Jason Husser, professor of political science and policy studies, will be the chair of the Academic Council for the 2021-22 academic year. Husser, who is also the director of Elon Poll, was voted in unanimously and will be taking over from Paula Patch, who stepped away from the position to focus on her role as assistant director of the Elon core curriculum.
“We’ve got an exciting year ahead as we hopefully get to move beyond some of the things that were holding us all back related to COVID,” Husser said.
Academic Council is the governing body for Elon University faculty members and is part of the university’s shared governance forum. The council is made up of 19 voting members and three non-voting members: Crista Arangala, the interim chair of the university curriculum committee, President Connie Book and Provost Aswani Volety. Council members serve on three-year terms and the council chair is voted on by members.
In addition to being on Academic Council this year, Husser also served as Academic Council representative on the Ready & Resilient committee, the university’s response committee to the pandemic. Patch said that his active role within the committee made him a natural fit for Academic Council chair.
“He’s super smart, he’s very organized, he cares a lot about Elon and he’s very diplomatic,” Patch said. “He seems to do a really great job of having, sometimes, the tough conversations when faculty and administrators don’t see eye to eye, he’s really good at listening and speaking up and asking questions.”
Heading into the 2021-22 academic year, Husser said he does not have any personal goals but hopes to work with administration to implement what faculty would like to see happen across campus and work to implement the strategic plan.
In working with the Academic Council, Volety said he hopes the administration and the council can work together on initiatives in the strategic plan such as the nursing program, as well as collaborating on the faculty handbook.
“Before every meeting, the academic council chair, chair-elect, the president and I get together, and then we talk about what are some of the things that are coming up, and how do we fix them, and how do we work toward things,” Volety said.
Academic Council this year was made up of entirely white faculty members, something both Husser and Patch would like to see change in the future.
“Academic Council this year was frankly too white. We did not have enough people at the table to represent the diversity that we have,” Husser said. “I’m really looking forward over the next year to making council a place that more minority faculty members would like to join and hopefully encouraging more minority faculty members to add their voice to Academic Council.”
Husser said to make the Academic Council a place minority faculty members feel welcome, he wants to reach out to minority faculty members personally.
“Saying, ‘I want you to be a part of this, we need you,’” Husser said. “I want them to be leaders of the institution going forward, and this is a good place, in that leadership role.”
Looking ahead to the fall semester, Husser said he and the Academic Council will be conscious of the members of the Elon community coming back to campus, some for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to work with the administration and figuring out how we can improve our work life balance, how we can make sure campus is a safe place to be,” Husser said. “That people feel safe when they enter the classroom, that they feel as if they can do as good of a job as they can possibly do without worrying about COVID-19.”