Outgoing, Incoming Chairs Present Faculty Senate Report


Dr. Nic Wilkins, outgoing 2019-2020 Faculty Senate chair, and Dr. Diane Wood, 2020-2021 incoming Faculty Senate chair, presented a report today to the Board of Regents.

Wilkins said the transition to remote learning during the spring semester as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been stressful for both students and faculty.

He highlighted resolutions adopted by the Senate this semester to assist students during this period, including changing restrictions on when a student can take an incomplete in a course, moving that date back further in the semester. The Senate also adopted a resolution allowing students to elect a credit/no credit option in place of a letter grade. He said these actions will alleviate some stress on students and will allow some to continue their education who otherwise may not have been able to do so.

Work on student evaluations of faculty will be carried over and taken up by next year’s Senate, he said

Wilkins thanked the Board for the opportunity to update them on the work of Faculty Senate during his tenure as chair.

“I’ve learned how the University operates,” he said. “It’s been a great learning experience that I will cherish forever.”

He then introduced Wood, who will serve as Faculty Senate chair for a second time when the 2020-2021 school year begins in August. Wilkins commended Wood for the work she has spearheaded to renovate the Johnson Faculty Centre.

When the Senate reconvenes in the fall, it will pick up on committee chair reports and other unresolved items from the spring session, she said. She also commented on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it has had on faculty.

“We feel like we are walking on marbles,” she said. “We have no idea what to expect with COVID.”

The need to quickly shift face to face classes to remote delivery this spring was stressful for everyone – students and faculty — involved, she said.

“Hopefully, as a nation, we can figure it (COVID-19) out, and we hope to be back on campus in the fall,” Wood said

She congratulated the administration for its efforts in guiding the institution through the pandemic.

“We are doing the best we can,” Wood told the Regents.

The Senate has not set an agenda yet for next fall because it has been unable to meet while faculty members have been working remotely. She said she hopes to schedule a meeting of Senate committee chairs and Executive Staff to establish their priorities for the coming year. The goal is to invest effort in a few high-priority items, complete them, move on, take on more pressing items and effectively come to decisions in a collegial manner.

In addition to Wood, members of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee for the coming year are Dr. Laura Hatcher, chair-elect, and Dr. Kim Louie, membership chair.

“I can’t imagine a better team,” she said.

Wood applauded Dr. Mike Godard, Southeast provost, for his work with the Senate over the past year.

“He’s been a great source of information and advice,” she said. “He’s been quite wonderful to work with. We are looking forward to working with him and President Vargas next year.”