UC, campus academic senates gain 2 new leaders

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Hilary Baxter and Panayiotis Papadopoulos were recently appointed leaders of the UC systemwide and Berkeley academic senates, respectively, which represent faculty in university governance and determine academic policy.

Baxter, who held the position of assistant director of academic planning in the UC Office of the President, will serve as executive director of the UC Academic Senate. Papadopoulos, a campus professor of mechanical engineering who was previously vice chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, recently took over as chair.

“He’s outlined an ambitious but timely and thoughtful agenda for the division to consider,” said Andrea Green Rush, executive director of the Berkeley division.

Executive directors of the systemwide senate and its divisions provide support in policy making to faculty chairs.  The Berkeley division sets conditions for admission, authorizes courses and advises administrators.

Baxter will be taking over for executive director Martha Winnacker, who is retiring Sept. 1. Papadopoulos will be replacing Elizabeth Deakin, a campus professor of city and regional planning and urban design who held the position for the 2013-14 academic year.

“She has been a consultant on several academic committees, so while she still has a lot to learn, she has some valuable insights into how the senate works,” said Mary Gilly, a marketing professor at UC Irvine who will be serving as chair of the UC Academic Senate and who previously held the position of vice chair.

Gilly said Baxter will be working with executive directors at senate divisions across UC campuses.

Baxter said while the plans and the vision for the senate come from faculty leadership, she will serve as a policy adviser and help the leadership execute its decisions.

As chair of the Berkeley division, Papadopoulos will represent the campus on the UC Academic Senate. Each division relays opinions on issues under consideration by the systemwide senate.

The senate is planning to work with Napolitano on various initiatives she has introduced, Gilly said. The university aims to smooth the path for transfer students by streamlining the application process and ensuring adequate outreach to the state’s community colleges.

The senate will also present ways to improve graduate student support to the regents at their January meeting, focusing on financial support and other resources.

In June, the senate adopted the redesigned SAT as an acceptable admissions exam, which will be more curriculum-based and will remove the penalty for incorrect answers. The senate included a specification to require the essay portion of the exam for UC admissions, which will be optional in the SAT’s newest iteration.

“I hope that my experience can help add to the deliberations and the decisions that the leadership goes through and constructively advance those decisions with President Napolitano and leaders throughout the system,” Baxter said.

“Contact Madeleine Pauker at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @madeleinepauker.