When speaking about her new role as chair of the UNCG Faculty Senate, Dr. Andrea Hunter’s enthusiasm and positivity are infectious.
“I just see so many possibilities for us as a faculty in this moment,” Hunter said.
Hunter succeeds Dr. Anne Wallace and is the second Faculty Senate chair to serve under the revised rules providing for two-year terms for each chair.
Strengthening partnerships, increasing faculty’s commitment to diversity and elevating the senate’s voice and visibility on campus are among Hunter’s ambitions as chair during the Faculty Senate’s 25th anniversary year.
Hunter came to UNCG in Fall 1999 after working as an associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. She received a bachelor of arts in Psychology and Child Development from Spelman College, and a master of science and PhD in Human Development and Family Studies at Cornell University. At UNCG, she is the associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the School of Health and Human Sciences.
She said UNCG was a good fit. She appreciated the emphasis on direct contact, advising and building relationships with students, and the strong commitment to research and creative activity.
In her 17 years at the university, she said she’s seen a ton of growth as UNCG distinguishes itself as a diverse and minority-serving institution with strong teaching excellence, a world-class faculty, and by its engagement in cutting-edge research.
“UNCG has the benefit of a smaller university, a very student-centered mission and a mission to work with a diverse student body, and we also have highly ranked programs and a stellar faculty. We are teacher-scholars, and this is very rewarding,” Hunter said.
Hunter has a long history of service throughout her career. At UNCG, in addition to the faculty senate and other roles in faculty governance, she served on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusive Excellence and was director of the School of Health and Human Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
“I’ve always been interested in working in those capacities,” she said. “In my very nature, I’m a team player.”
She added that working at different levels in the university system gives people a richer perspective.
“I think faculty governance really opens that up for you and informs the other work you do, and certainly informs the way you engage with students,” Hunter said.
As Faculty Senate chair, Hunter has a vision for both programmatic and organizational improvements. She’s interested in continuing the internal self-study started under Wallace and figuring out how to operate as a stronger organization.
“How would we like to see ourselves and what are the structures and processes we need in place?” Hunter said. “Some of that has to do with communication and transparency.”
She said it’s critical to strengthen the ways faculty connect and communicate across units and divisions such as student affairs and academic and business affairs as we develop a shared sense of identity and common fate.
Hunter would also like greater recognition and value of the breadth of the faculty government structure and work.
“It’s really important for Faculty Senate to be engaged and empowered partners where there’s mutual respect across those divisions and we have the opportunity for dialogue and connection,” Hunter said. “A lot of our role is advisory and consultative, but we also make recommendations and review and approve policies in areas central to instruction and student learning, as well as faculty welfare and development. Faculty have an important and unique perspective to bring.”
She said building relationships and mutual trust is key to increasing communication, particularly during a time of change and transformation.
An ongoing part of Hunter’s work is being a part of the institutional effort to move forward student and faculty diversity and success, which is a passion she is eager to bring to the Faculty Senate table.
“As a university, we’ve done really excellent work being able to attract, retain and graduate a diverse student body,” Hunter said. “The chancellor has said that diversity should be part of our DNA. As part of our DNA, the Faculty Senate is one place we can express that because we have the opportunity to live that out, raise issues, make recommendations in light of those issues…I think we can be leaders in that effort.”
Faculty Senate meetings are open to the public, and Hunter encouraged faculty to take advantage of the opportunity to engage at this level.
Meetings are monthly – the first is Sept. 6 at 3 p.m. in the Virginia Dare Room, Alumni House – and the schedule is available on the Faculty Senate website. The senate also holds frequent forums around issues relevant to faculty.
She suggested faculty get to know their senators, ask questions and talk with them about issues. Not only is the Faculty Senate the voice of the faculty, she said, but the liaison between faculty and the administration.
“I’m quite excited about this moment where we are taking giant steps, which I think means a lot of different things for us,” Hunter said. “It’s a good moment to be here, I think, as faculty members, students, staff as well, and a good moment to be chair of the Faculty Senate.”
By Elizabeth L. Harrison