With the Faculty Senate comes the President, Susan Cusato, whose role consists of a lot of work and time, but for her it’s enjoyable. Cusato was serving as Chair of Personnel Policy when she decided to run because of colleagues who asked and encouraged her.
Presidents hold the term for one year, and can rerun for term three years in a row. This is Cusatos’s second year and plans to run next year for her a third and final time. Cusato said her role as senate president is one that is especially important for the students to know how much gets done for them.
“You see what the issues are concerning faculty and get more familiar as to why they should be represented,” she said. “I like to learn and take on new challenges.”
The president is a liaison for both the Senate and administrators. As president, Cusato goes to a variety of meetings that include the interim president, interim provost, and other administrations to go over any thoughts, concerns, and reports given. She then reports back to the Senate for answers and ideas on what could be done.
“It is very important that Dr. Cusato and I meet regularly to discuss any issues of mutual interest,” said Marianne Kennedy, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “We communicate regularly about issues that relate to academics, including policies and procedures that affect academic programs.”
When there is a question on class size or class enrollment for W courses because budget reasons are causing an increase in the size of classes, the Senate will converse with the Provost and take into consideration how it will affect learning.
Art Paulson, former president from 2001 to 2004, said that president position is so demanding it is more of a full-time job.
“I enjoyed my time on the job,” he said. “I enjoyed hearing different points of views others had, some I liked and others I did not. I also enjoyed getting to know the faculty better.”
While in office, Paulson worked on issues similar to the current budget issues. During this time was able to save 19 faculty jobs by conferencing and working with former President Michael Adanti and former Vice President Philip Smith. Paulson continues to do his part in the Senate as chairman of the University Advisory Committee to keep them updated on the search for a new president.
“It is a role that involves dealing with a lot of constituencies and managing disagreements and trying to get the best possible outcome,” said Brian Johnson, former president from 2007 to 2010.
Johnson is no longer a part of the senate but is still helping with any issues Cusato may have. During Johnson’s time he was involved in debating and discussing the new Liberal Education Program, which was in its final stages and passed by the Faculty at Large while he was president.
“It is a complicated and demanding job and relies a lot on other Senate presidents. Susan and I talk on a regular basis and advice on particular issues coming up,” he said. “You need to support of fellow senators and previous presidents to do the job.”
Any time there is a decision made by the administration that will impact students – an issue with parking, what hours the library will be open – an Impact Statement is given to Cusato. . This helps the Senate to discuss how this will impact students’ needs to use those facilities.
“I hope students understand we are a committed and dedicated to the university,” said Cusato. “As a whole the Senate wants this university to be a place where students can learn, grow, and create a future for them.”
Concerns are always on the mind; her main concerns are issues in the budge, the new reconfiguration of higher education in Connecticut and how this will impact Southern and how decisions will be made with no permanent positions yet filled for the President, Vice President, and Provost.
“It is hard when we have reduced staff and faculty retire and no one to fill the positions. It is hard to always stay positive. My hope is we can pull through this budget issue and stay positive,” she said.
Her hopes are that the Senate will maintain their mission and identity. According to Cusato, Southern plays a unique role in the New Haven community and works hard to provide a dynamic revised liberal education program.