40 Critical to the Strength of the College | Colleen Jacks

Participation and leadership in college governance is a responsibility that I have accepted willingly at Gustavus.  Faculty governance and oversight of the academic program is critical to the long-term strength of the college and I believe that faculty members need to take on service and leadership roles commensurate with their talents, experience and tenure at the college. I have enjoyed the variety of these experiences – some student-centered, some faculty development-centered and others, such as the Nobel Conference Committees and HHMI proposal development group on which I’ve served, provided a professional dimension to college service.  The instances where I have had the greatest opportunity to provide leadership at the college I describe more fully below.

I served my department as chair for a full three year term (1997-2000) and again for a semester on a temporary basis (Fall 2001), times of transition due to the retirement and departure of several faculty members.  In the model of a chair as “the first among equals,” I felt my role was to provide the opportunities for discussion of long term curricular and other programmatic issues, while supporting the work of my colleagues by taking care of many of the administrative duties that can be time consuming and take one away from focusing on scholarship and teaching. During my full term as chair, I led eight faculty searches, four of which were tenure track, wrote the department’s first proposal for a six course teaching load, co-authored our first departmental assessment plan, co-headed an external review of the Biochemistry program and oversaw the department’s tornado recovery.

On a campus-wide basis, I served as the chair of the 1999 Nobel Conference “Genetics in the New Millennium,” a two year responsibility that, in conjunctions with former director Richard Elvee, included forming a planning committee and selecting and inviting speakers, as well as the more visible participation that occurs during the days of the conference itself.  I have been elected as an at-large representative to the Faculty Senate twice.  I have also served on the Senate Compensation Subcommittee twice, most recently from 2000-2004, serving as chair in 2002-2003.  During the year I was chair we did a review of the current salary structure.  An additional service activity that required a great deal of my time and that few people are aware of was my role as the College’s Radiation Safety Officer (1988-1995; 1996-2004).  During this time the duties of the College’s R.S.O. expanded a great deal to include a biochemistry lab and the Physics department for licensed isotope use.  At the same time the Nuclear Regulatory Commission increased regulatory oversight for use and storage of isotopes and radioactive waste.  In addition to performing weekly surveys of our stored isotopes and waste and six month surveys of the Physics department sources, I oversaw a radiation protection program for faculty, students and staff.  I also wrote lengthy license renewal applications and amendments (most recently in 2002) and served as the main contact person at the College for the NRC.