University Senate appoints new VP, hands out awards at last meeting of the year

The University Senate unanimously elected Elizabeth Skowron as its new vice president and awarded faculty, staff and students for serving the university community at its last meeting of the academic year. Skowron is new VP Elizabeth Skowron, a professor in the College of Education, ran unopposed for vice president of …

The university senate postponed its vote on the academic continuity plan in order to assess University of Oregon President Michael Schill’s power to overrule the plan at its meeting last Wednesday.

The plan aims to set up a protocol that ensures faculty are the ones to award grades in the event of an emergency — not administrators. Senate president Bill Harbaugh said that faculty should be the ones to grade students because they are the ones teaching and evaluating them.

“Our academic creditors and general history require that faculty are in control of grading,” Harbaugh said.

Last Tuesday, the day before the senate was scheduled to vote on the policy, Schill tasked the General Counsel’s Office with legally evaluating his ability to award emergency grades within the proposed plan and informed the senate of his evaluation.

“Schill said that he believed it was likely that under state law and the board of trustees policy that he would be able to override faculty under the academic policy,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh made the decision to postpone the senate vote until the next meeting on April 24. The senate reached out to the university General Counsel Office to hear its opinion of the legislation.

“My understanding from President Schill’s statement to the Senate is that he has asked the GCO for an opinion on what his powers to award emergency grades would be under this policy,” Harbaugh said.

Depending on what the GCO says, the senate may choose to add an amendment to the legislation. Harbaugh said he thinks the policy is strong but wants to hear the GCO’s opinion before proceeding.

“It’s quite possible that there will be no need for an amendment. This is still going to be the best policy. But I don’t know what [the GCO’s] opinion is going to be,” Harbaugh said.

The academic council of the senate, which created the academic continuity policy, will discuss the situation at its meeting next Monday. 

Harbaugh said he wants to ensure the senate knows exactly what it is voting on before the policy is brought to a vote.

The policy was criticized by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation for including graduate employee strikes as a potential emergency in the earlier drafts of the policy; however, that language was later removed from the draft.

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