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Meet the new leadership of Augusta University’s Faculty Senate

The Augusta University Faculty Senate has named a number of new leadership positions for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Dr. Almira Vazdarjanova of the Medical College of Georgia was named Faculty Senate chair, effective June 1, succeeding Dr. Peter Basciano of the James M. Hull College of Business, who rotated into the past chair position.

Vazdarjanova, who served as vice chair this past year, is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology in the Medical College of Georgia and a principal investigator at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. She uses a multilevel approach to investigate forebrain networks involved in encoding and consolidating memories for emotional events in models of anxiety and impaired cognitive flexibility with a special focus on individual differences. Her lab developed the first animal model of susceptibility to developing a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder-like phenotype and is currently investigating susceptibility factors for this debilitating condition. She also teaches and mentors medical, graduate and undergraduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Dr. Alicia Elam of the College of Allied Health Sciences was selected as vice chair. Her term began July 1 and she will continue through this year, after which she will rotate into the Senate Chair position, per Senate bylaws.

Elam, who has over 26 years of practice experience in various pharmacy settings, is an associate professor in the Physician Assistant program, where she serves as the course director for the pharmacology curriculum as well as the research and teaching practicum. She also serves as the director of admissions for the Physician Assistant program.

Dr. Surendra Rajpurohit of the Medical College of Georgia was selected as treasurer. His term began July 1 and will continue for one year. He is an assistant research scientist at the Georgia Cancer Center and a member of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where he has dedicated his efforts for multi-dimensional facets of research, teaching, mentorship and services.

Peter Shipman of University Libraries was elected as secretary and began his three-year term June 1. He is the dental medicine and cancer librarian at the Robert B. Greenblatt MD Library and has taught evidence-based principles and EndNote bibliographic software in most of AU’s colleges for over 20 years.

Senators who are currently serving through May 31, 2022, include: Lufei Young, College of Nursing; Josefa Guerrero-Millan, College of Science and Mathematics; Jim Grayson, Hull College of Business; Jennifer Davis, Libraries; James Wilde, (Richard) Lane Perry and Joshua Elder, Medical College of Georgia; Christina Amonson, Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Ron Martin, School of Computer & Cyber Sciences. Jeane Silva and Gianluca De Leo, College of Allied Health Sciences, and Penny Alderman, Pamplin College, are senators at-large.

Senators who began their service time June 1, 2021, through May 31, 2023, include: Vincent Pair, College of Nursing; Laurentiu Sega and Chris (John) Sliger, College of Science and Mathematics; Andrew Ballas and Patty Watford, College of Allied Health Sciences; Darla Linville, Juan Walker and Meredith Rausch, College of Education; Brent Haeberle; Michelle Fielden, Michael Milano and Jan Mitchell, Dental College of Georgia; Lizzie Turner, Hull College of Business; Nelson Fredsell, Libraries; Ahmed Chadl and William Salazar, Medical College of Georgia; Todd Powell-Williams, Pamplin College; and Paul Attie and James Smith, School of Computer & Cyber Sciences. The service time for Ballas, Watford, Milano, Mitchell, Turner, Smith and Salazar will conclude in 2024.

Among the new Faculty Senate committee chairs are: Amy Abdulovic-Cui, Curriculum and Academic Policies; Hannah Bennett,  Athletics; Tianna Curry-McCoy, Faculty Development; Candace Griffith, Student Affairs; Bill Hamilton, Budget Advisory and University Resource Committee; and John Sligar, Governance and Communication.

This year also marks a transition year for the Faculty Senate as it implements its new bylaws. Below is a summary of the changed processes and rationale:

AUFS committees were redesigned to increase the efficiency of the AUFS while minimizing resource demands. There are now two types of committees: Statutory and Standing Committees.
  • Statutory Committees include the AUFS Executive Committee and Committee on Committees (COC). Changes to these committees would require Bylaws amendment and two-thirds affirmative vote;
  • Standing Committees are the operating arm of the AUFS, considered normal business and can be created, modified, and disbanded by majority vote of the AUFS;
  • Committee members, including committee Chairs, are appointed by the COC with individuals assigned based upon expressed interest, expertise, governance needs, diversity etc. Sitting Chairs and committees can advance recommendations to the COC for who should serve as the new Chair;
  • The committee Chairs serve a three-year term;
  • Recommendations are given for the service recognition of AUFS service.
The Executive Committee was redesigned to improve leadership structure.
  • As the leadership of the AUFS, the EC members are elected by the AUFS from among its members;
  • All members of the AUFS Executive Committee serve 3-year terms for continuity;
  • More clarity was added to the duties of the AUFS Executive Committee descriptions;
  • All members of the Executive Committee also serve on the Committee on Committees;
  • Recommendations are given for the service recognition of AUFS Executive Committee service.
The AUFS membership was updated to improve operations.
  • The total number of senators was increased;
  • The term of service was increased to three years to increase continuity and effectiveness of the AUFS;
  • Senators are more integrated on Standing Committees to increase linkages and recognize committees as the working arm of the AUFS;
  • Recommendations are given for the service recognition of AUFS service.
In April, AU announced its faculty winners during its annual faculty senate. Those winners were:

College of Allied Health Sciences: Dr. Amanda Barefield

College of Education: Dr. Hannah Bennett

College of Nursing: Dr. Elena Prendergrast

College of Science and Mathematics: Dr. Angela Spencer

Dental College of Georgia: Dr. Veerinder (Venna) Pannu

Hull College of Business: Dr. Chong Woo Park

Medical College of Georgia: Dr. Ruth Harris

Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences: Dr. Debra van Tuyll

School of Computer and Cyber Sciences: Dr. Gagan Agrawal

The Graduate School: Dr. William Hatcher

University Libraries: Jennifer Davis

Also announced were the winners of the Louis K. Bell Research Award (Dr. Dustin Avent-Holt of the Department of Social Sciences, 2020, and Dr. E. Nicole Meyer, of the Department of English and World Languages, 2021) and the Richard S. Wallace Distinguished Service Award (Dr. Hannah Bennett of the Department of Kinesiology, 2020, and Dr. Pamela Hayward of the Department of Communication, 2021).

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