Faculty Senate discuss curriculum additions, research certificate update, and mask change

Students can look forward to new classes and a research certificate option as part of their college education.


Bret Danilowicz, provost and vice president of academic affairs, in 2018. Photo by Alexander Rodriguez

Natalia Ribeiro, Staff Writer

On Dec. 6, the Faculty Senate met for their last meeting of the semester and year to discuss new additions to the course curriculum, an update to the research certificate, and changes to the mask policy on campus.

The faculty senate is a governing body that works with the general education policies of the college including curriculum, degree programs, etc.

Curriculum Additions

In the College of Arts and Letters, staff will soon add two new minors and a program change to the curriculum. 

The first minor is in Political Communication, which will be a joint degree between the departments of Political Science and Communication and Multimedia Studies. The minor will offer students a study of political networks while getting hands-on experience in political advocacy and campaigning.   

The second minor is in Sports Studies, which will include resources from across seven different departments. 

Both minors, effective beginning Fall 2022, will be open to all undergraduate students. In order to complete any of the two minors, students must earn 12 credits with a grade of C or better and maintain a 2.5-grade point average.

The university will convert the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights certificate into a minor and certificate program. The total number of credits necessary for the certificate or minor will be 12, a change from the current sum of 15.

The reasoning behind the conversion is that financial aid will only pay for courses that pertain to a student’s major, but will compensate if the courses are used for a minor. Students who use financial aid will be able to take classes from the certificate program but use them towards a minor.

In the College of Science, the Department of Science and Health Promotion will create two concentrations in the Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion. Effective Fall 2022, students can choose between exercise physiology or pre-physical therapy and occupational therapy. 

Students in the pre-physical therapy and occupational therapy concentration will be able to complete the necessary prerequisites to begin graduate school after finishing the program.

Research Certificate Update

Donna Chamely-Wiik, an associate dean in the university’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, updated the Senate on the undergraduate research certificate, which they approved last spring.

Research and inquiry students that satisfy the criteria from all the colleges across the university will be able to receive a certificate through 12 credits. Four criteria make up the framework that includes research-intensive, skill-building, exposure, and dissemination.

Designated courses, directed independent research, or honors thesis will go towards the certificate. 

“The additional 12 credits are built up with a series of exposure level and skill-building level courses that were identified through direct conversations with the curriculum committees of the various colleges,” said Chamel-Wiik. “The final requirement is some sort of exhibition or a dissemination presentation that occurs either internal to the university or students presenting and exhibiting external to the university.”

Dissemination in research means the process of sharing the research findings with wider audiences. 

Any student that participates in an honors program that involves research can apply and non-honors students can apply for the certificate. There is no deadline to apply and students can be awarded the certificate at any time before graduation.  

Sign posted by the university.

Mask Change

Mask wearing come the spring semester will be at a student’s preference, instead of expected. The university policy currently expects that students wear a mask when inside the buildings or outside in large groups.

Bret Danilowicz, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said mask-wearing among students has declined.

The concern is that if the rules around masks are not changed, there are no guidelines for re-engaging students if another variant were to come and mask use would need to return. The Omicron variant is the newest form of Covid-19. As of Dec. 7, 19 states have reported coronavirus cases of the variant.

“That’s been a purposeful shift, to try to get our ability to capture student interest again, should things get rough,” said Danilowicz. “This is trying to give us some flexibility for the future.”

Natalia Ribeiro is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories email [email protected] or tweet her @nataliar_99.