UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At its final meeting of the 2015-16 academic year (April 19), Penn State's Faculty Senate carried out a number of actions involving a broad range of issues, including general education implementation and assessment, LionPath implementation, and diversity initiatives.
Outgoing Senate Chair Mohamad A. Ansari, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State Berks, opened the meeting expressing his deep appreciation for the time, dedication and expertise of the Senate over the past year. Collectively, the Senate produced 44 major legislative, advisory and consultative reports and 44 forensic and informational reports.
"Of course, it is not only the number of reports that matters, but also their high quality and the impact they will have on our University for many years to come," said Ansari. "Thank you for the important work that we have all done together this year."
Nicholas Jones, Penn State executive vice president and provost, voiced his gratitude for the assistance of the Senate and faculty as the University grappled with the 2015-16 state budget impasse. Jones was optimistic about appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year. He also updated members on several administrative searches, including Neil Sharkey's anticipated confirmation from the Board of Trustees as Penn State's vice president for research.
In other business, the Senate:
- Approved a proposal from the Special Joint Senate Committee on General Education Assessment to create a standing committee to guide the general education assessment process.
- Approved recommendations from the Joint Diversity Awareness Task Force on continuing to incorporate diversity best practices and embedding diversity policy, as well as recommendations made in response to an analysis of current United States and International Cultures diversity courses across the University.
- Approved for further committee consideration, a resolution proposing guiding principles for University health care plans.
- Approved recommended changes to two Senate policies: Faculty will now be required to make course syllabi available electronically to students until the end of each semester; and are encouraged to provide evaluation of student progress before the end of the drop period each semester, in order for students to make an informed decision about ways to improve their performance or to late drop the course.
- Approved modifications to University policies about academic minors, to clarify and standardize requirements for minors across the University system.
The Senate also heard from:
- Vice Provost for Planning and Assessment Lance C. Kennedy-Phillips, who detailed how his new office will facilitate the work of Penn State's faculty through coordinating outcomes assessment across the University; conducting institutional research; supporting unit-level and institution-level strategic planning; and serving as accreditation liaison for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
- Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Rodney Kirsch, who delivered an overview of the forthcoming capital campaign, the fourth of its kind in Penn State's history.
The Faculty Senate will hold its first meeting of the 2016-2017 academic year on Sept. 6. James A. Strauss, Senior Lecturer of Physiology in the Eberly College of Science, will serve as chair for the upcoming academic year.
For additional information about the Faculty Senate, including instructions on how to watch the meetings via Mediasite, visit the website www.senate.psu.edu.