Senate to vote on addition of Graduate Council

The Faculty Senate will vote at its February meeting on a proposal to move the Graduate Council into its academic affairs council to make it part of the senate. The change would give the full senate decision-making authority for all graduate faculty, graduate and professional students and postdocs. 

The 15-member Graduate Council serves as the executive committee of the graduate faculty. It approves new graduate programs and establishes educational policies that govern graduate education throughout the college. Iowa State has approximately 1,500 graduate faculty members and 4,300 active graduate students.

Because postdoctoral associates are employees, the proposal recommends moving responsibility for their employment policies from the Graduate Council to the office of the vice president for research. 

The proposal -- which comes from concerns expressed by faculty, departments and colleges -- would create more communication about issues or concerns and include more people with an interest across campus. The goal is increased transparency and as changes work through the senate process, every department and college would have a chance to discuss them.

If the proposal is approved, the Graduate Council would be renamed the Graduate Faculty Cabinet to avoid placing a council within a council. New language would be added to the senate bylaws to include the Graduate Faculty Cabinet.

"We spent all fall having conversations, meeting with a lot of different groups and held a couple of open houses for everyone on campus to attend and discuss this," said judiciary and appeals council chair Steve Freeman. "We ended the fall semester with a vote of all graduate faculty and they were overwhelmingly supportive of it."

Presidential review

The senate approved the initiation of a review of the office of the president. The Faculty Handbook calls for the senate to periodically conduct reviews of those in senior vice president positions and above. Its last review was in 2018 for the office of the senior vice president and provost.


Meghan Gillette, associate teaching professor in human development and family studies, was unanimously voted the next president-elect. She will take office in May, when president Sarah Bennett-George (apparel, events and hospitality management) passes the gavel to president-elect Rahul Parsa (finance).

Spring conference

Parsa announced three keynote speakers for the Faculty Senate spring conference on March 21 in the Memorial Union South Ballroom. The theme of this year's event is "AI in Teaching and Research." The event is free. The guest speakers are:

  • Alumnus Gagan Chopra, Microsoft
  • Alumnus Karthik Balakrishnan, Principal Financial Group 
  • Anjana Susrala, professor of information systems, Michigan State University

Other business

Senators approved:

  • Updates to the grading policy on repeating courses in the course catalog. The changes clarified which grades could be used to calculate a cumulative GPA and which courses count toward the 18-credit repeat limit.
  • An online master of digital health program that combines aspects of health care, technology and data analytics. It focuses on using digital tools and analytics to improve human health through wearable devices, telehealth and mobile health. 
  • A bachelor's program in sports media and communication with applications ranging from youth to professional sports. Areas of study and practice include broadcast television, social media, talk radio, podcasts, websites and video games. 
  • An undergraduate minor in applied mathematics to teach students various aspects of mathematics to supplement their major. 
  • A name change for a bachelor's program, from biological and premedical illustration to scientific illustration and visualization, in the colleges of Design and Liberal Arts and Sciences. The change is intended to improve visibility and clarify the full breadth of what the program offers.