UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from  25 September, 2006




I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Afolayan, Balling, Brown, Burger, Calculator, Frankel, Sample and Walsh.  Those excused were Haskins, Naumes, Niser, and Reid.  Guests were Terri Winters and John Aber.

II.  Plagiarism pilot and evaluation – Terri Winters said that in 2005 the Faculty Senate passed a motion that the university should look into the advisability of using plagiarism-checking software.  A pilot program was created, with faculty input via a survey.  Now “SafeAssignment” software is available this current academic year to all UNH faculty using Blackboard.  There are also training courses and a website on how to use the software.  Faculty may use it to check any or all student papers, may choose to require or permit students to check their own papers as a teaching tool before submission, or may opt not to participate in the program.  The program searches for at least eight contiguous words matching those in other sources and will provide originality reports, including information on what percent of the paper was found in other sources. Terri Winters would like faculty input on how to evaluate the software and its use, and she plans a decision in May on whether or not to continue the program.

The easiest way to use the SafeAssignment software would be to have students submit their papers to the professor electronically, but faculty could also type in sentences from papers submitted in hard copy.  Hopefully use of the program would reduce plagiarism and teach the students to paraphrase and cite sources properly.  Students should be told not to include on their papers personal information such as social security numbers.  The software can search a wide variety of publicly accessible internet documents including those from paper mills, newspapers and journals, as well as student papers in a proprietary UNH database.  The program will not search programming languages and also will not detect deviations from the student’s writing style.  Faculty will continue to interact with students about plagiarism as the faculty member sees fit.  The SafeAssignment software is an optional tool to make the professor’s job easier.  Student privacy will be better protected by the SafeAssignment software than by the Turnitin software.  The senate vice chair suggested that the evaluation process should include statistics on the number of papers with various percentages of plagiarism and also how many resubmissions of papers there were, as well as information on the departments or colleges of the professors using the software.  A senator added that, if professors require students to submit outlines and/or drafts, the students are less likely to use paper mills.

III.  Research appointments and ITAR – John Aber presented the revised drafts of the Policy on Classified Work and the Policy on Openness, Access, and Participation in Research and Scholarly Activities.  The drafts are available on the website of the Research and Public Service Office.  The vice president asked for campus input twice last year and today also invited faculty to give input on the drafts.  The first policy states that the university neither conducts classified work nor permits use of university facilities or resources for such work and also that the university will not enter into contractual agreements with constraints on disclosing the existence of the agreements, the nature of the work, or the identity of the sponsors.  The second policy says that “research and scholarship will be accomplished openly for the free exchange of ideas and information and without prohibitions on the dissemination of the results of these activities….”  However, this does not apply to sharing information with certain countries such as Syria, Iran, Cuba and North Korea and also to sharing certain kinds of sensitive material with any country.  Under some circumstances, rare exceptions to the policy may be granted by the vice president for research.  The policy states that, in some cases, publication may be delayed for a limited time for specific purposes.  Faculty members are asked to read both policies carefully and to contact Victor Sosa with any questions or concerns.

Even a professor reviewing a paper, written by someone from one of the prohibited countries, for a journal could be a problem.  If a professor wanted to do research in one of those countries, the proposal would require government scrutiny, and the university could help with the process.  Professors in all disciplines should be aware of and conform to the policies, although conflicts are less likely in some areas of study.  Professors in some universities do classified research for another entity outside the university, without using the university’s facilities or resources.

Regarding the separate question of how research faculty are appointed at UNH, John Aber said that almost all research faculty are affiliated with academic departments and that departments differ in how the research faculty are involved in departmental faculty votes.

IV.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that the suggestion to have an academic program on the subject of 9/11 will be sent for consideration to the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee.  Marco Dorfsman said that this committee is now reviewing information on the Discovery Program implementation and is sending a questionnaire to department chairs and a second questionnaire to department liaisons for the Discovery Program.  Senators are asked to canvas their department colleagues and share the results with Professor Dorfsman.  The Academic Affairs Committee is reviewing (l) the language and descriptions of the categories, (2) the protocol on how the permanent Discovery Program committee will be constituted, and (3) a recommendation on implementation of the categories.  The vote on the categories will be separate from other aspects of the Discovery Program implementation, which will come before the Faculty Senate for votes in the future.  A professor said that faculty have encountered too much difficulty in transferring courses into the Discovery Program categories from the General Education Program.  Transparency and evenness of application is needed.  If a course is rejected for a Discovery Program category, the reasons should be discussed with the faculty member in a timely fashion.

The senate chair said that, at a recent meeting of the Agenda Committee with John Aber, Professor Jacobs suggested that there should be a procedure by which senior faculty could be brought into the administration.  The path to making that transition is not clearly defined, smooth or transparent; and the vice president agreed to forward to the provost the suggestion that it would be useful to create a structure whereby faculty members could bring their expertise to the administration in another way besides the faculty fellow program.

The provost has asked the Faculty Senate to cosponsor with him a campus conversation on the final draft report from the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, and the Agenda Committee has agreed that the senate could cosponsor that conversation and also a workshop on “Good Practices in Tenure Evaluation”.  Last year the Student Affairs Committee recommended and the senate passed a motion that (1) there should be an open discussion among faculty in the fall regarding a speech code, (2) the university should sponsor a series of conversations about free speech and civility on campus, and (3) after the above discussions have occurred, the university should conduct an email poll of faculty about a speech code.  In mid-November, David Richman will discuss with Lee Seidel, Todd DeMitchell, Mark Rubinstein, Sean Kelly, Ruth Sample and others how to generate an open forum arranged by the provost’s office and a poll by the University Survey Center.  To stimulate discussion, the forum could include a few brief scripts that would be provocative examples of speech that tests the limits of civility.

A senator said that a report in the Campus Journal stated that the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space has become the first university institute and that the Faculty Senate had reviewed the document.  Did the senate vote on that policy?  The former senate chair replied that the senate had an informal opportunity to review a draft of the institute policy but that the draft was withdrawn.  There was supposed to be a second draft that the senate would have the opportunity to review, but that did not happen.  Last year’s chair of the Academic Affairs Committee said that his committee had reviewed and suggested changes to a small component of the Policy on University Institutes and that the committee recommended that courses proposed by University Institutes should be evaluated and approved by an appropriate degree-awarding department or departments, as well as by the college or colleges and the Graduate School.  Should the senate chair raise a formal question with the provost on how the Policy on University Institutes was put into practice without the Faculty Senate getting the opportunity to make a recommendation on the final draft?

Another senator asked how the administration has responded to the motion on scholarship guidelines passed by the Faculty Senate last spring, because he understood Mark Rubinstein to say recently that there was not yet a policy on this matter.  An Agenda Committee member responded that, in the 8/14/06 Agenda Committee meeting, Mark Rubinstein stated that he, the president and the provost had agreed to revert to the original policy, so that department-controlled scholarships which do not state need or merit will not be considered by the university to be need based, and therefore the scholarships will be awarded directly to the students without affecting their financial aid packages.  The senate program coordinator will send to Senator Carr a copy of that portion of the Agenda Committee minutes.  A former senate chair suggested that the provost should be asked to give that policy in writing.

V.  Minutes – The senate unanimously, except for one abstention, approved the minutes of the last Faculty Senate meeting.

VI.  Senate committees – Fred Kaen will be the chair of the senate’s Finance and Administration Committee.  One more committee chair remains to be appointed.

VII.  Academic Plan review – The provost has asked the Faculty Senate to review the Academic Plan, which is available on line at http://www.unh.edu/academic-affairs/pdf/academicplan.pdf.  The senate needs to identify a process for this senate review, which will be in addition to a task force organized by the provost.  How should the senate give input to that task force?  The senate past chair said that any senate approval of the Academic Plan should not be taken as an implied endorsement of the Discovery Program implementation.  He added that the plan describes responsibility center management as a valuable and transparent tool.  The senate vice chair said that various senate committees, such as academic affairs, student affairs, research, and financial affairs, should review the plan and report on the part of the plan that pertains to that committee.  However, there is an upcoming deadline for this review.  The Academic Plan is three years old, and the faculty had input on the goals of the plan.  The senate committees could report expeditiously to the senate, which could then have a general discussion, in order to look at the whole picture.  The senate could ask the provost to extend the deadline a bit.

A senator said that the new procedure for promotion and tenure discussion as it relates to core values is a problem in some programs, because of the requirement for an integrated narrative on scholarship, research and outreach together.

VIII.  UCAPC membership – The University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee is a standing committee of the Faculty Senate and 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 members of the committee are as follows:  Professors J. W. Harris, Phil Hatcher, Patty Bedker, Peter Pekins, Steve Calculator, Sam Shore, John Niser, Ted Piotrowski, Louise Buckley, David Richman, and Sally Ward, as well as Neil Vroman, who is Chair of the Academic Standards and Advising Committee, Alan Ray, who is the provost’s designee, Sean Kelly, who is the Student Body President, and Irina Trubetskova from the Graduate Student Organization.

IX.  Adjournment – Today’s meeting was adjourned.                                                                                                                          _______________________________________________________________________________________________

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