Faculty Senate covers range of topics at March meeting

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The University Faculty Senate covered a range of topics during its meeting Tuesday (March 21), including standardizing titles for non-tenure track fixed-term faculty, student progress reports, SRTE teacher evaluations and the incorporation of learning goals and objectives for all syllabi to aid in learning outcomes assessment.

The Senate approved an advisory and consultative report that creates standardized titles for full-time, fixed-term, non-tenure track faculty. The policy aims to standardize faculty titles and create a titling system that is University-wide and consistent across academic colleges and units.

The recommended system of ranks and titles provides three tiers of titles for faculty that are involved in teaching, research or clinical business categories. For example, an assistant teaching professor, associate teaching professor and, lastly, teaching professor are the three ranks within the category of teaching faculty with terminal degrees. The ranks for teaching faculty without terminal degree are: lecturer, assistant teaching professor and associate teaching professor. The other categories are: researchers with terminal degrees, researchers without terminal degrees, clinical business faculty with terminal degrees and clinical business faculty without terminal degrees. These policies do not extend to fixed-term faculty in the College of Medicine, the Penn State School of Law or the Penn State Libraries.

The recommendation will be sent to President Eric Barron for consideration.

The Faculty Senate voted to approve a change to policy that recommends instructors submit early progress reports for all undergraduates in courses numbered 499 and below, particularly for students at risk of earning a grade of less than a C. These early reports will be filed with Starfish, the University’s new academic advising system, which allows those progress reports to be sent to students’ advisers as well as the students. 

Faculty Senate also approved legislation that will require all course syllabi to state learning goals and learning objectives in an effort to support learning outcomes assessment as recommended by the Penn State Office of Planning and Assessment, in support of Middle States Accreditation criteria.

The Faculty Senate also:

—Heard from President Barron and Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones on several topics including Greek life, budgetary concerns, searches for several positions including two deans, support for international students and University efforts focused on diversity and inclusion.

—Heard a report on Lion’s Pantry, the student-run food pantry, which was created to address the issue of student hunger at University Park. Pantry co-President Jaden Rankin-Wahlers said student poverty is an issue being faced at universities across the country. She said many students still don’t know about the pantry or feel comfortable using it as a resource and encouraged faculty to learn about it, share information about it or find out about ways to partner with Lion’s Pantry in class projects. The class of 2017 chose supporting the food bank as its class gift

—Discussed a report from the Committee on Educational Equity and Campus Environment, including whether the Faculty Senate should: recommend that student ratings of teaching effectiveness (SRTEs) be evaluated for bias, following concerns about bias against faculty from diverse backgrounds; support the proposal by the University Park Undergraduate Association to include the University’s Report Bias website on all syllabi; and recommend that colleges sponsor workshops to raise faculty awareness of implicit discrimination. The items were presented for discussion and future consideration.

—Received a separate informational report on guidelines for the best use of SRTEs and how they should be used in faculty evaluations by faculty serving on review committees and administrators. 

—Received a report from Susan Basso, vice president and chief Human Resources officer, on the implementation of WorkLion, the new human resources management system to which the university will be transitioning.

—Recommended revisions to the University policy AD 84 that provides a mechanism for students and employees to establish both a preferred name and a preferred gender in the university information system. The recommendation will be sent to Barron for consideration. 

—Received nominations for Faculty Senate leadership positions for 2017-18 and committees.

The Faculty Senate’s next meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. April 25 in 112 Kern Building.

The Kern Graduate Building on Penn State's University Park campus. Credit: L. Reidar Jensen / Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated March 23, 2017