November 23, 2009 — The University of Virginia's Faculty Senate unanimously approved a new master's degree program in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at its meeting in the Rotunda Dome Room on Friday.
Robert S. Kemp, Ramon W. Breeden Sr. Research Professor at the McIntire School of Commerce and chairman of the senate's Academic Affairs Committee, said the committee had unanimously recommended approval, adding that the interdisciplinary degree, which would be issued by the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures, could be handled with existing resources and faculty.
Following Faculty Senate approval, the degree program will be forwarded to the Board of Visitors for approval and then to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
In other business, the senators continued their discussion of a proposal on authors' rights and open access to scholarship, but deferred final action.
Edmund Kitch, a law professor, and Brian Pusser, a professor at the Curry School of Education and chairman of the senate's Task Force on Scholarly Publication and Authors' Rights, presented a draft resolution at the September meeting. There was further discussion at a working session in October, with the intention that the senate vote on it in November.
Pusser said Friday that despite extensive meetings with the faculty, there was no consensus yet and recommended delaying a vote until the spring.
Under the proposed resolution, U.Va. faculty members would assign to the rector and Board of Visitors "a nonexclusive, irrevocable, non-commercial global license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of her or his scholarly articles, in any medium, and to authorize others to do the same, provided the articles are not sold for profit."
The policy would apply to all scholarly articles written by faculty members while at U.Va., except pieces that were written before the policy is adopted and remain under "incompatible" licensing agreements. All other articles would be turned over to the provost's office in electronic form and made generally available no sooner than 12 months after their journal publication.
Pusser said discussions with faculty members revealed "deep philosophical and ideological objections" to the policy. He said that while there is a waiver process built into the proposed policy, many faculty members objected to mandatory participation and requested it be voluntary.
"There was also a lot of support and I think we need to hear from more senators," Pusser said.
He said there were also questions of what level of participation is needed to maintain an archive of scholarly material.
Disciplines have different repositories for archiving scholarly publications; some faculty were concerned about the impact of the policy on scholarly journals, which have traditionally retained all rights to articles they have published.
Pusser urged the senators share their thoughts with him and to further discuss the proposal with their constituents. The task force will weigh faculty feedback and consider amending the resolution before it is presented to the Senate this spring.
University President John T. Casteen III spoke to the senate about his recent trip to China and relations U.Va. is developing with universities there. He said that U.Va. is arranging a student exchange program with Peking University and may base a January Term course there. He said Peking University is eager to expand contacts with U.Va.
Casteen said officials in the Chinese Ministry of Development see many opportunities to collaborate with several schools within the University, including the McIntire School of Commerce, the School of Medicine, the Darden School of Business and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Casteen said Universitas 21, an international network of 21 research-intensive universities [link to http://www.universitas21.com/memberlist.html] in 13 countries, will add its first South American school, the University of Santiago in Chile, to the membership. Casteen said there were also three universities in the United States that may apply to be admitted to U21. U.Va. is currently the sole member from the U.S.