Faculty head calls for diversity group

MU’s chancellor also backs the proposal.
Thursday, April 7, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:31 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

As a way to attract and keep more minority students and faculty, a standing committee on diversity should be created as part of the Faculty Council, the group’s chairman said Wednesday.

Gordon Christensen made the suggestion at MU’s spring general faculty meeting. It was one of several updates he provided about the Faculty Council, the representative body of MU’s full-time faculty.

Chancellor Brady Deaton, who also spoke at the meeting, said he supports the idea of such a committee. Christensen also said the subject of diversity has not been given sufficient attention.

Also at the meeting, which drew about 50 people, Christensen said the council has been evaluating complaints from non-regular faculty — defined at the meeting as those not tenured or on the tenure track — about a lack of academic freedom and formal voice in governance.

Christensen said there has been a transformation in which non-regular faculty are taking more responsibility in teaching, research and service at MU. There is consensus on campus that their complaints need to be addressed but not on what should be done.

“We’re not making a lot of progress,” he said.

Christensen said the council has been looking at ways to build up the graduate programs at MU but hasn’t made much progress. Since becoming chancellor in September, Deaton has repeatedly said that increasing enrollment in graduate and professional programs at MU is a campus goal.

Deaton, who more or less split the 70-minute meeting time with Christensen, said there have been “significant steps taken (on campus) to emphasize the role of graduate education.”

Council members also discussed with faculty the revised grievance policy that will be presented Friday to the University of Missouri Board of Curators. If approved, the policy will begin a three-year pilot program at MU.

The initial revisions to the policy received 90 percent approval from the faculty in a vote last May, with 40 percent of the faculty voting. Further revisions were made, however, when campus and system administration raised some concerns. In a joint effort between faculty and the administration, the policy was further revised and approved by the council.

In part, the new policy would make the process of filing a grievance more efficient.

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