UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 12 December, 2005

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2005/06 FACULTY SENATE

DECEMBER 12, 2005 - MINUTES SUMMARY 

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Afolayan, Brown, Burger, Carroll, Deem, Ferber, Frankel, Kaen, Kenefick, Lugalla, Lyon, Macieski, Mathur, McCann, Morgan, Robertson, Sample, and Smith.  Excused were Lewis, Reid and Schlentrich.  Guests were President Hart and Donna Marie Sorrentino. 

II.  Remarks by and questions to the president – The president extended her compliments to the faculty and students who have participated in the dialogue on globalization.  President Hart said that during this semester two new deans have started work (Joseph Klewicki of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and Kristin Woolever of UNH-Manchester) and that there has been increased interaction between the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate.  The president asked faculty senators to inform their departmental colleagues that, in order to encourage communication between faculty and students, the university dining halls for some years have served free lunches to faculty who have lunch in the dining hall with a student who has a dining permit.  The Parents Association and the university library provide free home-made cookies to students during final exams.  Also during finals from 10:00 p.m. to midnight on December 12, the UNH dining halls offer a pancake evening for students and faculty.

The president said that every winter the administration faces the need to decide about possible curtailment during bad weather.  Anthony Zizos in the interim vice president for finance and administration and will initiate those decisions.  The administration has been working on clarifying the policy.  Johnson Theatre faces a challenge when it has sold tickets and cannot notify ticket holders of a cancellation due to snow.  In addition, the NCAA has rules on whether or not the university may cancel an athletic competition.  The schools of the two teams would have to agree; and if the other team has already reached campus, the competition would be held.  The president said that, since many of the UNH students live on campus, classes will be held in poor weather whenever possible.  The university cannot hold classes later in the spring to make up for snow days, as the elementary and high schools do.  UNH has improved its website and call line, and there are phone numbers that ticket holders can call in poor weather to find out if an event will be held.  The president said that individual employees must make a personal decision about whether they can travel to the university or not during poor weather and that there will be no retaliation if an employee chooses to take a vacation day during a storm.  The administration tries hard to make curtailment decisions in a timely manner, and sometimes a storm is worse or better than predicted.  Also, sometimes ice or snow recovers previously cleared areas, and so please inform Facilities Services at 862-1437 if an area especially needs attention.

A professor said that many university employees do not feel that they can call in to say they cannot come to work during a storm.  He expressed concern that, when the university stays open at all costs, then the responsibility devolves onto the professor to decide whether to hold class.  Moreover, if a class is held during adverse weather and attendance is poor, then the professor cannot deliver a lecture that everyone needs to hear.  He suggested building into the academic calendar one or more snow days.  The president responded that the academic calendar is the purview of the faculty and that the Faculty Senate could make a motion on that.  The professor suggested that classes could be made up on a Saturday soon after the snow day, and he said that it is important that the roads be safe for both getting to the university and getting home again.  Another senator asked that there be enough crews to clean snow from the parking lots during snow storms.  The president replied that the university does what it can with the available funding.  She added that the worst criticism the university got last year was when the university closed for a snowstorm which stopped at four inches in spite of predictions of a much worse storm.  A senator pointed out that most snowstorms happen during the spring semester, which has one more week than the fall semester and thus could absorb some days of curtailment.  The president replied that a decision on the calendar would be up to the faculty.

A senator said that, although the university wants to encourage the hiring and retention of those who are culturally diverse, some office staff may in practice be creating road blocks in areas such as housing, university identification cards, and dealings with business service centers.  The president asked that information about these matters be sent to Wanda Mitchell, Alan Ray or Sharon Demers.  The president added that the university has declined a request to give all students’ email addresses to a law enforcement agency.

III.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that the president had asked for a way to ascertain faculty opinion of the provost’s job performance.  Therefore the Agenda Committee made available to all faculty on Blackboard a comprehensive, confidential and secure survey of the provost’s job performance.  The Agenda Committee will inform the president of the results and will recommend that faculty comments be shared with the provost.  A low percentage of the faculty participated in that survey.  The senate chair said that the calendar and curtailment issue will be discussed at the next Agenda Committee meeting.  Nominations for university-wide faculty awards are due by February 10 to faculty.awards@unh.edu.

IV.  Minutes – The senate unanimously approved the minutes of the last Faculty Senate meeting.

V.  Affirmative action and equity – Donna Marie Sorrentino, who is the new director of affirmative action and equity, discussed why the university needs an affirmative action and equity officer and how that position differs from her previous role as the Americans-with-Disabilities-Act compliance officer.  With her background in dealing with complaints resolution and civil rights, she worked closely with Pat Gormley for six years, dealing with all constituencies and all areas of discrimination.  Currently Ms. Sorrentino is doing more dialogue on discriminatory harassment.  Although student/faculty discrimination and racial and sexual harassment have been common topics, gender identity or expression is coming up more often.  Gender identity or expression is a protected category.  She is establishing a task force of students, faculty and staff to deal with that area.  In all areas of discrimination, many cases are dealt with on an informal basis by working collaboratively with those involved.  She is dealing with issues of title nine compliance and also diversity and the academic plan.  She works closely with Wanda Mitchell, who is the vice provost for diversity.  Ms. Sorrentino reports directly to the provost and indirectly to the president.  Records are kept for five years, as a legal requirement, and are needed in order to see what patterns may exist for a given individual.  In addition, an overview without identification is maintained. 

Recruitment and retention of diverse faculty is an important issue.  A fifteen-step process for faculty recruitment was developed and will be reviewed to see if it can be made less cumbersome.  A professor said that for the last fifteen years there have been many controls on the process for hiring faculty but that the higher one goes in the administration the fewer rules are followed.  For vice presidents and deans, there have been summary appointments made without advertising and other standard procedures.  The professor asked if Ms. Sorrentino would attempt to apply the hiring criteria uniformly across the entire spectrum of appointments.  He added that other universities have rules that limit interim appointments to six months.  Ms. Sorrentino responded that she is committed to look into those issues.

Another senator said that, as part of the Kingsbury renovation, the handicapped parking spots there have been reduced to four but that more are needed.  Ms. Sorrentino replied that the normal standard is one accessible parking space for every twenty-five parking spots.  She is planning to add some additional accessible spaces for individuals with disabilities when the building is completed.  She said that, although the university meets the standard, UNH needs to consider how best to fill people’s needs.  The university has six new accessible vans on campus, and faculty and staff can request this service if needed.  The university is not required to have every building be accessible, because the university can change a classroom location to another building as needed to accommodate such students.  However, laboratories are a special problem, in some buildings such as James Hall.

VI.  Shared governance – The senate vice chair presided over this section of the meeting, so that the senate chair could present the motion.  David Richman noted that there have been a number of perceived instances of inadequate shared governance.  In addition, the university is currently conducting a search for a new vice president for finance and administration, a review of responsibility center management, and a programmatic review of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture; and therefore the Agenda Committee thought that the Faculty Senate should reaffirm its place in shared governance, with language that the senate can call upon in the future.  The motion was first presented to the senate on November 14.  The motion was revised in response to suggestions from senators and a friendly amendment at that meeting.  In addition, two sentences which were originally at the end of the third paragraph were modified to say:  “We commend the statements the UNH president has made regarding the importance of giving the faculty its central voice in matters pertaining to teaching and learning, the setting of academic goals and priorities, the allocation of resources, and the recruitment of administrative officers. We expect the principles enunciated by the president to be followed by administrative officers at all levels so as to give the faculty its central voice in these matters.”

In response to the provost’s comments at the November 28 senate meeting, item (1) of the motion was revised to refer to “Assessment and revision of Responsibility Center Management as a tool that serves teaching and learning and that assists in meeting the goals of the UNH Academic Plan.”  The revised motion was presented at the today’s senate meeting and does not require a second, since the motion is recommended by a senate committee.

Then a friendly amendment was accepted to delete the following wording in the second paragraph:  “The Faculty Senate recognizes that there never will be resources fully adequate to do everything; but”.  After discussion, another friendly amendment was accepted, to replace the phrase “teaching and learning” every time it occurs in the document with “teaching, learning, research, artistry and outreach”.  Next, a friendly amendment was accepted to change item (4) to say:  “Periodic review of performance of key administrators whose work and presence affect those matters listed above that affect teaching, learning, research, artistry and outreach.”  Finally, a friendly amendment was accepted to change the second “we” in the second paragraph to “the Faculty Senate”.  The motion as amended passed unanimously and reads as follows:

The Faculty Senate is the legislative body that reviews and develops policy concerned with the academic mission of the university.  On behalf of the faculty of the University of New Hampshire, the Faculty Senate reaffirms that the central activities of the university are and must be teaching, learning, research, artistry, and outreach. 

As we make and support choices among alternative uses of our limited resources, the Faculty Senate emphasizes that the standard by which fiscal decisions must be judged is their effect on academic goals of teaching, learning, research, artistry, and outreach, never vice versa.  A good budget system serves academic priorities; it does not define them.

The Faculty Senate reaffirms as well its commitment to the principle that the faculty has primary responsibility for curriculum, subject matter, methods of instruction, research, artistry, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.  On these matters, the power of review or final decision lodged in the governing board, or delegated by it to the president, or delegated by the president to other administrative officers should be exercised adversely to the reasoned view of the faculty only in exceptional circumstances and for reasons communicated to the faculty.

We commend the statements the UNH president has made regarding the importance of giving the faculty its central voice in matters pertaining to teaching, learning, research, artistry, and outreach, the setting of academic goals and priorities, the allocation of resources, and the recruitment of administrative officers. We expect the principles enunciated by the president to be followed by administrative officers at all levels so as to give the faculty its central voice in these matters.

The Faculty Senate, as the faculty's representative body, remains the custodian of teaching, learning, research, artistry, and outreach at the university.  At this time, the Faculty Senate reaffirms its responsibilities under principles of shared governance in the processes of:

            (1) Assessment and revision of Responsibility Center Management as a tool that serves teaching, learning, research, artistry, and outreach and that assists in meeting the goals of the UNH Academic Plan.

            (2) Assessment and restructuring of colleges, centers, and institutes as these affect teaching, learning, research, artistry, and outreach.

            (3) Recruitment of administrative officers - including vice-presidents and their principal assistants, as well as deans and their principal assistants.  Faculty must continue to have a central voice in any process that results in the selection of an administrative officer, at any level, whose work and presence will affect those matters, listed above, for which the faculty has primary responsibility.

            (4) Periodic review of performance of key administrators whose work and presence affect those matters listed above that affect teaching, learning, research, artistry and outreach.

Some of the president’s statements referred to in the motion will be added as a footnote to the motion.

VII.  Fraternities and sororities – The chair of the senate’s Student Affairs Committee, Lynette Ament, said that the committee was charged to examine and make recommendations regarding the question of fraternities and the "Greek system".   In the fall of 2005, a twelve-member Accountability Team met to develop a tangible accountability plan for the fraternities and sororities on campus.  In that plan, each Greek house would be measured by assigning points in individually weighted areas:  chapter academic achievement (40%), chapter education and leadership development (15%), chapter service and philanthropy (15%), chapter campus involvement (15%), and chapter conduct and community relations (15%).  The plan would include both incentives and sanctions.

The Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee recommends that (1) a member of this committee be a member of the Performance Review Team; (2) the Performance Review Plan be implemented for one year and then be re-evaluated; (3) the team reconsider restricting freshman recruiting as a penalty for the first year of sanctions (but retain that penalty as a second-year sanction) and consider other restrictions for the first year, such as limiting social functions and/or imposing study hours; (4) the team examine the supports provided to those Greek houses unsuccessful in the review process; (5) the team begin to track chapters’ graduation rates; and (6) the university address issues of faculty liability and service units for potential faculty advisors to Greek chapters.  Faculty are concerned about the lack of liability coverage for service as an academic advisor to a fraternity or sorority and also about such service not being a recommended form of university service.

A senator said that the university should work with the Greek system in a positive manner.  The Greek system provides a variety of functions including housing, and the university can only provide housing for fifty-four percent of its students.  A member of the senate’s Student Affairs Committee said that this committee wants to support the Greek houses and therefore recommended that the plan be instituted and then re-evaluated after one year and that the team look again at how the fraternities and sororities that do not meet the plan will be guided and supported.  A system is needed to both support and hold accountable the Greek houses.  A senator said that, if the same standards were applied to all student organizations uniformly, those standards would be acceptable; but that is not the case.  Another professor said that, if a student’s record is acceptable for remaining at the university, the student should be able to participate in any student organization.  When the performance evaluation plan is finalized, it will appear on the www.unh.edu/greek website.

VIII.  Adjournment – Today’s meeting was adjourned, and the discussion on scholarship guidelines will be postponed to the January senate meeting.                                                      

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