UAS looks on past success, future improvement

Lizzy Balboa

Grand Valley State University relies on a number of councils that work to make sure the campus runs smoothly and remains up-to-date. One of these assemblies is the University Academic Senate, which involves administrators and faculty representatives from departments around campus who wish to have a voice in the future of the university.

During the 2011-2012 school year, the UAS celebrated a number of achievements, including the establishment of a religious studies program, recommendation to the Provost to accept the General Education program, cancellation of classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and reduction of the number of personnel reviews professors must undergo before being considered for tenure.

“I’ve heard from many individuals (students, faculty, and deans alike) that last year was a very productive year for us in terms of making impactful recommendations to the provost which allows our university to grow and become an even better place to learn and work,” said Figen Mekik, UAS chair.

Mekik added that the UAS worked effectively as a group and experienced minimal inner-group conflict, and her vice chair, Cory DiCarlo, agreed.

“There were many times that people were on either side of an issue, but that is expected and beneficial,” DiCarlo said. “Even though we all have ideas as different as the subjects we individually teach, the overarching goal of the senate is to continue to shape a university dedicated to providing the best possible education for the students who attend. Every decision starts and ends with this criteria.”

Although they said group maintenance is hardly an issue, the vice chair said the UAS will experience some internal changes to work more efficiently.

One adjustment for the new year is a transition to include more online evaluation of UAS documents requiring multi-group reviews. The online process will allow for more streamlined editing and revision by groups within the senate, thereby providing the council more time to address more important issues.

These topics include the possibility of a fall break similar to ‘spring break,’ which was brought to the UAS by the Student Senate and would put GVSU in line with many other public institutions; the review of new program proposals, like an LGBTQ minor and new health science program; and the possible revision of Advanced Placement score levels.

In all, the UAS has about 40 to 50 main changes to work on this school year, DiCarlo said.

As the faculty council looks on its long list of discussion points for the year, it is also working to develop its own annual goals.

Mekik said one of the biggest objectives at this time is to implement the new General Education program and better define the expectations for faculty.

“We hope to see a more diverse and inclusive campus with a strong emphasis on liberal education,” Mekik said. “We also hope to see our many new programs, both undergraduate and graduate, flourish.”

Jon Jellema, associate vice president of academic affairs, said the UAS and its members can be proud of their achievements from last year, but Mekik will not rest complacent.

“There is always room for improvement,” she said. “The biggest improvement would be more engagement from faculty and students in issues [the] senate takes up. Everyone is welcome to our meetings, and not only is external input valued at the senate, often times it is necessary. So please get involved.”

For a complete list of UAS meeting times, visit, click on the Executive Committee and University Academic Senate, and select this year’s schedule.

[email protected]