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Ohio University President Duane Nellis speaks at the Faculty Senate meeting on Feb. 5. 

Faculty Senate: Interim 'Freedom of Expression' policy may be renewed next week

At Monday night’s Faculty Senate meeting, Ohio University President Duane Nellis told faculty the interim "Freedom of Expression policy" will expire next week, and he is inclined to renew it.

A committee reviewing the policy is meeting to craft a new policy by the end of the academic year. Until then, Nellis said there need to be “clear parameters” for how spaces on campus are reserved. Open forums will be held this semester.

“The committee is aiming to get (the interim Freedom of Expression policy) done by Spring Break,” Faculty Senator Jackie Wolf said.  

The university is working to finalize search committees for the executive vice president and provost position and the assistant vice president for alumni relations. 

Nellis and interim Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs gave an update on the budget. Although budget targets have not yet been set for academic units, open forums on the budget will be held from Feb. 26 to March 1. 

“I’ve been meeting with all of the deans to talk about their priorities and strategies. Traditionally we have only had financial review meetings,” Sayrs said. “We’ve intentionally started conversations about academic strategies for each college, and then we will have reviews so we understand how finances (affect that).”

Faculty Senate passed a resolution to endorse the tax exemption of textbooks. House Bill 337 would exempt college textbooks from sales tax in Ohio. 

“We are not the first state to put this exemption in place,” Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said. “Amazon has already figured out how to do this in other states.”

The legislature’s definition of books includes used, new, retail and digital texts but not school supplies, he said. 

After lengthy debate on a resolution about establishing graduate faculty rank, senate tied in voting, and the resolution failed. It will be brought back next month by the Educational Planning and Student Affairs committee with revised language.

“That doesn’t mean it is over, even though some people would like it to be,” McLaughlin said. 

The resolution, which came from a request from the Graduate College, is in line with expectations from the State and is an "assumed practice" of the Higher Learning Commission, Ohio University’s accreditor. 

The resolution aims to give as much autonomy as possible for departments to decide classifications of faculty ranking when reviewing theses and dissertations. 

The Promotion and Tenure Committee presented two new resolutions. One focused on promotion and tenure appeals, while the other established commercialization as a possible criteria for promotion and tenure. 

Faculty senators discussed residency requirements for minors and certificates at length. 

“Right now it’s possible a student could get a certificate or minor without ever taking a class for it at Ohio University,” Katie Hartman, chair of the Educational Policy and Student Affairs committee, said. 


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