UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from  16 October, 2006





I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Burger and Morgan.  Excused was Niser.  Guests were Steve Hardy, Joanne Curran-Celentano, Katherine Steere, and John Parker.

II.  Update on graduation rates among UNH athletes – Steve Hardy said that UNH is again undergoing National Collegiate Athletic Association certification.  A self study which began a year ago was completed last May and sent to the NCAA; and there will be an open meeting on Wednesday, October 18, in the New England Center.  The three categories are governance and compliance; equity, diversity and student welfare; and academic integrity.  The federal graduation rate showing a four-year rolling average is used to compare UNH scholarship athletes with UNH students overall, on the basis of the percent who graduate within six years.  UNH has about 320 scholarship athletes.  About 70% to 72% of UNH students overall graduate from UNH within six years, and the overall average graduation rate of UNH scholarship athletes is above that, although the rate for men’s basketball has not been good in the recent past.  This type of comparison does not count incoming transfers, although outgoing transfers or withdrawals for any reason count as non-graduation.  In a second type of comparison, the NCAA graduation success rate (GSR) counts incoming transfers who graduate but does not count outgoing transfers or withdrawals with good academic standing.  This measure can compare UNH athletes with those from other schools but not with the UNH students overall.  On the GSR, UNH athletes appear to be in the upper middle when compared to athletes from other schools in the region.  A third method is the “academic progress rate”, which awards one point for each athlete who remains with the institution and one point for each athlete who meets academic eligibility standards.  The total for all athletes is divided by the total points possible, which is two points per athlete.  The Committee on Academic Performance will finalize details of the penalty structure over the next year.  UNH’s overall academic progress rate among scholarship athletes appears relatively good.

III.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair introduced an announcement from student government to invite faculty senators to join student senators for a potluck dinner on November 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building.  The senate chair and the provost have agreed on an extension to February 1 for the academic plan review, and the senate chair will send the charge for that review to the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee, Student Affairs Committee, Finance and Administration Committee, and Research and Public Service Committee.  The Faculty Senate will cosponsor a campus conversation on the final draft report from the Commission on the Future of Higher Education and also a workshop on “Good Practices in Tenure Evaluation”, as well as conversations on free speech and civility on campus.

IV.  Update on the AAUP Caucus – The senate past chair said that the UNH chapter of the AAUP has just held a caucus meeting where there was a vote of 39 to 6 for work to rule effective immediately.  The AAUP leadership and negotiating team said that the gap is wide between what is offered and what is requested, and thus the AAUP leaders are concerned that there may be a long impasse.  How to interpret work to rule is up to the individual faculty member, and faculty should continue to teach their classes.  The past chair of the senate said that he had told the provost that the entire tenor of faculty relations with the administration can be determined by the contract negotiations.  The senate chair said that he will ask the senate’s Agenda Committee at its next meeting to recommend appropriate amendments to the rules of procedure of the Faculty Senate.  He will not ask for any vote from the senate today, except for approval of the minutes.

During the new business section of the meeting, a senator expressed concern that the administration’s bargaining team is not treating the faculty with respect.  He said that faculty will not get a good contract unless the administration thinks that the faculty as a whole will not stand for less than a good contract; and therefore faculty need to participate in work to rule.  He said that the offer put on the table this time is a roll back on faculty compensation in real terms, and so the faculty negotiators have called for work to rule now in the hopes of speeding up the process.  An unfair labor practice has been filed.

V.  Minutes – The senate unanimously, except for two abstentions, approved the minutes of the last Faculty Senate meeting.

VI.  Report on Greek affairs – Rob Robertson, a member of the senate’s 2005/06 Student Affairs Committee, said that a performance review system was approved by the UNH fraternities and sororities.  Steve Pappajohn, who was the program advisor for Greek affairs, has left the university; and Paul Ramsey will serve as the acting program advisor until the search to fill the position is completed.  There may be a reorganization of the reporting structure for that position.  Faculty advisors are needed for most fraternities and sororities, and faculty are asked to become advisors.

VII.  Report on curtailment charge – Marco Dorfsman, who is chair of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee, said that his committee was asked to consider what the university should do if an examination day needs to be curtailed because of bad weather, as happened last December.  Operations were curtailed; and there were ad-hoc arrangements made which, although inconvenient, seemed to deal with the problem adequately.  The committee recommends that nothing more needs to be done.

VIII.  Discovery Program implementation and categories – Marco Dorfsman said that he has asked senators to provide input from their faculty colleagues on the Discovery Program implementation and categories and that he has asked the department chairs for their opinion as well.  The original implementation plan indicated that the Faculty Senate should vote on the Discovery Program categories this fall.  Discovery Program teaching has three defining principles:  self-referential learning where the methodology is explained, interdisciplinarity, and active or engaged learning where students participate in the learning process.  Those were not radical ideas, and the Faculty Senate had been in favor of them.

With input from the faculty, the Academic Affairs Committee has identified a number of issues which it is working on at this time and plans to bring to the senate soon.  The language dealing with two of the categories (Social Identity and the Individual and Technology, Environment and Society) is now being revised by two members of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee and two members of the Discovery Program Advisory Committee and perhaps others; and the results will come to the senate for a decision.  The principles of the Discovery Program need to be stated clearly in the UNH catalogue.  Interdisciplinarity is at the heart of the Discovery Program.  Some courses will count towards two categories.  Considering the allotment committee’s preliminary data on course offerings and what resources the provost will provide to the academic units for the initial support of the program, Marco Dorfsman thinks that, as far as the conversion of General Education Program categories to Discovery Program categories is concerned, there may not be much more pressure for resources than there is in the General Education Program.  The Academic Affairs Committee will continue to discuss how engaged learning is used in deciding whether courses will transfer from the General Education Program to the Discovery Program.  Approval of many courses is still in the “pending” category.  Communication about the approval process needs to be improved, and the process needs to be reviewed.  The committee hopes to have a clear statement about the approval process soon.  At this point the number of categories is not under review; but more courses which would count for two categories may be necessary, so that the number of courses needed by each student does not increase.

A senator said that the Discovery Program website indicated that no pedagogical changes would be needed for conversion from General Education courses to Discovery Program courses, but is that true?  Also, she would like to see a complete apologia on why the new categories are the correct ones, why the old ones are not correct, and why no other categories should be included.  Why do we need a social identity category?  She would like a feasibility analysis to figure out who will be the winners and losers in the process of conversion.  The original document was the General Education Study Report, which laid out much of the groundwork and the rationale; but is that document still relevant?  Another senator said that, although students need to taste courses in other disciplines, the separation of disciplines is important and useful.  A number of professors said that moving from seven to ten categories causes problems, because there is a very limited choice of courses which will count for two categories and which students could take to keep the number of required courses down to seven, so that students can graduate in four years.  This is not only a problem for the science and engineering students but also for many students in the humanities who double major.  A senator said that either the number of categories should be reduced or the number of “double-dipping” courses must be significantly increased.

Also, some of the categories such as the humanities category are very broad, while others such as the Social Identity and the Individual category are very small.  A senator asked that any motions and supporting documents be circulated far in advance so that there will be time for the departments to discuss the issues.  One goal of the Discovery Program is for students to be exposed to courses in many different disciplines.  The Discovery Program is not radically different from the General Education Program but modernizes the program somewhat, although the idea of engaged learning is a difference.  A professor said that the proposed move to the Discovery Program is useful for marketing and publicizing the university, but he asked if the change would actually benefit the students or faculty.

IX.  Senate committees – Lynn Kistler will be the chair of the senate’s Research and Public Service Committee, and Dan Reid will chair the senate’s Library Committee.  The list of senate committee chairs and members has been sent to the senators on email.

X.  New business – A senator announced with regret the passing of Professor Tom Trout, who was associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a professor in the Political Science Department.  He was a nationally-recognized scholar of national and international security and American and Soviet defense policy.  Memorials will be held on October 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the J. Verne Wood Funeral Home and on October 29 at 2:00 p.m. in Huddleston Hall; and contributions may be made to the B. Thomas Trout Scholar Fund through the Elliot Alumni Center.

VIII. Adjournment – Today’s meeting was adjourned.                                                                                                                          _______________________________________________________________________________________________

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