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Faculty Senate update

Resolution on Supporting a Liberal Arts Education, Faculty Employment Handbook proposed changes, and updates from President Davidson.

By Cory Phare

September 22, 2020

Auraria Campus with Denver cityscape in background.Faculty Senate President Katia Campbell, Ph.D. (communication studies), led off Wednesday’s assemblage by welcoming Metropolitan State University of Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., to provide a brief update to the group.

“The themes for me this semester are gratitude and optimism,” Davidson said. “I’m so grateful for the dedication and work from all of our faculty and University community who are so focused on our students.”

She provided updates on the budget (“We don’t have tuition elasticity like other schools and … have to continue what we’re doing and find other ways to augment revenue”), concern raised over nonfaculty personnel (“We need administrators, not bloat. … For anyone who thinks we’re bloated, just look at every other school”) and potential reorganization discussions, tying in considerations of credit-hour production and structural clarity to donors and employers.

Davidson also asked the Senate to give her feedback on ideas and experiences of teaching online as the University continues planning for the spring semester, noting, “We can’t fix things we don’t know about.”

“We’re still in the middle of the storm, but we’ll eventually move through it – right now, the best thing is to wrap our arms around our students,” she said.

Bill Henry, Ph.D., interim provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs, then led discussion around proposed updates to the Faculty Employment Handbook that the Senate had voted to table amid the pandemic onset in the spring.

“One of the reasons we began looking at this is that RTP/PTR processes were very top-heavy in the first place; changes being proposed are to keep with President Davidson’s philosophy of delegating these kinds of decisions to the provost, dean and chair levels,” he said.

Proposed changes discussed include:

  • Currently, all Category 1 tenure-track faculty portfolios go to the president for reappointment to become official and lack the ability to appeal; the proposed change would reallocate the decision to Academic Affairs with reappointment approval resting at the dean level and building in an escalatory appeal structure.
  • Third-year portfolio reviews would go to the provost level; if the provost decided not to retain the faculty member, an appeal could be filed with a University appeals committee, with a final decision being made by the president.
  • All candidates for tenure and their portfolios currently make their way to the Board of Trustees; the proposed change would advance only individuals who were presented as affirmative to the board level.
  • The president currently makes the final decision of promotion to full-professor status; the change would give the provost the authority to grant this promotion.

Liz Goodnick, Ph.D. (philosophy), led the second reading of the resolution of Supporting a Liberal Arts and Sciences Education; updates included adding a clause on media literacy and structures to incentivize interdisciplinary collaboration and transparency. The vote passed with 73 in favor, six opposed and five abstentions.

Richard Russell, J.D. (accounting), led a first read on a catalog-year degree-rollback policy. Currently, students who are readmitted after stopping out of MSU Denver can “roll back” their catalog year. Logistically, this has proved to be untenable as current practice places no time limit; the proposed change would cap the time frame to 10 years prior to the readmitted academic year.

Other items of business included:

Topics: Academics, Events, Faculty Senate, Inclusive leadership

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