Faculty Senate highlights: Stadium accessibility, gen-ed changes

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CW / Gerardo Aguilera

Gerardo Aguilera | @jerry21aguilera and Rebecca Griesbach | @rebach97

The UA Faculty Senate met on Tuesday, Feb. 18, to discuss faculty promotion, construction updates and new general education requirements.

CONSTRUCTION

For her President’s Report, Rona Donahoe spoke about the construction around campus, including Bryant-Denny Stadium (BDS).

UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne told Donahoe that the renovations, in line with the Crimson Standard, will comply with new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations. The main installation to BDS will be a ramp in the back part of the lower bowl.

Due to the large ramp, there will be about 2,000 seats removed from the east lower bowl section. New video boards will be installed at the stadium, resulting in more seats being removed from the stadium. A total of 2,723 seats will be eliminated.

Of those seats, 51% (section KK) will be relocated to the upper bowl. All of the non-athletic staff seats will now be located in the upper bowl. The total allotment of 5,000 tickets for faculty and staff will not be changed.

Donahoe stressed that the new construction will not impact the student section.

“The athletics department feels very strongly about this,” Donahoe said. “The athletic events are for our students, and they did not want to impact their attendance by moving seats to the upper bowl.” 

In addition to the stadium, Donahoe provided an update on 15 other sites on campus. Several sites came in under budget, excluding a major project, the 15th Street overpass, which came in over budget.

“The plan is to establish the overpass by a DOT ramp that the University will apply for,” Donahoe told the Faculty Senate. 

Below are other sites on campus that are currently under construction. 

  • Hewson Hall: $6 million under budget
  • A new math and science building, converted from the old biology building: $7 million under budget
  • The College of Nursing: under budget 
  • Campus Support Services building renovations 
  • Environmental Health and Safety warehouse: will be expanded to 11,000 square feet.
  • Bryce Campus central parking lot: addition of 129 spots
  • The Reese Phifer radio and satellite dish area will be relocated to the campus services area. 
  • Small renovations to fraternity and sorority houses.

FACULTY PROMOTIONS

To match the University’s standing as a new Research I institution, the Faculty Senate has been discussing new promotion standards for faculty.

Currently, the standards for promotion to full professorships are not equal across campus. However, because few departments have updated their graduate faculty requirements, some deans worried that promotions could lead to a loss of graduate faculty. 

In November, the Senate passed a recommendation that a grandfather clause of seven years be added to new promotion requirements. The problem, Donahoe said, was that there was no grandfathering rule, meaning that faculty who had been planning on doing more than needed to meet the requirements for promotion to full professor would suddenly get “caught short” by their department or division. Donahoe suggested that modifying this to include a grandfather clause for current faculty would help remediate this issue.

While the resolution to include a grandfather clause was passed unanimously by the Faculty Senate, administrators didn’t see eye to eye.

“The answer that we got was not what I was hoping for,” Donahoe said. “We saw some considerable resistance from the deans to implement any sort of grandfathering in that paragraph.”

A meeting with the provost and deans to reach a compromise has been scheduled. 

NEW GENERAL ED

An expansion to the classes categorized as general education courses was also part of the Senate’s agenda. Most UA students finish their general education credits by their sophomore year. The task force is looking to change this by the fall of 2024.

Chapman Greer, vice president of the Faculty Senate, gave an update to focus groups and listening tours that were introduced to the Senate last month. 

The task force is looking to expand their two-year general education program to a four-year program. This will help students focus on shared skills, learning outcomes and shared experiences, Greer said. 

As students go through their undergraduate programs, adding to the general education will enhance and instill skills and abilities that students may need, Greer said. 

“All undergraduates should demonstrate the fundamental skills and abilities and behaviors that really identify them as critical and ethical thinkers, effective communicators, problem solvers, individually and socially responsible citizens, and culturally competent individuals,” Greer said. “These are the learning objectives.”