Faculty Council creates committee for technology and debates longer Thanksgiving break

Leila Ruiz

Faculty Council voted Monday to create an oversight committee intended to allow faculty members to have a clearer stake and a better understanding in the use of technology in academia.

Faculty members voted unanimously to form the C-14 Technology-Enhanced Education Oversight Committee, which is a standing committee aimed at evaluating and formulating policy regarding technology in higher education and ensuring that its use will help further the goals of the University.

There will be 13 voting members and five non-voting members on the committee, which will review its function, scope and mission after its first and second active years and propose changes as deemed necessary. Michael White, religious studies professor and the chair of the committee that proposed the C-14 committee, said that, while there are already strategic and infrastructure committees dedicated to the use of technology at the University, the C-14 committee will focus more on its specific academic applications.

“I think it might play the role of watchdog for a need to arise in which that would be justified,” White said. “The ad hoc committee thought it was desirable to create as much dialogue between the various oversight groups that would be involved, one of those being the academic oversight.”

Mathematics professor William Beckner said the academic diversity of the new committee will allow faculty to have a more comprehensive understanding.

“Having this type of committee will engage general faculty in involvement [with] new technologies that are being used in the classroom,” Beckner said. “It serves as central oversight, but it will engage the faculty in their ownership of what is going to happen, and lots is going to happen.” Faculty members discussed proposed additions to the course evaluation format and debated the order of checked boxes on the evaluation sheet

The council also addressed the possibility of an extended Thanksgiving break. Hans Hoffman, integrative biology associate professor and chair of the University Academic Calendar Committee, offered a proposal that would eliminate classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The missed class day would be made up by adding an extra class day on the Monday of finals week. 

Hoffman said it was important to the committee that the number of class days would not be affected by the schedule change, although some said it would only create new problems.

“It is difficult for me to vote in favor of this,” history professor Al Martinez said. “The issue that arises by having class on the Monday as a last day of class is that, suddenly, we create the same kind of day that’s very vulnerable for absences.”