Leath, Hill address Faculty Senate

President Steven Leath was the featured speaker at the March 6 Faculty Senate meeting, outlining some of his priorities and fielding questions from senators.

Leath touched on some of the same topics he covered at last week’s open forum hosted by the Professional and Scientific Council, such as student debt, research and extension. He told senators his management style will blend his academic administration background with his recent experiences working with two very successful businessmen -- including former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.

“We should never run a university like a business, but we can certainly run universities in a more business-like fashion,” Leath said.

Cultural sensitivity

Vice president for student affairs Tom Hill updated senators on some outcomes from recent racial tensions exacerbated by comments in the "Just Sayin" feature of the Iowa State Daily. He asked faculty to get involved, “because some of these things are taking place in the classroom.”

“We all have a role in repairing the image of Iowa State for some of our students,” senate president Steve Freeman said. “We want every student to be in a classroom where the environment is encouraging them to learn, not creating an environment where they feel uncomfortable.”

Conflict of commitment

Some senators balked at proposed Faculty Handbook changes that would add language from the university's conflicts of interest and commitment policy, which was updated in July 2011. Concerns centered on the vague definition of conflict of commitment.

"We cannot change the conflict of commitment policy," Freeman said. "What we are putting in our handbook is a reference to the new university policy that did not contain conflict of commitment as a concept until December, when that policy was passed and signed by the president. This is not a faculty policy, this is a university policy."

The proposed changes were narrowly approved by a one-vote margin.

Other business

Charles Schwab, professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering, was voted Faculty Senate athletics council representative, running unopposed. This will be Schwab's second 3-year term on the council.

Four items will be up for a vote at the April 3 senate meeting, including:

  • Recommended items for syllabus inclusion
  • Discontinuation of the engineering studies minor, which involves four departments (electrical and computer engineering, material science, industrial engineering, and agricultural and biosystems engineering)
  • A proposed energy systems minor in the mechanical engineering department
  • Faculty Handbook (section 3.1) revisions dealing with the summer appointment policy for B-base faculty, aligning it with effort-reporting requirements