Outgoing chair recaps Faculty Senate work for 2010-11

University Park, Pa. — Penn State’s University Faculty Senate marked the 2010-11 academic year with numerous accomplishments, including work on curriculum and other faculty and student concerns through legislative, advisory and informational reports.

“Members of the Faculty Senate and the Senate office have worked hard and remain committed to helping the University manage these financially challenging times and to emerge as a stronger world-class academic and research University, true to its land-grant mission,” said outgoing Senate Chair Jean Landa Pytel in a written report submitted to Penn State’s Board of Trustees Friday (May 13).

Pytel noted that the Senate worked to streamline University curriculum through the elimination of about 600 undergraduate course numbers for courses that have not been offered for at least five years, while work is under way to eliminate graduate course numbers in a similar fashion.

The Senate approved revisions to modernize HR 64, Penn State’s academic freedom policy, and approved a statement of core principles on instructional intellectual property. The University’s faculty rights and responsibilities policy, HR 76, was updated to reflect current practice related to issues of affirmative action.

Adopting a new representation model, the Senate voted to reduce its size to 200 elected senators, imposing a limit on the number of senators from any one unit to no more than 15 percent of total elected senators. The reduction will be implemented incrementally beginning in 2012-13.

Requirements for a minor were modified to allow a minor to be completed at any campus offering the minor’s specified courses. Senators revised policies pertaining to the time allowed to resolve deferred grade and no grade issues. Additionally, eligibility rules for athletes competing at NCAA Division III campuses and in the PSU Athletic Conference were revised to enable changes after the beginning of a semester.

Senate committees also experienced changes this year. Pytel reported that the Senate Committees on Libraries and Computing and Information Systems were combined, retaining pre-existing responsibilities while also taking on responsibility for such issues as courseware, media services and electronic classrooms. Senators also established a new standing Committee on Global Programs to work with relevant University offices and academic units in the development and review of guidelines for courses and programs delivered abroad and programs on campus for international students.

Among the informational reports received by the Senate, a report on issues related to textbooks and course materials will provide a backdrop for potential future related policy changes. Senators also received an informational report on activities related to alcohol abuse and held a forensic session to discuss the faculty role in mitigating problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse. A report on the Penn State-led Energy Innovation Hub at the Philadelphia Navy Yard informed faculty of potential collaborations.

The University Faculty Senate is the representative body of Penn State's faculty with legislative authority on all matters pertaining to the educational interests of the University and all educational matters that concern the faculties of more than one college. In addition, the Senate is recognized by the University as an advisory and consultative body to the president on all matters that may affect the attainment of the University's educational objectives.

The Faculty Senate will hold its first meeting of 2011-12 on Aug. 30. Daniel Hagen, professor of dairy and animal sciences, will serve as chair for the coming year.

Jean Landa Pytel Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated May 13, 2011