Faculty Senate meeting was ‘welcomed change of pace’

Sara Topliff, Reporter

The recent California Lutheran University Faculty Senate meeting featured a presentation from Director of Health Services Saul Miller and Director of Student Life Andrea Layne, who spoke about updates on the new health and wellness fee. Other presenters included Associated Students of California Lutheran University President Greg Pimentel, who presented on the student senate and wanting to create connections between the two senates, and Dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies Lisa Buono, who discussed the changes to the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program. 

Sheridan Wigginton, professor of Spanish and Latin American studies and member of the Faculty Senate as senator of the Humanities Division, said the meeting on Monday, March 13 was “a welcomed change of pace.” 

“It was really positive to see some initiatives that are going to directly benefit the students,” Wigginton said. 

During the meeting, Miller and Layne introduced a digital platform for students that focuses on both physical and mental health and that will be implemented with the new health and wellness fee. 

“The big thing that we’re gonna be really doing with this fee is partnering with TimelyMD…They’re gonna be offering a continuity of care,” Miller said during the presentation.

According to Layne and Miller’s presentation, TimelyMD offers 24/7 access to mental health crisis lines, 24/7 access to medical urgent care visits and 12 scheduled counseling sessions per year. Miller said that students will be able to access TimelyMD through an app or a website and that this will open for student use in fall 2023. 

“It is through access addressing, a very explicit and long-standing problem, that our students have been navigating, that’s been long under-resourced. So to see that there’s a concrete plan for access to the support, I think, is positive,” Wigginton said. 

Pimentel said that one of the executive cabinet’s goals for the year was to establish relationships with people other than just the student body. He said his goal with his presentation was to connect with faculty and start building relationships. 

“I feel like faculty sometimes don’t get to see the difference that we make because they’re faculty…but I feel like they know that we have an important role. Sometimes they don’t know that their students are involved…so I think that this is important in realizing that they have leaders in the classroom,” Pimentel said. 

Wigginton said that she thinks it’s a good idea for the student and faculty senates to collaborate. 

“I think the more opportunities we have to share our experiences and share our concerns and share our successes, the more cohesive the work can be,” Wigginton said. 

In Pimentel’s presentation, he talked about ASCLUG’s overall mission, responsibilities, projects, programs and community-building work. Recently, ASCLUG donated a fridge to the Community Cupboard as one of their projects, which allows for fresh produce storage. He said that he hopes ASCLUG can grow and expand on some of the things that they have done. 

Pimentel said he would like to connect with the Faculty Senate when the student body has concerns.

“Using our governing voices to kinda uplift Cal Lutheran in a way,” Pimentel said. 

Buono, who presented on changes to the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals program, said her intention during the senate meeting was “to educate the senate and to make sure they’re aware of the changes that are going to be happening with this academic program because it’s an important faculty matter.”

Buono said in her presentation that the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals is the program shifting to more online classes and will change to eight-week terms.

“It was nice to see the dedication of the faculty in the Professionals program who are willing to basically overhaul an entire program,” Wigginton said. 

Buono said that this change is going to open up more doors for students in the program. 

“I think it’s gonna help us really reach out to a prospective student population that’s really hard to find, but they’re out there,” Buono said. “They’re just at a different stage in their life and so we’re gonna make ourselves a little more flexible and available to this population and it’s gonna increase our enrollment tremendously.” 

During the meeting, Faculty Senate Chair Michael Hart requested volunteers from the senate to make non-functional revisions to the Faculty Governance Handbook. Hart said the revisions include correcting titles, making changes to the organizational chart that reflect the current structure and making sure the handbook is consistent with the Faculty Constitution and the Faculty Policies Handbook. 

The Faculty Senate will meet again on Monday, March 27, from 3:30-5 p.m. The meeting is open to all students, staff and faculty.