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Faculty Senate update

A welcome back, visits from the dean of students and ombuds, and the policy on academic policies progresses.

By Cory Phare

August 27, 2018

Faculty senate meetingThe third-floor Tivoli ballrooms were abuzz with energy as the Faculty Senate ushered in the first meeting of the 2018-19 term.

“Welcome back – it’s so good to see such a robust and august body,” said Matt Makley, professor of history and Senate president. “We owe a significant debt of gratitude to the work of the faculty members here at (Metropolitan State University of Denver).

“As defenders of faculty sovereignty and curriculum, being a senator is serious business – but let’s also have a fun year.”

Braelin Pantel, dean of students and associate vice president for Student Engagement and Wellness, and Thomas Ragland, associate director for student conduct, addressed the assemblage, detailing the personal and interpersonal elements that may affect a student’s ability to succeed. They provided resources into submitting a CARE report and clarification on mandatory reporting processes. Ragland also noted holistic services offered, including threat management, behavioral intervention and aid with food insecurity.

“Thank you for the work you all do to help our students,” Pantel said. “We see what we do in the Dean of Students office as a partnership with you. We’re a mechanism on campus to help students get support, and if you’re not sure about a specific situation, we’re here as a resource for you to consult.”

Next up, Barbara Beatty, University ombuds, reminded the Senate of the conflict and communication strategies available as a resource to community members. She also noted the four basic principles of the ombuds role: confidentiality, impartiality, informality and independence.

“When you come to see me, I won’t tell you what to do – rather, we’ll brainstorm options in a safe space,” Beatty said. “As the Beatles say, ‘We all get by with a little help from our friends.’”

James Murphy (accounting) then described how the three elements affecting the University’s budget – capped tuition increases, enrollment trends and state funding – translated into compensation recommendations from the Budget Task Force. Check out this month’s Early Bird story for more information, and stay tuned for further updates as they’re available.

Chair of the Academic Policies Committee Jessica Weiss (art) discussed a policy to distinguish the separation of academic policy from other University policy. She detailed the historical background of the process as well as work with the President’s Advisory Council on University Policy.

Examples of what would be considered academic policy include elements such as admission criteria, curricula, grading practices and graduation requirements; falling outside of this would be policies related to areas including parking, technology acquisition and campus security.

“What we’re clarifying here is that academics are the purview of the faculty,” Weiss said. “It’s important for us to own curriculum and what happens in the classroom.”

This meeting constituted the first reading of the proposal; further discussion and a vote will take place at the next Faculty Senate meeting Sept. 5.

Other items of business:

  • Makley asked for a volunteer on a housing-related task force that began meeting over the summer. He stressed the importance of a faculty voice to address future development plans and how best to serve students; those interested should email Makley and Robyn Sherwood.
  • The Academic Policy Committee is looking for a representative from arts and humanities; parties should also email Makley and Sherwood.
  • Vincent Piturro (English) gave an update on the General Studies committee. Based on feedback from faculty to streamline the proposal process, changes to existing classes are broken into two categories: Those that are non-content-related (title changes, credit hours, Accuplacer requirements, etc.) won’t require submission of a full packet, while those that touch on areas such as assessment still do. More information will be forthcoming; Piturro also addressed committee-member vacancies that need filling.
  • Zsuzsa Balogh (civil engineering technologies) thanked Jean-Francois Duclos (modern languages) for his work leading the Curriculum Committee and noted the opening of an at-large seat.
  • Makley also encouraged Faculty Senate attendees to be active in reporting back proceedings and agenda items with home departments to encourage open lines of communication. “We want to make sure we include everyone with a significant stake,” he said.
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