Academic Senate discusses textbook rental, finances

Monday’s monthly Academic Senate meeting agenda focused on textbook rentals and Marquette’s financial status.

Starting in the 2010-’11 academic year, students may have the option of renting textbooks from BookMarq at a lower price than buying a textbook.

Todd Vicker, executive director of the Alumni Memorial Union and Auxiliary Enterprises, spoke at the meeting about Follett’s new program that allows students to rent textbooks. 

Textbook rental would not be a mandatory option, according to Provost John Pauly. Instead, it would provide an alternative choice to acquiring textbooks, one that could prove to be cheaper.

Vicker said 16 percent of the textbooks currently used at Marquette are already in the national pool of books that can be used as rentals.

Faculty members have the option of recommending a book not already in the national pool to be made available for rental.

Vicker said 120 schools would introduce the program next fall, and as more schools employ the program, more books will be available for rental.

Marquette Student Government President Henry Thomas said the option to rent from an on-campus store would be a benefit to students. Thomas explained some students have opted to rent from an online source, but the ability to rent on-campus would make the process easier and faster.

The Senate did not pass an official motion or recommendation, but merely voted that they saw nothing controversial or detrimental in the decision to allow textbook rentals.

John Lamb, vice president for finance, briefly spoke on Marquette’s financial situation. Lamb said despite the recent economic hardships faced by several institutions, Marquette has fared well.

According to Lamb, the university’s $230 million debt is small compared to other universities and the absence of furloughs (mandated, paid days off) and lay-offs indicate that Marquette is not in financial peril.

Lamb said the available cash reserves and recent accreditation by the Public Credit Rating and the Higher Education Learning Commission signify the strong points of Marquette’s financial status.

The Senate also talked about shared governance between the Senate and various departments and chairs.

Christine Krueger, head of the Faculty Council and associate professor of English, highlighted a recent report from the council concerning the opinion of shared governance among the colleges and their deans.

Krueger said the Senate had sometimes felt it was treated in an adversarial manner and that there needed to be better communication.

The report indicated that many deans and faculty shared the feeling that shared governance is a key characteristic of a healthy partnership between a university and its different administrative and legislative bodies.

Other notes from the meeting:

  • Marquette received a $675,000 grant to conjointly work with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as well as other institutions, to research water quality.
  • The Senate has asked for the Committee on Academic Policies and Issues to draft a policy on weather-related exam cancellations before the May meeting.
  • The Senate accepted a report by the Committee on Teaching outlining seven recommendations on improving the Marquette Online Course Evaluation System.