Faculty Senate discusses Harkin controversy, new programs

Danielle Ferguson

The Faculty Senate discussed goals to continue to improve Iowa State’s faculty at their latest meeting.

The Feb. 12 meeting began with President Suzanne Hendrich’s report. She passed along a few results of some faculty surveys, where she said she found interesting comments.

“I did think that in terms of collaborative, strategic leadership there was definitely an emphasis of faculty wanting to really be thinking to the future in terms of curriculum,” Hendrich said.

President-elect Veronica Dark informed the Senate about the first meeting of the Committee of Undergraduate Education. The group was formed in response to the Government of Student Body’s request to give undergraduate students the chance to provide input into curriculum and faculty evaluations.

“It provided a lot of education to the students about what faculty do, and to faculty about issues that students expected,” Dark said.

The Provost’s Office Report, normally given by Provost Jonathan Wickert, was delivered by Associate Provost for Academic Personnel Chief Diversity Officer Dawn Bratsch-Prince.

Bratsch-Prince informed the senate of the bi-annual faculty activities survey that started in mid-January and ends late March. This survey is required by the Board of Regents for all the regent universities and used to give out faculty activity rewards.

“We’re really trying to make a case of the value of faculty work and the diversity of faculty work,” Bratsch-Prince said. “Often our work is portrayed as classroom teaching, and there is a need to educate our constituencies about diversity of faculty work … [the extra work] is out-of-classroom teaching, mentoring, research, outreach, clinical work, extension work, etc. It’s really important for us to communicate the breadth of faculty work.”

Bratsch-Prince then addressed the issue of Sen. Tom Harkin choosing not to give his congressional papers to Iowa State.

“We’re frustrated and disappointed with that decision. We’re also frustrated with the comments that we’re reading in the media that our freedom is being suppressed when faculty at Iowa State have objected to that interpretation,” said Bratsch-Prince. “It’s important to realize [that it is] more than academic, that this is really a political battle.”

A few faculty members spoke up on the issue since there has not been an official statement from the Faculty Senate regarding the dispute.

The representative from World Languages and Cultures, associate professor Kevin Amidon, said he believed the Des Moines Register had done a poor job “refracting” the issue onto the Faculty Senate.

The Faculty Senate has not given an official statement on the Harkin Institute controversy.

“It seems to me that the way this has unfolded has not been quite fair to faculty on campus,” Hendrich said.

The Senate ended the meeting early with the new business of three academic programs that are requested to be added to ISU curriculum.

Senate member Rob Wallace presented the three new programs: a master program of finance, a minor in landscape management that will be added to the department of agriculture, and public relations major within the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

“All three have made it through the required curriculum processes and the votes at each stage have been calculated and have made it through the first reading,” Wallace said.

The Faculty Senate’s next meeting will take place at 3:30-5 p.m. on March 12 in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.