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Volume 5, Issue 1                                    University of Houston

Faculty Senate elects new president

By Charity Halphen
Breaking News

After a close run against Technology Sen. Katy Greenwood, Natural Sciences and Mathematics Sen. Giles Auchmuty was elected the next president of the Faculty Senate during its meeting Wednesday. 

A strong supporter of the Senate and its competence in addressing issues that concern the faculty as a whole, Auchmuty said he looks forward to leading the Senate through his 2003 tenure.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

Staff associate Mary Brantley and geosciences associate professor Peter Copeland tally votes for the Faculty Senate's election. Mathematics professor Giles Auchmuty will be the Senate's next president.

As a president working to strengthen the Senate, Auchmuty said he hopes to "establish good direct communications with all of the Faculty Senate's constituencies (to) concentrate on building a first-rate educational environment" at UH.

"I would like to learn more about how the Senate operates, and I am looking forward to working with the faculty this upcoming year," Auchmuty said.

He will take the place of current Faculty Senate President Joseph Eichberg, who ran Wednesday's meeting, hosting a discussion on the soon-to-be-open Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

Director of Campus Recreation Kathy Anzivino discussed the progress of the new center, which will open in January.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics Sen. Pete Copeland voiced his concern with the sources of the project's overall budget.

The Athletics Department plans to use part of the indoor Olympic-size pool for the swimming and diving team's practices during regular operating hours. Copeland argued that with a budget of $7 million for the new complex, the Athletics Department's contribution of less than half of one percent of this is insufficient.

"They get one-quarter of the pool, yet Athletics pays under one-half percent," Copeland said. "What they are paying is not in proportion to what they use."

With $350,000, or five percent of the budget, set aside for future additions to the new center, Anzivino does not predict an increase in fees for students, who will be charged $75 per semester, or faculty, who can buy a membership for $300 per year.

Because the Recreation and Wellness Center is considered an auxiliary service, University budget cannot be allocated toward its construction or operation.

Members of the Faculty Senate also voiced concern with not having The Firm, the current private fitness center below Moody Towers, as an option instead of the Recreation and Wellness Center. 

Use of The Firm will be free starting next semester with a membership to the rec center (membership cost $50 per semester in the past), but faculty members who don't want to use the rec center won't be given the option to just use The Firm.

Provost Edward Sheridan reported to the Senate that student registration for the Spring semester has jumped significantly.

"Last week, I compared the student registration of Spring 2002 to Spring 2003, and there is a 3,000-head increase. This is extremely important in setting our financial plan," Sheridan said. "Also, with an increase in the number of juniors and seniors, we show a better retention rate of students. Hopefully, the Texas legislature won't cut the University's budget this upcoming year with such promising news."

Controlling 15 percent of the annual budget for the state, the Texas legislature determines how much state universities can charge for tuition and allocates many other sources of funding for universities.

Sheridan also emphasized the importance of keeping UH's uniqueness, despite being pressured to conform to any specific model as community colleges do.

"The very nature of a community college is to follow set rules, but universities pride themselves in being unique -- doing different things, and doing them well," Sheridan said.

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