Senate reaches a decision on U.S. diversity outcomes requirement

Discussion on how many learning outcomes classes must fulfill to meet the U.S. diversity requirement -- which began in May -- came to a conclusion at the Nov. 10 Faculty Senate meeting.

Senators voted 33-20 to reject a motion to rescind the executive board's amendment that reduced the number of learning outcomes students must achieve from four to three. Senators on both sides of the issue spoke, with nearly all agreeing that the four learning outcomes the senate approved were an improvement over the original standard of two of five, established in the 1990s. If the motion had passed, the requirement would have reverted back to its original form.

Some senators objected to the process and noted the executive board disregarded senate bylaws in making the change over the summer. They felt the issue should have been debated in the full senate.

Last spring, the Faculty Senate twice voted down the three-of-four learning outcomes option.

Before the vote, Wickert outlined three reasons why he would not sign a proposal that required courses to meet all four learning outcomes. 

  • Choice when students select classes to fulfill the requirement 

  • Concern about having enough capacity in classes

  • Faculty choice to be able to teach courses that did not meet all four outcomes

"We are working through a complex issue, and the way to do that is through dialogue, through respect and through compromise," he said. "It may not be the most elegant path to where we are now, but I believe where we have landed is a win."

Meghan Gillette, chair of the ad hoc committee on the U.S. diversity classes, shared findings from a survey sent to 137 instructors who taught a diversity course during spring 2020 or fall 2021 semesters.

Pending a decision on how much of a course's content needs to meet three of the four outcomes, the number of qualifying courses varies, Gillette said. If 30% of course content is the standard, 85 courses (93% of existing U.S. diversity courses) would meet at least three of four outcomes. If 50% of the content is needed, 65 courses (74%) would qualify, and if 100% is needed, 28 courses (31%) would meet the three-of-four requirement.

"The number of classes available does not take into account any new courses that could be developed, any update of current courses or the potential expansion of enrollment caps," Gillette said.

VP for DEI

Interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion Charles Small spoke to the senate about his role and the search for a permanent vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Small said he focuses on stewardship, strategy and success.

Specifically, he said he'll focus on keeping the momentum of the office going and onboarding the next vice president for DEI when the time comes. He noted a Gallup survey found employees with an exceptional onboarding experience are 2.6 times more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace.

Small said the search committee is working with the Spelman Johnson Executive Search Firm, based in Massachusetts, which has approximately 3,350 individuals in its network of DEI professionals.

Other business

Senators will vote at the December meeting on:

  • A change to the undergraduate certificate policy that allows students with an associate's degree to earn a certificate without completing a bachelor's degree. Students with an associate's degree apply as a non-degree seeking student. It remains the program's or department's decision whether an associate or bachelor's degree is needed for the certificate. Certificates can be earned in 11 areas from computing applications to soil science.

  • Approving Faculty Senate's October meeting minutes. A quorum was lost after it was introduced as new business.

  • Amending Chapter 8 of the Faculty Handbook "University Community Policies" to note the policies are in the ISU policy library -- which governs all employees -- including faculty. Policies are often added or changed and may be outdated if faculty use the Faculty Handbook version. Changes would include:

    • Adding a description of what the policy library is

    • Explaining how the Faculty Handbook is different from the policy library

    • Stating when the Faculty Handbook disagrees with the policy library the latter takes precedence

    • Moving the section regarding policy and educational material and intellectual property from Chapter 8 to 10.

A proposed name change for the agriculture and society program to agriculture and rural policy studies was sent back to the academic affairs council for more discussion.

The senate approved:

  • A new undergraduate major in health care management in the Ivy College of Business. Administered by the management and entrepreneurship department, it focuses on economics, financial and quality management, and law related to health care services. 

  • A master's degree in community development that converts an online interdisciplinary program with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA) to a College of Design program. It is administered by the department of community and regional planning. Eight ISU students currently enrolled can remain in the program, transfer to another GPIDEA institution or enroll in the new program. 

  • The management and entrepreneurship department's master of entrepreneurship. The program focuses on understanding the entrepreneurship process and practices.

  • The minutes from the September Faculty Senate meeting, after they were amended to note when a quorum was lost.