Faculty Senate holds final meeting of spring semester

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The Eastern Faculty Senate met via Zoom Tuesday afternoon for the final time this semester.

Following the committee reports that opened the meeting, Provost Jay Gatrell gave his report to the senate.

He started by thanking the senate for its work over the past year, especially with the challenges COVID-19 has created.

“Every two weeks we come together, and we discuss policy as well as practices and share information about bottlenecks across campus, and this year it’s been incredibly important as a group that we share our experiences,” Gatrell said. “I want to thank everybody for sharing with me their experiences and advocating for their students and their learners.”

He also informed the senate about updates regarding commencement this semester, saying that people can attend without a ticket if they are fully vaccinated and have proof of vaccination and a photo ID.

Gatrell also reiterated plans for more classes to meet face-to-face next semester.

Faculty Senate Chair Don Holly gave his report next, taking time to highlight some of the things the senate did during the 2020-21 academic year.

“We got the EIU alert siren changed from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., so there’s one less siren going off during that popular Tuesday teaching block. We held two faculty forums, both of which were well attended. We changed the constitution to allow faculty to get elected to standing committees in their first year at EIU, hopefully this will get more faculty involved in service. We overhauled the grade appeals committee to make it more efficient. We disbanded the ad hoc Budget Transparency Committee. We hosted some 16 guests, including faculty, students, two directors, two deans, three vice presidents and one mayor,” Holly said. “And last but not least, we weathered another COVID semester.”

The Think Tank Committee then gave a presentation. The committee’s chair was Melinda Mueller, who is also the chair of the political science department, and joining her on the committee was Gatrell, Dean of Library Services Zachary Newell, education professor Jay Bickford and management professor Michael Dobbs.

The committee had a presentation in which they discussed the following topics:

• Value of the EIU community (Face-to-face and virtual)

• Empathy for students’ vulnerability and fragility (EIU employees too)

• Need to improve equitable access to resources

• Need to strengthen IT infrastructure

• Need to tell our story for recruiting

Committee members and members of the senate then discussed their experiences in these areas as well as other challenges that they have had throughout the semester.

Student Vice President on Academic Affairs then shared his perspective as a student, detailing issues he has had contacting his professors in asynchronous online classes and how much it means to him and other students when professors simply reach out and care about their students.

The senate was then supposed to discuss a Staff Senate resolution with Peggy Brown from the School of Extended Learning, but Brown was not present in the meeting, so the senate decided not to discuss the resolution further.

The senate closed out the meeting with nominations for the Executive Committee for the 2021-22 academic year. All of the nominations were self-nominations.

Nichole Mulvey, an associate professor in the communication disorders and sciences program, was nominated to replace Katherine Shaw as recorder.

Psychology professor Jeff Stowell was nominated to continue in his role as Vice Chair of Faculty Senate.

The nominee to replace Holly as Chair was Assistant Professor and Institutional Repository Librarian Todd Bruns.

Holly closed the meeting by once again thanking his colleagues.

“I want to thank everyone again for their service on faculty senate this year,” he said. “It looks like we have a fantastic senate assembled for the fall, and in other respects, a lot to be thankful for. Hoping everyone has a good end to the semester and a wonderful summer.”

 

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]