During its last meeting of the semester, the Penn State Faculty Senate withdrew a resolution that, if passed, would have expressed the Senate’s support for Penn State President Rodney Erickson and the Board of Trustees. The resolution was withdrawn citing lack of support.
Other topics discussed during the meeting included progress of former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s report recommendations, the Faculty Partner Program and Penn State’s alcohol initiatives.
President Rodney Erickson spoke about the progress Penn State has made over the past year and the need for continuous improvements.
“As of Monday we have completed 61 Freeh Report recommendations, and our goal is to have all completed by the end of 2013,” Erickson said.
Faculty Senate members expressed their concerns to Erickson about the university’s payment plans of the expenses resulting from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.
Erickson said some of the expenses will take a number of years to pay off, but a university the size of Penn State has reserves that are being used to help pay for the expenses. These reserves would have otherwise been used for building renovations and similar improvements to the university, Erickson said.
The final point Erickson made at the meeting was the importance of diversity within the university moving forward.
“We must strive on diversity, we must celebrate it and we must double our efforts here at Penn State to make everyone feel welcome,” Erickson said.
The meeting also included two presentations on the faculty partner program and Penn State’s alcohol initiatives.
Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims gave a presentation that focused on improving Penn State’s alcohol initiatives.
The presentation compared student-drinking habits from 2007 to 2011 and showed the number of students drinking has gone down, but not a significant amount.
“Binge drinking remains a deep cause for concern for the university,” Sims said.
Faculty members pointed out the relationship between heavy drinking at Penn State and the rising number of sexual assaults reported recently.
Fifteen sexual assaults have been reported to area police since Aug. 27.
Sims said the two issues, drinking and sexual assault, are inexplicably linked and the university has become aware of the attention it needs to put on lowering heavy drinking.
“Alcohol has a direct impact on the number of sexual and other types of assaults being reported,” Sims added.
The faculty partner program was also discussed during the Senate meeting.
“The faculty partner program is designed to bridge the gap between student athletes and faculty members by having a faculty senator involved with a Penn State sports team,” Linda Clark, Faculty Senator and faculty partner with the men’s tennis team, said.
The program encourages faculty members to attend games, practices and act as a resource to student athletes and coaches of the team they’re paired with.
During the meeting, faculty senators suggested that the faculty partner program includes students who aren’t athletes, but who are involved in the university in other ways or who work part time jobs.
Clark said the suggestions of taking the program and making it available to other areas is something she agrees with and would like to see happen.
Penn State Faculty Senate’s first meeting of the spring 2013 semester will be held Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 1:30 p.m. in the Kern Graduate Building.