Faculty Senate brainstorms ways to improve student retention

By Noah Johnson

The Faculty Senate discussed office hour habits and student retention at the Nov. 20 meeting.

Retention was one of the highest ranked issues on a survey presented at a prior meeting.

Kendall Thu, president of the Faculty Senate, said he’s seen a pattern of fewer students coming to his office hours. He said creating a climate where all students feel comfortable meeting with faculty members is key in serving their needs.

“We don’t have to get together in my office, we can meet somewhere else, where they may feel more comfortable approaching you rather than the authoritarian air of your office,” Thu said.

Reed Schere, professor of Micropaleontology and Biostratigraphy, said that students who show up to office hours are more likely to improve.

“I think extra reaching out to the students in the beginning, encouraging them not to be afraid to come and talk to us early and often [would help],” Schere said.

Therese Arado, professor and deputy director of the Law Library, said online office hours may be a solution for students and teachers with conflicting schedules.

Decline in tenured and tenure-track faculty

The senate looked at data showing a decline in tenured and tenure-track faculty from 2014 to 2018.

Thu said the decline between this period isn’t as high as he expected.

Jim Millhorn of the University Libraries said that his department has been seeing a decline in tenured faculty since 2001.

“We all want to make tenure track faculty possible in our departments and colleges,” Thu said. “But when I rolled out my hiring plan for anthropology last time, I started out by saying, realistically, ‘This is the kind of department we should think about being going forward.’ I did refer to the historic numbers, but I didn’t use that as my primary argument.”

Arlene Ketty said it’s important to consider the faculty student ratio when considering hiring decisions.