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Faculty Council Meeting: Top Three Takeaways

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OSU President Burns Hargis watching the conference on Tuesday, September 1st, at the McKnight Center at OSU.

Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis addressed some of the “unpopular decisions” the university made in response to the pandemic during Tuesday’s Faculty Council Meeting. 

The Faculty Council Meeting, conducted on Zoom, covered myriad issues during the session.

Here are the top three takeaways: 

President Burns Hargis’ comments on pass/fail grades, virtual graduation and the cancellation of Spring Break.

To begin, Hargis noted that six-week grades are higher than they were last fall and said he was ‘happy to see that.’

He moved on to discuss the pass/fail proposition for grading this fall. 

“There is no support for that, that we’ve seen,” Hargis said. 

Provost Gary Sandefur later said he responded to the student who made the petition for a pass/fail option, citing this semester being 'much different than last semester.' He said the university will not utilize that option this fall.

Hargis then brought up the topic of virtual graduation. He said ‘theoretically, there are ways you could do it’ but he doesn’t believe bringing students and their families back after Thanksgiving would be a safe option. He said he is encouraging departments to explore having individual ceremonies. 

On beginning a week later next semester and canceling spring break, he said it was an unpopular decision but it will be the universities best chance at finishing the spring semester.

When asked if the university considered ‘wellness days’ to give students and staff a few days off during the semester in place of Spring Break, Hargis said he had not considered it, but will look into it.

“We are required to have a certain amount of school days by the Board of Regents,” Hargis said.

Director of Housing and Residential Life, Leon McClinton, discussed a Martin Luther King Jr. spring celebration.

McClinton presented a tentative schedule for a MLK week celebration during the first week of school in the spring.

On Jan. 18, a day of service is planned. McClinton said the organizers are looking into options for face-to-face service and are considering possibilities for students to participate virtually.

Jan. 19 will have a MLK virtual keynote address by Brandy Wells. An on-campus march during the “lunch-hour” on Jan. 21. The celebration will also involve an art contest, as well as an essay contest, with a scholarship prize.

McClinton said the organizers are still working on the scholarship amount and funding source, but he wants to have the program finalized by the end of the month.

Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance, Joe Weaver said, “we are doing fine,” in regards to COVID-19 cases in Stillwater.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Douglas Hallenbeck, said the number of active cases in Stillwater is below 200 this week, for which he commended students, staff and faculty.

Weaver said, in regards to ICU bed capacity, while Stillwater Medical Center was near capacity recently, “we are no longer diverting people to other locations.” He said SMC is accepting patients from outside the region, as well.

Hallenback touched on the random testing on-campus and said he didn't have the official results but the university saw students responding at “about a 20% rate.”