Workgroup sets date for town hall meeting

Analicia Haynes, Online Editor


Workgroup no. 8, Academic Visioning I, established a town hall meeting to collect feedback and discussed several micro-degree proposals at its meeting Friday.

With the deadline to submit the final report still months away, Workgroup Chair Jeff Stowell, a psychology professor, said the group still needs to fill the gap with micro-degrees and how members are going to go about collecting feedback.

Stowell asked Workgroup members whether they should use surveys, town hall meetings, or both.

Workgroup member Nora Pat Small, interim chair of the history department, said they should deploy both.

“The question is time,” Small said.

Kelly Miller, the interim Director of Admissions, said they should narrow down the topic of discussion. She asked what the main focus of the surveys and town hall meetings should be.

Stowell responded by saying the prioritization of their recommendations should be the focus.

Amy Rosenstein, special education professor, said Workgroup members need to make sure they are asking people to give broad and intentional responses.

“I don’t want to ask for feedback then not use it, or perceive that it had not been used or ask for feedback and it not have been really needed,” Rosenstein said.

Biological sciences professor Britto Nathan said he votes for the town hall-style meetings for feedback and said the group should ask the campus community what they would like.

“I like a one-on-one conversation,” Nathan said. “All these numbers (from the surveys) may not mean anything to me in the end.”

Nathan suggested hosting two separate meetings to encourage feedback and offered the idea of announcing the Workgroup’s charges at these meetings, then asking for comments.

He also recommended sending out emails to faculty members with the Workgroup’s charge and asking for input.

“You have an idea, you tell me,” Nathan said. “We talk about it, we’ll think about. I need to understand what you’re trying to tell me.”

Rosenstein asked if the members should have an auditorium open-style meeting or a breakout town hall meeting.

Rosenstein said the open-style meeting may not promote everyone to be able to speak, as opposed to the breakout sessions, where she said there could be several round tables with one facilitator asking questions so everyone has the opportunity to give their feedback.

Then, Rosenstein said everyone could come back as a group to discuss the main points collected from each table.

However, Rosenstein said she was worried people might use these meetings as a platform to argue the recent recommendations released by Workgroup no. 7, looking at Academic Programs.

But technology professor, Peter Liu said this Workgroup is different than Workgroup no. 7 and does not think they will have the same amount of controversy no. 7 garnered.

He said meetings would be beneficial to the Workgroup in the future.

The Workgroup planned for the first town hall meeting to be a round table style meeting set for 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.

The group is still working on planning a location.

The Workgroup also asked for the feedback given to Workgroup no. 7 from the department chairs.

Workgroup no.8 has January and February to collect feedback from the campus community. It will submit a preliminary report on March 15 and the final report will be submitted in April.

The Workgroup discussed two submitted suggestions for micro degrees, one of which came from Eastern President David Glassman, though it was originally from Erin Brown, in Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Stowell said Brown sent an email to the Workgroup stating that students could be better prepared financially following graduation and suggesting a financial literacy course be a part of the senior seminar, which Stowell called “pretty ambitious.”

Stowell said Brown also suggested having the course at a foundations level, thus requiring most incoming freshmen students to learn the content.

Small said there is no place for the course at the senior seminar level and it is not appropriate to be placed there.

“It is appropriate to at least have some reflection of this in a foundations course,” she said.

Miller said the foundations courses are a great place to have a financial lesson but the only problem is that it is only open to freshmen and not all of them take the course.

Liu said the Literacy in Financial Education Center offers a sort of financial literacy and though the material is not quite a micro-degree, it has the function for understanding finances.

Workgroup members agreed that though financial literacy is important for students, it is not a micro-degree.

Stowell said the Workgroup could recommend encouraging stronger focus on financial literacy in the foundations courses.

The second micro-degree proposal evolved from the political science department with professor Ryan Burge, who called it the data analysis micro-degree, Stowell said.

After looking at the proposal, Stowell said the proposed micro-degree offers high wages and potential jobs.

According to the proposal, the possible micro-degree asks for a 12-15-credit course sequence that includes introductory material and a capstone project.

Small said the idea seemed convincing to her but she said she is still not clear on the difference between a micro-degree and a certification program or a minor.

“It seems like a sound concept but I just don’t know what to call it,” she said.

Stowell said he understands the intent is to have a stand-alone number of courses that would result in a badge or certification, however several members were still confused on the definition.

Stowell said he would ask Task Force Chair Ryan Hendrickson on the clarification between a micro-degree and a certification program or a minor as well as the structure of the micro-degree.

The other micro-degree mentioned was a mediation micro-degree.

After sending in the Workgroup’s interim report, Stowell and the other workgroup members decided to post the report on the vitalization project’s web page.

“I think it needs to be out there so that people can see where we’re at,” Stowell said.

The workgroup agreed to post the report, however, Small said they should make it clear that the report is simply a report and not recommendations.

Stowell also said he would send an email out to the faculty to notify them that the report is posted.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].