Faculty Senate holds first meeting of academic year


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11:39 a.m., Sept. 16, 2010----The need for more comprehensive student writing initiatives and evaluation of teaching at the University of Delaware were among the items discussed by Provost Tom Apple at the Faculty Senate's first meeting of the 2010-11 academic year, held Monday, Sept. 13, in Gore Hall.

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In his remarks, Apple suggested that the University should consider the establishment of a more rigorous writing program for students in all disciplines and across the curriculum.

“If you look at any national survey of student engagement or if you listen to alums who are now business owners, you hear one comment being made -- that our students are not writing,” Apple said. “If you look at our writing requirements, you will see that they are far below that of the universities we compare ourselves with, and with whom we compete.”

Changes in this area will call for a variety of approaches, including perhaps establishing a second writing requirement in all colleges similar to that found in the College of Arts and Sciences, and providing incentives for faculty to help students improve their writing as part of a UD education, Apple said.

“We can't just ask students to do more writing,” Apple said. “Students need to be guided, to submit drafts and have the drafts worked and reworked, and that involves a lot of effort on the faculty as well. We need to see how we can incentivize those processes across the University.”

Apple also noted that UD could use a more comprehensive approach to compiling faculty teaching evaluations.

“The majority of our faculty evaluations are based on student teaching evaluations, and those are mostly numerical,” Apple said. “Guides strongly suggest that we shouldn't have an overreliance on student numerical evaluations. We should look at student comments, but we should have other means of gauging faculty teaching and effectiveness.”

Senators also heard overviews, highlights and goals of their respective colleges by Robin Morgan, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Michael Chajes, dean of the College of Engineering; and George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Senate action

Senators voted to return to committee a motion to replace the University's 1979 Academic Freedom Statement, with a more protective Academic Freedom Statement.

The request was to replace the words “subsequent to the signing of this agreement,” with “subsequent to the signing of the most recent collective bargaining agreement,” and including the date of that agreement.

Memorial tributes

The Sept. 13 meeting opened with a memorial tribute to faculty members who have died. A video presentation included tributes to:

  • Zack R. Bowen, an internationally respected James Joyce scholar who was chairperson of the Department of English at the University of Delaware for 10 years, who died April 8 at age 75.
  • Roger Cox, professor emeritus of English, who retired from the Department of English in December 1996 at age 65 after teaching here for 25 years. Dr. Cox died at the Cokesbury Village Health Center at age 79 on May 3, 2010.
  • Donald F. Crossan, former dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and vice president of University Relations, who died May 3, 2010, at age 84.
  • Clifford Sloyer, who became the assistant chairperson and acting chairperson of the Department of Mathematical Sciences several times during his tenure at the University of Delaware. Dr. Sloyer died on Nov. 4, 2009.
  • Charles M. Leslie, professor emeritus of anthropology and the humanities, died Aug. 15, 2009. Dr. Leslie was 85.
  • Neal A. Phillips, assistant professor in the Department of Accounting and Management Information Systems, died Dec. 9, 2009.

October meeting

The next meeting of the Faculty Senate will be at 4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 4, in 104 Gore Hall, after a General Faculty meeting to be held at 3:30 p.m., in the same location.

Article by Jerry Rhodes