New University Senate chair encouraging collaboration on decisions

August 30, 2010

Joan Fulton, chair of the University Senate and professor of agricultural economics. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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Joan Fulton, professor of agricultural economics, wants to build a strong community of collaboration as the 2010-11 University Senate chairperson.

Fulton, whose term began June 1, takes great pride in Purdue and wants to be part of the important decisions that are being made at the University.

"I agreed to let my name stand for vice chairperson of the Senate a year ago because I want to be part of tackling the challenges that Purdue faces," she says. "I want to be part of the process of finding innovative and creative solutions to move Purdue forward."

After becoming involved in the Senate as the at-large member for the College of Agriculture in 2006, Fulton quickly climbed the organization's ladder. She was elected chair of the Steering Committee in 2008 and vice chair of the Senate in 2009.

Many faculty and staff share Fulton's pride in the University, and she hopes this will help them engage in and work to collaborate with the administration.

"I firmly believe in the value of the collaborative decision-making approach — with faculty and staff being truly involved," she says. "I understand through my research in agribusiness and my role as an Extension specialist at Purdue that collaborative decision making can seem time-consuming and less efficient, but in the long run collaboration offers great benefits."

This year, budget concerns are at the forefront of the Senate's attention. Discussions on a core curriculum for the University also will take place. Fulton and Morris Levy, vice chair of the Senate, will meet with Dale Whittaker, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs, to discuss the next steps in examining undergraduate education.

Fulton is working with Purdue Marketing and Media to train members of Senate leadership for media interviews. Fulton hopes to arm senators with the right tools to be excellent representatives for the University. Provost Timothy Sands also will participate in the training.

"There are key skills associated with effectively conducting interviews that I believe we can all learn well with good training," Fulton says. "I want the messages that are communicated from Senate leaders via the media to be clear and consistent with the intended message."

Fulton believes that faculty and staff involvement comes from the deep connections they feel for the University.

"We have chosen to make Purdue University our home — the home where we nurture our careers," she says. "We want to be part of the difficult decisions, and when we are a part of that we will be more committed."