Senate addresses research faculty and open access policies, discusses core curriculum proposal

January 24, 2012

The University Senate endorsed a new policy and guidelines on research faculty as well as a recommendation to advance an open access policy at Purdue at its Jan. 23 meeting. Senators also discussed a proposal for the framework and oversight of the University's core curriculum initiative and heard about a report from the Senate Special Advisory Committee to the presidential search committee.

The Senate voted to endorse two documents related to research faculty appointment and promotion: a draft University policy for Research Faculty Appointment and Promotion and revised Guidelines for Research Faculty. The policy and guidelines, which can be viewed at https://www.purdue.edu/faculty/meetings.cfm, would supersede University Senate Document 04-4 passed in 2004 and Research Faculty Implementation Guidelines issued by the Office of the Vice President for Research in 2005. 

The proposed policy allows unrestricted internal funds to be used for partial support of research faculty --  a practice prohibited under the original guidelines. The change was made to assist with activities such as proposal writing and graduate student mentorship, which may not be compensated by external funds.

The proposed policy also creates the opportunity for research faculty appointed in nonacademic units to affiliate with an academic unit and serve as a mentor to graduate students in that unit.

The Senate approved a proposal calling for an open access policy that would advance and support deposit of all scholarly articles published by Purdue faculty into the Purdue e-Pubs digital repository (http://www.purdue.edu/epubs). A report presented to the Senate in November stated that adopting such a policy would help make scientific and scholarly research more accessible to the broader public, promote use of Purdue research beyond the University and internationally, and potentially increase citations.

The Senate also discussed a proposal from the Educational Policy Committee regarding the framework of an undergraduate core curriculum and structure for administration and oversight of the curriculum.

A core curriculum identifies learning outcomes students should achieve to graduate and identifies courses for students in any college or major that can be taken to meet that requirement.

As outlined by the proposal, students will acquire competencies established within a common set of foundational and embedded learning outcomes. Common coursework focuses on foundational outcomes in written and oral communication; information literacy; science, technology, and mathematics; and human cultures. Embedded learning outcomes addressed within courses and typically taught within a specific discipline or major are creative and critical thinking; ethical reasoning; intercultural knowledge and effectiveness; information literacy; global citizenship and social responsibility; quantitative reasoning; oral and written communication; and leadership and teamwork skills.

Learning outcome rubrics were created to assess students' levels of knowledge and skill development, increasing from "developing" (Level 1) to "emerging" (Level 2) to "proficient" (Level 3). Students are expected to achieve Level 3 in the embedded learning outcomes by graduation.

The proposed core curriculum would apply to students starting at Purdue in the fall of 2013.

The proposal also recommends establishing an undergraduate core curriculum administration and oversight committee by no later than the spring 2012 semester. The committee would address issues including approval of courses for inclusion within the core, establishment of guiding rules, regulation and monitoring of approved courses, and resolution of issues related to transfer students.

At least one faculty representative from each college/school and Purdue Libraries would serve as voting members for two-year terms. In addition, ex officio members would be added to include regional campus representatives, Purdue Student Government representatives, and a head academic advisor.

The core curriculum document and appendices can be found at https://www.purdue.edu/faculty/meetings.cfm.

In other business, Senate chair Morris Levy announced that the report from the Senate Special Advisory Committee is now available online on the Senate website at https://www.purdue.edu/faculty/meetings.cfm. The charge of the committee was to formulate recommendations regarding the desired expertise of the next president as well as strategic priorities for the next administration. The report, which has been submitted to the presidential search committee, reflects responses from focus groups and from surveys conducted by the advisory committee and other constituent groups.