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Jan 21, 1998 Minutes

Present: Anderson, Bible, Conroy, Deduck-Evans, Hays, Hunter, Irvin, McGee,
Oliver, Sawey, Stimmel and Winek.

Absent: Bechtol, Pascoe, and Simpson.

Guests: Tami Rice (Inst Research), Linda Bertelsen (Internal Audit), Margaret
Vaverek (Library), Ron Brown (General Studies) and Mike Moore.


The meeting was called to order by Chair Bible at 4:02.

Chair Bible welcomed Senator Hunter, who is returning from maternity
leave, back to the Senate, and also welcomed the new senator from Liberal Arts,
Audwin Anderson, who replaces former Senator Bourgeois. With regret, Chair
Bible announced the resignation of Senator Bill Bechtol. The Senate will miss
the strong voice of experience and wisdom Senator Bechtol brought to our
discussions. The election of a Senate Vice Chair was tabled until a new
Senator from the School of Education is elected.


The Office of Internal Audit and Advisory Services has asked
Institutional Research to conduct customer satisfaction surveys of the Offices
of Research and Sponsored Programs and Grants Accounting. Because faculty are
the highest users of the services offered by these offices, Joe Meyer requested
Senate representation on the committee charged with preparing the survey
instruments and overseeing the process. Senator Anderson, who has experience
designing survey instruments, volunteered for this assignment and was endorsed
by the Senate. The Senate also voted to ask Prof. Max Warshauer to serve on
this committee.


Via Senator Sawey, Prof. Grady Early raised the question of why
relatively few 9 month salary faculty shelter their summer insurance premium
payments through payroll deductions. Ms. Michelle Massey and Mr. John McBride
(Personnel) provided their views on this question to the Senate beforehand by
email. There is a definite advantage to all who shelter these payments, but it
seems that faculty need to more clearly be made aware of the opportunity.
The Senate voted to recommend to Personnel that a one-issue memo be sent to all
9 month salary faculty who are not currently sheltering their payments and that
this memo be distributed as soon as possible to give faculty time make necessary
changes. The Senate also suggests that a similar memo be distributed each Fall


Prof. Early also asked the Senate to investigate the impact of recent
tax law changes and whether it might no longer be advantageous to shelter
retirement savings. The current system by which retirement is tax sheltered is
governed by state law and would take legislative action to change. The Senate
voted to pass this issue to the Retirement Committee to explore.


At the end of last semester, Chair Bible initiated a discussion based
on his concern that students' writing and speaking skills are unacceptably poor.
Acting Dean Brown (General Studies) contributed to this discussion via email on
Jan. 5 and suggested the formation of an ad hoc committee of the General Studies
Council to study this issue. Dr. Brown suggested that one source of this
problem stems from the fact that 40% of our enrollment is from transfer students
and that we now accept more transfer credits than in the past. He suggested
that one possible remedy would be to forge, from a broad-based discussion, a
campus-wide set of guidelines that individual faculty would augment according to
their specific discipline and courses. A united effort across campus would
dispel the notion students seem to hold that writing is fragmented and is only a
concern in freshman English. A campus-wide program would reinforce effective-
ness and heighten the impact for students.

Several Senators agreed that this is a problem they see among students
and a lengthy discussion ensued. Large classes were cited as a source and an
exacerbation of this problem. The Senate endorsed Dr. Brown's suggestion of
an ad hoc committee and named Prof. Kim Folse (Sociology) and Prof. Janet
Bezner (Physical Therapy) to serve on behalf of the Senate since each had
indicated an interest in working on the issue.

Senator Hunter asked about the possibility of renewing the "Writing
Across the Curriculum" program. Several Senators testified to the value and
effectiveness of this program in the past. The Senate agreed to ask the
Faculty Advancement Center to sponsor a reinstatement of this program. The
possible role of the Senate's Learning Excellence Team in exploring the
improvement of students' communication skills was also discussed. The Senate
agreed to ask Prof. Chris Frost, LET Chair, whether this is an endeavor in which
LET might play a part.


The Senate received a suggestion from Prof. Ev Swinney that the Senate
Meeting Room be named in honor of the late Professor and long-time Senate Chair
Henrietta Avent. After discussion of the possibility that this honor might
preclude similar honors by other branches of the university, the Senate voted
instead to establish a Faculty Senate Honor Roll, of which Prof. Avent would be
the inaugural honoree. It was decided that a plaque will be mounted in the
Senate room to which future honorees names will be added. Nominations for
additions to this Honor Roll may be made by, or via, any Senator at any time.


Although the concerns voiced by the Senate in its initial review of the
proposed UPPS on Sexual Harassment were incorporated into a revised version,
some questions remain. The method of choosing the members of the Human
Resources Investigation Committee is an issue that warrants further discussion
and clarification. It also seems that incorrect statutory citations need to be
corrected. Since sexual harassment cases are not faring well in the courts due
to shortcomings perceived in similar enforcement processes, the Senate suggests
that a document and process that has gained judicial approval be used to serve
as a model for this UPPS. Approval was tabled due to these concerns.


VPAA Gratz has asked for Senate representation on a committee to review
this UPPS. Senator Hays volunteered to serve on this committee.


The Senate agreed to put the following items on the PAAG agenda for

1. "Top 50" classes.

There are rumors circulating among faculty that someone has issued some sort of
directive that the "Top 50" classes in terms of student enrollment be examined
with an eye toward the percentages of D's, F's, and W's occurring in them. We
would like to know if this is so, and if it is, the pertinent details.

2. MWF/MW classes.

Faculty are just now getting wind of the fact that sometime in late December it
was apparently decided at some level that MWF classes could not shift to an MW
format until 2:00 p.m. Again, we would like to know if this is so. A couple
of Senators, for example, noted that they were still under the assumption that
they would have Fall, 1998 classes at, say, MW 8:30-10, and that if a new
had been adopted they were unaware of it.

A related concern involves the timing of this decision and the apparent lack of
consultation that occurred. It appears that the decision was made during the
Christmas break period, when most faculty had already scattered; in addition,
the Senate does not recall being consulted on this issue, nor are we aware of
which other constituencies, if any, may have been given the opportunity to
offer their input.

3. Merit.

A memo entitled "Pondering Merit," by Ev Swinney, was circulated last fall. We
would like to discuss some of the principal concerns raised in this memo.

4. Chapter V, Regents Rules

It was noted in a recent set of PC minutes that an effort to rewrite Chapter V
of the Regents Rules appears to be underway. The Senate would like to know
something about the scope and objectives of this effort. In addition, will the
Senates of the institutions involved be given an opportunity at some point to
offer their input on the ultimate work product? Who will be involved in the
rewriting effort?

5. Tenure/Promotion Criteria

Last fall, in our Senate/Liaison meeting, there were expressions of concern
about the criteria now being employed at the VPAA level and above in regard to
tenure and promotion decisions. To be more specific, it seems that in recent
years there has been a higher rate of rejections of applications for promotion
from Associate to Full Professor, which in turn suggests that more stringent
evaluative criteria are being employed; faculty, however, are now quite uncer-
tain as to what the new criteria might be. The situation is exacerbated by the
fact that reasons for the denial of a promotion application are not supposed to
be shared with the applicant. Recognizing that decisions of this sort have to
be made on a case-by-case basis, the Senate would like an explain of the
administration's overall attitude toward the promotion process and what
criteria are used to determine who deserves a promotion, especially from
Associate to Full Professor.

6. Administrators Teaching

From time to time faculty have suggested that administrators who do not now
teach any classes should occasionally do so in order to reacquaint them with
what life is like in the trenches. There are various ways in which this might
occur. For example, in one semester out of every ___ [fill in the prescribed
number], every administrator would take a leave of absence from their duties
and teach a full load of classes; another possibility is to have administrators
be required to teach at least one class every year or even every semester, much
as deans do.

The meeting adjourned at 6:05 p.m.