Professional News

University Senate Names Professor Debra Harley 2020 Outstanding Senator

photo of Debra Harley
Debra Harley of the College of Education has been named the 2020 Outstanding Senator by University Senate.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2020) University of Kentucky College of Education and Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Counselor Education Professor Debra Harley has been named the 2020 Outstanding Senator by the UK University Senate.

“Faculty members who continuously engage in institutional service throughout the course of their careers are true advocates for their colleagues, their students and the institution,” said Senate Council Chair Aaron Cramer, Kentucky Utilities Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Debra’s extensive history of participation in shared governance represents a commitment to the principle that the university is stronger when we all work together to shape its future.

“Debra provides an example that we can all follow. By answering the call to represent one’s peers and adding your voice to challenging conversations, you can have a sustained and positive influence over the trajectory of the university. The senate is grateful for the contributions she has made; the university literally cannot exist as it does without people like Debra.”

Harley is currently serving in her fourth term as an elected university senator for the College of Education and serves as a member on the Senate Academic Organization and Structure Committee. Since being first elected to the University Senate in 1997, she has served as chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on Disability Accommodation and Compliance, as well as membership on the Senate Academic Programs Committee and Institutional Finance and Resource Allocation Committee. During her senate membership, she served as an elected member of the Senate Council in 2006, where she supported shared governance principles.

In nominating Harley, College of Education colleagues Professor Susan Cantrell and Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig wrote in their recommendation, “Dr. Harley has made meaningful contributions to the senate and administration while working with the faculty at large on important issues that impact the faculty mission at the University of Kentucky”; and “has provided exemplary service critical for the success of faculty governance at the University of Kentucky. She has consistently led at the university level on senate-appointed committees that are at the heart of faculty governance.”

“Debra has provided outstanding service and is a strong advocate for faculty governance,” said DeShana Collett, Senate Council vice chair, who convened the subcommittee that reviewed nominees for the Outstanding Senator Award. “She has made meaningful contributions related to faculty governance issues in her current role as a member of the Senate Academic Organization and Structure Committee and past roles as a Senate Council member. Her commitment and advocacy to faculty governance are evident in her current appointment as chair of the Academic Area Advisory Committee for Extension and previous appointments to the Senate Hearing Panel on Privilege and Tenure. She is genuinely committed to advancing the senate’s broad agenda and goals, as well as upholding the principles of faculty governance.”

Winners of the award are selected by an ad hoc committee of the Senate Council. Current and former senators are eligible to be nominated, but members of the Senate Council are not eligible for nomination.

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.