Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told the Faculty Senate Feb. 16 that the 2021-22 academic calendar would include another winter session, pending state Board of Regents approval.
The first, five-week winter session at ISU was possible due to a pandemic-modified 2020-21 academic calendar in which the fall semester ended before Thanksgiving. Next year's proposed academic calendar would see the return of Thanksgiving and spring breaks.
"We heard a lot of concerns about the impact of not having the Thanksgiving break so students could get additional work done on end-of-semester projects," said associate provost Ann Marie VanDerZanden.
Prior to the addition of a winter session, the upcoming fall semester was set to begin Aug. 23, with Thanksgiving break Nov. 22-26 and final exams ending Dec. 16. Adjustments to that calendar still are under consideration.
Faculty Senate president Carol Faber addressed several bills proposed by the Iowa Legislature. She focused on a bill to end tenure at regents universities or its use at community colleges, and a bill to survey regent university employees on their political party affiliation.
The regents and other lobbyists are working diligently behind the scenes to inform the Legislature of the importance of tenure, she said.
"There is a comprehensive legislative strategy by all three universities and the Board of Regents," Wickert said. "This work is happening every day and every hour, and is at the top of [President Wendy Wintersteen's] activities right now. You don't see it, but a lot of this is individual work or being done in meetings."
He told senators the bills' future will be clearer after March 5, the Legislature's first bill funnel date.
New vice president for research Peter Dorhout told senators he has spent much of his three-plus weeks on campus visiting with campus leaders and listening. He shared three key goals of his office:
- Promote a vibrant and supportive environment for scholarly and artistic endeavors.
- Foster ethical conduct in research.
- Integrate the research mission with ISU's education, outreach and engagement missions.
Dorhout also presented his vision for assisting research at the university:
- Support research environments that create, apply and share knowledge.
- Develop, manage and be transparent about investments, strategies and business models for research.
- Provide educational leadership for comprehensive training in safe, effective and ethical research practices as well as a diverse research environment.
- Display a servant leadership and partnership.
- Facilitate key collaborative, interdisciplinary partnerships across the university.
- Lead state and federal officials in conversations that advance the university and its stakeholders.
"How do we identify and go after the resources that are going to support the research enterprise across campus?" he asked. "That is a leadership role I have taken on, but it is a team effort."
Dorhout said he wants to reduce the administrative burden for faculty in grants management and make sure their voice is heard.
"We will listen to your challenges, understanding what it is that we need to improve and involve you in that process," he said.
Senior vice president for student affairs Toyia Younger also introduced herself to the senate. She said her division focuses on student development and engagement; connection, collaboration and communication; diversity, inclusion and social justice; and holistic health, wellness and safety of students and staff.
"We are very aware of the needs of the staff," Younger said. "We provide direction and services to ensure our staff are their best selves when helping students."
Younger said the focus for this academic year has been on five priorities:
- Safety, health and well-being
- Student success
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
- Assessment and research
- Staff development and retention
Some senators expressed concern over in-person instruction this semester in light of the new COVID-19 variants. Faber shared new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about using and wearing proper face coverings.