November 6, 2023
- CALL TO ORDER AND Announcements
The regular meeting of the Academic Senate, held on November 6, 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: Michael Abrahamson, Rohit Aggarwal, Andrew Anderson, Ademuyiwa Aromolaran, Pinar Bayrak-Toydemir, Erin Beeghly, James Bekker, Adrian Bell, Melissa Bobick, Kenneth Bromberg, Jen Brown, Luca Brunelli, Timothy Brusseau, Sarah Bush, Robert Campbell, Marjorie Castle, Doug Christensen, Kevin Coe, Katharine Coles, Frank Drews, Nanette Dudley, Jada Easterly, Atif Ellahie, Korkut Erturk, Noreen Farley, Stacy Firth, Rick Forster, Julia Franklin, Gina Frey, Lela Graybill, Eric Handman, Rachel Hayes-Harb, Kerry Herman, William Holland, Martin Horvath, Rory Hume, Jack Israelsen, Bryan Jones, Seijin Kim, Lindsey Kisielewski, Kai Kuck, Shelley Lawrence, Mark Loewen, Alysse Loomis, Janis Louie, ShawnaKim Lowey-Ball, Stacy Manwaring, Nancy McLaughlin, Brent Milne, Meeyoung Min, Anna Neatrour, Will Nesse, Dave Norwood, Jack O’Leary, Patrick Panos, Kevin Perry, Wayne Potts, Lorie Richards, Alessandro Rigolon, Hollis Robbins, Savannah Romney, Carol Sansone, Naomi Schlesinger, Nathan Seegert, Paul Shami, Chris Simon, Jamesina Simpson, Paula Smith, Ginger Smoak, Sondra Stegenga , Caroline Stephens, Casey Tak, Maggie Tesch, Patrick Tripeny, Hannah Truax, David Turok, Jim VanDerslice, Margaret Wan, Roseanne Warren, Melodie Weller, Peter West, Julie Wright-Costa, Zhou Yu, Kilo Zamora
Excused with substitute: Jensie Anderson, Marc Calaf, Tucker Hermans, Heather Holmes, Jay Jordan, Sarah Lucas, Matt Tokson, Jessica Van Der Volgen, Jaclyn Winter
Excused: Lillian Ault, Cate Carson, Katie Durante, Andrea Garcia, Yihui Pan, Susie Porter, Austin Neff, Jennifer Williams
Absent: Lourdes Alberto, Yoshimi Anzai, Bryan Bonner, Jon Chaika, Zhigang Fang, Jesse Graham, Sarang Joshi, Youjeong Kang, Feng Liu, Huong Meeks, Eugene Mishchenko, Spencer Mukai, Curtis Newbold, Lynn Reinke, Anna Roelofs, Wayne Springer, Talea Steele, Abigail Taylor, Samantha Watrin, Mia Woychick
Ex Officio: Mike Braak, Shanti Deemyad, Angie Fagerlin, Harriet Hopf, Savannah Manwill, Paul Mogren, Mitzi Montoya, Sarah Projansky, 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 there will also be topics to discuss as a group.
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes dated October 2, 2023, were approved upon a motion from Sonia Salari and a second from Katerine Coles.
- REQUEST FOR NEW BUSINESS
Jack O’Leary asked about the potential discontinuation of the Neurobiology emphasis in the School Biological Sciences and hoped to discuss the justification or decision process. Senate President Deemyad indicated that this will be brought up in the Open Discussion part of the agenda.
- CONSENT CALENDAR
Senate President Deemyad noted the Faculty Appointments Report on the meeting’s Consent Calendar. The Faculty Appointments Report on the Consent Calendar was approved after a motion from Harriet Hopf and a second from Julia Franklin.
- REPORTS (ADMINISTRATION; EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE; ASUU)
Report from Administration
SVPAA Montoya provided the Academic Senate with university-wide news and updates that included the recognition of the university’s bionic leg invention–acknowledged as the best invention of 2023 by Time Magazine– Native American Month celebrations, the achievement of a gold star rating for sustainability efforts across various categories, the introduction of a first-year housing guarantee for all students, the Responsible AI Initiative, and the appointment of Martel Teasley as Associate Provost for Strategic Academic Planning. SVP Montoya also announced the Point of the Mountain Scholarship.
In response to inquiries regarding anti-trans activities on campus, SVP Montoya underlined the university’s unwavering commitment to its educational mission. She acknowledged that while the university is aware of instances of offensive yet protected speech on campus, the administration’s responsibility is to oversee these protected activities while prioritizing the safety and education of the campus community. She reminded faculty about the function of the Racial Bias Incident Response Team, and the reports available on the RBIRT website. Further discussions on this topic included comments from VPEDI Mary Ann Villareal and Chief University Relations Officer Christopher Nelson.
Senators also identified ecological, sports-privileged, and equity concerns about football team members recently receiving truck leases as a gift. Senators understood that although recent Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) legislation makes these gifts legal, it might be questionable that the University administration so visibly participated in the publicity announcements. SVPAA Montoya added that the current landscape of legislation and policies around NIL rights is still unclear and developing.
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 October 23 meeting.
Report from ASUU
ASUU President Jack O’Leary shared updates on recent ASUU legislation supporting suggestion boxes, recycling programs, and the University Counseling Center. He also highlighted the upcoming dinner honoring veteran of the year for Veteran’s Month, ongoing work to update the Red Book policies and improve parking and commuter services. He also explained, in response to an inquiry, that ASUU leaders are discussing ways to incentivize cycling on campus, such as adding bike racks to campus shuttle and measures to prevent bike theft.
- INTENT CALENDAR
There were no items for the Intent Calendar
- DEBATE CALENDAR
New Academic Unit: School of Environment, Society, and Sustainability
The Department of Geography and the Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENVST) program propose to merge to create the School of Environment, Society, and Sustainability within the College of Social and Behavioral Science. The School combines ENVST’s large and rapidly growing undergraduate program with Geography’s strong research and graduate programs. Philip Dennison, Geography Department Chair, and Brett Clark, ENVST Director, explained that the school will benefit from the two units’ complementary strengths, solve long-standing challenges for both existing units, and create new efficiencies. All current degree programs in Geography and ENVST will move unchanged into the new school. The merger will also allow hiring tenure-track faculty to help address growing demand for ENVST majors. After a second from Chris Simon, Harriet Hopf’s motion to approve the proposal passed with 2 abstentions.
Center for the Study of Antitrust and Consumer
A new center proposal was outlined by Mark Glick, Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the proposed center, and Chris Peterson, the John J. Flynn Professor of Law, a national expert on consumer protection law. The Center for the Study of Antitrust and Consumer Protection will be an interdisciplinary endeavor and housed in the Department of Economics. The University of Utah has a history of national leadership in researching antitrust issues, and the Center’s purpose is to advance the study of the law and economics of antitrust and consumer protection. It will provide an organizational focal point for funding advancement, faculty and student research opportunities, and ongoing prestigious conference hosting. Law Professor Nancy McLaughlin offered that it will be a very high-profile center for the University. Jack O’Leary’s motion, seconded by Julia Franklin, to approve the center authorization passed with 1 abstention.
Inclusive Restroom Resolution
Harriet Hopf thanked the Inclusive Restroom Committee and the individuals from facilities, marketing and communications, and the administration who helped navigate the complex regulations including the state law which only went into effect in July 2023. She then read the text of the resolution, explaining the request is for a vote of approval from the Senate. Harriet also clarified what the term inclusive restroom entails and noted that only current construction and renovations will incorporate the new Utah code for those, but the committee hopes that eventually these changes will be implemented in existing facilities too. Katherine Coles moved to accept the Resolution. After a second from Anna Neatrour, the motion passed.
- INFORMATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS CALENDAR
UofU Software Privacy and Security
Steve Hess, Chief Information Officer, and Corey Roach, Chief Information Security Officer, presented a cybersecurity update on the University’s software security obligations determined by law and policy to ensure the UofU’s protections for the private, sensitive, and restrictive data entrusted to it. Because laws and regulations must be enforced, the University must monitor the software and devices it owns. This monitoring requirement is subject to security protocols to make sure that auditing procedures are conducted in a professional and ethical manner. Employees can use University-owned devices for reasonable personal use but should know that personal data can be exposed during data-protection procedures that include responding to cybersecurity threats.
Concerns were raised about the potential disruption caused by implementing a uniform policy across all workstations and computational devices, which could adversely affect faculty members with extensive computational requirements. Steve noted that the team would be meeting with the Dean of the Medical School regarding these concerns for researchers and their administrative access to certain workstations.
Metallurgical Engineering/Materials Science and Engineering Emphases
Dmitry Bedrov, Associate Chair of Materials Science & Engineering, offered background on the merger of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science with the Materials Science and Engineering department in 2019, which resulted in one unit with two programs. The merged Department of Materials Science & Engineering is proposing the following changes to the emphasis areas for its programs to be more consistent and offer more focused specialization for Materials Science Engineering Program, which had not previously offered emphases:
- Introduce three new emphases for the Materials Science and Engineering undergraduate program:
- Materials for Energy
- Biomedical Materials
- Semiconductor Materials
- Rename two existing emphases for the Metallurgical Engineering undergraduate program:
- Current emphasis Biomedical Devices & Sensors rename to Biomedical Materials
- Current emphasis Energy Conversion & Storage rename to: Materials for Energy
Senate President: Recent Conference Updates
The Academic Senate President presented on two senate-related conferences that she participated in. The first conference was organized by the JED Foundation, which aims to prevent suicide among teenagers and young adults through resilience-building, life skills, and support programs. The Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) joined the JED Campus Initiative in 2020. At this conference, it was recommended that faculty members complete gatekeeper training.
UofU Senate leaders also participated in the breakout meeting, during the USHE-sponsored Educated Persons Conference, of Utah Council of Faculty and Senate Leaders (UCFSL) to discuss shared governance and educational policies. One discussion of note was on Policy R470, focusing on ensuring consistency in General Education programs across institutions.
Reports and Information
Senate President Deemyad noted the following informational reports posted for this meeting:
- Program Change: Discontinue 3 QAMO Emphases
- Name Change: Biological Anthropology Emphasis
- Graduate Council 7-year Program Reviews
- Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Master of Science for Secondary School Teachers Program
- Three Outdated Policy Revisions
- Policy 1-005 School Disruptions & Civil Disobedience
- Policy 1-100 Charitable Giving Policy
- Policy 3-230 Floor Coverings
- University President Oct 2023 Report to the BoT
- Academic Senate Report Oct 2023 to BoT
- NEW BUSINESS
There was no New Business at this meeting.
- OPEN DISCUSSION
ASUU President Jack O’Leary inquired if any attendees had additional context about the potential discontinuation of the neurobiology emphasis in the School of Biological Sciences. Biology faculty member Martin Horvath explained that the neurobiology emphasis has been merged with another emphasis, and not removed outright. This merger was due to the faculty working on simplifying the many emphases offered.
Dave Norwood shared his experience regarding an aggressive student in light of faculty safety issues, and inquired about when the university does or does not provide notice to a faculty member of a student who has a history of inappropriate conduct or violence. SVP Projansky explained the respective roles of the Office of the Dean of Students, the Behavioral Intervention Team, and the University Police, as well as encouraging individuals to contact 911 if they feel threatened. She also elaborated on the legal protections in place with federal laws including FERPA and HIPAA, and the importance of discussing mental health issues and particular individuals with those in mind.
Meeting adjourned at 5:19 pm.