Professional News

University Senate Names Gail Brion 2021 Outstanding Senator

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 27, 2021) — University of Kentucky College of Engineering and Department of Civil Engineering's Gail Brion, Ph.D., has been named the 2021 Outstanding Senator by the University Senate.

“Universities cannot faithfully fulfill their role without the generous engagement of their faculty in their governance. Dr. Brion has a long history of participation, advocacy, and leadership on behalf of our colleagues, students and institution as a whole,” said Senate Council Chair Aaron Cramer, Kentucky Utilities Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Brion is a longtime elected faculty member of the University Senate. Excepting the Senate Rule-required pause in service after two consecutive terms, Brion has been a member of the University Senate since 2010, serving three-year terms that began in 2011 and 2018. She has also been elected by her faculty senator peers to serve two terms on the University Senate’s executive body, the Senate Council. She is also a long-standing member of the Senate's Rules and Elections Committee (SREC).

“Gail’s history of service is a call to all of us to step in and lead. This is true in the easier times, but it is even more important when times are difficult,” said Cramer. “Our university is better for the contributions of people like Gail, and I hope all of us realize how profoundly our service to each other shapes our institution.”

Brion has also provided valuable service to the university in other ways. She is a member of the Academic Area Advisory Committee for Physical and Engineering Sciences and during the pandemic she has been a member of the university’s COVID workstream on Faculty Affairs. According to Brion’s nominator, Scott Yost, associate professor in UK College of Engineering, “… I have seen her consistently suggest changes to motions, seconded motions, and created motions to enhance and express the concept of shared governance.” The nominator went on to note Brion’s consistency in her service roles for the University Senate.

“Gail is committed to upholding the goals and agenda of the University Senate,” said DeShana Collett, Senate Council vice chair, who convened the subcommittee that reviewed nominees for the Outstanding Senator Award. “Dr. Brion has consistently advocated for and represented the views of the faculty, as well as considered the many aspects of shared governance that may impact staff and students. Over the last 11 years, Gail has made substantive contributions on several Senate Committees, including the Senate Rules and Election Committee (SREC). As a member of SREC, she is instrumental in providing meaningful interpretations and suggested revision to our Senate Rules.”

Senators receive an email solicitation during the spring semester seeking nominees for this award. Current and former senators are eligible to be nominated, but members of the Senate Council are not eligible for nomination. Winners of the award are selected annually by an ad hoc committee of the Senate Council, and the award is then presented to the selected nominee at the September meeting of the University Senate.

Selection criteria for the Outstanding Senator Award include:

  1. Nominee has contributed to the University Senate by showing active and exemplary service on one or more Senate committees during his/her tenure.
  2. Nominee has made notable substantive contributions in communicating with the Senate and administration while working with the faculty at large on important issues that impact the faculty mission at the University of Kentucky.
  3. Nominee has consistently given strong voice to faculty issues in forums such as Senate meetings, public events, and/or local/regional news media and actively defended the principle of shared governance in UK forums and debates.
  4. Nominee is effective in promoting and supporting the Senate’s broader agenda and goals.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.