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Faculty Senate update

Updates from President Davidson on budget and campus as vaccine-distribution location.

By Cory Phare

February 1, 2021

An MSU Denver banner with fall foliage in the background

President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., visited the Faculty Senate's first meeting of 2021 to welcome everyone back and express gratitude for the heavy lift of the Roadrunner faculty in 2020.

“I’m hopeful – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Davidson said. “And our faculty members have crushed it; I hear from students all the time how much they appreciate their professors. That’s absolutely the MSU Denver secret sauce.”

Davidson provided an update on her two current priorities:

  • As the Auraria Campus is designated as a point of distribution for the Covid-19 vaccine, logistics are in place, but questions still exist around the order of its administration and the online reservation systems. The state’s institutions of higher education are pushing back against the exclusion of IHEs from the prioritized “educator” designation, which will subsequently affect capacities ramping up for upcoming summer/fall semesters.
  • Davidson’s testimony before the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee was postponed due to inauguration security, but she detailed challenges the University faces as the least state-funded four-year institution in Colorado, with a gap of $48 million compared with the statewide average for institutions. Subsequently, MSU Denver and Adams State University have declined to sign on to a letter proposing funding approaches from colleges and universities. “The state’s Master Plan has targeted bold goals to close the attainment gap, especially among African American and Latinx populations,” she said. “Because the proposal fails to close the gap on equity, we’re taking a bold position here. It doesn’t matter how big the pie is; it should be distributed more equitably. If you agree with me, please feel free to contact your state legislator.”

Davidson also noted the arrival of new University Provost Alfred Tatum, Ph.D., and thanked Bill Henry, Ph.D., for his interim service in the role.

Other items of business included:

  • Richard Russell (accounting) led the Faculty Senate in second reads and votes for two items:
    • Modification to the Independent Study Policy would limit independent-study credit to no more than 12 hours for an undergraduate degree and 6 hours for a graduate degree. The measure passed with 72 yes, one no and four abstentions.
    • An update to the Posthumous Degree Policy would change the approving body from University president/Board of Trustees to the provost. The measure passed with 63 yes, one no and zero abstentions.
  • Leone Dick, chief of staff to the COO/vice president for Administration, visited the Senate to provide a brief update from the Roadrunners Safe Return committee and a look ahead. Dick said the exact date of full return is still unknown, but the group is soliciting feedback via listening sessions to help identify subject-matter experts, gaps in communication and opportunities.
  • Gabrielle Katz, Ph.D. (earth and atmospheric sciences), will co-lead a Faculty-Staff Learning Committee with TRiO’s Ally Garcia, Ed.D., on the theory and practice behind faculty’s role in student success and retention. The group will meet on six Fridays over the course of the spring semester; more information here.

Topics: Faculty Senate

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