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Faculty Senate update

Hybrid-voting discussion, Covid-19 data dashboard and undergraduate research were all on the Sept. 22 meeting docket.

By Cory Phare

September 29, 2021

Faculty Senate meeting attendees photographed from behind.The Metropolitan State University of Denver Faculty Senate took on in-person versus online considerations for senator voting eligibility in its Sept. 22 meeting.

Senate President Katia Campbell, Ph.D. (Communication Studies), introduced the topic to follow up from the previous Senate meeting’s discussion. She then welcomed Rules Committee Chair Kelly Evans, Ph.D. (Exercise Science), to the podium.

Evans provided an overview of Robert’s Rules of Order and current meeting voting procedure, outlining that meetings should occur in a single room and area, allowing for simultaneous oral discussion and forbidding voting by proxy.

“This puts us in a difficult situation,” she said. “As it stands, we must vote where we hold meetings; moving this into a hybrid space would require a rewrite of the (Faculty Senate) Constitution, subsequently requiring a vote of all faculty – not just senators.”

In-person attendees then took part in a spirited floor discussion, highlights of which included:

  • Biff Baker, Ph.D. (Business), supported a hybridized format, noting that the University was operationally 18 months into the pandemic without a clear view of what the future may hold.
  • Senators Ben Thompson, Ph.D. (Human Performance and Sport), and Edgar Maldonado, Ph.D. (Computer Information Systems), voiced opposition to the measure, noting improved collegiality and the possible lack of accountability afforded by the online modality, respectively.
  • Erin Seedorf,P.H. (Health Professions), recounted her experience with high-flexibility classroom spaces to accommodate hybrid environments, noting that “it was a lot of adjustment and resource investment but worth it.”

“Every time the Executive Committee meets, we’re discussing this. It’s not over and doesn’t mean anything’s happening right away,” Campbell said before closing discussion.

Leone Dick, chief of staff to the vice president for Administration, stopped by as a guest to discuss the University’s Covid-19 data dashboard, a data-visualization tool housed on the Safe Return website. The data are being compiled by Business Intelligence and are pulled from the Dean of Students Office and Human Resources.

As of Sept. 22, 85% of students currently enrolled in at least one credit were vaccinated, as were 88% of MSU Denver employees. The previous week had resulted in six positive test results (with no demonstrable community spread) for a positivity rate of 0.5% of tests (compared with the Denver County positivity of 3.2%).

Questions from the floor involved calculation of campus rates and vaccination requirements for online-only students, the latter an ongoing conversation that the Safe Return committee continues to have, Dick said.

“As President Davidson noted in her Welcome Back remarks, we’re doing better than Denver, Denver is doing better than the rest of Colorado and Colorado is doing better than many other states,” she added.

Other business included:

  • Senate Secretary Bill Carnes, Ph.D. (Management), led a lightning round of committee appointments. All attempts were made to solicit appointees from designated divisions before opening it up to all senators. At the time of publication, openings were still available for the following committees: Reappointment, Tenure and Promotion; Budget; Faculty Diversity; General Studies; Instructional Review; Rules; and Student Affairs. Those interested should email Campbell and Carnes.
  • Mandi Schaeffer Fry, Ph.D. (Mathematics), provided an update on the Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Program. Beginning as the annual Undergraduate Research Conference, the initiative has expanded to include student-research mini-grants of $500 and publication of the Rowdy Scholar journal. Those interested in volunteering with the Rowdy Scholar should email Schaeffer Fry; conference proposals or general volunteer inquiries should be directed to Program Director Kristy Duran, Ph.D.
  • Rules Committee Char Evans also discussed the academic-subdivision reorganization proposal to streamline the number of divisions serving on each standing committee so that smaller areas aren’t stretched thin. The proposal would take effect next fall; email feedback to Evans by Nov. 3.

Topics: Academics, Events, Faculty Senate, Inclusive leadership

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