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Task force to consider academic calendar
Faculty Senate discusses process for looking at semesters, quarters at January meeting 

ATHENS, Ohio (Jan. 9, 2007) -- Faculty Senate Chair Phyllis Bernt will lead a task force of 17 university community members in researching and making a recommendation on whether to change from quarters to semesters. The Task Force on the Academic Calendar and System is to make a recommendation to the administration by the end of spring quarter.

Committee reports

An overview of updates shared last night by faculty senate committees:

Professional relations
Norma Pecora introduced a resolution on Family Medical Leave for a first reading. (Senate passed a version of this resolution in October, but Provost Kathy Krendl asked for revisions on some of its language defining eligibility for leave.)

Promotion and tenure
Senate passed a resolution that clarifies the language regarding Regional Higher Education. It also discussed faculty workload policy language for the handbook.

Educational policy and student affairs
Senate passed a resolution affirming the university's commitment to academic integrity.

Finance and facilities did not report. 

President Roderick McDavis formed the task force, which is composed of 10 faculty members, in collaboration with Faculty Senate's Executive Committee. McDavis charged the group with thoroughly researching and gathering input on the issue. The group will consider areas such as each calendar system's benefits to students and effect on faculty workload and research before making a recommendation. McDavis will make the final decision about whether or not to switch to semesters.

"We're trying to make a decision on principles and information rather than just a knee-jerk reaction," Provost Kathy Krendl said.

Membership includes:

  • the five-member Faculty Senate Executive Committee,
  • the four Faculty Senate committee chairs,
  • two Athens campus deans,
  • one regional campus dean,
  • the chair of the Chairs and Directors group,
  • the presidents of Student Senate and Graduate Student Senate,
  • and the chairs of Administrative and Classified senates.

"We're supposed to be looking at the issue, gathering as much information as we can,"  Bernt said. "We'll be looking at as many previous studies as we can, gathering as much input as we can."

Also on this topic, Faculty Senate had a first reading on a resolution stating that no decision to change the academic calendar be made until a survey of all faculty has been conducted on the specific calendar options being considered.

"It seems this conversation came up twice in the past 10 years," said Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Ken Brown, the senator who brought the resolution forward. He asked whether a transition to the semester system could hurt the university's financial situation if it loses students who don't want to get caught in a transition. Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Marty Tuck said research shows that if retention or enrollment falls, it bounces back in about a year.

In other news from the meeting, McDavis spoke about the resolution passed in April 2006 on shared governance that called for a non-voting Faculty Senate member on the Board of Trustees and on the President's Cabinet. 

McDavis and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee discussed having a faculty member on cabinet in a Jan. 3 meeting. McDavis said there was a "consensus at the end of that conversation that there is no need to continue with that part of the resolution" because of the multiple opportunities Faculty Senate has to meet with him. McDavis and other members of the senior administration team meet with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee twice monthly and with the Faculty Senate chair monthly.

"At least on three occasions every month, there is an opportunity with the leadership of Faculty Senate to sit with me or Kathy (Krendl) or (Vice President for Finance and Administration) Bill Decatur," he said. "I hope that captures the idea of shared governance."

As for an elected faculty member serving as a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Board Greg Browning will consider the possibility and discuss it with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, McDavis said. 

In her report, Krendl shared updates on the following topics:

  • The university will host a Founder's Day celebration on Feb. 2 in which it recognizes academic success and acknowledges progress toward its intuitional goals. A ceremony held in the Baker University Center Ballroom at 10 a.m. will focus on academic success by recognizing students who won nationally competitive awards this year and professors who have been awarded distinguished teaching awards. The 2006-07 Distinguished Professor will do a lecture at 7:15 p.m. in 135 Walter Hall that evening.

    In the afternoon, university community members will have an opportunity to discuss the strategic plan with the heads of the Vision OHIO implementation teams -- the 10 teams that were charged with identifying initiatives that they thought were necessary to help meet the university's goals during the strategic planning process. The chairs and co-chairs of those teams will hold informational sessions about the progress in each of their specific areas. More details about this event will be available soon.

  • The Faculty Compensation Task Force plans to make a recommendation by the end of January or early February about a five-year plan for increasing faculty salaries.

  • The university intends to appoint a new CIO by July 1. Interim CIO Shawn Ostermann reports that the perimeter firewall is fully intact and operational.

  • The Academic Integrity Committee, co-chaired by Susan Sarnoff and Scott Titsworth, is on track to complete its work by the end of the academic year. The committee has been working with Judiciaries to more clearly define the judicial process for academic dishonesty; Titsworth in the School of Communication Studies is testing Turnitin.com, a plagiarism-prevention Web site, as a teaching tool to help students avoid unintentional plagiarism; and the committee is developing a Web site on academic integrity.

  • Of the 75 priorities recommended for attention by the Vision OHIO Executive Implementation Team, approximately 26 are either under way or completed, Krendl said. Examples include a committee focused on the possible creation of a universitywide honor code, work on adding childcare options in the area and an increase in the number of residential learning communities. "We're a third of the way to addressing the priorities named by the Executive Implementation Team," Krendl said.

In the chair's report, Bernt said that Krendl had signed the resolution passed in November establishing a timeline for the provost to sign the senate's resolutions. The resolution stipulates that the provost must respond to each resolution within 60 days of its passage in one of three ways: by signing it, by stating in writing that the resolution will not be signed and explaining why, or by stating in writing the need for an extension of time to consider the resolution.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, 740-597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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