Recap of University Senate's March 24 meeting

March 28, 2014  

Here is a recap of the University Senate's meeting held March 24.

* English language program for international students funded. David Williams, Senate chair, announced that a program to help improve international students' English skills has received funding of $2 million from the Office of the President for the next two years.

The Office of the Provost will administer the program. It will target the 300 international students with the greatest language and cultural needs, Williams says. The program will include expansions of an existing English and transition class to a yearlong program, and it will increase the number of the class' sections from 8 to 20. The program also will include an expansion of Purdue's Writing Lab.

Efforts are underway to hire the program's needed instructors. The program will begin in earnest this fall.

* Military absence policy approved. The Senate approved a policy that will allow enlisted students to make up coursework they miss while attending mandatory military training. Enlisted students are eligible for up to 15 military-required absences per academic year, with no more than 10 days missed consecutively. Total absences, including travel, may not exceed more than one-third of any course's meetings.

The vote to approve the policy was 60 in favor versus three opposed. Three senators abstained. The policy's full text is available here.

* Student-written statement of values endorsed. The Senate voted to endorse a student-written statement of values titled "We Are Purdue." Written by Purdue Student Government, the statement was created in response to hate and bias incidents that occurred last spring. The statement includes a chant and describes six pillars, or values, that unite the University and those involved with it.

Kyle Pendergast, PSG president, told the senators that the statement would be incorporated into resident assistants' training programs and other aspects of student life. Before the Senate meeting, the Administrative and Professional Staff Advisory Committee and the Clerical and Service Staff Advisory Committee endorsed it.

The Senate vote to endorse the statement was 59 in favor to four opposed. Three senators abstained. The statement's full text is available here.

* Senate vice chair named. Two nominees for Senate vice chair were introduced: Kirk Alter, associate professor of building construction management, and Michael Hill, associate professor of swine production medicine. The Senate document that presented both nominees was moved and seconded. Hill then withdrew his nomination.

Williams then requested nominations from the floor. None were forthcoming, so Williams declared Alter the winner by acclamation.

Alter will serve as vice chair for 2014-15, and he will serve as Senate chair for 2015-16. Patricia Hart, professor of Spanish and Senate vice chair, will serve as Senate chair in 2014-15.

* Possible formation of a new standing committee. The Senate will vote in April on a proposal to create a standing Equity and Diversity Committee. A need for strong faculty and staff leadership in University-level conversations related to such issues has prompted the committee's proposed creation, said senators Alberto Rodriguez and Heather Servaty-Seib.

The committee would work in conjunction with other efforts related to the subject on campus. To create the committee, the Senate would need to update its bylaws.

The proposed change to the bylaws is available here. Letters of support for creating the committee are here and here.

* Support for restoration of the Common Reading Program. The Senate discussed whether to express formal support for restoration of the Common Reading Program, which was canceled during winter break. The Senate will vote in April on the proposed statement of support. Its details can be found here.

* The prohibition of evening exams. The Senate discussed a proposed policy that would disallow the scheduling of evening exams for single-section courses except under extraordinary circumstances. The policy would require professors who wish to schedule evening exams to receive approval from the Office of the Provost before doing so.

According to the proposed policy, students suggest that evening exams often conflict with their participation in student organizations or their work and family responsibilities. Evening exams also can create difficulties for students with more than one exam on the same evening.

The Senate will vote in April on the proposed policy. Its full text can be found here.

* An update about the Office of Global Affairs. Suresh Garimella, chief global affairs officer, provided information about the University's Office of Global Affairs. He updated the Senate about its ongoing efforts to bolster study abroad opportunities, diversify Purdue's international student population, support students who wish to complete internships with policy-making bodies and work on partnerships with other institutions and entities.

A flier with information about the Office of Global Affairs is available here.

* Raising the minimum performance level for all Purdue students. The Senate discussed a proposed policy that would simplify students' minimum academic performance requirement. The policy would replace the current, graduating GPA scale with a minimum semester and cumulative GPA requirement of 2.0. Work on the policy has been ongoing for four years, Williams said.

The Senate will vote on the policy in April. If adopted, it would become effective in fall 2015.

Writer: Amanda Hamon Kunz, 49-61325,

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