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Faculty Senate update

A conversation with Provost Alfred Tatum; news from the Resolution for Ensuring Diverse Faculty Task Force; caucus and committee chairs needed.

By Cory Phare

September 13, 2021

Faculty Senate meeting attendees photographed from behind.The Metropolitan State University of Denver Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday was a comparably short one, letting out after just over an hour of business.

Senate President Katia Campbell, Ph.D. (Communication Studies), kicked things off by welcoming guest Alfred Tatum, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs, who spent much of his time discussing the emailed Sept. 1 seating-chart request.

Tatum explained that the protocol arose after a small indication of positive Covid cases necessitated the move.

“It’s designed for two things: Expedite notification if positive cases arise, and minimizing the number of students needing to quarantine,” he said.

Questions from the floor included faculty involvement in the process (direct work with deans and follow-up with the Council of Chairs to set things up quickly), the Health Center response/tracing infrastructure (a challenge but able to handle) and active-learning considerations (prioritizing the assurance that academic integrity is not compromised). Tatum said he would take the considerations and questions back to the Safe Return committee; Campbell indicated faculty can also bring specific concerns directly to her as she is consolidating conversation to bring to weekly Safe Return conversations.

Tatum additionally announced open office hours each Tuesday at noon beginning this week, specifically soliciting feedback for the spring semester based on fall and balancing online versus face-to-face modalities.

“The goal is to learn what we should be thinking, doing and advocating for,” he said.

Chalane Lechuga, Ph.D. (Chicana/o Studies), and Devika Banerji, Ph.D. (Communication Studies), then provided the Senate with an update of the Resolution for Ensuring Diverse Faculty at MSU Denver Task Force, following up on implementation considerations for the Senate measure passed in the past academic year.

Lechuga and Banerji walked through the charge – to review and prioritize recommendations of short- and long-term goals, budget impacts, to assess ROI, to determine data needs and intersections with other campuswide efforts. The Task Force examined a definition of diversity as including faculty of color and women; representational of the student body; and the cultural relevance of incorporating diverse faculty and teaching perspectives.

The process included engaging in discussions, literature review, practice and model examination; current efforts were also documented, incorporating institutional data, methodologies and teaching evaluations to help recruit and retain a more diverse faculty body, Lechuga and Banerji said. 

They also noted that conversations continue in conjunction with institutional partners (such as Human Resources and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion) and with recruitment efforts such as the Wilton Flemon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Category 1 faculty training and mentorship programs to aid in retention, and ongoing data analysis to determine metrics and ROI to improve infrastructure.

Michael Jacobs, Ph.D. (Chemistry and Biochemistry; chair of the Physical Science Caucus), solicited a volunteer to fill the Social Science Caucus. Committees also have the following open seats; please contact the respective chairs if interested:

  • Multicultural: Education, Physical Science
  • Academic Policies: Education, Physical Science
  • Welfare: Professional Studies
  • Diversity: Social Science, at-large
  • Rules: Education, Physical Science
  • General Studies: Education, Social Science
  • Student Affairs: Education, Physical Science, Social Science
  • Institutional Resources: Social Science, Arts/Humanities, Physical Science

Topics: Events, Faculty Senate, Inclusive leadership

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