Carver and Helgeson hear faculty concerns

Most students probably do not realize that their professors are being observed and evaluated by more than the student evaluations and comments left on RateMyProfessor.

Changes are coming to UTM for the way teachers are evaluated. During the general faculty meeting held Thursday, Oct. 19, Chancellor Keith Carver and Interim Provost Dr. Rich Helgeson outlined some upcoming changes and offered insight on proposed legislation, as well as took questions from UTM faculty.

Carver spoke first. He discussed the progress UTM has made in enrollment, noting that as of Wednesday, Oct. 18, UTM had received 4,300 applications for the fall 2018 semester and had processed and admitted 1,700 students. Carver added that the admissions office had to hire someone part-time to help process paperwork.

Carver said that aggressive recruiting measures have been used all across the board, using new technology to reach a younger audience, and that faculty should keep an eye out for welcoming prospective students during their tours so they feel at home.

Carver also announced that he is piloting a program at Westview High School, where he has offered to buy the entire senior class a sundae bar, out of his own pocket, if every one of the seniors will fill out a FAFSA. This is not in concordance for them applying to Martin or even applying to college, only for filling out the FAFSA.

Carver told attendees that he and other admissions counselors have gone to local high schools and held what he calls “FAFSA Nights,” where administrators and staff help families understand how to fill out FAFSA. This service is also not college specific; it is only intended to help students and families with the forms.

Students who attended the first listening session, expressed concerns about proposed gun legislation in Tennessee. This concern is not only among students, as Carver made it a point to remind faculty to keep an eye on possible gun legislation. He said that the legislature will have bills filed in January and he can further address any questions at that later time.

Though Carver was accepting questions, the question of whether UTM will opt in for outsourcing is still unknown. Carver talked about the efficiency and dedication of the current staff, but said he will not release his decision to the staff or students until it is made public, at the same time as the other UT schools, on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Helgeson’s entire presentation outlined changes that are being discussed in the evaluation system for professors. He reminded staff in attendance that UTM was not adopting a new tenure and promotion system. The administration is, however, seeking to make the evaluation process consistent across all departments, disciplines and colleges.

The development of this new evaluation system includes a committee system and hard numbers for accurate data for all faculty members. The data will support criteria for teaching, service and scholarship.

Each department sent two faculty members to a workshop on Sept. 23, with an expert in evaluation. Those departments are now expected to have their work submitted by Oct. 30. After this work is finalized by Thanksgiving, the new system should be in place by summer 2018.

Faculty Senate President Chris Caldwell closed the meeting by asking if staff liked this type of session and would be interested in it for future endeavors.

For questions regarding the current faculty handbook, refer to https://www.utm.edu/departments/acadaff/_docs/fachbook.pdf or view the senate minutes which are posted online in the archives. For questions regarding new measures, contact the project coordinator, Dr. Julie Hill, or Interim Provost Rich Helgeson.

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