Students allowed into December faculty meeting

After much deliberation, faculty voted to allow student representatives from the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA) and The Transcript into their December meeting.

When the student guests arrived in Merrick Hall this Dec. 7, they were greeted by signs at the stairwells and elevators asking them to remain on the first floor.

A group of three faculty members waited downstairs with the students to relay messages about their admittance. After five minutes, the president and vice president of WCSA were allowed upstairs.

It took a half hour after this announcement before the reporter for The Transcript was permitted to join them.

The controversy over student presence at faculty meetings came to a head last month when faculty voted by a narrow margin to turn away student representatives from the Nov. 16 meeting out of concerns for privacy.

In the wake of that decision, articles about the meeting, first reported on by The Transcript, appeared in the Delaware Gazette and the Columbus Dispatch.

The publication of Transcript reports on faculty meetings in the Delaware Gazette, made possible by a sharing agreement between the two papers, initiated the three-month conflict. According to a campus-wide email signed by the Governance Committee, faculty were concerned that story sharing “could inhibit the frank and open discussion necessary in order to work through contentious issues.”

Other professors, namely professor Paul Kostyu of the journalism department, disagreed. And at the Dec. 7 meeting, while the motion to admit The Transcript reporter was still on the floor, Kostyu read a statement expressing his concerns.

Kostyu argued that “meetings shouldn’t be closed just because you think something might be said that you don’t like.”

After the faculty agreed to allow all students into the meeting, Provost Chuck Stinemetz announced that President Rock Jones was delayed in San Francisco and that there would be no administrative reports.

Professor Chris Wolverton, chair of the Governance Committee and a member of the department of botany and microbiology department, made remarks about the February board of trustees meeting. He said that it would be a “critical meeting” and that some faculty members might be asked to present information on their committee to members of the board.  

Professor Dale Brugh of the chemistry department went on to present a proposed change to the wording of the faculty handbook. The amendment, which extends the deadline for those faculty applying for promotion, was approved.

Next at the podium was professor N. Kyle Smith, chair of the Academic Policy Committee and a member of the psychology department. Smith announced that his committee had approved a new math class, changes to politics and government course titles and numbers, and updates to the language of the existing academic catalog.

After a short reminder about the due date for final grades by professor Karen Poremski of the English department, the last meeting of the semester was adjourned.

Faculty shuts students out of their November meeting

In an unprecedented move, student representatives from the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA) and The Transcript were denied access to the Nov. 16 faculty meeting.

For the short period of time that students were outside Merrick Hall’s third floor meeting space, the monthly gathering of OWU faculty and staff simmered with controversy. Following the usual invocation, Provost Chuck Stinemetz moved to allow the student guests to enter the room.

After the motion was seconded, professor Bart Martin of the geology department raised his hand with a comment.

Citing the recent publication of Transcript articles in the Delaware Gazette reporting on faculty business, Martin asked that his colleagues consider barring student entry to the Monday meeting in the interest of confidentiality.

Martin’s speech was immediately condemned by an impassioned Paul Kostyu, an associate professor in the journalism department. He reminded the faculty that “we are members of the Delaware community,” and that “they have a right to know what goes on here.”

Kostyu also added that the faculty serves the students and that everything discussed at the faculty meeting “becomes public eventually.”

Professor Chris Wolverton of the botany department stood up to rebut this claim. “It is not unreasonable for faculty members to be allowed to make comments without fear of it being published in the newspaper the next day,” he argued.

As the tension grew between colleagues, one non-faculty member weighed in on the controversial motion. Deborah Peoples, head of collection services for Beeghly Library, said she supported Wolverton’s sentiment.

“I am thinking we deserve a place to air our feelings in relative safety where we are not feeling that it is going to be on the front page the next day,” Peoples said.

Peoples continued, suggesting that, “there are ways to make The Transcript widely accessible to every student and faculty member on this campus in its online form without having to make it accessible to the whole community.”

Sensing the emotion driving both sides of the argument, professor Thomas Wolber of the department of modern foreign languages noted that the issue at hand was indeed contentious.

“We have to find the right balance between transparency and valid argument,” Wolber reasoned, “but we also need to protect the integrity of the institution and the privacy of faculty.”

“I would recommend we not make a quick motion on this issue,” Wolber concluded. “I think somebody should study the issue carefully, weigh the pros and cons and come up with a decision that is rational and logical and that we can defend to the public.”

But professor Carol Neuman De Vegvar of the fine arts department objected to the idea that the faculty’s already precious time be further diminished. And if the faculty open the meeting to students, she argued, the entire Delaware community should be invited to sit in.

“Why don’t we just open the meeting to the entire township,” De Vegvar said. “Why don’t we put it on video and immediately broadcast it as it is happening. The answer is plain: we have business to do as a faculty, we admit people on vote. It is not a matter for the entire community.”

During the brief pause in debate that followed De Vegvar’s suggestion, Stinemetz interjected with a call for remaining comments. When no faculty members raised their hand, he requested a vote.

The faculty were at first asked to speak “yea” or “nay” on the motion to allow student representatives into the meeting, but with the sides being so close, a vote-by-hand was required.

After a silent minute, the motion to allow students into the faculty meeting failed.

With that announcement, Kostyu collected his coat and hat and walked out of the meeting.

As he left the building, Kostyu said his “principles prevent me from being a part of this.”

For the members of WCSA in attendance, the decision to bar their entry was a disappointment.

Junior Jessica Choate, president-elect of WCSA, hoped that her future “communication with the faculty can be open.”

Seniors Emma Drongowski, vice president of WCSA, and Jerry Lherisson, president of WCSA, reported similar feelings.

Speaking on both of their behalf, Drongowski said, “I am very disappointed that students were not granted access to the faculty meeting today. We believe that it is important for students to fully understand decisions that faculty members make, as it directly impacts us as students and as members of the OWU community. We sincerely hope that we, as students, will be included in these meetings and conversations in the future.”

WCSA needs new members

WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.
WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.

Senators hate empty seats.

At the Nov. 9 Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA) meeting, student representatives were encouraged to invite their classmates to run for student government.

By the start of the full senate, over ten positions remained unapplied for. The application to join WCSA for the next term can be found on their website and is due Nov. 13.

After some brief introductory remarks, senator Jessica Choate, a junior and chair of the residential affairs committee, introduced her “Let There Be Lights” project to the assembly.

In response to concerns about student safety, Chotae organized an early morning walk-through of the Williams Drive area to determine where street lighting could be improved upon or added to.

Choate proposed that lamp assemblies for existing lights be upgraded, LED lighting be added around Williams Drive, LED porch lighting be installed outside fraternity houses and a wall pack be mounted outside the Haycock art building.

Choate also proposed that the $6200 project be funded by WCSA’s rollover funds.

When Choate had finished making her report to the senate, WCSA’s vice president, senior Emma Drongowski, called for a vote.

The initiative passed unanimously.

OWU officially partners with Dominos

Photo courtesy of the OWU website.
Photo courtesy of the OWU website.

Students can expect one more change to Ohio Wesleyan’s food services this fall. At the Nov. 2 Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA) meeting, senators learned that Dominos has become OWU’s off-campus pizza provider.

This means that students can use their off-campus food points for Dominos delivery and takeout.

Senior Jerry Lherisson, president of WCSA, told senators that “Dominos will be checking ID numbers and photos at the door when they are delivering.”

Lherisson went on to tell senators that WCSA has a budget surplus and needs to think of ways to spend the extra money.

“We have a great deal of rollover funds,” Lherisson explained. “When clubs ask for an amount of money and they don’t use it for whatever reason, we have extra cash. Right now we have a large amount of rollover funds.”

When asked about the exact surplus figure, Lherrison and senior Emma Drongowski, vice president of WCSA, said the number hasn’t been finalized, but that it is “substantive.”

Drongowski told senators that potential projects for the surplus budget are “things that are one time costs. It’s not like a long-term program that’s being set up because we don’t have the infrastructure to sustain that kind of thing. But we’re excited to spend this money that is from students, for students.”

Lherisson made it clear that WCSA is open to input from all sources.

“If you have any specific ideas please get comment cards in,” Lherisson said.

After senators took some time to remind students about the upcoming election via social media and email, the meeting adjourned.

WCSA prepares for academic forum

WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.
WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.

Give the faculty a piece of your mind.

At the Oct. 26 Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs full senate, senior Meghan Byram invited her fellow senators and the student body as a whole to participate in this year’s academic forum.

The forum will be held on Nov. 3, at noon, in the Benes Rooms. Topics under discussion will include “online class sessions, academics in general and the way we do academic advising,” said Byram.

“This might be only one of the times that students can talk with faculty members in a formal setting” about those issues, Bryam continued. “We are trying to get as many different people as we can to come to this: different students, faculty and student groups.”

The forum will be OWU’s second.

Emma Drongowksi, a senior and vice president of WCSA, also announced that interim Dean of Students Kurt C. Holmes is forming a committee to evaluate the university’s alcohol policy.

He is “looking for some students to be a part of it. If you have strong opinions or want to learn a little more about how we deal with alcohol, you should get involved with that,” Drongowski said.

Senior Jerry Lherisson, president of WCSA, stood up to clarify his partner’s comment.

“We’re not going to have a massive overhaul on how we assess alcohol here,” Lherisson explained. “This is much more to see how we are in line with state and local laws and to see if there has been any new insights in terms of programming or support.”

After Halloween cookies were distributed, the full senate meeting was adjourned.

WCSA amends their constitution

WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.
WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.

In an effort to smooth the transition between student government administrations, the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA) amended the portion of their constitution that controls elections.

Senators unanimously passed resolution 15F07 this Monday, Oct. 19, to effect the change.

Before the resolution, chapter 5, article 44 of the WCSA constitution stated that elections should be held over three separate dates. The elections of the WCSA president and vice president, executive officers and general senators were set for the first, second and third Fridays in November, respectively.

Now, executive officers will be voted into office on the first Friday in November. General senators will elected on the second Friday in November.

The change allows WCSA to begin the new year with a fresh senate, smoothing the transition time for student representatives.

After the senators broke into brief committee meetings, another short senate came to a close.

Faculty meeting focuses on financials

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Is it financially sustainable?

That question guided discussion at the Oct. 19 faculty meeting, underlying many of the talking points on the agenda. With enrollment declining, departmental budgets have been cut, book orders for the library reduced, staff laid off, teaching positions remain unfilled, faculty and staff benefits changed and retiree benefits slashed.

President Rock Jones said he and the Board of Trustees discussed, earlier this month, ways to maintain OWU’s liberal arts core in the university’s current economic climate.

“We want to continue the conversation about the importance of our mission as a residential liberal arts institution and to discuss what strategies can help us fulfill that and whether those strategies are sustainable financially, in the 21st Century.”

“We need to be careful,” Jones warned. “If we were to have three or four years of classes that looked like the classes this fall, that would require dramatic action and would threaten our ability to fulfill our mission.”

Provost Charles Stinemetz followed Jones at the podium, and in theme. He told faculty he had been working on a project lately “to estimate the appropriate size of the faculty in relation to student enrollments.”

As hands began to raise, Stinemetz clarified, “The question is, we have a decline in enrollment, how many faculty do we need to serve those students?”

Zach Long, associate professor of English, was the first to speak after this explanation. “Where’d the idea of coming up with an appropriate number of faculty members come from? What was the origin of it?”

Long repeated the question when he wasn’t satisfied with the answers he got from Stinemetz.

Chris Wolverton, chair of the University Governance Committee and a professor of botany-microbiology, tried to help Stinemetz.

“It is the charge of the Governance Committee in the faculty handbook to look at the appropriate size of the faculty,” he said. “This initiative was taken by the Governance Committee.”

Though the investigation is only just beginning, Stinemetz said, “We are far away from having a final model or number. We have had some preliminary discussions with the committees involved, which have brought up some very good points.”

Those committees contributing are the Faculty Personnel Committee (FPC) and the Academic Policy Committee (APC). Suggestions or data generated by these bodies will eventually be reported back to the Governance Committee, Stinemetz said.

After the floor was turned over for committee reports, Wolverton elaborated on what Stinemetz introduced.

“The Governance Committee is tasked with determining the appropriate size of the faculty and administration,” Wolverton said. “So one measure taken was to assemble a working group.”

“That group met and made the recommendation to freeze open faculty positions,” said Wolverton. “That was the outcome. That was what we did.”

When asked by Randolph K. Quaye, associate professor of black world studies, if the hiring freeze is “temporary or permanent,” Wolverton suggested that it remains to be seen.

“One of the variables that has a strong impact is the size of the student body. Now we have several hundred fewer students in our student body.” But, Wolverton suggested, “I would argue that the freezing is going to be temporary.”

Wolverton stressed the importance of cooperation between committee members in making decisions about the number of faculty and administrators OWU can sustain.

“The Governance Committee wants to see a representative of our committee and APC and FPC get as many variables on the table as possible and to see how these variables interact.”

At this point, Wolverton moved to begin an executive session, a period in which all non­-voting members of those present, including The Transcript and members of WCSA, had to leave the room. Wolverton said he wanted the closed meeting so faculty would feel comfortable talking about the economic issues facing the university without their views being made public. The vote to close the meeting was not unanimous.

The closed session ended in about 30 minutes.

When N. Kyle Smith, associate professor of psychology and chair of the APC took the podium, to have faculty vote on a new course and other measures, it was discovered not enough faculty were in attendance for a quorum. As a result, faculty could not vote.

Smith announced that at the faculty’s next meeting in November, he would move for a vote to make UC160, an 0.25 unit course, a requirement of all freshmen.

“Overall, UC160 has been shown to increase the retention rate, to make students more aware of possibilities available to them and to make students more engaged with the university,” Smith said.

But many professors did not seem to share this sentiment.

Karen Fryer, professor of geology­geography, said that for high performing freshmen “who hit the ground running, they simply don’t need it.”

Carol Neuman De Vegvar, professor of fine arts, said that “before we even have a discussion about this, we need to be sent information about the class as it already exists. We don’t really have a sense of the shape of it. This needs to be widespread knowledge before we are in a position to talk about this.”

Expanding UC160 to all freshmen would require a considerable expansion of the number of sections offered, which would mean adding to the faculty workload or hiring adjuncts to teach the sections. Given a tightening budget, faculty said they we were concerned about the added cost.

Earlier in the meeting, Jones said a current goal of his administration is to focus renovation efforts on University Hall. But assessments show that the initial estimate of $10 million for the work won’t be enough to foot the bill.

“We need to put everything on the table,” Jones said. “What are the best uses of that building for the future and what is the cost of allowing that building to serve those purposes?”

Jones also announced that long­time supporters of the University, Phillip J. and Nancy Meek, both members of the class of 1959, recently pledged $10 million to added to the $10 million the Meek family has already donated to the University.

OWU’s branding platform presented to senators

WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.
WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.

After short reports by the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA) committee chairs,  Will Kopp presented OWU’s new publicity strategies to the Oct. 12 full senate.

Kopp, Ohio Wesleyan’s chief communications officer, calls the fresh approach to marketing the “OWU Branding Platform.” Changes include a major overhaul of the website, updated promotional materials sent out to prospective students and alumni and physical modifications to campus.

Facing a declining enrollment, Kopp and his office of about seven full-time staffers asked why OWU wasn’t drawing students. “Research showed that OWU was not students’ No. 1 choice,” he said. “There was no emotional connection for them. We had a lack of identity in the marketplace.”

The new identity is all about impact.

“We wanted to tell the OWU story in a bold, compelling way,” said Kopp. “It’s a crowed marketplace out there. We had to be bold, to stand out, to highlight our strengths and to differentiate us from all our competitors. We wanted to increase enrollment right now.”

Focus groups were organized and an outside branding consultant, MindPower, was called in. After only two months, the communications office settled on a theme: hunger. Kopp emphasized that this theme is encapsulated in a metaphor, not a tagline.

“OWU students are hungry,” Kopp said. “They are insatiable problem solvers, they feast on a bounty of interconnected experiences. Basically, OWU students are hungry to get involved.”

When he had reached the end of his slideshow, Kopp asked for questions. When that didn’t get any response, he asked for complaints.

Sophomore Areena Arora, chair of the academic affairs committee asked if “we are using ‘Opposite of Ordinary’ at all anymore?”

Kopp said that no, the former tagline would not be used in the future.

Senator Billy George, a senior, asked if there was “anywhere online I can find out more about the OWU connection? Because I still don’t understand it.”

Kopp said that the current website has a wealth of information about the OWU Connection and that the new website will have even more.

Senior Emma Drongowski, vice president of WCSA, asked if there had been “any response or feedback from students so far?”

“Yes,” Kopp said, “on social media it has been overwhelmingly positive. Lots of students and parents have been seen taking pictures with the new banners and putting them online. We even had one of the city managers of Delaware, whose son is starting to look at colleges, say that the OWU promotional piece they got in the mail was far better than other schools’.”

Kopp concluded his presentation–and the full senate meeting–by saying that school visits were up, a trend he hopes continues.

Constitutional amendments in the works

WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.
WCSA crest. Photo courtesy of the owu website.

A new election schedule for class representatives and executive positions, including the student body president, is being discussed by the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA).

At the Oct. 5 meeting of the full senate, senator Elizabeth Raphael, a senior, said that her campus relations committee is revising the dates and process for student elections.

“We have created a proposed timeline for elections in which elections for both executive committee and student senators will be in November, before Thanksgiving break,” Raphael said.

Raphael added that under the proposed changes, the “intent to run form will be online, eliminating paper forms. And those running for executive committee will be automatically given the option to also run for student senator elections.”

Emma Drongowski, a senior and vice president of WCSA, reminded senators that, because student elections are governed by the WCSA constitution, any changes to the process would require full senate approval.

The revised election guidelines will be presented and voted on by the senate within the month.

Chair of the academic affairs committee Areena Arora, a sophomore, announced the final date for the upcoming academic forum: Nov. 3, in the Benes rooms during the noon hour.

Before finishing the short meeting a full twenty minutes ahead of time, senators passed a resolution to approve the appointments of sophomores Ebosehon Imeokparia and Charlie Kottler to the campus technology council. The resolution was passed unanimously.

OWU celebrates new athletic facilities

The Ohio Wesleyan community came together Oct. 1 to celebrate the dedication of the new Simpson Querrey Fitness Center and re-dedication of the Edwards Gymnasium. Photo by Paul Vernon.
The Ohio Wesleyan community came together Oct. 1 to celebrate the dedication of the new Simpson Querrey Fitness Center and re-dedication of the Edwards Gymnasium. Photo by Paul Vernon.

The leaves were falling as the Bishop Band played to a gathering crowd of students, alumni, faculty and Board of Trustees members.

The whole spectrum of OWU’s community was assembled on Oct. 1 to celebrate the opening of the newly renovated Edward’s Gym and recently completed Simpson Querrey Fitness Center.

The dedication was held in front of the buildings’ fresh facades, alongside Sandusky Street. President Rock Jones took the podium early in the ceremony to explain that the school had been in talks “for more than a decade about the need for a fitness center.”

“Students need the ability to maintain good physical health,” Jones said.

But Jones also stressed how important modern athletic facilities are for OWU’s recruitment efforts. “The new Edward’s Gym and Simpson Querrey Center are a tremendous boost to the Battling Bishops’ athletics and to our ability to attract and retain the best of the best student athletes.”

Rock went on to introduce Louis A. Simpson, class of 1958, and Kimberly K. Querrey, the husband and wife team who financed the $8 million building projects.

According to an event pamphlet, Simpson majored in economics and accounting at OWU, and received a Master’s degree in economics from Princeton University, “where he has served on the faculty.”

Querrey holds a degree in mathematics, physical education and safety from West Virginia Institute of Technology and “is a member of The Woltemade Center advisory board,” according to the same document.

In his speech, Jones mentioned the campaign developed by OWU to revitalize their sports facilities and said that it was “Lou and Kim who stepped forward with their incredible commitment to allow us to move forward immediately.”

Wrapping up his speech, Jones said that Simpson and Querrey were “inspired by the opportunity to help students to live longer, more productive lives.”

When Simpson and Querrey took the stage, they reiterated much of what Jones had said. Querrey told the crowd that the modern student needs a healthy outlet now more than ever.

“We live in a society where stress is a part of life,” Querrey said. “I was told at another school that 35 percent of kids were dealing with disorders of some sort, mostly stress related. This center was built to help you learn to cope with life and issues. Hopefully you will develop some habits that help you be a productive member of society.”

The event pamphlet reports that the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center “features a 4,350 ­square-foot fitness center…with cardiovascular equipment and free weights”; “a 2,425­ square-­foot dance studio with spectator seating”; and a new department of health and human kinetics studio for “students learning how to teach health­ and fitness­related activities.”

The renovated Edward’s Gym hosts “six faculty and 35 coaches’ offices with reception areas”; “a restored second­floor basketball court, red tile roof, and skylight”; and “new locker rooms, restrooms, fire­protection systems, and elevator,” according to the same pamphlet.

Jerry Lherisson and Emma Drongowski, both seniors and the president and vice president of the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs, respectively, took the stage at the end of the ceremony to thank all those who had made the facilities possible.

Quoting an article from The Transcript, written on Feb. 28, 1906, about the original opening of Edward’s Gym, Lherisson exclaimed, “A great day, the gym at last.”

Drongowski used a more recent memory to frame her speech. She said, “Never did I think, when I was moving into my freshman residence hall, that we would have a fabulous new gym and fitness center by my senior year.”

When Jones retook the podium, he had scissors in hand. Smiling at the crowd, he said, “We have in front of me the largest ribbon I have ever seen.”

Flanked by Simpson and Querrey, Thomas Tritton, class of 1969 and chair of the board, and others, Rock helped to cut the banner reading “Mind. Body. Spirit.”

And as the ribbon fell, the alma mater rang out from the Bishop Band’s instruments.