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March 26, 2008

Curriculum items stall in Senate

by Erin Rosacker

The Faculty Senate hit a snag March 25 on what would have been routine votes on curricular items.

"It's come to my attention that in a number of cases these new minors and new degrees have not been voted on by the faculty in the particular colleges or departments," said Martha Selby, adjunct assistant professor in materials science and engineering.

Selby cited section 10.8 of the Faculty Handbook, which states that the college faculty also must approve new degrees and minors.

Although the nine curricular changes on the docket earned approval from their respective college curriculum committees and the Faculty Senate curriculum committee, not all of them had been put in front of their college faculty as a whole.

"I think the people proposing these degrees took them forward in good faith, thinking they were following the correct procedure," said associate provost David Holger.

From there, the arguments moved to interpretation of the Handbook language.

Finally, senators voted 29-16 in favor of Selby's motion to postpone a vote on any proposed new degrees and minors that had not been approved by the faculty in their respective departments and colleges.

Seven of the nine proposals failed to meet that requirement, including:

  • B.S. in culinary science
  • B.S. in global resource systems
  • B.S. in biological systems engineering
  • Undergraduate certificate in occupational safety
  • Minor in bioengineering
  • Minor in meat science
  • Minor in sport and culture

Senators determined that the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences satisfied the requirement for college faculty approval. The college's two curricular proposals up for a vote -- a bachelor of arts in world languages and cultures and a minor in music technology -- both earned unanimous approval from the senate.

"In the course of the last two years, this question has never come up and you approved consistently programs that have not had votes by the college faculties," Holger said. "I respectfully request that you consider the impact this decision will have on the credibility of the senate with the people you represent."

Senators have two meetings remaining this semester (April 15 and April 29) to solve the dilemma, and get the curriculum items approved in time for the next course catalog.

In other business

The senate approved three name changes:

  • Graduate degree: from plant physiology to plant biology (40-8 vote)
  • Undergraduate degree: from agricultural education to agriculture and life sciences education (unanimous)
  • Undergraduate degree: from entomology to insect science (44-2-2)

Time ran out for the senate's second reading on three issues up for a vote:

  • Change to the foreign travel grants policy
  • Changes to the senate by-laws
  • New research policy proposal

Senators elected:

  • Michael Martin (landscape architecture) as senate secretary
  • Steve Freeman (agricultural and biosystems engineering) as chair of the judiciary and appeals council
  • Suzanne Hendrich (food science and human nutrition) as chair of the academic affairs council
  • Max Porter (civil, construction and environmental engineering) as chair of the governance council
  • Tim Day (biomedical sciences) as athletic council liaison


Seven of nine curricular change proposals failed to earn approval during the Faculty Senate's March 25 meeting.