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September 21, 2023

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Faculty senate smooths out conflict in charter

The Faculty Senate approved Academic Charter amendments that were conflicting or redundant with the Collective Bargaining Agreement during its Tuesday meeting.

This past May, the University Board of Trustees ratified the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Faculty Association and the University.

The bargaining agreement addressed wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. The Academic Charter remains to address issues not covered in the agreement.

The changes come after the Senate Executive Committee constituted an ad hoc committee of seven to review the charter and propose amendments to it.

“We were finding out where the different elements go in our governmental process,” said Sheri Wells-Jensen, associate professor in the English Department, Faculty Senate Chair and one of the committee members. “That’s a complicated process.”

Concerning instances in which the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Academic Charter conflict, the bargaining agreement will “prevail,” according to a narrative provided by the committee members. This also means that redundant, outdated and misleading material must also be removed from the charter.

“It was sometimes tedious work but very heartwarming,” said Lawrence Coates, a professor in the English Department and a representative from the Faculty Association who reviewed the charter.

Also during the meeting, University President Mary Ellen Mazey reiterated the “unsustainable” funding model that she addressed during her State of The University Address on Sept. 17.

The University’s portion of the State Share of Instruction, the formula used to distribute state money to Ohio’s public colleges and universities, is decreasing every year. This year it is $60 million of the budget, while the University also has the third highest tuition in the state for public universities, Mazey said.

Because of the decrease in SSI funding, Mazey is looking for alternate ways to increase funding without raising tuition.

“I’m an optimist, I’d like to say it’s going to come back, but it’s not going to come back,” she said.

With two meetings left this semester, and already three items approved by the senate in its first two meetings, Wells-Jensen is positive about the progress of the Faculty Senate.

“I think we’re settling in,” Wells-Jensen said. “We’re in a good position to remember what our focus is.”

A number of issues are coming up for Faculty Senate, Wells-Jensen said. This includes a review of the Academic Honesty Policy, particularly the section about plagiarism. Also in the future will be a review of climate initiatives, particularly the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a pledge to reduce emissions and achieve climate-neutrality in the coming years that Mazey signed this past November.

Concerning these issues, the Faculty Senate must evaluate “where we stand” and “where we want to go,” Wells-Jensen said.

“We have a lot of useful and interesting work ahead of us,” she said.

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