Child care options and online evaluations subjects of Faculty Senate meeting

Editor’s note: This article was revised for accuracy and clarification at 12:40 p.m. March 8.

Faculty Senate members announced Thursday that the university will sponsor child care services for faculty and staff, and one member revisited the possibility of online teacher evaluations during a meeting.

Provost Nowell Donovan said an agreement with Camp Fire USA to provide child care options for faculty and staff has been finalized. Via this partnership, a three-year pilot program, Camp Fire USA would refer university members to local, affordable child care providers.

Also at the meeting, Judy Groulx, associate professor of educational psychology, assessment and research in the College of Education, presented the possibility of online Student Perception of Teaching evaluations, also known as SPOT evaluations, and what it would mean for faculty. She said the online system would provide faster response rates from students and provide customized information options. On the downside, Groulx said, such a system might lead to decreased response rates and uncertainty regarding who would be completing online questionnaires.

Assistant professor of mathematics Greg Friedman agreed with Groulx about a potential dip in student response with an online system, but suggested students be required to fill out surveys before accessing their final course grades.

According to a 2007 Skiff article, the senate’s faculty evaluation committee launched an online SPOT evaluation pilot program that year to poor student response. In the trial run of 200 courses, about 40 percent of students submitted evaluations and several cited lack of motivation as the cause of their failure to respond.

The Faculty Senate decided to postpone discussion on the topic until another meeting.

Another item Faculty Senate members discussed were the future of the faculty-funded Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship. The 28-year-old scholarship, originally intended for racial minorities, is meant to help low-income students who are committed to public service.

Andy Fort, professor of religion, said the scholarship committee is trying to obtain more financial support from faculty in order for the scholarship to continue. If faculty do not contribute, the scholarship could end, Fort said.

Other business discussed at the meeting included this year’s application numbers. Donovan said there has been an increase in applicants to the university for the fall 2010 semester. He said 13,538 applicants have applied so far, up from about 11,000 applicants this time last year.