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The outside of Irvine hall on Ohio University campus Jan. 26, 2024 in Athens.

Faculty Senate discusses clinical faculty, excused absences

Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated the incorrect spelling of Kriss Bross’s first name. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

Faculty Senate convened Monday to discuss various topics, including a phased retirement program and the definition of an excused absence.

The meeting began with invited speakers, President Lori Stewart Gonzalez and Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs, who provided updates on upcoming initiatives and new faculty members.

Gonzalez disclosed the university’s request for $15 million from the $700 million fund by the state legislature for one-time strategic community initiatives. The university was one of three schools in the state to secure funding, receiving $2.5 million. OU plans to use the funding for airport improvements, such as the ability to land larger airplanes, which would allow the university to obtain a regional carrier.

Sayrs revealed the incoming dean of the Honors Tutorial College is Kris Ross, the current associate dean for research and creative endeavors at Purdue University’s Honors College.

Sayrs also addressed challenges related to delays in the FAFSA process. She encouraged students to submit their applications as soon as possible. Due to uncertainty in enrollment data this year, faculty were asked to plan for an incoming class size similar to the Fall 2023 class.

Doug Clowe, representing the Professional Relations Committee, presented two resolutions to amend the faculty handbook regarding clinical faculty language and a transitional retirement policy.

The resolution on clinical faculty language updates the faculty handbook to address outdated language and clarify procedures related to clinical faculty appointments, duties and evaluations.

The resolution underwent its first reading and will be revisited in March.

Bill Reader, a professor of journalism, asked the committee to consider making clinical faculty possible for other colleges across the university.

“I would just ask to consider adding language that makes it possible to have clinical faculty outside of the two colleges that use that mostly, just as we're looking forward to more experiential learning instruction, more innovative cross-discipline instruction, where we would probably need a clinical faculty member to run something and provide hands-on instruction to students in those settings,” Reader said.

The second resolution introduced by the committee established a phased retirement program, which would allow eligible tenured faculty to transition gradually into retirement for up to three years and reallocate a portion of their workload toward retirement preparations.

Concerns were raised about legal issues with promising to rehire faculty after retirement due to IRS rules and potential effects on pension and health insurance if faculty work again within specific timeframes after retiring.

Chair of the Senate, Sarah Wyatt, clarified faculty would still be working full-time but phasing toward retirement. The resolution also clarified that faculty can still retire and return to work if a position is available; a position cannot be created or promised to faculty before they retire.

Allyson Hallman-Thrasher and Todd Eisworth from the Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee also discussed a resolution addressing what is considered an excused absence.

The Senate unanimously approved the resolution to expand excused absences, accommodating students with caregiving responsibilities.


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