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Senate Summary | November 2023

If you missed the Academic Senate meeting on Nov. 6, 2023, or need a refresher, then keep reading for the highlights from the meeting. For more information on the Academic Senate, click here.

Debate Calendar

School of Environment, Society, and Sustainability

Phil Dennison, chair, Department of Geography, and Brett Clark, director, Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program, presented the following:

The Department of Geography and the Program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENVST) propose to merge to create the School of Environment, Society, and Sustainability within the College of Social and Behavioral Science. The school will combine the complementary strengths of and solve long-standing challenges for both existing units, feature 25 tenure-line faculty working across disciplinary boundaries at the intersection of society and the environment, and create new administrative efficiencies. All current degree programs in geography and ENVST will move unchanged into the new school.

Center for the Study of Antitrust and Consumer Protection

Mark Glick, professor of economics, and Christopher Peterson, professor of law, presented the following:

The University of Utah has had a long tradition of academic research in antitrust and consumer protection. Law professor John Flynn was a national leader in influencing antitrust policy before his death. As a result, for example, Utah is the only state in the United States with an antitrust plank in its state constitution.

John Flynn’s influence has continued at the U through others. Over the years, the economics department and the law school has hired faculty with research interests in these areas. Today we have at least five economics faculty and three law faculty who have serious research interests in antitrust and consumer protection.

In 2019, a group of these faculty sponsored a major conference in antitrust. It resulted in a new policy statement by Tim Wu, White House advisor on antitrust, called the Utah Statement.

For the next several years we have sponsored major conferences in 2020, 2021, 2022 and just a week ago in which the leaders of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, the Federal Trade Commission, state attorney generals and leading economics and law faculty have participated.

We have secured commitments for ongoing funding from major law firms and the Institute for New Economic Thinking and other funding agencies to continue our public events, and support graduate student research.

This year we started an online magazine and we already have over 60 articles.

However, our funding efforts have been hobbled by the fact of life that private and public institutions are reluctant to write checks directly to academic departments. They have asked us to obtain an institutional identity within the university. In addition, collaboration and commitment from faculty from other institutions is also easier with such an identity.

For the above reasons, we are requesting that we obtain center status within the university.

Information & Recommendation Calendar

U of U IT Privacy, Security and Compliance

Stephen Hess, chief information officer, and Corey Roach, chief information security officer presented a cybersecurity update on the university's obligation, by law, policy and action to protect private, sensitive and restrictive data entrusted to it.

Metallurgical Engineering/Materials Science and Engineering Emphases

Dmitry Bedrov, associate chair, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, presented the following:

Department of Materials Science & Engineering is proposing the following changes to the emphasis area for its programs:

  • Introduce three new emphases for the Materials Science and Engineering undergraduate program:
    • Materials for Energy
    • Biomedical Materials
    • Semiconductor Materials
  • Rename two existing emphases for the Metallurgical Engineering undergraduate program:
    • Current emphasis Biomedical Devices & Sensors renamed to Biomedical Materials
    • Current emphasis Energy Conversion & Storage rename to Materials for Energy

Proposal for Emphasis Name change: Evolutionary Anthropology to Biological Anthropology

Shawn W. Carlyle, PhD., Department of Anthropology lead advisor on the Anthropology Curriculum Committee presented the following:

Proposed emphasis name change is being requested to; 1) Clarify the sub-discipline of anthropology that the emphasis encompasses to the student population; and 2) Ensure that the title of the emphasis more accurately and precisely fits the academic discipline that the emphasis represents.

Graduate Council 7-year Reviews

Helene Shugart presented the following:

Master of Science for Secondary School Teachers Program

The MSSST is a cohort-based, content-focused degree program for secondary school science teachers is designed to deepen and enhance their knowledge of science and, accordingly, facilitate secondary school students’ understanding of and interest in STEM fields. Despite lacking a permanent home and thus stable infrastructural support across the last several years, the program has benefitted from dedicated leadership and is highly effective and popular with students, participating instructors and state and local communities, including diverse remote and underserved regions of the state since online and hybrid modalities have been incorporated. A working group of stakeholders is being convened to determine how best to support, sustain and grow the program and, accordingly, identify a suitable permanent location for it.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

This department offers degrees in Civil Engineering (B.S., M.S. and Ph.D.); Construction Engineering (B.S. and M.S.); and Nuclear Engineering (M.S. and Ph.D.). Since its last review, the department has made impressive advancements relative to research productivity, curricular design and preparing and positioning quality graduates, at all levels, for a thriving industry. To ensure continued growth in the context of this vibrant and dynamic market, the department is encouraged to strengthen its hiring and retention of talented faculty and staff; modernize its curricula as necessary to keep pace with industry innovations; continue to recruit talented students, including those from historically underrepresented populations; and work with university resources to identify and secure additional suitable laboratory and office space.