When Jodie Nicotra was in college, she was a double major in English and biology, even though her first love was always English.
“My parents said, “You need to do something practical,”” said Nicotra, now a University of Idaho English professor. “Well, of course biology is really no more practical than English is, but none of us knew that at the time.”
Nicotra has been at UI since 2005, but this is her first year serving on Faculty Senate.
Nicotra said being an English professor impacts the issues she is interested in discussing. Since her department utilizes video conferencing equipment in some distance classes, she was involved in the discussion on technology in classrooms led by Dan Ewart a few weeks ago.
She said she is glad to be a part of a group at UI that can bring important issues like these to a meaningful place.
As a professor of rhetoric and composition, Nicotra said she values supporting her ideas in these discussions with facts to back them up.
“I think it”s important that when faculty bring forth potentially contentious topics that they really need to provide evidence and data for them,” she said. “They can”t just say, “Oh, I feel like this would be a good thing to do.””
Nicotra said some topics are more controversial than she expected. She was surprised by how much the topic of family leave was argued at recent Faculty Senate meetings, but acknowledged she was not a part of the initial discussions the previous academic year.
“That surprised me,” she said. “Some issues are way more contentious than I think.”
Yet Nicotra said she was pleasantly surprised by how open UI Provost and Executive Vice President John Wiencek seemed in past Faculty Senate meetings about university administration.
“There seems to be a new transparency to what”s happening in upper administration,” she said.
Nicotra said she has enjoyed working on Faculty Senate so far and loves to see how seriously some faculty members take certain issues that she also puts value in.
“The good thing about shared governance at the university is that faculty from various departments bring a really on the ground perspective of what the needs of the university are,” Nicotra said.