December 2, 2019

Dec 02 2019
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Meeting Minutes



December 2, 2019


The regular meeting of the Academic Senate, held on December 2, 2019, was called to order at 3:05 pm by Senate President Julio Facelli. The meeting was held in the Moot Courtroom of the Law School.


Present: Alan Abbinanti, Rohit Aggarwal, Sharon Aiken-Wisniewski, AnnaMarie Barnes, Amy Barrios, Pinar Bayrak-Toydemir, Gunseli Berik, Kirsten Butcher, Devon Cantwell, Laurel Caryn, Mike Caserta, Divya Chandrasekhar, Promothesh Chatterjee, Thomas Cheatham, Hilary Coon, Amy Cox, Elizabeth Craft, Ann Engar, Leslie Francis, Franz Goller, Moira Gray, Gema Guevara, Amos Guiora, Kim Hackford-Peer, Leslie Halpern, Patricia Hanna, Rebecca Hardenbrook, Andrew C. Harris, Bill Hesterly, Christel Hohenegger, John Hollerbach, Sierra Holmes, Christopher Hull, Luis Ibarra, Srikanth Iyengar, Thunder Jalili, R. James Keddington, Anne Kirchhoff, Keith Koper, Kim Korinek, Anne Lair, Rich Landward, Dale Larsen, Stephan LeBohec, Connor Leeming, Erik Lehnardt, Gabriel Lozada, Brad Lundahl, Don Ly, Kelly MacArthur, Danielle Martinez, Maureen Mathison, Staci McIntosh, Rajesh Menon, Dragan Milicic, Krystal Moorman, Damon Ngo, Khue Nguyen, Kathleen Nicoll, Kent Ono, Rick Paine, Wanda Pillow, Christina Porucznik, Tom Quinn, Jon Rainier, Georgi Rausch, Jeremy Rosen, Frank Sachse, Sonia Salari, Wesley Sasaki-Uemura, Amnon Schlegel, Jeff Schwartz, Helene Shugart, Roger Silvers, Debra Simmons, Tim Smith, Ryan Steele, Dustin Stokes, Thomas Swensen, Joshua Taylor, Alex Terrill, Amrinder Thind, Sylvia Torti, Elpitha Tsoutsounakis, Hunter Underhill, Brenda Van Der Wiel, Daniel Vargo, Neil Vickers, Jessica Wempen, Jaehee Yi, Feng Zhang, Susan Zickmund, Brandon Zielinski

Excused with proxy:  Kelly Bricker, Susanna Cohen, Diego Fernandez, Lauren Liang, Terry Ring, Jon Seger, Kathryn Stockton, James Sutherland

Excused: Rima Ajlouni, Brandon Patterson, Sara Scholes, Sara Simonsen, Julie Wright-Costa

Absent: Shmuel Baruch, Shanti Deemyad, Annette Fleckenstein, Candace Floyd, Kenneth (Bo) Foreman, Thomas Crane Giamo, Ken Johnson, Hunter Mansfield, Sharon Mastracci, Kalani Raphael, Angela Rasmussen, Varun Selvam, Peyden Shelton, Brian Snapp, Emily Thomas, Kent Udell, Maria Velasco

Ex Officio: Randy Dryer, Julio Facelli, Robert Flores, Robert Fujinami, David Hill, Lisa Hutton, Paul Mogren, Sarah Projansky, Thomas Richmond, Billinda Tsuya, Ruth Watkins, Jane Laird


The minutes dated November 4, 2019 were approved upon a motion from Tom Richmond and a second by Gunseli Berik.



Jeremy Rosen, Department of English, asked if there is any information available about a new UofU Online Campus that he understands is supposed to begin next Fall. Julio responded that he would schedule a presentation on that topic from those who are knowledgeable about this development.



Bob Fujinami’s motion to approve the faculty matters reports passed after a second from Kathleen Nicoll.



The recent invitation to the University of Utah to join the 65 best universities in the country as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) is a significant achievement, President Watkins reported. It is also a remarkable tribute to those faculty, staff, and students who have worked a very long time to earn this national recognition. She explained that AAU membership will help with faculty recruitment and retention. It will also raise the visibility and prestige of the University’s faculty research, along with allowing the U to be part of the national academic voice and policy-making process.


The President discussed other events of note. The UofU football team will be playing in the PAC 12 championship game again this year. The For Utah Scholarship initiative begins in Fall 2020 and creates a fully funded path to a University of Utah degree. The scholarship covers four years of tuition and fees for Pell Grant-eligible Utah residents. The searches for the Chief Safety Officer and Chief of Police are nearly finished. President Watkins also mentioned that the best source of information on Jeremy Rosen’s question about a possible online campus would be SVP Daniel Reed, who could be invited to speak on this topic at a future Senate Meeting.


She then introduced faculty member Sonia Solari, who gave the Senate more details about a recent grant, from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, awarded to the University of Utah, Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, and other campus and community partners. The $300,000 grant supports developing a better coordination of services, and comprehensive prevention strategies, aimed at reducing violent crimes against women and increasing victim safety.



The Senate Executive Committee met on November 18, 2019 and approved today’s Senate agenda, conveyed Senate President-elect Randy Dryer. He also announced that the Executive Committee has voted to have the faculty appointments and resignations reports be a standing item for vote on the Senate meeting agendas for the remainder of the year. In other words, the reports will not need to be approved for the agenda by the Executive Committee but will go directly to the Senate.


ASUU President Anna Barnes reported that the ASUU office and leaders were busy again in November, and she highlighted some of the projects and events. The ASUU presidency, in collaboration with the Campus Relations Board, presented a State of ASUU report to the student body, which generated not only valuable feedback, but also opportunities to respond to questions. Student questions concerned student fees, campus safety, and parking. There will also be a report given at the end of the academic year. The ASUU campus safety survey is now closed after receiving over 600 responses. That data will be analyzed during the upcoming break. The ASUU office will be lobbying again this year at the Utah legislative session. One current project is hosting student hours around campus, giving students an opportunity to meet one-on-one with campus student leaders. The ASUU-sponsored International Night was extremely successful, Anna reported. The Campus Relations Board has also initiated a project called “Lunches with Lori,” which will allow students to interact with Lori McDonald, Vice President of Student Affairs.




Moving Expense Policies Revisions
Because federal laws concerning the tax treatment of employee moving expense reimbursements­–now deemed taxable income to the recipient–changed effective January 2018, the University’s current moving expense policy is outdated. Presenters for proposed policy revisions were Laura Howat, Interim Associate VP for Finance and Business; Wendy Peterson, Deputy Chief Human Resources Officer; Suzy Bird, Associate Director of Payroll. The aim of the proposed revisions is to suspend the current outdated policy, Policy 3-032, and replace that with guidelines, attached to compensation policy 5-403, that departments would use when reimbursing employees for moving expenses.

The presented guidelines reflect the current practices at the University due to the law change. Any moving expense benefits provided to employees are now taxable events. The reason to replace policy with guidelines is to make the procedure more flexible and responsive to local and federal law revisions. The guidelines are very procedural and attached to the University’s compensation policy. The amount of reimbursement provided to an employee is at the department’s discretion and comes out of department budget. Payroll will now manage the reimbursement payment and tax withholding. Julio Facelli noted that this item will be on next month’s Senate Debate Calendar.




BA/BS Biochemistry Proposal
Professor of Biochemistry Vahe Bandarian introduced a Chemistry Department proposal for a program leading to a BS or BA in Biochemistry. Vahe explained that the University of Utah does not currently offer this as an undergraduate major option, only as a graduate option. Among the ten emphases currently offered by the Chemistry Department, the biological emphasis is the fastest growing and constitutes over 60% of the those taking a Chemistry major, so there is a demand for biochemistry. The program has been designed by the department’s faculty to fill a gap in the University’s curriculum and be more competitive with peer institutions that offer this degree. As proposed, it will incorporate a lot of the department’s core courses in chemistry, math, and physics, but is distinct from current offerings because it provides students with significant flexibility to choose upper division coursework to meet their individual career needs. He also clarified that the students in the program will be awarded either a BA or BS depending upon which degree they are eligible for under University requirements (the BA if they study a foreign language). A motion to approve this proposal, from Ryan Steele, was approved after a second from Rich Landward.




Graduate Council 7-year Reviews
Associate Dean of the Graduate School Katie Ullman summarized recent Graduate Council 7-year review reports of two departments at the U. The Occupational and Recreational Therapies Department was recently reorganized, and it was complimented on its success in merging two distinct groups together, as well as increasing its focus on research and on student retention rates. Students interviewed expressed strong satisfaction with the program. The department faces a restrictive space issue that has be addressed soon and will also need to hire more faculty.

Reviewers of the Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department found that this nationally renowned department will be well served–in the light of the amount of faculty members that will be retiring in the next few years–to support junior faculty and ensure robust recruitment. The report explained that the department’s PhD program is strong, and the department is continually striving to improve in meaningful ways.

Athletics Compliance Report & Current Issues in Collegiate Athletics
The annual Office of Athletics Compliance Report to the Senate was presented by Kate Charipar, Associate Athletics Director for Compliance. The Office of Athletic Compliance (OAC) is responsible for maintaining compliance with NCAA and Pac-12 rules by investigating and reporting rules violations, requesting waivers from rules in unique situations, and providing rules education to various groups. Kate explained that the University of Utah had the amount of Level III violations (the lowest level) that would be expected for the size of the student-athlete population. However, the office self-reported a Level II (the next level up) violation in August 2019, for which the UofU is currently on probation for two years. There were no Level I (the most serious violations) infractions last year. Statistics for violations and waivers were provided, and Kate explained that, during 2018-2019, the OAC conducted over 150 NCAA and Pac-12 rules education sessions to Athletics staff, coaches, student athletes, the donor base, and representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

Several American universities were recently found criminally fraudulent in their athlete admissions practices. Because of this, Utah policies and procedures have been reviewed, and mechanisms will be in place to minimize admissions outcomes being unduly influenced. The OAC is currently working with concerned departments to evaluate national admissions best practices. Kate further discussed current issues, and the complexities involved, that are pushing the NCAA to evolve its rules on athletes benefiting financially from their likeness and image while a college student. She explained that the OAC will continually keep faculty involved and informed of any upcoming NCAA, state, or federal legislative changes.


Report from UCC: Student Mental Health and Resources for Faculty
Lauren Weitzman, Director of the University Counseling Center (UCC), and Lori McDonald, Vice President for Student Affairs, gave the Senate an update on the UCC and its resources for faculty. The presentation compared the University of Utah with national trends in student mental health issues, in addition to highlighting types of student counseling intervention and the student usage frequency experienced by UCC. The University of Utah indices are in line with national trends in college student mental health. Both have seen an increase in the numbers of students seeking counseling center services, the severity of student mental health concerns, and the demand for crisis intervention services.

The presentation featured eight areas of mental health distress that were noticeably improved for students using UCC support services. On the other hand, UCC does not currently have enough resources to fully meet requests. It is creating ways to service all student needs with its current resources and will be expanding staff and programs–funded by an increase in student fees targeted towards student mental health.

The presenters emphasized that faculty do provide a meaningful role in getting prompt assistance to students, and others, who are in distress. Of the student-reported top reasons for seeking crises services, 43.7% said “A U of U faculty or staff member has encouraged me to request a crisis appointment.” Tools and resources that faculty can employ were reviewed. Lauren and Lori then distributed a card to keep on hand that summarized the UCC and SafeU resources and programs.


Jeremy Rosen asked that the Senate get more clarification on the online programs that appear to be an online campus initiative and generate a Senate discussion about this concern. Senate President Julio Facelli will invite SVP Daniel Reed to address this topic at the next Senate meeting.



Devon Cantwell asked that Senators email her if they are interested in attending an upcoming meeting which will begin to coordinate actions supporting the Equities in Facilities Resolution, which was passed at the April 29, 2019 Senate meeting. Also, Devon explained that a graduate student survey will be circulated in the next month or so; its purpose is to gather data needed to begin forming a Graduate Assembly body. She asked faculty to help distribute, and encourage their graduate students to take, the survey once it is out.

Meeting adjourned at 4:50 pm.