Dead week policy changes are under consideration

Senators are considering proposed dead week policy changes (PDF) introduced at the Jan. 17 Faculty Senate meeting. The changes, developed by the academic affairs council's student affairs committee, seek to "reduce the stress of the final week of classes and to facilitate time to focus on preparation for final exams."

As proposed, the policy would restrict quizzes, tests and exams on the Thursday and Friday of dead week (the week prior to final exams). Presentations and projects included on the semester syllabus would be exempt. Other proposed exemptions include:

  • Classes that meet only on Thursday or Friday
  • Course labs
  • Half-semester courses
  • Testing center exams that are due by the end of the week (must be available to students no later than Wednesday)
  • Test exemptions approved by the provost's office

"Basically, this is just asking faculty to adjust slightly to take some of the stress off students taking exams on Friday and then turning around again to take final exams on Monday," said Ann Smiley-Oyen, chair of the student affairs committee.

Some concerns and suggestions for the policy changes were voiced during senate discussion. Annemarie Butler, senate secretary and associate professor in philosophy and religious studies, said she will put forward an amendment at the next meeting, allowing optional "unit-ending" tests on those days.

"Other places have things like reading days, where there are no classes for two days, and they can therefore get those two days and the weekend to study," Smiley-Oyen said. "We can't do that here. This is the best option we've been able to come up with, and the more exceptions that get put into this, the more it's watered down."

Senators will vote on the policy changes at their Feb. 14 meeting.

Tenure bill

Senate president Jonathan Sturm shared his view on proposed state legislation aimed at eliminating tenure at Iowa's community colleges and three regent universities. The bill (senate file 41) was introduced Jan. 10 by state senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) and referred to the education committee.

"This is an ideal opportunity for us to be vocal across the state and to educate citizens of Iowa -- who really often have a misunderstanding of what [tenure] is," Sturm said.

Provost Jonathan Wickert also referenced the proposed legislation during his remarks.

"This is not the first time that this particular concept has come up," Wickert said. "This particular bill was introduced without asking us for any information or data. President (Bruce) Rastetter, on behalf of the Board of Regents, indicated that the board does not support the bill. I'm hearing similar things through my channels that it does not have broad support. I think that's a bill that's simply not going anywhere."

Technology update

Chief information officer Jim Kurtenbach, who presented an update at the senate's October meeting, provided a follow-up on the latest efforts in information technology.

"What we try to do is always start with 'yes,'" Kurtenbach said. "That's an attitude we're trying to implement throughout the system of not only central IT, but also folks distributed throughout the colleges."

He said initiatives that IT staff are working on include:

  • Security (identity and access management)
  • Storage for research projects
  • Next learning management system (Blackboard or another vendor), in partnership with the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
  • Standard telephone system, moving from three systems to one
  • Classroom technology support improvements
  • Pilot study of classroom testing method

Kurtenbach said ISU's switch to the Workday enterprise resource planning and student information systems will impact everyone.

"I want to make it clear today that we do need your engagement with the enterprise and student information systems when they roll [out]," he said.

Kurtenbach said ISU staff currently are learning about system integration, data conversion and the functionality of the Workday system during "discovery sessions." Phase one implementation begins in April.

Other business

  • Sturm said Aon-Hewitt, a national consulting firm, has been selected to help collect and examine faculty salary equity data (gender and minority), a collaborative study involving the senate, university human resources and the provost's office
  • Wickert said the state's proposed midyear budget cuts would be handled "in a very responsible way that preserves our core vision here at the university"
  • Senators unanimously approved a proposed undergraduate certificate in merchandising (PDF), administered by the apparel, events and hospitality management department
  • Senators unanimously approved proposed bylaw changes (PDF) that adjust senate committee responsibilities to align with the reorganization of the former business and finance office into two divisions (university services and finance)
  • Peter Martin, University Professor in human development and family studies, was voted the next president-elect, running unopposed