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The Faculty Senate Leadership team from left to right is Tom Merrill, Vice Chair, Lilian Baeza-Mendoza, Chair and Garret Martin, Past Chair and not pictured, Lura Graham, Operations Manager

Summary of the Faculty Senate Meeting
February 1, 2023

Chair’s Report—Lilian Baeza-Mendoza

The Chair of the Faculty Senate, Lilian Baeza-Mendoza, opened the meeting promptly. She made several announcements as part of the Chair’s Report.

  • The minutes of the December 2022 meeting were approved.
  • In this session the Senate piloted a hybrid Senate modality, with some Senators and members of the community present in person and others participating by Zoom.
  • Lilian Baeza-Mendoza and the Senate leadership will be holding meetings with Senate committee chairs and holding Senate office hours. Any Senator interested in talking privately is welcome to drop in.
  • Robert Shand will replace Sarah Ervin Belson as the Senate representative from SOE.
  • Steve Silvia will replace Mirjana Morosini as the Senate representative from SIS for the spring sememster.
  • The senate has decided not to use a general election to choose members of dean’s search committees again. The senate will discuss the method it will use to choose such members at a future date.
  • The university awards process has begun with President Burwell’s call for nominees for university awards. Luckily, we have many community members willing to serve on the University Awards committee, including good representation from the Senate DEI committee. The committee, which Tom Merrill is chairing, will meet for the first time at the end of February.
  • The Service Task Force has started its work. Garret Martin (SIS) and Taryn Morrisey (SPA) are the co-chairs.
  • The Senate is searching for its next Vice-Chair. This year we are looking for a term faculty for this position. Those interested in this position should reach out to the senate leadership.

Provost’s Report—Peter Starr

  • Provost Starr and several members of the senior administration team are in Miami for a Change Can’t Wait event.
  • The development office is starting to ramp up its total annual giving as compared to previous years. Provost Starr says the university will prioritize named faculty chairs.
  • Provost Starr and others are focused on retention. They are especially looking at academic pathways and experiential learning. Other members of the senior leadership team are rethinking AUx; trying to revamp our data collection efforts; and trying get rid of obstacles to students transferring from one school to another.
  • Wendy Boland is reviewing our small Master’s programs.
  • The Provost is hosting several Provost’s open forums, including one on Academic Integrity (including Chat GPT); one of the Boyar Report on undergraduate education; and one on experiential learning.

Presentation: Update on Middle States Accreditation Review—Karen Froslid Jones and Sheila Bedford

Karen Froslid Jones (OIRA) and Sheila Bedford (KSB) gave the community an update on the upcoming Middle States Accreditation Review. The team hopes to have a complete draft of the report in fall 2023 and will seek feedback from the community in preparation for the campus visit from the Middle States team early in 2024. The Middle States is offering new standards for universities, including standards with an increased place for DEI work.

Action Item: Undergraduate Reg. Change: Policy on Incompletes—Jessica Waters

Dean Jessica Waters presented a proposal to revise the undergraduate regulations on incompletes. The proposal, which was first presented at the last faculty meeting, clarifies the regulations as to what it means for a student to be “otherwise passing” a class. Dean Waters emphasized that this change clarifies under what conditions a faculty member can grant an incomplete, but that it does not take away the faculty member’s discretion to grant or not grant an incomplete. The Senate discussed and voted on this proposal.

Discussion Item: Faculty Manual Changes Related to Continuing Appointment—Peter Starr, Monica Jackson, and Rob Kelley

The Senate discussed the proposal to replace the current system of term faculty contracts with a Continuing Appointment arrangement. The Senate expects to vote on the proposal at the March Senate meeting. Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty Jackson made a presentation on these changes. The PowerPoint presentation and the proposed changes to the Faculty Manual were circulated to the community in the email from the Senate announcing this meeting. Deputy Provost Jackson and Provost Starr then took questions on this topic from the community. Community members raised questions about whether continuing faculty contracts will eventually replace all multiyear contracts; whether continuing appointment faculty will be able to serve on review committees; how the continuing appointment proposal will affect the university’s hiring of tenure line faculty; and what avenues for grievance for continuing appointment or term faculty who think they have been treated unfairly. Community members also noted that the continuing appointment proposal is an “up or out” decision in the 6th year. Others noted that the proposal mentions conditions under which a continuing appointment faculty could be terminated and asked whether there were sufficient protections for those faculty from unfairness. Provost Starr and Deputy Provost Jackson mentioned that, if the proposal passes, term faculty who have been at AU for more than 10 years and term faculty who have been here for 6 years and whose contracts are ending will be eligible to apply for continuing appointment next year. Lilian Baeza-Mendoza encouraged all Senators to reach out to their home units to hear what faculty think about the continuing appointment and to especially make space for community members who might not want to comment in public.

For the Good of the Order—Lillian Baeza-Mendoza

Lilian Baeza-Mendoza asked senators to weigh in on whether they liked the hybrid modality or not. She also reminded them that luncheon to learn about the budget process with Bronte Burleigh-Jones is coming up on February 22nd at noon.