After debate, Faculty Senate approves social research department

Maria Nann

The decision will implement a new master’s program

READ a PDF of the philosophy of undergraduate education statement.

READ a PDF of the new academic proposal.

READ a PDF of a proposal for the Master of Science degree.

The Faculty Senate approved the establishment of a new academic department and degree program in the College of Arts and Sciences yesterday.

The department of applied social and behavioral research will focus on community health issues in Northeast Ohio, such as violence, aging and mental health. The new program in the department offers a master’s degree in applied social and behavioral research, and the approved proposal included the establishment of 12 new courses.

The Educational Policies Council approved both the department and the degree program at a meeting last week.

The proposal passed almost unanimously through the college advisory committee in the College of Arts and Sciences but was voted down in college curriculum committee. Senator Donald White, professor of mathematical sciences, expressed concern of this point during the discussion.

Senator Linda Williams, associate professor of philosophy and chair of the curriculum committee, explained the committee had two concerns with the master’s program:

– The proposed program seemed to the committee to be something that could fall under the department of public policy.

– The core courses for the program consisted of four method courses, which the committee thought was excessive.

Tim Moerland, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said he took the blame for the proposal not passing the committee, but that the proposal had the overall support of the heads of departments.

“The vote came to the curriculum committee, I think, in hindsight, with inadequate information,” he said. “The proposal has the signatures of the heads of all the departments. It’s clear that the departments are behind the proposal.”

Another issue brought up about the new department was regarding money. Senator Paul Farrell, professor of computer science, said that the department would be established running a $750,000 deficit.

Moerland explained that the department would need money to cover start-up costs, but that it would be a long-term investment.

“I think the track record of the key people involved in the initiative speak well to the expectation of success,” he said. “We expect this to be self-supporting, profitable.”

The senate approved the measure 16-12.

The senate also approved a statement outlining the underlying philosophy of a Kent State undergraduate education. The philosophy statement, which is part of the 21st Century Initiative from the Office of the Provost, will serve as background for the future review of liberal education requirements and other undergraduate curriculum.

Senate Chairman Tom Janson said he was pleased with the meeting, but most of all with the debate prompted by the department of applied social and behavioral research.

“It was excellent,” he said. “Everyone asked great questions, and for the most part, they were answered.”

The senate meets next at 3:20 p.m. Nov. 3 in the Governance Chambers of the Kent Student Center.

Contact academic affairs reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].