Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Jan. 30

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
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Faculty Senate Minutes Jan. 30, 2017

Meeting called to order at 3:41 p.m. on January 30, 2017          


I. Roll – The following senators were absent: Edwards, Puccilli, and Sample. Abril-Sanchez, Boucher, Barnett, Carr, Curran-Celentano, Finkelhor, Gardner, Hasseldine, Innis, LaCourse, Mellyn, Simos, Smith, and Wake were excused. Lightbody served as proxy for Laird. Ted Kirkpatrick, Julie Simpson, Nancy Targett, and P.T. Vasudevan were guests.

II. Remarks by and questions to the Senate chair - Chair Dante Scala welcomed the group back from the break, and particularly welcomed all new senators, whom he urged to contact himself or the Senate admin with any questions they might have. 

He thanked the Senate committee chairs who have responded regarding potential scheduling of reports during the coming semester.  He and the Senate admin are working on a master calendar for those reports and will get back to the chairs with tentative dates. 

Regarding online course evaluations, Dante said that things seemed to have gone well last semester, with one department reporting a problem with online evaluations going out later than expected, thus diminishing the students’ window of opportunity to complete the evaluations, seemingly an isolated issue, according to the associate deans.  He said that Institutional Research & Assessment (IR&A) staff used the break between semesters to calculate the mean scores of Q1-13 from the evaluations, (as requested in Senate Motion XVIII-M1) and have transmitted that data to the evaluation coordinators in each academic department.  Those numbers will be delivered soon to the department chairs, who will share them with the faculty. Dante thanked Alberto Manalo, chair of the Teaching Evaluation Form Implementation Committee, once again for his committee’s work on the online evaluations.  He noted that he and Alberto will continue to meet with IR&A staff and Vasu next month in an ongoing effort to oversee the process as it continues to roll out.  There are a few items they will be considering going forward:

  1. Time period of evaluations – Two suggestions have come forward. One suggestion is to extend the time period of the evaluation. Another suggestion is that the evaluation period should be halted before final exams begin
  2. Monitoring the response rate of students to assure that it continues to rise
  3. Refine the role of the department evaluation coordinators in facilitating communication between the IR&A staff and the various departments
  4. Investigate whether we are losing qualitative data by using the new online system. Are students writing shorter responses because of the format?

Dante said that senators with questions or concerns about the online evaluations could email him directly.

III. Minutes – It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes from the December 5, 2016 meeting.  Two corrections were suggested in Items VII and X. Thus adjusted, the minutes were approved unanimously, with 4 abstentions.

IV. Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost spoke first about the recent presidential executive order on immigration.  She said that UNH has about 1,000 international students currently enrolled; 381 undergraduate students, 270 graduate students, and 345 Pathway/Navitas students.  She said that there are 56 students, faculty, and staff who are directly impacted by the executive order, and noted that none of our international students, scholars, or family are currently out of the country, to the best of our knowledge.

Of the 56 members of the community who are in some way related to the seven countries named in the order, 6 are undergraduate students, 38 are graduate students, 4 are faculty, 1 is a staff member, and 7 are OPT (Optional Practical Training). These last are students who have finished their degrees and are ready to work but who, because of their visa status, are still tied to the university.  Additionally, 11 family members are impacted. 

Nancy said that OISS is working hard to maintain contact with the international student/scholar community, and noted that she is willing to meet with members of that community to reassure them of the university’s support. She referred to President Huddleston’s email to the community in which he asserted that now is the time to reach out to these students and colleagues to let them know that they are safe and secure here to the extent that we can provide that.

A senator asked if any affected students have been precluded from attending class, and the provost said that she believes there have not been any.  She said that there are some individuals who are being recruited, both faculty and students, who hold citizenship in one of the seven countries listed who have been precluded from entering the country.  She said that some impacts of the order are difficult to assess.

A senator recalled that President Huddleston signed a letter last year with other university presidents expressing support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  She asked if there has been any talk among the administration regarding declaring the university a sanctuary campus. The provost replied that there has been some discussion of this idea, adding that the president’s overall perspective is always to consider what is in the best interest of the students. The provost said that declaring sanctuary status could invite more scrutiny than might be desired.  In his letter to the community, which also went out to the media, President Huddleston reaffirmed his support for DACA students.

Next, the provost discussed the recent right-to-know request from Judicial Watch, a conservative educational foundation, asking for all records of any and all costs incurred with the 2016 presidential campaign events held at UNH.  They want emails from the Carsey School of Public Policy and from the Women’s Studies program around the presidential campaign as well as around the incident at which individuals were dressed as the gorilla Harambe and former President Nixon.

The provost said that the university frequently receives right-to-know requests, and that this request is being handled in the same manner as all other such requests. This request came to her office, and she developed a protocol for addressing such requests.  It is required that she have an independent reviewer at the Vice President level, who can determine if that protocol is reasonable. The protocol that she proposed is the same that has been used in the past. That protocol is:

  • See what is being requested
  • Freeze requested emails (required by law) and pull them for review
  • Use a computer search for key phrases (using an algorithm)
  • Ascertain the number of potential emails involved
  • Review messages for pertinent content (not assuming all are pertinent)
  • Using a rubric, determine which messages are material (usually a small number)
  • Once material items are identified (if any), meet with individual to allow them to speak to whether they believe the emails are material or not
  • Legal counsel reviews material and makes final call regarding pertinence

She said that the university is required by law to comply with the right-to-know request, but that we are not required to simply give up every piece of information that contains a particular key word. She said that for this request, the emails have been frozen, but nothing has been examined yet.

A senator asked what might be material or not in this case.  The provost said that Ron Rodgers, UNH General Counsel and Secretary, has described “material” as “being material to the functioning of the institution.” She noted that this might be items that are material to the conduct of our work with students, research, or classes. She said that a rubric will be designed to help individuals from Human Resources to filter through the frozen emails, and she said that she would be happy to share that rubric with the Senate.

Dante said that when he spoke with Counsel Rodgers over the break, he was told that these emails will be divided into three “buckets,” or levels of “being material.”  The first bucket is for personal emails with no public aspect at all, which would not go forward. Another bucket would be for emails with a public purpose, i.e., that are clearly advancing purposes for which the government entity (i.e., UNH) exists.  This might be something that has to do with the administration of a department or program, for example.  Dante said that these two “buckets” are pretty black and white and identifiable.  In the middle is a gray area in which, perhaps, a faculty member is working on research, with no administrative aspect, or in which a faculty member is making some kind of political statement.  The question would be into which bucket these emails fall.

A senator from the School of Law said that he is involved with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), both at the state and national level.  He said that since the School of Law became affiliated with UNH (a state institution), he now conducts all of his ACLU conversations on his private email, saying that such a practice provides more security and less opportunity for invasive questioning.  The provost said that faculty are free to make their own choices regarding how they use their email accounts, but stressed that it’s important for faculty to understand the ramifications of the right-to-know law as it currently stands. She suggested that some kind of town hall meeting might be held in which Counsel Rodgers might be able to answer faculty questions about this.

A senator asked if using a private email on a UNH computer/laptop would be under the same scrutiny, and the provost said that such use might be less likely to spark a review, but that it is still on the spectrum according to Counsel Rodgers.  Another senator asked how “political speech” is defined.  Dante said that it would include partisan speech, but also non-partisan political discourse.

The provost said that UNH faculty are, as always, encouraged to be politically active, but she stressed that such activity must not be carried on in such a way as to represent the university. She also reminded the group that when UNH accounts are used, faculty must be aware that those accounts are subject to right-to-know laws, and that with currently heightened political sensitivities, there are greater opportunities for controversy.

A senator asked if student emails are subject to the same scrutiny and the provost pointed out that inasmuch as students are not employees of the university, it is a different matter. A senator from the School of Law pointed out that right-to-know laws cover agencies, and thus employees. If a faculty member’s response to a student were to be reviewed, the student’s portion would be redacted out. The graduate student representative asked how the rules apply to graduate students, and Nancy responded that when they are employed by the university, they are subject to the same rules around topics that are material to the execution of the school’s mission. 

A senator asked how faculty can manage legislation related to their fields of study.  Nancy suggested that this is another area where Counsel Rodgers might be able to address more complex issues. If individuals are participating in evidence-based advocacy, speaking on their own behalf, identifying their position at the university, but not claiming to represent the university in their words or actions, as long as they’re not speaking or acting while on the clock for the university, it should be clear that they are speaking on behalf of themselves.

A senator asked what Judicial Watch has done with information they have gathered from other campuses, noting that the chancellor at the University of Wisconsin took a strong stand to protect the rights of faculty there. He commented that in 2001, a UNH professor suggested that the 9/11 event was an inside job, and yet the university defended his right even in the political atmosphere of the time.  Nancy said that President Huddleston is extremely committed to the notion of free speech and willing to go to the mat for that. She said she does not know what Judicial Watch has done with emails from other institutions.  Another senator said that his understanding is that Judicial Watch wants to punish faculty for using university resources to promote their political views. The provost said that the group has asked UNH to account for how our resources were used during the primary campaign events here on campus, and said that our records are impeccable in that area. 

The provost then announced that on February 7, the Carsey Lecture will be held as part of the 150 year celebration of UNH.  The speaker will be Nick Sorber from West Virginia University, who has co-authored the forthcoming book, “Land-Grant Colleges and the Reshaping of American Higher Education.” She said that she hopes the faculty will support this event.  After his presentation, there will be a short panel and then a reception afterwards highlighting faculty research.  The event will be at 4:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building.

V. Conversation with provost and senior vice provost for academic affairs regarding Navitas reviews – The provost welcomed P.T. Vasudevan to join her in sharing information with the Senate regarding the recent Navitas self-study report and the external review of that report.  The Senate members have received those documents to review for today’s meeting.

The provost said that at the time she arrived at UNH, a self-study program review was already underway, initiated by the interim provost, P.T. Vasudevan, who now serves as senior vice provost for academic affairs (SVPAA). A group of external reviewers then examined that self-study to make their recommendations. After the independent review was complete, the provost asked Vasu to put together a committee of stakeholders, including two faculty representatives, to make recommendations for a path forward. Some of the recommendations can be implemented right away and others will take time to act upon, in order to properly vest this evolving program at UNH.

She turned the time over to Vasu for his comments on the report and its recommendations. Vasu said that he met with the Senate Student Affairs Committee (SAC), at the invitation of that committee’s chair, two months ago to share some of this information. He explained that Navitas is a for-profit organization out of Australia partnering with six universities in the United States. With UNH’s commitment to increase the number of international students, our association with Navitas has produced success.

To share some data about the program, he said that 85 students have graduated from the Pathways/Navitas program.  These students had an average GPA of 3.42 as they matriculated from Pathways to UNH, and upon graduating from UNH, the average GPA of these students was 3.23.  He noted that this is a higher GPA than for the general UNH student population.

He said that retention rate while in the program is around 94%, and the completion rate is about 92%. Of the 399 students who have completed the Pathway, 191 are from the Paul College of Business and Economics, 104 from CEPS, 85 from COLA, 1 from CHHS, and 6 from COLSA.

The committee that Vasu has put together includes faculty representatives John LaCourse (a Faculty Senate member) and Ed Hinson. The full committee was divided into three subcommittees. These committees will have reports to share with the provost’s office in the next month.

  • Enrollment/Marketing/Adminissions Committee includes Kerryellen Vroman, vice provost for international education and global engagement, Leila Paje-Manalo, Rob McGann in admissions, registrar Andy Colby, Neil Niman from the Paul College, and Bobbi Gerry, executive director of Navitas at UNH.
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) Committee includes Rachel Trubowitz, faculty member and chair of the English Department, Mary Rhiel, associate dean in COLA, and Ed Hinson. They have already submitted their report to the provost’s office.
  • Faculty Concerns and Business Plans Committee includes Vasu, Bobbi Gerry, David Clark and John LaCourse. This group will be looking at facilities and working with Doug Bencks to make sure the program has appropriate facilities, which should happen once the renovations of Ham-Smith are complete.

Vasu said that there is overlap between these three committees when addressing faculty concerns that were raised during the reviews.

He announced that the program’s name will be changed from Navitas to the Global Student Success Program. This addressed the concern that these students need to be identified as UNH students.  A pre-masters program in engineering and computer science that is now being expanded to include intellectual property.  There is a proposal to expand this to an MBA.  Finally, a graduate IT program has been suggested for UNH-Manchester.

A senator asked if Vasu would be willing to share the slides from this presentation with the Senate members, and Vasu said that he would gladly send them to the Senate admin for distribution.

The chair of the SAC noted that she does not see any sub-committee members from the ESLI program, and suggested that someone from ESLI should sit on one of the committees, given the concerns raised about English competencies. Vasu said that Rachel Trubowitz is serving in that role, saying that it seemed best to exclude both ESLI and Navitas representatives at this first level until recommendations have been reviewed.  The SAC chair then asked how the difficult relationship between ESLI and Navitas can be resolved. Vasu agreed that this is a challenge, and said that this is being addressed in consultation with the COLA dean and associate dean, and the chair of the English department, along with Vasu in his own consultation with Navitas leadership.

A senator asked about the difference in numbers between Navitas students in COLSA and CEPS, and Vasu suggested this might be a conversation to have with the deans of those colleges. He said that the provost’s office has advocated in the past for COLSA to offer courses, i.e., Biology, to Navitas students. The senator asked if the same goes for CHHS, and Vasu replied that those are two different things. He noted that international students are drawn to business and engineering courses of study, but reiterated that if courses in biology were offered, that could change.

Vasu said that the contract signed with Navitas in 2010 was to get students from all over the world to enter UNH, into a pathway program in which they would hone their communication skills.  Many of the students are not native English speakers, and one area of concern has been about language skills for these students. Mathematics was another area in which some students needed support. The goal was for students with sufficient TOFL scores to finish the Pathways program in two semesters. He said that for the most part, the program has worked well. He said that one of the current goals is to bring in students from more global communities than just China, seeking students from the Middle East and some former Soviet Union countries. A senator noted that, speaking broadly, most international students in the United States are from China.

A senator asked about the accumulated revenues for UNH from Navitas, and if those revenues are sustainable.  Vasu said that the revenues are sustainable. In Fall 2016, income received from Navitas included royalty income (about $1 million) and tuition and fees (about $1.9 million). ESL received about $0.5 million.

The graduate student representative asked the SVPAA to briefly explain the nature of the pre-masters program. Vasu said that the majority of that program is devoted to skills-building in order to prepare the students for masters-level study. Students must get a B in order to advance. 

The SAC chair asked if the provost’s office will publish a report on their findings.  Vasu said that he is hoping for a report by the end of the semester.  He will share that report with the Senate.

A senator asked about the recommendations for updating the space for the Navitas students, which currently have space in Nesmith Hall.  He asked if renovations were planned for that building in general.  Vasu said that it is likely that the Global Student Success Program will be housed in Conant, and that there are no plans to renovate Nesmith.  Another senator referred to the decrepitude and isolation associated with Nesmith Hall and asked what the plan is to help the rest of the occupants of that building. The SVPAA said that this question falls outside of his purview.

VI. Conversation with Dean of Students Ted Kirkpatrick – The chair introduced our new senior vice provost for student life and dean of students, Ted Kirkpatrick, here to discuss some of the changes that are taking place in the Student Life Office. He said that there was a need to update the way that support services are delivered at UNH.  The Counseling Center will have a new name after this year. A new, more integrated healthcare model is being put into place. Medical services will be directed by Dr. Peter Degnan, and Psychological Services will partner with Dr. Degnan.  The university is currently recruiting for the new director of Psychological Services, which will take the place of our current Counseling Center.  It will be located in the same place for now. These two entities will work hand in hand, sharing information to facilitate the best possible care for our students. There are no legal, state, or federal prohibitions on this kind of communication, nor HIPAA prohibitions. The standard is for six to eight clinical appointments in the university’s system, and if services are needed beyond that, students will be referred for long-term care. He said that the movement toward this more integrated system will make it easier for faculty to refer students who are in need of services to the appropriate place.

He commented on the new rec center, where some of our physical and mental health service offices have been placed for easier access by students. The ultimate co-location of Disability Student Services (DSS), SHARPP (Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program) and other offices that provide health and wellness services to our community is important to the well-being of our students. He noted the importance of physical activity to the wellness and resilience of our students.

He said that he wants to see our academic standards maintained, and our expectations of our students to remain demanding. His objective is to determine a new model in healthcare delivery for our students, all about wellness and resilience, and helping students to acquire the skills needed to manage the ups and downs of life while here, and also after they leave UNH. He said that clinicians report that the true diagnostic break for true anxiety and depression is low relative to student self-reporting. We do have students who require care for anxiety other maladies, but he asserted that many students who are dealing with stress haven’t been taught how to deal with the normal stressors of college. He suggested that we do students no favor by relenting on expectations in the classroom.

He referred to the email sent to all faculty from himself and the SVPAA, noting that there was nothing in that document about Title IX because those guidelines are not ready to be released to the faculty yet. Once the Title IX Committee finishes its work, there will be references that can be included in course syllabi about those guidelines. He noted that standard references to student services in course syllabi provide a way for all faculty to send the same message to all students, reinforcing the message of wellness.

He noted that the amount of time students report spending on school work outside of class is decreasing, and for some students is well below the average for college-level work.  On the other hand, the alcohol consumption patterns on our campus are not enviable.

He asked faculty be slow to offer incompletes to students, but rather to work with them to help them succeed in the course. When there are compelling factors, of course it is appropriate to give an incomplete. He noted that the interim head of the counseling center this year has said that the normal stress of college life does not always require treatment – rather, coping with that pressure is a skill that needs to be learned. Dean Kirkpatrick urged faculty to ask students to do something extraordinary, asserting that they will rise to the expectation.

He said that he would like to engage the Senate in re-examining the academic calendar to consider the requirements on our students in a more sensible, twenty-first century perspective. He spoke of changes being made on other campuses in regards to calendars and the way they shape their semesters. He said his biggest concern with students is their alcohol consumption, saying that we need to normalize alcohol consumption patterns.  The way to do that, he said, is simply to require students to do more work, and not let them out of doing the things that we believe they can do. He said that there will be instruction in next year’s letter on how to deal with students’ excuses, and hold them accountable. He said that we can help students build their coping skills, beginning with their orientation. He added that the student services will be there for students who have serious needs.

A senator thanked him and Vasu for their email and said that she has concerns about the backlog at the counseling center, and how understaffed the center is.  She asked what the strategy will be going forward to meet the needs of our students.  Ted said that re-staffing has been a challenge in order to provide services without long wait times for students. He said that we have hired three clinical social workers, one of whom will be highly visible on campus.  He said it’s essential for faculty to know the clinicians. He suggested that a triage system may be set up to assist students who don’t need deep-end services. Having clinics open in the evenings would be another helpful change.  He asserted that for Student Life, their priority is putting students first and providing services in the times and ways that students need, providing an open and accessible counseling center.

Another senator asked if Ted has any ideas to deal with student drinking. He said that simply the presence of faculty as adults makes a difference. He spoke about his group of Red Coats and Blue Coats, faculty and staff who patrol campus during periods of high activity to simply be out and about, making contact with students and simply providing an adult presence in the community of youth.  He urged faculty to have confidence in why they’re doing what they’re doing as professors, saying that students will respond positively.

A senator asked about programs to create active citizens and increase civic engagement. Ted said that these activities are also positive outlets. The former Community Service element will be retitled Civic and Community Engagement, and there will be a requirement for all UNH students beginning with the incoming first-year students this fall.  He noted that April 21 has been declared a day of service, with all students encouraged to perform one or two hours of service, after which David May will provide food on Main Street for everyone.  He encouraged all faculty to attend and participate.  He said there are projects all around the seacoast area, with Cooperative Extension providing busses to transport students to and from various sites. The entering class this fall will have a similar experience before classes start.

The graduate student representative asked how this applies to graduate students.  Ted said that he has been working with the dean of the Graduate School to develop services that will meet the needs of graduate students. He noted that some of the their work is on examining current fee system for grad students, but added that a space on campus has been set aside in one of the dormitories for a lounge, with a kitchen and pool table, so that graduate students have a place to meet together. A senator asked if the service requirements mentioned above will also apply to UNH-Manchester as well.  He said that both UNH-M and the School of Law are part of this community, and he hopes to include those campuses in these programs.

VII. Motion from RPSC on changes to the Misconduct in Scholarly Activity (MISA) policy – The chair welcomed Julie Simpson, Director of Research Integrity, back to answer questions relevant to the RPSC’s motion on the proposed changes to the MISA policy, which was held over from the last meeting. Jim Krzanowski represented the RPSC today to present the motion:

The Senate Committee on Research and Service moves that the full Faculty Senate approve the Revised UNH Misconduct Policy that has been developed by the Director of Research Integrity Services and reviewed by our committee.

Julie noted that additional changes have been made to the document, as she learned recently that undergraduate students, who we had believed had no place in the MISA policy, actually are accountable to MISA regulations when they are working on federally funded grants. Changes were made in the wording of the policy to reflect this update.  Jim said that the RPSC reviewed these changes and responded positively to their addition. There were no questions or discussions.

The motion was put to a vote and passed with 51 votes in favor, 0 votes opposed, and 3 abstentions.

VIII. New Business – Dante asked if the Senate would be amenable to making a statement regarding the Judicial Watch right to know letters. A senator asked what the tone of the statement might be, and Dante said that it would be instructive in nature regarding the three “buckets” that Julie described. The message he would like to send is that the number of emails in the “gray” bucket, which potentially could be reviewed, should be as small as possible. A senator from the School of Law encouraged whoever drafts the message to urge the administration to be very attentive to principles of academic freedom as our main concern in this issue.  Another senator asked that gratitude be expressed to the university president for taking the lead on this issue already. Dante said he hopes to have something to share at the next Senate meeting.

The Senate chair said that he has been in touch with Dean Moorhead and the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) to learn what might be helpful for us to do regarding our students affected by the executive order on immigration. He said that the main suggestion is for faculty to express support in classes to our international students regarding the values that the university holds dear with regards to diversity and inclusion, referencing Senate Motion XXI-M5 on inclusion, passed in the last Senate meeting. He suggested that there may be students, beyond those who are from the countries listed in the order, who are feeling isolated and uncertain, and he asked that faculty be attentive to their students. He said that the office also encouraged that faculty try to prevent the spread of misinformation about what is happening.  He said that OISS has resources to help answer questions when they arise.  He suggested that there are people who are fully engaged in gathering and sharing accurate information, and we should take heart in that.

The senator from Art and Art History announced to the group that the 2011 documentary “This is Not a Film” by Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi will be shown tomorrow, Tuesday January 31, at 5 p.m. in PCAC A218.  She invited all members of the UNH community to come to see it.

A senator said she had some difficulty receiving the announcement about curtailed operations last week, and she asked if other senators had had a similar experience.  She explained that she did not receive the announcement either by email or text message as she had experienced in the past. She said she had not signed up for the new Everbridge service. After doing some research online, she discovered that the Everbridge site only allowed her to sign up for alerts regarding elevator issues, but not regarding curtailed operations.  She said there were other issues with the website. She did say that the UNH curtailment line (603-862-2000) did have up-to-date information, and then directs callers to the UNH website, www.unh.edu/storm.  That website did not have current information last Tuesday when operations were curtailed. Several senators responded that they have had similar issues with inconsistencies in the alert system. A senator noted that there was an hour and ten minute delay between when the phone message was changed (at 862-0000) and when the email messages went out with that information. It was suggested that the Communication and Public Affairs should be updating the UNH website with this kind of information. A senator noted that the email he received from Everbridge appeared to him to be a phishing email, and he deleted it.

Dante said that he will reach out to Vice President Clement regarding the system, as well as Police Chief Dean to see what he can learn.

IX. Adjournment - Upon a motion and second to adjourn, the group voted to adjourn the meeting at 5:15 p.m.