May 6, 2010

Senate concludes year with new elimination policy

by Erin Rosacker

The long-awaited vote on changes to section 3.4 of the Faculty Handbook took place at the Faculty Senate's final meeting of the academic year May 4. In a split decision, senators approved changes that clarify the policies for terminating faculty positions.

The handbook already contains the policy for termination of faculty appointments for adequate cause. The new policies deal with faculty terminations due to the elimination of academic programs or a declaration of financial exigency. The updated version of the policy (PDF) is available on the senate website.

A host of amendments were considered and debated in several meetings. The final amendment, passed at the May 4 meeting, added three components to the new policies:

  • Requires senate participation in determining financial exigency
  • Requires senate participation in faculty reductions
  • Gives faculty the right to appeal terminations due to financial exigency

"It was a long haul, but it was worth it," said departing senate president Arnold van der Valk. "I think we really ended up with a fabulous document."

Other business

Senators also approved:

  • The spring graduation list, including a posthumous degree for Travis "TJ" Good, a senior civil engineering major who died April 13 from a suspected case of bacterial meningitis
  • Design's bachelor of industrial design degree, an interdisciplinary program with the College of Business and mechanical engineering department

More handbook revisions will be carried over to the fall. Facing a packed agenda, the executive council postponed discussion of proposed changes to sections 10.8 and 2.7 of the handbook. The changes define the voting requirements for changing, adding, merging or discontinuing academic programs, departments and colleges.

Next time

Two proposed academic programs were introduced and will be ready for a vote when senators reconvene in the fall, including a master of industrial design. Like the newly approved bachelor of industrial design degree, the master's program would be housed in the College of Design's art and design department and work collaboratively with Business and mechanical engineering.

The College of Engineering is requesting the addition of a bachelor of engineering technology (BET) degree in information and computer engineering technology. The program would target community college transfers, especially those at schools with articulation agreements with ISU.

"This will permit a little more ready articulation between community colleges and Iowa State," said Suzanne Hendrich, chair of the academic affairs council.

In the supporting materials presented to senators, faculty in both the computer science and management information systems departments shared their concerns about the similarity of the program and its possible impact on their enrollments. The BET was approved in principle by the departments, with the understanding that they would work collaboratively to resolve potential conflicts.

Tony Townsend, associate professor in logistics operations and management information systems, said he and his colleagues are not convinced, despite the letter of endorsement from the College of Business' curriculum committee.

"We are profoundly troubled," Townsend said. "We felt this is a deliberate and somewhat cynical move to capture the bank of students that we teach already. My entire group feels this is a naked grab at students to pay against the RMM model. We are strongly opposed to it."

He said LOMIS faculty would be more agreeable with the degree if it was run jointly, but he added that the College of Engineering will not consider that option.