University Senate - March 9, 2020 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, March 9, 2020. Members absent: Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, Michele Dickey, Sande Garner, Chip Hahn, Breanna Robinson, and Dante Rossi.

  1. Announcements and Remarks by the Chair of Senate Executive Committee, Dana Cox.

    1. Benefits and Wellness will be holding a session on Thursday, March 19, 2020, from 12-1 p.m. in 1 Upham Hall, entitled ‘Overview of 2020 Retirement Changes.’

    2. There was discussion at the Senate retreat regarding getting a bigger room for Senate meetings. Room 141 Hughes (Oxford Campus) is available and can be used for the remainder of the year. More information about meeting locations will be sent out at a later date. Note:  as of the posting of these minutes, Senate meetings through April 13, 2020, will be delivered via WebEx.

    3. There was a reminder that there is a special meeting of Senate on March 16, 2020, in 141 Hughes for the Global Miami Plan discussion as well as the discussion portion of Senator Bretz’ presentation.

Approval of University Senate Minutes

  1. A motion was received, seconded, and carried to approve the February 24, 2020, minutes of University Senate.

Consent Calendar

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

    1. Curriculum - the Robotics Engineering was removed because it is an action item that will be discussed on March 30, 2020.

    2. Department Teaching Evaluation Policy 

New Business

  1. Classics Program Deletion – Terri Barr, Professor, Marketing, Process Coordinator 

    1. Professor Barr served as process coordinator for the consolidation of the Classics Department. As a result of this involvement, she was asked to participate in the deletion of the Classical Languages major, which will involve reconstructing the 2 Classics majors into a new Classical Studies major. Professor Barr remarked that this is a case where Senate ByLaw 8.A. (SR 14-01) may not have been needed since there was consensus. There is a teach out plan for the current major, and the changes will go into effect fall 2020.

    2. Professor Cox explained to senators that they do not vote on the action; however, senators unanimously approved to recommend this to the Provost.
  2. COVID-19  Sense of the Senate Resolutions - Jason Osborne, Provost

    1. As of today, there are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ohio (Cuyahoga County.) There is no way to quarantine parts of the US.

    2. Miami does not have a lot of online activity, which is a challenge in this environment. The institution needs to be more resilient and prepare for situations such as this. We need to be able to continue to instruction and deliver our mission. We need to make sure we are prepared to continue serving our students and this is a test of how quickly people can get online. Classes cannot be cancelled for several reasons, including Title IV financial aid and students anticipating graduation this May.  Miami needs to be prepared. Italy went from no cases of COVID-19 to shutting down universities in three weeks.

    3. The first Sense of the Senate resolution (SR 20-11) is to ensure that the class attendance policy is reasonable and conforms with Miami’s values. No one should come to campus ill and students should be sent home if ill. There are policies to deal with significant absences. While most faculty have good will, some students still report that they have to come to class sick or risk being penalized.

    4. Senators had the following questions and comments:

      1. A question was asked about modification of a class’s attendance policy. If a doctor’s note is currently required to excuse an absence, can we expect that now?  No, it is not reasonable to expect that under these circumstances.

      2. A senator expressed concern that we stress the sensitivity of gaming the system and some students will take advantage of this. The Provost responded that we need to put our energy ‘in the 95% and not the 5%’ and trust that the students will do the right thing.  A student commented that students will do the right thing.

      3. There was discussion and some concern regarding the notification of Dr. Kimberly Moore, Dean of Students. There was reassurance that this information  goes into the care team report and is not punitive. It is designed to ensure students receive the assistance they need.

      4. A question was asked about hourly employees and students who may not have sick time. The hope is that they would exercise good judgment and not go to work sick.

    5. A motion was made to vote on SR 20-11. The Sense of the Senate resolution was unanimously approved.

    6. The second Sense of the Senate resolution is entitled ‘Enhancing Academic Continuity’, which addresses faculty being able to deliver remotely to keep things moving. In order to serve our mission, faculty need to be able to get on Canvas and have a section that includes: the course syllabus; grades earned for each student on each assignment for the current semester; announcements to students enrolled in each section, including the attendance policy as amended by the Sense of the Senate Resolution; and, assignments, quizzes, and other types of activities for the balance of the semester.

    7. Many faculty have not used Canvas (e.g.40% of courses are not in Canvas), although, this includes thesis, dissertation, and independent study courses. Senate should endorse the notion that every faculty member should be able to do the requirements on Canvas. If they cannot do it, there will be people who can help. Each department is in the process of identifying a faculty ambassador who is comfortable with Canvas and can do peer to peer mentoring. There will be eLearning drop-in rooms for help. There are also step by step resources as well as phone and email support. It is thought that the basic requirements can be met by March 20, 2020.

    8. There will be a meeting with the divisional data analysts to see who will need help. The Center for Teaching Excellence is compiling a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ for online delivery.  Additionally, IT Services will be doing a systems test on March 11, 2020.

    9. Senators had the following questions and comments:

      1. Is there a thought regarding synchronous vs asynchronous delivery? No, delivery can be asynchronous. The goal is to meet the minimum standards

      2. A thought was expressed that we may still have some time and therefore, we can plan a little more. It was stressed that this is moving quickly and there is an urgent need to move to online delivery.

      3. Is this strongly suggested or required? It is required. Faculty can work together where there is more than one section of the same course.

      4. A senator stressed the need to move as quickly as possible and to reach out to their professional community as needed. How do you do an art studio online, for example?

      5. Have to make sure the students have accessibility as well. Associate Provost Wanko is working with the Student Success Committee to ensure the resources are there.

      6. A concern was raised as to whether there is enough bandwidth? Senator Travis from IT Services indicated that there are processes in place to open up bandwidth between Webex and Canvas. This is tested in the fall and spring and will be tested again on March 11, 2020 to ensure all is working appropriately.  He stated that we are well positioned.

      7. Would there be a test run communicating with students? Yes, if we have time.

      8. A comment was made that professors don’t have to live stream their lecture, it can be recorded.

      9. It’s important that we do this well from a student perspective. Students need to have confidence in the information they’re receiving.

      10. Will campus events be affected? This cannot be predicted.
      11. There was a comment that it is not easy to teach online courses. It is understood that there are problems, but there may not be an option.
      12. Senator Wardle stated that the Howe Center for Writing Excellence is moving consultations online.
      13. There is an international travel ban. If you plan to travel on University business, there may not be much travel. If we have to go into isolation. instruction could be accelerated.
      14. A motion was made to vote on SR 20-12. The Sense of the Senate resolution was unanimously approved.

 SR 20-11

Sense of the Senate:  Ensuring class attendance policy conforms to Miami University values

March 9, 2020

Whereas, the United States is experiencing an outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with 500 confirmed cases in 33 states and the virus, which causes respiratory illness transmitted by human contact, continues to spread, and

Whereas Miami University’s Class Attendance Policy provides that it is the prerogative of every faculty member to set attendance for each individual course and some faculty impose academic grade and other penalties for missing class, and,

Whereas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance to help stop the spread of the virus and in the section titled “Guidance for IHE that do NOT have COVID-19   identified in their community” states: “Students, Staff and faculty should not attend class or work when sick.” and  recommends that  institutions of higher education establish “procedure to ensure that students, staff and faculty who become sick (with any illness) on campus or arrive on campus sick are sent to their place of residence as soon as possible,”

Therefore, in order to promote the health and safety of the campus, the University’s Class Attendance Policy shall be modified for the balance of the Spring Semester to add the following statements to the Policy:

  1. No student, faculty, staff member should attend class or come to campus when ill.
  2. Instructors should send students who are ill back to their residence halls or off-campus housing and notify Dr. Kimberly Moore, Dean of Students at
  3. Instructors will, without prejudice, provide students with reasonable opportunities for completing missed work. However, students are ultimately responsible for material covered in class, regardless of whether the student is absent or present.
  4. If the student’s absence is of significant duration or severity, faculty and staff will work with the student to invoke appropriate policy defined options (e.g., be assigned an incomplete or request a medical withdrawal).

Nothing in this Resolution shall be read as modifying the University’s Policy on Voluntary Medical Withdrawals.

SR 20-11 was unanimously approved by voice vote.

SR 20-12

Sense of the Senate:  Enhancing Academic Continuity

March 9, 2020

Whereas, the United States is experiencing an outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with over 500 confirmed cases in 33 states and the virus, which causes respiratory illness transmitted by human contact, continues to spread, and

Whereas, any community can experience unpredictable disruptions to operations from factors such as communicable disease, natural disasters, cybersecurity breaches, and other uncontrollable factors, and

Whereas, it is a primary responsibility of each member of the instructional staff to be prepared to serve the academic mission of the University and be able to meet their assigned instructional responsibilities under a range of conditions, and

Whereas, the Office of Postsecondary Education has issued guidance for interruptions of study due to Coronavirus( guidance allows universities to deliver distance education on a temporary basis if the institution must close for coronavirus related reason and provides “instructors must initiate substantive communication with students, either individually or collectively, on a regular basis.  In other words, an instructor could use email to provide instructional materials to students enrolled in his or her class, use chat features to communicate with students, set up conference calls to facilitate group conversations, engage in email exchanges or require students to submit work electronically that the instructor will evaluate.”

In order to ensure Miami University is well-prepared to meet its mission and complete all Spring Semester 2020 classes, the University Senate urges all faculty to immediately begin developing course materials for the balance of the Spring Semester in a manner that will enable them to deliver lessons and materials electronically, thus maintaining continuity of teaching and learning.

Minimally, all instructional staff must ensure they are prepared to deliver their classes remotely through Canvas, by accomplishing the following steps:

  1. Ensuring each class section they are responsible for has a Canvas section that includes;
  2. the course syllabus,
  3. grades earned for each student on each assignment for the current semester
  4. Announcements to students enrolled in each section, including the attendance policy as amended by the Sense of the Senate Resolution
  5. Assignments, quizzes, and other types of activities for the balance of the semester
  6. Providing students with the information to access the Canvas site for the course;

All departments, divisions, and other support centers will provide reasonable support for instructional staff in order to accomplish these goals and all faculty are expected to have met the minimum requirements no later than March 20, 2020.

SR 20-12 was unanimously approved by voice vote.

  1. Amorous Relationships Policy – Senator Elizabeth Wardle, Professor of English 
    1. Existing policies regarding relationships are slim to none. The rationale for a new policy is three-fold: there is power imbalance between faculty members and students; the pursuit of a relationship with a student may feel coerced, and the student would have no recourse; and, romantic relationships with students can undermine the faculty or staff member’s ability to serve in their role as an educator.

    2. The first discussion and draft of the proposed policy was initiated at the Senate retreat in January. There has collaborative discussion, and the draft has been vetted by a number of different groups and has the support of ASG, GSA, Regional Student Government, and COAD. Students feel it’s needed both on the student side and faculty side.

    3. The policy was displayed, and it was noted that part of the policy addresses exceptions to the policy. Miami is not alone in pursuing a policy such as this.

    4. This will be discussed on March 30.

  2.  Academic Program Evaluation, Improvement & Prioritization – Presentation – Stacey Lowery Bretz, University Distinguished Professor

    1. Senator Bretz began by stating that Senate is not approving the recommendations; this is informational. The need for the Committee came from two strategic plan recommendations (19 & 20), which called for a review of undergraduate and graduate curriculum.  There is a need to reallocate resources.  Miami has more programs than a student body of its size should have.  The process and subsequent recommendations are grounded in data decisions. The Committee met during J-term, and among the members were Senate-elected representatives.  Senate’s voice was heard.

    2. The goals were to align Miami’s academic portfolio with our mission and internal and external demands. The process also tries to ensure that academic programs are sustainable and of high quality. There will need to be prioritization and reallocation of resources. No program is exempt from the process.  All faculty will be asked to think about improving their program.  Faculty time is finite, so decisions will have to be made as to what programs to focus on.  There will need to be candid conversations and deliberations and faculty will have to recognize and think outside their program.

    3. The Committee has created recommendations that will include ratings of each program based on certain criteria, a databook for each program/department, and a timeline. This was approved by the Provost and Academic Deans on March 4, 2020.

    4. Databooks are being created for each program/department containing internal and external data. Division data analysts will duplicate data for each department. There are five criteria that will be examined using the data:  external demand; internal demand; curriculum; program outcomes; and, operations. Two questions will be asked for each criterion; what strengths should be maintained or enhanced, and opportunities exist to improve? Each program will then get a rating. The Committee looked at models for rating programs and decided that each program rated as ‘Continuous Improvement’ or ‘Significant Difficulties’. Each chair will meet with the Dean or designee to have department plans approved.

    5. The timeline is an aggressive three-year cycle, but needs to be when looking at efficiencies affecting bottom line.

    6. Senator Bretz outlined talking points for senators: we do not generate enough net tuition revenue for continuing what we do; faculty have to step up to honestly analyze program delivery and sustainable solutions; and, departments need to develop and value a culture that uses data tools to analyze program success or improvement need.


  • The regular meeting of University Senate was adjourned at 4:55 p.m.

Reconvene and Approval of Minutes

  • Abbreviated Minutes were approved upon conclusion of the regular meeting (Attachment A-IV)


  • The additional meeting of University Senate was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.