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A Student of Higher Education Leads Academic Senate

by Melissa Payton

William Tierney

Photo by Irene Fertik

WILLIAM TIERNEY, the new president of the Academic Senate, has perfect credentials for the job: a professor in the Rossier School of Education, he conducts research on faculty productivity, decision making, organizational change and access and equity.

“I’m a student of higher education,” said Tierney, who is the Wilbur Kieffer Professor of Higher Education and director of the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis in the Rossier School. “I spend my life going to colleges and universities and researching a variety of issues where I interview and listen to faculty, administrators, students and staff.

“As we enter the new century, it is as important for faculty to take an important role in the life of the university as it has ever been. Any extent to which I can help in promulgating a dialogue that improves academic excellence is something I’m glad to do.”

Tierney expects the senate this year to focus on two broad themes: faculty development and advancing the objectives of USC’s strategic plan. Those two themes were also addressed at the Friday, Aug. 27, annual senate retreat, held at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flint-ridge.

In addition to the regular senate meetings on the third Wednesday of each month, Tierney will convene occasional Friday meetings to discuss particular topics. The Friday meetings will be informational; attendance and votes will not be taken. He is planning fall meetings on faculty governance, a faculty retirement policy under consideration and issues surrounding the medical school.

“We need to develop ways to make us as fully informed as possible,” he said.

Along those lines, Tierney is forecasting a “great leap forward” electronically for the senate. He intends to quickly upgrade the senate Web site to document and archive virtually all senate actions.

“I’m also looking at how we use the senate list server, and I hope to put out a few newsletters,” he said.

Tierney, who teaches graduate courses on curricular theory, administration, policy, organizational behavior and qualitative methodology, is in the midst of a four-year study of faculty productivity funded by the Pew Endowment. In another project, funded by the Ford Foundation, Tierney, along with Linda Hagedorn, an assistant professor in the Rossier School, is hoping to determine what factors make college prep programs effective for low-income urban youth.

His most recent book is Building the Responsive Campus: Creating High-Performance Colleges and Universities (Sage, 1999).

Tierney has a B.A. in English from Tufts University, master’s degrees in education from Harvard and in anthropology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in administration and policy analysis from Stanford.

Other members of the 1999-2000 Academic Senate executive board are Ann Crigler, administrative vice president (political science); and Nicos Petasis, secretary general (chemistry). Members at large are Jody Armour (law), Victor Henderson (neurology), Austin Mircheff (physiology and biophysics), Hilary Schor (English) and Marsha Kinder (cinema-TV). William G. “Greg” Thalmann (classics) is immediate past president.

The managing editor of Forum (the senate newsletter) and the Web site is Robert Labaree (libraries). The senate’s first meeting of the year is at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, in the Faculty Center.

For more on the senate, go to the Web site at: http://www.usc. edu/dept/acsen.

A Student of Higher Education Leads Academic Senate

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