Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Summary Jan. 27, 2014

Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Summary Jan. 27, 2014

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Meeting called to order at 3:11 on January 27, 2014                        

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Ballestero, Fagerberg, Morgan, Shore, Tenczar, and Ware.  Bastera and Wible were excused.  Lisa MacFarlane was a guest.

II. Remarks by and questions to the provost – Provost MacFarlane opened her remarks by reminding the senators that the January 31 deadline for nominees for faculty awards is quickly approaching.  She expressed that it is particularly appropriate for this body to take the time to submit those nominations and encouraged all senators to reflect on their colleagues whose work should be recognized.

The provost then spoke about the STEM summit to be held on February 5, 2014.  UNH will host this gathering with the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) for faculty, staff and administrators to accelerate the coordination between our respective curricula in order to improve access to four-year degrees for NH residents.

There will be a dean’s retreat on Tuesday, January 28 which will focus on the online educational environment of the university.  She reminded the senate of the exploration done in the past with Academic Partners, and the university’s decision to not utilize their services, which required a large revenue share and a rather one-size-fits-all approach, but rather to develop our own plan for online programs.  Since that decision, the motion to create such a plan has moved slowly, and it is time to get our plan off the ground.  The object for this retreat is for the deans examine what are the most flexible and workable online solutions. 

The provost expressed her strong belief in the value of face-to-face education, and suggested that it is possible to use technology to make the face-to-face time more accessible to our students.  She emphasized that the administration is not mandating what the departments must do in the area of online education, but rather asking the colleges and departments where online education can fit into our programs.  The hope is that this effort will encourage creative growth, and that faculty who are well-suited to online instruction will be sought out and supported in this.

A senator asked for updates on the new administrative hires.  The provost said that in the case of both the Paul College and the founding director for the proposed Carsey School, there are video screenings scheduled for mid-February, emphasizing that the committees are looking for the right candidate rather than aiming for a deadline.  In the search for a new Senior International officer, she said that the first cut has been completed, leaving a pool of 13-14 highly qualified semi-finalists.  The search for the position on Inclusive Excellence is progressing, with success in moving the reporting line to the President’s office. A draft of the composition of and instructions for the search committee is in progress.

John Krauss is helping to shape the position in Institutional Research, which search will begin in February.  The provost also pointed out that the university is seeking a new registrar, noting that the former registrar retired at the end of October, and has been working contractually from home to assist during the process of filling that position.

A senator asked about classes being closed due to low enrollments.  The provost said that this is a college issue and that the question should be taken up with the dean of the college, as that is where those decisions are made.  The provost’s office does not dictate class sizes, and there is no centrally applied formula for that.  Lisa reminded the senate that there are now seven colleges represented at UNH with the recent addition of the School of Law.

III. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The chair informed the senate that when the senate constitution and bylaws were updated in November, the name of the Family Studies program was updated to Human Development and Family Studies.  It has come to the attention of the senate chair that this name change is still in process and is not yet official.  The senate website, which had been updated to reflect the change, has been changed back, and the agenda committee will wait for further word on the status of the department’s name.

IV. Minutes – the minutes of the last senate meeting were unanimously approved.

Action Items:

V.  Presentation of an Academic Affairs Committee motion on the extension of the on-line course registration – Michael Ferber, representing the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC), reported on the committee’s recommendation regarding extending the on-line course registration period one week into the term:

Academic Affairs Committee

Motion to Extend the On-Line Course-Registration Period One Week into the Term

December 2, 2013

Both the Registrar and the Vice President for Student and Academic Services have recently expressed the view that it would be helpful to students if they could add or drop courses on-line during the first week of classes, and that it would be feasible technically.  Currently students may register on-line only up to the first day of classes; after that they must get a paper add-drop form and have it signed by the instructor.

We considered some objections to this proposal from the point of view of the instructor, who will want to know how many students are enrolled from day to day, may have a policy about attendance at the first class meeting, and the like, but we think these may be met if the Registrar will have set up an automatic notification of the instructor whenever a student signs up after classes have begun.  All controls placed by departments, such as “permission-required,” would remain in place, as would capacity limits, so students would still need to fill out paper forms to have such controls lifted in their case.  First-year students would not be allowed to register on-line, as they are more likely to need to discuss the course(s) in question with the instructor or their adviser. 

We also think this would make late registration somewhat more efficient and more frugal with paper.

We therefore move that the Faculty Senate recommend extending on-line course registration until the end of the first week of classes [of the spring and fall semesters], with the proviso that all standing restrictions will still apply (and still require paper permission forms) and that instructors will be notified by the Registrar immediately after a student is enrolled.

A senator asked if J-term would be included in this, with its very short time period.  After brief discussion, Michael Ferber suggested a friendly amendment to this motion, specifying only spring and fall semesters, which seemed acceptable to the senate. 

There was discussion regarding the impact of such a change to the summer terms, the new 8-week schedule in place for the online Masters in Social Work (MSW), as well as the online MBA program.  Referencing that the wording of the motion already indicates departmental control, the recommendation was made to leave the rest of the motion as is.  The chair pointed out that this recommendation doesn’t remove any existing  prerogatives, but rather simply allows one more week to enroll from an online source.
A senator asked if there were controls in place to prevent the over-enrollment of classes, with some students adding the courses online and other students asking professors to add them by paper enrollment.  Michael Ferber said that the registrar assured him that faculty could be notified immediately regarding online enrollments, but noted that this would depend on the faculty member checking the course registration and the registrar’s office being prompt in their updates.

This motion will lay over until the next senate meeting for a vote, per senate rules.

VI.  Presentation of an Academic Affairs committee resolution in response to Student Senate Resolution #06 Blackboard Standards for Course Sites – the AAC chair continued by presenting the following report to the senate:

Academic Affairs Committee

Report on Student Senate Resolution regarding Blackboard Use

December 2, 2013

The student Senate on November 17 passed a resolution asking the Faculty Senate and academic departments to “implement Blackboard usage standards in which professors are required to provide a Blackboard course site for every class, and . . . these standards also require that every professor must post a digital copy of their syllabus (including a course schedule) to their respective course site by the first day of classes.”  (The full text of the resolution is in the appendix (PDF).)

The Academic Affairs Committee thinks the intent or spirit of the resolution is not unreasonable, but we also think the Faculty Senate lacks the power to “require” any instructors to make use of Blackboard.  We can only recommend or urge them to do so.  It is clear that behind the limited use of Blackboard that the resolution wants us to require is the desire to have instructors voluntarily use other features of it as well, such as discussion boards; posting syllabi would a first step toward such general use.  Our Committee thinks we cannot even urge instructors to use these features, since some of them have deliberately chosen not to do so, often for well-considered pedagogical reasons.  But since the student resolution calls only for posting syllabi and schedules, we can support it short of making such posting a requirement.

We therefore propose a Senate resolution:

The Faculty Senate urges all instructors of all ranks to post their course syllabi and schedules on Blackboard, and make them “available” to the enrolled students by the beginning of the term.

This resolution will be communicated to all chairs and deans.

The senate chair added that he had met with the student senate representatives to clarify the senate’s willingness to support such a motion, but that it is not within the purview of the senate to require that faculty conform to such guidelines.

A senator said that she was grateful this is only a recommendation, citing the need in certain classes to constantly change and update the booklist according to contemporary issues.  She noted that strict requirements in this area have the potential to negatively impact teachers’ pedagogical choices.

The provost asked to clarify that the book list requirement referenced excludes all courses that need contemporary materials, also including a caveat to remind students to confirm their course book lists with professors, specifically.  Such wording is included to use all of the latitude available under the law.

This motion will lay over until the next senate meeting for a vote, per senate rules.

Discussion Items:

VII. The Office of the Provost and the Agenda Committee of the Faculty Senate present a draft charge for the creation of the University Panel on Teaching and Learning at UNH and Beyond. (See agenda Appendix VII.A) – The senate chair offered some structuring comments on the centrality of teaching and learning, both historically and currently, in the academic mission of a research institution like UNH.  We are colleagues who have built our professional careers around understanding teaching and learning through our research.

Janet Metcalfe from Columbia University will be speaking this Thursday, January 31 in the MUB Theatre 2.  Sponsored by the Department of Psychology and the Center for Excellence in Teaching she will deliver the Blum Lecture, entitled “Principles of Cognitive Science and Student Learning.”  The chair praised this as an example of excellent collaboration, which we should strive to make an ongoing part of our university through our research, professional development and outreach activities.

He announced that a university panel on teaching and learning is being formed in an effort to better organize research activities and agendas, leverage research and professional development, and combine resources across the university; those skills and knowledge that we uniquely develop and collectively have at our university and apply both here and in outreach efforts.  This is a joint effort of the Provost’s office and the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee.  An excellent opportunity to see how we can best use and organize our disparate resources and activities in advancement of teaching and learning.

Currently a draft charge has been put together, with the help of Mike Middleton, chair of the Education Department (See appendix VII.A of senate agenda). 

DRAFT:  1.27.2014

University Panel on Teaching and Learning, at UNH and Beyond

Co-sponsored by the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost


Teaching and learning are central to the mission and the life of the university and to the sustainability of our communities. Given the rapid advances in understanding the complexity of teaching and learning, what will our classrooms, our instruction, and learning environments look like in the next decade? How can research advance our understanding of the processes of learning and pedagogy, and contribute to new scholarship in the subject area disciplines?  What new tools—technologies, analytics, environments—can we use to improve our students’ learning, promote equity, and enhance their lives?  More specifically, how will the University of New Hampshire respond to these challenges and advance the quality of teaching and its impact on learning from pre-school through graduate school as part of its commitment to community engagement?

These questions are at the heart of the University’s mission.  As a comprehensive research-intensive public university, UNH has long had a strong commitment to excellence in teaching, shared by faculty, staff, administrators, and students.  To meet the challenges above, the University Panel on Teaching and Learning, at UNH and Beyond, is jointly established by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Senate. 

The Panel, consisting of broad representation across the university, is charged with developing a plan that defines a university-wide structure with the capacity to: 1)  enhance and integrate a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the cognitive and social processes of learning; and 2)  contribute to sound pedagogical approaches for implementing that understanding in a variety of instructional settings. The questions of how individuals learn and how we best structure teaching to maximize learning will be coupled with the development of a delivery system for disseminating engaged scholarship. In particular, the Panel is charged with creating a plan which recommends ways in which:

  • UNH can organize administrative units, centers, resources, and activities related to teaching and learning more effectively;
  • UNH can extend faculty development in the areas of teaching and learning;
  • UNH can sustain research and scholarship on the learning sciences and pedagogy;
  • UNH can improve the efficacy of our collective teaching mission and the teaching mission of PK-12 schools in NH;
  • UNH can make excellent use of emerging technologies to extend our reach and enhance our residential experience;
  • UNH can better use the calendar and our physical setting to enhance and accelerate learning;
  • UNH can garner external support; and, in concert with our mission
  • UNH can better engage with external partners—Pre-K to 20, in the private, public, and non-profit sectors--in service of the state and region.

Among the questions the Panel will engage are:

  • How do our administrative structures support or inhibit our collective efforts in understanding and improving teaching and learning within the university and in NH PK-12 schools? 
  • What more might we do to support faculty and NH educators as they consider the learning sciences and their implications for pedagogy? 
  • How can technology be better used to enhance and extend the vitality of face-to-face interactions, and to enlarge classrooms globally? 
  • How can teaching and learning be assessed to improve instructional practices and student outcomes?
  • What more should we do to extend our reach to Pre-K to 12 schools, to underserved school districts, to professional adult learners, and to community partners? 
  • And, while many of our faculty are explicitly scholars of teaching and learning, many more are thoughtful practitioners in and across the disciplines, working from research, experimenting with pedagogy, and excited to share what they learn from their students.  How can we encourage and reward that work as a scholarly activity, through professional and cross-disciplinary faculty development, through discipline-based movements in pedagogy, through support for scholarly dissemination?

Upon implementing the Panel’s recommendations, UNH will have a coherently organized and integrated educational mission.  On campus, we will continually rejuvenate our on-campus teaching mission with pilot projects, scholarly assessment, engaged learning, innovative curricula, and high-impact activities.  Off campus, we will work with schools, teachers, districts, and community partners to address the needs of the state and the region.  We will develop and test the flexible pathways, modalities, and means by which we provide access to opportunity for current students, for those pre-college students who seek academic enrichment and acceleration, and for those who throughout their lives, refresh their skills and rejuvenate their spirits.  Our impact will be seen in the excellence of the educational experience on campus, in the quality of our graduates, and in the strengthening of public education throughout New Hampshire.   We will become the University of Choice.

The chair asked the senate for questions and input on this topic. 

A senator asked how large the panel will be.  The chair responded that his vision was a group large enough to represent the university constituency well, but small enough for the group to work nimbly and effectively.  The provost suggested using the Panel on Internationalizing UNH as an example, which was comprised of four small groups who met once each month, with around twenty members from across campus.

The chair asked the senators to send along any recommendations to himself or to the provost.  The past senate chair asked what the final product of this panel might be.  Todd said the aim was to better utilize existing services to advance teaching and learning.  The provost added that integrating the mission of academics requires the organization and affirmation of the resources we have in order to provide the best teaching and learning experience we can.  How can we take the thing that is most central to our definition and make that the core of our tri-partheid mission? The aim is to affirm teaching and learning and strengthen it, to recognize that it is a form of scholarly activity for many of our colleagues, and to then make that available in engagement and outreach efforts.  She said that we can’t afford to scatter and diffuse our resources; we need to leverage them.  She then asked how we can be more thoughtful and proactive about the educational changes that are clearly on the horizon?

The senate chair noted that the bullet points of the draft charge are intended as focus points for the panel, who will set their goals based on discussion sparked by these points.

A senator asked if this would be an ongoing endeavor over a period of years.  The provost responded that the current vision is for the short term, hopefully having a report of the panel’s recommendations by the end of the calendar year.

A senator asked if there would be inclusion of K-12 educators on the panel as part of the engagement aspect.  The provost said that might be a possibility.  Mike Middleton, a visitor, added that the vision of this panel is to reach across K-12 and higher education.  The chair mentioned that education reaches beyond the classroom, referencing the business school and the ongoing learning, including adult education, that continues beyond the traditional classroom.

A senator pointed out that the wording of the draft policy seems to be more aimed towards traditional education and asked if language could be added to better engage non-traditional education areas.  The chair asked for any specific language recommendations to be sent to himself or to the provost.  The chair referenced three types of curriculum – adopted, taught, and learned and agreed that the learned curriculum doesn’t intersect as tightly as we might expect.
Another senator asked that the university’s cooperative extension be included as a model for this kind of research and learning.  The provost emphasized her desire to thoroughly include the cooperative extension.

The chair and provost asked for nominations for the panel, as well as ideas and suggestions to be included as the work develops.

VIII. New business – there was no new business.

IX. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned at 4:08 p.m.