UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from 22 September, 2003




I. Roll - The following senators were absent: Baldwin, Bocarro, Bolster, Burger, Giraud, Gutman, Niesse, and Townson. Tom Davis, Karen Graham and Louise Buckley attended as guests.

II. Minutes - After discussion and a failed motion to amend, the minutes of the 9/8/03 Faculty Senate meeting were approved unanimously.

III. Communications from the president - The president said that the Student Senate has voted to support the Discovery Program, and she added that it is time to move to implementation on both the Academic Plan and the Discovery Program. The Student Summit for Promoting Responsible Celebrations was held on campus this weekend, and a summary of the event is available on the academic affairs web site. A final report will be added to that section of the web site in the near future. The summit noted that even non-violent bystanders contribute significantly to the problem in a crowd which has some violent participants. The summit discussed ways to limit sales of alcohol to underage persons, neighborhood committees for both on and off-campus housing groups, the need to differentiate between types of disturbances, and the importance of changing student expectations about celebratory behavior. The university will review the summit results and move forward to enhance methods of dealing with this type of behavior.

IV. Communications from the chair - The senate chair said that there will be open meetings on October 15 and 16 to discuss the Master Plan, and he asked that faculty attend these important meetings. David Clark will give a presentation to the Faculty Senate on the Master Plan in the near future. Udo Schlentrich, the chair of the senate's Campus Planning Committee, asked that faculty also contact him if they have input on campus planning issues. Steve Fan has asked to move his senate update on contract negotiations to November 3.

The senate chair said that parliamentary procedure is designed to allow both the right of the minority to be heard and the right of the majority to decide, as well as to protect the rights of individual members and of absentee members. Since silence may be considered consent, it is important to speak during discussion and to vote on motions. The senate will deal with one question at a time, and a motion is in order only if it relates directly to the question under discussion. Comments should be addressed to the chair and not to other members. Discussion should be on the motion, not motives, and on principles, not personalities; and personal remarks are always out of order. A motion to move the question and thus cut off debate requires a two-thirds majority. An atmosphere of respect for others fosters interesting and informative debate.

V. Report from the senate's Ad-hoc Committee on the Discovery Program - Tom Davis said that the Discovery Program process started four years ago with the creation by the Faculty Senate of the General Education Study Committee, which reviewed issues including the first year experience and cross disciplinary programs. The committee made recommendations intended to attract more and better students and to lead to better funding and better educational opportunities. On April 22, 2002, the Faculty Senate passed a motion expressing a number of implementation concerns and stating that the implementation plan should be drafted by a Faculty Senate ad-hoc committee. This Ad-hoc Committee on the Discovery Program has met for the past year and sent a survey to each department to learn about faculty concerns on these issues. About sixty percent of the departments responded to the committee, and the committee has considered their responses carefully. On May 5, 2003, the Ad-hoc Committee on the Discovery Program reported to the Faculty Senate; and the committee's suggestions included hiring a Discovery Program director and setting up a faculty advisory board for the program, as well as a proposal for phased-in field testing of the six components, evaluation, and then bringing the results to the Faculty Senate for a decision on whether or not to approve the implementation of each Discovery Program component. On May 5, the Faculty Senate passed a motion commending the ad-hoc committee for its work and asking the committee to meet with the provost, continue work on the plan that summer, and report to the senate in the fall. During the summer, the provost said that he supports the ad-hoc committee's proposal; and the provost agreed that a program director faculty fellow and a faculty advisory committee should be set up, as soon as the senate endorses this step. The provost spoke to the senate on 9/8/03 and confirmed this agreement and support.

Tom Davis distributed a document to the faculty senators today, suggesting a motion on the Discovery Implementation Plan and summarizing the recommendations of the ad-hoc committee. After phased-in pilot programs and their evaluation, the Faculty Senate would review and approve or disapprove the plan and its components. This plan might take six years to complete. Some of the components might be approved by the senate before other components. Some components might be rejected or subject to revision and further testing. If the Faculty Senate approved replacing the general education categories and requirements with Discovery Program categories and requirements, the latter would be instituted for a certain freshman class and all subsequent students. The main difference between the general education categories and the Discovery Program categories is that, in the Discovery Program, a category for social identity and the individual has been added and also the general education science and technology category has been split into three Discovery Program categories which are biological sciences, physical sciences, and the technology, environment and society category. Some double-dipping courses which would qualify for more than one category would be encouraged. The inquiry course might become a specialty designation such as the writing intensive and honors designations. Then students would have to take one Discovery Program course with an inquiry designation during the first year. The Discovery Program Advisory Committee would identify selection criteria for discovery courses in each category, including double-dipping options. Then the Faculty Senate could review the list of courses and vote on whether or not to implement that component. Only if approved by the senate would it become required for new students. Through the pilot program, faculty will be able to see whether the university can develop or identify sufficient inquiry courses. There would be no inquiry requirement until or unless the Faculty Senate approved it.

Some faculty members are concerned because the inquiry courses should be small and there are a great many freshmen in large courses at the present time. This problem would be worked on by the faculty fellow, the advisory committee, and others during the pilot program; and then the Faculty Senate would review the results and decide on whether or not to approve that component. Not all departments are expected to offer an inquiry course. The Thompson School would be included in the town meeting aspects of this program. A professor said that, on April 22, 2002, the Faculty Senate passed a motion that the Faculty Senate supported the basic design of the program but recommended that no further action on the General Education Study Report be taken until an implementation plan could be developed and approved by the Faculty Senate. That plan was expected to include a proposal for addressing issues such as programs with few options for students to do more general education work outside the major, adequate resources and faculty to implement the proposed changes, and potential interdisciplinary conflicts which might occur in the RCM budgetary model. Tom Davis said that the ad-hoc committee has responded to those concerns by recommending a process of careful trial and evaluation prior to a decision by the Faculty Senate to approve or disapprove any new requirements. The administration has not promised to fund additional faculty positions; but the proposed process would allow for a period of development and assessment to see if enough departments could provide these courses; and then there would be a vote by the Faculty Senate.

Discussion ensued about the number of sections which might be needed for small inquiry courses for freshmen and whether the faculty could accommodate that. The proposed pilot program which would be set up by the faculty fellow and the advisory committee would show whether or not sufficient sections could be offered, and then the Faculty Senate would vote the issue up or down. The next-to-last sentence on page one of today's handout means that students during their first year would be required to take one Discovery Program course with an inquiry designation but only if the Faculty Senate had already approved component two, which is the inquiry course component. If the Discovery Program requirements are approved, there would be a period when new students would have the Discovery Program requirements and more advanced students would still be under the general education requirements. The faculty fellow and the advisory committee would consider this situation when setting up the guidelines and requirements for the Discovery Program courses. A faculty development program and also course development would be implemented, and the provost has said that some funds will be provided for faculty development and course development. The president and the provost have stated that they will review responsibility center management regarding how it would affect the Discovery Program courses.

A professor said that she is in favor of the phased-in Discovery Program proposal, because it has a specific exit strategy and because the current system is far from ideal. She added that she is now teaching a course that could be an inquiry course and is now a general education course and also writing intensive. A course can fit into both models at the same time. A motion on the proposed Discovery Program implementation will be presented at the October 20 Faculty Senate meeting.

VI. Adjournment - The senate meeting was adjourned.

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