MU Faculty Council discusses online courses, SEC academic regulations

Thursday, April 19, 2012 | 8:01 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The MU Faculty Council voted Thursday to accept recommendations that establish guidelines for online courses, focusing on the idea that a "course is a course," whether online or in a classroom.

Online courses would be listed alongside classroom courses and made available to resident students, according to the recommendations of the Online Academic Task Force to MU administrators. The approval process to create a class would be the same for online and in-person courses.

The recommendations included a note that there should be a way to provide adequate training for the use of new technologies. The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies would be responsible for developing this training method, Faculty Council Chairman Harry Tyrer said.

The Faculty Council discussed several other issues at its meeting, including:

  • Regulations used for student athletes in Missouri's new athletic conference.
  • The ongoing debate about domestic partner benefits.
  • Which faculty members should be represented in the Faculty Council.
  • A proposal for a new on-campus veterans memorial.

Academics in the Southeastern Conference

Missouri's new athletic conference has a mandatory class attendance policy for student-athletes. Under the Southeastern Conference's policy, consequences for athletes who miss classes could include "suspension from competition," Lori Franz, NCAA faculty representative, said.

Franz said the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee is still working on setting the number of allowed absences for student athletes.

Professors would receive an email early in the semester listing the student athletes enrolled in their classes so they could keep track of the attendance of these students.

Many professors do not normally take roll, council members said, wondering if it was fair to single out athletes for their attendance.

"Are we not supposed to treat our athletes exactly the same as we treat our regular students?" council member Gordon Christiansen asked, adding, "Is this kosher?"

The absences for which student athletes would be held accountable would depend on faculty reports, and professors who do not normally take attendance would not have to do so, Franz said.

Domestic partner benefits

The debate continues over whether the University of Missouri System should provide the same benefits to domestic partners of its employees as it does for employees' opposite-sex spouses.

The Missouri University of Science & Technology Faculty Senate reached out to members of the MU Faculty Council for advice about how to handle its debate about the issue. Faculty councils at MU, University of Missouri-St. Louis and University of Missouri-Kansas City have already passed resolutions recommending that the UM System provide domestic partner benefits.

"Rolla is the only campus that has not passed it," Tyrer said.

During the council's Feb. 23 meeting, Tyrer said new UM System President Tim Wolfe told him he supports domestic partner benefits and that it would be one of the top priorities of the Intercampus Faculty Council.

MU Faculty Council members Leona Rubin and Joe Parcell were in Rolla on Thursday to talk to the Missouri S&T Faculty Senate about how MU handled its decision in March 2010.

Definition of 'faculty'

The council's Faculty Affairs Committee will continue to research whether faculty on a non-tenure track should be represented on the Faculty Council by examining what other UM System campuses do.

"We are the only one (of the four campuses), apparently, who separates tenure-track and non-tenure-track," Clyde Bentley, chairman of the committee, said.

At the council's most recent meeting, Bentley said 37 percent of MU faculty are on a non-tenure track and are therefore unrepresented on Staff Council or Faculty Council. He proposed allowing such full-time faculty to serve and vote on campus faculty committees and the Faculty Council and to vote in campus faculty elections.

Veterans memorial

Plans for a new memorial for veterans who have worked for or attended MU are moving forward quickly, Craig Roberts, chairman of the council's Student Affairs Committee, said. The plans will be discussed April 26 at a meeting between that committee and the Missouri Unions Committee. 

The proposed memorial would include a kiosk with a searchable database of veterans, as well as an engraved granite wall in a prominent place. It would be located in Memorial Student Union.

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