By Katie Oglesby, Editor-in-Chief
President Bob Iuliano began Thursday’s faculty meeting with a reminder that the search is still ongoing for two assistant provosts. He shared his appreciation for the Provost’s transition team, led by Associate Professor of Public Policy Annie Douds.
Douds added that the team was working to refine the position descriptions for the search.
Then, conversation shifted back to the proposed curriculum.
Discussion began with an amendment brought forth by the Academic Program and Policy Committee (APPC). French Professor and Chair of the APPC Florence Jurney explained the amendment at the end of the last faculty meeting. This amendment would change language in the curriculum to remove mentions of the APPC where Jurney argued they should not have the purview to check whether courses fulfill each requirement. Instead, the APPC added that the registrar or academic department would fill this role. The amendment also removed a mention of the Academic Standing Committee (ASC) in a similar manner.
Jurney further explained that the APPC brought forth this amendment because they believed that it should not be left up to “five faculty members changing every year” to decide the definitions of what courses fit each requirement. She believed this should be left to the faculty as a whole, and the relevant departments in particular.
English Lecturer and representative of the Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) Melissa Forbes said she agreed with them in many ways, but didn’t believe the language needed to be changed because it already said, “a group of faculty working collaboratively with the APPC” in the curriculum proposal.
Associate Professor of Biology and member of the ASC István Urcuyo requested the APPC also remove, in their amendment, further language about the ASC working with students with sophomore standing. He explained that the ASC hadn’t done this work before. Though, he expressed he was in favor of the changes in the amendment.
Associate Provost for Academic Assessment, Dean of Natural Sciences, Computer Science and Mathematics and member of the CRC Darren Glass explained that the next amendment would change the language to “students will petition these groups” rather than the current language. He called it a “cleaner solution” than this amendment.
Professor of Psychology and member of the CRC Kathy Cain added to the discussion, though noting she was speaking as a faculty member not a member of the CRC.
She said she was concerned about the amendment taking oversight away from the APPC and giving it to an unelected group of faculty members.
The amendment was put to a vote and passed with 60 percent of the voting members in favor.
Glass then brought forth the CRC amendment that he described as an “omnibus wordsmithing amendment” that would not be making any substantive changes. A few of these changes included adding “lab-based” in front of natural sciences in modes of inquiry, phrasing changes for reflections and integration and clarifying that the data course would reflect on data “in the public sphere” rather than its use by politicians and journalists (this had been highly contested in previous meetings). In this, was a change to say “petition” rather than “work with” pertaining to the departmental groups that would now oversee which courses would apply to each requirement (per the passing of the APPC amendment).
Glass also noted that the CRC added a line saying the first-year seminars and critical skills courses can’t overlap with curricular requirements under perspectives and social change or modes of inquiry.
Chairperson and Professor of Chemistry Tim Funk took concern to this latter portion, saying that he was concerned about students with really structured majors, like Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, who would be unable to “double dip.”
Cain noted that this amendment was not trying to change anything, but instead make the language more precise.
The amendment was put to a vote. It passed with 68 percent in favor and 28 percent against.
Discussion on the Proposed Curriculum as Amended
Discussion opened up to the entire curriculum.
Chairperson and Professor of Religious Studies Deborah Sommer asked how half-credit courses would count for faculty teaching loads, noting that it might fall unequally because some faculty in departments with capstones that count for the senior half-credit seminar might not be teaching them.
She said that teaching one full course and two half-credit courses might equal two credits, but would feel like three. Many faculty members clapped in response to this.
Forbes responded for the CRC, saying that faculty would teach the same half-credit course two days a week to different students. She said there would be more students but less assignments, adding that it “should in no way be equivalent to a full-credit course.”
Another professor expressed concern that in some cases there may be a dangling half-credit because of the amendment from environmental studies that would allow capstones with the same learning goals to fulfill the half-credit senior seminar requirement.
Professor of Physics Kurt Andresen brought up the “fundamental issue of staffing” for the two first-year seminars.
He noted that the CRC didn’t ask which departments could afford it, but instead, whether individuals were interested. He said that some departments are completely unwilling to teach these.
As well, he noted that he is sure he could fill a seven person half-credit seminar on diversity in sciences, but is not convinced he could fill two for it to count.
Andresen also explained that he finds it “offensive” that the $1 million from the Board of Trustees won’t be given if the curriculum doesn’t pass because the faculty has been working hard regardless.
He also expressed that if the curriculum passes with a slim margin and only 140 faculty members vote, that means even 70 of them could be against it. He advocated for a two-thirds vote to guarantee that most of the faculty members would be in favor of it.
Director of Bands and Professor for the Sunderman Conservatory of Music Russell McCutcheon said that he already teaches half-credit and one-fourth credit classes for music. If done correctly, he said, they aren’t half the work.
“We will still be officially a 3-2 load, but will effectively be teaching six courses,” he said.
Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Susan Russell said she was concerned about students not putting the work into a half-credit course because it’s “only a half-credit course.”
Iuliano asked for faculty to vote on whether they wanted to continue discussion on the curriculum as a whole or put it to a final vote.
Associate Professor of Africana Studies Abou Bamba accused him of voter suppression for ending discussion while hands were still raised. A member of administration working the computer noted that Iuliano didn’t call for a formal vote and was just trying to gauge where faculty were at on the strict timeline of the meeting.
Only 40 percent of the faculty were in favor of putting it to a formal vote, so discussion continued.
Edwin T. Johnson and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Distinguished Teaching Chair in the Humanities and Associate Professor of Spanish Radost Rangelova expressed concern about seniors who might have to take five credits their senior year having to take a half-credit seminar on top of that.
This was the final point made during the meeting. Discussion will continue at a later date.