The university senate approved the academic continuity plan despite an opinion from the University of Oregon’s Office of General Counsel that concluded UO President Michael Schill has the power to override the policy.
The academic continuity plan aims to establish a protocol that puts faculty — not administrators — in charge of emergency grades in the event of a significant academic disruption. The policy received criticism from the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation because it compared the possibility of a GTFF strike to a natural disaster; however, the policy’s language was later updated to no longer include a strike as an example.
“Last meeting President Schill claimed he believed he had the authority from Oregon law to overrule the academic council if they failed to offer emergency grading,” Senate President Bill Harbaugh said. “We hadn’t thought of this previously, and President Schill wanted us to make an informed vote.”
Schill tasked the GCO with legally evaluating his right over the policy on April 9, the day before the senate was originally scheduled to vote on it. Harbaugh postponed the senate’s vote to this week so senators could make an informed decision.
The GCO completed its evaluation of the proposed policy last Wednesday and concluded that legally, President Schill would have ultimate control to award emergency grades.
Despite the GCO’s opinion, the senate decided not to add amendments or change the policy itself. However, the senate did add a clause to the motion that acknowledged the senate received and understood the GCO’s opinion.
Provost Jayanth Banavar spoke at the senate meeting and commended the academic council for their hard work in creating the policy.
“It’s really nice that the faculty are taking the control of how to care for the well being of students and come up with ways in which the students will be able to receive grades in a timely fashion and not lose financial aid if something happens,” Banavar said.