Sept. 23, 2010

Senate opens new academic year

by Erin Rosacker

The Faculty Senate convened Sept. 21 for its first meeting of the new academic year. Senators cleared a pair of business items held over from last spring, including unanimous approval for a new master's of industrial design in the College of Design.

Senators also approved Faculty Handbook revisions that better define the voting process for approving, merging or discontinuing academic programs. The changes to section 10.8 align with handbook revisions approved in May.

An amendment proposed by Annemarie Butler (philosophy and religious studies) to change the department's role in discontinuing academic programs narrowly passed. Rather than having only advisory input, the amendment requires a departmental vote on the proposed discontinuation of its majors. That vote can be overridden by a super majority (two-thirds) decision in the Faculty Senate.

"I would like to make sure that departments have a say in the future of their programs," Butler said.

Policy input

A parental leave draft policy was extracted from the consent agenda and discussed later in the meeting. The draft, developed by the university's Work/Life Advisory Committee, would apply to faculty, professional and scientific staff, post docs and nonorganized merit supervisory employees. The university committee is seeking senate feedback on the draft policy (PDF), which is available on the Faculty Senate website.

Proposed changes include a maximum of 15 working days of parental leave for any new parent of a child through birth, adoption or fostering. Birth mothers would be eligible for up to eight weeks of leave time. Both would allow the use of sick leave, vacation or unpaid leave. FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) leave would run concurrently for eligible employees.

Student affairs update

Vice president for student affairs Tom Hill was invited to address senators. His office will undergo a review by an appointed senate committee. Senate bylaws require five-year reviews of administrative offices.

In his remarks, Hill shared these numbers:

  • 640, number of full-time equivalent student affairs staff members
  • 2,100+, number of student employees
  • $171 million, student affairs budget
  • $48 million, total financial aid awarded
  • 85 percent, ISU students who receive some type of financial aid
  • 2.3 million, number of people who visit the Memorial Union annually
  • 9,400, number of student contracts with the residence department
  • 3,868 students in 76 learning communities

On the horizon

A proposed bachelor of engineering technology (BET) degree in information and computer engineering technology was omitted from this month's agenda. University Professor Doug Jacobson, who proposed the degree, was unable to attend the meeting.

The program proved controversial during senate discussion when it was introduced in May. Senators expressed concerns about its similarity to existing computer science and management information systems programs. Senate president Micheal Owen said the item will return in a future agenda.

Owen said other issues the senate likely will address this year include:

  • Post-tenure review and report (PDF)
  • Changes to section 2.7 (academic reorganizations) of the Faculty Handbook
  • Review of the handbook's faculty conduct policy (section 7.2)
  • Report on non-tenure eligible faculty