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From left to right: Karen Baehler (Vice Chair), Elizabeth Worden (Chair), and Andrea Pearson (Past chair)

Summary of Faculty Senate Meeting,      April 3, 2019

Following approval of the March minutes, Senate Chair Elizabeth Worden updated the Senate on a minor change to the academic regulations that was approved by the Senate Executive Committee on March 20 (an omitted sentence was reinserted in regulation 7.3.1d).

Provost Dan Myers encouraged faculty to be especially observant of student stress levels at this time of year, and to refer students to appropriate resources when needed. Freshmen can be referred to Jessica Waters’ office, where connections can be made to first-year advisers. For most other students, the lead adviser in the teaching unit will be an appropriate first point of referral; that includes students who may be facing severe financial pressures due to a change in family finances. The recently approved two-year budget for AU includes an allocation to address those urgent financial situations, but many faculty may not be aware of the new fund, so please spread the word.

The provost reported on visits to academic units with Dean of Academic Affairs Mary Clark and Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw to discuss the student retention challenge and collect faculty stories about the wide range of circumstances that cause students to transfer out. A task force has begun pursuing a two-track strategy to improve AU’s retention rate: one team is looking for patterns in campus-wide data that may hold explanatory clues, and a second team is studying all individual student exits to better understand the complexity of cases. Efforts are also underway to contact students who transferred out but might return.

Provost Myers thanked faculty for attending his first annual address last month, and articulated his vision of the event functioning like a campus-wide faculty meeting in future years. Finally, he announced that AU’s institutional membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) is now operational (AU has joined 450 other institutional members). All AU faculty, post-docs, and graduate students are invited to set up individual accounts to explore the resources available. Next year, senators will have an opportunity to hear from faculty members who were selected to attend NCFDD’s faculty-success “boot camp” next semester. The original plan was to sponsor 2 or 3 faculty attendees, but several deans contributed additional funding to support a total of 8 attendees.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve proposed changes to the annual memo sent by the CFA and DAA to units regarding instructions for submitting files for action. The changes incorporate term faculty, institute shorter page limits, and require digital formats for all file components.

The Senate also invited self-nominations of faculty with relevant expertise to serve on three Board of Trustees committees: Communications, Audit, and Finance and Investment. Faculty who have ever served in an elected Senate role now or in the past are eligible to self-nominate before April 9. Senate Executive Committee will choose one candidate for each committee from among the nominees, and the full Senate will vote on those choices at the May meeting.

For the good of the order, Senator Alan Isaac encouraged faculty to use the links found in a recent email from Scott Vanek to preview two learning management software platforms (Canvas and Brightspace). Faculty input is vital to making a good decision about whether to retain Blackboard or move to one of the alternatives being reviewed. The Senate Committee on Information Services is leading the review.

Also for the good of the order, Andrea Rowe from the Office of Human Resources encouraged faculty to participate in Take Your Child to Work Day on April 25 (note organized activities for children and a lunch for children and parents) and the full program of Retire Well activities. See the HR website for more info on both opportunities.