Michigan Tech University Senate considers new programs
The Michigan Technological University Senate elected new officers at its biweekly meeting Wednesday evening and discussed a nursing program that is being launched in September.
Robert Hutchinson, a professor in Tech’s College of Business, was elected senate president. Vice president will be Paige Short, associate director of operations in the office of the vice president for diversity and inclusion, and secretary is Radwin Askari, associate professor in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.
Provost Andrew Storer gave the Senate a pat on the back for helping the university pull together the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program quickly. The new program is designed to fill the gap left by the closing of Finlandia University and loss of its nursing program.
“I applaud the Senate for helping us put this together in record time,” Storer said. “Michigan Tech is part of the local community, and this is really an important thing for the local community.”
The four-year BSN program will address a critical need for baccalaureate-degree nurses locally and nationwide. It will also prepare students to go on to a graduate degree in nursing.
The curriculum integrates courses in the humanities, social, biological, and natural sciences with the theory and practice of nursing. The curriculum will remain essentially the same as it was while operated by Finlandia, with some minor changes to incorporate Michigan Tech’s existing, non-nursing courses and general education program.
Tech has applied for the necessary accreditation and licensure, hired faculty and enrolled Finlandia’s nursing students. Some Tech students have also expressed interest in changing their majors to nursing. Enrollment is expected to be 20 to 30 students.
The Senate will vote on the nursing program proposal at its next meeting on April 19. Resolutions are presented to the Senate for discussion at one meeting and voted on at the next meeting. The goal is to present the program to Michigan Tech’s Board of Trustees at its April 28 meeting.
Senators engaged in a spirited discussion of a proposal to revise the university’s educational requirements for a bachelor’s degree, changing the existing general education requirements to a program called essential education.
According to the proposal, essential education is intended to develop students who can lead inclusively, communicate with a wide range of audiences, learn collaboratively and use their technical skills with agility in addressing complex problems.
A number of teams have been working on developing the new program for four years, said Paul Bergstrom, chair of the Senate’s curricular policy committee.
Students will be expected to complete 37 credits in fields including English, humanities and fine arts, natural sciences and math.
One senator expressed a strong objection to what he called the new curriculum’s focus on diversity and inclusion.
After a long and sometimes heated discussion, the Senate approved the essential education proposal. They also approved a proposal for a Bachelor of Science degree in data science, as well as proposals to update and amend their bylaws and the university senate constitution.
Proposals presented for discussion only, to be voted on at the next senate meeting, included:
A revised academic calendar for 2024-25 and 2025-26.
Shelving a graduate certificate program in sustainable water resources systems, which has had no students in several years.
Establishing an Associate of Science in Engineering degree, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Data Science, a Master of Science in Applied Computer Science, and graduate certificates in public health informatics and foundations of health informatics.
Modifying procedures for evaluation and balloting for department chairs and searches for department chairs and deans.
A resolution was presented calling for the minimum wage for university employees to be increased to $17 an hour. Senate resolutions are advisory only and not binding.
Patrice Cobin, co-chair of the senate’s fringe benefits committee, reported on a Husky Health program survey. The survey was conducted in response to a call to simplify the program. Cobin said that a large majority of the 661 respondents preferred health savings accounts and two-thirds were comfortable sharing their information. The current Husky Health program rewards but doesn’t incentivize, she said.