UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 8 October, 2001

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2001/02 FACULTY SENATE

OCTOBER 8, 2001 - MINUTES SUMMARY


I. Roll - The following Faculty Senate members were absent: Burger, Carr, Denis, Draper, Frankel, Hageman, Halstead, Nicovich, Simpson, and VonDamm. Excused were Becker, Finn, Seidel, and Trowbridge.

II. Communications from the President - Since the September 11 attacks, the New England Center has had several cancellations; and the Interhostel Program has had to cancel some trips. The university has been in touch with all of the UNH students who are studying abroad, and there are no plans to curtail that program. The international students and scholars currently on the UNH campus seem to feel comfortable here as well. Campus forums are serving a useful purpose and have good faculty input. Many faculty are responding to requests from residence halls for discussions with groups of students about the current situation, and the Counseling Center is serving somewhat more clients than usual.

A professor asked if the president is considering cancelling programs such as the London Program, and the president replied that the university is not cancelling programs in parts of the world where the state department has not issued warnings about travel. The president added that the university is not concerned about travel to friendly nations and that UNH considers the educational value of these programs to be important. Senators also discussed how student interns deal with the concerns of their kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade students and their parents. The president replied that Socrates said that doubt and commitment are not incompatible and so we do not need to apologize for not having all the answers. We may need to live with greater ambiguity and uncertainty in our lives.

The president said that the associate vice president for university relations will retire soon and that, before a replacement is chosen, the administration and a consultant will review the organization of that office, which currently deals with publications, news bureau, and public programs and events. The university magazine and the legislative liaison are currently under Alumni Affairs. In addition, some colleges have specialized writers, and the people who make public relations videos currently report to the vice president for finance and administration. Continuing Education also has certain outreach and communication functions. The president said that the search committee for the new position should include a representative from the Faculty Senate and perhaps also a faculty member from the Department of Communication.

III. Communications from the Chair - The senate chair announced that the Agenda Committee forwarded three nominees for one seat on the Presidential Search Committee: Kenneth Baldwin, Pedro deAlba, and Raelene Shippee-Rice. In addition, the Agenda Committee nominated John Limber to represent the senate on the Internet Task Force, with the understanding that he will report to the senate regularly. Regarding the university accreditation process, Steve Hardy spoke to the Agenda Committee at its last meeting and will be asked to speak at a senate meeting later in the year. He said that the administration is considering an alternative form of self study which would use the strategic plan as the basis of the themes to be addressed by the self study. If this alternative self study is chosen, the work on the self study would further the strategic planning process. The senate chair asked for a senate volunteer to serve on the General Education Committee. Brad Manning, the director of environmental health and safety, may speak to the senate soon on the security of hazardous materials on campus.

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

V. Writing across the Curriculum - The Writing Center was established in 1994 to address writing needs and to provide consulting and faculty support. The Writing across the Curriculum program was implemented for freshmen entering in the fall of 1998. The courses which would fulfill the general education requirements for categories four through eight were to be writing intensive; and students must have a foundation of four writing-intensive courses including at least one in the major. Today the registrar's web site lists 645 writing-intensive courses at UNH. This fall, 10,543 students were enrolled in writing-intensive classes, and spaces were available for additional students in those courses. In writing-intensive courses, the writing must be a substantial and integral part of the course; and at least fifty percent of the grade must be on written work. Faculty are asked to intervene with writing when it is still in process and not just when it is completed. Writing should be a part of the intellectual process in the class.

A professor said that it is hard to do a writing-intensive class with as many as thirty-five students. The director of Writing across the Curriculum said that perhaps the writing committee should review whether there should be class caps for writing-intensive courses. Some universities have class caps of twenty to thirty-five students in writing-intensive courses. She added that, for professors with large classes, UNH has established a writing fellows program which could assist with the class, so that advanced peers could work with the students before the professor reviews the papers. A professor who has up to forty-eight students in her writing-intensive courses described her use of writing fellows, which are juniors and seniors who can help other students when the class has over thirty students. This professor also refers students to the writing center, which had over three thousand conferences with UNH students last year. The Writing Center would be glad to help professors address problems in their writing-intensive classes.

A physics professor discussed how she makes use of journals or writing notebooks and allows the students to rewrite their laboratory reports after receiving feedback and looking at examples. Faculty are invited to attend the Writing-across-the-Curriculum speakers series and to review the writing web site. A professor said that students need a good foundation in basic composition and that often they do not show such a foundation in later courses. There is a review committee for the English composition courses, and that committee has representatives from all the schools and colleges at UNH. Professors are welcome to give input on that review and to take their concerns to the director of the English composition courses. The chair of the General Education Study Committee will be asked to speak to the writing committee. Also, when students first encounter new material, they often concentrate so much on understanding the new information that the quality of their writing diminishes.

VI. Recommendation on the Draft of the Smoking Policy - The chair of the Faculty Senate's Student Affairs Committee presented a handout on the committee's recommendation not to approve the draft of the UNH Smoking Policy. Another professor said that, instead of not approving the draft, the senate should suggest modifications. The committee chair responded that the administration allowed only a short time for review and feedback and that the deadline is Friday. Other faculty members suggested that the senate should say that it would like to see a revision before giving approval to the draft. One professor said that we should not have a smoking policy at all, and another faculty member stated that a smoking policy is very much needed and that the senate should approve the smoking policy draft but ask for a thirty-foot non-smoking buffer zone, because second-hand smoke is harmful.

Some senators said that the senate committee's recommendation should be accepted, and other faculty suggested that the committee's recommendation should be forwarded to the president along with a summary of today's senate discussion on this issue. A professor said that the UNH Smoking Policy Task Force should work with the new student coalition which wants to engage faculty, staff and students to educate people about smoking. The chair of the senate's Student Affairs Committee moved that the Faculty Senate accept the senate committee's recommendations and forward them to the UNH Smoking Policy Task Force.

A professor said that the proposed smoking policy would be difficult to enforce and that he would not feel comfortable trying to enforce it. Another faculty member said that it is inappropriate to tell faculty and married graduate students that they cannot smoke in their own apartments in Forest Park. Another senator commented that the task force membership seems to be weighted towards the health fields and does not seem very diverse. The senate committee chair said that his committee members are all non-smokers and still recommend not approving the smoking policy draft. The senate chair said that the senate would vote on the committee's recommendation and that other faculty may give additional input as well, prior to the deadline on Friday. A senator added that the senate minutes summary on this issue should be included also. A professor said that the senate has not had time to take the senate committee recommendations to their departmental colleagues. Another senator said that the smoking policy draft should be revised and then presented to the Faculty Senate again.

The senate chair asked for a vote on the motion and said that, if it passes, he will send the motion along with the relevant portion of the senate minutes and any additional feedback from faculty. The original motion passed unanimously.

VII. Update on Faculty Lunch Meeting - The chair of the senate's Campus Planning Committee described the first faculty lunch meeting in the Oak Room of Huddleston Hall and also the preparations for that lunch meeting. The faculty attending the lunch discussed issues related to the charges of the Campus Planning Committee, including transportation policy, faculty housing, and traffic safety. The Campus Planning Committee chair said that the event was valuable and enjoyable, enhanced communication among faculty across the campus, and gave good input to the committee as it continues its deliberations.

VIII. Adjournment - The meeting was adjourned.

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