In-person October ceremony will honor 2020 graduates

The record-setting participation in this spring's commencement ceremonies is a clear sign that students appreciate the efforts of faculty during an academic year complicated by the pandemic, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told the Faculty Senate at its May 4 meeting.

Students who missed out on that opportunity due to the virtual graduation ceremonies in May and December of 2020 will have a chance to celebrate in a similar but belated way.

"We'll be welcoming them back to campus in October for a very special in-person ceremony to honor them," Wickert said.

One year ago, there was a lot of uncertainty and fear about what the 2020-21 academic year would look like, but Wickert said he was proud of how successful the year ended up being.

"We made it through this year. That's due to your hard work and the work of all your colleagues in your department. I believe the university has been tested, and we're stronger for this journey. I also think we're more aware of who we are," he said.

Back to normal on attendance

The senate presidency changed hands at the meeting, with associate professor of architecture Andrea Wheeler taking the reins from associate professor of graphic design Carol Faber. One of Wheeler's first duties will be working with Wickert to draft a memo in the coming days on a return to the usual student attendance policy.

Over the past academic year, instructors were charged with providing as much flexibility as possible for students who missed class because of possible COVID-19 symptoms or due to periods of self-isolation or quarantine required by public health guidelines.

That sometimes required "double teaching" by faculty, Wickert said. New guidelines will detail a return to typical attendance policies, which are set by faculty. Students also will receive a memo about the change. 

Handbook changes

The senate approved two changes to the Faculty Handbook:

  • A section on summer session effort was expanded to reflect the new winter session, which will continue next year after a trial run this year. The new language establishes that instructors who agree to teach a course during the four-week winter term will either see a corresponding reduction in their normal teaching load or supplemental pay based on their college's policy.
  • A section on term faculty advancement was expanded to establish consistency and minimum standards.

Other business

In other business, senators:

  • Approved four new learning outcomes that courses must achieve to fulfill the U.S. diversity requirement for undergraduates. Instructors who teach a U.S. diversity course will have the opportunity to adjust their class, if needed, to meet the new outcomes. At its April 20 meeting, the senate created a new committee to review and approve U.S. diversity course proposals.
  • Approved a 24-credit certificate in poultry production management that provides a clear path to specializing in poultry production. The certificate offered by the animal science department joins similar new certificates the department will offer in beef cattle production, swine production and equine science and management, which were approved by the senate April 20.
  • Approved a master of health care analytics and operations in the Ivy College of Business. The 30-credit program would be delivered primarily online for working health care professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for improved understanding of health care operations, supply chains and data.
  • Recognized the retirement of longtime senate parliamentarian Sheryl Rippke, policy administrator in the university counsel's office. Lectures program director Amanda Knief, who has a law degree from Drake University, will take over as parliamentarian.