New Faculty Senate president strives to make an impact
Kelly Smith has always had a keen interest in government. This fascination sparked his interest in asking questions not only about what can be done, but also how it can be done. An associate professor who has taught philosophy and biological sciences at Clemson for the past 15 years, Smith has always focused on the “how” as he served multiple terms on Clemson’s Faculty Senate.
“It doesn’t do any good to have a great idea or understand the ways things should happen if you lack the capacity to make them happen,” he said.
Clemson’s faculty respects Smith’s ability to get things done. That’s why faculty members placed their trust in Smith, who was sworn in as Faculty Senate president in May and will be the voice of the University’s educators for the next senate term.
“You need people who understand both sides of the coin,” Smith said. “They need to understand faculty concerns, curriculum and quality, but they also need to understand money and how to get people to do things. I have always found those problems to be interesting.”
Smith’s experience on the Faculty Senate helped him realize the importance of a president whom the faculty can trust when it comes to making decisions.
“I am the representative of the faculty, but when there is no time to consult, I try and use what I know about the faculty to make decisions on their behalf,” he said.
Smith’s big plans
Running on the platform of reforming general education, Smith has big plans for his term as senate president. He intends to listen carefully to various ideas about how general education should be changed and then focus on issues that he believes can help positively impact the curriculum; one of which is funding for general education classes.
“You have departments where they have to teach general education classes and they literally lose money every time they teach a class,” Smith explained. “It should be set up in a way that at least departments are not losing money.”
Another issue the new Faculty Senate president would like to address is reforming the communication flow from the senate to the faculty. Through revamping the communication loop, he hopes for the information to pass to the faculty more effectively and allow for further feedback from constituents.
“Since the senate is the voice of the faculty, it is important that faculty know what is going on so they can voice concerns when they come up,” Smith said.
He believes this can be done by limiting the number of campus-wide emails and making more direct use of senators to convey important happenings.
“Only when the senate speaks with the voice of the faculty as a whole can we get things done on campus, which is why excellent communication is so critical.”
Smith grew up in Atlanta, Ga., and pursued his master’s and doctorate at Duke University. He decided to come to Clemson because of the quality of work that he could accomplish as well as the appeal of raising his three children in the Upstate.