University Senate Meeting Minutes


Meeting Details:

Fiscal Year: FY2024
Date:
Time: 3:15 p.m.
Location: Zoom
Guest Speaker: Arash Mafi, Executive Dean & Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Minutes Recorded By: Caty Movich
Minutes Approved on:

Attendance

Attending Members

  • Aaron Howard
  • Alexander Erwin
  • Angela Robb
  • Ben Chappell
  • Bozenna Pasik-Duncan
  • Brendan Mattingly
  • Brian Moss
  • Chris Wallace
  • DaNae Estabine
  • Deanne Arensberg
  • Hara Talasila
  • Jason Dailey
  • Jeremy McLeod
  • Jessica Chilcoat
  • Joe Walden
  • Josh Arpin
  • Kim Conard
  • Kristi Neufeld
  • Lorin Maletsky
  • Marissa Marshall
  • Mary Dykmann
  • McKenzie Henderson
  • Mugur Geana
  • Muhammad Hashim Raza
  • Robert Eppler
  • Russell Ostermann
  • Sam Brody
  • Sarah Wilson Merriman
  • Simrah Javed
  • Teri Chambers
  • Trina Weekly
  • Victor Gonzalez

Other Attendees

  • Caty Movich
  • Suzanne Scales
  • Arash Mafi
  • Anne Thuro
  • Beth Benfield
  • Billie Archer
  • Brett Doze
  • CW Anderson
  • David Slusky
  • Edward Peltier
  • Emerald
  • Emily
  • Emily Vietti
  • Hans Onome
  • Jeff Chasen
  • Joe Harrington
  • Jon Brumberg
  • Karen Ledom
  • Kim Warren
  • Maddie Holland
  • Millinda Fowles
  • Remy Lequesne
  • Richard Hale
  • William Collins
  • Wyatt Haywood
  • Yolanda Huggins

Approval of Previous Minutes

Meeting minutes from Feb. 1, 2024. Motion to approve by Marissa Marshall. Seconded by Teri Chambers. Motion passed unanimously.

Guest Speaker Presentation

Guest Speaker: Arash Mafi, Executive Dean & Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

University Senate President-Elect, Josh Arpin, presided over the meeting and introduced Dean Arash Mafi. Dean Mafi described how he has spent his first year at KU leading the College. He met with almost all the departments before starting in his position last March. He immediately began working on the College’s strategic plan to align with Jayhawks Rising. He will present a State of the College on March 27th.

Dean Mafi shared aspects of the College’s current initiatives and operations. Like the rest of KU, there is a lot happening. The College is going through HLC re-accreditation and curricular revision due to Core 34. We are trying to incorporate as many voices as possible in these processes, as well as relay any concerns to the Provost’s Office. There has been some administration restructuring among the Associate Deans to better distribute workload. The College has healthy enrollment, but we are aware of the upcoming demographic cliff. We need to focus on student retention, particularly from Year 1 to Year 2.

The College is also working on events and opportunities to improve the staff and faculty work experience, in line with the Healthy & Vibrant Communities goal. These events have been well-received so far. Another major focus is improving student, staff, and faculty mental health.

We are also focusing on Research & Discovery. The FRESH (Fostering Research Expansion in Social Sciences & Humanities) program is a grant-writing training and discussion group led by Associate Dean Nick Syrett. Faculty participants receive a stipend after completing the program and submitting a grant proposal. The program’s goal is to diversify research opportunities across many departments and fields. We are thinking about how the university can scale up this type of program to increase impact.

We also recently formed a Research Advisory Committee, composed of 10 College faculty members, as well as a Chairs and Directors Advisory Council of 8 members, in order to generate better communication and strategic planning. The College Equity Advisor is working to set up advisors in each department. These individuals, as well as several additional, area-specialized Equity Advisors, will eventually form a Diversity Council within the Dean’s office.

  1. Q&A
    1. What are your plans if the state passes legislation restricting spending on DEIB initiatives?
      1. That is why we are waiting to see when we will launch the Diversity Council. We are putting it off a bit so that we can fit it around any legislation while ensuring it is a priority at the College. We will definitely have DEIB efforts; we want to make sure that we can do it strategically.
    2. What is the College doing to align its financial plan with the CFO’s university financial plan?
      1. We have identified a $2 million structural deficit in the College’s budget. While this is a large number, it is still relatively small in proportion to the College’s overall budget. We are working with the Provost and the CFO to remedy this. Dean Mafi feels optimistic.
      2. One thing we have observed is that there is relatively low retirement and subsequent rehiring of faculty positions. We think this is also partially due to success in faculty retention.
      3. Dean Mafi has also been very focused on how the College can expand research via bringing in funds. This is challenging due to different fields’ ability to generate research funds. The College generates approximately $50 million per year in federally funded research, which is pretty healthy. This results in just over $1 million in overhead for the College to invest in and expand research. We also get support from other offices. We are trying to navigate how else the College can contribute to expanding research.

Dean Mafi shared some statistics about the College. The College alone qualifies for R1 status via its research activity and PhDs granted annually. He shared highlights and figures about various sub-divisions and departments within the College. They are trying to improve university-wide and national knowledge of such success stories.

Reports

Student Senate Report

Reporter: DaNae Estabine (Student Senate Vice-President)

The election campaigning season has begun, with a shortened period this year to increase student engagement.

Turner, DaNae, and Luke are working on creating a move-out donation program. It will be a 2-part event, covering the end and beginning of the academic year for both move-out and move-in. This will be a collaboration between student volunteers, Student Housing, and the City of Lawrence. The money raised would be proportionally distributed to the student organizations that volunteer their time. It is forecast to be implemented this spring.

We are also looking to create a new standing committee of the University Senate focused on sustainability. We presented the idea to SenEx and are now working on a formal proposal. This committee would ensure that this move-out donation program continues.

Staff Senate Report

Reporter: Teri Chambers (Staff Senate President-Elect)

Nominations are ongoing. Elections will be next month. The Personnel Affairs Committee is looking at the inclement weather policy. We are planning a Staff Senate retreat in June at the Edwards campus.

Faculty Senate Report

Reporter: Victor Gonzalez (Faculty Senate President)

Nominations have closed but we are still accepting more. We are also working on filling various vacancies.

Progress is still ongoing with the KBOR faculty award, and Victor attended the second Campus Constituent Surveys Implementation Team meeting.

University Senate Report

Reporter: Josh Arpin (University Senate President-Elect)

Josh has had a busy first few weeks serving as President-Elect. We will discuss the ethics requirement petition during new business. Josh has also had conversations about the excused absences policy. There seem to be a lot of various groups working on evaluating the impact and creating solutions, so we will now bring those groups together to maximize our efforts.

New Business

Ethics Requirement Petition

Josh reviewed the circumstances and background of the petition, KBOR’s systemwide general education plan, and Core 34. Governance leaders received a petition from over 100 community members that requested an amendment to USRR Article III.1 to integrate a social responsibility and ethical behavior requirement into the requirements of a bachelor’s degree. This petition was in response to the recent general education overhaul by KBOR, which does not specifically require ethics coursework. KU’s Core 34 encourages ethics coursework but cannot mandate it. SenEx forwarded the petition to University Senate for discussion, which included community 7-day notice. At this point there is no specific policy language that the senate would vote on. Rather, the purpose of today’s meeting is to discuss the petition and gather further perspectives.

Josh summarized the community feedback on the petition that he received via the Governance Office. He shared that the feedback demonstrated a commitment to students taking coursework centered around ethics but a simultaneous concern around the logistics of incorporating such a requirement into university academic policy. People indicated that individual units have already invested resources into revising curricula, including incorporating ethics requirements. There were also questions of who would write the policy language and what body would determine which courses count for such a requirement.

Josh opened the senate floor for further discussion. There were comments that the University Senate is not the appropriate body to discuss general education requirements and that it opens the door to frequent curriculum change. There were questions and comments regarding how such a requirement would complicate and hinder transfer students’ ability to come to KU.

Josh observed that much of the feedback expresses uncertainty and/or opposition to the petition. He proposed that the issue be returned to SenEx for further discussion of next steps and what the specific policy language would be, if any. There was consensus that the body would move forward in this manner.


University Senate - Feb. 29, 2024


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Submitted by Caty Movich on