Faculty Senate update
Visits from the president, provost and more to talk about potential restructuring, updates on the C2 Hub and teaching loads.
November 7, 2018
The most recent Faculty Senate meeting consisted primarily of dialogue with invited guests, including Metropolitan State University of Denver President Janine Davidson, Provost Vicki Golich and Vice President of Student Affairs Will Simpkins.
A majority of the conversation related to the proposed University realignment. Davidson and Golich confirmed that the University is still collecting feedback anonymously via the president’s Idea Catcher (name fields can be left blank). Jeff Parker (theatre) and the Welfare Committee are also working on a survey and will submit collected information by the end of the semester.
Davidson affirmed the commitment to the broad-based liberal-arts education that MSU Denver provides as undergirding any potential restructure.
“The importance of the humanities is so clear to me,” she said. “We want to ensure that anything we do keeps all parts of the University rich and vibrant, as a design that starves any part of us is not a good design.
“With that commitment, when it comes to the restructure, everything is part of the conversation – we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.”
“Nothing is set in stone,” Golich added, with another pasta-related metaphor: “We can redo the ‘spaghetti map’ however you want. … The sooner we get feedback from you, the better.”
Faculty Senate President Matt Makley (history) affirmed that the process is challenging but reassured the assemblage of the shared priority to ensure that MSU Denver provides transformative education for generations to come.
“We’ve got people working on the cost-benefit analyses to ensure we can thrive,” he said. “We’re stable now, but we need to worry about the future – we have to think about how we can survive.
“There’s no one conspiring behind closed doors, and I advise all of us to remain friendly to one another as we work together to better the community of the University. We’re all in this together for our students.”
Simpkins then updated the group on progress with the Classroom to Career (C2) Hub; the primary highlights included:
- The initiative is in the conceptual stage, cataloguing and attempting to provide support and connections to all opportunities the University offers for career planning.
- The next phase is slated to sketch out a framework; Simpkins anticipates this will consist of two parallel groups for cross-functional teams and design. “We really want your voices involved in this – brick by brick, we will build the C2 Hub together,” Simpkins said.
- Echoing Davidson’s sentiments, Simpkins reinforced the support of a rigorous liberal-arts foundation as a direct connection to workforce needs, connecting the employer-recognized value proposition with the MSU Denver diploma.
- The $1.58 million in one-time funding provided by the state will be used to seed pilot and scale initiatives that have a direct impact on student success, retention and completion. Sample programs Simpkins mentioned include direct aid to students and fixing the infrastructure for employer relations.
“We’re looking to build on this by bringing more funds into the institution,” Simpkins said. “This is really an incredible place to be, and I love that we all agree on the central mission of providing an educational opportunity for students who otherwise wouldn’t have one.”
Another topic of conversation touched on the previous session’s vote on reducing the required teaching expectations from 4/4 to 4/3 for Category One faculty members and from 5/5 to 5/4 for Category Two, with an option to overload for more compensation.
The reduction was proposed to address the anticipated increase in service requirements placed on faculty members related to retention initiatives. With a reduction in teaching load, it was argued, educators could focus on teaching and the freedom to deliver instruction in the best way possible.
Makley reminded the assemblage of the 2016 proposal to set the teaching load to 3/3 and called for follow-up with pilot departments to assess its deployment.
“I’m keen to explore the research on that related to credit-hour production – I’m open to the conversation,” Davidson said.
Because of the guest-heavy meeting, committee updates were tabled until the Nov. 14 session.
Other items of business included:
- Nick Stancil, deputy general counsel, updated the assembly on the previously noted group of policies presented to the Board of Trustees and moving forward for approval. He also affirmed that the Senate would provide structure to a question on mandatory reporting; Makley thanked Stancil and Megan Jones, policy administrator, for their work advocating for the faculty by keeping policies open and flexible. Updates are posted on the University Policy Presidential Advisory Council’s SharePoint site.
- Amanda Berry of Human Resources reminded attendees that Open Enrollment, the one time to make changes to benefits aside from qualifying incidents, is underway Nov. 1-21. Berry noted there will not be an increase in medical-coverage premiums and that there will be a slight decrease in dental premiums. Those with questions should contact or stop by the HR office in JSSB.
- Zsuzsa Balogh (civil engineering technology) will email the Curriculum Committee report; she invited anyone with questions or updates to email her.
- The Senate is looking into cost-friendly caffeine options to replace previous coffee provisions.