Faculty Senate looks at more potential growth

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Change was the theme at last Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

The centerpiece of that discussion was the growth agenda performance proposal, which UW System President Kevin Reilly had asked the universities to draft.

The proposal is still purely discussion at this point, but its main focus is to increase the number of  degrees given by each university.

The proposal calls for an increase from 2,297 degrees in 2011-12 to 2,681 degrees in 2025-26 for UW-Whitewater.

Some ideas for accomplishing this goal were to reduce the time it takes students to obtain their degrees, and increase the number of incoming freshmen.

While it is only speculation at this point, Chancellor Richard Telfer said this issue needs to be addressed.

“We as a university can stay the same size, we can shrink or we can grow,” Telfer said. “But this is something we need to think about.”

A report released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Feb. 9 said on June 30, 2013, Wisconsin could be facing a $208.2 million deficit.

With that in mind, the Senate will begin constructing the 2013-2015 budget next month.

A report on the New Student Seminar prepared by the Executive Committee was also discussed last Tuesday.
Since the course’s inception as a one-credit class in 2001, enrollment has increased from roughly 20 percent to about 80 percent of incoming freshmen. The data shows there is an 80 percent retention rate for students who completed the course versus a 70 percent rate for those who did not.

Some concerns about the course over the years have been the lack of clearly established goals and curriculum. This has led to some inconsistency in the teaching of the course among its instructors.  As of the fall 2011 semester, “almost 60 percent of NSS instructors were not faculty or instructional academic staff.”

The Senate debated whether concrete, universal objectives should be established for all sections. It also speculated if NSS should be worth three credits instead of one, and if incoming freshmen should join sections based on their major or learning community.