A Bearcat alum and military veteran of 35 years recently returned to campus as the new executive in residence.
Gen. Christopher Hughes has been recently meeting with Faculty Senate to discuss possible ideas on how to improve different aspects of the University.
The main focus of Hughes’ presentation at the Faculty Senate meeting was his plans for modules meant to help professors improve their teaching, innovation and student relation making abilities.
These modules would be optional, but Hughes said they would be beneficial for most professors. Hughes also made a point to focus on the need for faculty to improve their resource use, especially in regards to money.
Faculty Senate President Brian Haile said Hughes earned his position through his time talking with President John Jasinski, the Board of Regents and the Northwest Leadership Team about his experience and desire to help Northwest.
“I think part of it is (Hughes) is a distinguished alumnus that was at a point where he was retiring and wanted to come back here and give,” Haile said. “He had been doing that and so then a relationship formed. I think they were already kind of asking him questions; there was some consulting.”
Haile said Hughes had an advantage when it came to spotting issues and ways to save money on campus due to his time away.
“He comes in and he is objective,” Haile said. “He does not have a stake in any one particular piece of the University. He just has what he feels like is a stake in the University.”
Haile said Faculty Senate will be meeting again to talk to Hughes about his idea for modules and how he can help the University.
“I have been in meetings with Chris (Hughes), and he talked about different things, but I had not heard many of those things mentioned. Some of the other faculty had,” Haile said. “That (Hughes’ plan) is something that we are going to start looking and seeing if there is anything there.”
Faculty Senate Member Richard Black said Hughes reminded him of his own military family background.
“General Hughes reminded me of people I have encountered in terms of expertise, but that is also communicated very authoritatively and enthusiastically,” Black said. “I think the greatest strength that that experience (military service) has is with the organizational demands that such a huge program requires from someone in that position.”
Black also said he needed to receive more information about Hughes’ ideas and possible programs in order to create more of an opinion about it.
“In terms of knowing organizational structures that are effective, if that is part of his mandate, that experience is certainly something that will serve him well as he reviews us as an institution,” Black said.
In regards to Hughes’ idea for modules designed to help teachers improve or change their teaching styles and ability to connect with students, Black said he was cautious about the plan.
“I am kind of agnostic about them,” Black said. “He made it very clear that it would be respectful of academic freedom, for faculty to choose whether they adopt them or not. Which is good, I think it is kind of presumptuous to say ‘Hey, here is my curriculum, now you adopt it.’”
Previous Faculty Senate President John Gallaher said he was interested in Hughes’ ideas, but needed to do more research over them.
“They look really intriguing,” Gallaher said. “It is a lot of stuff to talk about but, I mean, I really have not seen any of them, like to hold on to. I am privy; I have been around some conversations but nothing that has advanced very far other than interest is very high.”