Changes to curriculum, tenure review process topics at Faculty Senate meeting

January 27, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The University Faculty Senate discussed University health care and upcoming changes in the general education curriculum and approved several policy changes during its meeting Tuesday (Jan. 26).

In April 2015, the Faculty Senate voted to approve recommendations including requiring undergraduates to take six credits of integrative studies as part of the General Education requirements. The integrative studies courses will cross disciplines, allowing students to see and learn about subjects from different perspectives, broadening their scope of understanding.

A special committee has been in the process of developing ways to implement the new requirement, and on Tuesday committee leaders discussed and gathered feedback on what would encourage faculty to offer these courses and what resources they would need to do so.

Among the ideas presented were making it possible for faculty from different areas to offer a course together, ensuring faculty have time to develop and offer new courses and providing leeway to allow faculty to be creative with the course design. Questions raised included how online courses will fit and how teaching assistants could help support new courses.

The proposed deployment of courses developed by the Special Committee on Implementation of the General Education Reform will be presented and voted on at the Faculty Senate’s March 15 meeting.

The Faculty Senate also voted to approve revisions to the policy on promotion and tenure procedures, clarifying that only tenured and tenure-line faculty are eligible to vote to name members of peer tenure and promotion committees.

The vote followed the recommendation of the Committee on Faculty Affairs and discussion by the Senate. The committee report notes that previously, the University did not have a uniform practice for whether fixed-term faculty could participate in the selection of the promotion and tenure committees, and that could vary by campus and college. On the related question of ensuring that fixed-term faculty are able to participate in University governance related to other fixed-term faculty, the committee will submit proposed guidelines for selection of fixed-term review committees.

In addition, the Faculty Senate Tuesday approved changes that clarify and update the policy on scheduling athletic competitions and student-athletes’ participation in them. The changes cover topics such as standardizing waiver requests to streamline the Committee on Athletics’ review process.

The Faculty Senate also:

  • Heard from David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business and chair of the Health Care Advisory Committee, about the University’s health care and options moving forward. Click here to read more on that presentation.
  • Voted to approve and send to President Eric Barron the recommendation to adopt uniform and expanded methods for collecting and reporting demographics data related to the University administration as part of an increased effort to measure progress on diversity.

The next Faculty Senate meeting will take place at 1:30 p.m. March 15 in 112 Kern Building.

Last Updated January 28, 2016