President-Elect

Heather Akou

With so many talented and dedicated faculty at IU, I’m deeply honored to be considered for president-elect of the Bloomington Faculty Council. Although I haven’t been a representative for very long, I have served the campus in several other capacities: as a faculty board member for the Office of Women’s Affairs and the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, as an elected member of the College of Arts + Sciences policy committee (nearing the end of my three-year term), as the associate chair and chair of my department, and as a member of the BFC CREM committee (one year), Mediation Committee (one year), and Long-Range Planning Committee (two years). Currently, I’m helping to plan a symposium for the Bicentennial on the past and future of higher education as viewed through the lens of IU.

I believe my role as a faculty leader is not just to represent my colleagues, but to proactively consider what changes will be necessary (or even desirable) on this campus in the near and distant future. Administrators should not be the only visionaries. In the interest of shared governance, I think faculty leaders should also listen carefully to diverse perspectives, look for opportunities, and be prepared to voice collective concerns and goals. Although we’re living through difficult times (both politically and financially), we should never give up hope or stop working for the common good—to make this campus more excellent, inclusive, and fair.

I grew up in a working-class family in northern Wisconsin and have been a faculty member at IU since 2004. I owe my career to philanthropy and public institutions. Currently, I’m an associate professor in the School of Art, Architecture + Design and director of the Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection. I’m also an adjunct in the departments of Art History, Anthropology, and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and an affiliate of African Studies, Islamic Studies, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Colin Johnson

I came to Indiana University in 2005 to take up my first tenure-track faculty position in the Department of Gender Studies. Since then I have had many opportunities to watch policy being made, and remade, at the level of my school, the campus, and the university. From 2015 to 2017 I served as an elected member of the Bloomington Faculty Council, and I was re-elected to the council again in 2018. During the 2016-17 academic year I also served as Parliamentarian of the BFC, as an ex officio member of the BFC Executive Committee, and as Chair of the BFC Constitution and Rules Committee. Prior to being elected to the BFC, I served as an appointed member of the BFC Education Policies Committee for seven years (2008-15). I currently serve as an appointed member of the BFC Long Range Planning Committee, an elected member of the College Policy Committee, and an appointed member of the College’s recently constituted Diversity and Inclusion Advisory and Action Committee.

I don’t pretend that these experiences have made me an expert on College, campus, or university policy. They have taught me a great deal about the policy making-process, however. Among other things I have learned that truly effective policies aren’t simply “made” so much as they are developed, ideally in active discussion with the people they are most likely to affect, enacted, and then thoughtfully refined in light of their actual consequences, especially the unintended ones. I have also learned that there is a crucial difference between developing effective institutional policies, which is something faculty talk about a lot, and developing effective institutional procedures, which is something we tend to think about much less. I believe faculty need to weigh in on both matters because even the best policies become impediments to our work as scholars and teachers when the institutional procedures involved in observing them are cumbersome or poorly thought out.

Finally, I have learned that the policy-making process works best when people approach it in terms of what they have in common. After two decades working at the edges of the customary disciplines, I recognize that different fields of inquiry have wildly different understandings of what constitutes meaningful knowledge. I have yet to interact with any colleagues on this campus who fail to think of themselves as scholars, educators, intellectuals, or people, however. These are the positions from which we can all speak with genuine authority, even if we have different things to say when we do, based on our individual experiences. If elected President of the BFC, I would certainly make every effort to guide the council’s collective work with these points of commonality in mind. To do otherwise would be to transform the enterprise of shared governance into a self-defeating internecine battle between various campus constituencies that are distinct in terms of their needs, certainly, but far more similar than not in terms of their broader interests.

John Walbridge

Indiana University is fortunate in that the faculty has maintained its role in shaping policy and that administrators have respected faculty governance. While I firmly believe in the right of the faculty to govern their sphere—curriculum, research, and evaluation of colleagues—administrators have the right to expect that faculty governance will be carried out constructively, proactively, and punctually. The Bicentennial has already brought major changes, and the coming years will certainly bring new challenges and changes. We as the faculty, and the Bloomington Faculty Council as the faculty’s representatives, need to be at the table to help manage this change in accordance with our interests and experience. My goal as BFC president will be to protect that relationship so that the faculty’s voice is heard and heeded.


I have been at IU for two and a half decades in an interdisciplinary department. I served as its chair and played a key role in establishing the Center for the Study of the Middle East. I was convinced fifteen years ago that IU international resources needed an institutional framework and served on three committees drafting proposals for what has become the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. I have twice served on the Bloomington Faculty Council as well as on the Student Affairs, Research Affairs, and Faculty Affairs Committees. I am particularly proud of my role co-chair of the subcommittee whose work led to recent changes in representation for non-tenure-track faculty.

My ties to IU are very strong. My sons and their wives all attended IU, and my daughter-in-law is on the faculty. IU has allowed me to teach subjects that excite me and has given me students who I am proud of. I have published seven books in my field and translated two volumes of poetry. I have held Guggenheim and NEH fellowships, two Fulbrights, and additional research fellowships in Pakistan and Turkey. Indiana University has given me a great deal, and I would be honored to have the opportunity to give back.