Lefton talks new per-credit-hour fee at Senate

Carrie Blazina

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President Lester Lefton addressed Faculty Senate Monday about, among other things, the $440-per-credit-hour increase that will be charged to students taking more than 17 credit hours starting Fall 2012.

Lefton said “the state is abandoning us” by cutting capital funding, even though Kent State’s need to improve buildings is “massive and pervasive.” Lefton said the shift will mean students have to make up the difference in both capital funding and infrastructure costs by paying increased tuition.

“I want nothing more than to continue the old policy of unlimited courses at one fixed price,” Lefton said. “But I agree with the board that it does not sustain us as we are absorbing more costs of education and the infrastructure.”

Lefton said Kent State currently charges the seventh-highest tuition in the state among public universities. He said as the number of credit hours taken increases, the university drops to 12th in the state, and the new policy would only jump Kent State to fifth on that list.

A number of senators took to the microphone with suggestions and comments.

“I understand that we’re apparently a pretty good deal compared to other universities in the state, but I am concerned that there is simultaneously pressure to make it easier for students to graduate in four years,” said Deborah Smith, associate philosophy professor. “ … It seems to me that these are conflicting goals.”

Music professor Thomas Janson said the policy would be very hard to implement initially because programs want a chance to change their curriculum so students do not have to take more than 17 hours per semester. Janson said this would not realistically happen before the fee goes into effect in Fall 2012.

“My suggestion is that the Board of Trustees apply this to freshmen, which would then give us a chance to review our curriculum, as President Lefton has suggested, and [cut] a few hours here and there,” Janson said.

Barbara Hipsman, associate professor of journalism and mass communication, suggested making the policy apply to more than 19 credit hours because until this year, a student had to specially register to be able to take more than that many hours. She said now that students can register for that many credits, they are being penalized for it.

Other than when he was asked to provide clarification on the policy, Lefton’s only response to the senators was that most students are not going to be affected by the increase, because 88 percent of Kent State students take less than 18 credits.

Other business:

Reappointment: The policy on reappointment was changed to align it with the tenure and promotion policies. The senate implemented a version voted on by the senate’s professional standards committee, which senate chair Paul Farrell has said makes the policy paperless, removes references to positions that no longer exist and makes the language less vague.

Reappointment is defined in the current policy as a way for tenure-track employees to be reappointed to their jobs.

“All tenure-track faculty members are considered to hold probationary appointments for one year, subject to annual renewal,” the policy reads. “ … Faculty members with probationary appointments in the tenure track will be reviewed annually until the academic year in which they are considered for tenure.”

Graduating with honors: The senate voted to look into increasing the minimum GPA needed to graduate with the “Latin honors” (summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude).

The motion would raise the minimum GPAs necessary from 3.3 to 3.5 for cum laude, 3.6 to 3.7 for magna cum laude and 3.8 to 3.9 for summa cum laude.

This means the senate’s Educational Policy Committee will discuss the proposed changes and bring the proposal back to Faculty Senate to vote on. Senator Linda Williams, who originally backed the change, said the committee would also ask for input from the Undergraduate Student Government because students would be directly affected by this.

Elections: The senate also voted to re-elect Paul Farrell to his second year as chair of the senate, and to elect Donald White to vice chair, Vanessa Earp to secretary and George Garrison to an at-large position.

Faculty Senate will meet May 7, after the end of the semester, at 3:20 p.m. in the Student Center governance chambers.

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].