Senate leaders meet with regents' diversity working group

Faculty Senate president Sarah Bennett-George told senators that regent university faculty and professional staff presented a united message during their lunch meeting last month with the state Board of Regents' working group on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The message?

"We need DEI programs at our universities because of the desire to create a welcoming atmosphere that ensures the potential for all students to achieve academic success and create a climate to recruit and retain excellent faculty and staff," she said.

Senate president-elect Rahul Parsa and past-president Jon Perkins joined Bennett-George, Professional and Scientific Council leaders and representatives from the universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa at the meeting, scheduled during the board's Sept. 27-28 meeting in Iowa City. 

Bennett-George said she did not receive any clarity about what the group's final report will say, but was proud of the way everyone represented their institutions. The DEI working group likely will present its report and recommendations at the board's November meeting in Cedar Falls.

Health care cost changes

University human resources director of benefits Ed Holland recapped questions that arose during the Oct. 4 town hall. Senators raised concerns about similar cost increases in coming years with the continued escalation of health care costs.

"You can't guess what is going to happen in the coming years, and we will do the same thing we do every year by looking at the claims and make a recommendation," he said. "The likelihood that there will be a premium increase is pretty high because we have made one the last four years, but we have made very few changes to the coverage and only if they are necessary."

Other business

Senators approved:

  • A  name change to the department of geological and atmospheric sciences, to the department of earth, atmosphere and climate. The change makes clearer to students, funding agencies and stakeholders what the department focuses on and follows a national trend at universities.
  • Name changes to three majors in the art and visual culture department. They are:
    • Bachelor of fine arts (BFA) in integrated studio arts to BFA in art
    • Bachelor of arts (BA) in art and design (art and culture option) to BA in art
    • BA in art and design (visual culture studies option) to BA in art history
  • Adding an academic advisor as a non-voting member to the senate's academic standards and admissions committee to ensure all proposals have input from an academic advisor.
  • Changes to the schedule change policy that adds definitions to schedule change terms, clarifies the time periods for periods 2 and 3 and defines and provides criteria for approving out of term schedule changes.

Parsa announced the spring faculty conference will return this spring with a general theme, "applications of AI in teaching and research." A date is yet to be determined, but Parsa asked senators to share ideas for topics and speakers.