Faculty Senate hears CGS program update

Brooke Schwartz, Administration Reporter

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David Boggs, the Council on Graduate Studies chair and the assistant chair of management school of business, updated the Faculty Senate on the CGS and its activities and the planners behind the bike path plan presented at the senate’s meeting Tuesday.

Boggs said that, day to day, the biggest thing CGS deals with is the approving of new and updated curriculum.

CGS works closely with the Council on Academic Affairs, as high-level undergraduate courses can also be used as graduate courses and therefore need to be approved by both bodies.

“First Choice is a designation and recognition of graduate programs at Eastern Illinois that achieve high-quality performance, and there’s a bunch of ways that’s evaluated,” Boggs said.

The evaluation looks at the type of students the program is recruiting, specifically looking at quality students with diverse backgrounds, professor qualifications and engagement in their specific area, student research and others, Boggs said.

When a program is designated a First Choice program, that department is given an extra grant as a reward.

Senate members, including economics professor Teshome Abebe and institutional repository librarian Todd Bruns, said they had problems with the First Choice recognition program.

“I think the First Choice program, number one, its marketing has not been of any use to the institution, and it’s … a political tool by (Robert Augustine, the previous dean of the graduate school),” Abebe said.

He said the first time the economics program applied for First Choice, they were denied, but as soon as Augustine stepped down, they were accepted.

“That’s a political tool,” Abebe said.

Abebe said he was also concerned with the name First Choice and its implications.

“First choice among what?” Abebe said. “Everything else is a bad choice? The name itself is a conundrum, at least as far as I’m concerned.”

Bruns said he echoed Abebe’s concerns, especially the name given to the program.

“When I am hearing the description of First Choice, what comes to my mind is a sense of competition among graduate programs,” Bruns said. “It seems to imply that some are better than others, and I think actually all of our graduate programs are very substantial.”

Biological sciences professor Billy Hung said he thought a reward program, but without monetary value, might be a better solution for Eastern.

Also presented at the senate were the potential bike paths through campus that was presented to the Student Senate earlier in the year.

Steve Pamperin, the city planner for Charleston, said the bike path is meant to be functional as well as a way to show off campus.

“We don’t just want to make this a transportation (from) A to B, but we want to make it interesting as people are going,” Pamperin said.

Pamperin said he hopes to have a set plan put forward before the city council in April, with different plans still being considered for the through-campus trail.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].