University Senate - February 25, 2019 Meeting Minutes

Call to Order and Announcements

The University Senate was called to order at 3:30 p.m., in Room 111 Harrison Hall, Oxford Campus, on Monday, February 25, 2019.  Members absent:  Kenya Ash, Terri Barr, Stacey Lowery Bretz, Bradley Davis, Amanda Euen, Dawn Fahner, Annika Fowler, Jannie Kamara, Richard Keifer, Vahagn Manukian, Terry Nixon, Jennifer Patrick-Gaines, Chris Pirigyi, Gaile Pohlhaus, Ashley Pool, Caroline Weimer, and Madeline Zinkl.

  1. Announcements and Remarks by the Secretary of University Senate, Jeffrey Wanko

    1. At the February 22, 2019, Board of Trustees meeting, faculty receiving Promotion & Tenure were recognized. This included 13 faculty being promoted to Full Professor, four faculty receiving tenure, 24 faculty receiving tenure and promotion to Associate Professor, and one librarian being promoted to Associate Librarian.

Approval of University Senate Minutes

  1. A motion was received, seconded, and carried to approve the February 11, 2019, minutes of University Senate.

Consent Calendar

  1. The following items were received on the Consent Calendar without debate: 
    1. Curriculum dated February 20, 2019 (approved with typo corrected)

Special Report

  1. Academic Freedom – Robin Parker, General Counsel

    1. The First Amendment is complex and dense. The only place that freedom of speech and academic freedom is protected is public institutions, although many private institutions adopt similar policies.

      • WHO and WHERE: Your freedoms depend on who you are (Visitor, Student, Employee) and where (Public or non-public forum) you stand. Our policies relegate uninvited visitors to the perimeter sidewalks (street preachers, etc.). Students have the campus as an open forum, but are governed by time, place and manner rules.

      • For employees, the question becomes whether they are speaking as a citizen or a public employee. Your teaching and research are covered by Academic Freedom. You may teach and research as you see fit. Outside of the classroom and the lab, and as a professor/instructor you have the rights and obligations of any citizen. Measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of your responsibilities to your subject to your students, to your profession, and your institution.

    2. Senators were reminded that curriculum is delegated by the Board of Trustees as the responsibility of Senate. Academic freedom stipulates that how that curriculum is taught is up to the faculty member. Faculty have rights of any citizen; however, they cannot assert individually-held positions as representative of Miami University. When doing official and “regular” business as an employee, faculty are not free to say whatever they wish. However, when acting as a citizen outside the normal duties, you are free to say anything, including critical view of the institution.

    3. Questions and comments during discussion:

      1. When signing a petition, it is best to use your home address, not a campus address

      2. In student and faculty interactions, students have a larger right to freedom of speech than faculty. Faculty cannot hold students accountable for agreeing with them. If students say offensive things about their professors, the professor cannot retaliate because the students are exercising their First Amendment rights.  If there are offensive statements in the classroom, the faculty member is to try to regain control of the classroom.  The classroom is not an open forum, and the student can be reported.

      3. When students are demeaning toward each other, the faculty member has an obligation to have a classroom free of bias and can stop the conversation.

      4. If faculty are asked for their opinion on an issue, they are to present as much as they can as neutrally as possible. This is also true is the discussion becomes political.  If it is relevant to the discussion, orient it to where it can be useful, and ensure the discussion is well informed and addresses the facts.

      5. When studying abroad, Miami sets the rules, and the professor can have additional rules for their student. If there aren’t any special rules for the students, they are governed by the rules of the country.

      6. Cell phone numbers that are on the syllabus are public record. Additionally, texting on your personal phone regarding University business is also a matter of public record.

Old Business  

  1. Proposal for New Undergraduate Internship Policy

    1. Changes to the internship policy were discussed and made. It was decided that the text was going to be reviewed further and brought back to Senate at the next meeting.

    2. Senators were reminded that this policy was presented to COAD and Deans/Associate Deans and that some of the credit hours cited are due to federal law.

    3. A standard Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has to be in place with the placement entity in order for a student to do an internship.


  1. A motion was received, seconded, and carried to adjourn the Regular Session of University Senate.

Next scheduled meeting of University Senate:

March 11, 2019, 3:30 p.m.

Room 111 Harrison Hall, Oxford Campus