The University Senate discussed a new strategy of direct communication with administration during their first meeting of the fall semester.
Various faculty throughout the meeting talked highly of President Timothy Caboni’s decision to reinstate faculty spousal tuition benefits at WKU. He announced the change at his Aug. 18 convocation.
Patti Minter, chair of the Faculty Welfare and Professional Responsibilities committee and history professor, said reinstating the benefits was a sign of “good faith.” Minter said she was pleased during her meeting with other faculty and Caboni.
“Your voices do matter,” Minter said. “Faculty, when we speak loudly and clearly, can be tremendously effective and we have a new president that is listening.”
Two colonnade general education connection courses were also approved by the senate. “Jesus in Film” and “Modern Britain Since 1688” were approved under the social and cultural category.
Marko Dumancic, chair of the Colonnade General Education Committee and assistant professor in the department of history, said transparency issues with the program were addressed and a new website and other materials have been created.
During the meeting, the senate also approved a policy that redefines the definition of a credit hour which will comply with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools policies and a policy that redefines course section delivery modes and criteria for course classification as distance education.
The senate also approved a report on faculty dissatisfaction with office and classroom environments, with special regards to heating and cooling. The report was presented for approval by Claus Ernst and Lauren McClain, of the Budget and Finance committee.
Faculty regent Barbara Burch shared her experience this summer with Caboni on the Board of Regents. She said the focus has been on student retention, persistence and graduation.
From Caboni, Burch said she has gathered he is a “listener” and is also committed to shared government with more efficient communication. She said Caboni wants to know and discuss the issues faculty feel strongly about and urged the senate to redefine effective communication with the administration and the president.
Provost David Lee agreed with Burch and said Caboni has been making calls to faculty for meetings. He also described his personal meetings with Caboni have been more structured, with an hour set aside each Monday for meeting together.
In his report, Lee said enrollment numbers are not at their best, but an official enrollment number will be decided in October. Lee also added there are 62 new full time faculty this fall semester. Last year, 41 new full time faculty were added.
SGA president Andi Dahmer introduced herself to the senate and said she will be having monthly meetings with Caboni and has already had productive discussions. Dahmer agreed there should be deep conversations between faculty, administration and students for resolutions.
Dahmer restated her main focus this year will be on student retention, persistence and graduation. Dahmer also expressed SGA will be focusing on diversity, inclusion and sustainability. SGA’s sustainability committee has recently passed a resolution that allows students to turn in 10 plastic bags to receive a reusable bag, Dahmer said.
University Senate chair Eric Kondratieff said he was encouraged to see Caboni primarily address academics and the people that “make the university” during his convocation speech. Kondratieff said he sensed an effort to reorganize administration towards academics and away from buildings.
At the convocation, Kondratieff said he appreciated Caboni didn’t talk about athletics or construction, which were main talking points for former president Gary Ransdell. Kondratieff said he also appreciated the transparent podium Caboni used and thought it served as a symbol for his presidency.
Kondratieff concluded the meeting by restating the senate needs a more direct approach to problem solving after seeing Caboni’s response to faculty comments.
A previous version of this story said Timothy Caboni’s first convocation took place on Aug. 23. The correct date was Aug. 18. The Herald regrets the error.
Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]