November 30, 2020
CALL TO ORDER
The regular meeting of the Academic Senate, held on November 30, 2020, was called to order at 3:01 pm by Senate President Randy Dryer. 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 closure of the University campus. Attendance was confirmed by requiring Senate members (and invited guests and public attendees) to register in advance for the online meeting.
Present: Rohit Aggarwal, Sharon Aiken-Wisniewski, Soheila Amirsoleimani, Amy Barrios, Michael Battistone, Bryan Bonner, Simon Brewer, Kelly Bricker, Jonathan Brogaard, Kirsten Butcher, Juliet Carlisle, Mike Caserta, Owen Chan, Promothesh Chatterjee, Thomas Cheatham, Gerald Cochran, Hilary Coon, Sarah Creem-Regehr, Shanti Deemyad, James Ehlers, Rachel Factor, Annette Fleckenstein, Candace Floyd, Leslie Francis, Ganesh Gopalakrishnan, Manu Goyal, Amos Guiora, Kim Hackford-Peer, Leslie Halpern, Andrew C. Harris, Sara Hart, Teresa Hebron, Bill Hesterly, Camilla Hodge, Christel Hohenegger, John Hollerbach, Harriet Hopf, Howard Horwitz, Christopher Hull, Alexander Hyres, Luis Ibarra, Matthew Irwin, Thunder Jalili, James Karner, R. James Keddington, Seth Keeton, Anne Kirchhoff, Keith Koper, Ephraim Kum, Tuyet Lien Lam, Rich Landward, Dale Larsen, Lakshan Lingam, Kerry Lohmeier, Jack Longino, Gabriel Lozada, Brad Lundahl, Robin Marcus, Staci McIntosh, Kaitlin McLean, Christopher Mead, Rajesh Menon, Ed Muñoz, Kent Ono, Adrian Palmer, Marcel Paret, Robert Parker, Tressa Parkes, Jeff Pettey, Wanda Pillow, Tom Quinn, Jon Rainier, Taylor Randall, Angela Rasmussen, Sonia Salari, Wesley Sasaki-Uemura, Jeff Schwartz, Peyden Shelton, Xiaoming Sheng, Helene Shugart, Doug Shumway, Roger Silvers, Tim Smith, Brian Snapp, Cynthia Stark, Ryan Steele, Kathryn Stockton, Elpitha Tsoutsounakis, Kent Udell, Madison Ulibarri, Hunter Underhill, Brenda Van Der Wiel, Daniel Vargo, Maeve Wall, Crystal Wallenius, Jessica Wojciechowski, Julie Wright-Costa, Jaehee Yi, Jingyi Zhu, Susan Zickmund, Brandon Zielinski
Excused: Matt Bettini
Excused with substitute: Divya Chandrasekhar
Absent: Rima Ajlouni, Robert Bowles, Tiffany Chan, Anna Hodgson, Connor Leeming, John Lin, Susannah Mecham, Krystal Moorman, William Nesse, Rick Paine, Georgi Rausch, Ofer Rog, Taylor Sparks, Audrey Stegman, Maria Velasco, Neil Vickers, Robert Wood, Stephan LeBohec, Seodam Kwak
Ex Officio: Randy Dryer, Julio Facelli, Robert Flores, Robert Fujinami, Michael Good, David Hill, Lisa Hutton, Paul Mogren, Christina Porucznik, Sarah Projansky, Daniel Reed, Ruth Watkins, Bryce Williams, Jane Laird
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes dated November 2, 2020 were approved upon a motion from Kaitlin McClean and a second by Sonia Salari.
On the Consent Calendar for this meeting were the Faculty Matters reports, Undergraduate Certificate Stage Management, Graduate Certificate in Latin American Studies. Ephraim Kum moved to approve all items on the Consent Calendar. After a second from Julio Facelli, the motion passed.
REPORT FROM ADMINISTRATION
The campus returned to remote learning after the Thanksgiving break, and President Ruth Watkins thanked the Academic Senate and campus leaders for valuable support during the Fall 2020 term so far. Testing recently conducted for approximately 9,000 students showed that they had a lower positive COVID-19 rate than the surrounding community. UofU administration continues to construct multiple virus testing plans for Spring 2021. All student, staff, and faculty testing updates will be reported to the Academic Senate. President Watkins also announced that the U had received national recognition for programs and faculty over the past month. Awards included the United Way 2020 Changemaker Award for its program that facilitates early childhood education. University Neighborhood Partners was given the McGraw Community Engagement Award by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For the upcoming Spring 2021 term, the UofU will implement the previously state-approved 2% intuition increase (which had been held in abeyance by university leadership for Fall 2020), while continuing the $150 student fee discount.
The University has convened a COVID vaccine committee, responsible for planning for the receipt, storage, and administration of vaccines once approved and delivered to UofU health system providers. SVP Michael Good introduced Jeanmarie Mayer, Chair of the committee, and Thomas Miller, Chief Medical Officer, who are heading the University’s vaccine rollout and distribution planning process. Members of this committee include stakeholders from pharmacy, medicine, nursing, occupational health, communications, emergency management, ethics, informatics, and more. Jeanmarie reviewed the types of vaccine candidates and approval process, phased rollouts and priority groups, timelines for receipt and administering vaccines, and websites that offer more information. Demand for vaccines will initially exceed supply. One recommendation is that the first phase vaccinate healthcare personnel, and the next phase include essential workers, individuals with high-risk medical conditions, and adults aged 65 and older. There are good reasons to vaccinate healthcare personnel in the initial rollout. First, this preserves essential COVID healthcare responses. In addition, healthcare personnel represent a diverse and inclusive swath of the population. In the subsequent phases, the committee’s planning will be guided by state and federal recommendations.
SVP Daniel Reed reported that he will be sharing detailed analyses of recent faculty and student surveys with academic deans later in the week; he gave a brief summary of findings so far on faculty and student evaluations of instruction and learning changes instituted due to pandemic conditions.
SENATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE REPORT
Senate President-elect Christy Porucznik reported that the Senate Executive Committee met on November 16, 2020. It approved the minutes of its October 12, 2020 meeting and determined this meeting’s agenda. This included placing items on the Senate Consent Calendar that did not appear to be controversial, nor have any procedural or content issues.
REPORT FROM ASUU
ASUU President Ephraim Kum explained that the ASUU is wrapping up the semester by focusing on two principal areas. The first is creating space for students, such as planning the stress buster week to help make finals week easier on students. The second area of focus is planning for Spring 2021 events, some which will happen at the beginning of the term such as MLK Day, Black History Month, and Women’s Week. The ASUU resolution presented later in this meeting to the Senate reflects ASUU’s ongoing efforts to support the mental health and wellbeing of students, staff, and faculty during difficult pandemic conditions.
NOTICE OF INTENT CALENDAR
No items for this meeting.
Marriner Stoddard Eccles Institute for Economics and Quantitative Analysis
Taylor Randall, Dean of the David Eccles School of Business (DESB), Adam Looney, Executive Director, and Adam Meirowitz, Director, presented a proposal asking for permanent status approval for the Marriner Stoddard Eccles Institute for Economics and Quantitative Analysis. The Institute had received temporary status three years ago under the Bureaus, Centers, and Institutes guidelines, and this status had been presented at that time to the Senate as an informational item. Taylor explained that the presenters wanted to update the Senate on the Institute’s activities over the last three years as well as directly address concerns identified by the Senate in 2017. Issues raised then were potential donor influences on faculty-led research and activities of the Institute, and the Institute’s impact on and relationship with the Department of Economics, housed in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Management of donor relationships over last three years had shown that, even though startup funding for the Institute came from three well-known foundations— including The Charles Koch Foundation and The Eccles Foundation—donors had not influenced research directions, outcomes, or hiring in any way. Jen Brown of the Business Economics Group explained that faculty appointments are managed by the Finance Department, following standard university faculty appointment procedures. The Institute does not appoint its own faculty. The presenters, along with other DESB faculty and SVP Daniel Reed, addressed multiple questions posed when Senators asked to get a thorough assurance that the sources of these donor gifts had not, and cannot, interfere with faculty academic freedom.
Adam Meirowitz added that collaborations over the last three years with the Economics Department and its faculty have been productive. A letter of support from the Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Cynthia Berg, had been included in the meeting’s agenda materials for review. Faculty shared governance of the Institute (a major issue for the Senate in 2017) is being provided by an advisory board of DESB faculty that meets regularly and a larger Board of Directors, which meets annually and draws faculty from other related areas at the University such as the law school, and the Department of Economics. Some Senators indicated though that it was still not clear whether the Economics Department had been or will be harmed by housing a business economics institute in the School of Business, and they would have preferred seeing a letter of support from that department. Bill Hesterly’s motion, seconded by Julio Facelli, to approve permanent status for the Marriner Stoddard Eccles Institute for Economics and Quantitative Analysis passed, with 14 opposed and 12 abstaining.
ASUU Resolution: Students’ Wellbeing during COVID-19
ASUU Senator Maeve Wall, along with ASUU President Ephraim Kum, presented an ASUU Resolution: Students’ Wellbeing during COVID-19. They asked the Senate to support the circulation of its list of voluntary recommendations to instructors that are intended to further assist struggling students during the pandemic.
Maeve explained that, as a graduate instructor and a student, she has been seeing and experiencing the added strain on students’ wellbeing, and this resolution is a result of searching for suggestions and best-practice advice to address these concerns. Studies and surveys have indicated that the mental health of college-aged students has been adversely affected during the pandemic by increasing mental stress and financial insecurities. Maeve and Ephraim explained that feedback from University of Utah students prompted ASUU leadership to craft a series of nine optional student-generated recommendations that could be taken by instructors to lessen stress for students. In general, the Resolution asks for increased grace and flexibility for both instructors and students during this national crisis, in consideration of wellbeing and mental health. Specific recommendations included mental health days as excused absences, breaks during online instruction, and a reading week during what traditionally would have been Spring Break.
The final resolution version presented had also benefitted from valuable feedback from faculty and the Senate Executive Committee members. Maeve motioned that the Senate approve the following statement: “The Academic Senate encourages all university course instructors to consider taking, to the extent consistent with accreditation and pedagogical objectives, one or more of the actions suggested by ASUU in its October 16, 2020 resolution addressing student mental health issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.” The motion passed after a second from Ephraim Kum, with 3 abstentions.
INFORMATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS CALENDAR
Senate President Randy Dryer noted that President Ruth Watkins report to the Board of Trustees for November 2020 was included in this meeting’s agenda materials.
There was no New Business at this meeting
Meeting adjourned at 5:07 pm.