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New semester brings new chair for Faculty Senate

February 10, 2012

UW-River Falls Faculty Senate met for the first meeting of the spring semester on Feb. 1 in the Willow River Room at the University Center, with vice chair Professor Marshall Toman now serving the position of acting chair. Toman is currently the Faculty Senate acting chair, in place of Wes Chapin who is now overseas with students studying abroad in the International Traveling Classroom program.

One agenda item that was addressed, was a proposal to change the language explaining the role of the advisor and the advising process in the Faculty and Academic Staff Handbook. Such changes include removing the word “counseling” from the definition of the responsibility of the advisor.

“Specifically, the effect of adding the definition of advising to the handbook, excludes counseling of students by faculty. There have been instances where students have sought out their academic advisors to discuss personal problems. This has made some faculty uncomfortable as they are not trained to do this,” Chemistry Professor David Rainville wrote in an email. “Students should go to Career/Counseling/Health Services with problems of a personal nature. Any faculty member is free to give advice if they so choose, but are not obligated to do so. I want to make it quite clear that this definition does not change the current policy, it simply clarifies what has always been the case.”

The current language of advising in the handbook defines the faculty responsibility as, “a major part of the teaching responsibility is in the advising or counseling of students the faculty has in class or those assigned as advisees.”

“My previous advisor was good in helping me in choosing the right academic route, but wasn’t the best at providing possible career opportunities. But then again, it’s not their job to tell me what to do with my career, that’s why we have Career Services,” sophomore Sarah Pronschinske said.

Despite the proposed change of the handbook language explaining the relationship between an advisor and their students, “Students will not be affected adversely. Faculty will continue to advise as they have done in the past. The tradition of good advising at UWRF is strong,” Toman said.

Other upcoming agenda items for the semester include establishing a University Tuition Differentials Oversight Committee and preliminary approval to the new campus strategic plan, Pathway to Distinction.

“I do anticipate that on Feb. 15 the faculty will discuss establishing a University Tuition Differentials Oversight Committee, an idea that has been endorsed by the Student Senate,” Toman wrote in an email. “The Chancellor is committed to ensuring that tuition money that has been collected from students for special, designated purposes continues to serve those purposes.”

When asked about his goals as acting chair, Toman said, “To survive. Really. But more altruistically, to have all parts of the University functioning harmoniously together to achieve excellence in teaching and learning.”

More information about Faculty Senate and their meeting agendas can be found at http://www.uwrf.edu/FacultySenate/ or by contacting Marshall Toman at marshall.toman@uwrf.edu.