Dianne Harrison attends her last Faculty Senate meeting as president


Shannon Carter

President Dianne F. Harrison addresses the Faculty Senate in her last senate meeting as CSUN president.

Shannon Carter, Assistant News Editor

In her last appearance at the Faculty Senate meeting on Thursday, President Dianne F. Harrison updated the Senate on the renaming of University Hall to Valera Hall, the 2020-2021 commencement ceremonies and recognized Trans* Empowerment Week.

Harrison told the Senate that the CSU Board of Trustees’ decided to rename University Hall to Valera Hall after CSUN alumnus Milton Valera and his wife, Debbie Valera.

The couple donated more than $11 million to CSUN. The donation will benefit eight scholarship endowments and the Soraya. The lobby of the Soraya Nazarian Center of the Performing Arts will be named the “Milt and Debbie Valera Lobby.”

The donation will also benefit the EOP Resilient Scholars Program, which will be renamed to “EOP Milt and Debbie Valera Resilient Scholars Program.”

Harrison also addressed the decision made earlier this month to plan for a virtual commencement ceremony for the classes of both 2020 and 2021. She said that when the spring 2020 ceremony was postponed, the administration anticipated students would safely return to campus by the end of the year.

Due to health and safety measures and the public health restrictions on large gatherings, the decision was made to hold the virtual commencement ceremonies in May 2021.

Harrison said that the Commencement Committee is working hard to prepare a special event for CSUN’s graduating students and their families.

“We will continue to monitor the health and safety conditions and we’ll reassess these plans if the conditions change,” Harrison said. “We hope that they do, but for now, that’s the plan.

Harrison reminded the Senate about Trans* Empowerment Week, which celebrates and raises the visibility and support for transgender, genderqueer and gender-nonconforming individuals.

In an email to the campus community on Nov. 16, Harrison announced an important update to CSUN’s applications database SOLAR and myCSUN profile that now enables students to indicate their pronouns.

“Adding pronouns to SOLAR is a critical step toward creating a more inclusive campus environment,” said Harrison in an email statement. “This is key to promoting belonging and supporting student success across the university.”

Once students update SOLAR, their pronouns will be visible on class rosters and on Canvas.

She encouraged the senate to educate themselves on Trans* Empowerment Week and thanked the Pride Center and the University Student Union for their work to facilitate the week’s events and workshops.

Under the new business section of the meeting, the Oviatt Advisory Working Group’s recommendation to remove Delmar T. Oviatt’s name from the library and the adjoining lawn was placed before the senate.

Associated Students’ President Rose Merida said that the AS Senate approved the recommendation to remove Oviatt’s name from the library on Nov. 9.

Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies Stevie Ruiz asked if there has been any discussion about the new name that will be selected.

Faculty Senate President Michael Neubauer said that the right to rename buildings comes from the CSU Board of Trustees. He said that campuses could make recommendations, but the trustees will have the final word.

Harrison added that a substitute name has not been determined at this point and will probably revert to “University Library” until an appropriate name is identified.

Senator Adam Swenson moved to approve the AWG’s recommendation to remove Oviatt’s name from the library.

The motion was voted upon by the Senate and passed unanimously.

The recommendation will be sent to the CSU and the motion to rename the library will be voted on at the next Board of Trustees meeting.

Suzanne Spear, an associate professor of Health Sciences, announced that an interest group has formed among some faculty members, which aims to reform the Student Evaluations of Faculty.

SEF’s are administered by the Office of Institutional Research and measure teaching effectiveness and course evaluation at CSUN.

Spear said that she and other members of the newly formed group have concerns about the validity of the questions that are asked in the course evaluation. She added that the group is also concerned with how this feedback is reported on their personnel records.

The untitled interest group hopes to work with the Educational Equity Committee to pass a resolution to ask that the evaluation score not be considered in faculty evaluations. The evaluation scores may be impacted by the unprecedented times, Spear said.

“We just want this to be something that is an objective process and something that’s supportive of faculty while giving a voice to students,” Spear said.

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be held on Feb.18, 2021.