Faculty Senate Meeting Summary Minutes March 17, 2014

Faculty Senate Meeting Summary Minutes March 17, 2014

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Meeting called to order at 3:10 on March 17, 2014                       

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent: Gingras, Harkless, Kidwell, Minocha, Shore, Tenczar, Wu.  Afolayan served as proxy for Mellyn. Denis was excused.  Lisa MacFarlane, Judy Robb, and Ed Mueller were guests.

II. Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost greeted the senate and described to them a recent conversation with the senate agenda committee about a more proactive method of planning university initiatives. Her intent is to engage the senate for input earlier in the process rather than bringing ideas to the senate for their review. 

She noted that President Huddleston has asked for a refresh of the strategic plan, which is essentially a review of the eleven initiatives over the past three and a half years.  Barbara White will take the lead on this from the provost’s office, and Joanna Young will take the lead from the vice president’s office.  This process in anticipation of the regular RCM review which will happen next year, and the provost expressed her intention to make shared governance a part of that process from the outset. 

The provost also said that the president is looking at how to revise career planning and placement for our students, noting that departments vary in their level of effectiveness in student advising, and asking how we can help our students, from their first contact with the university, to have a more clear vision of their path to graduation and employment.  Lisa noted that President Obama is working on a federal rating system for all institutions of higher learning, evaluating retention rates, graduation rates, gainful employment, debt load, default rates, and various value-added items. 

The provost attended an American Council on Education conference where career planning, the above-mentioned federal score card, and analytics and the use of data to understand how to use resources and advise students, and the renewal of the tenure track faculty.  At UNH, there are 229 tenure-track faculty who are 59.5+ with more than 15 years of longevity at UNH, representing tremendous wisdom and experience, but also meaning that a period of rapid turnover is ahead of us. 

The provost invited visitor Judy Robb to take a few moments to discuss the upcoming NEASC review on campus from Sunday, March 30 through Wednesday, April 2. 

Invited to attend a NEASC reception with the visiting team, at 4 p.m. on March 31st.  This is during the normal senate meeting.  The chair noted that the senate meeting that day will end at 3:45 to facilitate attendance at the reception.  The provost invited the senators to take seriously the questions they might be asked by the team members. 

Judy encouraged the senators to prepare themselves for these questions and conversations with the team members by reading portions of the NEASC report, which is available both in hard copy and on Blackboard, under “My Organizations” for all faculty members, labeled “NEASC updates.”  There are eleven standards, including information in the form of narratives and data sets.  A senator noted that not all the pdf files in the self-study are functioning.  Judy replied that some documents are currently password protected to guard the privacy of some student materials.  

The provost invited the senators to review the preamble, as well as standards 1 (Mission), 4 (Academic Programs), 5 (Faculty), and 6 (Students) in preparation for meeting with the team members, calling these sections the heart and soul of the self-study. 

Judy suggested two important areas, one on student achievement and the other on the credit hour policy (in standard 4, and also in the front of the university catalogue).  One of the reviewers is tasked with checking the credit hour policy specifically.  In preparation for this review, the NEASC committee pulled forty syllabi from courses across campus, auditing them to see if UNH is in line with the federal guidelines.  

The provost clarified the federal guidelines, saying that the guidelines state that every credit hour equals a certain amount of contact hour with a faculty member.  Activities that take place outside of class do count, and UNH does meet the federal guidelines.  A senator asked what the guidelines are.  Judy responded that three hours of contact time per credit hour per week is the standard. Labs, recitations, clinical/field work components, studios, rehearsals all count.  The comprehensive question is, what work do I expect my good students will do to be optimally successful?

A senator asked how the number of hours are determined, noting that students often underestimate the time they put in when they report on the student evaluation of teaching forms at the end of the semester.  A conversation ensued regarding what is asked of our students and what their understanding and perception of those expectations might be.  The provost noted that the expectations are included in the student handbook, and stated that she is confident that the student leadership on campus is very cognizant of them.

Judy informed the senate that the leadership of the faculty senate will be meeting with the NEASC team for lunch on Monday, March 31, and invited the senators to pass along any questions or concerns to the agenda committee so that they can take that opportunity to discuss those matters. 

A senator expressed concerns regarding the changes going on in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, specifically the plans for Kendall Hall and Putnam Hall.  He expressed that faculty are not being consulted regarding their space needs, and asked about the process for renovations and changes.  The provost said that there are many parts of the process.  With the planned move of the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab to Hewitt Annex, the university received $500,000 from the state to help with that.  When the estimate of the actual move came in at $3,000,000 – far over the allotted budget – campus planning went back to the drawing board to determine whether the best course was renovation, rebuilding, or building new.  Some concerns have been raised, and the provost indicated that Jon Wraith is committed to better communication.  No decisions have been made, and many different options are still open.  The changes for the vet lab will have an impact on what happens in Kendall, which impacts the use of other buildings.  The senator posed the question of whether department chairs themselves have a full understanding of what each individual faculty needs, suggesting that it would be advantageous to have input from more faculty than just the department chair. 

III. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair emphasized the importance of the NEASC self-study and its reflection of the very important work done by the faculty at UNH.  He noted that the responses of faculty to the NEASC team members are part of the quality of the final report.  At this point, the provost asked if she could suggest that the senate move to thank Judy Robb for her extraordinary work on this self-study. 

The chair then talked about the “value-added” components of the federal guidelines mentioned earlier by the provost.  He said that what this means is taking the scores of students in the public school systems and attributing those scores to the graduate programs of the universities that are educating the teachers of those students. 

The chair then read an announcement from P.T. Vasudevan regarding the days of curtailed operation for this semester: 

To faculty:

 After consultation with the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee and ASAC, the first reading day on May 6, 2014 will serve as a makeup snow day and follow Thursday’s schedule. Faculty may avail this opportunity to make up lectures. Faculty members are encouraged not to make attendance mandatory for students and to provide lecture notes/hand outs for students who are unable to attend classes on May 6, 2014. This make-up day should not be used to make up multi-section laboratories. Please note that the exam policy remains the same and that the last day an announced oral or written exam can be given before finals still remains Monday, April 28, 2014.  

Todd encouraged the faculty to be sensitive to students who might have scheduling difficulties.  

Todd directed the senators to the senate website and the area entitled “What’s News?”  In that area, a request has been posted from Subhash Minocha and Raina Ames for the senators to review documents regarding the policy on the protection of minors.  Links to the both the policy document and the procedures document are in that section of the senate website – http://www.unh.edu/fac-senate  - and the chair encouraged all senators to review the documents and offer feedback to Raina, Subhash, or himself at the email addresses indicated on the website.

IV. Minutes – With one friendly amendment, the minutes of the last senate meeting, February 24, 2014, were unanimously approved. 

Action Items: 

V. Vote on Campus Planning Committee MOTION # XVIII-M7 on representation of faculty/ departments on construction steering committees – The senate chair brought forward the motion laid over from the last meeting, and amended as per the italicized sections below, for a vote. 

Rationale: Whereas, there have been recent anecdotal reports of poor communication with faculty regarding moves, construction, and renovation activities; and

 Whereas, misunderstanding of changes to the physical campus by faculty or poor understanding of faculty needs will potentially have significant impacts on the suitability of space for educational/research activities; and

 

Whereas, Department Chairpersons and Directors of other campus entities engage in regular communication with both faculty and College Deans, and are expected to spend time in administrative responsibilities, therefore

 

Motion:  Let it be resolved that the Faculty Senate calls on the University Administration to ensure that current and future campus construction project steering committees include, as faculty representation, the chairpersons of all affected departments and directors of other affected entities and/or their designees.

 

With no questions or discussion on the motion, the motion was put to vote and passed as amended by majority vote.

 

VI.  Presentation of motion from the Faculty Senate ad hoc Teaching Evaluation Form Implementation Committee –  Alberto Manalo represented the committee in presenting the following report and recommendation. 

 

Given the value placed on evaluation forms for promotion and tenure cases of faculty as well as for renewing lecturers’ contracts, the ad hoc committee charged with revising the teaching evaluations for UNH courses recommends that both groups be exempt from the pilot study until a comparative analysis of the web-based and paper-based systems is completed. The committee also recommends course exemptions remain in place during the pilot phase for all UNH courses currently exempt from the standard evaluation process.

 

Motion:  Departments, programs, and divisions that take part in the pilot of the web-based evaluation shall exempt their non-tenure track faculty and lecturers teaching all non-e-UNH courses from participating in the pilot. Those exempted faculty members will continue to use the procedures for in class student paper evaluations. This exemption for designated faculty shall be effective as long their department, program, or division is involved in the pilot study.  

 

Alberto stated that certain faculty members could be negatively impacted by the irregularity of the pilot program.  There was some discussion regarding the wording of the motion in an effort to be inclusive of all potentially impacted instructors, resulting in replacing the wording “their non-tenure track faculty and lecturers” with “their non-tenured instructors,” as the consensus was that all non-tenured instructors are potentially at risk during the pilot of the new evaluation form, due to the heavy reliance on teaching evaluations for professional assessment of those instructors.  It was noted that teachers of hybrid courses have the option to use either the electronic or paper evaluation.

The motion will be held over to the next senate meeting.

 

VII.  Presentation of motion from the Academic Affairs Committee on the acceptance of credit for online courses taken at other universities – the senate chair read the committee’s motion:

 

“Students in residence at UNH must take their four required Writing-Intensive courses at UNH (English 401 plus three in the disciplines).  This stipulation also applies to continuing education students in degree programs and students in study abroad and other exchange programs.   (Students may not shop around for on-line courses that might qualify for WI credit, or even face-to-face courses or hybrids, offered elsewhere.)  This restriction will apply to all students beginning in the fall of 2014.

 

Among transfer students only English 401 equivalents will be considered for courses completed prior to entrance to UNH.  This restriction will apply to students who matriculate after the fall of 2014.” (see senate agenda, Appendix VII.A. for full motion)

 

 

Michael Ferber, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, presented the recommendation of the committee.  This motion comes from a charge regarding what type of online courses should be accepted for credit at UNH.  The committee found that making such a determination was not practical, as the registrar has no way of knowing what credits on a transfer student’s transcript are online or otherwise.  However, the committee, after discussion with the Writing Committee and the director of the Writing Program, does feel that it is possible to shape students’ academic experiences at UNH by restricting the process of transferring any type of writing intensive courses, allowing only one of the four writing-intensive classes to be transferred from another institution.  Essentially, that course would be at the ENG 401 level.

 

A senator asked if the petition process would still be in effect; that if a student could produce proof of their work in a course from another institution and show evidence of their writing at such a level as to satisfy the requirements of a writing-intensive course at UNH, would that course be transferrable.  Michael indicated that the petition process would remain as usual, with the onus on the student to provide said evidence.  Ed Mueller of the Writing Program said that the petition process is always in effect, and noted that this policy is similar to what exists at other universities.

 

A senator asked about graduating high school students who have been exempted from English 401 from the outset, and Michael indicated that the motion could be reworded to include such students.  A senator asked if such courses could count for content, even if they do not count for the writing intensive requirement.  The answer was affirmative.  Another senator asked about students taking writing intensive courses in Study Abroad programs.  Ed indicated that generally those courses do not qualify, and a conversation ensued regarding UNH-managed study abroad programs vs. UNH-approved study abroad programs.  Michael indicated that he would massage the language of the motion for clarity.  UNH-managed programs include courses that have already been designated by the university as writing intensive.

 

A senator asked why we can’t examine courses beyond the 401 level to see if they meet the standard for the writing intensive requirement.  Michael said that with only four writing intensive courses required, one of which can be transfer credit according to this motion, it should not be difficult for a student to take those courses here at UNH.  Ed indicated that the writing intensive requirement is an experiential requirement, implying a continuing process rather than something to be checked off.  If a program is very narrow and it is difficult to complete the writing requirement, there is a petition process, but that most programs have at least three courses within the program, on our campus, with our professors.  He also noted that this wording aligns with the requirements of the Discovery and Inquiry programs.

Barbara White, of the Discovery Committee, noted that two writing intensive courses must be taken within a student’s major.  With the option of transferring the 401 level course, this leaves only one course in question. 

 

Michael will massage the language of the motion, and it will lay over until the next senate meeting.

 

Discussion/Report Items:

 

VIII. Report from Thelma Thompson on Interlibrary loans – The senate chair introduced this subject as a continuation of our discussion on textbook and course material affordability and access.

Thelma indicated that there has been a change in the interlibrary loan policy, in that there is no longer a limit the number of books allowed in interlibrary loans (ILL).  There is a limit of six ILL books per week for AV materials. Generally, ILL doesn’t like to receive requests for textbooks because other libraries may have need for those textbooks for their own constituents, but they will submit the requests.  Sometimes students are able to rent textbooks through ILL.

She also indicated that faculty may bring their own books to the library to place on reserve for their classes.  She reminded the senators that books sent to faculty and marked by the publisher “for your use only” may not be placed on reserve.  She reported that Jennifer Carroll, head of collection development, said there is not enough budget, with so many new editions of textbooks, to purchase multiple copies of texts for every class.  She is trying to provide information about open access instructional materials, which should be included in the Student Affairs Committee’s report on the cost of educational materials for students.

 

A senator asked how often those “for your use only” stickers are placed on faculty copies of texts.  Thelma did not have an answer, but another senator pointed out that if a professor teaches a course several times, they have the opportunity to accumulate several texts, which they can then place in reserve in the library.

 

IX. New business – Michael Ferber said that his committee is looking at the Confucius Institute and would like to ask for any information anyone might have on that group, indicating that they have very little information to date.

 

XI. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned at 4:33 p.m.