UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 13 September, 2004

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2004/05 FACULTY SENATE

SEPTEMBER 13, 2004 - MINUTES SUMMARY

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Burger, and Schlentrich.  Excused were Broussard, Herold, Laue and Leichtman.  Guests were President Hart and Provost Mallory.

II.  Communications with the president – President Hart said that she has received many emails praising the volunteers who helped with moving day for the new students.  President Hart welcomed the faculty senators and said that the Faculty Senate is a crucial part of the governance at UNH and that she and the provost are committed to making that governance work well.

III.  Communications from the chair – The senate chair said that the academic mission of the university is the distinctive responsibility of the faculty, as stated in the Faculty Senate constitution.  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.  The senate’s constitution, minutes, motions and committee charges can be seen on the senate’s website at http://www.unh.edu/fac-senate/index.html.  Each senator serves as a member of a senate standing committee, and each committee has a liaison with a particular university administrator.  This year the senate will undertake a number of tasks, including the review of the Discovery Program implementation and the linkage and alignment of the Academic Plan and the Master Plan, as well as implementation of recommendations from the task force which dealt with integrating student life with the academic life on campus and also addressed student behavior issues.

The senate chair introduced the other Agenda Committee members and the chairs of the senate standing committees and said that Cathy Frierson will be the senate parliamentarian.  Faculty senators are elected as representatives of their departments and also to serve the common good of the university.  The senate operates under Robert’s Rules of Order and by the will of the majority, employing civility, plain speech, good will and also respect for the rights of the minority, as described in the handout on how the senate functions and how parliamentary procedure works.  Chris Shea is the senate’s representative to the RCM Review Planning Committee, and senators are asked to send her any concerns their colleagues may have about RCM.  The senate chair asked the senators to suggest faculty to be members of the Diversity Strategic Planning Task Force.

IV.  RCM review – The provost said that, when RCM was implemented, there was a requirement for review after five years.  That review will occur next year, and this fall there will be discussion about and finalization of plans for the review process.  Chris Shea and one other faculty member nominated by the senate will be on the RCM Review Planning Committee.  In the spring and summer of FY05, data will be collected and analyzed.  The RCM Review Committee will review information, data and trends in the fall of FY06, formulate recommendations, and make a final report to the president in the spring of FY06.  The provost said that RCM has contributed greatly to transparency in the budget process.  A senator said that, because RCM is established at the deans’ level, the Faculty Senate had asked for a description of what principles the deans will operate under.  The provost replied that he would try to provide those principles to the senate.  There will be a broad series of fora on RCM, and the RCM Review Planning Committee will design the review process.  This would be likely to include input from the department chairs and research center directors.  Information about RCM and about the review process will be available on the RCM website.

V.  COLSA programmatic review – There has been a steady decline in COLSA enrollment and revenue.  COLSA had a one million dollar deficit last year and projects a $1,500,000 deficit this year.  Although initiatives for change have been attempted, sustained change has not occurred.  The programmatic review process is defined in the faculty contract.  Last spring the administration decided to move forward with the programmatic review, and the AAUP asked that the administration proceed slowly before invoking the programmatic review clause in the contract.  Dean Trumble will work with the COLSA faculty until November, to try to find consensus regarding organizational change.  There will be formal voting within COLSA; and then a plan will be recommended, either a plan agreed upon by the faculty or, in the absence of that, a default plan prepared by the dean.  Then the joint programmatic review committee, consisting of six persons identified by their peers plus a representative of the president, will have a year to prepare and make a recommendation to the president in the late fall of 2005.  The president will use the committee’s recommendation as the basis for her decision and recommendation to the Board of Trustees.  Some displacement is expected.

VI.  Diversity initiatives – The provost said that he continues to consult the Faculty Senate’s statement on diversity and that the document has been very useful.  This statement and input from other constituencies are the basis for long-range strategic plan development on diversity.  Hiring more diverse faculty will be a high priority.  The provost asked for two faculty nominees to the Diversity Strategic Planning Task Force, which will try to ensure that the curriculum is responsive and the cultural climate is inclusive and welcoming.  The provost suggested that Wanda Mitchell speak to the Faculty Senate about these strategic initiatives.

VII.  Minutes – The minutes of the last Faculty Senate meeting were unanimously approved.

VIII.  Student observersEd Hinson moved and Barbara Krysiak seconded two motions for the Faculty Senate’s consideration.  The first motion is that, to facilitate communication between the Faculty Senate and the Student Senate in the spirit of shared governance, the Faculty Senate wishes to invite a student observer appointed by the Student Senate to attend the Faculty Senate meetings.  The second motion is that the Agenda Committee recommends to the Student Affairs Committee that it solicit a student observer appointed by the Student Senate, to attend the Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee meetings.

Observers do not have the right to vote or participate in discussion, although they may participate in discussion if invited to do so.  The Faculty Senate minutes and motions passed are posted on the senate website and thus are publicly available.  If the senate were about to discuss personnel issues or other confidential matters, a motion could be made to go into executive session with no observers allowed.  After discussion of the issues, motion one to invite a student observer to the Faculty Senate passed on a voice vote, with six opposed and four abstentions.  A senator asked that proposed senate motions be distributed to senators early enough prior to the meeting to allow for consultation with colleagues.  Motion two about a student observer to the Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee was tabled until the next senate meeting or two, so that the Student Affairs Committee will have time to discuss the motion. 

IX.  Pre-professional motion – Jeff Salloway said that recently the Faculty Senate took cognizance of the fact that, under RCM, funds accrue in the office of the deans rather than in the provost’s office.  The senate then affirmed its interest in the quality and performance of university-wide academic programs that do not fall under the purview of individual colleges.  Some examples of such programs include: the Center for International Education, the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, the University Honors Program, Writing across the Curriculum, and the Center for Teaching Excellence.  However, there is another vital set of programs without a school or college.  The interests of the pre-medical, pre-dental and pre-veterinary programs at UNH are supported mainly in the Advising Center.

On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Jeff Salloway moved that the senate establish an Ad- Hoc Committee on Pre-Professional Education charged as follows.  The general charge is to review the quality and function of pre-medical, pre-dental, and pre-veterinary education at UNH and to report to the Faculty Senate by April of 2005 the committee’s findings.  The specific charges are to work collaboratively with existing UNH departments and the Office of the Provost to (1) assess the function and quality of pre-professional advising as above; (2) assess the adequacy of course offerings at UNH for the preparation of pre-professional students in the programs above; (3) compare performance of UNH students on national tests such as MCATs, pre-dental and pre-veterinary exams with selected comparator universities and with national averages; (4) compare grade performance of UNH students in the pre-professional programs above with the performance of students at comparator universities and national averages; (5) compare rates of successful admissions, rejections, and drop-outs from pre-professional studies at UNH and comparator universities; (6) compare the process of providing letters of recommendation at UNH and comparator universities; (7) assess the role of faculty in advising students; and (8) compile these findings in a report to the Faculty Senate with recommendations for action as will be determined by the committee.

After discussion of whether pre-law programs should be included in the motion, a friendly amendment was made and accepted to change the name of the committee to “the Ad-Hoc Committee on Pre-Medical, Pre-Dental and Pre-Veterinary Education”.  The Agenda Committee could email the faculty senators asking for suggestions of nominees for the ad-hoc committee, and the Agenda Committee would appoint the members.  A friendly amendment was made and accepted that the ad-hoc committee would have two faculty members from COLSA and one each from CEPS, Liberal Arts and SHHS, along with a student member from each of the pre-professional programs named above and non-voting representatives from the advising offices.  The motion as amended passed with one abstention.

X.  Item three of the senate constitution – The Agenda Committee presented a document seeking the wisdom of the senate regarding item three of the constitution, on referral of fundamental issues to the faculty.  Last fall by a one-third affirmative vote (with 16 ayes and 24 nays) the Faculty Senate voted to refer a fundamental issue to the tenure-track faculty as a whole.  Item 3 of the senate constitution says that such a meeting will be conducted by the procedural rules of the Faculty Senate.  Those rules state (in item 3C of the senate bylaws) that a quorum must be present for the legal transaction of business and that a quorum will consist of a majority of the voting members.  At the December 11 referral meeting, there was not a quorum of the tenure-track faculty.  Therefore those faculty who were present discussed the issue but did not vote, and the original motion passed by the Faculty Senate stood.

On March 9, Terry Savage sent an email to the then Faculty Senate chair proposing an amendment to the Faculty Senate Constitution to replace the current article 3, on referral of fundamental issues to the faculty, with the following:

Referral of fundamental issues to the faculty. Decisions by the Faculty Senate that envision fundamental changes to current practice must be ratified by the tenure-track faculty as a whole.  If one third of the senators or the majority of the tenure-track faculty of any college or school votes that a decision is of such fundamental importance, a faculty meeting to discuss the decision will be called by the Faculty Senate chair. Within one week of this meeting the Faculty Senate chair will solicit a vote of the tenure-track faculty by electronic ballot to ratify the decision.

 Terry Savage said that the current procedure, which requires a gathering of a majority of the tenure-track faculty at a particular time and place, is logistically impractical and that the effect of the current requirement is to deprive the faculty of the voice intended by article 3.  Terry Savage also said that he believes the current wording of the constitution means that decisions that envision fundamental changes must be ratified by the faculty and that, once such an issue has been identified, the senate is obligated to seek faculty ratification and, presumably, to find a practical means of doing so.  

Due to the press of senate business late last spring, discussion of this issue was deferred at that time and has been presented to the senate at its first meeting of this year.  Mimi Becker suggested that allowing only one-third of the senate to call into question a vote of the senate is too low a bar and that the senate should consider raising the requirement to one half of the senate or the majority of the tenure-track faculty of any school or college.  Barbara Krysiak said that it is unwise to allow people to vote who have not participated in the discussion or heard the information provided on the issue.  Jeff Salloway said that item 3 of the constitution sets up an easy trigger to ask the full faculty to be engaged on an important issue but that, if the majority of the faculty do not feel the issue is important enough for them to attend and participate, then the senate constitution is set up so that the issue is decided by the Faculty Senate, which did have a quorum of the members participating and voting.  In this way the issue is decided by faculty who are informed about the issues under debate.

When considering a referral to the whole faculty, senators should be aware that setting up such a meeting of the full faculty requires a great deal of time and money.  Ed Hinson said that many faculty who choose not to attend a referendum meeting might choose not to attend because they agree with the senate motion on the original issue.  Barbara Krysiak said that senators are supposed to provide information to and request the input of their departmental colleagues and to reflect that input when voting on senate motions.  Each senator represents his whole department.  Paul McNamara said that perhaps formal votes could be held in each department.  Anthony Tenczar suggested holding two meetings in Durham and Manchester with video hookup.  The referendum issue will be on the agenda of the next Faculty Senate meeting.

XI.  Adjournment – The Faculty Senate meeting was adjourned.
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