UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 12 September, 2011

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2011-12 FACULTY SENATE

SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 - MINUTES SUMMARY  

 

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Simos and Veal.  Guests were John Aber and Jessica Fruchtman.

II. Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost welcomed the faculty back for the coming academic year.  He said that, during the summer, two retreats were held to discuss possible reorganization of science and engineering and also the Graduate School.  At least three faculty senators participated in each retreat.  These retreats were organized as a result of the budget rescissions.  However, reorganization of science and engineering was taken off the table, because those entities are already lean and there would be little gain financially or academically from such a step.  The provost said that he is writing a letter for the university website, about the results of the retreat on the organization of the Graduate School.  The review of the Graduate School will continue.  Also, an important discussion this year will be the proposals for new schools.  The provost said that the Agenda Committee of the Faculty Senate was very active this summer and set up a number of ad-hoc committees, including some that paralleled the original provost’s committees about budget concerns.

The provost said that the state legislature has given UNH the largest fractional cut ever made to a state university.  That is a forty-eight percent reduction of the state’s contribution to the university’s budget.  He said that together we will make the best of what is a very challenging situation.  The staff separation incentive program has met its target.  The first deadline for the faculty separation program will be in November.  There are currently a limited number of faculty hires provisionally approved, if the faculty separation incentive program targets are met.  The university does not want any provisional search to reach the interview stage.  In response to a question, the provost said that there may be a net reduction in faculty.  The admissions office is trying to bring in students from distant parts of the United States, often where there are clusters of alumni; and the NAVITAS international students have arrived on campus.  The provost said that it will be interesting to see the outcome of the governor’s commission on the future of higher education in the state.

III. Remarks by and questions to Ted Kirkpatrick on electronic courses –The university started a few summer electronic courses and found that they attracted a number of students; and the January term electronic courses were also thriving and bringing in new revenues.  Therefore, the university president and the provost asked Ted Kirkpatrick, who is an associate dean of liberal arts, to write a report on building electronic course capacity at UNH.  Some UNH professors have started up the Far View Platform.  There is no need for a great investment on structure for electronic courses, and they are convenient for both faculty and students.  The University of Massachusetts offers many e-courses during fall and spring semesters and lets high school students take e-courses.  An electronic course is a credit-bearing on-line course that does not require the student to come to campus at all.  Hybrid courses require students to come to campus from time to time, such as for examinations.  A recent study indicated that New Hampshire may experience about a 15% decrease in the number of high school graduates between 2008 and 2017.  Approximately half of the 3000 entering undergraduate class at UNH this fall is from out of state.  Electronic courses may bring in more out-of-state students, as well as additional in-state ones.  UNH is ramping up its offerings of e-courses, and a new coordinator for e-courses will soon be announced.

Ted Kirkpatrick said that we need to explore these new opportunities and welcome the reach to new markets in a well-thought-out manner.  UNH should ensure that the e-courses are as high quality as the on-campus courses.  Some majors at UNH are teaching a course both on campus and electronically, and this gives some opportunities for assessment.  Assessment experiments should be established with appropriate parameters, such as random selection of students.  There is evidence of greater retention over time from e-courses compared to on-campus courses.  More than half of the UNH faculty either has taught an electronic course or would like to do so.  Some e-courses are aimed at continuing education students.  Continuing education students may qualify for admission to UNH by showing the ability to do well in the continuing education courses.  The UNH School of Law is considering having some on-line courses.  At the graduate level, e-courses would be attractive for busy professionals desiring to enhance their resume’ and their skills.  UNH majors with concerns about the high school preparation in certain areas such as mathematics might recommend that students prepare by taking a certain UNH e-course.

The January term electronic offerings will soon double and then are expected to show further growth.  However, summer courses last four weeks; and there is concern that the three weeks currently in the January term may not be sufficient.  Perhaps there might be a way to increase that to four weeks, and the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee is charged with considering that matter.  Ted Kirkpatrick suggested possibly using the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to add a week to J-term.  The university is developing IT modules that students will have to complete before taking certain courses in the summer or January term.  It is not wise for the student to have a job or other major responsibility when taking the concentrated summer or J-term courses.  The pedagogy for those courses is different from the standard courses, and information about that will be available to faculty on line.  In response to a question, Ted Kirkpatrick said that there may not be additional incentives for faculty to develop an electronic course and learn the new skills required, except for the additional pay for teaching an extra course in J-term or summer school.  Publicity for the electronic courses is important.  There are three or four e-courses at UNH this fall, which are being publicized on radio stations.  Electronic course student evaluations have been high and could be good for the careers of some faculty.  No faculty will be required to teach electronic courses.  Some faculty might spread their normal load into the January term or summer school.  Faculty interested in teaching an electronic course this spring could email Ted Kirkpatrick.

IV. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair welcomed the senators to the third meeting of the 2011/12 Faculty Senate, since there was already a senate meeting on May 9 and a planning session on July 20.  He said that UNH has a robust Faculty Senate with a powerful voice.  About fifteen percent of the tenure-track faculty are now representing the senate either as senators or as senate representatives to university-wide committees.  The charges and members of the senate committees, as well as the senate constitution and other information, are available on the senate’s website at http://www.unh.edu/fac-senate/.  The senate chair said that the outcome of the senate’s charges will have a serious affect on how faculty spend their professional lives.  The senate’s Information Technology Committee has been charged to coordinate a “Good News from Faculty” column, in order to enhance the opportunity for faculty to show the public and the university community the good things that they do.  A senator added that the State of the Art Program has invited four professors last year and four this year to give talks for faculty, graduate students and others, on current accomplishments, in order to celebrate the fine scholarship at UNH.

V.  Minutes – The minutes of the May 9 and July 20 Faculty Senate meetings were approved unanimously.

VI.  Orientation – The Faculty Senate’s reason for being is to participate in shared governance.  The senate’s constitution states that the “principle of shared governance in universities is long established by tradition and was formalized in the 1966 Joint Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities (jointly formulated by the American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Education, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges). The Joint Statement affirms that the academic institution is a ‘joint effort’, requiring communication and consultation among all constituencies, and addresses the distinctive responsibilities of trustees, administration, faculty, staff, and students in university governance.  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.’”

The Faculty Senate’s deliberations are governed by its Constitution and By-Laws.  Procedures under which discourse is conducted and decisions made are specified by Robert’s Rules of Order, which are intended to ensure that debate is fair, orderly and democratic.  These rules are designed so that all members have an equal opportunity to be heard and that the rules of procedure are the same for all.  The senate’s Agenda Committee sets the senate’s agenda and charges the working committees.  Therefore if a faculty member wishes to propose a topic for consideration by the senate, he or she should forward the proposal to the senate chair or a member of the Agenda Committee.  The names of the Agenda Committee members are listed on the senate’s website.  The senate’s University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee “is intended (1) to serve as an appeals and fact-finding body to consider academic and curricular matters which have inter-college and/or campus-wide effects or which are likely to affect the quality or integrity of the realization of the university’s academic mission and (2) to advise the Faculty Senate on its findings and recommendations. The Faculty Senate will consider the UCAPC’s recommendations, act and forward the recommendations arising from the senate’s deliberations to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The UCAPC does not replace the curriculum and academic policy committees of the schools and colleges.  However, the UCAPC has the authority to review the decisions of those bodies when those decisions are deemed by the Faculty Senate, the VPAA, or affected parties to have impacts beyond the school or college in which they originate.”

A senator may designate another member of the department to act as proxy.  When the proxy attends the senate meeting, the proxy may vote on any motions at that meeting.  In response to a question, the senate chair said that there is no absentee voting, because the senate is a deliberative body and senators vote after hearing and discussing each others’ views in the senate meetings.  If a senator has difficulty hearing the discussion, the senator should sit in a central location in the room; and all those who speak should make an effort to modulate the voice for the entire room.  [Soon the windows will be closed and outside noise much reduced.]  The senate chair said that there are big issues before the Faculty Senate this year and that faculty senators have worked hard to make the senate an institution that has meaningful traction on major issues.  The senate has a very significant role in establishing academic policy.  The senate committees should start meeting right away and report on some charges soon.  Most senate committees meet on the alternate Monday afternoons when the senate is not in session. 

VII.  Motion on corresponding administrators in the Faculty Senate Constitution and BylawsAmendments to the senate constitution require a two-thirds vote of the Faculty Senate and, as a standard practice, are introduced to the Faculty Senate at least two weeks before the vote.  The senate chair said that the proposed motion was sent to the senators on email more than two weeks ago and is simply an update to reflect changes in the titles and purviews of some administrators.  The senate agreed unanimously to vote on the motion today.  Deb Kinghorn moved and Bob Taylor seconded the motion that “the section on the corresponding administrators in the Faculty Senate Constitution and Bylaws should be changed to show the title of the corresponding administrator for the Student Affairs Committee as Vice President for Student and Academic Services and the titles of the corresponding administrators for the Research and Public Service Committee as Senior Vice Provost for Research and Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Academic Outreach.”  The motion passed unanimously.

VIII.  Senate committeesThis summer the Agenda Committee put together the senate’s standing and ad-hoc committees with members and charges and sent that information to the senators on email.  Senate committee chairs include Michael Ferber of the Academic Affairs Committee, Erin Sharp of the Campus Planning Committee, Bob Woodward of the Finance and Administration Committee, Steve Tuttle of the Information Technology Committee, Alberto Manalo of the Library Committee, Wayne Fagerberg of the Research and Public Service Committee, Barbara White of the Student Affairs Committee, Willem deVries of the Professional Standards Committee, and Christina Bellinger of the University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee. Chairs of newly organized senate ad-hoc committees are Paula Salvio of the Teaching Evaluation Committee, Jeff Diefendorf of the Committee on Standards for Promotion and Tenure, Art Greenberg of the Committee on Organization of Science and Engineering, Marco Dorfsman of the Committee on Organization of the Graduate School, and Bob Taylor of the Committee on Organization of Other Entities.

The senate chair and the chair of the corresponding senate ad-hoc committee and one other senator participated in each of the two retreats organized by the provost this summer.  The idea of reorganizing science and engineering has been removed from the table; but the proposal for establishment of schools at UNH remains.  The University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee is an elected senate committee charged with reviewing that matter and making a recommendation for the Faculty Senate to consider.  The Committee on Organization of Science and Engineering will also contribute to this effort, especially regarding the financial aspects.  The provost has put off his committee to review the organization of other entities until after work on reaccreditation is done, but the senate’s parallel committee will work now to look for possible budgetary savings across campus, including in the central administration.  Other senate committees will review possible disconnects between the strategic plan and on-going academic practices at UNH.  Senate committees may bring updates to the senators either electronically or orally at senate meetings, but final recommendations will be made orally for discussion in a senate meeting.  Committees should schedule reports and recommendations to the senate through the Agenda Committee in advance.  Senators are asked to review the senate procedures and orientation materials, so that senate deliberations will be fair, thorough and expeditious.

IX.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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