Summary of Faculty Senate Meeting, April 7, 2021
The Chair of the Faculty Senate, Professor John Heywood (WCL), began the meeting with a review of the minutes of the March 3rd meeting.
The Chair then made a series of announcements:
- Welcome Professor Nikhat Ghouse who is replacing Hannah Park as the University Library Senator.
- At the last Board of Trustees meeting, which took place on March 3-5 the trustees expressed deep appreciation for the hard work of the faculty, and they approved the budget for the next academic year, which included a 2.5% merit pool.
- -Thank you to the University Faculty Awards Committee, chaired by Professor Garret Martin (SIS), for its work in recommending awardees.
- -The results of recent Senate elections, including the three new At-Large Senators Shawn Bates (SIS), Jim Quirk (SPA), and Sarah Knight (CAS), and the new members of the Faculty Hearing Committee, Sarah Snyder (SIS), David Haaga (CAS), Matthew Taylor (SIS), Zoe Charlton (CAS), and Jun Lu (CAS).
- The nomination of Professor Lilian Baeza-Mendoza (CAS) for the position of Vice-Chair of the Faculty Senate.
Professor Heywood raised the question of the selection process for future Vice-Chairs of the Faculty Senate. Currently, the pool for selecting a Vice-Chair is restrictive and limited to those serving on the Senate or having served on the Senate in the last five years, and who are not term-limited out. The small group working on revising the Faculty Senate bylaws is considering various options to expand the pool, which it will present to the Senate in May.
Faculty Manual Changes
Professor Heywood then introduced a proposal for the following changes in the Faculty Manual: the removal of the School of Professional & Extended Studies from the Faculty Manual, effective July 1st, and separating the School of Education as an Independent school. Professor Heywood mentioned that these were simply changes to conform with recent and upcoming changes.
Acting Provost Peter Starr stated that the announcement for the University Faculty Awards was being briefly delayed confirming a few cases for the ‘years of service’ category. The recognition event for the Faculty Awards will be virtual and will take place on Sunday 25th April at 4pm.
The Provost reminded all that Professor Roger A. Fairfax, Jr. had just been named dean of the Washington College of Law (WCL), with an official start date of 1 July 2021. And Professor Max Paul Friedman has agreed to serve an additional year as the Interim Dean of CAS.
Provost Starr touched upon the vacancies that would be opening in the days following the Senate meeting, including:
-Filling the position of Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty on a permanent basis.
- Replacing Vi Ettle, who is retiring this summer, as Vice Provost for Academic Administration.
- Filling the new position of Vice Provost for Global and Immersive Studies, established as part of the ongoing reorganization of the School of Professional and Extended Studies (SPExS).
The Provost also discussed the latest enrollment numbers. The current freshman class is down 131 students from the same point last year, but we are down relative to the best year in AU history by far. In comparison to 2019, 2018, or 2017, the current numbers are looking quite promising.
Graduate enrollment numbers are dramatically up from the same point in the previous year (43.7%). These numbers will likely change in the conversion phase, but the Provost praised all the work of the Dean of Graduate Studies Wendy Boland and her team.
The Provost introduced the idea of the Provost Distinguished Associate Professor, which would be a time-limited appointment, revocable upon promotion to Full Professor, to honor AU’s most promising mid-career scholars. The appointment process for this new title would likely happen each year via a committee. After a brief discussion, the Senate proposed to amend the title of this position to Provost Associate Professor, to avoid any confusion with the separate Distinguished Professor title. The Senate approved this position with the amended title.
Bylaw Change for the Committee on Information Services
Professor Brian Yates (CAS) presented the proposal to amend the bylaw for CIS, so to allow Committee members to serve a three-year term instead of two-year term.
Faculty Manual Change: Distinguished Professor Title
The Interim Deputy Provost and Dean of Faculty Monica Jackson and the Associate Dean of Faculty Karen Baehler presented their proposed Faculty Manual changes, which seek to clarify the distinctive nature of the distinguished professor rank and the procedures associated with it. After review, the Faculty Senate approved the proposal.
President Burwell’s Annual Visit
President Burwell began her presentation by thanking the AU community for all its hard work during this very challenging year, both personally and professionally.
President Burwell added that AU was fortunate that it entered the pandemic with a clear strategy. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a great challenge, but it has also accelerated elements of the University’s strategy, especially those touching upon the need to further build AU as a community.
President Burwell reminded the audience that AU has also made the US News list of most innovative Universities for the first time (ranked 35th); but we should not lose track of how challenging the past year has been. The University will still be down nearly $96M for this past fiscal year.
President added an update as to where we stand in the trajectory of the pandemic. She reminded that while there is great optimism with the ongoing vaccination rollout, the toll and fatigue of the past year cannot be ignored.
President Burwell then showed the Senate and guests a draft video for the comprehensive campaign entitled “Challenge Accepted”.
A question-and-answer session followed President Burwell’s presentation, which touched on various subjects including:
- An update on the commencement plans for May 2021.
- Vaccination requirements in the fall.
- The status of the child development center in the fall and the support for faculty/staff.
- Covid-19 testing.
- The merit process in the context of a pandemic.
- Future budget priorities for AU.
Changes to the Faculty Manual Section 22: Disciplinary Actions, Investigations and Formal Faculty Hearings
Professor Heywood thanked all the members of the working group – Professor Andrea Pearson (CAS), Professor Jason Snyder (SOE), Professor Ben Leff (WCL), Professor Tom Husted (CAS), Professor Larry Engel (SOC), Dean of Faculty Jackson, Associate Dean of Faculty Baehler, Assistant Vice President for Equity and Title IX Leslie Annexstein, Thi Nguyen-Southern from the Office of the General Counsel, and Faculty Senate Operations Coordinator Lura Graham – for their hard work.
Professor Heywood explained that the working group had divided its work into two categories “low-hanging fruit” issues that could be fixed this academic year, and a “deeper dive” that would continue into the next year. The proposals in front of the Senate reflect the first category, and cover Section 22 of the Faculty Manual, which deals with the faculty discipline process.
After the Chair reviewed each of the proposed changes, and after further discussion, the Senate approved to move the proposed changes forward for the BoT review.
Undergraduate Regulation Changes
Dean of Undergraduate Studies Jessica Waters, Dean of Students Jeffrey Brown, the Director of Student Conduct and Resolution Service Katherine Porras, and Assistant Vice President for Equity and Title IX Leslie Annexstein presented a series of proposed undergraduate regulation changes. These changes touched upon non-credit classes, the processes for temporary medical leaves, and the readmit policy.
Good of the Order
Professor Heywood reminded all about the Informal Senate luncheon that will take place on April 21, before adjourning the meeting.