December 6, 2021
- CALL TO ORDER AND WELCOME
The regular meeting of the Academic Senate, held on December 6, 2021, was called to order at 3:00 pm by Senate President Christy Porucznik. As had been announced on the Senate website and by email, this meeting was held using the Zoom online meeting platform due to COVID-19 pandemic conditions. Attendance was confirmed by requiring Senate members (and invited guests and public attendees) to register in advance for the online meeting.
Present: Michael Abrahamson, Serena Aeschilman, Sharon Aiken-Wisniewski, Soheila Amirsoleimani, Gloria Aquino, Michael Battistone, Erin Beeghly, Matthew Bettini, Melissa Bobick, David Bowling, Simon Brewer, Jonathan Brogaard, Kenneth Bromberg, Jen Brown, Jessica Brown, Richard Brown, Luca Brunelli, Juliet Carlisle, Erin Castro, Adrienne Cataxinos, Divya Chandrasekhar, Promothesh Chatterjee, Thomas Cheatham, Holden Cheney, Hilary Coon, Sarah Creem-Regehr, Stuart Culver, Shanti Deemyad, Nadja Durbach, Stacy Firth, Annette Fleckenstein, Gina Frey, Sydney Gilliand, Lela Graybill, Eric Handman, Sara Hart, Bill Hesterly, Anna Hodgson, John Hollerbach, Harriet Hopf, Howard Horwitz, Bradley Hunter, Alexander Hyres, Luis Ibarra, Jeremiah Jaggers, Thunder Jalili, Jay Jordan, James Karner, R. James Keddington, Matti Koenig, Keith Koper, Audrey Laney, Titus Larrieu, Mike Lewis, John Lin, Shane Lloyd, Kerry Lohmeier, Jack Longino, Gabriel Lozada, Robin Marcus, Frank McAlpin, Staci McIntosh, Nancy McLaughlin, Rajesh Menon, Eugene Mishchenko, Ed Muñoz, Anna Neatrour, Adrian Palmer, Marcel Paret, Robert Parker, Jeff Pettey, Susie Porter, Tom Quinn, Emi Radetich, Kevin Rathunde, Sean Redmond, Alessandro Rigolon, Ofer Rog, Paul Shami, Xiaoming Sheng, Momina Sial, Roger Silvers, Tim Smith, Brian Snapp, Taylor Sparks, Ryan Steele, Dave Symons, Nick Tygesen , Kent Udell, Hunter Underhill, Jessica Van Der Volgen, Daniel Vargo, Seetha Veeraghanta, Muskan Walia, Maeve Wall, Crystal Wallenius, Melodie Weller, Peter West, Jaclyn Winter, Jessica Wojciechowski, Jaehee Yi, Susan Zickmund, Brandon Zielinski
Excused: Ganesh Gopalakrishnan, Amos Guiora, Maggie Tesch
Excused with substitute:
Absent: Rohit Aggarwal, Yoshimi Anzai, Robert Bowles, Owen Chan, Gerald Cochran, Manu Goyal, Srikanth Iyengar, Youjeong Kang, Seth Keeton, Lakshan Lingam, Kelly MacArthur, Kent Ono, Alan Rogers, Jeff Schwartz, Doug Shumway, Kilo Zamora
Ex Officio: Randy Dryer, Robert Fujinami, Michael Good, Lisa Hutton, Paul Mogren, Allyson Mower, Christina Porucznik, Sarah Projansky, Taylor Randall, Daniel Reed, Sonia Salari, Jo Scofield, Jane Laird
Senate President Christy Porucznik welcomed Taylor Gregory, the new Senate Operations Assistant. She also reminded Senators that the next Board of Trustees meeting is December 14, during which the BoT will report on its progress on the reinvestment statement submitted by the Senate. These meetings are public, so faculty members are welcome to attend.
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes dated November 1, 2021, were approved upon a motion from Sonia Salari and a second by Brian Snapp.
- REQUEST FOR NEW BUSINESS
There were no requests for New Business
- CONSENT CALENDAR
There were no items on the Consent Calendar
- Report from Administration
President Taylor Randall highlighted recent events from around the campus, noting several student accomplishments. Sabah Sial had been named a Rhodes Scholar. Student athletes continue to do well; the UofU is second only to Stanford in percentage of student-athlete graduation success.
Senior Vice President Daniel Reed and President Randall both commented that SVP Reed will be taking administrative leave as of January 1, 2022. SVP Reed thanked the President and the Senate for all they have done for the University during his tenure, which included the challenge of delivering quality educational experiences during a pandemic. He encouraged faculty and administrators to hold fast to intellectual freedom and the free exchange of ideas. “What you do with an idea is you change the world, and a university is an idea. It is an idea rooted in people, in place. It is connected to the past by knowledge and wisdom, and it is connected to the future by the transgenerational trust in us to educate and fulfill the hopes of parents and the dreams of children.”
- Executive Committee Report
Senate President-elect Sonia Salari explained that the Senate Executive Committee had met November 15, 2021, and approved the agenda presented to the Senate at this meeting.
- Report from ASUU
ASUU President Jessica Wojciechowski reported that during these final weeks of the term ASUU activities were winding down. The ASUU leadership is wrapping up an eventful Autumn term and looking forward to some exciting things coming up in the Spring. Senate President Christy Porucznik added that the Senate is extremely grateful for the time and input provided by its ASUU Senators.
- NOTICE OF INTENT CALENDAR
There were no items on the Intent Calendar
- DEBATE CALENDAR
There were no items on the Debate Calendar
- Information and Recommendations Calendar
Asia Campus Report
Randy McCrillis, Dean of Students at The University of Utah Asia Campus (UAC), gave a status update on UAC’s growth and current challenges. Its initial student enrollment of 13 students in the Fall of 2014 was compared to the current enrollment of 442 students. It now offers seven undergraduate majors and two graduate programs. More majors are planned in the future. UAC has 42 faculty members who are appointed by their home departments from the Utah campus. After discussing the features of the UAC program, he explained that the campus currently faces two main challenges: student research opportunities and UAC faculty isolation from the Utah faculty.
Program Discontinuation: MFA Games Arts & Game Production Emphases and BA in Film & Media Arts EAE Emphasis
The Department of Film & Media Arts will discontinue its BA emphasis in Entertainment Arts and Engineering, which has not accepted any new students following the establishment of EAE as a separate academic unit in 2017. Department Chair Andrew Nelson advised that it also will formally discontinue for a second time--after their first official discontinuation in 2011--its MFA emphases in Games Arts and Game Production.
Two New Emphases for BS Mechanical Engineering
Mark Minor, Mechanical Engineering (ME) Department, explained that undergraduate technical electives are structured to provide curriculum distinguishing a student’s focus on transcripts. To help address current industry demand for systems engineers and engineers with expertise in scientific computing, ME will add two new emphases to the existing B.S. degree. A Systems Engineering emphasis will promote multidisciplinary approaches to solving complex problems. The Data Science emphasis is a collaborative effort with the Data Science program and Math Department and will provide a foundation in data representation, collection, and analysis.
Athletics Compliance Update
The University’s Office of Athletics Compliance (OAC) is responsible for maintaining compliance with NCAA and Pac-12 rules by investigating and reporting rules violations, requesting relief from rules in unique situations (waivers), and providing rules education to various groups. Jon Cantu presented the OAC summary report of the 2020-21 year including NCAA violations, waivers, and important updates. He added that as part of OAC educational efforts, it conducted 72 live education sessions, sent weekly emails to athletic staff, regular newsletters, and monthly education to student athletes throughout the year.
SACAP Update on Thesis Office Issues
During the 2019 – 2020 academic terms, the Senate Academic Committee on Academic Policy (SACAP) discussed with Dean Kieda concerns, raised by faculty and students in Senate meetings, about thesis document processes and deadlines that can affect the timeliness of degree awards in some cases. Julie Barkmier-Kraemer, member of SACAP, reported that the committee learned that current graduate students, graduate alumni, and graduate student mentors/program directors are not currently surveyed about their experiences of interacting with the Thesis Office. One of the outcomes of these discussions was the determination that more input from faculty and students was needed to inform improvements to available resources, timelines, and various pathways for supporting thesis/ dissertation writing. SACAP had conducted an initial survey in Spring 2021, and Julie reviewed the survey outcomes and SACAP’s subsequent recommendations. SACAP’s next steps were further discussed in the report. She also thanked SVP Dan Reed and Graduate School Dean David Kieda, who also joined the meeting to contribute to this report, for the ongoing project support and advice provided by their offices.
David added that the Graduate Office implementation of suggestions provided by a previous advisory committee had been delayed by the pandemic. Some resources though had been allocated to restructure and speed up the work of the Thesis Office. He anticipated that more improvements are forthcoming this Spring.
Senate Information and Reports
Senate President Christy Porucznik reported that the Chair Vacancy of the Senate Advisory Committee on Student Course Feedback (SACSCF) has been filled. Pat Tripeny, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence has agreed to be Chair for the 2021-22 academic year.
- NEW BUSINESS
There was no New Business requested for this meeting
- OPEN DISCUSSION
Christy asked Senators to spend the rest of the meeting in open discussion, something that meeting time crunches do not often allow.
Senator Gabriel Lozada offered a brief update on his analysis of changes made to the University retirement plan that are of concern to faculty members. The Senate Advisory Committee on Academic Policy (SACAP) had nominated him to be on the retirement committee as a new member. He has shared his report identifying concerns with that committee and has yet to be able to bring it up for discussion. He is hopeful that a meeting is forthcoming. One helpful idea brought forward from the SACAP discussion was to make retirement committee meeting open to the public. There has not been a response to that yet.
Nick Jovanovich, faculty member at the University Asia Campus (UAC) gave the Senate a summary of some of the issues he and his UAC colleagues are face. He notes that his paycheck is not showing deductions for Medicare and Social Security, a real concern because UAC faculty members are not eligible for the Korean pension system. Also, all UAC faculty are on contracts for a specific period. Non-reappointment notices that are not issued months ahead of time pose a serious risk to faculty. If a contract does not get renewed, faculty members lose not only their jobs and income, but also their apartments and visas. Right now, the UofU is not required to give any advance notice at all. On the academic side, Nick advised that there is no mechanism for UAC faculty to have input when the academic calendars and finals weeks are determined.
Christy Porucznik queried Senators to provide their perspectives on the following question: “What makes you feel safe, or not, on campus?” She asked to get multiple points of view from those who spoke at the meeting, those who entered their thoughts in the chat, and those who would like to send a separate email. Numerous facets of the idea of safety were discussed such as sidewalks, mass transit, campus escorts, increased gun ownership levels, and more. A notable issue that many brought up was availability of mental health resources. Senate President Porucznik explained that she would compile this input and relay to administration and follow up on this discussion in future Senate meetings.
Meeting adjourned at 4:59 pm.