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Faculty Senate Resolved Concerns

Availability of secure lockdown browser for test taking

As a mechanism to support academic integrity, the CON searched for lockdown browsers. We give tests on multiple campuses simultaneously, and despite efforts to always have tests proctored, we have had incidences of students opening and accessing other websites during secure tests. We were planning on using Respondus, but when contacting Pullman last spring, learned that Respondus had been piloted but the decision was made to not use it. We would like to know about the process that was used to evaluate the resource, and what alternate resources are available to provide similar protections.

Vote tally: 2
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Access Center and Student Accommodations

Multiple constituents have expressed confusion and concerns about the accommodation process / procedures and the impact on the class as a whole. Would it be possible to have the Director of the Access Center come before the Senate and explain the process of accommodating students as well as the process for modifying student accommodations mid-semester, as well as ffield questions from the faculty?

Vote tally: 2
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Department of Athletic’s Request for Student Athlete Classroom Performance

A number of my constituents received from administration an email encouraging them complete the request from an email they will receive from the Department of Athletics to update them on the performance of any student athlete in their class at week 5 and at week 13. The goal is to ensure that student athletes are performing well in the class and to help them succeed. The email also encouraged my constituents to do better than last year’s 58% response rate. This request raised a number of concerns.
1. Student athletes sign consent forms to release this information. Is this really consent or would they not be able to play if they did not consent? If that is the case, is this really consent? Some constituents said they did not respond to this request due to not believing the athlete really consent out of free will.
a. Details of this consent process would be appreciated.
b. Also what are the benefits/drawback to forced consent and classroom monitoring?
2. Why is this early warning system not available to all students?
a. Is AWARE a viable solution to do this for all students?
3. How is the information used by athletics, is it positive intervention (tutoring, help with time monitoring) or is it negative (threats and ultimatums)?
a. One constituent had reason to believe that athletes who were performing too well in the classroom were receiving negative feedback to focus more on athletics and less on the classroom.
4. How meaningful is this information in the fall when student athletes who play in the fall have missed over half of the classes?

Vote tally: 0
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Clarity on the D25 Initiative

There is a need for clarity on what specifically is meant by WSU’s goal of being recognized as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities. One interpretation is that WSU will be in the top 25 institutions on a list of public research universitites ranked from 1 to X. However, this is not how the D25 is being tracked and defined on the D25 web page. Specifically, 10 metrics are evaluated and reported by The Center for Measuring University Performance (MUP) yearly. MUP’s top 25 public research universities are those institutions that rank in the top 25—among all public universities—on at least one of the 10 measures cited above. Using those criteria, a total of 42 public institutions qualify as top 25 public universities in the MUP 2015 report. The primary concern is that it is unclear what it means to be among 42 public institutions that qualify as among the “top 25 public universities”.

Vote tally: 4
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WSU Research Infrastructure

There are concerns regarding the infrastructure needed to support clinical research specifically, and biomedical research more broadly, at WSU. These concerns fall under 3 broad categories: IT, budget mechanisms, and timeliness. Currently there is little in the way of IT infrastructure for researchers who routinely engage with sensitive, protected health information (PHI) and who must be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. A case in point was presented at the Faculty Senate meeting of 9/20/18 in which a constituent (G Duncan) is currently unable to receive data for a large registry of twins assembled from WA Department of Licensing records because no IT systems currently meet the specifications and standards required by the DOL. It should be noted that this is not an issue germane to a single researcher, rather this is an institutional issue because more and more researchers will be interacting with PHI and will need to satisfy increasingly stringent IT standards. The other, more general, issues pertain to the need for flexibility by research staff in Pullman in establishing specialized research budgets (e.g., service center accounts) and timeliness in establishing important grant management tasks such as subcontracts and agreements with outside consultants. Examples were provided in Faculty Senate in which tasks such as subcontracts were established in a matter of days at top public and private research universities compared to a matter of weeks at WSU. Timeliness is critical when interacting with federal funders such as NIH and NSF.

Vote tally: 4
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Transparency and clarity on PBL funding

There are concerns related to how PBL funding is established and whether this is an appropriate funding model for a complex, multi-campus system. As currently understood by constituents, PBL does not necessarily track tuition dollars generated by a given unit. This creates a situation where there is no real incentive to grow a program; as a simplistic example, a program with 30 students that increases enrollment to 50 students may or may not receive any increase in PBL funding. The issue is compounded when one considers the range of academic activities undertaken within various units including education, research and scholarship, service, community outreach, etc. In addition, there are concerns whether poorly performing units are subsidized by well performing units because once again, PBL funding doesn’t necessarily track revenue in and so a unit with large enrollments and research activity may be subsidizing units with lower enrollments and less research activity within the same college. Instead, there was discussion whether an alternative funding model, one that provides an incentive for program growth and innovation, would be better suited for WSU. A PBB or ABB model — performance based budgeting or activity based budgeting — would provide funding to units based on the revenue generated. Such a model would truly incentivize units to grow, expand, and innovate. Finally, there was discussion about programs that would be susceptible to such a funding model but are critical to the universitie’s core mission. Perhaps those units could be funded using other mechanisms, such as endowments, set asides, or a dedicated state funding line.

Vote tally: 3
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