UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 26 November, 2012

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2012-13 FACULTY SENATE

NOVEMBER 26, 2012 - MINUTES SUMMARY

 

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Baldwin, Connelly, Dubnick, Ferber, Kaen, Minocha, Shetty, Shore, and Simos.  Guests were John Aber, Sonic Woytonik and Faye Richardson.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost said that three administrative searches are active.  One is to fill a position on inclusive excellence and faculty development, via an internal search as is done for interim dean searches.  Chris Shea of WSBE has been selected for that position and will start in January.  Another search is for an interim dean of the library and will use the same internal process.  The third search began during the summer for a dean of CHHS and is an external national search.  The on-campus interviews for three finalists will start this week.  The new method for “airport interviews” is to do them electronically, which saves a great deal of money and time.

III.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate vice chair said that he will lead today’s senate meeting because the senate chair is ill.  Faculty Senators are invited to attend a dinner with student senators in a private room at Philbrook Dining Hall, immediately after today’s Faculty Senate meeting.  The next Faculty Senate meeting will be Jan. 28, in 216 Hamilton Smith Hall at the usual time.  The room has been changed on a permanent basis.  Today’s planned reports on research faculty promotion and on the cost effectiveness of changes in methods of instruction have been postponed; and a report on guidelines for public/private ventures has been added instead.

IV.  Minutes – The minutes of the last senate meeting were approved with all ayes except for three abstentions.

V.  Motion to reduce the number of transfer credits required to waive the inquiry requirementOn behalf of the Discovery Committee, Barbara White presented the following motion:

Whereas the current policy states that the inquiry requirement is waived for students who transfer in with 58 or more credits, and whereas the inquiry course was primarily designed with the first year student in mind, and whereas the Discovery Committee agrees and supports the ASAC recommendation to reduce the number of credits required for the waiving of the requirement, for transfer students from 58 or more credits to 26 or more credits, applied retroactively to transfer students entering in fall of 2012, be it resolved that the policy governing the Discovery Program be revised from:

 

Inquiry course. This course may fulfill a Discovery category and/or a departmental requirement. It should be taken during a student’s first or second year or prior to completion of 57 credits. For students who transfer in with 58 or more credits, the INQ requirement is waived automatically.

 

and be changed to:

 

Inquiry course. This course may fulfill a Discovery category and/or a departmental requirement. It should be taken during a student’s first or second year or prior to completion of 57 credits. For students who transfer in with 26 or more credits, the INQ requirement is waived automatically.

Please note:  The number of credits for completion by current non-transfer students shall remain at 57 credits.

A senator said that the inquiry course is foundational to the university experience and that, if this motion were passed, the transfer students would miss that foundation.  Moreover, some of the UNH students take the inquiry course during their sophomore year and would still be required to complete the course even though the sophomore transfer students would be exempted from that requirement.  The senator said that this motion would create an unfair difference for the two groups.  The motion’s presenter replied that the inquiry course was designed for freshmen but that, if they cannot or do not take the course in the freshman year, they must complete the requirement in the sophomore year.  The associate deans have requested that sophomore transfer students be released from this requirement in order to make more seats available for UNH freshmen and also because the transfer students may already have had an experience similar to an inquiry course.  Another senator said that one part of the rationale for requiring an inquiry course was to build student relationships with full-time UNH faculty, and the transfer students would need that opportunity.

A professor said that some transfer students are in the sciences and will have very tight course schedules and also that a significant number of transfer students are non-traditional students with extensive life experiences.  Another professor replied that we owe the same university experience to the transfer students as to the continuing UNH students.  The motion presenter said that, in order to help more students get into an inquiry course in the freshman year, the faculty advisor should recommend to the student not one but three suitable inquiry courses, so that if one course is full, the student can try to get into one of the other two, and that this method would encourage more students to complete the requirement in the freshman year.  Enough inquiry seats are available but may not be the student’s first choice.  A senator said that the university should allocate sufficient resources to provide seats in the student’s area of interest. 
Another senator said that the senate should assist the associate deans in their desire to free up seats, by passing today’s motion.  A professor said that the senate should not go against the very well-thought-out plan of discovery course requirements just because of practical concerns.  The motion passed with twenty-one ayes, ten nays and five abstentions.

VI.  Report from the senate vice chair, on implementation of last year’s senate motions – The senate vice chair provided a written report on the implementation status of each motion passed by the senate last year and gave highlights as follows.  Motion XVI-M6 mandates that the January-term e-learning session be four weeks long, beginning shortly after Christmas, in order to allow time for contact with the instructor or participation in course discussions comparable to the time so devoted in ordinary semester-long courses and states that this requirement shall take effect in academic year 2012-13.  However, the January term now covers parts of four weeks but includes only seventeen days rather than twenty.  The J-term will be expanded next year to nineteen days.  It is hard to fit in the full twenty days without affecting the winter holiday or moving spring term to a later start and end date.

Motion XVI-M8 on transitioning to retirement resolved that the Faculty Senate shall call on the administration to:  (1) gather in a single website or document the benefits that retirees enjoy (such as access to the library, the gym, parking, email, tuition waivers, and the possibility of teaching emeritus courses), as well as the options and procedures for moving toward retirement, (2) make known periodically the availability of a counselor on these subjects, and (3) sponsor a retired faculty advisory group, to be composed of both retired and current faculty, which would meet periodically with a representative of the administration.  However, the senate vice chair has not been able to locate such a website or document.  Lisa MacFarlane has indicated that such a website could be set up as part of the academic affairs website.  That is a work in progress.  There is an active group of retired and emeriti faculty, chaired by Professor Alfred Bogle.  The senate vice chair may find out if there is a senate-appointed representative on that group and consider possible bridges between former and current faculty.  He will work to bring that motion to full implementation.

Senate motion XVI-M12 on the SARRC budget states that the Faculty Senate advises the university administration to develop and communicate to the Faculty Senate a justifiable and viable policy guaranteeing that the SARRC budget, funded primarily by the student deferred maintenance fee and the RCM square foot charge for facilities paid by RCM units, should only fund the repair and renovation projects reflected in the annual strategic improvements priority list, in keeping with SARRC’s primary role.  Vice President Dick Cannon said recently that he will bring this matter, along with other items, to the Space Allocation, Repair and Renovation Committee (SARRC).  In the past, a significant amount of SARRC funds has been spent on new buildings rather than on repair and renovation.  There should be a clear policy.  The senate’s vice chair will follow up on this issue and reference the original motion to SARRC. 

At the 11/19 Agenda Committee meeting, the provost said that he had a good discussion with the senate chair and vice chair about senate motion XVI-M19, which was passed last spring on cluster hires, and that in January he will draft a policy on cluster hires and bring it to the Faculty Senate for discussion.  That motion includes the following.

…the Faculty Senate resolves that the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the six Offices of the College Deans and the library, and the Faculty Senate collaborate in establishing a university policy document on cluster hires that includes but is not limited to (1) a definition of the tenure-track cluster hire, (2) clarification of criteria for proposing and authorizing cluster hires, (3) delineation of a transparent decision-making process that clearly designates which unit or units have the authority to propose or authorize cluster hires, (4) identification of safeguards or “tests” that cluster-hire proposals must meet that ensure they are not authorized at the expense of eroding the strength and quality of academic departments in terms of undergraduate education, curriculum, operational capacity, and scholarly programs (the University of Wisconsin provides an example of such a policy, based on fourteen years experience with cluster hires), and (5) establishment of a process for periodic evaluation and reporting of the effectiveness of cluster-hire activities in meeting the goals and objectives of the university, colleges, and academic departments.  The Faculty Senate further moves that the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs refrain in the future from privileging cluster hires over departmental hires until “cluster hires” are institutionalized within the framework of official university policy as prescribed above.  The Faculty Senate further resolves that the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs provide an annual report to the Faculty Senate, the six Offices of the College Deans, the Dean of the Library, and the Director of the Thompson School, that provides data on the number and type of tenure track positions proposed to that office (e.g., cluster hire, joint appointment, department hire), which college or other unit made the proposals, and which positions ultimately were authorized by that office.

The senate vice chair said today that he will review and report on existing cluster-hire policies at other institutions.  Hiring is a critical issue, and clear definitions and policy on cluster hiring are essential.  A senator said that CEPS has a policy which only covers procedural guidelines if a cluster hire will occur.  Many faculty believe that administrators giving conditions to departments about their hiring is a bad practice.  A senator added that control of academics should be in the academic departments and not top down.  This is a key aspect of academic freedom.  A professor said that his department believes that these hiring practices are the most important issue in the university.  His department has curricular needs but was not allowed to do any hiring, although cluster hires were approved.  Senators agreed that the policy should be written and approved via shared governance and that the Faculty Senate should have a key role in that process.  As stated in senate motion XVI-M15, “shared governance requires significant faculty representation through senate appointments to any university-level committee or commission dealing with charges that directly or indirectly pertain to the university’s academic mission… and the Faculty Senate further resolves that, although senate appointees will participate in advancing the respective charges put before those committees, panels, or commissions, the primary role of the senate appointees is to serve as representatives of the Faculty Senate and its responsibility for the overall academic mission.”  Shared governance is not accomplished when administrators select a faculty member who is an advocate of their preferred outcome.

After discussion by senators on who should draft the cluster-hire policy, the senate vice chair said that there does not appear to be a committee on cluster hire policy and that the policy could be drafted by the provost but that then the provost will bring the draft to the Faculty Senate for input.  The past senate chair added that the provost could draft the policy and that then the Faculty Senate could accept or reject it or ask for modifications.  Senate motion XVI-M19 said in part that the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs should refrain in the future from privileging cluster hires over departmental hires until cluster hires are institutionalized within the framework of official university policy as prescribed in the motion.  That means that hires in progress when the motion was passed could continue but that no new round of cluster hires should occur until a cluster-hire policy is approved via the shared governance process described in the motion.  The provost indicated last week that new hires are not occurring at this time and that he hopes the policy approval process will be complete before the deans bring their hiring and budgetary proposals to the provost in March.

Senate motions XVI-M18 and M20 called for the creation of an ad-hoc Promotion and Tenure Standards Oversight Committee and an ad-hoc Teaching Evaluation Form Implementation Committee.  The deans were asked to hold elections for faculty members of those committees and to provide administrative members to the committees.  Two colleges and the library provided those members, but the other colleges did not; and so the Faculty Senate vice chair has sent ballots to faculty in the remaining colleges.  That election process should be completed shortly.  The charges of those two committees are very important issues.

VII.  Report from the Finance and Administration Committee, on college RCM advisory committees – The FAC was charged with assessing how well individual college RCM advisory committees are functioning.  In preparation for this assessment, the FAC was asked to review the 4/21/03 FAC report, item V of the 5/3/2010 senate minutes, item III of the 11/16/09 senate minutes, and the 7/20/2011 senate planning seminar minutes.  Then the FAC asked for input from certain deans and from three department chairs from each college.  Little information was found on the existence of any college RCM advisory committees.  In some colleges, the Executive Committees debate RCM issues.  Apparently in the College of Liberal Arts, there are several committees dealing with some aspects of RCM but no one committee, and the COLA Executive Committee does not usually discuss RCM.

VIII.  Motion from the Campus Planning Committee, on guidelines for public/private venturesIhab Farag proposed and Gary Weisman seconded a motion on guidelines for public/private ventures.  The motion had been sent to the senators on email.  The chair of the senate’s Campus Planning Committee said that last spring there was concern that public/private ventures had suddenly appeared in the Campus Master Plan without shared governance.  After friendly amendments were accepted, today’s motion was as follows.

Whereas the purpose of the University of New Hampshire is to provide high quality undergraduate and graduate education through the engagement and collaboration of faculty and students in teaching, research and service; and whereas the university’s physical campuses are a primary, fixed resource in accomplishing this mission; and whereas any commitment of land resources to a private/public venture, as outlined in the current Campus Master Plan(s), will potentially have long-term impacts on the availability of space for educational/research activities and the character of the physical campuses; therefore let it be resolved that the Faculty Senate calls on the university administration to create a set of guidelines for evaluating proposals for public/private partnerships.  These guidelines shall state criteria used to evaluate the fit of a partnership with a particular private organization, the minimum criteria under which such a partnership would be considered, and the goals and outcomes for which such a partnership shall aim. These guidelines shall be developed in a transparent manner and shall be communicated to faculty, students and the local communities before finalization.

After discussion, a senator asked for unanimous consent for voting on this motion today, without the motion lying over to the next senate meeting.  Since there was no objection, the vote was held today; and the motion passed unanimously.

 IX.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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