Faculty Senate continues discussion on U.S. diversity requirement

The Faculty Senate discussed summer executive board changes to the number of learning outcomes students must achieve to fulfill the U.S. diversity requirement at its Oct. 12 meeting.

In May, the Faculty Senate approved four new learning outcomes for U.S. diversity courses and the requirement that students achieve all four. In July, the executive board met with provost's office staff and reached a compromise that three of the four objectives should be met.

The four learning outcomes are:

  • Identify the experiences and contributions of underrepresented or marginalized groups and how they have shaped the history and culture of the United States.
  • Understand the analytical concepts of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality and/or religion and be able to apply these concepts to an analysis of the United States.
  • Analyze systemic oppression and personal prejudice and their impact on marginalized communities and the broader U.S. society.
  • Evaluate important aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion so they can live, work, and collaborate with others in the 21st century United States.

Faculty Senate secretary Annemarie Butler introduced a motion to rescind the executive board's amendment and return to the standards the senate passed in May. Several senators raised concerns about the executive board's action because the full senate had voted down the three-of-four objectives proposal at both its April and May meetings.

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert said two considerations cause concern about the number of learning objectives that must be met.

"We have concerns over House File 802 and the mandatory training component," Wickert said. "On the advice of counsel, we have concerns about the four out of four conflicting with the mandatory training part of that. I take the advice of counsel very seriously, as does President [Wintersteen]."

Having enough courses available to serve more than 5,000 students each year that meet all four requirements is another concern, Wickert said.

House File 802 prohibits public universities from conducting mandatory employee or student trainings that teach, advocate, act upon or promote 10 specific concepts defined in the law.

"This motion to rescind will harm every senator in this room, every faculty member and every student on campus," said Faculty Senate president Andrea Wheeler. 

Because rescinding the amendment, or any similar action, she said, likely would lead to returning to Iowa State's previous U.S. diversity requirements, which date back to the 1990s.

Senators will vote on the motion to rescind at their Nov. 9 meeting.

Mentoring programs

Assistant provost for faculty development Tera Jordan spoke to Faculty Senate about opportunities to mentor faculty at the university. Jordan said the primary goal of faculty mentoring is to cultivate a university community in which the faculty thrive. That can lead to three positive outcomes:

  • Increase faculty retention and success
  • Ensure successful faculty reviews, promotion, tenure and advancement
  • Cultivate inclusion, belonging and collegiality among faculty

Continuing to improve the required faculty mentoring program for all first-year, tenure-eligible faculty is key, Jordan said.

"What is new this year are faculty mentor resources," she said. "The goal is to raise the floor for the institution, and clarify for our faculty mentors their roles, responsibilities and expectations."

Providing faculty access to mentors as early as the hiring process, and continuing the service throughout their careers will help faculty retention, Jordan said. Recognizing the work of exceptional mentors keeps faculty engaged in that role.

Jordan pointed to three groups for whom optional mentoring opportunities could expand:

  • Advanced assistant professors
  • Associate professors
  • Term faculty

Other business

In other senate business:

  • A transdisciplinary undergraduate certificate in science communication was sent back to the academic affairs council. Some collaborating departments identified in the proposal requested more information about it. 

Senators will vote at the November meeting on:

  • A new undergraduate major in health care management in the Ivy College of Business. Administered by the management and entrepreneurship department, it will focus on economics, financial and quality management and law related to health care services. It consists of 24 major credits and a total of 122 degree credits. The college has received consistent demand for the major with a 32% increase in jobs in the field expected by 2029.
  • A new master of entrepreneurship in the department of management and entrepreneurship, Ivy College of Business. The program would focus on understanding the entrepreneurship process and practices in and out of the classroom. It would add to ISU's entrepreneurship offerings that include a cross-disciplinary minor, undergraduate major, graduate certificate and a doctorate. The 30-credit program would be a first in the state.
  • A master's degree in community development that converts an online interdisciplinary program associated with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (of which ISU is a member) to a College of Design program. It would be administered by the department of community and regional planning. ISU students currently enrolled would be allowed to enroll in the new program and apply earned credits. The move would lead to a shorter time to complete the degree and streamline curriculum. The online degree requires 30 credit hours over two years, saving students more than $5,000.
  • The minutes from the September Faculty Senate meeting. They were removed from the consent agenda and put in new business. Not all senators received the minutes to review, and some expressed concerns about potential inaccuracies.