Provost reports to Faculty Senate on halting the residence life education program

9:49 a.m., Nov. 6, 2007--At the Nov. 5 meeting of the University Faculty Senate, Provost Dan Rich reported on the decision by President Patrick Harker to halt activities of the residence life educational program.

Rich said the program had as its primary purposes the preparation of students for citizenship and the building of community in the student residence halls. A review of the program was already under way as of this past summer, Rich said, but the extent of the problems with the program was not fully realized until last week. Once the administration became aware of some practices that were not consistent with the objectives, the decision was made to halt the program and conduct a full and broad-based review.

The concerns, Rich said, relate to the materials used in the program as well as the ways the program was implemented. One major flaw of the disbanded program, Rich said, is that it was developed without the substantive engagement and review of the faculty. The education of UD students is the responsibility of the faculty, he said, and that responsibility applies not only to the classroom but to the full range of student educational experiences at the University.

Rich announced that Vice President for Student Life Michael Gilbert will work with the Senate Committee on Student Life to review the issues, evaluate what can be learned from the experience and recommend programs to be offered in the residence halls that support the intellectual, social and ethical development of UD students. The Student Life Committee is charged with advising the Vice President on student life matters. The recommendations from the Student Life Committee will come forward to the full Senate for deliberation and decision through the regular Senate processes.

Several questions and concerns were raised about the problems that led to the residence life education program being stopped, the desirability or need for any such program, the potential liabilities associated with such programs, the responsibilities of the administration and the faculty for development, implementation, and effectiveness of residence life programs and the role of the Faculty Senate in reviewing issues with residence life programs.

Senators also requested updates on the upcoming deliberations of the Senate Student Life Committee. Senate President Alan Fox affirmed the need for transparency in the progress of deliberations and assured the Senate that there would be full reporting on findings and recommendations.

In his remarks, Rich referenced an earlier report to the Senate on the work of the Academic and Student Affairs Council (ASAC) that is comprised of faculty and student life professionals and was created to promote a stronger integration of academic and student affairs and to do so in ways that support the general education objectives approved by the faculty. The work of the council is continuing, Rich said, and there will be a progress report to the Senate on the work of ASAC later this academic year.

Rich also reported on the honors award program, the status of the strategic planning process, and the conference on “Creating Knowledge-Based Partnerships.” Rich said the UD-hosted conference on partnerships was “viewed as a great success” by participants and opened an ongoing dialogue on collaboration among University, government and industry leaders. At the conference, President Harker announced the creation of the UD Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships and the development of a university-wide Institute for Economic and Business Research to be housed in the Lerner College of Business and Economics. Also, it was announced that UD will host another conference on March 25, 2008 on "Creating a Livable Delaware: Enhancing Prosperity and Quality of Life."

He also reported that the Strategic Planning Committee has been busy soliciting comments from constituent groups and individuals across campus.

There were no action items on the Senate's agenda for the Nov. 5 meeting.