UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from  28 January, 2008



JANUARY 28, 2008 - MINUTES SUMMARY        


I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Afolayan, Barcelona, Calculator, Hamlin, Lane, Onosko and Park.  Excused were Brunet, Dorfsman, Dowd, Haskins, Klein and Senier.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The director of EOS is leaving that position.  An interim director will be appointed and a national search begun.  The senate chair said that he is still waiting for a response from the administration concerning the issues raised during the recent senate discussion of field trip guidelines.  Roger Beatty has sent to the senate chair a report on academic retention for minority students and may report later to the senate.  Also an exit survey of college seniors will be sent to the Agenda Committee on email.

The senate chair and vice chair and chair of the senate’s Research and Public Service Committee spoke with the university president and the vice president for research, about the concerns the senate expressed on 12/3/07, about research strategic planning and other research issues.  In addition, the senate had indicated that a faculty observer should be appointed to the Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Strategic Planning Committee, but the president has recently folded that committee together with the Vice President for Research Search Committee, in order to form a Presidential Blue Ribbon Panel on Research at UNH.  Kevin Gardner, the senate’s observer to the Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Strategic Planning Committee, attended the recent retreat of the panel and will give a report to the senate today.

The Agenda Committee has declined to appoint representatives to the Faculty Awards Committee and to the Advisory Board of the Office of Sponsored Research during work to rule and has stated that, if those committees were to function without this faculty participation, that would be a violation of shared governance.  The senate chair has charged the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee and Professional Standards Committee to review and make recommendations on the USNH background check policy and has invited the heads of the Graduate Student Organization and the Graduate Council to participate in that discussion.  Vice President for Finance Dick Cannon and Sharon Demers have sent documentation on this matter to the Agenda Committee and may discuss those issues with the committee.

III.  Minutes – Unanimously except for one abstention, the senate approved the minutes of the last Faculty Senate meeting with two changes:  to modify paragraph two of item V to say that “UNH has gotten about two hundred million dollars in federal ear-marked funds since 2000” and to add to paragraph three of item II that another senator said that the EOS deficit is not due to any reduction of income but rather to a change in the way funds are assessed centrally via the new RCM formula.

IV.  Report on the retreat of the Presidential Blue Ribbon Panel on Research – Kevin Gardner was the senate’s observer at the retreat held by the Presidential Blue Ribbon Panel on Research.  The charge of that group is to lay the groundwork for a successful vice presidential search next year and the foundation for a robust and enduring research enterprise at UNH, by addressing three questions:  (1) what does UNH need to do to ensure the vitality of research, scholarship, and creative activity for the next ten years? (2) what is the right mission and organizational structure for the Office of Research and the right qualifications for a vice president for research? and (3) how do we ensure that research activities are integrally connected to and supportive of the broader academic mission?  Regarding the first question, the university president said that research is central to the university’s mission and critical to its identity and that there is an unhealthy divide at UNH between research and teaching.  Regarding the second question on structure, the president asked the panel to look for incentives and disincentives that exist for engaging in research and creative scholarship and to review responsibility center management, promotion and tenure guidelines, and other factors in this context.  Thirdly, the president asked how the university can fix the cultural divide that exists and how incentives and disincentives can be properly aligned.  He asked those at the retreat to air issues and exchange ideas, and he proposed that a working group of eight or so persons would gather data and information, engage the stakeholders, and prepare recommendations for the president to move toward resolution of these issues.

Scott Long, who is the associate vice provost at Indiana University, discussed the structure of and funding for the office of the vice provost for research at Indiana University.  Then John Aber gave an historical perspective of research at UNH and discussed some structural and incentive-related problems.  Joseph Klewicki spoke on issues such as the need for alignment of the missions of departments, colleges and the university as a whole.  Break-out groups then discussed four questions:  (1) how would you organize and structure research operations at UNH?  (2) what are current financial incentives and disincentives for research at UNH and what changes need to be made to ensure the vitality of research, scholarship and creative activity?  (3) what funding opportunities are available to UNH institutes, centers, faculty and students and how can access to those be improved? and (4) how can UNH optimize the involvement and engagement of all faculty, research scientists and students, in research and the broader academic mission?

Regarding organization and structure, research is a core value; and if the culture is modified, structural changes will follow.  The culture might be changed via workshops, inclusive discussion, promotion and tenure expectations, and valuing teaching and research and perhaps the service aspect of the academic mission equally.  Research could be incorporated more fundamentally into the Deans’ Council, and the vice president for research could report to the provost.  The Academic Council could include the vice president for research and the heads of major centers and institutes.  The panel discussed heavy teaching loads as being the largest disincentive to research.  The definition of scholarship should be clarified, broadened, and coherent throughout the university.  The panel discussed partnering research faculty and tenure-track faculty in various ways and also incentives to take advantage of undergraduate research and on-going funded research.  Research faculty case studies could highlight success stories.  The Office of Sponsored Research could become more service oriented, to improve the experience of faculty who may be out of the funding loops.

Amitava Battacharjee and Jan Nisbet will convene the task force to work on the group’s charge, and on February 20 the vice president for research from the University of Delaware will speak to the group.  Feedback from faculty will be sought through executive councils and web-based input.  Today the senate chair said that the group should also obtain feedback from the Faculty Senate.  A senator asked if there was discussion of financial incentives, and Kevin Gardner replied in the negative.  Merit pay is an issue in the contract negotiations.  How to increase the number of Ph.D. graduates was discussed at the retreat.  Today a senator said that there is a dichotomy not only between faculty who are active in research and those who are not but also between the large research centers or institutes and the smaller researchers.  The panel had discussed evaluating equally the different types of research and teaching, as well as service.  There are many different aspects of inquiry, and those should be rewarded.  There is friction between the perceived value of research, especially big research and the value of undergraduate teaching.  A professor said that often research and outreach which serves the needs of the state do not receive high research grants.  Some colleges, especially COLSA, seem to be down-grading that type of work, and we need a resolution of that.

A senator said that one shared-governance issue is how the administration structures and facilitates valued activities and that the integration of research and teaching shows a disfunction in this area.  When faculty have big teaching loads and many advisees, there is little opportunity to engage in research.  Service is an important part of the university’s mission as well, but it is not being sufficiently recognized.  Also, what amount of service is required of faculty?  A professor pointed out that research faculty deal frequently with graduate students and sometimes undergraduate students as well.  The senate would like to know who the members of the research task force are and how they represent the various types of research on campus.  Does the group include members who represent the faculty who both teach and do research?

Now the largest institute is running a deficit, and the administration is providing central funds to offset that.  A senator said that EOS is a contributing member of the university and brings in $8,500,000.  This amount has not decreased, but the central assessment to the university under the new RCM formulas increased and created a deficit.  The president is allocating central funds to mitigate the EOS deficit, and a professor said that those funds could have been spent on other purposes.

A professor said that teaching loads in a given department can be hugely different and that salaries at the same promotion level can also vary greatly.  A senator said that the university underfunds teaching assistants, which makes competing for them uncompetitive, and he said that better funding for the teaching assistants would improve both the academic and the research programs.  Another senator added that recruiting new faculty is also difficult when the potential faculty know that they would be teaching five classes per academic year, doing outreach and site visits and accomplishing research, especially when there is an on-going contract dispute.  A professor asked how research is supposed to dovetail with teaching and added that some of his research equipment is now being used in teaching labs.  On the science side of campus, the integration of teaching and research may be different from that in liberal arts or business education.  How are the creative enterprises and the research enterprises perceived and understood?  Tenure track faculty members have teaching, research and outreach responsibilities and tend to integrate these activities.  However, the university has promoted research and institutes and may be relying increasingly on contract faculty to teach courses.  These latter groups of individuals typically have responsibilities in only one of those three areas.  This may be an important factor contributing to the perception that research is not being fully integrated into the other aspects of our institutional mission.  A member of the Art Department said that the university does not provide him with space in which to paint and that he must rent his own lab, a studio in Portsmouth, in order to accomplish the research/creative activity which the university requires.

V.  What shared governance means in the context of work to rule – The 12/3/07 senate which authorized an observer rather than a member for the research planning group had said that this matter should be discussed further at today’s meeting.  Senators said that the choices today include providing a full member or an observer, refusing to participate during work to rule, or withdrawing from the process while stating that the functioning of such a group without this faculty participation would be deemed a violation of shared governance.  After the senate discussed the pros and cons of the choices, a senator suggested that the Faculty Senate could communicate to the president and other administrators that work such as the research panel’s proceeding during work to rule and without participation provided by the Faculty Senate will be deemed a violation of shared governance.

Jeff Salloway moved and Rochelle Lieber seconded that, in as much as the primary resource of the university is the quality of its faculty and in as much as the university does not have at this time a contractual relationship with that faculty, the Faculty Senate will not send a member to the Presidential Blue Ribbon Panel on Research or other such committees and also that the furtherance of the panel’s work would be deemed to be a violation of shared governance.  This would mean that the senate would withdraw even its observer and that the administration would be put on notice that implementation of new policy or plans on academic matters without participation provided by the Faculty Senate could result in a vote of censure or no confidence.  The motion passed with twenty ayes, nine nays and two abstentions.

Last year the Faculty Senate passed a motion stating in part that:

The Faculty Senate will take no decisions and no actions during this period of work to rule, and the Faculty Senate expects the university administration to take no decisions and no actions on all those areas over which the faculty has primary or co-equal responsibility.  Should such actions be taken, the Faculty Senate will be prepared to take appropriate action including but not limited to motions of censure and no confidence. 

The university president had been asked to attend today’s senate meeting to discuss matters of shared governance, but he said that his schedule was too full to attend today.  A senator proposed that the senate continue to ask the president to have this discussion with the senate, and this will be decided later.

VI.  Adjournment – Today’s meeting was adjourned.     


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