Flat-fee plan for course materials shared with senators

ISU Book Store assistant director Heather Dean updated the Faculty Senate on the next phase of immediate access course materials at the group's March 19 meeting.

The bookstore has provided immediate access materials since 2012, allowing students to receive access to digital-only required course materials on the first day of class at a lower cost. The effort has saved Iowa State students a total of $19 million, including more than $2.6 million this academic year, Dean said.

Beginning this fall semester, immediate access will be a digital-first, flat-fee subscription program where all course materials -- digital and print -- are included in one rate for undergraduate students. The materials are available on the first day of class in Canvas, ISU's learning management system. Some materials, like lab manuals and workbooks, will remain as print materials.

"Students receive all of their course materials for one low, flat rate," Dean said. "The overall goal is affordability for our students and ensuring they have access to their materials with a predictable price they can budget for."

The flat-rate cost per semester is $259 for fall and spring semesters and $69 for the winter and summer terms. Prices will be reviewed annually. Students can still opt out for a refund through the 10th day of classes and the bookstore will provide them a purchasing option.

Digital course materials are the preferred method for most students, with 97% using them, Dean said. Eighty-seven percent of course materials at ISU use immediate access.

Faculty still have the option to use physical textbooks and other materials, but digital is the default option unless specified, Dean said.

Responding to regents' diversity directives

As part of the process of implementing the state Board of Regents' 10 directives that resulted from its eight-month review of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and offices at the three universities, the senate heard and approved two changes.

  1. Directive 6 instructs the regents universities to review "DEI-related general education categories and update category names to accurately reflect the array of options students may select from to satisfy these requirements and ensure a breadth of offerings."
    To comply, the academic affairs committee proposed renaming the U.S. diversity requirement category to "U.S. cultures and communities."
  2. Directive 4b states, "No employee, student, applicant, or campus visitor is compelled to disclose their pronouns."
    To bring awareness to the directive, senators approved a change to the required syllabus statement on free expression that adds two sentences: "No employee, student, applicant, or campus visitor is compelled to disclose their pronouns. Anyone may voluntarily disclose their own pronouns."

Fast track for artificial intelligence minor

Senators approved an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in applied artificial intelligence (AI) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with two required courses, "Introduction to Applied AI" and "Ethical Design, Use and Impact of AI," and three elective courses. The minor -- open to all undergraduates -- focuses on AI literacy and emphasizes ethical considerations. The minor will help students gain employment in jobs that utilize AI. The senate voted to skip a second reading and approved the minor to ensure it could be marketed to prospective, incoming and current students and place ISU among frontrunners offering the minor.

Other business

  • Senators approved a name change for the bachelor's and minor in apparel, merchandising and design, to fashion design and merchandising. Fashion is the more common term for everything from student scholarships to trade organizations. The change is expected to help student recruitment.
  • The senate approved a resolution encouraging students to take part in the 2024 general election and faculty to not schedule exams or major assignments on Election Day, Nov. 5.
  • Sarah Davis, English, was elected a Faculty Senate representative to the athletics council.
  • Senators will vote next month on a proposed certificate in health care management from the management and entrepreneurship department. The 20-credit certificate is designed to help students transition from clinical to managerial roles where balancing finances, assessing programs and leading are important. The certificate would be available to all undergraduate students, and could especially benefit students majoring in the businesses, biology and pharmacology.