Senate continues NTE discussion

Meeting coverage

With time set aside on the Feb. 13 Faculty Senate agenda, president Tim Day guided senators through a discussion to gather feedback about possible changes for nontenure-eligible (NTE) faculty positions. The conversation focused on concepts the senate's executive board developed from recommendations in a 2017 senate task force report (PDF).

"These are things that have survived to the current thinking of the executive board -- working with the provost's office and the [department] chairs council -- to try to find a way to organize this in a way that makes more sense and, importantly, protects the interests and provides clarity to the appointments for our nontenure-eligible faculty," Day said.

The concepts include:

  • Establishing two faculty categories (tenure track and term)
  • Confirming the faculty status of term appointments (including academic freedom and shared governance)
  • Standardizing policies and procedures for appointments, contract renewals and advancement
  • Creating new titles for term faculty tracks

Day used a show of hands to gauge the general consensus on two proposed term titles (professor of practice and instructional or teaching professor), or a singular track that includes term assistant, term associate and term professor ranks. All three possibilities earned some support.

After more than 40 minutes of discussion, Day thanked senators and said the feedback would help the executive board "put something together that's a little bit better and a little bit more on point."

Innovation center update

Design dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez presented an overview of the Student Innovation Center, a 140,000-square-foot experiential learning building being constructed on the west side of campus. The $84 million facility is slated to open in spring 2020.

Rico-Gutierrez and Engineering dean Sara Rajala are co-chairing steering and agenda committees guiding the project -- for example, who will use the facility, what will happen there and how the building will be managed. Subcommittees are making decisions on academic programming, digital technology and fabrication technology.

Rico-Gutierrez also shared the project's vision for an inspiring and inclusive environment, and three guiding principles: collaboration, balance and sustainability.

"Innovation happens all over this campus," he said. "I like to think about the facility as a crossroads of innovation. Hopefully, people will find their way to the building, interact with others, come with new ideas and have the resources to get that done in the building."

Climate change commitment

A seven-member faculty group introduced a resolution on climate change (PDF), supporting a commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral university -- achieving a balance of carbon released into and sequestered/removed from the atmosphere. The task group, independently formed by faculty with a common interest in climate change and related issues, is chaired by James Tener, senior lecturer in music. Senators will vote on the resolution at their March 20 meeting.

The resolution acknowledges the work already being done on campus but outlines eight action items for the university to further pursue. Sarah Ryan, the Joseph Walkup Professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering and member of the task group, said looming budget cuts should not put the recommended efforts on hold.

"We have some urgent issues, but I would urge us not to apply short-term thinking to long-term problems," she said.