FAU Faculty Senate approves degree changes in last fall meeting

The Faculty Senate gave updates on housing issues, the presidential search, and degree adjustments.


Photo courtesy of the Faculty Senate website.

Jessica Abramsky, Staff Writer

On Monday, Florida Atlantic University’s Faculty Senate met for their last meeting this semester to discuss various topics, including housing issues for students and program changes to the College of Arts and Letters and College of Education. 

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

With John Kelly wrapping up his last semester as FAU’s president, he reflected on his accomplishments and the improvements FAU made over the years. 

“We’re really on the horizon. We’re not [waning] in any way. I think we’re a growth curve that’s tilted up,” Kelly said. “It’s all on your backs because if [growth] doesn’t happen in the faculty, honestly it will not happen inside the rest of the university. And so I wanted to say how much I appreciate the time and the opportunity to work with you over these years.”

Faculty Senate President Kim Dunn said they are looking for a more permanent solution for students living in hotels locally. 

She also stated the presidential search is ongoing. FAU is utilizing AGB Search, an executive search firm the university hired to help search for the next president. Dunn says the firm wants to speak to faculty and other members of the university to find out what they are looking for in the next president.

Program Changes

Senate members also approved a series of changes to various academic programs, and those will go into effect during the next calendar year.

The Department of Comparative Studies in the College of Arts and Letters requested a change to the Ph.D. program in comparative studies. 

The program will no longer require the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) for admissions. This is part of a larger trend of universities dropping the GRE requirement for admissions, and simply recommending it.

“[The GRE] has also proven to be a barrier, because of cost and other reasons, to prospective students even applying to our programs,” said Eric Berlatsky, Director of the Comparative Studies Program. “We obviously do not want to discourage people from applying, and there are other elements of the application that tell us more about potential students than standardized tests.” 

The School of Communication and Multimedia Studies in the College of Arts and Letters proposed a change to the communication program. The master’s degree program will only require 30 credit hours and reduce core requirements, as many master’s degrees at FAU and around the nation allow for more flexibility and specialization.

The English Department in the College of Arts and Letters proposed the elimination of four of its five concentrations American Literature, British Literature, Multicultural and Gender Studies, and World Literature.

Writing and Rhetoric is the only concentration the department will keep. Staff rationalized the decision as an attempt to decrease the segregation between multicultural and ethnic studies.

The report also details a decrease of student interest in the concentrations that are being eliminated, while the number of students who chose concentrations in Writing and Rhetoric is increasing. 

Director of Undergraduate Studies and English Honors Julia Mason says the department will “continue to offer a breadth and depth of great courses in various areas of literature, including multiethnic literatures and world literatures, creative writing, and rhetoric and writing.” Extended Spring 2023 course descriptions are available for students.

The Department of Special Education in the College of Education changed the master’s of education in Exceptional Student Education. This change will result in a fully-online degree program, consisting of 36-42 credit hours to be completed in 16-24 months.

Interim Chair for the Department of Special Education Rangasamy Ramasamy said this change will benefit teachers in the field. 

Most special education teachers in schools across the nation start their teaching career with a bachelor’s degree,” Ramasamy said. “According to the Hanover Research Market Opportunity Ranking report prepared for FAU in April 2021, Florida reports a shortage of special education teachers at every grade level. Additionally, a high percentage of special education teachers in the state are not fully qualified.”

Jessica Abramsky is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Jessica at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @jessabramsky.