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Faculty Senate update

Faculty Handbook proposed changes discussed in-depth, plus upcoming Castro Professorship and resolutions on voter support, catalog-year degree rollback.

By Cory Phare

October 5, 2020

9th Street Park in fall.The meeting of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Faculty Senate on Wednesday was filled with robust discussion around a second read and vote on suggested changes to the Faculty Handbook.

Sen. Craig Svonkin, Ph.D. (English), introduced two proposed modifications:

  • In preference polling for department chairs, Category 1 faculty would participate in one poll, with separate surveys for Categories 2 and 3 and department staff to be conducted and tallied individually. After discussion around the concern for possible erosion of tenure from the current proposed language (which would have rolled these constituencies together into a single poll, with no voting mechanism for Category 3) and clarification around how to count abstentions on the first vote, a second vote passed with 48 in favor, 37 opposed and three abstentions.
  • Proposed changes had any presidential-level tenure-denial decisions then going to an Appeals Committee, which, if approved, would send back to the president for final determination; the modification would, in instances in which the president upholds the original decision to deny tenure, send the candidate’s application for tenure to the trustee level for final determination. This passed with 55 yes, 23 no and eight abstentions.

Following discussions of these modifications, the Senate voted to move forward with incorporating these changes into Section II of the Faculty Handbook for revenue-tenure-promotion and post-tenure review processes; this passed with 57 in-favor, eight opposed and one abstention.

Bill Henry, Ph.D., interim provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs, noted these changes will then necessitate further discussion at the Handbook Committee level as next steps.

Richard Russell, J.D. (accounting), led the Senate through a second read of the catalog-year degree-rollback policy, which would cap the time frame of readmitted students to request previous catalog programs to 10 years prior to their term of reentry. After brief discussion and Russell noting the ability of students adversely affected to pursue either degree exemptions or Individualized Degree Programs, the subsequent vote passed with 55 in favor, 16 opposed and three abstentions.

The meeting ended with a first read of a Faculty Senate Resolution on Election Day. The measure is a response to efforts to obstruct voting opportunities and increasing racism within BIPOC communities, asking faculty members to not take attendance or have crucial coursework due on Election Day.

“No one is going into Canvas to keep tabs on individuals – this is a public statement about the intention to respond quickly and generously for our students to support the right-to-vote process,” Faculty Senate President Katia Campbell, Ph.D. (communications studies), clarified.

Other items of business included:

  • Chalane Lechuga, Ph.D., (Chicana/o Studies) invited senators to the upcoming 2020 Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professorship, taking place Wednesday and Thursday. This year’s theme is “Reclaiming Schooling/Recuperando la Enseñanza: Radically Reimagining the Work of Education” and will feature Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Event schedules and RSVP information can be found on the Castro program webpage.
  • Met Media is collecting stories from community members to share about experiences and adjustments to feature as part of the Roadrunner Diaries series. Faculty members interested in contributing can reach out via the project website.
  • Gabrielle Katz, Ph.D. (earth and atmospheric sciences), is soliciting responses by Oct. 14 for a survey on faculty workload and resources by the Faculty Welfare Committee; the survey is looking for short-term opportunities while the committee continues to explore questions around instructional load.
  • Campbell reminded senators of the importance of keeping in touch with students during challenging times. “I know we’re all working hard to meet needs and draw connections,” she said. “That involves being present, engaged, and reaching out to our students through Canvas or Teams.”

Topics: Faculty Senate

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