Faculty senate passes all new proposals

Sophie Young, Reporter

The faculty senate unanimously approved every proposal in its Nov. 7 meeting, but not without debate.

Tracy Laux, senior lecturer in the mathematics department, presided over the meeting as chair. Laux kicked off the meeting by presenting two action items from the Educational Policies Council for the body of 47 senators to vote on.

The Educational Policies Council decides on long-term curriculum plans and policies as part of the faculty senate. The council presented two action items to the senate.

The senate unanimously passed a measure to approve a new M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies. The graduate degree will roll out Fall 2023, and will have two different concentrations: Applied Conflict Transformation and Peace, Conflict and Development.

“I think given the trends in domestic politics and the international system, there is an urgent need for programs such as this. In addition, this program helps us plug a gap in our existing portfolio of programs,” said R. Neil Cooper, director of the School of Peace and Conflict Studies.

Sen. Robin Vande Zande, a professor of art education, questioned if the program would prepare students more effectively than an undergraduate degree. Cooper said Praxis courses and practical learning set apart the master’s degree option.

Eboni Pringle, dean of University College, advocated for revising the First Year Experience course every freshman is required to take. Pringle said the curriculum hasn’t changed since 2009.

Pringle’s presentation highlighted data from the Spring 2016 Climate Survey, which found 30% of Kent State students considered leaving during their first year. She attributed this to a lack of belonging, especially for students of color, students with disabilities and first-generation students.

“We heard during our work with them a resounding call to action from our students to revise the First Year Experience course. So the new curriculum has been designed to foster a university-wide sense of belonging,” Pringle said.

Sen. Edgar Kooijman, a longtime FYE instructor and professor of biological sciences, questioned how faculty could continue to teach basic skills students need to navigate the university and its websites.

Pringle said multimedia modules or videos are in progress. These tools will be accessible at any time so students will not have to remember instructions from class.

Student-athletes balance school and hours of practices, all while trying to keep grades up to stay eligible. At Kent State, student-athletes have advisors who monitor their academics, following NCAA rules.

Theresa Walton-Fisette, the faculty athletic representative, presented a proposal to allow these advisors observer access to Canvas for student-athletes. Walton-Fisette described the current process: advisors contact faculty for progress reports every two weeks and meet with students every week.

Observer access grants advisors 24-hour access to see the student’s grades and updates for each class.

“It also allows us to get more help and be proactive with those who are struggling academically,” said Angie Hull, senior associate athletic director.

Faculty representatives who use textbooks or grading systems other than Canvas voiced concerns that the observer status would not make a difference. Walton-Fisette and Hull answered that professors can opt-out.

The senate also discussed changes to the academic visitor policy, which applies to faculty and visitors who are not affiliated with Kent to stay for an extended period to teach, collaborate or observe.

The senate approved revisions to the plan, which was presented at a previous faculty senate meeting, after debate on who is liable for ensuring visitors follow laws and Kent State policies.

The senate determined hosting units are responsible for visitors. The policy describes a hosting unit as “the academic administrative structure or administrative division or office where the host has their primary appointment.”

The next faculty senate meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12.

Sophie Young is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].