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Faculty Senate update

Honoring an equity advocate with fellowship naming, plus a vote on promotion process and saying goodbye to a familiar face.

By Cory Phare

September 25, 2018

Faculty Senate meetingCommitment to advancing equity within Metropolitan State University of Denver’s faculty has a new name honoring the efforts of a longtime champion of these efforts: the Wilton Flemon Postdoctoral Fellowship.

The MSU Denver Board of Trustees voted unanimously to formally name the program after the professor of chemistry and inclusion advocate, reported Matt Makley, professor of history and Faculty Senate president. The fellowship is structured to strategically attract and retain faculty from underrepresented populations.

“Dr. Flemon’s been at MSU Denver for more than 50 years; for so many, he is the institution itself,” Makley said. “He’s worked tirelessly to promote diversity here at MSU Denver and beyond, and I’m personally grateful for his mentorship and leadership.”

Makley also mentioned the suggestion put forth by the President’s Advisory Council on Academic Excellence and Student Success.

“Nothing has been decided yet. … Everything is still in the design phase,” he said. “I want to assure you that we will do everything to represent this body when it comes to conversations of restructuring, budgets and salaries. The Faculty Senate will be front and center as it unfolds.”

There was also discussion around how faculty members who take on administrative roles are able to seek advancement along the tenure track, with particular attention paid to the hour requirements and concerns about power dynamics. After a robust debate on the floor of the Senate, the measure was brought to a vote. With 37 in favor, 24 against and 14 abstentions, the measure did not pass, falling one vote short of a majority approval.

Finally, Makley announced the departure of Robyn Sherwood, longtime administrator for MSU Denver’s Faculty Senate. Attendees signed a picture frame for Sherwood; interim coverage plans are also in place.

“Robyn’s the brains behind so much of this operation and the institutional memory,” Makley said. “She’s also an absolutely fierce defender of faculty rights. We will miss her as a friend and confidante.”

Other items of business included:

  • Faculty trustee Chris Harder (math and computer science) provided a report from the recent Board of Trustees meeting; highlights included the naming of the Wilton Flemon Postdoctoral Fellowship, the introduction of a new Bachelor of Arts in sound and vision, and approval of Budget Task Force recommendations. “I see my role as giving a voice to faculty concerns and ideas, along with informing of what’s going on with the Board,” Harder said. “I encourage anyone with issues or questions to please reach out to me.”
  • Diversity Committee Chair Liz Goodnick (philosophy) updated the assemblage on the Faculty Equity Survey. Previously known as the Faculty Climate Survey, the effort will gather perceptions on the environmental equity of campus and inform policy recommendations. The survey closes Oct. 24 and will be reported on in the spring semester; a link to the online survey will be emailed out to all faculty members.
  • Jessica Weiss (art history) reported on behalf of the Academic Policy Committee that the policy on academic policies is moving forward, having been presented to PAC on Policies; it is now open for a 30-day public-comment period. The second reading of the degree-exception proposal was also postponed to allow more time for feedback.
  • The General Studies Committee Task Force presented on its process for program renovation; faculty members are key drivers in examining student learning outcomes and assessment processes. Those interested in learning more should visit the Task Force’s website.
  • Max Morgan, graduate-studies outreach specialist, invited participation for the upcoming Grad School Day on Oct. 16. The event will be split into morning and afternoon sessions that will highlight MSU Denver’s five unique graduate programs; Morgan encouraged attendance to help increase student enrollment.
  • Openings were filled on the Curriculum, General Studies and Budget Committees by Ben Thompson (human performance and sport), Randy Brazeau (environmental science) and Susan Schelble (chemistry) respectively; all new members were affirmed by acclamation.
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