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A Call to Action

Other articles in the May 2018 newsletter:

When we contemplate service, we sometimes think about it as a chore or an obligation whereby we fulfill a certain percentage of the service time required in our job descriptions or perhaps participate in a requisite number of committees. But when we talk about shared governance, we think more positively and envision a sense of faculty ownership and leadership in the university. That feeling of ownership leads to the type of university environment for which many of us would strive. Perhaps shared governance seems like asking to include faculty in more decisions; however, that cannot be a one-sided ask. If we want shared governance, we have to do our part in being more involved. And that involvement is exactly what we call service.

I cannot think of a group of people more ideally suited for shared governance than university faculty. Studying and solving problems is what we do for a living. We know what we want from the university, and we know best what our various disciplines need to thrive. Some say, “Nothing ever changes, so why be involved?” or even “I used to be involved, but it was a waste of time.” Well, it’s time for a change – not one where shared government is handed to us, but one in which we demonstrate our commitment to doing what’s best for the university, which is ultimately what’s best for ourselves. Only then can shared governance truly happen. We have gone through much in the last year, and some have questioned whether the university speaks with their voice or their values. But I see a path forward – one that will further the excellence of our university – and one that demands that faculty be involved – because we know best! We have already made so much progress as an academic institution in recent years, but we’re still climbing. And I truly believe that faculty involvement is what will get USC to that next level.

So as we head into a new academic year, I would like to invite you all to consider where you can be involved in university life – especially to identify the things that would bring you meaning and allow you to contribute to advancing our university. Much of that involvement can be in your departments or in your schools, but broader university efforts are also underway. Faculty involvement will be crucial in continuing work that is occurring at that broader university level this year, from encouraging innovation, to fostering an infrastructure for interdisciplinary collaboration, to figuring out child care, retirement, teaching, and even job security. If you are interested in joining these efforts or have your own ideas about where to drive the university, I encourage you to volunteer for one of the committees by filling out the online Committee Self Nomination Form by May 18.

Happy summer everyone!

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Yaniv Bar-Cohen
Academic Vice President of the Academic Senate
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Medicine, Keck School of Medicine