UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 23 October, 2000




I. Roll - The following Faculty Senate members were absent: Archer, Bornstein, Christie, Denis, Draper, Givan, Halstead, McCann and VonDamm. Excused were Hiller, Stine, and Trowbridge.

II. Communications with the president - The president mentioned the background of and the university's response to a recent suicide by a student. The president asked that all faculty be especially attentive to students who might be in need and said that concerns may be referred to the Counseling Center or to Gregg Sanborn. The president compared enrollment data for this year with the previous three academic years and said that, although enrollment has improved, it is not yet up to the 1997 level. The current year's graduating class will be large, and so UNH is not likely to see an increase in total undergraduate enrollment until next year. The residence halls now are crowded not only because of the large number of freshmen but also because many older students want to continue to live on campus. The university expects to break ground for a new residence hall this spring.

The president said that the student-to-faculty ratio is better now than it was in 1994 to 1997, but there are some areas of the university where this ratio is higher than others. In response to a faculty member's question, the president said that next time she would bring to the senate information on whether those figures are for full-time tenure-track faculty or include part-time instructors. The president agreed that there may be local problems in some departments which have lost several tenure-track professors. She added that this year four classes appeared to have more students than seats, because some students preferred to attend that section of the class even though they were registered for another section.

The president said that a document on critical planning issues will soon be distributed and that input will be solicited from the constituencies and from the Faculty Senate. The university must search for a more effective, collegial and timely process for collective bargaining, and this process must be shaped from a common understanding of our goals. We must consider what are our human and financial resources and what will the university be like for the next decade. How do we build a community that values differences and debate and still can build consensus? The president said that this review is part of the faculty defining the university and that this can only be done by the faculty.

III. Definition of a Quorum - The senate chair said that, by any definition proposed, a quorum is present at this senate meeting. Daniel Beller-McKenna presented a motion from the Agenda Committee to amend item 3.C. of the Faculty Senate Bylaws to read "A quorum must be present for the legal transaction of business, and a quorum will consist of a majority of the voting members. Voting members are defined as all faculty senators who have been elected by eligible departments. Departments that choose not to elect a senator are therefore not counted. Senators maybe represented by proxy." The rationale for this amendment to the bylaws is that, according to the practice of all previous years and also according to the advice of the university attorney last year, the senate's quorum has been calculated as more than half of the persons who are faculty senators. According to Robert's Rules of Order, the chair of the meeting counts towards a quorum but cannot vote unless there is a tie. Today's motion is to clarify that the words "voting members", in item 3.C. of the senate bylaws, refer to the persons elected to the senate and not to all the possible seats which may or may not have elected representatives.

Motions which come from a committee do not require a second. A faculty member said that item 3.C. of the bylaws states that "a quorum will consist of a majority of the voting members" and that item 4 of the bylaws says, "For purposes of Faculty Senate membership, academic departments are listed below". He added that item 2 of the constitution says that "For purposes of Faculty Senate membership, the Library, the Thompson School, and UNH-Manchester shall be treated in the same way as departments. (See Bylaw 4)". He interpreted the above to mean that that the number of voting members is the same as the number of departments which are eligible to elect senators and also that the main motion would be a change to the constitution and not just to the bylaws and therefore would require a two-thirds vote for passage.

Another professor responded that the departments are listed in the bylaws only to show which departments are eligible to have senators and that, if a department chooses not to elect a senator, that department would not have a voting member. The senate's parliamentarian agreed, stating that Robert's Rules of Order defines a member as a person and not as the opportunity to have a representative. He added that, in the United States Congress when a member dies or resigns, the number of voting members changes. The main motion is a clarification of item 3.C. of the bylaws and is not a change of the Faculty Senate Constitution. A motion to call the question was seconded and passed with twenty-five ayes, no nays, and three abstentions. The main motion to clarify the quorum passed with twenty-eight ayes, three nays, and two abstentions.

IV. Senate chair and vice chair - On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Pedro de Alba made a motion to elect Jerry Finn as Faculty Senate chair and Dan Reid as the vice chair. Nominations were invited from the floor. The motion passed unanimously.

V. University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee - The Agenda Committee nominated the following members to the UCAPC: Ellen Fitzpatrick to replace Greg McMahon, Dan Beller-McKenna to replace Bob Connors, Lou Powell to replace Steve Hardy, and Jeff Klenotic to be the member from UNH-Manchester. The motion passed unanimously. The senate chair said that the provost apparently would like the University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee to grow into a university-wide curriculum committee as well as to exert oversight over the responsibility center management system; and the provost sites the sentence saying that the purpose of the UCAPC is to "uphold the academic mission, integrity, and priorities of the university." A professor suggested that we need to discuss the role of the UCAPC compared to that of the General Education Committee. Another faculty member said that the UCAPC originated as an oversight committee regarding responsibility center management and that we should be careful how we allow it to be redefined. The UCAPC was intended to deal with curriculum matters that involve more than one college or school.

VI. Academic Standards and Advising Committee - At the last senate meeting, concern was expressed that the Academic Standards and Advising Committee does not have any Faculty Senator or other faculty member on the committee. The senate chair has discussed the matter with the provost who agreed to faculty membership on the committee but added that it meets in June and at other times when the faculty are often not available. The provost asked whether faculty would prefer to provide a voting member who would attend the meetings and help with the work or whether it would be better to have a non-voting faculty member who would review the minutes and attend when available.

A senate member said that the concern about the committee is that it meets when faculty are not on campus and changes grades without even notifying the faculty member that a grade has been changed. Also, the faculty member on the committee should be able to report to the senate about matters discussed by the committee. Confidentiality could be addressed simply by not including students' names in the report to the senate. Professor Simpson said that he had served previously on that committee as a full-fledged voting member and that he does not remember any grade being changed during his tenure. Also, he was not a Faculty Senate member at that time. The original speaker replied that, within the last two years, a grade from his department was changed by that committee from a D to a withdraw passing and that the faculty member who had given the grade was not informed.

Professor Mills, who was on the Academic Standards and Advising Committee many years ago, said that the faculty representative should stay on that committee for more than one year so that he would be knowledgeable and able to see that the committee's actions are consistent with university policy. Professors said that this would be a time-consuming committee which needs continuity, and so the faculty representative should not be a faculty senator and should serve for at least a two-year term. Concern was also expressed that documents setting up the ASAC have not been found, in spite of a search last year. What are the functions of the committee and the criteria used? The senate chair said that the senate's Academic Affairs Committee should review the matter of what type of faculty representation should be on the ASAC and what the charge and criteria are for ASAC.

VII. Minutes - The minutes of May 1, September 11 and 25, and October 9 were unanimously approved.

VIII. Motion on procedures - On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Guy Petty moved that the procedure for new motions from the floor be as follows.

· The author reads the motion to the faculty senate.

· If the motion is in order, the senate chair sends the motion to a designated committee within two working days.

· If an urgent issue arises, the senate may decide by a majority vote that the issue be discussed and voted on immediately.

· After providing the author of the motion with the opportunity to address the committee's questions and concerns, the committee deliberates and prepares a report to the senate by the next senate meeting. The report may include specific recommendations or may indicate that more time is needed for adequate review of the subject.

· If the committee's recommendation is to submit a motion on the subject, the senate votes on the motion from the committee either at the same senate meeting in which the committee's motion is presented or at the next senate meeting if time is needed to get input from departmental colleagues.

The Agenda Committee prepared this motion because it is interested in efficient and effective governance. In an attempt to proceed deliberately in the next session, this policy would be used for processing motions not coming from committees. Motions of an immediate nature have, under this process, avenues for immediate action; and motions that require or would benefit from refinement and/or consensus-building input have a vehicle for those activities as well. The impetus for this action is to eliminate the inefficient activity of crafting motions by the entire body of the senate during senate meetings.

After concern was expressed about the definition of "new motions", a professor suggested changing that to "substantive motions". Another faculty member suggested distributing motions when possible for discussion on email in advance of the meeting. Professors stated that the chair already has the right to rule that a motion should go to committee. The senate then could overrule the chair if desired. Therefore this motion is not needed. The senate parliamentarian agreed that any member can move to refer a motion to committee, and the referral motion could be voted on immediately. In addition, motions from the floor about new topics should be dealt with at the end of the senate meeting after the current agenda is completed. After a few minutes of debate, if a motion does not have consensus, it should go to a senate committee which can review the issues and work up clear, concise and appropriate wording. This will also provide for time to consult with departmental colleagues. The motion in question was considered superfluous and did not pass, on a vote of nine ayes, nineteen nays, and no abstentions.

IX. Adjournment - Today's meeting was adjourned after senate committees met briefly to elect a chair and set up their own meeting schedule.

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