Senators debate change to position responsibility statement

Meeting coverage

The Faculty Senate will vote next month on a resolution to remove words from the position responsibility statement (PRS), an issue that prompted debate during this week's meeting.

The proposed changes, introduced at the Nov. 12 meeting, remove the words "citizenship," "collegiality," "civility" and similar terms from all faculty PRSs. The Faculty Handbook limits a PRS to considerations in evaluating performance of position responsibilities, such as teaching, research and outreach. Words such as citizenship, collegiality and civility are not defined in the Faculty Handbook.

The resolution directs colleges and departments to remove "any statement about citizenship, collegiality, civility or other associated terms from every faculty PRS, including PRSs signed prior to the adoption of this resolution."

Some senators said things such as collegiality, while not put in a separate category for evaluation, should be considered in the whole context of faculty responsibilities. Others argue that including those words in a PRS makes it easier to get rid of faculty superiors disagree with, or can lead to suppressing academic freedom.

"We are not saying as a Faculty Senate we reject civility or citizenship or collegiality," said Annemarie Butler, associate professor in philosophy and religious studies. "We are saying these are inappropriate to be included on the PRS because the PRS has an expressed purpose as a tool of evaluation."

The executive committee introduced the resolution to remind college and department administrators that the Faculty Handbook governs what a PRS can include.

Standing against racism

Senators voted to suspend the rule requiring two readings and unanimously passed a resolution opposing racist incidents that have occurred at the university and supporting the students affected by them. The resolution also supported the constitutional rights of students to protest and called on the entire campus community to support diversity and inclusion at ISU.

Multiple senators spoke about how faculty have the power to put action behind words.

"I think it is a powerful statement to come from our faculty to say we are supporting our students who are experiencing this," said Jordan Brooks, director of equity, inclusion and multicultural student success in the College of Design. "I think when you are in your department meetings, your curriculum meetings making decisions about the experiences we want our students to have, let's be conscious of our ability to stand up for them then. Make decisions and enact policies that will support diversity, equity and inclusion for all our students."

Other business

Senators will vote next month on two academic proposals:

  • The academic affairs council proposed a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering to begin fall 2020. The degree, which would be in the department of civil, construction and environmental engineering, would focus on challenges linked to land, air and water. The program projects an enrollment of 25 students in the first year and 200 in five years.
  • A name change is proposed for the 15-credit emerging global diseases minor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, to global health. The change allows the university to join the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, and is expected to draw more students to the minor each year by covering more topics.

Senators approved:

  • A business and technology consulting minor and a professional sales certificate in the Ivy College of Business. 
  • Discontinuing the nuclear engineering minor in the department of mechanical engineering. The coordinator is retiring.
  • A revision to the Faculty Handbook granting term faculty the same process as tenured faculty to earn emeritus or emerita status.