Balancing Act: Eckwright Enjoys Dual Role as Faculty and Faculty Secretary
For more than 30 years, Gail Eckwright called the library her home-base at the University of Idaho; but since July, she’s been spending a lot more time in Brink Hall as the secretary of the faculty.
“I have great admiration for the faculty secretaries in the past and the work that they have done” says Eckwright.
The half-time position has left Eckwright with an interesting balance between her library and secretary of the faculty duties, but is an act she is enjoying.
When she is not in Brink Hall working on faculty issues, she continues her work in the library as the program director for Inside Idaho, the geospatial clearinghouse, and as the liaison to the College of Engineering.
While the faculty secretary position is new for her, this isn’t the first time Eckwright has worked with the faculty secretary’s office. In the mid ‘90s, she was part of the working group to review the “Faculty-Staff Handbook” – systematically reviewing each section and bringing it up to date.
“That’s when I really got to see the faculty secretary at work and an admirable job it really is,” says Eckwright.
As the secretary to the faculty Eckwright is a member of the Senate Leadership, takes and publishes minutes from Faculty Senate, makes sure senate committees are staffed and not duplicated, and is the policy coordinator for University faculty, among many other duties.
As the policy coordinator, along with Ann Thompson, assistant to the faculty secretary, they work with people who are concerned about a policy – asking them to “check out” the policy so only one person is reviewing it at a time.
Once they’ve reviewed it and send back changes, they contact units across campus that would be affected so they may review proposed changes before it heads for legal review by general counsel and then onto a senate committee and/or Faculty Senate, the University faculty and the president.
“It’s a very lengthy process for all involved,” says Eckwright. “There’s a lot of review involved at all levels to make sure the policies accurately reflect regents’ policies, state and federal regulations, current practices and eliminate contradicting/duplicate policies between the “Administrative Procedures Manual” and the “Faculty-Staff Handbook.””
In addition, Eckwright is starting a review and update of the “Faculty-Staff Handbook,” which will be handled differently than the past major update done in the mid-‘90s. She is hoping to begin a chapter-by-chapter review, working with groups involved in each section for the review. Eckwright is also putting in place a system to keep the handbook updated on a continual basis.
In addition to working with Faculty Senate and faculty issues, Eckwright works with administration and faculty as a liaison.
“The role of the faculty secretary is very unique, balancing a fine line between faculty/faculty senate and administration,” says Eckwright.