LER changes spark debate in Faculty Senate

Suzi Starheim

Argument rises over wording of reform proposal.

Tension over LER reform filled the Governance Chambers yesterday afternoon during the Faculty Senate meeting.

Immediately following provost Robert Frank’s list of updates came discontent from Faculty Senate members.

Senator-at-large Linda Williams, an associate professor of philosophy, said Faculty Senate members were all very upset because of language in the LER reform resolution that the Board of Trustees passed.

“The wording and the background information that was disseminated to the Board of Trustees is felt, by a lot of people in the Senate, to give the implication that the original proposal is what was passed by Faculty Senate,” Williams said. “There was language in there that we specifically did not want in the proposal. It was not very representative of the proposal that Faculty Senate actually passed.”

Frank, the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, said in order to ease the discontent of the Faculty Senate members he will have to show the resolution to the Executive Committee at the next monthly meeting.

“We will talk to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and make sure that we’re all using terms the same way,” Frank said. “I need to hear more about what they are saying to make sure that I understand what the issues are.”

Faculty Senate Chair Tom Janson said he plans to handle the displeasure with the LER reform as well.

“There is always discontent in this room,” Janson said. “We had downplayed most of the changes and agreed to only three items.”

The three items agreed on included the name for the program (Kent CORE), setting up a three-year time frame to update the outcome’s assessments and allowing a major to double count a course.

“The motion was that we meet with the president and provost and convey to the president the discontent and the reason for the discontent,” Janson said.

Janson said the senators felt the underlying intent was different than what they had originally wanted him to do.

In addition to dealing with discontent about LER reform, Frank spoke on several other key items.

The first topic concerned the bond issue and making campus more accessible for faculty and students.

Front campus will now “focus on academic program delivery,” Frank said, and support services that exist in that area will be relocated so they can be replaced with academic programs.

The Board of Trustees previously met on Jan. 27 and took an extensive tour of campus to focus on areas that have the most pressing needs in terms of safety, accessibility and education.

“The Board was impressed by our needs, and I think by the end of the day they got a very clear understanding of our deferred maintenance needs as well as the need for better academic space throughout the university,” Frank said.

Frank said the Board of Trustees hasn’t formally approved the bond yet.

Another topic Frank covered was an Innovative Curriculum Summit, to be held Feb. 22. This will include conversations on innovative curricular ideas, a presentation on curriculum issues and on some of the grant programs developed for curriculum innovation.

“We believe it’s important to continue to challenge ourselves regarding our undergraduate curriculum and not to be satisfied with the steps we have achieved so far,” Frank said.

Frank also touched on the United Way campaign, which has raised more money than ever this year: $145,000.

Frank’s last update was about FolioWeb, a system for managing online portfolios, saying the feedback from those who used it this year was very positive.

After Frank’s presentation was finished, the Faculty Senate approved the establishment of an Exercise Physiology major. This major is within the Master of Science degree and is currently only a concentration in the Exercise, Leisure and Sport major.

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Contact academics reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected]