UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from  9 February, 2009

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2008/09 FACULTY SENATE

FEBRUARY 9, 2009 - MINUTES SUMMARY 

 

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Cariens, Gross, Kaen, Mayer, Morgan and Zhou.  Excused were Aber, Barrows, Echt, Fraas, Graham, Kenick, Slomba and Swartz.  President Huddleston, Provost Mallory, Thomas Pistole and Kevin Linton were guests.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the president – The president expressed concern about the university’s budget situation during the current economic crisis.  He said that endowment value was down but that a payout policy had been approved by the UNH Foundation board, to cushion the impact of the decline in the short term.  He added that Mark Rubinstein will be named interim vice president for advancement and will head a single advancement operation which will blend the UNH Alumni Association and the UNH Foundation.  The current president of the UNH Foundation and the current executive director of the Alumni Association will become associate vice presidents and report to Mark Rubinstein.  The president also said that he would like the provost search to select a provost who can unite research and academics.  The president plans to appoint a vice provost for research rather than a vice president for research.  In answer to a question, the president said that he would like to work with the leadership of the Faculty Senate, to devise an agreed metric whereby the ratio of faculty to administrators could be monitored, with the goal of maximizing faculty and minimizing administrators.

III.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that a budget projection was presented to the Central Budget Committee predicting a three million dollar deficit in fiscal year 2010 and an eight million dollar deficit in 2011.  The proposal is (1) to aggressively increase professional and graduate enrollments and summer and off campus programs, (2) to limit salary increases, (3) to restrict new hiring except in the most critical areas, (4) to reduce administrative costs, and (5) to reduce and eliminate programs that are not mission critical.  On financial aid, the news was better; and a shortfall was not expected.  Retention is down somewhat, but applications are up.  The administration should follow shared governance procedures and get appropriate faculty input prior to any changes affecting academics.  A senator said that changes to any program such as the Inclusive Teaching Fellows Program, which an administrator might consider not mission critical, should go through the usual shared governance process and faculty input prior to a decision.  The senate chair said that there is an ongoing search for a new chief information officer for the university.

The senate chair reported that the Student Senate passed a resolution asking that a copy of every textbook used in UNH classes be placed on reserve in the UNH library.  The Student Senate has also passed a resolution in response to the 1/29/09 Faculty Senate motion which passed a policy on student use of electronic devices during class.  The Faculty Senate motion said that these devices are not allowed to be used during class and that, if use of any of these items is permitted by the course instructor, these items are not allowed to be used for non-class activities.  The motion stated that, if students violate this policy, they will have a choice either to temporarily relinquish the device to the professor for the remainder of the class or to leave the classroom; and exceptions were included for disabilities and emergencies.  On 2/8/09 the Student Senate passed a resolution (1) objecting to this motion, (2) calling for the reconsideration of the policy by the Faculty Senate, and (3) asking that the Office of Student and Academic Services not include this policy in the Student Rights, Rules and Responsibilities Handbook until the Faculty Senate has been able to reconsider its decision.  The chair of the Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee said that an observer from Student Senate was invited to sit in on the committee’s deliberations, including all those on student use of electronic devices.  The Student Senate executive board discussed this matter in November, and an article appeared in The New Hampshire as well.  The Faculty Senate chair said that the Faculty Senate’s motion is in effect and that the Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee can decide whether it wishes to reconsider the motion.

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

V.  Blue Ribbon Panel on Research – The chair of the senate’s Research and Public Service Committee presented to the senate a revised motion expressing general concerns rather than commenting line by line on the report.  The motion, which was seconded by Barbara White, is as follows:

The UNH Faculty Senate applauds President Huddleston for opening a campus-wide discussion on research.  The Faculty Senate affirms the university’s commitment to research and thanks the Blue Ribbon Panel for their thorough report.  The Faculty senate does have a number of concerns about this report.  Since some of the report’s recommendations carry significant financial and structural implications over academic matters for which the faculty has primary responsibility, the Faculty Senate urges and expects the President to implement policy recommendations in a manner consistent with the principles and practices of shared governance when balancing priorities for scarce resources.

Anita Klein made and Don Chandler seconded an amendment to add, after the second sentence of the motion, “The Blue Ribbon Report on Research is also to be commended for recognizing the need for improvement to graduate education, stipends and housing.”  A discussion ensued as to whether to include in the motion examples of specific concern or approbation about the panel’s recommendations.  A professor said that the minutes of today’s senate meeting and the previous meeting will form a record and should be attached to the motion when it is sent to the president.  A suggestion was made to remove “stipends and housing” from the amendment, because of concerns that increasing graduate stipends and housing might detract too much from undergraduate education.  Anita Klein changed her amendment and Don Chandler seconded a change to instead revise the second sentence of the motion to say:  “The Faculty Senate affirms the university’s commitment to research and graduate education and thanks the Blue Ribbon Panel for their thorough report.”

A suggestion was made to combine the second and third sentences to say:  Although the Faculty Senate affirms the university’s commitment to research and graduate education and thanks the Blue Ribbon Panel for their thorough report, the Faculty senate does have a number of concerns about this report.”  Other senators suggested passing the motion as first presented today by the chair of the senate’s Research and Public Service Committee and later passing another motion to provide the president and the strategic planning groups with a list of concerns and approbations.  A professor said that each faculty member should send his or her own input and that this should be done soon.  The amendment to revise the second sentence of the motion to say that “The Faculty Senate affirms the university’s commitment to research and graduate education and thanks the Blue Ribbon Panel for their thorough report” failed, with six ayes, twenty-seven nays, and three abstentions.  A senator said that the motion as a whole means that the administration should bring any new policy recommendations to the Faculty Senate for input, prior to a decision.  Kevin Gardner asked that faculty email to him this week their concerns and approvals of the Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations.  The Research and Public Service committee will compile concerns and input, for presentation at the next senate meeting.  The motion as it was first presented today by the chair of the senate’s Research and Public Service Committee passed with thirty-three ayes, no nays, and two abstentions.

VI.  Discovery Program – The chair of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee said that he has provided the senators with several handouts and three motions on the Discovery Program.  The first handout describes the current model proposed by the Discovery Program, stating that a total of ten courses must be completed to satisfy the requirements of the Discovery Program and reinforce the fundamental skills required to understand, integrate, and express ideas in all fields of endeavor, including writing (ENG 401 along with other current writing intensive requirements), quantitative reasoning (in the current general education format), inquiry 444 (or an inquiry attribute course), disciplinary breadth, natural sciences, arts and humanities, historical and global perspectives, social and behavioral sciences, interdisciplinary understanding and integration, perspectives on identity, and capstone.  The Academic Affairs Committee recommends approval of inquiry and inquiry attribute courses, the breadth requirements, and the capstones.  The Academic Affairs Committee does not recommend approval of the interdisciplinary requirement or the perspectives on identity requirement.  The Academic Affairs Committee has a diverse representation, includes all the schools and colleges, and collaborated with the Discovery Program Advisory Committee, the deans, and David Proulx.  The committee worked via consensus and is proposing three motions with no objections from any of the committee members.  The committee recommends approval of the discovery skills, disciplinary breadth, and capstone experience.  The committee did not reach consensus on and does not, at this time, recommend approval of the interdisciplinary understanding attribute and the perspectives on identity attribute.

The committee chair said that the Discovery Program is an improvement over the present system, which has worked well but has not been updated for many years.  The committee’s criteria are pedagogical soundness, flexibility in application, a framework that enables dynamism as curricula develop, and feasibility.  The second handout describes the inquiry component, the disciplinary breadth component, and the capstone component, which are what the committee is asking the Faculty Senate to approve.  Inquiry 444 and inquiry attribute courses may count for both writing intensive and disciplinary breadth requirements.  The committee also considered whether there would be enough spaces in inquiry courses to fulfill the anticipated need of 2,900 spaces in 2010.  In November, the Discovery Program Advisory Committee provided information on all courses under 500-level with no more than 35 student capacity, not including honors sections, English 401, courses divided into discussion sections, and labs, as follows:

                        Fall 2008                                                          Spring 2008

In major           70 courses; 1,741 spaces                                 71 courses; 1,726 spaces

Gen. Ed.           61 courses; 1,700 spaces                                 60 courses; 1,596 spaces

                        131 courses; 3441 spaces                                131 courses; 3322 spaces

In interviews with department chairs or chair designees, 36 departments were contacted and 8 responded, which is a response rate of 22%.  Those chairs/designees confirmed that 60 out of 141 possible in-major inquiry attribute courses and 40 out of 121 possible gen. ed. inquiry attribute courses required “very little” or “moderate” adjustments.  This confirms a range of spaces for in-major courses of from 1,500 to 2,100 total for the fall of 2008 and spring of 2008 semesters. This also confirms a range of spaces for gen. ed. inquiry attribute courses of from 1000 to 1400. These numbers do not include possible seats in the 71 in-major courses and the 81 gen. ed. courses not discussed during the survey.  In summary, 43% of in-major courses and 33% of gen. ed. courses were confirmed.

There was concern that the estimate might be biased upward, since departments may offer major courses that their students can take, but only one may actually provide spaces for the inquiry requirement.  For example, a department with two 500-level major requirements, each of which can serve for inquiry in-majors, actually will be contributing only half of its spaces toward the inquiry requirement.  To address this concern, courses from three departments (Psychology, English, and Communication) with a high number of majors (about 2000 students total) were dropped from the estimate of available spaces for in-major and for gen. ed. courses.  The results for in-major courses were 921 (fall 2008) + 876 (spring 2008) = 1,797 (compared with 3,467 spaces); and for gen. ed. courses the results were 1,072 (fall 2008) + 1052 (spring 2008) = 2,124 (compared with 3,296 spaces).  The Academic Affairs Committee chair said that therefore the committee could make a responsible inference that there will be enough spaces to implement the program.  The committee chair asked the senators to read the third handout regarding information and concerns about the interdisciplinary understanding attribute and the identity perspectives attribute.  The committee is not recommending endorsement of those two attributes at this time.  The committee asks that the Faculty Senate approve the following three motions.

MOTION 1:  The Academic Affairs Committee recommends passage of the Discovery Program’s inquiry, disciplinary breadth, and capstone components.

MOTION 2:  Given that a general education program is a work in progress and is always open to possible future amendment and revision, the Academic Affairs Committee could not reach consensus on the Discovery Program’s “interdisciplinary understanding” attribute and therefore does not recommend approval of that attribute at this time.

MOTION 3:  Given that a general education program is a work in progress and is always open to possible future amendment and revision, the Academic Affairs Committee could not reach consensus on the perspectives on identity attribute and therefore does not recommend approval of that attribute at this time.

Because of the importance of the vote on the Discovery Program, these motions should lie over until the next senate meeting; and Bill Stine moved and David Richman seconded the motion to table the motions until the next meeting.  The motion to table passed unanimously.  The senate confirmed its appreciation to the Academic Affairs Committee for its extraordinary effort on these matters.

VII.  Master Plan – Doug Bencks, who is the university architect and campus planner, presented an implementation progress report on the Campus Master Plan.  He said that the parameters of the 2004 Campus Master Plan were to have stable enrollments (with undergraduates at 11,000-12,000, graduate students at 2,000-2,500, and faculty/staff at 3,300-3,700), to renovate our academic buildings, to expand research programs, to house at least 60% of the undergraduates on campus, and to reinforce and enhance the walking campus.  The Campus Master Plan progress since approval in 2004 includes (1) $190 million to renovate and expand five major academic buildings with funding provided by a combination of New Hampshire state capital appropriations, gifts, and internal funds (designated repair and renovation funds and college reserves), (2) $110 million to expand and renovate student housing and expand one dining hall (so that 58% of undergraduate students are now housed on campus) with funding provided through borrowing paid back by student room and board fees, (3) $18 million for new research facility buildings with funding provided by federal grants, (4) $9 million for improvements to public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian safety with funding provided from federal grants administered by the State of NH and from 20% matching funds from the university and the town, and (5) $80 million for campus energy improvements to create a cogeneration plant and use landfill gas as the energy source, with funding provided through borrowing paid back by energy cost savings.

The completed or in-progress projects funded by the 2004 Campus Master Plan are academic buildings (Kingsbury Hall expansion and renovation – 2006, DeMeritt Hall replacement – 2008, Marine Pier and Support Facility – 2008, New Hampshire Hall renovation – 2009, James Hall renovation – 2010, and Parsons Hall renovation – 2013), campus life projects (Gables Apartments expansion – 2006, new Housing Office – 2007, Southeast Residential Community – 2008, Philbrook Hall expansion – 2008, and Fairchild Hall renovation – 2008), and campus infrastructure projects (combined heat and power plant – 2006, main street improvements – 2007, south underpass – 2007, train station improvements – 2008, EcoLine landfill gas pipeline – 2009, and Main Street West improvements – 2009).  Divergences from the 2004 plan include additional projects that have been funded (Huddleston Hall partial renovation – 2008, Chase Ocean Engineering addition – 2008, Wind Tunnel Research Facility – 2010, and the Jackson Laboratory partial renovation – 2010),  redefined or new academic projects (an all-new WSBE facility versus expanding/renovating McConnell Hall – 2010 and the possible merger and relocation of the Pierce Law Center to Durham), and projects which were postponed (Nesmith Hall renovations, conversion of Woodside Apartments from undergraduate to family housing, and the Police Station replacement.  The Campus Planner said that the university plans to give Nesmith Hall an elevator next year.  Campus Master Plan projects in planning/design but not funded include a new Business School building, new family housing at Leawood Orchard, Football Stadium expansion, Field House renovations, expansion of Campus Recreation Facilities, a new Law School, Child Study Development Center and other child care facilities, and Hamilton Smith renovation.

A senator said that, when the university tore down about fifty family housing units, the administration agreed at that time to replace them, by converting some of the Woodside Apartments from undergraduate to family housing, but has not lived up to that understanding.  Regarding family housing, the university is pursuing the possibility of a partnership with a private developer/funder to plan, design, construct, and operate new family housing and day care on up to 20 acres of university land at Leawood Orchard on Mast Road/Route 155A.  The town is very supportive of this idea if the development pays property taxes.  The university has solicited and received information from 11 entities that are interested in this idea, but these are not proposals.  The university prefers not to be a co-signer for any borrowing or to promise to fill units, and so the developer would carry any risk.  Some form of other income will be needed to make this financially feasible for a developer.  New undergraduate housing on the same site is a likely source.  Can the project take advantage of tax credit programs (to make the units more affordable) while still giving preference to university families?  There is no schedule for this project/proposal. 

VIII.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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