Faculty senate tackles GEC, study abroad

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If full-time faculty members do not approve the upcoming General Education Curriculum proposal, committee members will have to go back to the drawing board according to SMU officials at the Faculty Senate meeting.

Matthew Wilson, professor of political science, brought up the topic by asking, “If the faculty voted against this curriculum what would happen?”

Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said: “That would certainly take things off track. We would have to start all over.” 

The discussion was the opening of yesterdays Faculty Senate meeting, which took place at Karcher Auditorium in Storey Hall at 3:10 p.m. 

Senators asked for further clarification about how many people are needed to pass the measure.

Fred Olness, president of the Faculty Senate, said that a majority was needed.

The university-wide forum is slated for 3:30 p.m. on March 17 in the Hughes-Trigg Theater, with electronic voting to take place on March 18 and 19. 

Stacey Paddock, executive director of Alumni Giving and Relations, updated the senators about Inside SMU, a program created to bring alumni back to the SMU campus. 

She said the daylong event on April 9 includes an academic update presented by deans of different colleges, interesting discussions and lectures on a variety of topics and a cookout on the Cox Quad hosted by the Faculty Senate.  

Paddock said alumni would have the choice on which academic sessions they want to attend.

“Hopefully this will be an annual event.  We have 50,000 alumni out there and they always tell us they want to become more involved with campus,” Olness said.

He urged the senators to inform others to become involved with the event, so at least 40 percent of each department would be represented.

After Paddock spoke, Susan Kress, director of SMU International Center addressed the room about the SMU-Abroad program. 

Kress said SMU-Abroad manages a lot more than just the study abroad experience. She said there are “three main categories of programs—semester programs, that’s where the most growth is, summer or J-term led by your colleagues and courses on campus with study abroad components.”

Kress said she is in a process with academic chairs of going over how study abroad is integrated into the campus curriculum. 

“How academic departments use the student experience overseas really needs to be a decision made by faculty,” Kress said. “I am looking for guidance.” 

The update by Kress was followed by a resolution drawn by the academic policy committee to replace the term residency requirement with the SMU credit requirement. Presenters Beth Newman and Chris Buchanan, professor of biology, discussed how the committee created the resolution.

Newman, a professor of English, said that students already get credit for classes not taken at SMU.  She said this will allow a broader and more diverse student population to become involved in different programs at SMU.  She said the plan was based on an Emory University plan.

“It is harder for students who have not started here as a first year to participate in a study abroad program,” she said. “We are just bringing the language up to date.” The resolution passed unanimously. 

A resolution brought forward by accounting professor Michael van Breda, about the continued “vital role of the Senate-appointed Information Technology Committee in monitoring the university-wide information technology committees” also passed unanimously. 

Chris Casey, vice president for business and finance  gave the senators an overview of the budget planning process. She said professional services, benefits, financial aid, athletics and departmental budget variances resulted in SMU using close to $10 million in reserves to balance the budget for the fiscal year of 2009.

She said for the fiscal year of 2010 fall undergraduate enrollment came in $1 million under budget. They had planned for 1,375 and not the 1,329 accepted.

Casey also said low returns on operating cash and the endowment market value appear to have stabilized.  She also said that current budget challenges include catastrophic claims and medical prescription inflation.

She then laid out total compensation, which included funding increases for promotion and tenure, as well as discussing athletics effect on the operating budget of the university, a topic which concerned many Senators. 

“I’m fortunate to have a very talented group of senators this year both with the SMU leadership and faculty leadership. We have gotten SMU through some tough times,” Olness said.

“We are in a good position, especially given the economic climate, it helps to have good leaders,” he said.

“She [Casey] has put us in a conservative position we want to make sure we can provide the programs and the courses and not cut into the core of SMU,” Olness said. “She and Turner have been looking out for SMU.”


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