Faculty Senate convenes to discuss Provost Search Committee, changes to Title IX

Faculty Senate
David Russell/THE REVIEW
The Faculty Senate gathered for their final meeting of the semester.

Staff Reporter

For the final time this semester, the Faculty Senate convened on Monday. Its agenda included the ongoing search for a provost, funding for graduate education and revisions to Title IX.

Leading the evening, President Dennis Assanis provided an update on the search for a provost. Assanis emphasized his dedication to transparency and the importance of having a committee with the capacity to sufficiently represent faculty members from all colleges, as well as students.

Early stages of the search will remain strictly confidential, with the search only becoming more transparent after the Provost Search Committee has agreed upon final candidates. The first stage of the vetting process is expected to begin in March. A pool of candidates will appear before the Provost Search Committee for review. Assanis will personally select the new provost.

Interim Provost Robin Morgan announced the approval of proposal from the Unidel Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Wilmington, Del.

“They were imagining a program of Unidel Distinguished Scholars for graduate education that would be similar to what we have with the Eugene du Pont Scholars for undergraduate education,” Morgan said. “Unidel will be giving us $2.5 million next year for graduate education and the idea is that would become a recurring award.”

The university plans to use part of the funds toward recruiting doctoral candidates, covering travel expenses for doctoral candidates and providing five years worth of funding along with a stipend for doctoral candidates.

Members of the Faculty Senate asked Morgan for any information on projected modifications to graduate tuition in lieu of the impending changes to the U.S. federal tax law, but she did not provide specific information. Many in higher education, in particular graduate students, have been concerned about the effects of the federal tax bill.

“I am not ready to talk about that right now at all. We don’t know exactly how that tax bill is going to come out in the end,” Morgan said. “But I will take the opportunity to say our graduate students did get together and had a rally last week and I felt very good about that, I think we all did.”

Back in September, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced impending changes to the approach of the Department of Education to sexual misconduct. Under the Obama administration, institutions of higher education began to take a more aggressive approach toward investigating registered complaints, adopting a lower standard of proof. DeVos’ decision to require a higher standard of evidence in sexual misconduct reports leaves the university in a precarious position, as it must face the loosening of the Title IX guidance and the state of its own non-discrimination policy.

Disagreement surrounded the proposed revisions which asserted redefining a new standard of proof. The policy shift from a “preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing” has stirred up significant controversy, with many faculty members vehemently voicing disapproval.

“I want to speak strongly against the proposed change from ‘preponderance of evidence’ to ‘clear and convincing,’ Professor Jeremy Firestone said. “I think we can probably agree that the vast majority of those who will benefit from this shift to ‘clear and convincing’ will be men.”

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