USG Election Guide 2018: Morgan Wood


Name: Morgan Wood
Year: Third-year
Major: Economics and art history
Pronouns: She/her/hers
Relevant Experience: I have spent three years in student government on the academic affairs, finance and public relations committees. I have also sat on the FSCUE Subcommittee on Academic Standing, and served as the Caucus Liaison for the College of Arts and Sciences caucus.

Running for: Vice President of Academic Affairs


What are your specific plans for the position?

My platform is focused on how students can influence the implementation of
recommendations from the Provost’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) recommendation. The areas of the CUE recommendations which I plan on tackling most closely through implementation strategy are the University General Education Requirement (GER), the curricular reviews and wellness initiatives. I plan on working with the administration to ensure students and alumni are at the table when discussions on curricular reviews are being held. I also plan on bringing administration members from areas closely associated with wellness such as University Health and Counseling Services (UH&CS) to conversations on academic policies conventionally originating in other parts of the administration. Thus, all academic policy changes can be considered from a wellness perspective to create a culture where students know the university prioritizes their mental, emotional and physical well-being. Additionally, building an effective working relationship with the incoming provost, beginning with shaping the formation of the student success leadership program, will be critical in affecting change on this campus.


What is one initiative that you want to complete in your first semester?

It is important that the new Vice President of Academic Affairs builds a strong relationship with the incoming provost by gathering and transmitting student input on the design of the Student Success Leader program, which will also be the first big initiative of the incoming provost. I plan on sending representatives to the meetings of other organizations for marginalized groups to determine what their specific needs from these new mentors are. Additionally, I plan on working with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Public Relations Committee to organize other feedback events such as surveys, townhalls, etc. Finally, I hope to reach out to administrative offices that work closely with first-year students such as the Director of Orientation and the Director of First-Year Experience and Family Programs to see if they have existing data that would be useful. Gathering input on what students need from first-year mentorship that they are not currently getting and using that information to figure out a framework for the Student Success Leader program that I can advocate for on behalf of students will be my first initiative that is completable in the first semester. The rest of the year will then need to be focused on advocating for the framework that comes out of this feedback.


How will you make sure the implementation of the Commission on Undergraduate Experience responds to student needs?

The CUE recommendation response letter drafted by incumbent Vice President Ghosh and Garretson Oester was authored after conducting an impressive amount of brainstorming, small group discussions, and large feedback sessions with students. The letter’s major components, concerns about how curriculum can be less restrictive and balance student life with academics, resound with my platform of advocating for student and alumni inclusion in the curricular reviews  called for by the CUE recommendations, as well as calling for academic policies that show students do not need to sacrifice their wellness for academic and career success. Thus, making sure the curricular reviews are conducted with students, alumni and USG advocates at the table is critical to higher responsivity. Including wellness implications into academic policies is perhaps a more challenging issue because there’s not as much of a starting point. The administration needs to recognize that wellness is a systemic issue on this campus, not just a result of individual decisions or lack of education. Students need to feel that the University supports them when their health calls them away from their academics. I anticipate meeting with the USG wellness ad-hoc body frequently, as well as administrators for UH&CS and the Division of Student Life, and getting these administrators at the table with academic policy makers in Undergraduate Studies. Additionally I plan on proactively asking the CUE and FSCUE to consider wellness implications of all policy changes, even those where wellness implications may not be initially evident, before policies are passed, and I anticipate working with my committee and other student groups to come up with concerns and points of contention to bring back to the faculty and administrators.


With the VP of Academic Affairs sitting on the Faculty Senate, how do you plan on communicating student needs to faculty and administration? Do you think that student concerns are currently being heard by the Faculty Senate?

Because the number of students on Faculty Senate is so limited, this is an arena where the Vice President of Academic Affairs truly represents the students. I plan on bringing Faculty Senate affairs and proposals back to committee for group discussion, giving my committee at least a week to gather feedback from constituents, and then reconvening the following week to vote on a stance that represents students. For larger issues, it will be important to ensure a more extended timeline and getting the Vice President of Public Relations involved in surveying students and holding townhalls. Additionally, I plan on sending representatives to the meetings of other campus organizations to disseminate the proposed policy change and gather feedback, to meet student groups where they are and ensure representatives hear concerns from outside their own ‘bubble.’

I find that Faculty Senate responses to student concerns indicate the faculty successfully identify student problems, but could benefit from a higher level of student input on the implementation of solutions. For instance, the CUE report notes that wellness is a widespread concern on campus, however the recommendations suggests the creation of a wellness-educational requirement. It is clear to me that students aren’t struggling under a lack of education about what wellness looks like, but rather feel that policies don’t support the prioritization of their health. Thus, Faculty Senate is excellent at identifying large problem areas but more student input is needed in crafting and implementing solutions.


How will you ensure transparent use of the need-aware admissions policy change?

USG Resolution R. 26-01 laid out a plan for how to hold the University accountable to the goals for the need-aware policy, which has the goal of enable the University to meet the full financial needs of admitted students, thereby increasing socioeconomic and racial diversity in the student body. The resolution calls on the University to report changes in the composition of the student body as a result of the policy change to the USG and to the larger student body. Also, the resolution requests a timetable projecting when the University would be able to return to a need-blind admissions policy. Arranging for a report requires scheduling a presentation with the admissions staff, and working with the Public Relations committee to publicize this report and presentation. Obtaining the proposed timeline seems like the more difficult part of the resolution to follow-up on, though hopefully by working persistently with the original authors of the bill and the incoming president, the University and the USG can come to a compromise in the spirit of the timeline.


How will you work with faculty and the administration to increase support for non-STEM programs?

Currently, the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities is doing a great job working to increase visibility and funding of humanities research and programs. Students in the Weatherhead School of Management seem to have access to resources like a robust career network, but funding for unpaid internships, similar to the funding the Baker-Nord Center is able to provide, is highly limited. Unfortunately, social science students appear to lack a major resource center altogether. In the case of humanities and business students, support could be increased by further working with alumni to expand funding for undergraduate research and internships. In the case of social science students, I would need to start further down, by identifying a center for supporting undergraduate social science studies. I think a great candidate for this would potentially be the graduate Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, though I am open to others.