Ellen Bassett has been a member of the UVA Faculty since 2012. She is an accomplished scholar whose research interests include land use planning and law, climate change planning, health and the built environment, and international development. She is particularly interested in community decision-making around land and natural resources, including understanding how different societies and cultures create institutions. for their management. Her vita, available on line at https://www.arch.virginia.edu/people/ellen-bassett includes a wide variety of publications and generous grant support. She has also had considerable academic administrative experience: Ellen is the Chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning in the School of Architecture, and serves as Chair-Elect for the Faculty Senate. Her work with EXCO for the past two years has brought her the reputation as someone with a sharp mind who is open to new ideas, thinks clearly about issues, and cares deeply for ensuring all voices are heard and engaged in decision-making.
I accepted this nomination because I believe that the faculty should actively choose the candidates it forwards to the BOV. Since Faculty Senate represents the faculty, I believe those candidates should be current senators. I also believe in democratic procedure and transparency and am concerned that neither has characterized the process to this point. In 2012 Faculty Senate assumed strong leadership in opposing an undemocratic, reckless, and institutionally destabilizing move by the BOV, demonstrating why we need robust and representative faculty input in BOV deliberations. The BOV can be a strong ally, but faculty’s interests are not always in agreement with that body or with University administration. Therefore, it is imperative that Faculty Senate is seen – especially by its own members – to be independent and unambiguously representative of University faculty. In the current situation, with the BOV choosing by fiat an individual not nominated by the Senate and not currently on Senate, I am concerned that principles of shared governance have been undermined.
As a newer faculty senator, I was excited to join this body specifically because of its inspiring role resolving the 2012 crisis. Prof. George Cohen’s leadership modeled for me the role faculty can and should play in standing up for and defending the University as an institution of learning, teaching, deliberation, research, and the cultivation of an informed and educated citizenry. As a BOV rep, I would stand and speak for the interests of the entire faculty – not a specific constituency – and do so transparently.
The role of the faculty representative on the BoV is critical to ensure that the faculty’s views and opinions are both heard and understood by the entire BoV. I was fortunate to have been appointed to this position last year. My reappointment this year has become controversial, but I believe that it was done by the BOV with the intention of strengthening the role of the faculty representative. With a year’s worth of BoV experience behind me, as well as my roles in the searches for senior administrative leadership and with the SIF, I can continue as a strong advocate for the needs and interests of the faculty.
In this time of great transition for this university – a new president and COO this year, and a new provost starting next year – I want to help ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible. I will continue this year to work with the Senate to help the Senate in an active partnership with both the BoV and the administration.
I understand the current controversy and recognize that all sides have legitimate views. But I think we all have the same ultimate goals. I am hopeful that both the BoV and the Faculty Senate can establish a process to prevent this controversy in the future so that we can all work together to make this the most effective faculty in the nation—working in the finest University in the nation.