UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 23 April, 2012

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2011-12 FACULTY SENATE

APRIL 23, 2012 - MINUTES SUMMARY

 

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Chavda, Connelly, Fagerberg, Kilcrease, Peshkova, Shannon, Shore, Simos and Veal.  Guests were John Aber, Christina Bellinger, Bob Jerard, and Kelly Whittier.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the president and/or provost – The provost said that, regarding the recent open meeting about the Master Plan, the concerns expressed about the use of the agricultural lands have resulted in those sections being removed from the plan.  The chair of the senate’s Campus Planning Committee said that she had not been aware, prior to the open meeting, of the proposal to change those agricultural lands to retail use.  What was the origin of that proposal?  The provost said that the idea did not come from the consultant.  A professor said that the university, which is partly supported by the state, should not be in competition with private businesses.  He added that UNH has these land resources because of the foresight of the people who came before us and that we should keep those lands intact for those who come after us.  A senator said that the senate’s ad-hoc Committee on Organization of Other Entities has had great difficulty getting data which the committee has requested repeatedly from an administrator.

III.  Motion on the teaching evaluation form – Committee member Robert Jerard said that the report and motion are a step in the right direction.  A primary focus is to make the students’ evaluations more valuable as feedback to the instructor, in order to enhance course improvement.  The Committee on Teaching Evaluation gave a report recommending a revision of the teaching evaluation form, which is filled out by students at the end of each course.  The primary questions of the proposed teaching evaluation form would ask about the following.  (1) The instructor provided helpful and timely feedback on submitted assignments; (2) The instructor held me to high standards of performance; (3) Rate to what degree this course was intellectually and/or creatively challenging; (4) The instructor presented material effectively; (5) Rate how much you learned in this course; (6) Rate the instructor’s respect for and professional treatment of all students; and (7) Rate the degree to which the required course materials (i.e. textbooks, handouts, etc.) contributed greatly to my learning experience.

The proposed teaching evaluation form eliminates the “overall instructor rating” question on the current form (question 14), reduces the number of Likert scale questions from 14 to 7, and may be supplemented by up to six custom-designed questions chosen by the college/program/department/instructor to provide the most helpful feedback for a particular course.   Question 1 was rated highly by both students and faculty in the surveys; questions 2-5 were rated highly by faculty; and questions 6 and 7 were rated highly by students.  With the exception of question 4, none of the primary questions are on the current form; and a six point scale is used instead of the currently-used five point scale.  The “open-ended request for feedback” questions are unchanged from the current form.  A possible implementation process might include circulating the form to departments immediately for comment, implementing a pilot study in the fall of 2012, comments and revision in the spring of 2013, and full implementation in the fall of 2013.  Unresolved issues are (1) whether the form should be on paper or online, although the initial implementation will be on paper, and (2) a procedure for the supplemental questions.

The committee hopes that the revised form will encourage lengthier narrative responses.  A senator said that some universities do the evaluations on line and that some withhold the grade until the student fills out the evaluation, although that method is controversial.  One possibility might be to do the short questions in class and the narrative questions on line.  The implementation committee could decide on that.  In addition, the senate chair said that another committee can decide on how the evaluations for on-line courses should be done, as that is not part of this committee’s charge.  A senator said that he is glad that question 14 will be eliminated, and he added that the committee should make it difficult to average the numbers and should program the computer not to do the averaging, because the questions are not equal in weight.  The questions should not be numbered but rather designated “A” through “G”.  A professor said that the first question, about “timely feedback”, is too subjective, because some assignments take longer to grade than others.

A senator asked if the committee will try to correlate the student’s grade with that student’s teaching evaluation form, and the committee chair replied that the committee discussed this matter and hopes to do a pilot study and then consider modifying the form.  Another senator today, as well as many responders to the survey, said that the narrative answers are often especially helpful with ideas for course improvement.  What will the process be for approving the supplemental questions?  Will each department choose them for all the departmental courses?  The senate chair said that such questions can be addressed during the implementation process.  A professor asked if the committee could frame questions which would bring fuller answers than a “yes” or “no”.  Also, the senate vice chair suggested that the questions as a whole should refer to the student in either the first or second person but not both.  Faculty are invited to send additional feedback to the implementation committee.

On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Louise Buckley presented a motion on the teaching evaluation form as follows.  The Faculty Senate accepts with gratitude the report of the ad-hoc Committee on Teaching Evaluation, presented by committee member Professor Robert Jerard on behalf of committee Chair Paula Salvio on April 23, 2012, and makes the following motion:

The Faculty Senate calls for the formation of an ad-hoc Student Teaching Evaluation Form Implementation Committee. The committee is charged with (1) ensuring that all academic departments review and comment on the evaluation form proposal (the senate will help expedite this process by circulating relevant materials immediately to all college deans, the Library Dean, the Director of the Thompson School, and department chairs for distribution to the faculty); (2) planning and conducting a pilot study using the form during fall, 2012; (3) providing and organizing for fall, 2012, a process for academic departments to propose questions designed to supplement the general form in view of particular, distinctive, pedagogical contexts within their curricular programs (e.g., evaluative questions designed to address lab courses, large enrollment courses) if departments so choose; (4) conducting formal review and revision of the general form, as well as proposed supplemental questions specific to particular pedagogical contexts during spring, 2013; and (5) planning for full implementation of the general form in fall, 2013.

 

The ad-hoc committee membership should consist of an elected senior faculty member from each of the six colleges, two Faculty Senate appointments, an administrative representative from each of the  Offices of the College Deans, one representative from the Office of the Library Dean, one representative from the Office of Institutional Research, and one representative from the Office of Academic Affairs.  The chair of the committee will provide a report to the Faculty Senate at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year. 

Friendly amendments were accepted to (1) change the last paragraph’s first sentence to add “and the university library” after “each of the six colleges” and (2) to modify one of the initial sentences to say:  “The Faculty Senate calls for the formation of an ad-hoc Teaching Evaluation Form Implementation Committee.”  That committee would give structure to the implementation.  This fall some faculty may use both the previous evaluation form and the new one.  Please send the motion to and get input from the departmental colleagues.  The motion will be postponed until the next senate meeting, which is on May 7.

IV.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that some faculty have asked him whether a senator should find out the department’s majority view and vote on that basis or whether the senator was chosen by the department because those faculty appreciate the senator’s good judgment and want the senator to choose for them after listening to the discussion on an issue.  The senate chair believes that senators should consider both the department’s viewpoint and the senator’s own before deciding on a vote.

V.  Minutes – The minutes of the previous Faculty Senate meeting were approved with all ayes.

VI.  Motion on budgetary detail – Today and at the previous senate meeting, on behalf of the Agenda Committee, Art Greenberg presented the budgetary detail motion as follows.

Whereas the preamble to the Faculty Senate Constitution states:  “The distinctive responsibility of the faculty is the academic mission of the university.  In particular, the joint statement asserts that, ‘The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, 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 should be exercised adversely only in exceptional circumstances and for reasons communicated to the faculty.’” And whereas the Faculty Senate Constitution “provides for the faculty to exercise this responsibility through an elected Faculty Senate,” and whereas the “Faculty Senate is designed to work in close communication and collaboration with the Board of Trustees, principal administrators and the Council of Deans, the PAT and Operating Staff Councils, and the Student Senate, each of which have their own distinctive responsibilities as well as overlapping areas of concern,” and whereas decisions about initiatives that impact academics at UNH often involve reallocation of scarce budgetary resources, and whereas timely action is expected of the senate, therefore, in order to be able responsibly to discharge its oversight of the academic mission, the Faculty Senate calls upon the administration to provide timely and complete budgetary proposals for new academic initiatives (e.g., Inclusive Excellence, Internationalization) that will impact current academic practices, including but not necessarily limited to:  (1) data that establish the need for the initiative, in terms of problems or issues the initiative purportedly addresses; (2) specification of the sources of funding from which resources for the initiative will be allocated or reallocated; (3) identifiable and measurable benchmarks that indicate progress in advancing the initiative over a five year period; and (4) plans for three or five year periodic review of the initiative’s costs and benefits.  The Faculty Senate further calls upon the administration also to include in revenue generating initiatives (e.g., e-learning graduate programs or professional certificate programs):  (1) details about the starting budget for the initiative, (2) evidence for the initiative’s feasibility in generating new revenues, (3) evidence-based projections over three- and five-year increments of anticipated revenues from the initiative, as well as anticipated corollary expenses needed for pursuit of the initiative, (4) plans for three-year periodic review of the initiative’s success in generating anticipated revenues, (5) contingency plans to maintain, scale back, or eliminate the initiative should revenues generated fail to meet expectations, and (6) identification of alternative revenue sources should the initiative be maintained without reaching the anticipated levels of revenue generation.

A friendly amendment was accepted to add “and opportunities” after “the Faculty Senate calls upon the administration to provide timely and complete budgetary proposals for new academic initiatives” and also after “The Faculty Senate further calls upon the administration also to include in revenue generating initiatives”.  The amended motion passed with thirty-four ayes and one abstention.

VII.  Motion on Promotion and Tenure Standards Oversight Committee – After a presentation at the previous senate meeting, today on behalf of the Agenda Committee, Louise Buckley presented a motion which included some new wording to include the Thompson School.  The revised motion is as follows.  The Faculty Senate accepts with gratitude the report of the ad-hoc Committee on Promotion and Tenure Standards, presented by committee Chair Jeffry Diefendorf on April 2, 2012, and makes the following motion:

The Faculty Senate calls for the formation of an ad-hoc Promotion and Tenure Standards Oversight Committee by the senate. The committee is charged with ensuring (1) that all academic departments consider and respond in writing to promotion and tenure issues raised in the report that are relevant to respective practices, (2) that the Offices of the Deans of each college (including Manchester and the university library) and the Thompson School Director consider and respond in writing to promotion and tenure issues raised in the report that are relevant to their administrative practices, and (3) that the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs consider and respond in writing to promotion and tenure issues raised in the report that are relevant to its administrative practices.  The committee is empowered to recommend working groups bringing together representatives from department, college, and higher administrative levels to address issues that require collaborative action based on review of the responses collected from all three levels.

The ad-hoc committee membership should consist of an elected senior faculty member from each of the seven colleges and from Thompson School, who has served on the college’s (or the Thompson School’s) promotion and tenure committees, two Faculty Senate appointments, an administrative representative from each of the seven Offices of the Deans and from the Office of the Thompson School Director, and one representative from the Office of Academic Affairs.  The chair of the committee will provide a report to the Faculty Senate at the end of the academic year.

A friendly amendment was accepted to change the last part of the final sentence to say “at the end of the 2012/13 academic year.”  The oversight committee should work with the most up-to-date data possible. The motion passed with a vote of thirty-one ayes, two nays and two abstentions.

VIII.  Motion on cluster hires – On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Deb Kinghorn presented the following motion on Cluster Hires:

Whereas current and anticipated rates of hiring new tenure track faculty are low in view of ongoing budgetary restraints; and

whereas academic departments are unable to anticipate one-to-one replacement of tenure track positions that have opened due to retirements or resignations; and

whereas the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture hired seven tenure-track faculty as “cluster hires” during the 2010-2011 academic year, and

whereas the President’s Report on Internationalization proposes the hiring of twelve tenure-track “interdisciplinary” positions within five years; and

whereas the proposals for the Interdisciplinary Schools and for the Marine School call for tenure track positions that are placed within individual academic departments, but whose duties are divided with particular schools (e.g., the latest proposal for the Marine School states, “A limited number of tenure-track positions may reside primarily in the School, but will have tenure homes in the Departments”); and

whereas academic departments have been directed by their colleges to privilege “cluster hires” over single department hires that serve the specific disciplinary teaching, scholarship, and operational needs of particular departments when applying to the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs for tenure-track lines; and

whereas the practice at UNH has long been that the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs approves requests for tenure-track hires generated by departments and colleges, but the notion of a “cluster hire” is that of a hiring plan spanning departments and even colleges that originates from the Office of the VPAA rather than the academic departments through their respective colleges; and

whereas there is no official university document that defines or describes the meaning of “cluster hires,”  the criteria for proposing or authorizing them, and how that process relates to customary hiring practices of academic departments initiating hiring proposals in collaboration with the respective Offices of the College Deans,

therefore the Faculty Senate resolves that the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the six Offices of the College Deans, 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 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.

In response to a question, the motion presenter said that one of the problems is that there is no clear definition of cluster hires at UNH.  The phrase seems to indicate individuals who serve in more than one department or entity in pursuit of a coordinated goal.  This motion does not indicate that cluster hires are bad but rather that there is a need for structure and balance and that, when a cluster hire is proposed, the rationale for the initiative should be stated.  The need for cluster hires should be balanced with the need for departmental hires to handle the core needs of the departmental curriculum.  The expectations for those who are “cluster hired” should be made clear.  A senator said that the senate should not restrict creative planning.  A number of faculty may be trying to arrange cluster hires.  A professor said that his research could work with cluster hiring but that cluster hiring wreaks havoc on strategic planning in the departments.  Some disciplines can work well with cluster hires, but other disciplines cannot.  Many faculty feel that they do not know the rules of the game regarding cluster hires and that a significant preference for cluster hires makes it difficult for a number of departments to replace needed faculty, in order to accomplish the departments' mission.  The senate chair asked that senators share the motion with their departmental faculty and get input.  This motion will be postponed until the next senate meeting.

IX.  Report from UCAPC, on schools – UCAPC Chair Christina Bellinger said that UCAPC is still working on the details of the documents.  The committee has analyzed the marine school proposal and is working on the general schools policy.  The committee has not received the requested three to five year budget proposals.  The committee hopes to be able to make its recommendation soon.

X.  Report from the ad-hoc Committee on Organization of the Graduate SchoolThe ad-hoc committee was charged to review the academic and financial advantages and disadvantages of reorganizing or changing the reporting structure of the Graduate School and the graduate programs across the university.  Subhash Minocha, who is a member of that committee, said that most of the committee members attended the Graduate Review Retreat, late in July of 2011, to discuss issues related to the review.  Then the committee met as a group on September 12.  The committee addressed three primary questions pertaining to the possible reorganization and functions of the Graduate School and graduate dean’s office, potential merger of the Graduate School/dean’s office with the Senior Vice Provost for Research Office, and the role of teaching assistants in graduate education and university undergraduate program delivery.  The committee does not recommend absorption of the Graduate School/dean’s office under the office of the Vice Provost for Research, because this would undermine the importance of the educational/training aspect of the graduate programs.  The committee does not recommend transferring duties of the Graduate School/dean’s office to departments, i.e. decentralization of the Graduate School functions. Such action would hinder the development of common standards for the admissions process, would hinder setting up common standards of performance evaluation of students across programs, and especially would increase and duplicate the work of the graduate dean’s office in numerous locations such as colleges and programs.

The committee felt strongly that the Graduate School's oversight of graduate programs is valuable, although the Graduate School seems to have little clout and limited resources to support it.  If some programs have not been reviewed, the Graduate School should be able to institute the proper faculty-led reviews; however its ability to do so is limited by the resources it has.  The committee believes that the Graduate Council is central to all discussions of restructuring and review of the graduate programs and is not being consulted enough.  The committee recommends strengthening the role of the council in shared governance.  Regarding a concern about the research mission at the expense of the teaching role of graduate education, the committee believes that the two are complementary to each other and not competing.  The committee believes that some of the push for restructuring was not supported by actual budgetary data, even though this apparently was one of the reasons for suggesting the changes.  A question was raised as to why the Interdisciplinary Schools Proposals were not under the Graduate School purview, since the schools were specifically graduate-focused entities.  In teaching assistantships (50% time, i.e. 20 hours per week) as a means to provide financial subsistence for graduate students, especially in laboratory/field-oriented disciplines, the graduate students' role in delivering undergraduate education is not in competition with the graduate students' role in research.  Rather, teaching assistantships are an effective means so that the students are able to devote the rest of the time to research.  The lack of a large number of research/project assistantships would significantly alter the graduate student body and its diversity, if the teaching assistantships were taken away and replaced by hiring instructors to deliver the undergraduate educational experience.  There was a lengthy discussion in the committee on this issue.

XI.  Report from the Academic Affairs Committee, on research faculty teaching – The committee’s charge was to:  “Develop a policy statement regarding research faculty teaching which addresses compensation and minimum allowable class size.  Pay scales, which have been used to compensate research faculty for teaching, differ from compensation for tenure-track faculty.  Further, research faculty sometimes teach and are compensated fully for classes which have enrollments that are below the number necessary to permit them to be taught in an academic department. These discrepancies should be addressed.”  Karsten Pohl, who presented this report, said that research faculty teaching is administered by the colleges.  John Kraus, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, said that 5 out 109 “primarily research” faculty were teaching in the fall of 2011.  Leigh Anne Melanson, Associate Provost for Academic Administration, said that colleges are responsible for teaching assignment and compensation and are not able to give university-wide numbers.  Kate Roberts, Director of Financial Services in CEPS. said that 2 to 6 courses per academic year are being taught by research faculty (mainly from EOS) at a compensation of 1.5 ninth months.  All those courses are specialty topics courses at the senior or graduate level, except for two which are taught by Cameron Wake and Ruth Varner who are teaching on more regular basis at the 400-level in Earth Science.  Susan St. Louis, Director of Financial Services in COLA, said that 2 to 3 courses per academic year are being taught by research faculty, mainly from the Carsey Institute, at a compensation of $3500 per course, in Sociology and Special Education on a more regular basis and otherwise depending on teaching need due to sabbaticals, retirements, etc.  Tina Sawtelle, Director of Financial Services in COLSA, said that 5 courses are taught by 3 research faculty members at 20% of the academic year salary, if also contributing to service, or otherwise at 12.5% of the annual year salary.  Roy Torbert, Director of the  Space Science Center at EOS, said that EOS used to have a teaching program that would have research faculty teach 2 courses per semester for the Physics Department, at a compensation of 4 ninths.  The current agreement with the Dean is for 2 courses per academic year at 1.5 to 2 ninths for the Physics Department.

XII.  Report from the Campus Planning Committee, on parking – The chair of the Campus Planning Committee presented a report on parking, to the Faculty Senate in November of 2011, and said that the following updates are in response to questions that were raised during the presentation and by email following the presentation.  The chair of the Campus Planning Committee met with Dirk Timmons and Steve Pesci on January 24.  The response to a question, on what is being done to improve the condition of the walking paths from the Strafford lot (old New England Center lot) to academic buildings such as the new business building, was that this is a project that the Transportation Policy Committee is working on.  The university has already improved some lighting and will also be improving the walkway and adding additional lighting.  Strafford Avenue improvements would have to be done by the Town of Durham, and so the university is working on a walking path that would be used by most UNH students, faculty, and staff.  As to why such a large number of spaces were taken out of H-lot (New Hampshire Hall lot) for visitor parking, parking services notes that getting good visitor parking on Main Street was a top priority in the previous Master Plan. The TPC sees this as an important accomplishment.  There are 77 spaces reserved for visitors in H-lot; and on an average day, about 30 of these spaces are full.  The TPC wants to see empty spaces right now and says that this is important so that members of the community and UNH get a sense that there are open spaces there and that this is a good place to direct parking.  These spaces will be used for big admission events also.  For example, if an event is scheduled and needs 150 spaces, about half will come from the visitor parking while the other half would come from spaces blocked off in the Alumni Lot.  Regarding whether the data, presented on core faculty/staff  parking at the senate meeting, took into account the spaces removed for the new business building, yes, the data presented that shows a slight increase in core faculty/staff parking were based on counts of all parking spaces on campus conducted in October, 2011, after the business building construction was underway.

The most recent data on core faculty/staff parking spaces indicate an 8% increase in available spaces from 2010-2011.  Changes which account for that increase include (1) that the Strafford lot (old New England Center lot) was changed from student parking to faculty/staff  permit parking for the fall of 2011, (2) that repaving done in the alumni lot and lot A over the summer helped increase available spaces by around 40, and (3) that some of the spaces reserved for Forest Park were changed back to faculty/staff  spaces.  The most recent data on parking permits indicate a 6% decrease in UNH parking permits purchased from 2002 to 2011.  What changes account for that decrease?  There has only been a slight decrease in the number of faculty/staff permits sold, and most of the decreases are due to student commuter permit sales, since many more students are taking advantage of the UNH bus system.  What indicators does the TPC use to judge whether parking pressures at UNH are increasing or decreasing, and what do these indicators suggest?  The most meaningful data are the ratio of faculty/staff permits to available faculty/staff core parking spaces.  This is considered the “hunting score”; and in 2002, there were 1.3 permits sold for every available parking space, whereas in 2011 there were 1.21 permits per space.  Other important indicators include (1) the number of parking citations issued (and these have gone down by almost 50%, which is good news but also creates a serious revenue problem for TPC), (2) that the number of spaces available at West Edge is still about 200 to 300 spaces open daily, and (3) that the number of letters, emails, and complaints is way down according to Dirk Timmons.  Questions were raised about the accuracy of the comparison data used to argue that UNH’s $50 per year faculty/staff  permit cost is significantly lower than the average permit fee ($273). Where did this data come from?  The TPC sampled data from 69 North American universities.  Data included the cost for a “hunting license” (without the guarantee of a space), the cost of surface lot spaces, student commuter costs, and student resident permit costs. Across these 69 universities, the mean  faculty/staff parking permit cost was $284, the median was $300, and the mode was $275.  Dirk Timmons notes that the cost to maintain the core spaces on campus averages about $200 per space per year. The only way that TPC has been able to improve and maintain faculty/staff parking lots is because of the student transportation fee and the $350 yearly fee for resident student parking.  He maintains that the current financial model is not sustainable.

Beginning in January, 2013, the business school will have approximately 100 students coming in to the new building at around 5 to 5:30 p.m. and departing at around 9:00 p.m. two to three times per week. Traditionally, these students have purchased commuter parking permits and have been allowed to park in B lot after 5:00 p.m.  Would this agreement transfer to the Strafford lot (old New England Center lot) when the new business building is complete?  Dirk Timmons does not see a conflict with extending the offer to allow commuter parking permits purchased by these students to be used after 5:00 p.m. in the Strafford lot.  Dirk Timmons also noted that the TPC views B-lot as a walkable and accessible parking location even for the new business building.

XIII.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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