Recap of University Senate's Nov. 18 meeting

November 21, 2013  

Here is a recap of the University Senate's meeting held Nov. 18.

* English language program for international undergraduates. David Williams, Senate chair, announced the University's plans to establish an English-language support program for Purdue's international undergraduate students. The need for the program arises from Purdue's high number of international students, including the second-highest number of Chinese undergraduates at any U.S. higher education institution. The program would ensure that Purdue's international students receive English-language help early in their college careers, that they are prepared to seek jobs in English-speaking countries post-graduation and that Purdue's stellar reputation for educating international students is preserved, Williams said.

Details of the program will be forthcoming, but it is expected to be in place before the fall semester next year. April Ginther, associate professor of English and director of Purdue's Oral English Proficiency Program, said that the program likely will involve two semesters of coursework as well as discipline-specific curricula, a capstone component, and more integration with native English-speaking populations through housing arrangements and learning communities.

* Gay marriage in Indiana. The Senate voted 63-4 with two abstentions to adopt a resolution that expresses its opposition to House Joint Resolution 6, which proposes amending Indiana's constitution to ban gay marriage and any identical or similar legal statuses for unmarried individuals. David Sanders, associate professor of biological sciences, led discussion of the resolution.

In response to a question from the Senate floor, Sanders said that Purdue's extension of benefits to same-sex domestic partners could be challenged if the state legislation becomes law, although the possibility is remote. Several senators spoke in favor of the resolution.

The resolution's text can be found here.

State lawmakers are expected to debate the constitutional amendment in January. If state legislators pass it, the amendment would be placed on the ballot as a referendum next November.

* The University's cost-savings efforts. President Mitch Daniels provided an update about the University's cost-savings efforts across various areas. For instance, he reported that Purdue has saved more than $1 million annually in the area of information technology by doing things such as consolidating data centers and desktop support. Cost-savings measures related to students' room and board have saved the University $2.6 million. The University also has sold 10 underutilized, eight-passenger vehicles for $10,000 apiece, for a total of $100,000, Daniels said.

* Comprehensive policy review update. Alysa Christmas Rollock, vice president for ethics and compliance, updated the Senate about the recently completed comprehensive policy review, which began in April. It focused on streamlining Purdue's 127 system-wide administrative policies. The review process involved the policies' originating units, a three-member project team, an eight-member Executive Policy Review Group and the standing, 14-member University Policy Committee, all made up of faculty and staff across all Purdue campuses.

The teams have recommended that the University retain six of the existing policies as-is, rescind eight, revise 55, and consolidate or recast 58 as standards, guidelines and/or procedures. Ten University-wide policies should result from the 58 that are consolidated or recast, according to the recommendations.

The recommendations call for a final total of 71 policies, 23 operating procedures, 20 system-wide standards and one system-wide guideline.

A copy of Rollock's presentation to the Senate can be found here. The review was the first phase in an effort to ensure that policies align with and promote Purdue's mission and its relationships with stakeholders.

* The Exponent. Matt Thomas, editor-in-chief of The Exponent, addressed the senators on behalf of the newspaper's student staff members. Thomas expressed a desire to use Purdue's faculty members as expert sources and reiterated that The Exponent's policies allow faculty members to review their quotes for accuracy before they reach print.

* Annual reapportionment. Under an approved measure, the Senate will have one less senator each from the College of Pharmacy and the College of Science, and it will have one more each from the College of Engineering and the College of Health and Human Sciences. Representation among other areas did not change. The Senate is composed of 102 members.

The reapportionment will take effect in January.

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325,

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