Interdisciplinary programs introduced to senate

The Faculty Senate got its first look at three new interdisciplinary academic programs and unanimously approved a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language at its March 11 meeting.

A pair of gerontology degrees -- a master of science and a doctorate of philosophy -- was introduced at the meeting. Both programs would be administered by the interdepartmental gerontology program.

A minor degree program, "Applications of Learning and Leadership Sciences," also was introduced. Six departments would be involved: Agricultural education and studies; agronomy; animal science; food science and human nutrition; horticulture; and natural resource ecology and management.

Jonathan Sturm, professor of music and theatre, stated a concern about the lack of humanities and arts involvement in the degree program.

"It's an interdisciplinary degree, but I'm not entirely sure it's interdisciplinary enough," Sturm said. "We're not seeing any psychological courses here -- psychology of leadership; we're not seeing anything that addresses leadership in humanities, we're addressing it more in science. I think that leaves a vital part of leadership out in this minor."

Jan Thompson, chair of the senate's curriculum committee, said the program developers are eager to serve a broad range of students and would welcome additional participation from more faculty, including those in the arts.

"We are approaching this from the standpoint of the sciences involved in both learning and leadership," Thompson said. "Certainly, the approach that we've taken has been very interdisciplinary. I don't think any one of the folks involved would argue that there is not an art to leadership, but there's a very applied and experiential approach to working with students to help them develop skills that are essential components -- doing and being as leaders."

Senators will vote on the proposed programs next month.

Caucus feedback

Senate president Veronica Dark said caucus discussions last month generated feedback about faculty salaries and benefits, which she shared with President Steven Leath. She said there was "general satisfaction" with benefits and some dissatisfaction with salaries and raises. Some specific feedback she shared included:

  • Add wellness incentives, benefits
  • Provide tuition help for families
  • Strengthen the relationship between performance and raises
  • Address salary compression

Other business

  • Tera Jordan (assistant professor, human development and family studies) and Dark (professor, psychology) were elected as representatives to the athletics council in a four-person race.
  • Associate provost Dawn Bratsch-Prince said 81 promotion and tenure cases are under consideration this year. A report on the decisions will be shared with the senate at semester's end.