By Wesley Walter
November’s Faculty Senate meeting opened with a series of announcements by UM Chief Information Officer Dr. Joe Walsch including plans to redesign UM’s website.
The proposed redesigns would include a portal allowing students to pay their student bills, schedule advising meetings and view their class schedules all in one place.
Walsch also announced the university plans to test Degree Works, a degree audit and tracking program, during the summer 2023 semester. Walsch said it is planned for the program to be fully adopted by the fall 2023 semester.
Academic Policies Committee Chair Dr. Andrea Eckelman reported on the committee’s work to change the deadline for spring semester senior finals. Senior’s grades must currently be in by the Wednesday of finals week, limiting the amount of time students have to turn in finals. The proposed changes would move the date until the Monday following finals week giving seniors more time to complete finals. Eckelman reported she met with provost. Dr. Courtney Bentlee and representatives from the Student Government Association regarding how to move forward with the changes.
Eckelman said that a survey will be sent to current juniors, seniors and graduate students asking their opinion on the proposed change.
Theatre Professor Dr. Bart Pitchford expressed concerns about students being unable to bring a speaking representative during University Conduct Council meetings for Code of Conduct violations. Currently, students are only allowed to bring a support person who cannot speak on their behalf during meetings.
Pitchford expressed his desire to look at providing students with access to better representation. He expressed worry that, “We’re putting them into a position where they are going into an unequal distribution of power without anyone to advocate for them.”
The Academic Policies Committee agreed to look further into Pitchford’s requests.
During her President’s Report, Faculty Senate President Dr. Claire Edwards updated the senate on SGA’s gender-neutral bathrooms bill. The bill would convert the 66 single-stall restrooms on campus to be gender-neutral. Edwards said SGA would be voting on the issue in November.
Edwards announced updates being made to UM’s power grid would mean various buildings would be without power at different times throughout the summer. Edwards said a schedule has been made showing when different buildings will be without power.
Edwards briefly discussed the Staff Senate’s goal to include a fall break and a day off on Veterans Day in next year’s schedule. Edwards announced schedules were currently being made for the senate’s consideration, with the goal of choosing one for use by next school year.
Eckelman discussed the Falcon Success Center’s goal of moving toward all students taking some form of freshman experience class such as UM 101. Eckelman also discussed developing a peer mentor program in the spring 2023 semester with the goal of implementing it in the fall semester.
Social Work professor Dr. Meredith Tetloff reported the Finance Benefits and Resources Committee had completed its list of 69 College and University Professional Association comparators. This list contains data about faculty salaries at schools similar to UM and will be used as a reference in adjustments to faculty salaries.
Tetloff announced the committee’s next priority would be increasing pay for adjunct professors. Tetloff said Dr. Ed Langham has been discussing concerns regarding compensation with adjunct professors and the salary changes are expected to be approved by next semester.
Edwards gave a report on the Personnel and Handbook committee on behalf of committee chair Dr. Ray Ozley who was absent.
Edwards reported on a mistake made when revising UM’s sabbatical policy. This mistake meant that faculty must wait 8 years from the time of their first sabbatical before they may take their second when they should only have to wait 7. The committee is currently working to rectify the problem. Edwards also reported that the committee is currently working to develop a parental leave policy.
The senate voted to approve Dr. George Lytle as the senate liaison to the Technology Advisory Council.
Edwards announced the Graduate Council would meet on Nov. 28 to edit the Graduate Bulletin.
Wesley Walter is managing editor for The Alabamian. He is a junior English major and mass communications minor. Wesley boasts a 750 credit score, boyish good looks and soulful eyes that contain a deep indescribable sadness. In his free time, he enjoys travelling, visiting gas stations and thinking about getting into surfing.