Ohio University Faculty Senate heard presentations from OU President Duane Nellis and Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs regarding plans for Fall Semester and a resolution designed to alleviate scheduling issues with regional campuses during its meeting Monday night.

Nellis said there has been an uptick in enrollment and positive progress in programs across the university. He highlighted the hybrid commencement ceremonies as a symbol of the advancements OU has made to combat COVID-19. 

Sayrs focused on planning for the upcoming school year, stating the university’s intention to uphold its COVID-19 absence policy as long as the needs are apparent. The policy states that any COVID-19-related absence from class is university sanctioned and will be considered excused.

The finalization of the fall schedule was also addressed by Sayrs. She said the university is following updated public health guidelines, which allow for 3 feet of space between students in the classroom, rather than 6 feet. The university anticipates being able to accommodate all classes with fewer than 40 students in an in-person setting.

“The registrar has now worked with the colleges to update the course schedule with those courses that the colleges indicated could be moved from online modalities to face-to-face,” Sayrs said. “So, barring changes in the progression of the pandemic or new public health guidance, we don't anticipate any more university-wide changes to course offerings at this time, other than classroom assignments.”

Following Sayrs’ presentation, Susan Burgess, a professor of political science at OU, asked Sayrs about the university’s voluntary retirement policy. The university has yet to decide how it will proceed with this policy, Sayrs said. 

“Can you help us … to understand the discrepancies that exist between the way some senior administrators are being treated and the way that faculty are being treated, in terms of compensation and resourcing and so forth?” Burgess asked. 

Burgess went on to voice concerns about her ability to perform her job without proper resourcing from the university. Sayrs said this is likely the responsibility of her individual college and asked Burgess to provide details at a later time to follow up on the issue. 

Following these discussions, Senate proceeded to explore a resolution regarding the scheduling procedure for regional campuses. The resolution states a committee will be established to review and change issues within these scheduling processes. 

“We recognize there's a lot of variables. The scheduling process is complex. We know people are working hard to try and do it well. But clearly, there's a lot of issues,” Patrick Munhall, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at OU’s Lancaster branch, said. “Ultimately, we just want to review the process, maybe look at best practices and have some faculty input on how we can solve all of these problems because there are some serious issues with the current system.”

Although this resolution was initially up for first reading only, Senate voted to suspend the rules and bring it forward for a second reading in the evening’s meeting. After the motion to suspend the rules was passed, Senate voted on whether to pass the resolution. The resolution passed unanimously. 

Senate also passed a resolution to seek equality in budget cuts across administrative and academic areas and discussed COVID-19 testing procedures for Fall Semester. 

@AnnaMillar16

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