December 4, 2023

Dec 04 2023
View Agenda

Meeting Minutes

December 4, 2023

The regular meeting of the Academic Senate, held on December 4, 2023, was called to order at 3:00 pm by Senate President Shanti Deemyad. The meeting was held using the Zoom online meeting platform.

Present: Rohit Aggarwal, Andrew Anderson, Jensie Anderson, Ademuyiwa Aromolaran, Pinar Bayrak-Toydemir, Erin Beeghly, James Bekker, Adrian Bell, Melissa Bobick, Kenneth Bromberg, Jen Brown, Timothy Brusseau, Sarah Bush, Robert Campbell, Marjorie Castle, Jon Chaika, Doug Christensen, Kevin Coe, Katharine Coles, Frank Drews, Nanette Dudley, Katie Durante, Jada Easterly, Atif Ellahie, Korkut Erturk, Noreen Farley, Stacy Firth, Rick Forster, Julia Franklin, Gina Frey, Lela Graybill, Rachel Hayes-Harb, Kerry Herman, Tucker Hermans, Martin Horvath, Rory Hume, Jack Israelsen, Bryan Jones, Sarang Joshi, Seijin Kim, Lindsey Kisielewski, Kai Kuck, Shelley Lawrence, Mark Loewen, Alysse Loomis, Janis Louie, ShawnaKim Lowey-Ball, Sarah Lucas, Stacy Manwaring, Nancy McLaughlin, Brent Milne, Meeyoung Min, Eugene Mishchenko, Spencer Mukai, Anna Neatrour, Curtis Newbold, Dave Norwood, Jack O’Leary, Patrick Panos, Kevin Perry, Wayne Potts, Lynn Reinke, Lorie Richards, Alessandro Rigolon, Hollis Robbins, Carol Sansone, Naomi Schlesinger, Nathan Seegert, Paul Shami, Chris Simon, Jamesina Simpson, Paula Smith, Ginger Smoak, Wayne Springer, Talea Steele, Sondra Stegenga , Caroline Stephens, Casey Tak, Patrick Tripeny, Hannah Truax, David Turok, Jessica Van Der Volgen, Jim VanDerslice, Margaret Wan, Roseanne Warren, Peter West, Jennifer Williams, Jaclyn Winter, Mia Woychick, Zhou Yu
Excused with substitute: Lillian Ault, Marc Calaf, Heather Holmes, Susie Porter, Julie Wright-Costa
Excused: Luca Brunelli, Jay Jordan, Yihui Pan, Matt Tokson
Absent: Michael Abrahamson, Lourdes Alberto, Yoshimi Anzai, Bryan Bonner, Cate Carson, Zhigang (Zak) Fang, Andrea Garcia, Jesse Graham, Eric Handman, William Holland, Youjeong Kang, Feng Liu, Huong Meeks, Austin Neff, Will Nesse, Anna Roelofs, Savannah Romney, Abigail Taylor, Maggie Tesch, Samantha Watrin, Melodie Weller, Kilo Zamora
Ex Officio: Mike Braak, Shanti Deemyad, Angie Fagerlin, Harriet Hopf, Miranda Klausmeier (substituting for Savannah Manwill), Paul Mogren, Mitzi Montoya, Sarah Projansky, Taylor Randall, Sonia Salari, David Thomas, Jane Laird

Shanti Deemyad reminded Senate members of the next Senate social. The date is December 15, and it will be held on the 6th floor of the Law School Building. It is an opportunity for informal one-on-one conversations and the topic for group discussion will be: What makes a climate that is conducive to learning?

The minutes dated November 6, 2023, were approved upon a motion from Sonia Salari and a second from Harriet Hopf.

There were no requests for New Business

Senate President Deemyad noted the two items on the meeting’s Consent Calendar:
a. Faculty Matters Report Review
b. Minor Discontinuation: Leadership Studies
The Consent Calendar items were approved after a motion from Harriet Hopf and a second from Sonia Salari.


Report from Administration
President Taylor Randall highlighted some recent University events and news. The UofU will host one of the 2024 presidential debates, and the U has been ranked as the number one public college in the West, according to the Wall Street Journal’s assessment of student outcomes. A new state government initiative providing $7 million to fund life-sciences education and training programs in Utah was announced. SVP Montoya noted that a celebration of the UofU Fall 2023 graduates will be held December 5.

President Randall and SVP Montoya discussed the December 1 USHE resolution that asks its educational institutions to submit their policies that set expectations for free speech, academic freedom, and encouragement for diverse viewpoints by June 2024. They answered Senate members’ clarifying questions, explaining that the University will maintain institutional neutrality, protect the safety of those engaging in constitutionally protected speech, and produce a policy on how to address expressions or actions that violate the law including incitement and violence. The mission of the UofU is education and research, and student wellbeing is an inherent part of that mission.

Report from ASUU
ASUU President Jack O’Leary shared updates on recent ASUU initiatives including the passing of resolutions in support of the Utah Prison Education Project and an increased mental health fee to meet campus demands. ASUU elections will take place in February. He also shared a recent ASUU statement published in response to the charged campus climate, protests, and other events.

Executive Committee Report
Senate President-elect Harriet Hopf outlined the items on today’s agenda that were determined by the Senate Executive Committee at its November 20th meeting. She also thanked the administration members, President Randall and SVP Montoya, who took extra time at the meeting to discuss recent events.

There were no items for the Intent Calendar


New Undergraduate Certificate: Dialogue, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation
Natasha Seegert, Director of Conflict Mediation in the Department of Communication, reviewed a proposal for an interdisciplinary undergraduate Certificate in Dialogue, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation. The program allows students to gain practical skills in understanding the roots of conflict and how to facilitate conflict resolution. She elaborated on the intercultural components of the certificate design, the practicum students will be required to complete, and the letters of support the proposal has received. After a second from Harriet Hopf, Katherine Coles’ motion to approve the Certificate passed.

Continuing Center Authorization: Utah Exchange for Interdisciplinary Science (NEXUS)
Lori Kowaleski-Jones, Director of the Interdisciplinary Exchange for Utah Science (NEXUS), introduced the NEXUS center’s structure, projects, and the Wasatch Front Research Data Center embedded within the center. She discussed the importance of interdisciplinary research and offered Senators some background, including recent work on the Future of Food Working Group, initiatives to incubate new ideas on campus with different groups of stakeholders, and efforts to democratize access to critical data sources. The proposal is a request for a continuing center authorization because NEXUS is currently a provisional UofU center. Sonia Salari’s motion to approve continuing authorization for NEXUS passed after a second from Harriet Hopf.

New Degree: BS Bioinformatics
The Bioinformatics BS degree program, hosted by the Department of Mathematics, will build on a core course group from mathematics, biology, and computer science, reported Aaron Bertram, Department of Mathematics, and Cassie Slattery, College of Science special projects manager. The degree program is interdisciplinary and includes research opportunities, internship options, and career support. It will prepare students for success in a growing and well-compensated field. Aaron identified steps taken to make sure that ethics training is incorporated into the program in response to suggestions from Lorie Richards and Katherine Coles. Katherine Coles’ motion to approve the proposal was seconded by Jack O’Leary and subsequently passed.

New Degree: Master of Engineering Management
Mark Minor, Department of Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Committee Chair, presented a proposal for a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree. The MEM will be the first engineering management degree in Utah and offered both on-campus and on-line. The MEM degree requires a total of 30 credit hours; core courses include management of engineers, managing projects, product/service development, production and information systems, financial decision making, and quantitative decision making. He added that the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum committee applied extra attention to ensuring that ethics training was embedded in the proposal. The MEM proposal was approved after a motion from Katerine Coles and a second from Brian Jones.

New Biomedical Engineering Graduate Certificate: Regulatory Affairs in Healthcare
Representatives from the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) Tomasz Petelenz, Associate Professor Lecturer, and David Grainger, BME Chair, presented a new graduate certificate proposal. The Graduate Certificate in Regulatory Affairs in Healthcare aims to build a nationally recognized program that educates biomedical engineering, pharmacy, and life science graduates specializing in regulatory affairs. The Certificate was developed in response to the biomedical industry’s demand for regulatory specialists. Enrollment will be open to matriculated and non-matriculated students meeting the UofU admission requirements. There are over 700 companies in Utah that work in the area of medical devices and drug delivery, and their employees have already populated BME regulatory courses as non-matriculated students, as an example of the market for this program. The Certificate proposal was approved after a motion from Douglas Christensen, seconded by Rory Hume.


Graduate Student Support Task Force Report
The formal summary report from the Presidential Task Force on Graduate Student Support was reviewed by the Dean of the Graduate School, Darryl Butt. He explained that the UofU has to ensure that its graduate students are financially supported as well as make sure that it can continue to recruit top students. The main findings of the report were reviewed, and he outlined the key issues related to housing, insurance stipends, cost of living stipends, and overall affordability. He highlighted the formation of the Student Advocacy Group headed by Senator Sarah Lucas, the demand for transparency in overall costs of attending, and the need to better support international students. He also elaborated on the current efforts to address the issues around insurance and reimbursement for prescription drugs.

Climate Action Plan
Kerry Case and Brenda Bowen, co-chairs of President’s Climate Commitment Task Force, presented the Climate Change Action Plan. The report is a result of a 2019 Senate Resolution calling for the University to outline steps to become carbon neutral. The current plan includes input from over 4.000 participants and addresses the intersection with energy usage, research, transportation, and the overall financial investments needed to accomplish these goals. The presenters gave an overview of the report’s components and elaborated on the next stage of review prior to publication and implementation.

Utah Asia Campus Presentation
Sejin Kim, the Senator from the Utah Asia Campus (UAC), acquainted Senators with UAC’s history, current educational scope, and opportunities for future program offerings. Next year will be its 10th anniversary. The student body demographics currently are that about 80% are of Korean ethnicity and the amount of non-Korean students has grown every year. Student satisfaction feedback has been exceptional.

Reports and Information
Senate President Deemyad noted the following informational reports posted for this meeting:
i. Senate Nov 2023 Report to the BoT
ii. University President Nov 2023 Report to the BoT
iii. SACEDI Staff Appointment: Jason Hinojosa
iv. SACAP Chair Appointment: Pedro Romero

There was no New Business at this meeting.


Senator Erin Beeghly asked if it is true that Undergraduate Office is proposing a common evaluation instrument across all sections of the same course, and expressed concerns about the impact this might have on academic freedom. Dean of Undergraduate Studies Chase Hagood explained that he was not aware of something like that, but he would find out and offered to come back to the Senate to further discuss if that is the case.

A representative from Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (oSTEM), and several representatives from MEChA brought their concerns about recent instances on campus of transphobia and discrimination, including actions by the student organization Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). The main point presented was that, although the University has to maintain policies on freedom of speech, administration and other student support bodies had not addressed the harm the incidents have caused to vulnerable Palestinian and Transgender students. Harm has included death threats, self-harm, not feeling safe on campus, and police harassment; MEChA’s status as a sponsored campus organization was removed. They explained that it is important that the Senate be aware of these issues and want a safety plan to address the unsafe environment and the impacts. They asked that the University do more beyond clarifying free-speech protections.

Senators thanked the students for speaking up and discussed the comments by the students at length, posing alternate action ideas. The consensus was to follow up and ensure support for the well-being of vulnerable students and populations. President Deemyad acknowledged the impact that these recent events have had on the campus community and noted that the campus has to be a place for everyone. She also understands that the administration is sensitive to the situation. She assured attendees that Senate leaders would continue the conversation and work with the students to make a positive move on this issue; it is clearly very important to Senate members.

Meeting adjourned at 5:39 pm.