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Faculty Senate update

The first meeting of the semester covered diversity and inclusion priorities, scholarship resources and how to make up to $750 by using OERs.

By Cory Phare

January 29, 2020

Faculty Senate meeting in progress.Faculty Senate President Katia Campbell, Ph.D., (Communication Studies) kicked off the first meeting of 2020 with a note of gratitude for the year ahead.

“Thank you all for making my first semester as president so fantastic,” she said. “And thank you for all your service – it’s a lot, and your commitment is appreciated.”

Michael Benitez, Ph.D., vice president for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, stopped by to greet the faculty senators, outlining a bit of his background and priorities for this year.

He outlined five areas for examination: campus community and climate cultivation; faculty and staff recruitment and retention; student recruitment, persistence and success; the goal of becoming a preeminent Hispanic-Serving Institution; and community mending and partnership. He also mentioned that faculty will receive an invite for open forums to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on campus.

“Faculty and staff here prepare students as pragmatic doers and thought leaders,” Benitez said. “It’s important to have an open dialogue – it’ll strengthen who we are and help get us to the next level.”

Emily Ragan, Ph.D., (Chemistry) provided an update on the continued institutional progress of becoming a hub for open educational resources, or OERs.

“Using OERs allows us to do things not previously possible, in addition to helping bring down the cost of higher education for our students,” Ragan said. “It’s working well for our students, and this is an area where faculty can have a huge impact.”

Faculty members who adopt OERs can qualify for a $750 adoption stipend; open-textbook review workshops Friday and March 13 provide a $500 stipend, and general-textbook reviews could qualify for $200. Those interested in learning more should contact Ragan.

Lauren Koppel, assistant director of scholarship support and retention; Thomas Hernandez, associate director of scholarships for Financial Aid; and Yvonne Smith, program assistant for planned giving and scholarships, also visited the Senate to review scholarship options available for students, including foundational, institutional and private/external. Takeaways included the importance of FAFSA/Dreamer (DAIA) form submission, application completion by March 1 and consideration of becoming a reviewer and adding scholarship information to syllabi.

“As faculty advisors, it’s great for us to let our students know about the ways they can pay for their education,” Campbell said.

Other items of business included:

  • Campbell provided an update on the summer-teaching memo discussed in the Nov. 4 meeting following the Executive Committee’s meeting with deans, chairs and Provost Vicki Golich, Ph.D.
    “We did get a few answers – the University is dealing with budgetary constraints and looking for places to save,” Campbell said. “I want to highlight that it’s for this year and doesn’t necessarily mean it will continue that way. And though it’s not guaranteed, some of us depend on that summer teaching.”
    After robust discussion on the Senate floor, Campbell reiterated that the Faculty Senate will continue to advocate for faculty members by investigating more and bringing concerns to senior leadership.
  • Faculty Trustee Chris Harder, Ph.D., (Mathematical and Computer Sciences) provided a recap of University President Janine Davidson’s presentations to the Capitol Development Committee and Joint Budget Committee to advocate for University support, benefit package and exit-survey overviews, and trustee tours of campus to highlight priority areas that have room for growth.
  • The First-year Initiatives Committee is looking for members; those interested should email Campbell or Maggie Thulson.
  • The Faculty Senate Teaching Excellence Awards deadline is Feb. 14. Take time to nominate a colleague who makes an impact on students’ lives.
  • MSU Denver’s Day at the Capitol is Feb. 4, providing a great chance to learn more about legislative processes that directly affect the University; sign up here.
  • Jessica Weiss, Ph.D., (Art) noted that the academic-freedom and online/digital policies discussed in the Dec. 4 Senate meeting were kicked back to the Academic Policy Committee from the President’s Cabinet.
  • Gabe Christie, instructional accessibility manager, stopped by from the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design to highlight multiple events coming up, including workshops on post-tenure review and narrative writing, instructional-design consultation hours, and the tri-institutional faculty forum Feb. 28. More information is available on the CTLD’s event calendar.

Topics: Academics, Faculty Senate, Inclusive leadership, Policy

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