SSU Academic Senate Meeting of 23 September 2021

Chair Morimoto made reference to a conflict between the Theatre Arts and Dance Department and the A&H dean over misuse of IRA (Instructionally Related Activities) money. The students voted decades ago to voluntarily tax themselves to support certain activities for which the General Fund budget was inadequate, such as keeping the Library open till midnight and supporting the Children’s School. An IRA Committee, dominated by students, meets annually to apportion the IRA funds. The money is not intended as a slush fund for a Dean to balance her budget. A Forum will be held on 11 October for the parties to this conflict to be heard.

The President reported:

            > Chancellor Castro will visit SSU on Wednesday 29 September.

            > New Trustee Julia Lopez will visit on Friday 24 September.

            > VP for Student Affairs Greg Sawyer has announced his (second) retirement and will be leaving SSU at the end of this term.

            > The deadline for students to be fully vaccinated is Thursday 30 September. The academic records of non-compliant students will be frozen.

The Provost reported on a meet-and-confer with the CFA on the University’s policy for deciding between offering a class in-person or on-line.

She introduced Justin Lipp and Sandra Ayala to talk about Accessibility. This means (according to §508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act) that the University must make every effort that all written and on-line materials are accessible to persons with disabilities. A Senator from mathematics asked for special help with problems of syntax unique to the sciences.

Elias Lopez gave a presentation on enrollment. The University is facing a crisis. There has been a decline in FTE from its high of 9,405 in 2015 to 7,179 this year. Initially there was a decline of approximately 2,600 FTE from last year to this year, but various methods of remediation reduced the decline to 677.

Various means are being implemented to reverse this decline. SSU is partnering with 11 community colleges. It is implementing a system of “instant admission”. It set a goal of 80% of admissions decisions made by January, so that students have more opportunity to apply for financial assistance; and financial aid applications will be simplified. It is improving the on-line portal, improving data tracking, and accelerating the analysis of transfer credit for incoming juniors. Faculty are encouraged to participate in recruiting events, as both students and parents appreciate the opportunity to meet them. But it is a challenge to host prospective students when there is at present virtually no “campus life”. Finally, SSU needs a better “brand”, which emphasizes its academic strengths, vibrant student life, financial aid opportunities, and the attractions of the North Bay wine country. We are doing well compared to other CSU campuses on our graduation rates, but we have a significant retention problem at the end of the first year.


APARC presented, for a First Reading, a list of priorities including

            > after the pandemic, how much on-line learning and in which courses

            > multi-year scheduling, for students to plan, for budgeting, and for lecturers

            > improving our assessment capacity

            > making the budgeting process more transparent

            > regarding the Provost’s planned poll of students, include where students live and how they get to campus if they don’t live on it.

Associated Students made note of

> open student seats on committees

> the IRA committee meeting soon

> textbook orders still not getting in on a timely basis

Statewide Senators asked for feedback on AS 3501, which deals with recovery from the pandemic.

Laura Lupei reported that the budget deficit for this year was patched up with one-time funds, but a large gap exists for next year and subsequent years.

The Staff council recently heard a report by Christopher Dinno on the progress of the Stevenson remodel.

SAC has been working on a revision of the Cheating and Plagiarism policy

FSAC has been discussing revisions of the RTP policy. It also discussed the unacceptable practice of leaving department chairs out of grievance hearings.

-- Submitted by Rick Luttmann