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2010 Faculty Award for Exemplary Contributions in Service: Howard Tolley

For 26 years at UC, Professor of Political Science Howard Tolley has never been hesitant about committing his time and energy in service of students, faculty and the university as a whole.

Date: 5/4/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   At any successful university, there is a short list of faculty for whom the adjective “tireless” is the only appropriate way to describe them. In corners all across the institution, when a job needs to be done, there are exceptional faculty members who always seem willing to step up and taken on the challenge.

There’s not much doubt that at the University of Cincinnati, Professor of Political Science Howard Tolley is near the top of that list.

Tolley is a 2010 recipient of UC’s Faculty Award for Exemplary Contributions in Service, an honor he has earned task-by-task over his 26-year career at the university. His is a remarkable record of involvement at the departmental, college and university-wide levels.
Howard Tolley
Howard Tolley

“Professor Tolley represents the best of the university faculty in his multi-faceted dedication to governance,” says Andrea Tuttle Kornbluh, professor of history at Raymond Walters College, who has worked with Tolley on committees for the Faculty Senate and the AAUP.

For Tolley, service is a responsibility of individuals in the professoriate just as lawyers, doctors, and the clergy must accept personal responsibility for maintaining individual and group standards in their professions.

 “The traditional faculty role is seen as teaching, research and service. The profession today typically values research the most, teaching as the second most valuable aspect and then service, which unfortunately  is often seen as of the least consequence,” says Tolley.  “I have, perhaps foolishly, tried to give equal weight to all three throughout my career.”

It’s not just this view of obligation that has made Tolley so valuable in his efforts. Along with his doctorate in political science from Columbia University, he is a graduate of UC’s College of Law. Because of his training in political science and the law, he has many times been able to in particular provide service to the development of policies and university rules that address ethical conduct, academic freedom, scholarly teaching, shared governance and due process.

Nelson Vincent, associate dean in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services and a co-coordinator of the Faculty Grievance Committee with Tolley, sees Tolley as someone committed to making a contribution.

“Tolley’s record of lifelong service includes a significant body of work that many of us would understand is of the highest importance but is of relatively low status in the pantheon of work that faculty members are called upon to do,” Vincent says. “Howard Tolley has consistently served the faculty and student communities with his complementary expertise in political science and the practice of law to support improvements and transparency in intellectual property and copyright, academic integrity, grading, grievance mediation, conflict of interest, student code of conduct and faculty governance.”

Across 26 years at the university, Tolley has literally been a part of dozens of committees and working groups that address such issues. Most recently, he has earned high praise for his contributions to the successful development of the university’s new Outside Activity Report and revisions to the Student Code of Conduct and Bylaws of the All University Faculty.

He has served the Political Science department in the past as acting head and chair of a search committee to find a new permanent department head, among many other appointments. Within the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, he has volunteered to take on a large number of roles, as well.
Howard Tolley

“Professor Tolley is a very remarkable person, more energetic and more committed to the educational missions of students, faculty, college and university than can be imagined, always providing surprising initiatives and adding contributions to this multitude of missions,” says his colleague from Political Science, Professor Joel Wolfe. “I can testify to this because we have been colleagues since 1985 and I have worked with him in a number of departmental roles, followed his endeavors as a department undergraduate director and then department Head.  He has also been extensively involved in contributing to McMicken College, the university, and the Association of American University Professors (AAUP) in many ways.”

UC Senior Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Karen Faaborg, who was also a law school classmate of Tolley’s and a member of the UC faculty, has also marveled at Tolley’s level of commitment. They served together many times, including on the search committee for a new University General Counsel and on an ad hoc committee that created a new Compliance Review Board.

Most recently, though, they worked together on the effort to create an Online Activity Report, a project to reduce potential conflicts of interest.

“He worked in concert with administrators from the Provost’s Office and Office of General Counsel for over two years to create the format, the content and the process,” Faaborg says. “I can state without qualification that the OAR form as it currently exists owes its success in large measure to the contributions of Howard Tolley.  It was because of Howard’s careful and thoughtful revisions and the many hours he spent communicating with our committee and other governance groups about the purpose and structure of the form that it has been accepted as a valuable tool by the UC community. “

Perhaps the ultimate statement of Tolley’s level of involvement at the university comes in knowledge that, in 2005, he won the George Barbour Award for Outstanding Service in Student-Faculty Relationships. To add a second major university award recognizing service speaks to the level of contribution Tolley has been willing to make.

Ultimately, Tolley believes his choices made to be involved while also juggling his research and instructional concerns have resulted in time well-spent.

“We all make choices about how to allocate our time, so those have been difficult ones,” he says. “On occasion they feel petty or insignificant, but ultimately there are the rewards of working in community with others and seeking to bridge differences and come to a win-win outcome.”