UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from  8 September, 2008

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2008/09 FACULTY SENATE

SEPTEMBER 8, 2008 - MINUTES SUMMARY          

   

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Dowd, Gross, and Powell.  Excused were Barrows, Chandler, Nimmo, Pringle and Tobin.  The provost, vice provost and Tom Pistole were guests.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost said that he has begun working with the deans on a number initiatives.  Since the university is at the end of a five-year cycle of the academic plan, the president has called for a year-long strategic planning process.  The provost said that the college strategic plans should guide the university’s strategic plan which would identify four or five key initiatives to be pursued in the next five years.  A Strategic Planning Steering Committee will be formed to review the existing college strategic plans and the university’s academic plan.  The provost said that he would work closely with the Faculty Senate on this process.  He has asked the senate chair to name six faculty representatives to the committee, which will have about twenty-five members.  The president has retained consultants from the Learning Alliance of the University of Pennsylvania, to assist in the planning process.  Bob Zemsky will serve as facilitator of the steering committee and will plan discussions and an interactive website during the fall to gather community-wide input.

In addition, the deans will review the draft recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Future of Research at UNH.  The deans will also review the current model of responsibility centered management at UNH.  The provost said that many questions such as subventions, cross-subsidies, and alternative program delivery mechanisms must be addressed collectively and that any changes in the budget model would need to resolve these issues.  The provost has also asked the deans to consider specific steps to enhance revenues in non-traditional ways, possibly including creative use of the January break, the summer term, on-line learning, service contracts, and programs for high school students.  Finally the provost would like the deans to hold discussions about faculty work assignments and the culture of faculty rewards.  The senate chair will be invited to participate in the deans’ discussion, which will focus on current promotion and tenure expectations and on addressing the needs of faculty who carry out interdisciplinary work and use non-traditional means of scholarly dissemination.  Also, as a result of a recent full-day workshop on shared governance attended by administrators and faculty, the senate chair and the provost will prepare a joint document on shared governance.

A professor asked for assessment of how successful the previous strategic and academic plans were and also asked why the previous very successful capital campaign has not already been followed up by a new campaign.  The provost replied that the new strategic plan will build on the former plans and should cover the entire university community, including athletics and other areas which may not have been in the previous plan.  The president is currently forming a new Blue Ribbon Panel on Intervarsity Athletics.  A new capital campaign has been delayed by a number of changes in the leadership of the UNH Foundation; but the silent phase of the campaign has begun; and the public phase will probably start in twelve to eighteen months.

III.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that, during the summer, work has continued on last year’s shared governance issues.  The senate held a revisioning seminar to discuss matters which should be dealt with by the senate or the administration; and an executive summary of that meeting will be sent to senior administrators and the Faculty Senate members.  The interim NEASC report was not received by the senate’s committees until late in the last spring semester, not allowing enough time for in-depth deliberations; but the senate committees sent to the administration some concerns about the report; and the senate asked that those concerns be included in the report.  The university’s budget is tight, and we accomplish a lot with little.  We need to be thoughtful about what are useful assessment practices and which are not time effective.  The provost’s office has proposed a pilot program of direct student learning outcome assessment, which should last four years and be completed before the end of the NEASC report’s five-year time frame.  At the shared governance retreat, the senate chair and the chair of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee presented some faculty concerns about assessment.  A quorum of the senate’s Agenda Committee then endorsed the plan that the Center for Excellence would run a pilot assessment program with about a hundred students from the incoming class, testing them for four years.  The endorsement was for a pilot program only, and the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee has been charged with reviewing the issue of future student learning outcome assessment.

Work has been done and changes made on the Discovery Program, and a time line for a decision on implementation has been proposed.  Also, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Research is preparing a report, and members of the panel will talk about that to the senate.  The work of that panel and the planned Blue Ribbon Panel on Athletics will fold into the strategic planning process.  Faculty consultation and participation need to be done during this whole process.  In addition, the administration is proposing a campus-wide initiative on health, which will include wellness programs.  Perhaps an administrator can present to the senate more information on this initiative.  The senate chair asked for volunteers to serve as faculty representatives for this initiative.  Also, the Agenda Committee has passed a motion on procedures for appointments to university-wide committees, with a series of steps to confirm that everyone is on the same page and that faculty representation will actually occur.  The Agenda Committee will send this procedural motion to senior administrators and to the members of the Faculty Senate.  Faculty members are invited to attend the president’s inauguration and the university day festivities on September 16. 

IV.  Minutes – The minutes of the last senate meeting were approved unanimously.

V.  Orientation – The senate chair gave an introduction to how the Faculty Senate functions and asked that senators review the orientation document sent to the senators via email.  The senate’s procedures are based on Robert’s Rules of Order and are intended to ensure that debate is fair, orderly and democratic and that all members have an equal opportunity to be heard.  A senator who has spoken once on a given issue will not be recognized to speak again until the other senators have also had a chance to express their opinion.  Motions from senators require a second, but motions from senate committees do not need a second.  Ed Hinson will be the senate’s parliamentarian.

The purview of the Faculty Senate is the university’s academic mission, and the senate should work to uphold shared governance on academic policy.  The 1966 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) 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."

Senate charges are reviewed by senate committees which then make recommendations to the senate.  Each senator represents his or her department’s interests and concerns, not just his/her personal views; and senators should report regularly on senate issues to their colleagues and bring the department’s concerns to the senate.  Each senator is a member of a senate committee, and the committee charges are posted on the senate’s website.  More charges may be added later.  Each committee has an interactive relationship with a corresponding administrator.  Senators with questions or concerns should contact the senate chair or the committee chair.

Regarding the study abroad charge for the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee, the senate chair worked during the summer with Vice Provost Lisa MacFarlane to set up a working plan which would include consulting the affected faculty and then reporting to the Academic Affairs Committee and the senate.  In response to a question, the senate chair said that faculty who wish to be involved in this process should email Lisa MacFarlane, Claire Malarte-Feldman, and the senate chair.  Regarding the Campus Planning Committee’s charge on the wind tunnel building, a new location next to college woods has been selected.  The Campus Planning Committee also has a charge to consider the effect of RCM on class sizes, faculty load, adjunct faculty employment, and departments' ability for replacement of faculty who leave or who have advanced in the university, as well as to assess how well individual college RCM advisory committees are functioning and to consider the effects of RCM on academics and on collegiality, cooperation and civility.  In addition, the senate chair discussed a sampling of other senate committee charges.

VI.  Discovery Program – In 2002 the General Education Study Committee, which was a senate committee, proposed that a new program, now called the Discovery Program, be set up to replace the General Education Program established in 1984.  Recently, in a response to faculty input, the Discovery Program Advisory Committee has made a number of changes in certain aspects of the proposal.  The DPAC has also asked each department to provide a Discovery Program liaison.  Approval by the Faculty Senate is required in order for the program to be implemented.  Barbara White and Tom Pistole urged the senators to review the current details of the program, discuss it with their colleagues, and bring questions or concerns to the Discovery Program Advisory Committee and the chair of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee.  Today, Barbara White presented an executive summary and the 2009 Discovery Program model, as well as a proposed time line to culminate in a recommendation from the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee and a vote by the Faculty Senate on October 20.

Barbara White said that the General Education Program needs to be updated and broadened.  The Discovery Program would include multiple disciplines and a bundled approach bookended with inquiry and capstone experiences.  There would also be a Discovery Program dialogue on an important theme each year.  The dialogue this year is on poverty and opportunity, and faculty may choose to link that to their courses.  Barbara White said that the DPAC has worked with the deans and the provost’s office on the issue of the funds needed for the program.  She stated that the DPAC will not propose to the senate anything that is not feasible and that the administration will not stand behind.  She anticipates that most general education courses could translate to Discovery Program courses.  Only the inquiry courses are dependent on an inquiry type of pedagogy and must have twenty-five students or less.  The inquiry courses do not need to be interdisciplinary unless the department wishes.  The interdisciplinarity attribute can be fulfilled by a course in another category, usually one in the junior or senior year.  The Discovery Program categories are not yet firm and will be reviewed by the Academic Affairs Committee and the DPAC next week.  Aligning the capstone courses with assessment needs may be possible.  Required Discovery Program attributes might be accomplished in a course that is not part of the Discovery Program, and a given Discovery Program course might fulfill more than one attribute.  The department and college would decide which courses would be suitable for the Discovery Program and what attributes the courses would fulfill.  The DPAC would keep a list of those courses.  As time goes on, the Discovery Program will have a review process so that courses will not veer far off course over the years.

VII.  Motion regarding student orientation – On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Bill Stine proposed a senate motion that, during student orientation, the UNH Academic Achievement and Support Services should emphasize the rule that the foreign language proficiency requirement for Bachelor of Arts candidates should be met by the end of a student’s sophomore year.  The rationale is that, although a supposedly binding rule exists that the foreign language proficiency requirement for Bachelor of Arts candidates must be met by the end of a student’s sophomore year, about one third of the students may not be in compliance, according to enrollment patterns in American Sign Language and in the Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department courses.  Apparently many students may not be aware of the rule, and this motion may help some students avoid a delay in graduation.  A friendly amendment was made and accepted to change the reference to “freshman” student orientation.   The motion should be sent to the department chairs.  The motion was approved by all except for one senator opposed and four who abstained.

VIII.  Participation in the shared governance retreat – The senate chair said that, at the recent shared governance retreat with the president’s council, there was a frank discussion of shared governance.  Ideally shared governance would not be adversarial or a check-list procedure but rather a process of regular and consistent consultation with the faculty who will be affected by a proposed policy change.  At that retreat, faculty members identified cases where shared governance has been insufficient in the past, including the study abroad tuition changes and the field trip guidelines changes with disposal of the vans used for field trips.  The senate chair and the provost will work together to draft a joint document on shared governance.

IX.  Senate committees – The senate chair said that the senate committee membership is posted on the senate’s website.  The chairs of the senate’s standing committees are Larry Prelli, Ruth Sample, Russ Carr, Kevin Gardner, Brigitte Bailey and Mimi Becker.  The senate’s vice chair, Paula Salvio, will chair the Professional Standards Committee; and the University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee should be convened by its previous chair, Elizabeth Slomba, in order to elect this year’s UCAPC chair and vice chair.  Standing committees usually meet on the alternate Mondays when the senate does not meet.  The committee chairs will set up the time and place and inform their members.  Committees should start work now even if their membership list is not entirely full.

X.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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