Faculty Senate to discuss suggestions from Higher Learning Commission

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

Correction: The story has been edited to reflect that the meeting will be in a different location because of a scheduling change.

A discussion about the suggestions from the 2014 Higher Learning Commission report and how the university can follow them will be held at the Faculty Senate’s meeting 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Dean’s Suite Conference room of the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Jeffrey Stowell, the vice-chair of the Faculty Senate, said the HLC suggested that the university review the independent committees that are functioning, such as the Senate and the Council on Academic Affairs.

During a CAA meeting on Jan. 18, Provost Jay Gatrell said one of the HLC’s concerns was that the Faculty Senate does not play a formal oversight role compared to other campuses.

Stowell said at other institutions, there is an umbrella group or governing body that faculty committees funnel information to, such as a Faculty Senate.

“We lost one-third of faculty but still have the same number of positions to fill,” he said. “Now we might think differently about the structure of the committees and their relationship to faculty.”

The Faculty Senate sent an invitation to the CAA to discuss issues that are being addressed by the committee and ones that the CAA already has under consideration. The senate is also planning on asking the council for input on potentially revamping shared governance structures.

In 2019, the university must submit a comprehensive report that should show that the university has been responsive and mindful to the 2014 recommendations.

Though the university’s accreditation will not be revoked, not complying to the suggestions could result in the university being monitored.

As it stands, there is no specification within the Faculty Senate constitution about any faculty-led committee having an obligation to report to or update the Senate on what they do.

Rebecca Throneburg, a member of CAA, said the council does not want to report to the Senate, during the council’s Jan. 18 meeting.

She said the Faculty Senate has broad input compared to other senates at different institutions and it does not have much of a charge to take care of certain curriculum-related items that may pass through the CAA.

“At other (campuses) the Faculty Senate is the CAA, it is the curriculum body,” she said.

CAA chair Stacey Ruholl was asked to speak at the Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday and present what she and other CAA members discussed on Jan. 18.

“It sounds like we simply perceive our relationship (between the Senate) to be that they populate our council and that we do our job and report through the provost and to the (Eastern President David Glassman),” Ruholl said.

Stowell said the senate is not trying to take control.

Rather, it is trying to “lighten the load” on faculty who serve and are trying to find how everyone can work together, he said.

“It seems that there should be a unified voice coming from the faculty on academic matters,” Stowell said.

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