June 18 Faculty Senate Meeting
The Faculty Senate met from 1:30 to approximately 5:00pm and heard a series of updates from different administration officers about the state of the university, focused on preparations for fall reopening, and also on budget issues.
Provost Blake spoke on enrollment. At present, over 2400 fall-entering, first-year students have deposited for the fall. Approximately 150 transfer students have also posted deposits; additional transfer students have been admitted and have a response deadline next week. Efforts to admit more transfer students are continuing. The number of matriculating students is expected to be somewhat smaller as some deposited students will decline to attend. This “melt” (the percentage of deposited students who choose not to attend) is likely to be higher than the historical range of around 7%, although that is not yet clear in the data.
Second, Deputy Provost Terry Murphy spoke about preparations for fall classes. Among the issues they are working on, is helping faculty get up to speed on “flex-teaching,” or preparing faculty to teach in a mode that can move between in-person or online delivery as the need arises. Course design specialists in the Libraries and Academic Innovation area will be key to this effort. Classroom configurations are another issue; this complicated issue must respond to requirements for social distancing and indoor gathering capacities. Two surveys/questionnaires will be released next week: one for students to assess their plans and preferences for the fall term, and one for faculty to assess their plans for and concerns around in-person and remote teaching in the fall.
Vice President for Safety and Security Scott Burnotes spoke about his work leading planning efforts for campus operations. Last Monday, the University submitted the required Fall ReOpen plan to the D.C. government. The plan must be approved by the District before students may return to campus. A more detailed implementation version of this plan, known as the “operations playbook” is being scrutinized by an ad hoc “red team,” a sizable group of faculty and staff who are assessing it for gaps and weaknesses prior to implementation.
Next, Vice Provost Bracey described the Resource Allocation Committee (RAC) process, which is handling requests for exceptional hires under the hiring pause currently in effect. He and Provost Blake reassured the Senate that positions that had been held up for long periods are being moved more quickly toward decisions as the RAC process is modified to move faster.
EVP and CFO Mark Diaz spoke briefly about financial issues. At the request of Professor Cordes, he spoke about the costs of preparing for to return to our campus during an ongoing pandemic. The administration has estimated costs of just over $24 million for testing, tracing, quarantining, classroom modifications, and other related expenses. One concern with today’s presentation is that privacy issues limit what can be discussed in a fully open meeting. The FSEC Chair offered to have the FSEC meet with the EVP/CFO and the Provost to clarify where the line between public and confidential lies and to ensure public data can be shared to the extent feasible and with the appropriate context.
The Senate passed Resolution 21/6, which calls for distinguishing between short- and long-term fiscal decisions in responding to the pandemic-induced fiscal crisis. This crisis is expected to be intrinsically short-term, and the resolution laid out steps to ensure that any long-term fiscal plans, along with their supporting data, are appropriately discussed.
The Senate opted to return Resolution 21/7 to the FSEC for further editing given the large number of proposed amendments raised at the Senate meeting.
The Senate elected Professor Hugh Agnew as the Elliott School representative to the FSEC to replace Professor Nicholas Vonortas, who stepped down from the FSEC last week.
FSEC Chair Arthur Wilson reported that, in early June, the FSEC sent a letter to the Board of Trustees on budgetary matters. The President reported that the letter and its points were well received by the trustees.
The draft June meeting minutes will be posted as soon as possible.
About the Faculty Senate
The GW Faculty Senate is the faculty governance body of the George Washington University. Senators are elected to two-year terms by their home schools, and the Senate annually elects an Executive Committee that sets agendas, reviews proposed resolutions, and guides the work of the Senate. The Senate is normally in session from September through May, although the Executive Committee works year-round on faculty and administrative matters.
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