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Thursday, June 20, 2024

UF Faculty Senate resolves shared governance proposal, discusses construction of unisex bathrooms

The shared governance resolution was passed unanimously

The UF Faculty Senate discussed recent bathroom legislation, resolved the shared governance proposal and proposed the closure of several degree programs Nov. 16.

The shared governance resolution was originally proposed Oct. 19. It promotes the collaboration of university faculty, staff and students in decision and policy making at UF.

UF Faculty Senate Chair Danaya Wright said Nov. 16 the resolution “has three pieces to it.”

“One is that the Senate Chair will task the faculty councils to review shared governance,” she said. “Second, that President Sasse will also direct the deans and directors to work with their faculty in doing a reassessment of shared governance, and that the Board of Trustees will reaffirm the importance of shared governance.”

The resolution was voted on and passed unanimously with no discussion.

Angela Lindner, associate provost for undergraduate affairs, proposed terminating the bachelor of science in horticultural science from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The horticultural science and plant science programs merged during Summer 2023, and the proposed closure wouldn’t cause the removal of any horticulture courses, she said.

“Students can graduate from the revised plant science major meeting the same student learning outcomes of the current horticultural science major,” Lindner said. “The collaborative merge is anticipated to increase the number of plant science majors while also increasing the number of students who enroll in horticulture courses.”

No faculty would be removed from the horticultural sciences department, nor would horticulture students get off track due to the termination, she said.

“Students currently enrolled in the horticultural science major will be given the choice,” Lindner said. “They can continue in the major with their degrees in horticulture science or they can jump over to this new plant science major.”

Two master’s degree programs from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were also proposed for closure at the meeting.

Tom Kelleher, graduate school associate dean for academic affairs, submitted the proposal for removing the Masters of Arts programs with majors in religion and classical studies because of low enrollment, he said.

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The religion major’s master’s program saw minimal enrollment, he said.

“In this particular program, there’s actually no students so they have boosted both a termination term and a phase out term of Spring 2024,” Kelleher said.

Faculty members also discussed unisex bathrooms in wake of a new state regulation regarding bathroom use.

David Kratzer, senior vice president for construction, facilities and auxiliary operations, introduced multiple construction plans for campus. 

His list included the recently constructed Malachowsky Hall, the completion of the Honors Village and the addition of more unisex bathrooms on campus.

While a map of unisex bathrooms at UF can be found on the online campus map, they aren’t always accessible or available, Kratzer said.

“There is no doubt we need additional unisex and ADA compliant bathroom space on this campus,” he said.

However, due to the large number of old buildings with outdated facilities or a lack of unisex bathrooms, their construction may be a never ending process, he said.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that bathrooms are kind of like parking,” he said. “I don’t know that we’re ever going to have enough. But we’re gonna try.”

Jamie Garner, a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences senator, said the new regulations could increase discrimination toward LGBTQ+ students and faculty and create a harmful campus environment. 

“These policies are dangerous and have the very real possibility of doing significant harm to the transgender students and faculty already here,” she said at the meeting. “It can force us to leave and to deter future transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students and faculty from coming to the university.”

UF President Ben Sasse made an appearance toward the end of the meeting to deliver a brief report. 

The university had reached an agreement with the faculty union, and will see salary increases, Sasse said.

“The merit salary increase will be 3.2% for 2023-2024, which is almost exactly in line with our non-union folks,” he said. “The specific merit increase awarded to each faculty member will be from a merit pool that will be determined in accordance with established qualifying criteria at the unit level.”

Sasse also delivered an update regarding the strategic funding initiative. UF receives a large amount of public funding and, through a new round of strategic funding, it is being targeted at “advancing student experience” and “trying to drive more interdisciplinary research across the university,” he said.

He finished by emphasizing his vision for diversifying core curriculum requirements, which he has previously vouched for, and creating a “common experience” for all UF students.

“When we talk about the core, we should be talking about a shared experience,” he said. “We ought to come to a subject asking … ‘What small number of classes, questions and topics do we think all Gators actually have in common?’”

Contact Bailey Diem at Follow her on Twitter @BaileyDiem.

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Bailey Diem

Bailey Diem is a first-year journalism major and a metro general assignment reporter for The Alligator. When not reporting, Bailey can be found playing guitar or getting lost in a book.

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