Dead week policy approved; nursing degree and transfer GPAs under consideration

Presidential update

President Steven Leath provided his annual update at the meeting, touching on topics such as the budget, legislation and enrollment management.

Senators approved a change to the Faculty Handbook's dead week policy at the Feb. 14 Faculty Senate meeting, eliminating in-class quizzes and exams on Thursday and Friday of the week prior to finals. Online and take-home exams can be assigned no later than noon on the Wednesday of dead week, and cannot include material introduced after Tuesday of dead week.

Exceptions include:

  • Classes that meet only on Thursday or Friday
  • Course labs
  • Half-semester courses
  • Make-up exams
  • Regular assessments "intended to enhance student engagement and guide course delivery," such as clicker quizzes
  • Exemptions approved by the provost's office

The proposed dead week policy change (section 10.6.4) were developed by the senate's student affairs committee, in partnership with student government leadership. It will be in effect for the fall semester.

"It's not that a unit exam can't be given, we're just asking that it be shifted to Tuesday or Wednesday," said Ann Smiley-Oyen, student affairs committee chair. "On Thursday and Friday, if you want to introduce new material, that is not a problem -- you simply do the assessment of that material on the final exam. This is simply a chance to give students some breathing room on Thursday and Friday."

Learning management system review

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, said an RFP (request for proposal) for learning management system (LMS) bids will be posted soon, with vendor demonstrations and reviews planned for March and April. ISU's license with its current system, Blackboard Learn, expires in December 2017.

VanDerZanden outlined these "takeaways" for faculty:

  • Most faculty are expected to use the current Blackboard Learn system for fall 2017
  • Early adopters can choose to migrate courses over the summer and use the new LMS in fall 2017
  • Spring 2018 courses will be migrated during fall 2017 semester
  • Summer and fall 2018 courses also will be migrated in fall 2017

"As you can imagine, this is a multiphased, multifaceted project that has a lot of moving parts," VanDerZanden said. "We understand that this is a significant undertaking for a number of people on campus, and being collaborative and communicative and doing whatever we can to support the process is really what our goal is, in the end."

New academic programs

Two proposed academic programs were introduced, including:

  • A bachelor of science in nursing, jointly administered by the colleges of Human Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students with an associate degree in nursing from an accredited program would be eligible to enroll, with curriculum especially designed for currently employed nurses pursuing an "RN to BSN" track.
  • A pharmacology and toxicology minor, offered by the biomedical sciences department and interdepartmental toxicology program. The minor is intended for undergraduate students interested in careers that involve "toxicology, toxicant effects in animal and environmental systems, and drug action."

Other business

Senators will vote next month on:

  • A motion to eliminate a summer option that admits students who are below the minimum requirement for the Regents Admissions Index (245). Low participation (about 50 students), moderate success and retention rates, and staffing demands were cited for its discontinuation (effective summer 2018).
  • A motion to raise the minimum grade point average requirement for transfer students (without an associate's degree) from 2.00 to 2.25, effective fall 2019. A review shows lower retention and six-year graduation rates for students admitted with a GPA under 2.25.
  • Faculty Handbook changes (section 3.2) that better outline minimum qualifications for faculty appointments, to meet revised guidelines from the Higher Learning Commission
  • A proposed "Statement of Faculty Core Values," intended to serve as an external communication of basic principles and the role of faculty at Iowa State