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Faculty Senate update

Vote on procedure to democratically elect department chairs; Provost Alfred Tatum welcomed; a new look for the Undergraduate Research Conference.

By Cory Phare

March 25, 2021

MSU Denver sign on HLC.Katia Campbell, Ph.D. (Communication Studies), Metropolitan State University of Denver Faculty Senate president, kicked off the March 17 meeting of the Senate by welcoming Alfred Tatum, Ph.D., the new provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs, as a guest.

Tatum briefly addressed the Senate and said he looks forward to “working with faculty to advance the (University’s) mission forward with integrity and enterprise.”

Campbell also thanked Bill Henry, Ph.D., for his service as interim provost, recognizing his “thoughtful and collaborative work with Faculty Senate.”

Craig Svonkin, Ph.D. (English), introduced a motion that department chairs be democratically elected by a majority vote of the full-time faculty members in their department, rather than chosen by deans or other administrators. This led to a floor discussion involving calls for further data-gathering and a motion to table the measure, which failed with a vote of 34 yes, 54 no and three abstentions.

Subsequent discussion continued, with Chalane Lechuga, Ph.D. (Chicana/o Studies) bringing up the need to include administrators and staff in the selection process, as department chairs are their supervisors as well. A friendly amendment to include “full-time staff members” was approved with 58 yes, 16 no and six abstentions.

Following further floor discussion, the vote on the motion to have department chairs democratically elected by a majority of full-time faculty and staff members passed, with 62 yes, 25 no and four abstentions. Faculty Senate leadership will develop specific handbook language in collaboration with campus leadership, Human Resources and legal counsel. Once draft language for the handbook is complete, Campbell and Senate Vice President Liz Goodnick, Ph.D. (Philosophy), will present the document to the Faculty Senate for a vote. If it passes, Campbell and Goodnick will then bring the draft to the Faculty Employment Handbook Committee for a vote and a recommendation to President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., for a final decision. 

Richard Russell, Ph.D. (Accounting), and Goodnick led a second reading of the Policy for Ethical Use of General Studies Assessment Data. The policy ensured that this specific information would be prevented from use for or against review portfolios and limited outside-party access. The subsequent vote passed with 76 yes, three no and three abstentions.

Russell also led a first read of a Policy for Extended Majors. Current catalog language acknowledges that extended majors exist but doesn’t outline criteria; the proposal would define what this entails, including a minimum of 60 hours of major-based classes and 30 hours of upper-division coursework with no minor requirement. Russell requested senators to discuss with their departments before the second read and vote.

Other items of business included:

  • Brian Bagwell, Psy.D. (Human Services and Counseling), spoke to the Senate to promote the Accessibility Competency Certification offered through the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design. The Access and Inclusion board is proposing a stipend for one faculty member and one staff member from each the department to take part in a “train the trainer” offering; for more information, contact Gabe Christie with CTLD.
  • Campbell noted that leadership has been in contact with authors of the Safer Spaces Resolution as they are considering feedback from faculty and departments. A subsequent reading of the resolution is anticipated to take place in April.
  • Faculty Senate leadership is still determining what meetings will look like in the fall, exploring virtual, in-person and hybrid options. The final decision will be made in alignment with campus operating procedures regarding any space and gathering restrictions.
  • Mandi Schaeffer Fry, Ph.D. (Mathematics and Statistics), announced the upcoming conjoined Undergraduate Research Conference and Student Impact and Innovation Showcase, taking place virtually April 23. Students can present oral or poster presentations, and abstracts/project summaries are due by Monday. The keynote speaker will be Ronald Rael from the University of California Berkeley.

Topics: Events, Faculty Senate, Inclusive leadership

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