Faculty Senate discusses therapy dogs, peer mentoring programs


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An idea to have therapy dogs in each college on Marshall University’s campus and an update on a new program that would diversify peer mentoring were presented Thursday during a Faculty Senate meeting.

Mindy Backus, a professor in the College of Education and Professional Development, addressed the faculty senate about creating a committee to review the possibility of implementing a new therapy dog program. Backus said the program has already had its beginnings in the College of Education and has received positive reactions from both faculty and students.

“No matter if this committee chooses to go through with this (therapy dog program) or not, we are still going to keep this in the College of Education,” Backus said. “We met with a lot of different groups across campus, and everyone is very supportive and very excited about this.”

Kristin Steele, an English professor, also addressed the senate to inform and update the members of a newly-started peer mentoring program that would pair each incoming freshmen with a peer mentor in order to make their experience at Marshall better. The program is part of an initiative to have better student retention.

Steele said the organization is in the process of finding mentors, based on teacher recommendations, and they are looking for candidates that do not always fit the idea of what is considered a perfect student.

“An important thing to know is that we aren’t just getting references, and support of students and nominations for students who are straight A, top notch, have-it-all-together students,” Steele said. “We’re actually hiring a variety of students. We’re looking to get a diverse group of people who can actually relate to the everyday student.”

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be April 11, where members will discuss further committee creations as well as a proposed budget for the 2019-2020 school year.

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected].