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Faculty Senate discusses co-op prep course, faculty salaries

Changes next semester to the co-op prep course and a resolution on faculty raises were among the items discussed Wednesday in the Faculty Senate’s final meeting of 2013 before winter break.

At the start of the meeting, a Senate Agenda Committee report noted that there would be changes made to the co-op preparation course this spring. The changes will be piloted in a couple of the courses next semester, and then based on the outcomes, faculty can review the materials and make recommendations based on their specific units.

Co-op students are required to take the preparation course that covers topics such as career exploration, writing resumes, interviews, and workplace etiquette. The goal is to make the course more reflective and strengthen the integration of classroom study and co-op work.

Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, re-affirmed to the Senate that the curriculum is the purview of the faculty and said it is the faculty’s duty to continue to push for education reform.

“There is no question that the faculty owns the curriculum,” Director told the Senate, “but we all have the obligation to constantly review curriculum and review how we deliver courses to make sure we are doing it in the best way possible.”

Later in the meeting, the Financial Affairs Committee presented its recommendation for a 3.5 percent merit raise pool to faculty salaries beginning fiscal year 2015. It would take effect July 1, 2014.

Jacqueline Isaacs, a mechanical and industrial engineering professor who presented the committee’s recommendation, said salary increases are essential to retaining quality faculty and hiring new ones.

“The faculty salaries have shown a lot of success and brought a lot of good things to the university,” she said. “We need to continue to support our faculty.”

The Senate passed the resolution, which is a recommendation to the university administration. Compensation rates for faculty and staff are ultimately determined by the university’s senior leadership team and announced in the spring.

An informational item also noted at Wednesday’s meeting was a proposal in the works that would change the point in the semester when a student can drop a course or receive a “course withdrawal” grade. The current policy states students must do so two to three weeks before finals, and the proposed change would extend the deadline to the last day of classes. Any change to this policy would come before the Senate at a later time.