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The Blue & Gray Press | August 18, 2019

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Changes proposed for military students, divest supporters

Changes proposed for military students, divest supporters


The University Faculty Council and the Board of Visitors Executive Committee met on Thursday, Oct 22, to discuss several topics which directly relate to the student body.The council’s reports to the BOV are hardly new, but the meeting between the BOV Executive Committee and the other officials of the University Faculty Council outside of Rao only takes place once a semester.

The University Faculty Council officers include Anand Rao, chair of the council and associate professor of communication, Kristin Marsh, vice chair and associate professor of sociology and anthropology, Ken Machande, secretary and associate professor and associate dean of the College of Business and were joined by Marie Sheckels, who represented the College of Education.

Adjustments in the catalogs for military students facing short-term absences and changes for student admissions into the MBA program were proposed to the University Faculty Council by the University Academic Affairs Committee, another committee made up of UMW faculty. The third issue, a possible resolution for the UMW Foundation to divest from investments tied to fossil fuels, was submitted by faculty members.

The University Faculty Council then presented the actions of their council to the BOV Executive Committee, according to a report created by Rao for the meeting.

The University Academic Affairs Committee proposed new policy to short-term military absences, including changes in the Incomplete Grades policy and more accessible language in the graduate catalog to better assist military service members with choosing courses.

Though these students may have to leave for a short time during the semester, these changes will make it easier for them to attend UMW while being in the military.

The proposal was tabled to the next University Faculty Council meeting, as the group did not have the time to decide on the the issue concerning admissions changes to the MBA program, if enacted, could make things a little easier for students interested in mastering in Business Administration as long as they have the work experience. In this case work experience would be preferred over test grades.

These updates would take place in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog, the Graduate Academic Catalog and the Academic Procedures Directory.

The University Academic Affairs Committee further proposed that the College of Business grant waivers to students who have relevant work experience in their field of study over having to take the GMAT or GRE as admission requirement for some of the College of Business’ MBA programs.

This move was proposed in part due to similar programs taking place at other universities in Virginia, including Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University, George Mason University and Shenandoah University. This motion was passed during the meeting.

Getting the UMW Foundations to divest from monetary investments in fossil fuels was another issue in the University Faculty Council’s report to the Executive Committee. This section could pertain to students and student groups who believe in the university’s divestment from companies supporting fossil fuels. The issue did not end up being discussed at the University Faculty Council meeting, instead tabled for later discussion.

For, earlier this week, members of Divest UMW hung a banner from the upper floor outside the University Center, which read: “Climate change kills 400,000 people each year. UMW currently profits off of this devastation. Students: will you act on climate justice?”

In support, faculty members submitted a motion including a non-binding resolution, which encourages the UMW Foundation to break apart from corporations who support fossil fuels. The resolution was distributed, but withdrawn from vote during the meeting, in order to give the President’s Council on Sustainability time to complete a report and recommendations on divestment.

Another item in the early stages of discussion is a possible change in course model. The alternative course model, according to Rao, could change the number of credits per course. The university has spoken with colleges who have similar models, and have weighed the pros and cons of the model. If passed, Rao said it may allow students to take fewer classes, but give students more time to invest in their classes and to learn from them.

“It’s still early in that discussion,” Rao said about the alternative course model, “and we plan to continue this discussion at future meetings.”

The University Faculty Council’s meeting with the Executive Committee acted as more of a working meeting, as the Executive Committee was building their agenda for next month. According to Rao, the purpose of the University Faculty Council is to provide a place where faculty members can communicate and address issues that are prevalent to UMW’s faculty as a whole, then present these issues to the President, the provost and to members of the BOV.

The next UFC meeting will take place Monday, Nov. 23. Rao will give the faculty representative’s report during the academic portion of the next BOV meeting scheduled for Friday. Nov 20.