Board of Trustees

Penn State faculty senate wants more emphasis on students

Penn State faculty senate chairman Jim Strauss wants more attention paid to student ideas and needs.
Penn State faculty senate chairman Jim Strauss wants more attention paid to student ideas and needs. Centre Daily Times, file

Penn State’s faculty senate is bringing something new into the conversation.

Students.

It might seem obvious for an institution of higher learning, but the educators are taking steps to remember the people who are ultimately taking in the lectures and lessons.

In a presentation to the university trustees committee on academic affairs and student life Thursday, new faculty senate chairman Jim Strauss said he wanted to hear those voices.

“We have student members,” he said. “But I didn’t always feel they were being heard. They have a lot of good ideas.”

Various campuses, colleges and student organizations like the University Park Undergraduate Association and Graduate Professional Student Association send a student delegate to the faculty senate. There are 26 student senators at the moment. Abington’s is yet to be named.

Those ideas Strauss mentioned have included things like making Penn State campuses tobacco-free. The Smoke-Free Penn State movement was endorsed earlier this year by the UPUA. Surveys have shown students supporting it for about a decade. The senate picked it up over the summer by having the benefits committee research the proposal, and it appeared on the October agenda for discussion.

Strauss also wants to see more attention paid to the cost of tuition, something that has been a recurring concern of trustees as well.

“I am really starting to see the stress of higher tuition on students,” he said.

He told the committee he wants to have an inventory of available scholarships and see more scholarships offered to “average” students who may not qualify for other assistance.

That includes making sure the scholarship needs of those students is reflected in the new capital campaign goals.

Penn State President Eric Barron has also talked about the cost of college degrees, making “access and affordability” one of his priorities.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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