Summary of Faculty Senate Meeting, December 4, 2019
The meeting was called to order by the Chair, Professor Karen Baehler (SPA). In her report she asked the Vice-Chair to report on the faculty awards special committee and the Past-Chair to report on the recent Board of Trustees meeting. Vice-Chair Heywood (WCL) reported that the committee formation was well under way. He has heard so far from six of the past award winners, and they have all agreed to serve. Three members of the Faculty Committee on Diversity and Inclusion have also agreed. He hope to hear from more of the past award winners in the coming weeks. He also asked senators for volunteers. Professor Elizabeth Worden (SOE), the Past-Chair, reported on the November AU Board of Trustees meeting. She and Professor Baehler sit on the Board as the faculty trustees. The chief academic concern that was discussed by the Board was retention and thriving, as we have discussed in the Senate as well. She then reported to the Senate on the current LGTBQIA+ controversy within the United Methodist Church and how it impacts Methodist-affiliated colleges and universities like AU. The Board affirms AU's inclusive policies and supports the North American Jurisdictional Conferences in their opposition to the Church's “Traditionalist Plan.”
In his report, Provost Dan Myers also spoke about the November Board of Trustees meeting. He added that the Board would be asking other Methodist-affiliated institutions to join us. Regarding the university's major focus on retention, he offered to give the same presentation he gave to the Board to the Senate next semester. He finished up by reporting that the four administrative position searches are proceeding on track.
Professor Max Friedman (CAS), Chair of the CFA, went over the changes that his committee was proposing to the Instructions for Submitting Files for Action. They added the definition of scholarship from the manual to clarify that scholarship can mean a variety of things at AU. While they think that curriculum vitae should be in the format applicable to the faculty member's discipline, and not some form mandated by the CFA, they do need to ensure that those formats include important information for the committee's review. Thus, they are mandating that the CV be dated and that the works listed have full citations, including page ranges and dates. In the teaching section, they want summary tables of SETs results, to be included. They don't want this to be a burden on the faculty member, so they are specifying that they be prepared by the unit. They added to the list of actions that do not go through the CFA. Finally, they moved some text around for clarity.
Professor Kiho Kim (CAS) from CTRL spoke about resources being developed for faculty who are building teaching portfolios, as part of the “moving beyond SETs” process and provided examples of guidance documents. The CTRL team is helping faculty members on their teaching statements, self-assessment of pedagogical activities, peer assessment of teaching, and student assessment of teaching. He noted especially the success of midsemester course focus group evaluations, which CTRL has run for requesting faculty, and hoped that more faculty would take advantage of this service. Several senators shared that they had done so and recommended them to all.
Professor Alison Thomas (CAS), chair of the Academic Integrity Code Working Group, returned to the Senate to continue the discussion regarding establishment of a campus-wide Office of Academic Integrity, which had been tabled at the last meeting. Many senators spoke out in favor of such an office, and others raised concerns or expressed opposition. Professor Baehler encouraged the AIC Working Group to keep senators' concerns in mind when designing their proposal for a central office—especially with regard to ensuring that academic units have a strong voice in the office's processes and ensuring robust accountability for the office. The Senate passed a sense-of-the-Senate resolution supporting the idea of a campus-wide Office of Academic Integrity.
Professor Lillian Baeza-Mendoza (CAS), Chair of the Faculty Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, brought forward proposed revisions to their charge in the Bylaws which include changing the name of the committee to the Faculty Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. They also propose to delete from the Bylaws the charge to help integrate campus-wide initiatives as it is included in their final charge. Finally, they propose to delete the charge to analyze, interpret, and report the results of their work to the Senate as outside their purview. Senators offered feedback, including a request to maintain the committee's role as advocate for issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Professor Baeza-Mendoza said the committee would take these suggestions and return to the Senate next semester with a revised proposal.
Professor Amanda Taylor (SIS), the Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), along with her team, updated the Senate on the Inclusive Excellence Plan. We are in year two of the plan, and they are working on years three through five. She noted that AU has made progress, but also has lots of further work to do to achieve what we want to achieve. The discussion focused on two of the proposed goals, number five on scholarship, research, and creative work, and number four on recruitment, retention, and achievement. Recognizing that not all scholarship, research, and creative work has DEI facets, the key part of this goal is to interpret DEI broadly, incorporating it where it can be done. A suggestion was made that CFA files for action should have a place for faculty members to show how their work has reflected the DEI values of AU. In the goal four discussion, particular mention was made of the problems addressed by part six of that goal calling on AU to reduce the precarity of term and adjunct faculty. This will require a major cultural shift to fully address, which is something we should endeavor to do, according to those who participated in the discussion. Finally, the need for DEI training for teaching assistants was championed. Teaching assistants, many of whom plan on teaching careers, need proper training that reflects our values as an institution.
And finally, for the good of the order, Professor Baehler reminded the Senate that we need to find a successor to Professor John Douglas to chair the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Budget and Benefits.