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Faculty Senate update

Report on restoring voting to Faculty Trustee, possible move to online format, graduate catalogue revisions.

By Cory Phare

October 14, 2021

Faculty Senate meeting attendees photographed from behind.The Metropolitan State University of Denver Faculty Senate continues to deliberate a measure that would reinstate voting privileges to the faculty representative on the University’s Board of Trustees.

Enabling legislation that set up MSU Denver’s initial Board of Trustees in 2002 established that an elected faculty representative had the right to vote, but this part of the legislation was amended before the initial Board meeting in 2003 to stipulate that the faculty representative would serve in an advisory role. Current Faculty Trustee Bethany Fleck Dillen, Ph.D., (Psychological Sciences) reported to the Faculty Senate during its Oct. 6 meeting that the rationale behind the amendment was not identified, but Fleck noted that it involved gubernatorial transition alongside tenure standardization and initial Board leadership priorities.

Fleck provided the report in response to a Feb. 7 motion to reinstate voting privileges.

Reasons for restoring a Faculty Trustee vote include shared governance, prioritized inclusion on agendas and improved faculty relations with the Board. Those opposed to the measure cite possible conflicts of interest (as the rest of the Board consists of external representatives) and possible damaging of relations.

Dillen also said enacting change would necessitate adding the issue to the statewide legislative agenda, sponsorship and passage, which would require additional resources.

Senators were asked to take the findings back to their departments for further discussion prior to a second read and vote at the next meeting.

In other business, Kelly Evans, Ph.D., (Human Performance and Sport) walked through a first read of proposed bylaw changes that would incorporate operations for online meetings of the Faculty Senate. She noted the Rules Committee amended guidelines from Robert’s Rules of Order to suit MSU Denver and would require a two-thirds vote to approve a fully online move.

Procedurally, a Microsoft Teams link would be emailed to senators, with the virtual room opening 15 minutes prior to start time and each attendee being responsible for their internet connection.

Collective chat functions would be disabled, with motions submitted via message to the parliamentarian (currently Evans). This would lead to a point-of-order, with the senate president then assigning the floor. Voting would take place via Microsoft Forms or a similar secure setup to ensure anonymity and that only senators are voting, and the senate president would reserve the right to disconnect if any issues arose.

A second read is slated for the next Faculty Senate meeting.

Senate Vice President and acting Academic Policy Committee chair Liz Goodnick, Ph.D., (Philosophy) announced that Jessica Weiss, Ph.D., (Art History) will be returning to chair the committee. Goodnick then led the assemblage in a first read of proposed changes to the graduate catalogue.

Goodnick noted substantive changes to catalogue language hadn’t taken place since the 2017-18 academic year, with the goal now of becoming more student-friendly and consistent with the undergraduate catalogue. Proposed updates include adding military leave for “incomplete” processing, less restriction around “special admission” status and flexibility beyond these to count as culminating activities.

Senators were asked to take proposed changes to departments and should email Weiss with any questions or suggestions prior to the second read and vote next session.

Topics: Faculty Senate, Inclusive leadership

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