Interim provost announces external Honors Program investigation at Academic Senate

At the final Academic Senate meeting of the 2021-2022 academic year, Interim Provost Richard Rothaus announced there will be an external investigation into Central Michigan University's Honors Program. 

On April 14, members of the Honors Program community received a report of findings from a long-awaited examination into the program. Rothaus said that after individuals came forward with concerns at university-wide public meetings, it has "motivated others to come forward with concerns."  

"These include significant ethical and behavioral allegations involving faculty, staff and students," Rothaus said. "To be clear, these are beyond the scope of the administrative policies and practices already reviewed by CMU's objective examiners."

The allegations, which will be investigated externally, came after the release of the initial report, Rothaus said.  

Rothaus did not provide further details on who shared the allegations or what the allegations are. The upcoming investigation, he said, will postpone any town hall discussions about the honors program until after the findings are shared.

The senate also approved a proposal to address issues within the Honors Program. The proposal cited issues with following required processes and problems with the Honors Council's meeting minutes.

According to the proposal, delays in submitting Honors Council meeting minutes resulted in changes being made without the senate's awareness. The Honors Council cannot make changes to the program without the senate's approval.

There are two parts to the proposal: 

1. The senate chair will create a committee to investigate changes made to the Honors Program. The committee will report their findings to the senate's executive board by Nov. 8, 2022.

2. For at least two years, a representative of the senate's executive board will be appointed to the Honors Council to "facilitate timely compliance with the requirements and limitations of the charge of the Honors Council and Honors Program."   

Other news 

The senate continued an ongoing discussion about changes to CMU's end of course survey. One of the main goals of the changes, which were created by the Student Evaluation of Teaching Committee, are to reduce possibilities for bias in student responses. 

Senator Tracy Collins said the survey's questions are vague because they have to apply to every course. Senator Martha Frank said departments should be allowed to make their own surveys so the questions can be more specific to their students.

"(The survey) is so vague," Frank said. "I don't see how we're going to get any useful information out of it." 

The discussion about the new survey will continue in the Fall 2022 semester. Before senators vote on the final proposed survey, faculty leaders will hold an open forum for discussion and questions. 

The senate also passed a proposal which will give graduating LGBTQ students the option to wear pins and lavender cords at commencement ceremonies.

Members of CMU's chapter of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (oSTEM) submitted the request to the senate. Any graduate who participated in an LGBTQ or gender equity organization is eligible to wear the regalia. The requests for cords will be handled by oSTEM. The national oSTEM organization will pay for the pins for members.

The request also said that oSTEM members will volunteer to host CMU's first Lavender Graduation, a celebration of LGBTQ+ students which some universities in Michigan already host annually. More information about the event can be found on oSTEM's Instragram page.

Academic Senate meetings are held at 3:30 p.m. bi-weekly on Tuesdays in the French Auditorium. Livestream and recording links can be found on the senate website.