Lucas Corbin reporter
The Faculty Senate met on April 24 for their monthly meeting. It began with an election of the 2023-2024 Executive Committee officers. The ballots distributed to Senators only had one candidate for each position. Because there were no write-in candidates, each candidate on the ballot was unanimously voted in. Norman Philipp of the School of Construction will be the President of the Senate. Kris Lawson was elected secretary and Mark Johnson was elected as the parliamentarian.
Following the election of officers, Senate Provost Howard Smith thanked the Senate for their assistance with the appearance of the Kansas Board of Regents the week prior. At the Board of Regents Meeting, Smith spoke of the upcoming Associate of Arts degree, which will take effect during the Fall 2024 semester. While many of the Regents supported the program, some at the community college level expressed concern that the degree may take away from its shrinking student pool.
“We’re not trying to cut into their turf… this is something that students have paid for already and have already taken,” Smith said in response to these concerns. “There’s no additional staffing or anything – the only reason they’re not getting it is because they chose to start at a four-year institution.”
The Senate discussed a package that would add a public health certificate to the biology department, remove the certificate in sustainability and leadership, revise the special education minor, and make amendments to the content of various courses. The package passed with almost full support from the Senate; Browyn Conrad was the only detractor. Because the modifications to the university’s curriculum were passed before May 8th, the changes will take effect during the next school year.
The Constitution Committee proposed a change to the Senate’s Constitution that would modernize the verbiage relating to qualifications required to be a Senator; while the changes seek to include all forms of professors and instructors, a debate erupted regarding the removal of the current language which would adversely affect the College of Technology.
“In technology, ‘instructor’ is a recognized rank. You don’t want to strike it, [or else] they won’t be eligible,” said Rion Huffman.
“We’re talking about instructional assistant professor, instructional associate professor, or assistant instructional professional. We need to make sure instructor is still an existing rank,” said Casie Hermansson, chair of the Constitution Committee. Hermansson proposed that the committee may need to adjust the amendment prior to the Senate’s vote in May.
The Student Faculty Committee proposed changes to the university’s plagiarism policy in an attempt to reduce the increasing use of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) software in the writing process. The new language will bar students from submitting “text generated by AI programs” and using AI software as source material without expressed permission from a course instructor.
While no opponents of the proposed policy voiced their opinion, some proponents felt that the changes were not inclusive enough. As some A.I. programs have the capability to generate photographs, art, and video.
“This portion is directed just towards the writing elements of plagiarism… I feel like, potentially to make it more inclusive for our [academic departments], to change it from ‘text-generated’ to ‘any A.I. generated’.” said Ruth Monnier.
While the Senate will continue the discussion to limit the use of artificial intelligence, any changes that it passes modifying its plagiarism policies will not take effect until the 2024-2025 academic year.
The Senate will meet again on May 8.