Wilkins Presents Faculty Senate Report


Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Nicolas Wilkins presented an overview of the Senate’s activity this fall at the  Board of Regents meeting Dec. 13.

This semester, the Senate has streamlined and corrected procedures for bills moving between the administration and the Senate, and numerous bills have been approved.

An ad hoc committee is streamlining course and program approval and evaluation procedures into a large flow chart. An ad hoc committee also is investigating a new process for reviewing every section of the Faculty Handbook and creating procedures to better ensure it is current. Part of the handbook still needs to be written into policies and procedures, he said.

Wilkins also reported that Faculty Senate has hosted two faculty socials this fall in which different employee groups have been invited to “meet and greet” and share what they are doing. He also mentioned that Dr. Diane Wood, chair-elect of Faculty Senate, is spearheading a project with interior design students and faculty to renovate the Johnson Faculty Centre as part of an experiential learning project.

Faculty Senate has sponsored two Takeaway Friday sessions this fall. Topics addressed have been the new organizational structure and employee rights for faculty, he said.

Committees also are working on policies and procedures for student evaluations of faculty members. Currently, the results of student evaluations are used at the individual discretion of faculty members. Faculty Senate is discerning if use of those results should be mandatory for purposes like promotion and tenure and other situations.

Wilkins said collection of student evaluations of faculty members is mandatory, but the release of the results is not necessarily used. He also said department chairpersons see the survey results, but their respective deans only see the them if two-thirds of a faculty member’s evaluations are negative.

The presentation was followed by a discussion among the Board regarding the student evaluation of faculty.

Wilkins said individual faculty members should be evaluated on their own merits and should not be compared to fellow faculty. He also cautioned that because students are not subject matter experts, they are not knowledgeable enough to rate a faculty member’s level of expertise.

Wilkins said student evaluation of faculty members is only one of 30 requirements in measuring teaching effectiveness.

In response to a question about the transparency of the evaluation results, Wilkins said they cannot be viewed by students, however information gathered in Moodle via a separate two-question survey is available. Students can review comments to learn about student satisfaction of particular courses and what was learned in specific classes.

Student Regent Luke LeGrand said finding the results of the Moodle survey can be difficult, so they are not that attractive to students. Wilkins said he is open to suggestions on the placement of that information.

Board President Ed Gargas said he appreciates the role Faculty Senate is taking on this issue and encouraged the Senate to continue their efforts “to guide our own to be the best we can be.”