SENATE SPECIAL CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE
Centennial Committee Progress Report
Introduction and Background
June 13th 2021 will be the 100th anniversary of the Penn State Faculty Senate. Last year, Chair Matthew Woessner formed a special committee to both prepare commemorative events and begin the process of the creation a robust history of the Senate past. This year, Chair Michael Berube has continued the committee. It is chaired by Roger Egolf, vice-chaired by Mary Miles and includes several past chairs of the Senate, along with other Senators, students, a representative of the Library Archives, and a former Executive Director of the Senate.
The Centennial Committee will have three primary functions:
- Draft an informational report to be included on the revised Senate website providing a brief outline of the Senate’s history from 1921 to the present. For this report the committee would:
- Identify major events in Senate history
- Find in the Senate archives the text of the original constitution/bylaws and later versions
- Extend the list of former Senate Officers prior to 1966.
This informational report would form the basis of a revised “Senate History” section on the Senate website. Also, it would be easy to set up a Penn State University Faculty Senate page on Wikipedia. This could serve as a useful repository for whatever we find in the next year.
- Identify key documents, photographs or other artifacts to display online, or put on display in the Senate Office. The Chair Roger Egolf mentioned that, if the committee can find sufficiently interesting original documents or artifacts, we might be able to set up a special collections for display. Additionally, the committee could try to find original Senate (or assembly before 1920) documents that we might display in the Senate Offices. Finally, if possible, the committee could find photos of the Senate in session, as well as portraits of some of the early Senate officers from the 1920s.
- Working with the Senate’s Committee on Committees and Rules, consider the merits of an addition to the standing rules, establishing a Senate historian. Perhaps serving a 3-year term, the Senate historian would have two roles. First, on an ongoing basis, the historian would explore the Senate archives identifying key figures, actions and events that highlight the Senate’s work since its inception. Each year, the historian could take on specific issues, like how the Senate reacted to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, any resolutions it passed responding to the Civil Rights movement, the story of how the faculty Senate Constitution was revised in the early 70s, the story of how the Senate reacted to the Sandusky scandal, etc. Additionally, the historian could identify early pioneers, like the first women and minorities to serve in major leadership posts in the Senate. Second, file an annual report with Senate Council providing information about the events of the past year. This would include brief biographies of the Senate leaders, photographs from the Senate meeting, and summaries of the events leading to any landmark legislation, like the creation of the FT faculty promotion rules.
Accomplishments so far and plans for the future
- Legislation for a Senate Historian – Legislation was written by the committee to create the position of Senate Historian along with Associate Historians as needed to further the work of documenting the history of the Senate after the work of this committee is finished. The legislation was passed at the Oct. 23rd, 2018 meeting of the Senate.
- The committee is about to begin recording oral history interviews with former chairs, along with others, such as Dean Susan Welch who has worked extensively with the Senate over many years. Hopefully, we will gather a range of perspectives, so the different stories capture diversity – both explicitly by seeking pathbreaking members from underrepresented groups – and in finding those involved in varied types of senate-related work and holding divergent impressions of that work from different vantage points. We will be using the English Department’s Digital Studio for these interviews.
- Highlights from these interviews, along with timelines, photos, updates, and articles we’ll write on key legislation or moments will be featured on a new history section for the Senate website. There, we will also link to the library archive for history researchers of the future.
- Chair Egolf has been examining the archives of the Senate, along with documents deposited in Special Collections at the Library by past chairs of the Senate.
- Full interviews, photos, new discoveries, and other documentation will be maintained in our Faculty Senate History Library Archive. We will link to the extensive Penn State History collections that also carry relevant sources. Librarians are helping us organize.
- Finally, we will establish museum-style displays with lots of photos and descriptions, and as many tangible items or objects as we can find to bring the past to life for visitors. Ideas so far include: a gavel, authentic binders or books of rules, traditions, and guidelines. It is planned that cabinets will be purchased to display these items in the Kern Building.
CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE 2017-2018
Roger Egolf, Chair
Mary Miles, Vice-chair
CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE 2018-2019
Roger Egolf, Chair
Mary Miles, Vice-chair