decisions. We, who are on the front lines of COVID decision making have learned, both from our mistakes (there were a few) and from our right decisions (fortunately many), as we perfected the art and science of pandemic management in a university. Throughout every decision, my standard expressed to leadership was to be as transparent as possible in the facts and where needed, explaining the decision logic. That strategy and standard of conduct continues to be my constant in all that I do on behalf of you the faculty and will remain so if I am chosen to serve as your Senate Chair.
The early days when COVID arrived on campus seem like a lifetime ago. But now, it is time to move forward, as we look now to both the needs of the present and future. The present realities are that we are open and back on campus, teaching future leaders and doing all the good things universities are supposed to do - in-person, both in the classrooms and laboratories. That is an exceedingly good thing! There is no doubt our future will include some of the same challenges we are living with now and new challenges, which are not yet realized. Science predicts that COVID is likely to become a seasonal issue, much like Influenza. If it does, we have to be prepared. Our immediate future has to include a new emphasis on making up for lost time, caused by the absence of large portions of the faculty and students from the campus. As we move further forward, it is also important that all of the faculty pull together in a common direction. All voices need to be heard, but all voices must be respectful of others that have differing views and opinions.
Beyond the challenges ahead lie incredible opportunities for expanding our success across the four core missions of Teaching, Research, Extension and Outreach. Our future as a university and a faculty depends upon a recommitment to shared governance through the University Senate channels as the means to success. Collectively, we must leverage success that maximally serves the many degree programs and wide ranging needs of our students, but also the world class expertise that is resident on our campus. Budgets and investments matter and how we collectively manage those decisions affects us all. The faculty voice must always be heard in the negotiations.
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 and world 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, government, the professions, and industry. Our university must expand its core missions even further, so that we can increase the leaders of tomorrow. As we move forward, we must preserve academic freedom as the unwavering hallmark of our institution. We must also prioritize further expanding the diversity of our faculty and student body in a way that ensures in this place that all voices, including new and dissenting ones are heard and the diversity of opinions are given mutual respect and the opportunity to be expressed.
We continue down the pathway toward selecting a new Auburn University President. Events of the last several years have unfortunately caused some delays, but on the positive side of the ledger, these changes have again cemented the wisdom and utility of shared governance. For the last three years, I have had the honor of serving as one of the two University Presidential Appointees on the University Senate Steering Committee. Through that experience, 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 by our leadership as playing a vital role in the future. Knowing this, I feel confident that the next President of Auburn University will hold these same values.
In this note, I have highlighted some of my experiences in shared governance which have uniquely prepared me for the role of Chair-elect. It is my sincere wish and pledge, if I am chosen by the faculty to serve as their representative in leading the University Senate that I will serve as an untiring advocate and continue to represent the “faculty voice” and further promote the bridging of decision making between the Auburn University Administration and faculty. The future at Auburn University is very bright indeed, as we will surely emerge from the dark days of the COVID pandemic era stronger. Faculty, staff and students alike can rest assured that the University Senate and the Auburn University Administration will collectively and relentlessly strive always and only for excellence in all of our core missions. United together, we cannot fail. Our world-class academic institution, our state and our nation all depend upon our continued success!
Robert A. Norton, Ph.D.,
Professor, Department of Poultry Science
Faculty Liaison, COVID Resource Center
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.
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
College of Science and Mathematics
I’m honored and humbled to be nominated to serve as Secretary of the Faculty Senate. I joined Auburn in 2013, and honestly since then I’ve spent most of my time with my head down working and trying to avoid University politics as much as possible. However, in 2020 I was asked to join the AAUP Executive Committee, the Senate Teaching Effectiveness Committee, and the COSAM Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Taskforce. I have been happy to provide my service and viewpoints in all of these roles. It is through these experiences that I have begun to see how shared governance works, how I can make a difference in university operations, and how I can use my voice to help guide important decisions.
As Secretary-Elect (and eventually Secretary) I will serve not only a clerical role, but also as a representative of the faculty on the Steering Committee and as the chair of the Rules Committee. I will do my very best to faithfully represent the faculty as a whole.
I believe in open communication with my colleagues and administrators. Discussing problems and potential solutions in the open can be an effective and transparent way to make meaningful improvements. I feel that sharing our ideas in good faith and with mutual respect is absolutely crucial for shared governance to thrive. I realize that there are diverse viewpoints on campus, and while I’m always happy to share my own opinion, I also respect the opinions of others. At the same time, I recognize that it is easy for conversations to be dominated by a few loud voices, and I think it is especially important to speak up when we don’t agree. I will continue to work hard to uphold the tenets of shared governance by seeking varied input, sharing my viewpoints, and striving to prevent a few loud voices from stifling the rest.
I am interested in working together with other faculty and the administration to make improvements in several areas that were identified in the recent COACHE survey, including:
I believe we can accomplish a lot by working together, and I’m excited for the opportunity to serve Auburn in a greater capacity.
My background and experiences in collaborating campus-wide give evidence to my ability to be an effective servant-leader and representative of the whole faculty. I’ve had fruitful collaborations with the Colleges of Science and Mathematics, Engineering, Business, and the Honors College, as well as, University Libraries, Academic Assessment and Institutional Research. Within my department I’ve served as Associate Chair and Undergraduate Program Officer, am currently chairing our Academic Program Review Team, and I have chaired two hiring committees and served on two others, including one cross-college hiring committee.
I’m trained as a pure mathematician, but I’ve also branched out to other areas spanning signal processing and MRI research, computer vision, navigation, and quantum information. I understand the challenges and rewards in seeking and obtaining funding to support research and outreach. I have funded research collaborators from Science and Mathematics as well as Engineering. I’ve given over 120 research presentations worldwide, and I’ve organized several professional conferences, including the American Mathematical Society’s Spring 2019 Southeast Sectional Meeting. This event, which attracted over 550 participants from all over the U.S. and the world, remains the largest math conference ever hosted by Auburn University.
My wife and I are proud parents to two children and we’re expecting our third child in June! As an undergraduate, I was a student athlete. In addition to double majoring in Mathematics and Physics, I earned Academic All-American and NCAA Postgrad scholarship honors as a pole vaulter. I’m a huge fan of Auburn Athletics, attending not just football games, but baseball, basketball, and gymnastics events regularly. I also have a deep appreciation for languages (I speak Italian and some Spanish) and the arts (my wife and I are avid patrons of the arts, we love swing-dancing, visiting art museums, and are eagerly awaiting the return of programming to the Gogue Center for the Performing Arts).
I look forward to this opportunity to serve and represent the faculty of Auburn University.
Last Updated:March 16, 2021