UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 24 February 2014

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

2013-14 FACULTY SENATE

 

The fundamental function of the approved minutes of the Faculty Senate is to accurately document

 actions taken by that body.  Additionally, the minutes traditionally seek to provide

 context by capturing some statements of Senators, faculty in attendance, and guests.  The

 minutes do not verify the veracity, authenticity, and/or accuracy of those statements.

 

Meeting called to order at 3:11 on February 24, 2014                                                                                                                                                            MINUTES SUMMARY

 

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent: Kidwell, Mellyn, Shannon, Ware, and Wu. Diane Foster was proxy for White. Cashman, deVries, and Tenczar were excused.  Lisa MacFarlane, Art Greenberg, Barbara White, and Sean McGhee were guests.

 

II. Remarks by and questions to the provost –  The provost announced that she had three items to discuss with the senate.  First, the University Curriculum and Academic Policy Committee (UCAPC) has been asked to consult on the Carsey School proposal.  Their input will be most valuable before the end of this semester so that the Carsey committee will have the summer to search for an ongoing director.

           

Next, the provost spoke about the Senate and Provost’s offices’ joint panel on teaching and learning, which is being co-chaired by Mike Middleton of the Education Department and P.T. Vasudevan of the Provost’s office.  She welcomed volunteers, or nominations for individuals, to serve on the committee.  The intent is to charge this panel expeditiously and for the work to extend through the 2014 calendar year.  The provost indicated that there may be some small resources to support the work of the panel, and that external funding is being explored to fund the panel’s recommendations.

 

Finally, the provost offered high praise for the Theatre Departments recent production, Sila, directed by agenda committee member Deborah Kinghorn.  She praised the visual excitement, the performances, and the costuming of the production.

 

A senator asked the provost if she could help define for him UNH’s commitment to increasing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) graduates in reference to President Huddleston’s goal to double STEM graduates across the state by 2025.  He asked if there were resources to support this increase.  The provost responded that UNH is committed to contributing to the increase in STEM graduates in the state, but said that this is not something that UNH can do on its own.  She spoke of three areas of focus to facilitate this increase in STEM graduates. 

 

First, she discussed increasing the efforts in the “pipeline,” to prepare students in the K-14 levels, referencing youth programs through the Leitzel Center, Project Smart and the Massive Online Courses for Kids (MOCK) as support structures, among others; support and professional development for in-service teachers; and articulation agreements with the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH).  The planned STEM summit that is to help shape some of this conversation has been snowed out twice this year, and is currently scheduled for mid-late April. 

 

The next item the provost spoke of is to look to the UNH campus and seek out problem areas for STEM students – how can we locate the curricular bottlenecks that are impeding the flow of STEM students, and identify and solve those problems?  This also includes increased enrollment in programs where we have capacity, STEM retention efforts, and “STEM-ready options (cognates, minors) for non-STEM students.

 

Finally, the provost indicated that there is a plan for graduate programs to expand in some areas, stewarding areas of research where we’re already strong and expanding where appropriate.  She said that examples of this are strategic initiative monies being used as start-up packages for new faculty in areas such as lab creation and support, and one-time expenses to build the university infrastructure.  She indicated that the future space needs across all the sciences are being examined, and also reiterated that the renovations in Ham-Smith remain a top priority.

 

Another senator asked for a clarification on the two-plus-two programs from local community colleges.  The provost said that these programs allow a student to combine two years at a community college with two years at UNH to obtain a baccalaureate degree.  The provost clarified that these programs are highly structured and painstakingly worked out from the outset, before the student begins their program, with clear course-mapping documents outlining the requirements and process.  There is a push to increase the number of fields in which these kinds of programs are available, and to foreground the “fine print” of such programs to increase the transparency of the plan so that students are clearly aware early on what kinds of courses will count towards that degree.

 

Another senator asked about the panel on teaching and learning, requesting that the panel seek input from the lecturer faculty and extension faculty.  He expressed his hope that such input would not create a burden for these non-tenure-track faculty but rather offer them a voice in the process.  The senate chair agreed that such feedback would be highly valued.  The provost agreed and said her desire was to provide multiple ways for the panel to receive input and get information out to all faculty.

 

III. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The chair had no remarks, and there were no questions.

 

IV. Minutes – the minutes of the last senate meeting, February 10, 2014, were unanimously approved.

 

Action Items:

 

V. Presentation of a Campus Planning Committee report and motion on faculty representation on future construction project steering committees.  Tuck Pescosolido, chair of the senate Campus Planning Committee, represented the committee in reporting on the charges given to the committee. (see committee’s full report in Appendix V.A of Senate agenda 2-24-14)  The committee’s report included the following: 

 

            Charge 2. Follow up with the administration on the development of guidelines for public/private partnerships.

             http://www.unh.edu/fac-senate/pub/PublicPrivateVentures-XVII-M6-11-26-2012.htm

 

Tuck noted that, in the past, the establishment of public/private partnerships at UNH has inspired some conversation and controversy.  The administration has now created a draft guideline for those partnerships and Dick Canon has shared that with the CPC, though the document is still in its early stages.  Further updates will be forthcoming.

 

            Charge 3. Review concerns about the juxtaposition of financial and academic Considerations for campus planning. Are academic consideration given appropriate             weight?

 

The committee reported on this charge in two parts.  The first involved the actual planning and documentation of certain renovation and upgrade projects on campus.  Speaking with Doug Bencks of the Campus Planning Office, the committee learned that the first step in any such project is to speak with the faculty to determine precisely what the needs of the affected department faculty are, through various steering committees that are established. 

 

The other area of concern is the use of Space Allocation , Adaption, and Renewal (SAARC) funds for the building of new buildings in particular.  SAARC does have a policy that if it is going to use any of its funds for new construction or substantial contributions to renovations projects on campus, items over $1 million, they must have approval from the system Board of Trustees on those specific projects.

 

Finally, they examined the prioritization of projects, and determined that while the administration needs to be held accountable for prioritization, it should also have the flexibility to take advantage of serendipitous opportunities when a donor provides a large donation for a specific project, as those opportunities may arise.

 

            Charge 4. 1) Investigate if the question of preserving the UNH outdoor pool is within the proper purview of the Faculty Senate with reference to the Faculty Senate

                                 Constitution and the facts relative to the UNH outdoor pool and if not, so report to the Faculty Senate;         

                             2) should the committee determine the issue is appropriate, prepare a report and any recommendations for the Faculty Senate?  In the case of 2), the    

                                 committee should liaise with the Student Senates as they have already given the issue study. 

 

After some investigation, including a conversation with the head of campus recreation, it was determined that remarkably little academic programming seems to take place at the outdoor pool.  It is very occasionally used for certification courses, and periodically used for certain courses within the kinesiology department, but its primary use seems to be recreational, over the summer, non-academic functions, and the committee felt that the matter does not fall under the purview of the senate.

 

            Charge 1. Continue to track the Master Plan development and implementation.

 

The campus Master Plan has three separate groups of developmental priorities within it, including priorities around academic and outreach program projects, priorities around student life projects, and priorities around campus infrastructure projects.  Currently funded and ongoing major projects in academic and outreach programs include the repurposing of McConnell Hall and Conant Hall, and selective space in the Dimond Library, as well as the expansion of the stadium, which plan is currently under review by the Board of Trustees and which funding will hopefully come from $20 million in cash reserves plus $5 million being sought from external donors.

 

Projects not currently being funded and thus not currently in active planning stages include updating the space in Huddleston Hall, the New England Center, the Center for the Arts, and Hamilton-Smith Hall, which is listed as the top priority for state funds from the next budgetary cycle. 

 

Projects listed as student life appropriate include the expansion of the campus recreation center, Unfunded projects in this area  include renovations to Hetzel Hall and Holloway Commons. 

 

Projects within the site and infrastructure area include work going on in the water treatment plant and the ravine renewal.  Not currently underway in this area is the roundabout between Pettee Brook Lane and Main Street, which is waiting approval from the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

 

The committee reported that there has been anecdotal history of poor communication between the steering project committees of projects and the faculty affected by various projects.  In an effort to increase communication from this point going forward, the committee makes the following motion:

 

February 24, 2014

 

Motion from the Faculty Senate Campus Planning Committee

 

Whereas, there have been recent anecdotal reports of poor communication with faculty regarding moves, construction, and renovation activities; and

 

Whereas, misunderstanding of changes to the physical campus by faculty or poor understanding of faculty needs will potentially have significant impacts on the suitability of space for educational/research activities; and

 

Whereas, Department Chairpersons and Directors of other campus entities engage in regular communication with both faculty and College Deans, and are expected to spend time in administrative responsibilities therefore


Let it be resolved that the Faculty Senate calls on the University Administration to ensure that future campus construction project steering committees include, as faculty representation, the chairpersons of all affected departments and directors of other affected entities.

 

A senator asked about the renovations referenced in Conant Hall, and Tuck responded that these are plans that may be carried out in the summer or fall.

Another senator asked what has happened to the faculty club.  Tuck responded that he sees no plans in the current Master Plan, recommending that if there was interest in raising that issue, it would be appropriate to approach the administration about the subject.

 

Another senator asked about Connor’s Square, and the lack of communication about the use of space there.  Tuck indicated that this kind of concern is the point of the motion, and emphasized that it is important to have department chairs enlisted as part of the planning process. 

 

A senator asked how the outdoor pool could be not considered as part of the academic programs of the university and yet the stadium is included in the academic and outreach area of the Master Plan.  Tuck pointed out that the discussion on the pool has to do with the senate’s purview based on the senate constitution, while the stadium’s inclusion in that area of the Master Plan had to do with the outreach element, rather than as an academic program.  The senator asked if the pool might not be considered in a climate study regarding quality of life of faculty.  The senate chair concurred that a climate study would be an appropriate area for the senate to discuss.  He did point out that the agenda committee came to the same conclusion as the CPC regarding the academic relevance of the outdoor pool.

The same senator praised the wording of the CPC’s motion, referencing the lack of communication regarding the plans she has seen regarding the renovations in Hamilton-Smith.  She expressed concern about the sizes of the classrooms in those plans that don’t seem appropriate to the needs of the departments in that building.  Tuck pointed out that at this point, any plans are not official as there is no funding at the moment for the project, but emphasized the need for attention to administrative issues such as this.  He reiterated that the current policy is to have a faculty member from any affected department on the steering committee, and said he hoped that such faculty, and department chairs, who are required to engage in conversations about these projects and advocate for their departments might have additional support in the form of release time or other supports, including close communication with deans and associate deans.

 

A senator from the business school spoke about a series of “crises moves” for departments, ill-planned and taking place at the last minute.  He asked if a professional could be hired to manage such moves more humanely, and wondered if the wording of the CPC’s motion is adequate.  Tuck replied that the motion refers more to the design phase of such projects and not so much to the transition itself.

 

A senator asked about the effect of the expansion of the recreation center on the adjacent parking lot and asked if that might not be a matter within the senate’s purview, as affecting faculty parking .  The chair said that this might be a union issue, depending on what might happen with that parking lot, and suggested that further examination of this issue should come in the form of a motion or concern under New Business in a senate meeting.

 

The senate chair then presented the motion as written above and opened the motion for discussion.  A senator asked if the above motion might be reworded to include “current and future” campus construction projects in order to include some of the projects going on right now.  The CPC chair accepted that change as a friendly amendment. 

 

Another senator suggested another adjustment at the end of the motion, changing “…other affected entities.”  to “…other affected entities and/or their designees.”  This was also accepted as a friendly amendment.  With no further discussion, this motion will lay over to the next meeting as amended.

 

Discussion Items:

 

VI. Discussion on textbook and course materials affordability and access. The senate chair introduced Barbara White, Chair of the Discovery Committee, Joe Onosko, Chair of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC), and Sean McGhee, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) as members of an ad hoc committee investigating the costs of textbooks and course materials at UNH.  The chair prefaced the discussion by acknowledging the rising costs of education and expressing a desire to see what can be done to alleviate some of these costs and their attendant burden on students, particularly those with limited resources.  He suggested that while faculty do not have much direct influence on tuition and fees, their decisions regarding course materials do impact the cost of education.  (See Appendix VI.A. of Faculty Senate agenda 2-24-14 for the full report)

 

Joe Onosko said that he feels this discussion is an opportunity to share insights on what faculty can do to reduce costs.  He referenced five suggestions made by Sean McGhee in a memo sent to faculty senators on February 22, 2013:

 

Request

While the issue of student resource limitations warrants a deeper conversation and solution seeking, there are a few things faculty members could do now to help, if they are not already doing these things:

 

1.     Please consider placing a copy (or copies) of your text in the library reserves and/or in your department for student use, and note this in your syllabus.

2.     If you use additional resources in your courses that students are required to purchase online, please consider arranging for alternate payment options beyond charge or debit cards.

3.     Please consider having a few “clickers” available for student loan if you use them.

4.     Please consider placing language in your syllabus that gives students options regarding technology used in/out of the classroom. For example, if all readings are online, it may be helpful to remind them about using student computer labs when completing assignments and projects.

5.   Please consider adding language to your syllabus that, like disabilities 

      accommodations, gives students an opportunity to speak to you privately about 

      issues procuring texts or additional course materials. If you would like assistance

      or to speak to someone about possible options for helping students, please contact

      Sean McGhee in OMSA: Sean.McGhee@unh.edu or 603-862-0324.   

 

Sean McGhee reported that not all students in financial need are first generation students anymore.  With the downturn in the economy, many middle-class students are facing new financial strains.  The cost of textbooks, clickers, exams administered through third party vendors all make it harder for students to succeed, and many students do not come forward to make teachers aware of their needs.  He pointed out that students find the STEM fields to be expensive, with additional costs for labs and equipment added to other costs.  The loss of students in these fields because of materials costs is a loss of intellectual capital.  Barbara White asked faculty to be mindful of the costs of their materials. 

 

A senator said that some third party vendors engaged for classes in mathematics are used for student practice and feedback, not for assessment.  It was pointed out that there are sources for older editions of some textbooks that can be used with little negative impact on the student’s learning.  A senator pointed out that bookstores receive some pressure from booksellers to purchase the most current, more expensive editions.  Another senator expressed frustration at the rising market prices of books, over which faculty have no control.

 

A senator asked about placing copies of texts in the library, asking the bookstore to do that automatically for any book order, referencing item #1 above.  The library will purchase one copy of the text for the course, and a faculty member needs to place another copy of the book in the library.  The senator from the Library stated that it is cost prohibitive to purchase books for every course offered to place them on reserve.

 

There was some discussion about what is included in financial aid to cover books.  Sean indicated that there is no line item for books, and that there is always a gap between what families are expected to cover and what financial aid will cover.  It is this area of gap that is a concern.

 

A senator asked about the aggregate level of student debt.  The chair responded that the average level of debt for students in NW is second highest in the nation at $36,000, but pointed out that the default rate for our students on their loans is one of the lowest in the nation, indicating that our students have to borrow a lot of money, but that they take paying it back seriously. 

 

A senator expressed approval of item #4, which encourages placing wording regarding these costs into the class syllabus.  She said that there are many creative options available, such as using public libraries for inter-library loans.  She pointed out that such options might not be intuitive for first-generation students, but emphasized that faculty can share this information with their students.  She suggested the development of “Book Boards” for students to share books, or a “Book Bank,” where students can earn “Book Dollars” by turning in used books.  She also pointed out, on the other hand, that some faculty make their living by writing book and that we need to be respectful of those efforts, watching out for unintended consequences.  Another point she made is that it is important to remind students that the books they purchase are a part of their education resources, and those costs are just as valid as tuition dollars.  Teachers should teach beyond what is in the textbook, using those books as resources.

 

Another senator used the example of USDA National Agricultural Library, a digital library, including still photos, slides, and videos which are a resource that can be used like a professional journal, accessible to faculty in creating lesson plans and presentations.

 

The senator from the library praised the expertise and ideas shared, and suggested that a workshop could be held for new faculty to share these kinds of ideas.  Sean thanked the senate for their ideas and for having this discussion.  He also pointed out that work study monies are only available to student who actually get work study positions.  This is a challenge, particularly for first year students, who don’t arrive on campus until all of the work study positions have been filled.

 

The chair thanked the visitors and senators for the valuable discussion, and asked the senators to take this conversation back to their departments to broaden our understanding of our students’ situations, and examine what we can do to maintain the quality of education while being aware of these costs.

 

VII. Report from Art Greenberg, chair of the Ad Hoc committee on Promotion and Tenure Policies, on Engaged Scholarship and Creative ArtistryArt began by petitioning for additional committee members, particularly seeking representation from COLSA, the Paul School of Business, the Thompson School, and UNH-Manchester.  He cited the work of the committee as an effort to make the promotion and tenure process more rational.

 

He referred to Eleanor Abrams’s presentation to the senate in October 2013, and her office’s definition of Engaged Scholarship and Creative Artistry as “A mutually beneficial collaboration between the University of New Hampshire and external and community partners for the purpose of generating and applying relevant knowledge that will directly benefit the public,” pointing out that that definition has not yet been adopted by the senate.  He emphasized that engagement is clearly a part of our mission, but that engaged scholarship is more difficult to define.

 

He reviewed the history of the language of the academic plans of the university, noting that the term “engaged scholarship” does not appear in the 2004 statement.  He pointed out that the formula to weigh promotion can vary from department to department.  Using the 40-40-20 formula for weighing teaching, research, and service contributions relative to each other as a beginning point, he asked if it would be necessary to contort service into scholarship, or if it would be appropriate to change the ratio depending on the needs and interests of individual departments.

 

The report asks the following questions.  The committee’s findings follow (See Appendix VII.A. of the Faculty Senate agenda 2-24-14 for entire report):

 

1.  Should “engaged scholarship” differ from service for P&T purposes?  Is there a way

      to distinguish between the two and is such a distinction necessary and/or of value? 

2.     Do the administrative leaders (i.e., deans, provost, board of trustees) involved in P & T decisions and college P&T committees agree with the tenure track faculty members and department chairs on the nature of “engaged scholarship” and its importance in the P&T process? If not, what mechanism exists for converging toward agreement?

3.     Should the definition of “engaged scholarship” vary from unit to unit?

4.     Should “engaged scholarship” be considered a fourth category for P&T evaluation in addition to teaching, research and service?

5.     Should “engaged scholarship” be evaluated differently from “scholarship” as it is evaluated presently? 

6.     Should “engaged scholarship” count more positively toward P&T than what UNH presently considers scholarship

7.     Should “engaged scholarship” be expected from all departments? All faculty members? 

8.     Could the administration choose to selectively favor some departments or individuals by picking and funding (or obtaining funding for) large projects for engagement and specifying faculty participants?

9.     Should paid consulting be considered “engaged scholarship”?

 

A.    Recommendations of the Ad-Hoc Committee

 

1.     The Committee does not recommend adopting “Engaged (“Outreach”) Scholarship as a fourth category in the P&T process.

2.     The Committee recommends that the standards for evaluating quality of “engaged scholarship (performance or creative activity) continue to be established at the department level and not differ from the standards already in place for scholarship (performance or creative activity).

3.     Engagement is truly a major community value at UNH. Where scholarship (performance or creative activity) does have an engagement (outreach) component, it should be highlighted in faculty annual reports, P&T packages, and press releases.

4.     For some UNH departments (e.g. Education, Social Work, Nursing to name a few), outreach and engagement represents a truly vital component of the department’s activity and raison d’etre.  For other UNH departments, the role of outreach and engagement is not as salient.  Rather than stretching the definition of scholarship, the committee recommends that departments carefully evaluate their teaching, research and service priorities (i.e., the 40:40:20 model) and determine the model most that is most relevant to their mission (i.e., 40:20:40 or 40:30:30) and clearly articulate and communicate the standard at the department, college, and Provost levels. Indeed, the above-cited Procedures and Criteria for Promotion and/or Tenure: Guidelines for Deans, Department Chairpersons and Faculty Members of School and College Promotion and Tenure Committees (2013-2014) fairly explicitly recommends such an approach on p. 3. 

5.     In light of 4 above, departments should evaluate and articulate their own standards with respect to engaged scholarship, their expectations, how important it is in their P&T considerations and how they evaluate it, and clearly communicate these standards with college P&T committees, deans, and the provost.  This is likely to be an iterative process, ultimately “closing the loop”, leading to full understanding so that there are no “surprises” during the P&T process. Transparency and clarity are paramount.

 

Art emphasized the importance of the work of this committee in clarifying the expectations of the promotion and tenure process, saying that while the expectations for advancement from assistant to associate professor are quite clear, those expectations for the next step from associate to full professor are more murky.

 

A senator asked if these issues have only been examined for tenure-track faculty or if promotion for clinical and research faculty has also been discussed.  Art replied that these other areas are on the committee’s agenda. 

 

VIII. New business – there was no new business.

 

IX. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned at 4:56 p.m.  

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