April 21, 2011

Faculty misconduct policy gets senate approval

by Erin Rosacker

Proposed changes to the faculty conduct policy, which have been debated and amended since their introduction in December, earned nearly unanimous approval at the April 19 Faculty Senate meeting.

The changes add unacceptable performance of duty to the list of misconduct items in section 7.2.2 of the Faculty Handbook. Senate president Micheal Owen said the policy's description of due process gives faculty added protection. Senators passed the item without further discussion.

Senators also approved a new bachelor of design program and a name change for kinesiology's sport and culture minor, to sport and recreation. But it was the vote on revised steps for academic program approval (section 10.8.1) that generated the most discussion.

The current process requires academic program proposals to contain documentation of consent from related programs. The proposed changes would require documentation of:

  • Consultation with related programs
  • Support or objections from related programs, with rationale
  • Faculty votes from related programs

"The Faculty Senate would arbitrate if there was a significant sentiment in a related program against a new proposed program -- a major, minor or certificate," said Suzanne Hendrich, chair of the academic affairs council.

Tony Townsend, associate professor in supply chain and information systems, argued that big departments would be able to push through similar programs that would lure students away from smaller departments. As an example, he pointed to a proposed engineering technology degree introduced last year that met criticism from existing programs in both management information systems and computer science. The program still is working toward a resolution among the concerned departments.

"Allowing a program with just enough muscle to push itself through while denying the veto of programs that find it objectionable is unconscionable," Townsend said.

John Mayfield, a professor in genetics, development and cell biology who cited his lengthy senate service, said programs with serious objections never have made it through the process -- which includes reviews by departments, colleges and senate committees before even making it to the senate floor.

"I can't conceive of this body approving a program that has a legitimate, serious objection from another program," Mayfield said. "No college has a majority here."

Ultimately, the policy changes were narrowly approved, 39-23.

Final docket

Three items remain on the docket for May 3, the senate's final meeting of the academic year, including a sustainability minor introduced at the last meeting. Hendrich said faculty votes on the proposed minor still are being collected. The cross-disciplinary program will be administered by a committee with representatives from the Agriculture and Life Sciences, Design, Engineering, and Liberal Arts and Sciences colleges.

Design's integrated studio arts program proposed a new post-baccalaureate certificate in studio arts. The undergraduate program would be aimed at students who already possess a bachelor's degree and wish to compile a body of work for either graduate school admission or professional practice. The 25-credit program would require completion within two years.

Finally, senators are considering changes to the senate bylaws that outline the new university outcomes assessment committee. The committee was approved at the April 5 senate meeting.