October 2, 2023
- CALL TO ORDER AND Announcements
The regular meeting of the Academic Senate, held on October 2, 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, Erin Beeghly, James Bekker, Adrian Bell, Melissa Bobick, Kenneth Bromberg, Jen Brown, Timothy Brusseau, Sarah Bush, Robert Campbell, Marjorie Castle, Doug Christensen, Kevin Coe, Katharine Coles, Frank Drews, Nanette Dudley, Katie Durante, Atif Ellahie, Korkut Erturk, Noreen Farley, Stacy Firth, Julia Franklin, Gina Frey, Lela Graybill, Rachel Hayes-Harb, William Holland, Martin Horvath, Rory Hume, Jack Israelsen, Bryan Jones, Sarang Joshi, Seijin Kim, Kai Kuck, Shelley Lawrence, Mark Loewen, Alysse Loomis, Janis Louie, ShawnaKim Lowey-Ball, Sarah Lucas, Stacy Manwaring, Huong Meeks, Brent Milne, Meeyoung Min, Will Nesse, Curtis Newbold, Dave Norwood, Jack O’Leary, Yihui Pan, 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, Sondra Stegenga , Caroline Stephens, Casey Tak, Abigail Taylor, Maggie Tesch, Patrick Tripeny, Hannah Truax, David Turok, Jessica Van Der Volgen, Jim VanDerslice, Roseanne Warren, Melodie Weller, Peter West, Jaclyn Winter, Julie Wright-Costa, Zhou Yu, Kilo Zamora
Excused with substitute: Michael Abrahamson, Lillian Ault, Marc Calaf, Kerry Herman, Tucker Hermans, Heather Holmes, Anna Neatrour, Austin Neff, Susie Porter, Matt Tokson
Excused: Luca Brunelli, Eric Handman, Jay Jordan
Absent: Lourdes Alberto, Yoshimi Anzai, Ademuyiwa Aromolaran, Pinar Bayrak-Toydemir, Bryan Bonner, Jon Chaika, Zhigang (Zak) Fang, Rick Forster, Andrea Garcia, Jesse Graham, Youjeong Kang, Feng Liu, Nancy McLaughlin, Eugene Mishchenko, Patrick Panos, Anna Roelofs, Wayne Springer, Margaret Wan
Ex Officio: Mike Braak, Shanti Deemyad, Angie Fagerlin, Michael Good, Harriet Hopf, Savannah Manwill, Paul Mogren, Mitzi Montoya, Sarah Projansky, Taylor Randall, Sonia Salari, David Thomas, Jane Laird
Shanti Deemyad introduced the call for nominations for honorary degrees to be presented at this year’s commencement. She thanked senators and all who attended the Academic Senate Social on September 26th, hosted by President Randall. She expressed gratitude to the President for sponsoring the successful social. Attendees discussed what it means to be a top ten University in the area of social impact by giving faculty, student, and staff perspectives of areas that would benefit from deeper discussion. Shanti encouraged Senate members to mark their calendars for the next social scheduled for December 15, 2023. She also reported that she had hosted a luncheon for the standing Senate committee chairs, where they were able to brainstorm with Senate officers ways to enhance shared governance and identify meaningful directions that Senate committees can pursue.
- APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes dated August 28, 2023, were approved upon a motion from Harriet Hopf and a second from James Bekker.
- REQUEST FOR NEW BUSINESS
There were no requests for New Business.
- CONSENT CALENDAR
Senate President Deemyad identified the items on the meeting’s Consent Calendar:
- SACUSP 2023-24 New Member Appointments
- Faculty Appointments Report
All items on the Consent Calendar were approved after a motion from Sonia Salari and a second from Kate Coles.
- REPORTS (ADMINISTRATION; EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE; ASUU)
Report from Administration
President Taylor Randall highlighted university events and engagements such as participating in the Silicon Slope Summit, his visits with three peer USHE institutions in Southern Utah, and Employee Appreciation Day. The administration is launching an enterprise strategic planning process that will enable hospitals, colleges, athletics, and more, to be on the same strategic planning cycle. SVP Mitzi Montoya explained that she will report about that process with senators in more detail in a few minutes.
SVP Michael Good shared updates on the status of the medical school building construction, favorable rankings for the University of Utah Health, and groundbreaking for the new Huntsman Mental Health Institute Translational Research Building. The dedication of the new Rose Park Population Health Center will take place on October 12th.
Senate Past President Sonia Salari asked to report creeping faculty workload expectations across at the University. Examples included uncredited labor—such as participating in faculty/staff searches and other service areas—increasing expected overtime, and burdens incurred by asking faculty to contribute more every year. Her concern, as Chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Strategic Planning Committee (SACUSP), is serious enough to identify it as a strategic issue that needs deeper examination. A key question related to the issue is what university hiring, compensation and workload practices will be implemented that address the above and the goal for increasing student enrollment. President Randall expressed gratitude for Sonia’s past and current efforts to bring faculty workload issues to the attention of administration; it is open to faculty governance, and all sources’, suggestions on how to shape hiring processes and eliminate excess workloads. Sonia’s suggestion on how to give more flexibility to mandated sizes of PhD committees, so to locate areas that reduce required workloads, is a good example of this.
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 September 18th meeting. She noted that the Executive Committee members also approved requests sponsored by the Senate President to constitute committees to address 1) possible conflicts of interest for faculty members investing in student-owned companies and 2) the necessity to review college council representation requirements in Policy 6-003 to ensure the policy supports broad shared governance.
Report from ASUU
ASUU President Jack O’Leary highlighted current ASUU activities such as homecoming week, Redfest, Campus Events Board outreach, and Sustainability Board actions. ASUU has received substantial requests for funding from registered student organizations, over $90,000, the highest requests on record, which presents challenges for the budget. He also discussed senators’ comments on issues about student travel funding, something that recently overran resources, necessitating more stringent award guidelines.
- INTENT CALENDAR
There were no items for the Intent Calendar
- DEBATE CALENDAR
The Senate Advisory Committee on Student Course Feedback (SACSCF) is proposing four changes to the Student Course Feedback Instrument for the Spring 2024 term. SACSCF members attending to review the updates were Adam Halstrom, Student Course Feedback Program Manager, Jess Tidswell, SACSCF Chair, Jim Agutter, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, and Anne Cook, Director of the Martha Bradley Evans Center for Teaching Excellence. The changes will streamline the survey for students and reduce survey fatigue, simplify over-complicated questions, and provide research-based response options. Jim Agutter explained, in response to a question, that the instrument does not evaluate teaching effectiveness; it aims to gather the students’ impression of what is happening in the classroom, and that it is important to tune these questions to that purpose and communicate that to stakeholders. Substantive discussion also covered other challenges around gathering useful feedback, such declining student response rates and the nature of evaluative metrics, experienced at the UofU and peer institutions. After a second from Julia Franklin, Harriet Hopf’s motion to approve the proposed updates passed, with 3 opposed and 4 abstaining.
- INFORMATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS CALENDAR
Academic Enterprise Planning
SVP Mitzi Montoya is spearheading an integrated strategic planning process seeking to align academic planning, strategic planning, campus planning, resource planning, and institutional effectiveness planning across colleges, centers, and departments. This comprehensive approach will promote shared opportunities and knowledge transfer among all the units at the UofU and provide an even more effective determination of resource allocation. College-specific plans and forecasts will be incorporated into the budget and other resource determination processes to support university-wide goals. AVP for Faculty Sarah Projansky discussed the goal of aligned planning, which incorporates horizontal (across the university, not limited to individual units) and vertical (strategies and goals that pertain to different institutional levels from colleges to departments) alignment. Deans have been asked to submit academic unit proposals by December 15th. AVP Projansky acknowledged that senior administration knows the scale and difficulty of this initial undertaking. These efforts will provide the long-term benefits of establishing these planning strategy practices now as a foundation and for subsequent ongoing goals to build a more systematic institutional analysis.
Senate members–representing faculty, students, and Deans–posed questions, ideas, and concerns about identifying and incorporating topics of faculty and student shared governance issues into this campus-wide process. Topics included considering teaching and research quality (a separate item from research funding), faculty retention goals, faculty workload policies, and faculty/student shared governance inclusion. AVP Projansky identified that it is important that individual academic units determine field-appropriate strategic goals and plans, and not be directed by central administration. Areas such as workload policies will be different for colleges.
Dean Hollis Robbins, College of Humanities, added that hiring of faculty and other faculty issues are included in the planning template, and gave an example of how her college is addressing those issues by extensive consultation with faculty and students. ASUU substitute-senator Mercedes Johnson agreed with Dean Robbins’ description of the success the college has had in establishing a participatory planning process and added that students also want to contribute to the process in the different colleges, something she encouraged other deans to do too.
Attendee Marc Bodson and Senator Sarang Joshi offered their perspectives, stating that it could be that not all colleges are approaching the incorporation of faculty issues into the process to develop a three-year strategic plan through shared governance. They gave examples of their home college, College of Engineering, that seem to limit substantive faculty participation. They explained that this type of situation would benefit from some centralized process direction to ensure that all colleges determine goals and policies in a participatory way that supports the final plan. AVP Projansky offered that, because this is a new process, dialog presented during this meeting and elsewhere, such as in college councils, is extremely welcome and helpful.
Although SVP Montoya was unable to change a previous commitment in order to stay and present during the meeting after it ran long, Senate Past President Sonia Salari noted that it would be beneficial to ask her to continue communicating updates on the academic enterprise planning process.
Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Mary Ann Villarreal reported that the VPEDI office will soon be releasing its Fall 2023 scorecard snapshot of data and measures, compared to its goals, to test its performance and ensure accountability and transparency for its work. She then updated the Senate on the new EDI Interfaith Initiative, including the formal description that stated: “Interfaith work that EDI will lead over the next two years at the University of Utah is intended to create a campus environment in which interfaith collaboration and connection are common and welcome, and where students of faith can communicate and share safely, honestly, and openly while listening to and learning from those of other faiths—as well as those who hold secular values.” Some senators commented that the title, by using the term interfaith, seems exclusionary to those of secular beliefs, thus possibly harmful, and also that it is not apparent that religious voices are under-represented. VPEDI Villarreal noted the collaboration with Interfaith America is a part of the campus-wide EDI collective group connection (bridge-of-understanding structure) and helps address student feedback about the need for more connection/belonging on campus. She looks forward to working with faculty during these initial stages of evaluation and then adjusting accordingly as the initiative develops.
2023 Q2 Degree Completion Report
Chase Hagood, SAVP for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Office of Undergraduate Studies, encouraged senate members to discuss the student 2023 Q2 Persistence and Degree Completion Report after presenting the report’s summary slides. One item highlighted is that around 20% of students are dropping out within their first or second year. Additionally, the average student is graduating with 145 credits, while the threshold for graduation in most programs is 122 credit hours. He also noted positive signs in the adjusted completion rate and indications that numbers are recovering following the initial shock of the pandemic. Dean Hagood addressed senators’ observations and outlined approaches established, such as the Navigate U initiative, to continue improving completion outcomes. He also made himself available to continue specific inquiries offline.
Reports and Information
Senate President Deemyad noted the following informational reports posted for this meeting:
- Graduate School 7-year Reviews
- of Linguistics
- of Chemistry
- AAC Annual Report 2022-23
- NEW BUSINESS
There was no New Business at this meeting.
- OPEN DISCUSSION
Senate President Deemyad encouraged senators to continue to send input and concerns because shared governance is a team effort. Any idea about issues that might need a closer examination, including topics discussed in this meeting, can be brought to her for more follow-up.
Meeting adjourned at 5:31 pm.