Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes, EXCO - October 20, 2023

EXCO Meeting
Friday, October 20, 2023
2:00 PM
President’s Conference Room, Madison Hall and Zoom

Senators Present or On Zoom:  Kim Acquaviva, Alan Beckenstein, Aaron Bloomfield, Lisa Peterson Colosi, Jason Druzgal, Amanda Flora, Juliet Hatchett, Tish Jennings, Michael Kennedy, James Lambert, Andrew Pennock, Brian Pusser, Eric Ramirez-Weaver, Patrik Sandas, Jeri Seidman, Brian Wright
Ex-Officio and Guests: Brie Gertler, Emily Scida, Hope Fitzgerald, Barbara Zunder

The Chair called the meeting to order at 2:02 PM

Review and Approval of Minutes
Motion to approve EXCO minutes September 22, 2023, by Brian Wright
Second: Brian Pusser
Motion Passes

New Business
Barbara Zunder, Director of Student Disability Access Center,
Hope Fitzgerald and Emily Scida, A&S Learning Design and Technology

Barbara discussed academic services available to students with disabilities.  She mentioned that they also help to provide accessible, inclusive experiences such as meal plans, room design, etc. She noted that statistics show over the last ten years disabilities have moved from learning disabilities and ADHD to psychological conditions. Cases are more complex now. Cases have increased but the chart shown is misleading due to data collection changes over the time span. UVA statistics are in line with institutions across the US. Discussion regarding approval of accommodations and it was noted that not everyone is approved for accommodations. There is a process with varying levels of documentation needed.

Barbara shared that students with disabilities experience barriers that have a negative impact specifically on student success, retention and graduation, and sense of belonging. SDAC has heard from faculty that they are overwhelmed by the number of requests and the time and labor it takes to make class adjustments, along with challenging their emotional wellbeing in handling some of these situations. Some initiatives from SDAC are surveying faculty and creating focus groups, faculty learning community, student advisory board and one on one faculty consultations. Two hundred and seventy faculty and graduate students responded to the survey in A&S. The results show that they are indeed overwhelmed, and they are concerned about where the trend is going. The good news is that faculty and graduate students responded that they have knowledge about the various processes and are aware of UDL. Suggestions included: increased communication between faculty and students and faculty and SDAC; understanding the rationale behind the accommodation; and greater opportunities for training in these areas. Students are saying some faculty are not accommodating and EXCO members suggested looking into why the accommodation was not provided. Was it a last-minute request or would the timing set the student back in keeping up with the class flow. Accommodations are beginning to drive the way professors assess. SDAC is still working on the results of the survey. There are not easy solutions, but everyone must remember it’s the law.

Preliminary Recommendations Institutional:

  1. Make explicit connections to DEI across grounds.
  2. Advocacy:  support existing orgs (SDAC), support for high impact digital accessibility practices, awareness, and support among leaders.

  3. Connect across units and schools.

  4. Recognize need, labor, and constraints.

  5. Clarify existing process, resources.

Preliminary Recommendations Faculty Support:

  1. Increase direct support in accommodations area.

  2. Continue (and expand) faculty and GTA-facing learning opportunities (communities of practice).

  3. Promote existing accommodations and accessibility support resources.

  4. Facilitate course redesign efforts (consultation, partnerships, incubation of projects.)

EXCO suggested coming to Faculty Senate with someone from the Center for Teaching Excellence and present solutions to the group. Historical material and survey results could be put what they already do in Box.

Committee Reports
Academic Affairs – SDS & Engineering brought several minors to the committee for approval however the committee was unable to approve and sent them back for changes. They will be resubmitted to AAC. The Committee did approve the concentrations in Religious Studies.
DEI – no update

Future Business
University’s Free Speech Statement on the website, could it be noted that the Faculty Senate endorsed and applauded it on multiple occasions?

Discussion about ethical behavior while disagreeing.  How does posting the names and personal information about an opposing viewer play into the University Policy or the Honor Code. Michael Kennedy is meeting with the Student Council and will speak with them. Brie Gertler is reaching out to check University policy.

Elections for the Board of EXCO
Tish Jennings is automatically the Chair of the Nominating Committee as the Past President of Faculty Senate.  She needs three additional Senators on the Committee. These Senators are not eligible to run for the open seats on the FS Board.
BOV rep
Chair Elect
2 EXCO at large
Possible Athletics, Colonnade Club, University Finance Committee representatives depending on the ending year of the current representative.

Focus of Future Meetings:
December – Elections
Spring – Representation of faculty not in Senate
Discuss free speech, ethics, and the Honor Code. UVA Law Professor Leslie Kendrick would be a good guest.
Greg Roberts in Admission and how the Supreme Court ruling has affected UVA’s admission policy.
Generative AI

Brian Pusser offered to investigate the Faculty Senate making statements or writing letters instead of resolutions to shorten the time frame.

Motion to adjourn Brian Pusser.
Seconded:  Andrew Pennock
Motion Passes
Meeting Adjourned: 4:00 PM