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Faculty Senate update

Vaccination and fall-return news, Strategic Plan 2030 overview, Campus Climate Survey launch.

By Cory Phare

March 10, 2021

Icy branches in foreground; blurred images of people walking on MSU Denver campus in background.Metropolitan State University of Denver Faculty Senate President Katia Campbell, Ph.D. (communication studies), kicked off the March 3 meeting by acknowledging how challenging the semester has been.

“Congrats to everyone for making it through to this point of the semester,” she said. “It’s been a hard slog, but hope is right around the corner.”

MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., echoed the gratitude for faculty members as she briefed the assemblage on the plan to return to campus safely in the fall. She discussed Gov. Jared Polis’ recent announcement that student-facing college and university personnel would now be eligible for the Covid vaccine in prioritized order starting as early as March 21. 

“Our primary objective has always been to come back safely, and the vaccine is a huge part of that,” Davidson said. “We’ve been fighting hard to get higher education moved up in the queue – and it worked!

“The pandemic also gets a vote, though. … The key is to focus on being safe and following the science.”

Individuals are being contacted directly for vaccination schedules as they are eligible; read more in the March 4 Early Bird Special Edition.

Past Faculty Senate President Matt Makley, Ph.D. (history), and Kat Martinez, Ph.D. (Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy/gender, women and sexualities), addressed the group on the University’s Strategic Plan approved by the Board of Trustees in December, now in an operational phase.

“The point is … social mobility,” Martinez said. “The vision is important, but the pillars of the plan are a great place to strategize upon.”

They then walked through the plan’s five pillars: student access, service and achievement; student-centered academic excellence; civic and economic catalyst; diversity, equity and inclusion; and organizational agility and sustainability.

“The next step is starting to think about where we see our work in the pillars, from communication with our chairs and deans to collegewide and across the University level,” Martinez said.

Sen. Richard Russell, Ph.D. (accounting), led a second read of the updated Transfer Credit Rules. As covered previously in the Early Bird, last session’s reading was technically the first as the measure had structurally changed to reflect automatic transfer-credit blocks of general credit granted for completed baccalaureate degrees and associates of arts or science completed in the state of Colorado; it also noted certain general-studies courses may be required of specific majors or minors. The measure passed with a vote of 73 yes, three no and two abstentions.

Russell and Senate Vice President Elizabeth Goodnick, Ph.D. (philosophy), then led a first read of the Policy for Ethical Use of General Studies Assessment Data. Goodnick explained that the policy outlines how this data used for accreditation is purposefully stored and accessed; and that it was crafted to prevent gathered data being held against faculty members during their portfolio-review process; conversely, it can’t be selectively applied if desired, either.  

Other items of business included:

  • Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Michael Benitez, Ph.D.; Andrea Borrego, Ph.D. (criminal justice and criminology); and Chalane Lechuga, Ph.D. (Chicana/o Studies) visited the Senate to invite participation in the recently launched Campus Climate Survey. Results will help University leaders build a more inclusive and equitable environment, Benitez said. Survey responses are anonymous; an individualized link was sent to MSU Denver employees from ViewFinder on March 1 and is open through March 19.
  • Craig Svonkin, Ph.D. (English), introduced a proposal for department chairs to be elected by a vote of full-time faculty members as opposed to being chosen by deans. After floor discussion, the measure was tabled until more data can be gathered from individual departments, though discussion is slated to continue in the March 17 meeting.
  • Campbell promoted the upcoming Dialogues Program session slated for March 17, 10-11:30 a.m., on processing hardship in the moment while balancing day-to-day life. RSVP info can be found on the University Event page.
  • The MSU Denver Faculty Federation will host a panel on the Covid safe-return process in the fall semester, taking place March 11 at 3:30 p.m.

Topics: Academics, Community, Events, Faculty Senate, Inclusive leadership

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