Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Wood remains popular choice for leadership

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Professor of Biology Diane Wood has spent 16 years at the university and has a history with Faculty Senate of being both on the executive committee and a representative. Faculty Senate recently was voted chair-elect at its last meeting April 24.
Photo by Kennedy Meyer ~ Copy Desk Chief

Diane Wood has not only spent 16 years at Southeast in the Biology Department, but she has a history of being active in Faculty Senate, both on the executive board and as a representative.

People have told her of the impact her voice has on the campus, but she said she doesn’t view it that way.

“It's not just about me speaking up or speaking out for just the faculty, because really, it's not just the faculty that make this university,” she said. “It is every single employee on this university that makes this university.”

She had to step away from Faculty Senate in Spring 2018 due to some negative impacts it was having on her personally, she said. Wood returned in Spring 2019 when the Biology Department was in need of a representative with the intent of staying only for a while.

At senate’s last meeting of the semester April 24, Wood was voted chair-elect by acclamation. Not only was she the only nominated senator, but the vote was unanimous.

“I got pretty choked up about that one,” she said. “They believe that I could do the job. They have confidence in me, and that’s probably the biggest compliment you can get amongst your peers.”

As chair-elect, Wood will serve alongside the current chair Nicolas Wilkins of the Psychology and Counseling Department for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, whom she said she’s very much looking forward to working with.

Wilkins commended Wood on her knowledge of the university and added they’ve always had a great working relationship.

“She has a very good grasp on the roles between faculty and administration,” Wilkins said. “She’s a great mentor for teaching me the role of faculty and administration in an area that’s called ‘shared governance.’ Unlike your traditional workplace where you have a definite boss and a definite employee, the rules and how the system operates is shared between the employees and the administration.”

Accounting, Economics, and Finance senator Roberta Humphrey nominated Wood. She said she did so because Wood isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right.

“Diane is an unbelievable contributor to our campus at Southeast,” Humphrey said. “She has high standards to what she believes and fights for.”

Wood touched on Summer 2015 when she took action after the university put forward a new graduate student fee of $50 per credit hour.

“The rationale that the administration put forward on that was, ‘Well, it's expensive because it costs the university for graduate faculty doing their job,” she said. “But it was not true. Faculty are not compensated for that — graduate faculty do not get compensated for having graduate students. Period. So there is zero cost.”

Wood had discussions with the dean of Graduate Studies Charles McAllister as well as former provost Karl Kunkle before she went to the Graduate Council where she was given the floor to say, “Look, this is not right.”

She brought with her a group of graduate students to be able to express how the fee was impacting them first-hand.

“It was wonderful because these grads were just so articulate,” she said. “And they stood before these people that were authority figures and were able to voice their concerns about this. And I don't know who or what influenced where, but that fee is no longer there.”

At the end of the day, Wood said even if it means people might get mad, she aims to make the right choices.

“I make mistakes like everybody else, but I always try to do what's best for everyone,” she said. “And it may not be interpreted that way, but that's where my heart is at. I let my heart lead me where I need to go and I use my intellect to figure out the strategies and the solutions to resolve the problem.”

Wood said her term as chair-elect will serve as a time of supporting Wilkins — it isn’t about her pushing her agenda. When her and Wilkins meet with administration, Wood said it is always her job to support her chair — if they don’t agree on something, it can be discussed later, she said.

“I personally think that any good leader actually listens to the people that are there to advise,” she said. “Because they may be seeing it in a very different perspective, that perhaps you as a leader may miss. And if you miss it, it could be devastating.”

Wood believes Faculty Senate is more important than ever before.

“I’m excited about this because there are some really sharp people in that room,” she said. “Some of them were new coming in, and I think now they’re starting to get their feet under them.”

Wood said she noticed there were some fatigue and defeat among Faculty Senate for a while, but she sees “senate getting their mojo back.”

“People are starting to go, ‘Okay, I see how this works,’” she said. “I can see how we can be a strong voice in these difficult times. That's glorious.”