From weighing in on matters concerning integrating and merging schools and units, to discussing budget priorities and research policy regulations with Rutgers University President Barchi, as Vice Chair of the Rutgers University Senate and SC&I’s Assistant Dean of Information Technology, Jon Oliver is both extremely busy and incredibly dedicated to Rutgers University.
The Rutgers University Senate is the only governing body at the university that is comprised of faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni, and in 2017, Oliver was nominated to serve as vice chair of the entire Senate and won the election this past April.
Oliver originally became involved with Rutgers Senate when he ran in the very first staff election in 2006. He lost, but in 2008 he tried again and became one of 10 staff members at Rutgers elected to a two-year term, and he has served on the Senate ever since. In 2010, Oliver became the co-chair of the University Structure and Governance committee of the Senate and now he also serves as the vice chair of the full Senate as well.
“The vice chair has multiple responsibilities,” says Oliver. “He or she is responsible for chairing the University Commencement Panel which assists the administration in appointing committees to bring in Commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients. The vice chair also leads the Senate if and when the chair is unable.” He or she is also the chair of the Appeals Panel. This panel hears appeals by faculty or students, or any division of the university, when they believe that the faculty or students were not adequately consulted prior to making a major decision on an academic or administrative matter affecting the faculty or students made at all levels of the university.
According to the Senate’s website, “The Rutgers University Senate is concerned with and may initiate action on all academic and non-academic matters pertaining to the mission of the University, such as establishing standards respecting admission, scholarship, and honors. The Senate works to create formal relationships between academic units so that each department is aware and in agreeance of academic norms, course load, and the academic calendar. The Senate also informs the President on matters such as budget priorities, establishment or dissolution of colleges, divisions, institutes, etc., special affiliations, regulations affecting students and faculty, and changes in the educational and research policy.”
Oliver says that he loves playing a very small role in making Rutgers a better place and a top tier AAU Institution, but when asked to describe the most challenging part of working on the Rutgers Senate, Oliver said, “The Senate is a volunteer body and as such tends to deliberate slowly. The committees and full body of the Senate meet once a month. It is difficult to get as much done as we would like in a very compressed time frame. It is also challenging as a committee chair to write all the reports up while still having a separate full time job that also requires my time and attention. With all that said it is still important work and a lot of fun!”