Faculty Senate talks new committees

By Lisa Schulz

Launching a representative body for a college faculty filled with creatives can be a challenge.

Now, as the six-month-old Faculty Senate organizes committees, it is wrestling with questions of duplication and autonomy.

The Senate’s last meeting of the semester was held on Dec. 2 in the Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave., at which soliciting service and expertise from other colleagues, such as faculty and staff, was discussed.

Participation has also been requested in the recently founded Strategic Enrollment Team, along with a committee that has yet to be established the Faculty/Staff and Student Advisory Council to Student Affairs.

It was announced that several issues will be re-evaluated, including J-Term courses, the current curriculum, grade calculation and inflation of grade point averages. All topics are on the agenda for the spring 2012 semester, said Pangratios Papacosta, professor in the Science and Mathematics Department.

“We found out that the J-Term structure, procedures and processes are being disarrayed,” Papacosta said. “We need to revisit and really figure out what was the original intention of J-Term [and] what the benefits [are].”

More students have enrolled in J-Term courses this year, he said. Re-evaluation of the curriculum—which differs among the schools of Fine and Performing Arts, Liberal Arts and Sciences and Media Arts—had previously been discussed at the Nov. 8 meeting, noted Pegeen Reichert-Powell, president of the Senate.

New majors, minors and concentrations are also being reviewed, along with the terms of dual degrees and double majors.

Examining GPA inflation is targeted for spring 2012. Papacosta mentioned the people who gather the data are currently busy with the prioritization process.

Now might be the right time to create an umbrella committee that oversees all of the curricular procedures, he said.

Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, has requested that senators participate in the Faculty/Staff and Student Advisory Council to Student Affairs,

said Reichert-Powell.

“I’m just afraid … that we’re setting a bad precedent by letting [Kelly] establish a committee, which should be a committee of the Senate,” said Dominic Pacyga, professor in the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department. “It sort of bothers me because if he can set up a committee that shadows what we do, then so can [the administration].”

The decision to run under the umbrella of Student Affairs, or to have the Senate adjust its bylaws and create its own Student Affairs committee, remains unresolved.

Discussion also revolved around the need to amend the Senate’s bylaws to accomodate the addition of other Columbia personnel to the Senate. There was lengthy consideration of who should participate and whether they should be described in the bylaws as “colleagues,” but no decision was reached.

“The point of [using “colleagues”] would be some kind of flexibility,” said Michael Lawrence, lecturer in the First-Year Seminar. “Giving it one name with one specific line on the [Faculty Annual Activity Report] doesn’t seem to me to be keeping with the spirit of the motion.”

Louise Love, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, also requested the Faculty Senate nominate three faculty members to the Strategic Enrollment Team in the four groups to work on retention, transfer policy, market position and marketing communication.

However, Reichert-Powell said faculty members aren’t essential to the team.

“This is an instance where it does not seem we need senators on working groups,” she said.