Faculty Senate discusses provost search, COVID-19 at monthly meeting

At the final Faculty Senate meeting of the semester on Dec. 12, 2019, several actions regarding funding for academics were passed. 

Jacob Latimer

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated that the Faculty Senate wanted at least 50% of the provost search committee to include WKU staff. This is incorrect. We have updated the story to include the correct phrase “non-administrative faculty.” The Herald regrets error.

Senators discussed making the Faculty Senate more accessible to WKU staff at the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday.

This topic led into discussion on the process of searching for a new WKU provost. Guy Jordan, associate professor of art history, and Margaret Crowder, a geology instructor, both proposed a motion to have at least 50% of the provost search committee be WKU “non-administrative faculty”.

Faculty Senate chair Julia Shadoan said that the members of this committee, appointed by WKU president Tim Caboni, would not be released to the public until further notice. This caused unrest among the senators.

“This is the most muddled, confusing thing,” Journalism Coordinator Mac McKerral said about the confusion surrounding the provost search. “This is just nuts.”

Other senators expressed their disdain for the lack of transparency from the university to its staff.

After a unanimous vote, it was decided the resolution that at least 50% of the provost search committee be WKU staff members will be forwarded to President Caboni.

Along with this topic, a proposal was made by Margaret Crowder to consider adding a “mental health day” to the academic calendar for both staff and students since there are no breaks due to COVID-19. This was not able to be voted on by the senate, but many senators expressed their support for this idea.

“We recognize how hard this is, and that not having periodic breaks is very difficult for all of us,” Provost Cheryl Stevens said.

On the topic of COVID-19, Stevens stated that the Gilbert-Graves Clinic has seen a 90% decrease in weekly case numbers since the beginning of the semester, and that no cases have been traced directly to in-person classes.

The conflict between Gray Associates and the Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation was also discussed, but no resolutions were passed regarding this.

When the discussion moved to old business, Shadoan stated that there was another meeting regarding the situation with math department head Bruce Kessler, but nothing was changed from the previous decision.

For more on the Faculty Senate and upcoming meetings, visit their website.

Jacob Latimer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jacoblatimer_.