Faculty Council discusses Election Day, posthumous degrees at first meeting of the quarter


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

In their first meeting of the new school year, DePaul Faculty Council discussed a variety of motions, including the passing of Election Day as a university-wide holiday Wednesday afternoon. 

The meeting was held virtually over Zoom in order to abide by COVID-19 social distance guidelines.

President Scott Paeth summarized the actions of Faculty Council and Faculty Council Executive Committee over the summer and allotted time for Q&A for library operations and the software FAC 180. 


Election day debate 

Part of the meeting’s agenda was to settle on the motion to have Election Day, Nov. 3, as a university wide holiday. This is contradictory to  an earlier statement from Gov. J.B. Pritzker , making Election Day a state-wide holiday for Illinois in June. There were mixed reactions from the council on whether to pass this motion. Some members like Jose Soltero, from DePaul’s Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department felt the holiday is important because he said most
“Young” people are not inclined to vote.

“They [students] have to be motivated to vote,” Soltero said.

Others professors like Jalene LaMontagne, an associate professor of Ecology at DePaul said she has already worked the holiday into her curriculum. 

“I already gave this [the holiday] consideration into the class schedule,” LaMontagne said. 

Even though DePaul is not a part of the universities who are exempt from voting —as it’s not governed by the State Universities Civil Service Act— members in the council said making  Election Day a university-wide holiday would interfere with the scheduled curriculum. 

“It seems late in the game,” said Peg Birmingham, a professor from DePaul’s Liberal Arts and Social Sciences “We’ve already started the quarter.” 

Interim Provost Salma Ghanem also added that making this a holiday would disturb accreditation and the amount of hours students need to get with their professors. Ghanem suggested switching another holiday to substitute. 

“If we replace one hour with another, that would be easier to do,” Ghanem said. 

However, given Pritzker’s earlier announcement, some professors already considered that in their curriculum. 

Others also mentioned that it’s a part of DePaul’s mission since it’s an act of service. However, others argued that it is easier to vote this year due to the amount of asynchronous classes and more voting by mail. 

After a close decision, the motion failed with 16 opposed 11 in favor and five abstained. However, Paeth said in the Zoom chat that the holiday can be taken into consideration for the future. 


Service work over the summer

Faculty Council also discussed the implications of how much service or work is expected by faculty to be done over the summer. 

Jose Soltero, who sponsored the motion, explained that he passed the motion due to more requests for work over the summer from deans of colleges and chairs of departments for more service, excluding expected planning, to be done. However, this work isn’t necessarily reflected in how much they end up getting paid. 

“It’s always very difficult to say no [to these supervisors] because you’re afraid of the implications,” Soltero said. 

Yet, members of the council were confused by the wording of the motion as it is inevitable for teachers to be doing work over the summer as they have to prepare for the fall. 

“We all do preparatory work to teach,” said Kelly Kessler, secretary of Faculty Council. 

Kessler and other members resolved to change the wording of the motion to have it refer to only service and not work and to add the clarification of the faculty’s 12-month contract. 

After being reworded, the motion was passed. 


Posthumous degree proposal

Another motion was settled on how to handle the posthumous degree proposal. 

“We weren’t in line with other institutions,” said Kristina Fluty, who sponsored this motion and the motion for Election Day as a holiday. 

“We don’t award a lot of posthumous degrees,” said Michael Wright. 

However, Fluty and Wright proposed that if a deceased student completes 75 percent of their coursework, that they should be eligible for a degree. If not, they should still gain a certificate. The motion was passed. 

Yet, a motion regarding the fulfillment of vacant positions, was pushed back to a future meeting as it needs to clarify implications for different types of positions. 


Phased library reopening 

Following these motions were Q&A that Paeth gave the floor to experts around the reopening of libraries on both campuses and around the software FAC 180. Currently, there are seven open positions. 

Robert Karpinski and staff from the library also explained their reopening plan, where it is currently in the second phase. 

John T. Richardson Library re-opened Aug.24, as phase two of their plan began. Here, current remote services are continuing, book drops are open, document delivery and digitization of DVDs and full scanning services and course reserves have resumed. Its hours of operation are on Wednesdays from 10 a.m- 2 p.m and Thursdays from 2 p.m to 6 p.m.

Phase three will take place on Sept. 21, with the Loop’s library opening its doors from 12-4 p.m on Mondays and Wednesdays, only for pickup service. More information is available on DePaul’s COVID-19 and DePaul Library Services Homepage.

“I’m deeply appreciative of all the library does,” said Paeth. “When it comes to research they’re [librarians] you’re best friends on earth.”

Gian Mario Besana, the associate provost for global engagement and online learning discussed the FAC 180 software. 

“The system is highly customizable,” Besana said. 

Besana explained how it manages tenure, hiring and more. Though there are still concerns over its privacy and how to properly work it. 

Besana said that all colleges were consulted in its development, however, more discussion will take place soon. 

 Only members of the Faculty Council were allowed to vote on the motion, despite non-members also being in attendance.