The Feb. 1 Faculty Senate meeting largely focused on two issues of contention. One involved an issue administration referred to as “unprofessional faculty departures.” The other matter centered around the math requirements for the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.
Faculty Senate President Joshua Butler told the Senate that Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster had requested that they look into the reasons why faculty members left in an “unprofessional” way and possibly resolving the issue.
Butler explained the “unprofessional departures” referred to faculty members that left CMU shortly before the beginning of a semester or even after the semester began. The departures caused classes to be canceled or placed extra strain on faculty members that have to take on new classes they hadn’t had adequate time to prepare for.
Biological Sciences Senator Tom Walla asked if there was wording about polite firing as well, noting that he knew professors who had been fired in the summer before the fall semester began. Such firings would not give professors adequate time to find a teaching position at another university before the semester began.
“If you’re not tenured […] you’re an at-will employee,” Vice President of Academic Affairs Cynthia Pemberton said, referring to Colorado being an ‘at will’ employment state. “That means you can be terminated without cause.”
“There are two sides to that coin,” Walla said. “At will is at your will.”
Pemberton explained that Foster, frustrated by the sudden departures, had asked to run some data to look at it and also requested for input from the Faculty Senate on the matter.
“I know three of the six and it was personal, personal, angry,” Physical and Environmental Sciences Senator Jared Workman said, listing off the respective reasons professors had left. He said he didn’t think there was anything that would have stopped the departures.
“I think this is great. I think this is progress,” Trustee Chad Middleton said. He was happy the senate was being given the opportunity to help shape the conversation.
Social & Behavioral Sciences Senator Sarah Swedberg stated that at least two of the professors who left did so because of frustration over a lack of support for pursuing research for their professional development.
“It’s a hardship for our department, but it’s understandable,” Swedberg said. “I’m extremely uncomfortable with us even talking about potential negative consequences for people who decide to leave.”
EMS Senator Pam Holder suggested that instead of looking at punishments for faculty leaving, CMU might want to consider offering an incentive to stay other than “a parking pass every once in a while.”
“Is this something we can talk to our faculty about? I would feel less uncomfortable if I could go back and talk to my faculty about it,” Swedberg said.
Butler called for a vote on tabling the issue to permit the senators to speak to their departments about the issue and the language used to describe the departures. A split vote favored tabling the issue until the next Faculty Senate meeting.
Middleton also addressed the Senate to express concern over an oversight they’d had last semester regarding the math requirements for LPN or RN to BSN. While other Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degrees require MATH 113, college algebra, the program in question currently does not.
Butler acknowledged the oversight in the math requirement and accepted responsibility for missing the opportunity to address the issue last semester.
“I felt and still feel this something we should have talked about,” Middleton said. He questioned if CMU really wanted to produce BSNs that have not had to meet the same requirements of other science degrees.
Middleton stated that he had a prepared motion regarding the issue, but only wanted to pursue it if other Senate members wanted to address the requirements, explaining that he didn’t want to make it a major issue if he was the only one concerned about it.
Biological Sciences Senator Tom Walla told Middleton he was not alone and it was an important conversation the Senate needed to have. Workman told the Senate that if the requirements remained inconsistent, it was equivalent to stating that students didn’t need math for a BS degree at CMU.
“To me, that seems insane, but that’s just my personal opinion,” Middleton said.
Pemberton explained that she had been told the reason behind the different requirement was that LPNs and RNs that enter the program have already been licensed and working in the industry. Because of their situation, the program had a more professional feel than a traditional academic program.
“I’m parroting what they said to me, but it made sense to me when they said it,” Pemberton said.
Middleton stated that if it was a Bachelor’s of Art (BA) degree in nursing it would be fine, but since it was a BS degree, there ought to be consistency in requirements.
Because other senators agreed that there needed to be a conversation about it, Middleton presented his motion to have the Faculty Senate analyze the requirements of the program and the definitions of BA and BS degrees. The Senate voted in favor of the motion.
Associated Student Government Vice President Gabby Gile provided the Senate with a report on ASG. Gile stated they were ramping up for election season and asked the faculty members for help finding students who might be interested in running.
“We’re looking for people that want to make a difference,” Gile said.
Gile also asked for recommendations for awards and informed the Senate about ASG working on reformatting their constitution and bylaws after issues arose from grievances that were filed during the fall semester.