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Faculty Senate Discuss Updates to BURS

Belmont aims to remove an academic preparation day in the spring 2025 semester in efforts to increase attendance of the newly renamed Belmont Scholarship, Performance, Arts, Research, and Knowledge Symposium.   


Previously named the Belmont University Research Symposium, SPARK “provides Belmont students with an opportunity to present the findings of their independent research projects, listen to distinguished speakers, and enjoy the company of fellow researchers,” according to the Belmont University website.  

“The broader inclusion of student projects increases prestige and visibility for student work and presentation opportunities,” said Thom Spence, Dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics, at Monday’s faculty senate meeting.  

The new title allows other colleges, such as the school of music, to get involved.


In the past, BURS was exclusive to the departments of architecture, arts and humanities, business, education, engineering, law, life sciences, medicine and health sciences, physical sciences and mathematics and social and behavioral sciences.    


However, devoting an entire day to SPARK removes one of the two academic preparation days. Currently, two days of academic preparation exist on the Wednesday and Thursday leading up to exams.  


Under the new approved initiative, SPARK would occur on Wednesday April 16, the week before the first day of exams on April 25. The only day of academic preparation would be Thursday, April 24, with Wednesday, April 23, being a normal school day.  


A concern brought up was the viability of student attendance.  


“This event will fall on the Wednesday before Easter, so this is going to be very easy for students and faculty to look at this as one extra day of holiday” said Spence. “So we’re going to do everything we can think of to advertise this to make sure we understand it’s a big deal.”  


One thought was to make SPARK worth Well Core.  


“You could conceivably reach out to Well Core and say that SPARK is the last official day to get Well Core for the semester,” said Shawn Knight.  


Additionally, Monday’s meeting discussed faculty thoughts on the catalog and curriculum for next semester.  


Andy Miller, although not present at the meeting, wrote a letter to the senate on his concerns regarding the upcoming Master of Science in Computer Science currently set to begin in the fall of 2024.  


He was primarily concerned with the pace at which the program was created and the faculty’s involvement in its creation.  


“Personally, I still don’t understand how it fits with the launch process to open a new graduate program in August that was proposed in February,” said Miller in a statement.  


His letter greatly emphasized that the faculty did not propose the new program, but that the administration did.  


“In order to share our thoughts and ideas for the master's program, we had to ask to pass our inputs on to the administrators most interested in this new program,” said Miller in a statement. “I do not think this is the right way to create a new graduate program.” 


Other faculty members were also concerned with this process.  


“He has a real concern about the fact that there was an idea for a program to come on board from ministration pushing down on the faculty as opposed to having it generated by the faculty or the traditional process,” said David Schreiber. “If that is the case, that should be a concern for faculty senate.”  


The senate unanimously voted to separate the Master of Science in Computer Science from its proposed Catalog and Curriculum package.  


The senate then unanimously voted to postpone discussion on the program to the next meeting on April 22.  

This article was written by Anna Blubaugh

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