Faculty Senate discusses disinfection time rollback, other issues in final monthly meeting of 2020

Social distancing has become the norm around WKU’s campus, with lines, computer labs and classrooms being restructured to allow for space between people. Students in finance professor Mohsen Mollagholamali’s classes have been seated six feet apart from each other all semester, as WKU and the United States continues the fight against COVID-19.

Michael J. Collins

Editor’s note: This story has been updated due to several incorrect facts and to add clarification. The Herald regrets these errors. 

The Faculty Senate held their monthly meeting Thursday via Zoom to discuss ongoing changes and events on their agenda.

Colin Farrell, senate chair for the Public Health department, questioned Provost Cheryl Stevens over the decision to remove the allotted five minutes between classes intended to allow staff to disinfect rooms.

“If the COVID epidemic is still going on, and we have increasing numbers of people testing positive,” Farrel said, “why are we decreasing the amount of time that we’re able to clean to room?”

Stevens responded by saying that it was the expectation of students to clean their own spaces when arriving to class and requested Farrell “collect some data” to determine a future policy.

Farrell declined the request, citing the lack of time to do so before next semester and being “shut down” in past attempts.

Senator Mac McKerral also referenced confusion among faculty as to who should be disinfecting rooms and when and requested clearer responsibilities and guidelines in the future.

The Senate also announced that upcoming changes to Blackboard have been delayed until January to allow time for grades to be posted without risking technical issues.

The meeting also featured information detailing WKU’s Center for Research and Development’s to an Innovation Campus, presented by Associate Vice-president for Strategy, Performance and Accountability Bruce Schulte and Jeff Hook, director of the Center for Research and Development.

The presentation outlined Climbing to Greater Heights, the program’s strategic plan, as well as some of the work the center has done in conjunction with businesses and start-ups.

In a Nov. 5 update, President Tim Caboni said the strategic plan reflects the university’s goal to “serve as a regional lighthouse” for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Senate also discussed necessary changes to be made to their Faculty Handbook Committee, which maintains and updates faculty guidelines and expectations.

According to Senate Chair Julie Shadoan, the current Senate charter states that a previous chair of the Senate must serve as chair of the Handbook Committee.

Shadoan said the charter can not currently be fulfilled due to a loophole that does not account for the possibility of a two-time chairperson and lacks a requirement for the official to serve indefinitely.

Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mjcollinsnews.