Faculty Senate discusses hot-button topic ‘master courses’
Faculty Senate discussed copyright infringement and the implementation of master courses at Southeast while touching on collegiality at its first meeting of the spring semester in the University Center Redhawks Room on Jan. 23.
A master course is a templated course that can be customized by professors how they see fit. An adjunct or any other faculty member can then come in and teach that course using the course materials created by the initial professor.
For some faculty at the meeting, this seemed to be a hot-button issue.
Professor of biology Diane Wood’s concerns echoed faculty who fear losing control of their copyright-protected content.
“We really have to be very careful that we’re not just throwing away our ethics in the process,” Wood said. “In other words, we need to be very careful that we don’t take advantage of faculty putting in a lot of work, and then all of a sudden you lose all your work, and as a result you’re not benefiting from this any longer but other people are.”
As part of the debate, faculty considered proposed policy and procedure bills that explained how content created for online courses would be co-owned by the university and faculty, and when that content could be used by non-creators. No action was taken on those bills.
There was concern among some faculty in attendance their created content would not be protected if Southeast moves forward fully with master courses.
Some professors, such as Erin Rae Fluegge from the Department of Management, have already customized a master course.
“This provided an opportunity in my situation to help our department, to help our students, to help our college to push through that waitlist and get more people through that class,” Rae Fluegge said regarding MG470.
Faculty Senate chair David Powell said this was only the first reading of this topic and policy and it will be brought to the table for further discussion at a later date.
In other business associate professor Roberta Humphrey read a bill proposing a policy of collegiality that was passed by Faculty Senate in January 2017.
“[Collegiality] is characterized by mutual respect for similarities and differences in background, expertise, judgements, and assigned responsibilities,” according to Bill 17 in the Faculty Handbook.
The need for a policy was questioned by the former provost after the approval last year, and more recently by interim provost Tammy Randolph. Roberta Humphrey from the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance argued there are policies regarding practices such as disability services and civility, so having collegiality as a policy in the handbook made sense.
“The comment here was something like, ‘Shouldn’t this just be the normal practice?’” Humphrey said. “Shouldn’t civility just be the normal practice? Shouldn’t disability services just be the normal practice? So I don’t know why we would exclude this topic.”
Powell was in agreement.
“If collegiality is important to us, it’s important to us,” he said.
Powell said he invited deans and chairs to present at the meeting in an effort to improve communications and address concerns faculty raised over the past year.
Powell welcomed in the invited guests: dean of the Holland College of Arts and Media Rhonda Weller-Stilson, chair of Psychology and Counseling Melissa Odegard-Koester and chairperson of the Department of Management Kevin Dickson.
The administrative heads were invited to speak about their perspectives in their positions. Odegard-Koester spoke on what it’s like to be a chairperson who was once a professor.
“I was excited to be challenged in a different way as a chair rather than a faculty,” she said.
The next Faculty Senate meeting is to be held on Feb. 6 in the U.C. Redhawks Room.