Bohlander Ends Tenure as Faculty Secretary

Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) Principal Research Scientist Ron Bohlander will retire from his role as Georgia Tech’s secretary of the faculty in April. Principal Research Associate Jeanne Balsam has been selected by the Faculty Senate and Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson as the new secretary.

The secretary of the faculty is appointed by Georgia Tech’s president, based upon the recommendation of the Faculty Senate body. The secretary’s official duties involve keeping accurate minutes and records of the Faculty Senate meetings, posting the minutes of the Faculty Senate’s various committees, accepting Nominating Committee reports from the Faculty Executive Board, and conducting elections to fill faculty governance positions addressed by the Nominating Committee.  

“One of the great things about Georgia Tech is the collegial atmosphere between the faculty and the administration,” said Bohlander, relating that such an atmosphere is not always prevalent at other institutions. “It really has allowed us to get things done in a much easier fashion.”

Balsam, who served on the Statutes Committee for more than five years, said she is thankful to be chosen for the position. As the chair of the Statues Committee, she served on the Institute Policy Committee and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Compliance Committee.

“As a steward of the current Faculty Handbook, I have worked with different individuals and taskforces to achieve recommended changes to the Faculty Handbook,” Balsam said. “I value collaborative contributions and effective communications in assessing and recommending modification requests to the faculty for consideration.”

In the past, Balsam recalls, Bohlander’s extensive institutional knowledge has served faculty governance well. Bohlander has served as secretary of the faculty since the fall of 2006. 

“Ron has a wealth of knowledge about the functioning and history of the Institute, and I certainly understand the value that Ron has brought to the secretary of the faculty position,” Balsam said. “I have seen firsthand the support, campus knowledge and history, and guidance that he has provided to the Statutes Committee and look forward to being a part of his legacy of success.”

Bohlander has been at Georgia Tech for four presidents, starting with President Joseph M. Pettit, whom he credits with initiating the modern faculty governance for Georgia Tech in 1981 to help boost engagement among the faculty. By 1982, Bohlander was selected to join the Faculty Honors Committee. 

“Since that point, I’ve been on a slew of different committees and then served for five or six years as chair of the Statutes Committee,” he said. “That led to the opportunity where I was invited to be secretary of the faculty, a position I’ve held for a little more than nine years now.” 

One main accomplishment Bohlander recalls is his part in rewriting the Faculty Handbook. “We rewrote it twice, actually,” he said. “One we finished in April 2013 and one in April 2014.”

The first rewrite was to reduce 57 chapters to seven. The second rewrite had to do with the change in faculty governance bodies and the change in definitions of research and academic faculty. “We no longer have a General Faculty Assembly,” he said. “We now have a Research Faculty Senate and an Academic Faculty Senate, and the combination of the two is called the Faculty Senate.” 

Additionally, Bohlander will retire with more than 36 years of experience with Georgia Tech’s Engineering Experiment Station — as GTRI was known when he was hired — taking with him a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge.

Bohlander’s last meeting in his official capacity was at the Faculty Executive Council meeting on April 9. Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Research and GTRI Director Stephen Cross saluted his service at the end of the meeting. 

“You began your service as secretary in 2006, and you were well-prepared for that, since you started on the Faculty Honors Committee back in 1982,” Cross said to Bohlander. “It’s an amazing length of service, and I’m most appreciative of how you have conducted yourself as secretary of the faculty. You will be greatly missed, not only for your institutional memory, but because you’re the conscience of the faculty.”

Cross closed the meeting with a motion that the minutes reflect Bohlander’s service as the secretary of the faculty. 

“It’s been a huge pleasure and a labor of love,” Bohlander said. “I’m pleased that Jeanne is here to carry to the torch.”

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Robert Nesmith
Georgia Tech Research Institute

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