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Faculty Senate focuses on new ‘Latin’ honors requirements

The Faculty Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution on delaying implementing new GPA requirements to graduate with honors by one year, so the class of 2014 will graduate with the same honors requirements that have been in place since they were first-year students.

In 2010, the Senate passed the original resolution about raising the requirements students need in order to graduate with “Latin” honors—cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude—for the first time since 1984.

Under the new requirements, undergraduate students need a GPA of 3.5 to 3.69 to graduate cum laude, 3.7 to 3.849 to graduate magna cum laude, and 3.85 to 4.0 for summa cum laude. To make the Dean’s List, students would be need a 3.5 GPA.

The requirements were changed from 3.25 to 3.49 for cum laude, 3.5 to 3.749 for magna cum laude, and 3.75 to 4.0 for summa cum laude.

According to the 2010 resolution, the changes were to take effect last month. But Bruce Ronkin, vice provost for undergraduate education, explained on Wednesday an extension is needed because it’s the general practice of Northeastern that the academic requirements defined in the handbook students receive in their first year should carry through to graduation.

“If academic programs or requirements change after that date, those changes simply take effect for the following year’s freshmen class,” Ronkin told the Senate.

Students who were enrolled as freshmen in the 2009-10 academic year—when the resolution passed—and are on the five-year, three co-op program are expected to graduate in May. Criminology professor James Alan Fox noted that a couple of his students approached him about the requirement changes and he was in favor of extending the implementation.

“It does make sense, in fairness, that whatever the policy was when they entered should be the one they graduate with, assuming they graduate on time,” Fox said.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Faculty Senate agreed on proposed changes to Senate bylaws, including giving full-time non-tenure-track faculty members the right to vote for Faculty Senate candidates.

The proposed changes will now go to tenured and tenure-track faculty for their votes, and a two-thirds majority and at least 25 percent participation is required for the changes to pass.

The Senate also passed a sense of the senate resolution that members support giving appropriate, continuing full-time non-tenure-track faculty members full participation in faculty governance, including running for Faculty Senate. That would be based on, among other actions, due process protections in institution policies and actions being afforded to full-time non-tenure-track faculty.

“There are a lot of factors here, and I understand that,” said J. Murray Gibson, dean of the College of Science, who proposed the sense of the senate resolution. “I’m suggesting we all vote and say ‘we want to get there.’ We want to get to this place where we have equality in representation. I think it would be really powerful to say that now or we could quickly lose energy.”

An ad hoc com­mittee pre­sented a report on the status of full-time non-tenure-track to the Fac­ulty Senate ear­lier this month, and those recommendations, as well as their possible impact on the Senate Bylaws were dis­cussed in a “committee-of-the-whole” ses­sion. The proposed bylaws called for a new standing com­mittee made up entirely of full- time non- tenure- track fac­ulty mem­bers that would report to the Senate Agenda Committee.

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