Christine Horne received her PhD from the University of Arizona in 1997 and holds a JD from Columbia Law School. After working as an assistant professor at Louisiana State University and Brigham Young University, she joined Washington State University in 2004. Her current research focuses on social norms and household energy behavior. This academic year, Christine is serving as the WSU Faculty Senate chair. We caught up with Christine and asked her to say a few words about this very important position.
“I became interested in the position because I knew I would learn a lot about how the University works and get a different perspective than you do at the department level. You get a broader sense of the WSU system and consider a wide range of issues— I thought that would be interesting.
“The Faculty Senate is the legislative body of the faculty. We have a voice in things like admissions standards, academic policy, and curriculum. Faculty Senate includes senators who are elected from across the University on a proportional basis by campus and by college. As faculty, we’re in a different structural position than university administration so we experience and can see things that they might not. When we do, we can go to our leadership, and say, ‘Here’s this issue. Is there something WSU could do to address it?’”
“In addition to our elected senators, there are various committees that review items related to new curriculum, programs, courses, and academic policies. As chair, I oversee that process, making sure things are moving along and helping address problems when they come up. We also facilitate communication from the administration to faculty.
“I try to think about how we can improve what we’re doing as Faculty Senate. In the past, the Faculty Senate has worked to improve communication between faculty and their senators, and this has been a priority of mine. A few chairs ago we created a constituent concerns web page so faculty can share their concerns. This provides us with information about issues that the Faculty Senate and the administration might not be aware of. We try to solve those issues, go to administration to solve those issues, or explain to faculty why they’re unsolvable. A big part of what I do is respond to the concerns that people raise. The constituent concern web page was one important step for improving communication from faculty to Senate. This year we created an email that goes out bi-weekly to faculty throughout the University, so they have some idea of what’s going on in the Faculty Senate because, historically, people didn’t really know. This has improved communication from Senate to faculty. I also wanted to create a more transparent system for staffing Senate committees, so I worked with senators to develop a system-wide call for self-nominations.
“What happens after my term is over? I have no idea, but I would like to remain involved with the Faculty Senate in some capacity. There are a lot of good, smart, interesting people who are trying to make WSU better for everyone.”