UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 8 April, 2002




I. Roll - The following Faculty Senate members were absent: Barcelona, Bornstein, Denis, Draper, Elmslie, Halstead, Pollard, Simpson, and VonDamm. Excused were Krysiak, Merenda, and Trowbridge.

II. Accreditation Self Study - Steve Hardy said that the university is pursuing an alternative self study, with three areas of focus emanating from the strategic plan and the university's vision statement. The decision to do the alternative self study was made after consultation with the Faculty Senate's Agenda Committee, the deans and department chairs, the president's staff, and NEASC. The steering committee will be chaired by Steve Hardy. Victor Benassi and Steve Hardy will write a consolidated self study on the eleven standards; but the main work will be on the three focus areas of institutional effectiveness, the undergraduate experience, and engagement through research and scholarship.

The study of institutional effectiveness will include an evaluation of the strategic planning process and a preliminary review of responsibility center management. Dan Reid, Pete Pekins, Tom Ballestero and Deb Winslow will participate in this effort. Mike Merenda will chair the institutional effectiveness committee, and other faculty interested in working on this or other self-study committees should contact Dan Reid. The Committee on Engagement through Research and Scholarship will be co-chaired by Roy Torbert and Julie Williams, and faculty members will include Mark Hiller, Bill Ross and Mike Gass. This committee will consider productivity, funding and student involvement in research and service. The committee on undergraduate experience will be chaired by Sally Ward and will look at how the university integrates learning for undergraduates across all educational environments.

Work will start this spring and continue through the summer. The steering committee will review the draft on standards in November and then circulate a draft to the UNH community in December and hold open forums in February. The steering committee will review the other committee reports in February, circulate those drafts in March and hold open forums in April. The provost's staff will prepare a combined document for review by the steering committee in the summer of 2003, and the final self-study report will go to NEASC by September 1, with a visit by NEASC expected at the end of October.

III. Athletics/Academics - Steve Hardy is faculty representative to the NCAA Athletic Advisory Committee, and Jim Farrell a member of that committee. All athletes must take a minimum of twelve credits per semester. Eighty-three percent of UNH athletes graduate within six years, which is higher than the overall graduation rate for UNH students. U.S. News & World Report included UNH in a list of the top twenty Division I athletic programs in the country. Information on the ground rules for athletes missing classes for games and practices is available through the Faculty Senate web site.

IV. Minutes - The March 25 senate minutes were tabled to the next meeting, when the next to last paragraph of item III will be clarified.

V. Communications from the Chair - The chancellor's visit with the Faculty Senate has been rescheduled to May 6. The chair said that the senate elections are going well. He asked faculty to give their comments to the presidential search committee, on the four candidates for university president.

VI. General Education Study Committee Recommendations - The Agenda Committee asked the senate to vote in favor of the basic design of the General Education Study Committee recommendations and specified that this does not mean endorsing every word of the report. Approval is needed in order to name the UNH Discovery Program Committee and the faculty director of the program, so that they can begin to design the process and prepare an implementation plan for the consideration of the Faculty Senate. Implementation, if approved, would take a long time, because students who enter the university prior to the plan's acceptance would not be included in the program. Some external funding will be available for the program, but initial approval by the faculty and the president is needed first. Continuing oversight by the Faculty Senate will be required, and the implementation plan will come to the senate for approval or disapproval. Regular reports will be given to the Faculty Senate each year. There will also be a three-year and a five-year evaluation and review, and so safeguards are incorporated in the plan.

Some small departments are concerned that the availability of advanced courses for majors may be adversely affected by the Discovery Program requirements and also that, if the department replaces a large course with a smaller Discovery Program course, then overall enrollments may be reduced, thus affecting departmental allocations based on responsibility center management. A professor asked if a department could limit a Discovery Program course to that department's majors, because the department does not have enough professors to teach multiple sections of the upper-level courses which should have a relatively small student-teacher ratio. The General Education Study Committee did not envision a restriction to majors only, but many current general education courses might become Discovery Program courses, after passing the new approval process.

Some departments have very constrained requirements and are concerned that, with the new requirements in this program, their students would find it difficult or impossible to graduate in four years. The chair of the General Education Study Committee stated that there would be four years to figure out how to offer sufficient courses which would meet more than one Discovery Program requirement. A professor said that his department also would find it difficult to fit eight topic areas into five courses. A catch twenty-two situation occurs because faculty want to see how this would work before approval of the program, but such courses will not be developed until the program is approved.

Another faculty member said that the ideas in the new program are good but costly and that his department is not confident that the necessary funds will be available on the long term. The provost has said that there will be core support for the director of the Discovery Program and that the program would have the highest priority in the university budgetary system. The provost has already received $100,000 from private gifts and discretionary funds to support faculty development for the first year of the program and has requested the same amount for each of the subsequent two years. Faculty like the ideas in the program but are concerned that more teachers will be needed to fulfill the requirements of the new program and that permanent funding may not be available for that. Other professors suggested endorsing the committee recommendation, with a proviso that approval by the Faculty Senate would be needed before implementation. A faculty member suggested that an impact study should be done by the associate dean of his college. Another professor suggested running the old and new plans concurrently for a few years, in order to allow time for the creation of the necessary multi-requirement courses.

The senate chair passed out a motion to address these concerns and also handed out a letter from the Political Science Department. The motion specified that the approval of the Faculty Senate would be required prior to implementation. A faculty member expressed concern that the process would have great momentum and be difficult to stop. Another professor responded that the issue of funding would be addressed by the implementation committee before any approval of the implementation plan by the Faculty Senate. Until the faculty endorses the initial recommendation, the program is not in a position to ask for funds. Then, if the administration does not provide sufficient funds, the Faculty Senate could say that the funding plan is not adequate and that the senate does not give approval for implementation.

A professor expressed concern that students would find it even more difficult than now, to piece together courses that would meet a sufficient number of the requirements. She said that a coherent course plan is needed. Another faculty member asked where funds for this new program would be taken from. On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Ed Hinson moved that the senate approve the following motion:

The Faculty Senate commends the efforts of the senate's General Education Study Committee and accepts the basic design of the program. To facilitate the recommendations of the committee, the Faculty Senate moves that a Director of the UNH Discovery Program be named and the UNH Discovery Program Committee be empaneled. The UNH Discovery Program Committee working in consultation with the University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee (UCAPC) will develop an implementation plan. This plan is to be reviewed and endorsed by the Faculty Senate prior to implementation. Upon implementation, the UNH Discovery Program will undergo a third-year and a fifth-year review, and then the program will be reviewed every five years.

A friendly amendment was made and accepted to change the last sentence to: "If implementation is approved by the Faculty Senate, the UNH Discovery Program will undergo a third-year and a fifth-year review, and then the program will be reviewed every five years." Another friendly amendment was made to change the next to last sentence to: "Implementation of this plan will be contingent on approval by the Faculty Senate." The motion was tabled. A professor said that faculty want students to be able to do critical thinking and good writing and that the proposed program would build on the things that the faculty want. Many ideas from the current General Education Program would continue in the proposed Discovery Program, but with a new focus on inquiry. In the current program a student can graduate without any biological science course, and the proposed program would require study in this area. The senate thanks the committee for its work and will discuss these matters further.

VII. Adjournment - The meeting was adjourned.


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