Faculty Senate concerned with budget challenges and more

Photo by Keith Burtis courtesy of Creative Commons

Raul Herrera/Asst. News Director

The University’s Faculty Senate met on Tuesday, Jan. 28 in the Wertheim Conservatory. Among the topics discussed: decreasing the student-to-faculty ratio, accreditation of massive open online courses, decreasing enrollment in graduate studies and budgeting concerns.

Provost and Executive Vice President Douglas Wartzok addressed the Senate with concern of budgeting, noting that the University is spending more than it is taking in.

He also spoke of the Board of Governor’s new funding initiative, which will maintain five percent of the University’s reserves, as well as other funding.

Wartzok is concerned about decreasing a growing 26:1 student-to-faculty ratio – a result of the University’s rapid growth.

“We have been victims of our own success,” said Senate Chairman Delano Gray.

University Graduate School Dean Lakshmi Reddi then reported that the graduate school will be taking a “multi-pronged” approach to improve graduate studies, noting a decrease in enrollment rates.

[pullquote]“We have been victims of our own success,” said Senate Chairman Delano Gray.[/pullquote]

Improvements would include communication and outreach through social media and a new application process.

The Senate discussed possible causes for the decline, including a decrease in demand for graduate degrees and limits on financial and residential student aid.

The Senate also discussed the accreditation of MOOC courses, free online courses offered by FIU Online that do not require enrollment at the University nor offer college credit. The Senate is considering accrediting these courses using CLEP-like exams to replace UCC credit.

Hassan Zahedi, professor of mathematics and statistics, expressed concern over whether or not there would be an issue of fraud in presenting knowledge of the MOOC material.

Kathleen Wilson, professor of voice and associate director of the School of Music, said that students would not receive credit from MOOCs unless they show competence.

Concerns caused Senate to table the motion.

Nonetheless, the Senate passed two motions, approving two new global learning courses—Global Capitalism and African Diaspora in the Modern World-System—and a new graduate degree program in mathematical sciences.

The Faculty Senate will meet next on Feb. 18 at Biscayne Bay Campus.


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