University Senate - March 22, 2021 Meeting Minutes

Call to Order and Announcements

The University Senate was called to order at 3:30 p.m., via Zoom, on Monday, March 22, 2021. Members absent: Steve Bailey, Dan Bosworth, Rodney Coates, Martin Johnson, Marielena Orozco, Danielle Stein, Harper Sutton, and Liam Wise-Powell.

  1. Announcements and Remarks by the Chair of Senate Executive Committee, James Bielo.

    1. Senator Bielo provided the following statement concerning the recent tragedy in Atlanta.

      Eight people were killed by a white supremacist on Tuesday March 16th: Delaina Ashley Yaun (who was only 33 years old), Paul Andrew Michels (age 54), and six women of Asian descent – Xiaojie Tan (age 49), Daoyou Feng (age 44), Soon Chung Park (age 74), Hyun Jung Grant (age 51), Suncha Kim (age 69) and Yong Ae Yue (who was 63).

      It is heartbreaking to think of their final moments, the years cut short, their families, their communities, and the grief and rightful anger felt by all Asian Americans. It is heartbreaking as well to know that this tragedy is no aberration. In the past pandemic year, hate crimes in general have declined, but among Asian Americans they have increased. The non-profit STOP AAPI HATE has documented 3,800 incidents, up 1,200 from the previous year. These anti-Asian crimes disproportionately impact women. Worse still is the fact that this is only the most recent expression of a longstanding problem that tethers forms of symbolic and physical violence: anti-Asian racism is a damning part of the culture of American racism. An abhorrent thread connects the Atlanta murders; the fomenting of anti-Asian sentiment during COVID; vicious caricatures that continue to circulate in popular culture; aggressions experienced everyday by people of Asian descent, including in our community here at Miami; misogynistic targeting of Asian women; and, xenophobic immigration and labor policies that stretch back at least to the Page Act of 1875. In short, the Atlanta killings are symptomatic of a more enduring condition that we have yet to fully reckon with.

      What can we do here at Miami? I suspect many of us are asking a version of this question. Our University Senate can contribute, and I want to identify three concrete responses:

      1. First, please recall that in August 2020 we created an Anti-Racism page on our Senate Canvas site, which everyone can add to. This weekend, I added several resources on anti-Asian racism that you might find useful as you talk with students, colleagues, community members, and your own social networks. Please continue to add to this list and help make it as effective as possible.

      2. Second, you hopefully saw in the Provost’s message this morning a reference to an initiative from Anthony James and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. In particular, Dr. James is leading an effort to make countering anti-Asian racism part of Miami’s celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month in May. There are several important topics already in focus, including cultural barriers to reporting bias incidents at Miami. If you’re interested in supporting this effort, you can contact Dr. James directly and you can also add to a formstack where recommendations are being collected

      3. Third, I would like to call for a special Senate working session to focus on how we as a university community can bolster the work of supporting and creating systemic efforts to combat anti-Asian racism. We can host this session as early as May 3rd, and I have already been in touch with Tom Poetter about making this happen. As senators, if you are interested in helping to organize and/or moderate this session, please send me a private message during our meeting today or an email as soon as you are able.

      I look forward to seeing us to take action and counter the spiral of silence discussed earlier.

    2. As a follow-up to last meeting’s discussion regarding the curriculum process, Provost Osborne has created a flowchart outlining the process. This has been added to Senate Canvas page.

    3. Senate Executive Committee elections are tentatively scheduled for April 19, 2021. There will be two separate elections; chair-elect (eligible for those in their first or second year) and at-large position. Those interested should reach out to Senator Green, Senator Wardle, or Senator Bielo.

    4. The last scheduled Senate Working Session will be held on March 29, 2021, and will be hosted by Senator Todd Edwards and Dr. Raquel Radina (EDT). The topic is focused on employment of persons holding a Miami doctorate.

Approval of University Senate Minutes

  1. A motion was received, seconded, and carried to approve the March 8, 2021, minutes.

Consent Calendar

  1. The following items were received on the Consent calendar:

    1. Curriculum

    2. LEC meeting minutes - February 9, 2021

    3. GMP Redesign meeting minutes-February 12,2021

    4. GMP Redesign meeting minutes-February 19, 2021

    5. Governance Committee meeting - March 1, 2021

    6. Student Life Council Minutes - November 4, 2020

    7. Student Life Council Minutes - February 10, 2021

    8. Graduate Council Minutes-February 2021

Special Report

  1. Dr.Jason Lane, Incoming Dean, College of Education, Health & Society

    1. Dr Lane first wanted to express thanks to those who spoke about racism against those of Asian descent. We need to speak up and act up about these issues. He stated that one of the things that drew him to Miami is the deep undivided commitment to DE&I. He looks forward to joining the community and tackling these issues.

    2. He is excited to join Miami and wanted to thank Associate Dean Denise Taliaferro Baszile for stepping into the acting role during the transition. Miami is well positioned for the future and is going to respond well post-pandemic. He to work with University Senate and has always been a part of shared governance, both as a member of University Senate and also as his role as Associate Provost.

    3. Provost Osborne asked Dean Lane to discuss any new directions/agenda items for EHS. Dean Lane responded that there is opportunity to expend graduate programs and attract students to Miami. This would include expanding remote learning, which would expand reach and access to students in Ohio and beyond. In working with departments, there are ways to pivot to expand our reach. In engaging with students, one of the issues to address would be to improve communication.

    4. Senator Stuart indicated that he was interested in interdisciplinary work and asked that Dean Lane discuss how connections can be made across colleges and departments within the University. Dean Lane responded that it takes different expertise to tackle issues. EHS has been working with a number of different departments, including EBTD in the College of Creative Arts. Additionally, Dean Lane noted that he has worked with faculty in joint programming in previous roles and as Dean at University at Albany.

Provost Osborne shared that there is a new Miami lapel pin featuring the Myaamia Heritage logo that foreshadows our 50th anniversary, and renewed relations, with the Miami tribe.

New Business

  1. Miami’s Statement on Professional Ethics and Responsibilities – Dr. Zevi Miller, Chair, Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

    1. Senator Bielo noted that there will be a follow-up discussion on April 5.

    2. Senator Wagner explained that this was brought forward because the Statement on Professional Ethics contains a statement from AAUP that was adopted in 1966; however, the statement has since been revised a few times. In the newer version, there is is a line concerning discriminatory treatment of students. It is important, especially now, to create a better environment for our students. For this reason, it is important that this statement be updated as soon as possible.

    3. Zevi Miller, Chair, Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, weighed in on the proposal. He feels this is a very good statement and thanked Cathy for bringing this up. Faculty R&R has added a few sentences to the third point: ‘They also respect rational discussion as a means of finding the truth and resolving disputes. They expect such respect for rational discussion not only from their colleagues, but also from administration in its dealings with faculty.’ He values such discussions. He has seen instances in R&R where it would have been a good reminder that discussions have to be based on facts. There is also mention of faculty respecting truth. It would be good to reference this in the future during discussions occurring in R&R.

    4. Senators had the following discussion and questions:
      1. Senator Abbott asked if the term ‘academic debt’ could be explained? Senator Wagner added this part (although it appears it has been split apart in the paragraphs) is related to the point about students in that we do not borrow peoples’ ideas without acknowledging them. Provost Osborne asked if the passage referring to academic debt can be clarified. Senator Wagner responded that she would work on clarifying the statement.

      2. Senator Alessio remarked that the statement in #1, ‘Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it.’, raised an eyebrow. Sometimes that seems to put evidence-based information aside, because someone could say ‘that’s not how I see it.’ It is worrisome to her for debates and discussion, and she wondered if someone from the Committee brought that same kind of question up. Dr. Miller indicated that no one on Faculty R&R brought that up. Senator Alessio continued that her concern would be that stating the truth as we see it with no reference to evidence or rational debate could lead to opinions that are discriminatory and could be rooted in bias and not in evidence or objectivity. Senator Wagner understood the point, and Dr. Miller stated that he understood that passage to say that this is the truth as you understand it at the time. Senator Wagner thinks that the following sentences clarify what stating the truth means as a professor: ‘To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.’ Senator Alessio asked what is the point of the sentence and can it be deleted? Senator Wagner indicated that this sentence is regarding professors’ areas of research. It was noted that this language was not a change – it has been there since 1966.

      3. Senator Kenworthy asked if senators can have a copy of the Sense of the Senate with changes highlighted to send to constituents Senator Bielo indicated that it would be circulated after the meeting.

      4. Senator Wardle noted that the intention was not to revise the entire policy, simply to update the AAUP statement. However, with Senator Alessio’s points above, there may be parts of the existing policy that we may want to change. She was not sure if Senate would just want to vote on the AAUP update or look at revising the policy.

      5. Senator Wagner proposed that Senate vote on the AAUP updated statement regarding discrimination and then have a committee to consider changes for the entire policy. She asked that Senate vote on the policy as it’s written at the April 5, 2021, meeting since the only changes have been to update the AAUP statement and the additional sentences submitted by Faculty F&R in point #3.

      6. Senator Coleman asked about the statement in #3, ‘They expect such respect for rational discussion not only from their colleagues, but also from administration in its dealings with faculty.’ Can the scope of the word ‘dealings’ be clarified? Dr. Miller answered that there are occasions where Faculty R&R has to discuss matters with administration, specifically when people make appeals (e.g. tenure and promotion). In the negotiation process, it is important that everyone involved adheres to rules of rational discussion, respect for evidence, and logic. The ‘dealings’ occur reasonably often. It was clarified that the statement holds true for situations outside of Faculty R&R as well.

  2. Covid Ad-Hoc Committee Reports – Dr. Dana Cox, Co-Chair, Faculty Ad-Hoc Committee and Senator Troy Travis. Co-Chair, Staff Ad-Hoc Committee

    1. The timeframe occurred last fall. Four groups were charged to investigate what was needed for Covid support. Two of these groups, one looking at faculty needs and the other at staff needs, were ad-hoc subcommittees charged by the Faculty Welfare Committee. The reports today are the products of the two subcommittees.

    2. Dr. Cox worked with Senator Green and Dr. Barbara Oswald to compile the faculty data and reports. Senator Travis is representing the group looking at staff needs. He would also like to thank Senator Scott Walter as well as the Chairs of CPAC and UPAC, Gail King and Samantha Brandenberg. Sam Brandenberg has accepted a position outside of Miami; therefore, Randy Hollowell is stepping in as Interim Chair of UPAC. Senator Travis would also like to thank Katie Wilson who did a large body of work on the benchmarking team.

    3. The two groups were charged by Faculty Welfare to survey all staff and faculty to determine how Covid has impacted their work. They were also charged with benchmarking other institutions who are addressing similar challenges. Within their respective final reports, the subcommittees were to develop recommendations to address identified challenges that consider the current fiscal constraints.

    4. Senator Travis indicated that the response rate on the staff survey was 36.5%. The subcommittee reviewed all comments and categorized them into about five areas. One theme was that staff were at the forefront of maintaining public safety. There was Feeling of divide because many staff did not have the choice as to whether they were onsite or at home. Over 50% of respondents agreed that Miami handled change around Covid well.

    5. Dr. Cox stated that 735 faculty responded to the survey, which created an intense data set. There were three emergent themes: faculty contributed to the mission of the University in ways that fell outside of the workload norms. faculty remained committed to student success and engagement; and, many were overwhelmed with the quick pivot to remote learning and restrictions on face to face interactions, including teaching, research, and service.

    6. Senator Travis indicated that benchmarking included literature research actual contact. Assessment was done using 44 peer and aspirational institutions. One of the themes was around remote work and the extending of this beyond Covid.

    7. Dr. Cox’ group also put together an appendix on benchmarking. There were five broad recommendations: attention to tenure and promotion extension; place an increased value on teaching and service and being more flexible about what counts as scholarship; allow faculty agency in determining how to utilize student evaluations for courses taught during the pandemic; develop a plan to manage gender and racial bias in promotion, tenure, evaluation and workload assignment exacerbated by the pandemic; and, consider the impact of COVID-19 beyond 1-2 years.

    8. Senator Travis’ recommendations included: creating a flexible work from home policy. ensuring communications were clear, timely, concise, and transparent; look at activities from the Miami climate survey from 2019; clarifying and enforcing health and safety practices; and prioritizing a strong mental health support system.

    9. Dr. Cox outlined six main recommendations with specific action steps: honor faculty productivity; honor the impact of COVID-19 on Promotion & Tenure; honor the faculty’s efforts to engage students and promote learning; provide flexibility and agency to divisions and departments to adjust to new workload expectations due to COVID-19 and the realities of the economic landscape of higher education; streamline communication; and, support faculty health and wellbeing. She cautioned not to interpret document as a ‘to-do’ list.

    10. There are several potential actions that can come from this. Faculty Welfare could be charged with developing a resolution to allow for the inclusion of a COVID appendix in promotion and tenure materials (TT, TCPL). A subgroup of senators might draft a Sense of the Senate supporting or prioritizing a component of a report for further action. A resolution could be drafted to honor actions that are already being taken that align with these recommendations

    11. There will be further discussion on April 5, and senators are encouraged to read and share the reports and appendices. She noted that for each the staff and the faculty reports, there is an executive summary. To assist with the discussion for April 5, there will be a Formstack link distributed for senators to indicate questions that they wish to have addressed.

Provost Update

  1. Provost Update – Jason Osborne

    1. There are notifications of vaccine distributions that will be beginning on campus.

    2. As vaccination progresses in the U.S., we’re starting to have discussions about returning to travel for the purposes of research and other work related functions. At what point should we talk about returning to campus? It would be helpful to start hearing conversations.

    3. Commencement will be in-person with social distancing. Discussions are occurring with some academic units wanting to have in person events for their students. We are moving carefully and thoughtfully through the process. How do we move back toward late August in a way that is supportive and gradual. There has been advice at the PEC level regarding mental health and navigating turning things back on gradually.

    4. There has been talk about having some events focused on our strategic priorities. One of these would be to revisit the DE&I recommendations. Additionally, Dr. Creamer and the Provost are talking about when there would be enough data to provide a budget update. Currently, there are too many variables, it’s difficult to know what to predict.

    5. Senators had the following questions and discussion:

      1. Senator Stuart expressed concerns about bringing people from different parts of the country to Oxford for the Commencement ceremonies and the effect on public health. Provost Osborne responded that there have been extensive discussions about this, and it is a concern. He noted that what happens in the future is unpredictable, particularly with all of the Covid variants. By the Commencement date, more people would have been vaccinated. Guests are being arranged in pods of six, in similar fashion to other large venues. This has been discussed extensively in PEC with the input of health experts.

      2. Senator Kenworthy asked about the impact of Covid related to Promotion &Tenure. There was flexibility regarding the course evaluation from Spring 2020 and Fall 2020, but there is uncertainty about teaching evaluations for this semester. Provost Osborne indicated that faculty had the flexibility of how to use the reviews from those two semesters in relation to their Promotion & Tenure. The reviews should be used in a formative way. He emphasized that the comments from these two semesters were positive and are a strong testament to the good work that our faculty did. Spring 2021 wasn’t disrupted unexpectedly like the previous two semesters. Everyone should have been well prepared for spring, so we have rolled back to. typical policies for students as well as typical use of course evaluations for Promotion &Tenure. The other point that the Provost wanted to make was that the department faculty have a lot of agency in how they evaluate their colleagues for Promotion & Tenure, how they’re advising them and giving them feedback, and how the narrative is disrupted up the chain. He advised that if this is of concern, that faculty have discussions with their colleagues about how do we honor and acknowledge the work that has been done, and how do we celebrate our colleagues that are under review for Promotion & Tenure. This is where shared governance at the departmental and divisional level can be very impactful. Senator Kenworthy stated that students were fairly generous the past two semesters, but this semester, it’s harder. Provost Osborne noted that if we’re in a high-stakes situation of awarding promotion or tenure, one semester is not going to negatively impact the professor’s entire portfolio.

      3. Senator Coleman commented although we knew what we would be teaching, the course loads are highly unusual – 3/3, 4/4 loads with new preps and loss of faculty members, etc. She would like to start looking at efficiencies as well as effectiveness since they go hand in hand with teaching excellence. We have changed operationally, but the efficiency load has increased dramatically. Provost Osborne indicated that all of these points (unusual number of preps or credit hours) are part of a well-crafted narrative for inclusion in the Promotion & Tenure packet. This is where senior faculty can help the faculty under review craft and highlight some of these things that others may not know.;


  1. The regular meeting of University Senate was adjourned at 4:48 p.m