Faculty Senate Meets

Posted: September 9, 2011 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: September 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm

By Robin Herron

At its first meeting of the academic year on Sept. 7, the Faculty Senate heard a report from Provost Peter Stearns on issues for 2011-12; an update on the Virginia Retirement System salary impact from Linda Harber, vice president for human resources and payroll; and an update on Blackboard and technology classrooms from Sharon Pitt, executive director of DoIT. 

In other action:

  • Senators elected new members to the senate standing committees and university standing committees. Earle Reybold was elected secretary of the senate.
  • Chair Peter Pober announced that the Faculty Senate will hold a forum on the university presidential search process on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. in Harris Theater.
  • The senate voted to amend the composition of the General Education Committee to provide for staggered three-year terms, thus ensuring continuity.

Some of the issues Provost Stearns outlined for the year included the following. 

Budget: the university is hoping for no further reductions and continues to monitor the salary situation. The Office for Research and Economic Development has reorganized to be able to take advantage of funding opportunities and added a staff member specializing in federal relations. The Office of Technology Transfer will focus more on licensing intellectual property.  

Transitions: Searches are under way for two deans; the associate provost for undergraduate education; and a vice president of enrollment development. 

Global strategies: A decision on a Korean campus is expected soon; opportunities in India and Brazil are being explored. 

Educational enhancement: The Students as Scholars plan is being implemented and faculty participation is needed; courses that have high drop-out or failure rates are being restructured; some PhD programs will be enhanced; distance learning and summer options are being expanded. In December, the university should get further word from Phi Beta Kappa on its most recent application. 

Growth and retention: Fall enrollment appears to have met projections of a 1.5 to 2 percent growth; retention of students from freshman to sophomore years increased about 1 percent; retention from sophomore to junior status increased by about 0.5 percent.

Balance: At the state level, there is pressure to graduate more students, more cheaply. “We need to push back in the name of a high-quality liberal education,” the provost said. “And we don’t need to be defensive. We’ve been doing a pretty good job.” 

Minutes and other information on the Faculty Senate are available at the website.

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