UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 28 November, 2011

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2011-12 FACULTY SENATE

NOVEMBER 28, 2011 - MINUTES SUMMARY

 

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  DiNapoli, Pescosolido, Shannon, Simos, Sparrow, and Veal.  Guests were Heather Barber, Karen Collins, Dain LaRoche, Erik Swartz, Jessica Fruchtman, and Bob Swarthout.

II. Remarks by the provost – Provost John Aber was unable to attend, due to a retreat, but sent good wishes for the holiday.

III.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair reminded faculty senators to attend the dinner with student senators, which will be held in a specially-assigned area of the Philbrook Dining Hall today at 5:30 p.m

IV.  Minutes – The amended minutes of the previous Faculty Senate meeting were approved with all ayes except for two abstentions.  The amendment was to add, as the next-to-last sentence in item XI of the 11/14/2011 senate minutes the following:  “A motion to call the question failed to pass, with a vote of seventeen ayes and eighteen nays.”  Today the senate chair stated that this amendment is an exception to the standard practice of excluding non-substantive motions from the minutes, in order to keep the minutes concise.

VReport from the Academic Affairs Committee, on the Academic and Strategic Plans – At the previous senate meeting, on behalf of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee, Michael Ferber proposed a motion to the senate as follows.  “The Faculty Senate holds that the Academic Plan of 2003 is still in force as the guiding document concerning academic matters at UNH.  The newer Strategic Plan (“The University of New Hampshire in 2020”) builds on the Academic Plan and does not supplant it.  Should conflicts between them arise, it is to the Academic Plan that we must refer for guidance.”  The rationale was given in the last senate meeting.  The provost has indicated that, despite the apparent “sunset” provision implied by the dates, the Academic Plan is still in force and the Strategic Plan does not supplant it.  After a brief discussion, the motion passed unanimously.  This motion will stay in effect unless the senate passes a new motion or a new Academic Plan is approved, and today’s motion could prepare the way for action if an apparent conflict were to arise in the future between the Academic and Strategic Plans.

VI.  Motion on budgeting – On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Deb Kinghorn proposed and Bob Taylor, on behalf of the Committee on Organization of Other Entities, accepted two friendly amendments to the budgetary motion presented in the last senate meeting.  The first amendment was to change the date in the previously first “whereas” to “October 17”.  The second amendment was (1) to add as the new first “whereas” the following:  “Whereas on July 29, 2011, the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee decided to continue formation of an ad-hoc Committee on Organization of Other Entities, after the Provost’s decision to forego appointing an ‘Other Entities’ committee in order to focus on data gathering required for the accreditation process, and”; (2) to add as the new fifth “whereas” the following:  “Whereas the Office of the Provost has initiated examination of academic programs for possible programmatic cuts at all five UNH-Durham colleges and at UNH-Manchester, and”; (3) to add as the new sixth “whereas” the following:  “Whereas the Committee on Organization of Other Entities is charged with examining non-academic units that either are receiving large budgetary inputs from university resources (e.g., the university’s Athletics Program) or are expanding (e.g. the UNH Information Technology Department), and”; and (4) to add the following parenthetical phrase to the final part after “non-academic units”:  “(e.g. IT, USNH System)”.  The purpose of these changes is to make it clear that the senate is reviewing a number of non-academic entities for budget cuts, especially because the academic entities have already been mandated to cut budgets and also because the provost’s originally-planned committee on other entities has not been created or is inactive.  It is in the best interests of the faculty to bring non-academic entities to the provost’s attention.  The senate chair said that the committee is in the process of preparing a second motion on other non-academic entities.  That motion is not yet ready for formal presentation to the senate; but a draft was shared with the senators today; and senators are asked to send input to the committee chair.  Today’s amended motion passed unanimously.  This motion on budgetary crisis is as follows. 

Whereas on July 29, 2011, the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee decided to continue formation of an ad hoc Committee on Organization of Other Entities, after the Provost’s decision to forego appointing an “Other Entities” committee in order to focus on data gathering required for the accreditation process, and

Whereas, on October 17, 2011, President Huddleston stressed before the Faculty Senate the need for quick action to begin addressing the university’s structural deficit in time for submission of a proposed biennium budget to the Board of Trustees in December, and

Whereas the president indicated that all units are “on the table” for consideration of budget cuts to address the structural deficit, and

Whereas a structural deficit is addressed through alteration of significant parts or units of the structure that contribute to its deficit, and

Whereas the Office of the Provost has initiated examination of academic programs for possible programmatic cuts at all five UNH-Durham colleges and at UNH-Manchester, and

     Whereas the Committee on Organization of Other Entities is charged with examining non-academic units that either are receiving large budgetary inputs from university resources (e.g., the university’s Athletics Program) or are expanding (e.g. the UNH Information Technology Department), and

Whereas the Faculty Senate’s ad-hoc Committee on Organization of Other Entities has completed its examination and report on the university’s Athletics Program, and

Whereas the UNH Athletics Program’s budget of $23,059,481 (FY 08) depends largely on student fees ($8,452,984 or 37%) and institutional support from tuition and state funding ($7,444,082 or 32%), and

Whereas the student athletics fee cannot continue to increase at a 5 percent rate as it nears $1,000 per student each year, and

Whereas there is growing concern about raising tuition to a level that prospective students cannot meet, and

Whereas state funding has been reduced dramatically with dim prospects for restoration in the immediate future, therefore

Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate of the University of New Hampshire advises the university administration to consider the Athletics Program along with other academic and non-academic units (e.g., IT, USNH System) when exploring programmatic budgetary cuts to address the university’s structural deficit.

VII.  Report from the Academic Affairs Committee, on January-term length – On behalf of the Academic Affairs Committee, Michael Ferber presented a motion on the length of January-term on-line courses today and said that his committee will deal with January-term assessment later.  The rationale of today’s motion is as follows. 

  The number of January-term (J-term) on-line courses (“e-courses” or “eUNH” courses) has grown rapidly since they were established two years ago and looks likely to continue to grow.  In large part because of their brevity (three weeks), many professors and others have raised questions about their academic quality.  What courses are appropriate to on-line formats, how they are to be evaluated, whether different standards are to be invoked (e.g., what constitutes a “contact hour”), whether they should be granted fewer than four credit hours, and similar questions must be left largely to departments, though the Academic Affairs Committee may have further motions or recommendations on these questions.

       At this point the committee has agreed unanimously that four-credit J-term on-line courses should be four weeks long, that is, students should be in contact with the instructor and working on the material of the course over a period of four weeks.  To extend the length to four weeks would allow for one-third-more work and bring the courses into line with some summer-school courses.  A survey of department chairs leads us to think that there would be no loss of interest in teaching such courses:  of 16 chairs reporting so far, none thought the number of courses would decrease, 4 thought it might increase, 9 thought it would stay the same, and 3 were unsure.

       We do not propose to alter the academic calendar, e.g., to postpone the start of spring term a week, as to do so would set in motion a train of complicated scheduling problems.  We think there is enough time between regular terms to allow for the extended time.  The starting date, using this year as an example, would be December 27, leaving nearly four weeks before the start of spring term.   

We are not concerned with courses other than e-courses here. The face-to-face on-site courses, many of long standing, vary a good deal in frequency of meeting, number of contact hours, credits received, etc.  Off-site courses, mainly study-abroad courses, are usually face-to-face and intensive, as they involve continual immersion in a foreign environment; it is often impossible, moreover, to begin them earlier than the first week of January.

The motion is as follows:  “The Faculty Senate mandates that all four-credit on-line January-term courses be four weeks long, in order to allow time for contact with the instructor comparable to that of ordinary courses, that is, about forty-two contact hours.”  The AAC chair said that he consulted with Ted Kirkpatrick and the department chairs when preparing this motion.  A discussion ensued on how many liberal arts courses, such as those from the Education Department, are offered electronically in the January term.  The AAC chair said that a professor might make an assignment on December 27, for example, and expect students to report on the assignment a few days later or that perhaps, if the senate wanted to modify the rationale, another option could be that the course might begin immediately following the fall-semester final exams, for example on December 19, but then break for a few days around December 25.  The specific dates might change each year, according to that year’s academic calendar, but the principle is described above.  The regular summer courses are four weeks long, and the committee wants to bring January term in line with that.

A senator suggested rewording the phrase “in order to allow time for contact with the instructor comparable to that of ordinary courses”, because the electronic courses differ from the regular courses in type of instructor contact.  The AAC chair replied that perhaps that phrase could stay as is but be interpreted loosely, unless the senator could provide appropriate wording for a change.  The senate vice chair said that faculty normally have a date mandated to start regular class meetings each semester and that we should not leave the start date for January-term e-courses to the instructor’s discretion.  A senator said that beginning January term immediately after fall-semester final exams would be similar to how summer school starts.  That plan for January term would also protect the down time for staff, between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  It may not be the senate’s job to specify the date, but the senate could say that January-term e-courses should be four weeks long.  Would a vague wording lead to administrative chaos?  The Agenda Committee will have to advise the associate deans and others how to implement the motion.  Perhaps the senate might empower the registrar to figure out how the four weeks could be accomplished each year.  A senator said that faculty want to ensure academic integrity for the January-term e-courses; and he asked if there is a definition for summer courses and their length.  What are the criteria for a good course in the summer?  A number of senators suggested that starting two days after the end of final exams, with a brief break around December 25, would be best, so that faculty would have enough teaching time to cover the material and also so that staff would be available to assist with any startup glitches, which may occur electronically, such as on Blackboard.  The AAC chair will consult with the administration and will work on revision of the motion.  Consideration of the motion will be postponed until the next senate meeting.  The AAC chair said that the committee will soon look at the issue of January-term assessment.

VIII.  Report from the Campus Planning Committee, on small classrooms – The CPC chair presented a report on the committee’s charge to find out about the availability and condition of inquiry-style classrooms and determine whether those classrooms are sufficient to meet 444 and inquiry attribute course requirements.  The committee has asked for input from each department and received responses from thirteen.  Those responses are included in the committee’s report.  The data suggests that most departments feel that their basic needs are met sufficiently to teach inquiry and inquiry-attribute courses.  However, several themes emerged which suggest needed improvements:  (1) a need to have technology (including Wi-Fi) in the room; (2) a need to have furniture be movable (and some concerns were expressed about the instructor having to re-arrange furniture before and after each class); and (3) a need for enough good, small classroom space, since there are complications when teaching inquiry and inquiry-attribute courses in a room designed for a much larger class.  The CPC does not believe that there is need for a senate motion at this time.

IX.  Report from the Campus Planning Committee, on parking – The CPC chair presented a report on its charge to consider parking availability and needs.  Parking data presented at the 11/17/2011 meeting of the Transportation Policy Committee included highlights as follows.  There have been significant and consistent declines (about 12% across categories) in total parking permits issued recently, including faculty/staff permits.  There has been a 4% increase in “core campus” faculty/staff space availability, thus meeting or exceeding agreements made with faculty.   (This 4% is a ratio of the number of permits issued compared to the number of spaces.)  The lack of increase in faculty/staff and commuter parking permit prices has resulted in a net reduction in University Transportation Service revenue, and this has constrained the ability to move forward on any of the structured parking strategies envisioned in the 2004 Campus Master plan.  UNH faculty/staff and commuter permits are $50.  In a sample of North American universities, the mean permit fee was $273 and the median was $288.  There have been significant increases of about 10% in core campus visitor parking.   The above report did not include changes brought about by the new WSBE building which removed a significant amount of core campus parking.  A senator said that the former New England Center parking lot is too isolated and dark.  The university should arrange for better lighting there, and the planners are aware of this need.  A senator said that it is a slap in the face to faculty that such a large number of formerly faculty/staff spaces in the New Hampshire Hall parking lot have been changed to visitor spaces, in spite of the fact that this new visitor lot is never full and in fact is consistently less than half full.

X.  Report from the Campus Planning Committee, on Master Plan implementation – The Campus Planning Committee chair presented a report on its charge to track the Master Plan implementation and to communicate with the Office of Campus Planning and with the Faculty Senate on issues that arise.   The focus of today’s report is the funding of the new business building.  The Campus Planning Committee and the Finance and Administration Committees of the Faculty Senate met with Dick Cannon, Paul Chamberlin and Doug Bencks on 11/21/2011, to discuss the funding sources for the new business building and to talk more generally about the Space Allocation, Repairs, and Renovation Committee (SARRC) budget.  The original approval for the new business building was $55 million, and this was reduced to $50 million after the bid process.   Funding sources included a gift from Peter T. Paul of $25 million and other gifts of $4 million.  The original funding approval from the interfund loan was reduced from $16 million to $12.5 million after the bid process, and funding from WSBE reserves was also reduced from $10 million to $8.5 million.

An interfund loan is a loan from the USNH centrally-managed cash pool, in lieu of UNH borrowing from a third party. The loan repayment is built into the SARRC budget and is considered a “community” responsibility in the same way as other loans or expense payments have been for Kingsbury, Demeritt, James, and New Hampshire Halls and other SARRC expenditures.  The SARRC budget is primarily funded from the RCM square-foot charge for facilities and the deferred maintenance student fee.  The $16 million interfund loan mentioned above is just the principle amount and is a ten-year fixed loan with an interest rate of 5.25%.  12% of the annual SARRC budget will go towards the repayment of this loan.  How does this interfund loan impact SARRC’s ability to fund projects listed on the strategic improvements priorities such as Hamilton-Smith Hall?  Hamilton-Smith is the first UNH priority for state funding.  The state has not provided any funding for new renovation projects, but UNH will continue to advocate for this work.  The SARRC annual budget does include a backstop (beginning in fiscal year 2014) of $2 million annually to contribute to work on Hamilton-Smith and Nesmith Hall renovations.  The goal is for UNH to be able to contribute 20% and the remainder to come from the state.  What kind of decision making process would SARRC use if another new building project (like a center for the arts building) is proposed? There is no fixed percentage of the annual budget of SARRC available for new building projects versus renovations of existing buildings.  A center for the arts project would probably be approached as a phased project, and the goal would be to fund it through external gifts or public/private partnerships.  Would that provide enough funds and where would it be built?  Twelve potential sites have been mentioned, and one is on a major parking lot near McConnell Hall.  A senator said that doing emergency repairs is very costly, for a building such as Hamilton Smith Hall, which needs renovation.

The Campus Planning Committee is considering the possibility of submitting a motion later to the senate, regarding a set percentage of the SAARC budget to go for new buildings and a set percentage for building renovation.  A senator said that perhaps the committee should recommend that current university buildings in very bad condition should be renovated before any new buildings are built.  Another senator said that the consistent theme which worries many faculty is that the provost has ordered review of academic program funds for budget cuts and yet a new building was approved without enough funds, requiring an interfund loan.  She added that the SAARC budget, the funding of new buildings, and the way that is done should be reviewed.  A faculty member asked why WSBE reduced its support of its new building by $1.5 million.  The bid process reduced the costs by $5 million because of the hard economic times which also reduced the ability of donors to give.  The chair of the senate’s Campus Planning Committee is an observer at the SAARC meetings.

XI.  Report from the Student Affairs Committee, on medical amnesty – The Student Affairs Committee charge is to monitor the issue of the medical amnesty pilot program and report to the Faculty Senate on this matter.  The Student Affairs Committee chair has maintained regular contact with Dean of Students Anne Lawing and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Rubinstein throughout the semester. Both Dean Lawing and VP Rubinstein attended a SAC meeting on 11/21/2011 and reported on the status of the current medical amnesty pilot. To date, approximately six students have used the program this semester, all of whom have been appropriate. The UNH administration is ready to propose that the pilot become policy, but the students are waiting until they can review longer, since they have concerns about study-away implications, how organizations might apply, and scholarship implications.  The SAC chair discussed how the Durham police work with the campus police and how this affects the amnesty program, which has gone well so far.  Medical amnesty would only affect study away applications for one year.  The medical amnesty program only deals with alcohol and not drug use.  The program is for students involved in medical intervention and requires the students to go through a treatment program.  On another matter, the university shares information on a suicide, on a need-to-know basis only.  The university has asked The New Hampshire to follow suit, but free speech laws do not allow the university to make that mandatory.

XII.  Report from the Discovery Committee, on inquiry requirements – The Discovery Committee was charged to deliberate on the inquiry course requirement, a key component of the Discovery Program core curriculum, and make a recommendation to the senate, including two points of discussion:  1) make a recommendation to the senate regarding the delivery of inquiry courses in online formats; and 2) consider the two versions of inquiry (444 and attribute) and identify whether there is an ideal mix of the two versions.  The Discovery Committee met with the associate deans from each college and forged, for a two-year time period, a Memorandum of Agreement which a) ensures that no inquiry courses will be offered electronically (online or hybrid) until we have more information regarding this course format; b) ensures that any change in  course format which significantly changes a Discovery course from the initial proposal will be re-reviewed at the college level and then, if appropriate, by the Discovery Committee; and c) holds inquiry course seats offered within each college at the current balance of inquiry 444 and attribute versions.  Since the number of inquiry attribute courses has risen quickly, the balance might be threatened without this agreement.  The MOA will be reviewed in the fall of 2013.

XIII.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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