The University of Idaho’s first-to-second-year retention rate rose from 77 to 82 percent this year, said UI President Chuck Staben. Staben spoke optimistically about retention and enrollment and said the number of applications the university is receiving is increasing at the second University of Idaho faculty meeting Wednesday.
UI Faculty Senate Chair Patrick Hrdlicka gave an overview of the senate’s activity this semester. including recent revisions to the student disciplinary student process and the creation of the new Student Conduct Board. Hrdlicka said President Staben has already enacted these changes on an emergency basis.
Hrdlicka also elaborated on the changes to the faculty handbook regarding campus recreation and the annual evaluation assessment forms. Hrdlicka described how the changes were made to the assessment forms to fit the new narrative style the university is pursuing with the forms.
Student evaluations of classes and instructors also became a topic of conversation when associate professor of journalism Kenton Bird proposed extending the deadline for evaluations until after finals are completed. Bird said he believes the current deadline comes at a time when students are too busy with papers and projects to give the evaluations the time and meaningful thought they require. He also said that extending the deadline would raise the response rate.
President Staben thanked Hrdlicka and other faculty members on the Faculty Compensation task force, as well as the Faculty Senate in general, for their work this semester. Staben said that he believes there is still room for more input regarding faculty compensation.
Staben said he believed the budget surplus that the state is likely to have should be invested in programs like higher education, but that he believes the election year means some members of the legislature seeking re-election will be seeking further tax cuts.
Staben and General Counsel Kent Nelson also spoke when asked about what students, faculty, staff and alumni can do to advocate for UI’s agenda when it comes to the state legislature. Staben and Nelson responded by saying that, as private citizens, employees and students are free to engage with state legislators how they see fit, but should be clear they are not officially representing or speaking for the university.
Staben also commented on the H.R.1 tax bill, which NPR reports will count graduate students’ tuition waivers as taxable income, and said that if it passes, it will increase graduate tuition for some universities and make graduate research more expensive.
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