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Faculty Senate | Archive of Meeting Summaries

2014-2015 Meeting Summaries

May 6 and 13, 2015 Meeting Summaries

Larry Engel, Vice Chair 

The Senate approved the formation of a new Faculty Conduct Committee and expects a report by the end of the fall semester, 2015. The revisions to the Graduate Academic Regulations were accepted by the Senate. The Social Media Committee submitted its report and recommendations for the use of social media in the classroom and between faculty and students. Two documents–one relating to intellectual property and recording lectures in the classroom, the other a set of guidelines for faculty to use for structuring the use of social media in and outside the classroom–were adopted by the Senate. The Senate approved the SETs and Beyond Committee’s recommendations. A new set of questions and an online completion of both the quantitative and qualitative forms will be piloted during the next academic year with full professors only, and with the hope that the new system will be rolling out in the fall of 2016. A new working group will be formed to consult with OIT and the Registrar as they seek vendors. Todd Eisenstadt was voted in as Vice Chair for the next academic year. The Ombudsman Committee submitted its report, and with revisions the Senate accepted the report and charged the committee to investigate best practices for modeling an Ombuds position.  

The Provost reported that the undergraduate deposits came in at about 1900 with a historic record low admit rate to 35%. With a melt of around 7%, Provost Bass estimated that we’ll be around 1750 for the incoming class, once again higher than expected.

April 8, 2015 Meeting Summary

The Chair noted that a Faculty Conduct Committee is being constituted, and senators are requested to present names from each unit by 4/22. She also reported on the split of the School of Education, Teaching, and Health (SETH) into the School of Education and the Department of Health. Changes to the Faculty Manual’s foreword were approved with revisions (having been vetted by the Board of Trustees). Changes to the CFA Instructions were approved.

Billy Walker presented a summary of athletics and noted that American University scholar/athletes have improved their GPA and that we have several men and women who were recognized for their scholarship and athletic performance this year.

Doug Kudravetz provided an update on the budget. For the past four years we have not been hitting revenue estimates. The next two years will be lean. He noted that merit pay will be a lump-sum cash payment this year and will not be added to salary, and that next year it would revert to a salary adjustment.

Tony Ahrens provided an extensive summary of the SET question and report status. He urged senators to seek feedback from their constituents and for those interested in providing comments to post them on the SET blog so that the Senate may vote on revising SETs at the May 13th Senate meeting (which is an extra and final meeting of the year). There will be town hall meetings at the end of the week of April 20th.

Several changes were approved in the revised Graduate Regulations with more to come at the last two meetings of the year.  

March 4, 2015 Meeting Summary

Doug McKenna reported that student photos will be on Blackboard for the fall 2015. This is a transition to full implementation. The photographs will be small, but Mr. McKenna suggested that as we move forward that will change, and hopefully the AU rosters will carry photos. Students will have an opt-out choice.

The Chair reported that revisions to SETs and beyond were moving forward and will be coming to the Senate most likely in May for a vote. P

resident Neil Kerwin addressed the Senate. He discussed the budget and the issues related to graduate and law school enrollment, the Middle States report, SETH's review for accreditation, scholarly and artistic strength in our community as reflected by our faculty, improved competitive funding, the need to improve science infrastructure with an addition to Beegley, and the need to provide strong support to undergraduate students.

Provost Bass reported on the state of the SETs as well and noted that as with the Faculty Manual, it is imperative to make the revisions a dialogue with the faculty;there will be a variety of ways for faculty to comment and present their ideas. He suggested that next academic year the Senate should look at General Education and a statistics course addition.

University Librarian Nancy Davenport presented a plan for the Library to archive all syllabi. The plan acts on the Faculty Senate's 2009 policy concerning syllabi. There was concern expressed about monetizing the data, and the Senate passed a motion recommending that there would be no selling of data. 

CFA Chair Steve Silvia presented changes to the CFA instructions for tenure-line reappointments and promotion, which better defined who is responsible for posting files and related material and added a section on term promotion to Associate Professor. The Senate accepted the first change but asked for further consideration of the expectations for term faculty.

Vice Provost Lyn Stallings reported the need to revise the faculty conduct code. The Senate will start working on this over the summer.

February 11, 2015 Meeting Summary

The Senate heard from the leaders of Public Safety, Dan Nichols and Phillip Morse. They discussed the recent assessment and improvements concerning safety issues related to the "Man with a Gun" incident last fall. It was the first time in AU's history that there was a lockdown. They noted that Public Safety worked with the FBI, Metro police, and Homeland Security on a thorough walkthrough and 3D high tech scan of campus for training purposes. Any person, department or school that wants Public Safety to meet with them are invited to contact Dan or Phillip to set up a meeting. They also recommended that we use an app called Rave Guardian ( to track public safety at AU during a crisis.

After they left, the minutes were approved for the January meeting. Elections are coming up very soon and the Chair encouraged all senators to work with their units to enlist candidates.

The Provost reported that the budget cycle is moving very quickly and that we are facing revenue challenges, again, because of graduate enrollments not meeting expectations. However, with new application and recruitment tools being used in CAS and SOC, there are signs that enrollment may start improving. The Provost also reiterated that the revisions to the SETs must be concluded by the Senate before the end of this academic year so that IT can have it in place for the fall semester. For undergraduate applications, he noted that there will likely be nearly 600 early admits next year. The Provost also mentioned that the Mellon Foundation is very supportive of our efforts to investigate and improve the transition from high school to college for the changing demographics of college students nationwide and at AU.

Faculty manual and academic regulations were passed by the Senate. The reporting form for Conflict of Time Commitment was passed with several friendly amendments. The Honors in the Major or Field proposal was also passed with several friendly amendments.

January 14, 2015 Meeting Summary

The December minutes were approved. The Provost noted that SET revisions and recommendations are of critical importance for the senate this semester. Implementation, especially moving to a digital reporting system, will take time. We need to make sure that we're hearing from various stakeholders including term faculty, tenure-line faculty and students.

The Provost also suggested that work on social media guidelines that include recommendations for language in syllabi that protects intellectual property and the use of social media in the classroom is important, but focus should be on the SETs.

Graduate enrollment did not meet budget target for the term and year. CAS implemented a new management system that seems to create a better flow and increased enrollment. Others have not made their numbers and the budget expectations will be adjusted. 

The Provost also spoke of the continuing tension on the campus concerning gender, race, and violence. Campus Life is working hard on creating a series of events and programs. The DAA noted that she is working closely on this and has begun attending council meetings with Fanta AW in the schools.

The Provost then talked about challenging issues for the budget: low tuition compared to our peer institutions, not meeting graduate growth goals, and reducing the freshman population by 178 next fall (we were over-enrolled this year).

The university faces challenges with mental health, drinking, and striking out as the student population changes. It is a volatile situation that we're working hard on;it is important for retention.

There was discussion about how the university is responding across units and concern was expressed about violence against women. There is a task force being developed to address these issues and the Provost noted that there was a good meeting with the Mellon Foundation about our students' success and our nimble and innovative teaching and learning environments. They are interested in a proposal from us.

The Senate continued the discussion of the implementation of Conflict of Time Commitment procedures, and approved a number of minor changes to the Faculty Manual.

December 3, 2014 Meeting Summary

The Chair’s report reminded senators of the importance of civility and inclusiveness during discussions. Lacey also reported on a University Council meeting that she attended. Term-faculty issues concerning the budget remain high on the President’s agenda. She also noted that the President wants to foster more discussion of topics such as sexual aggression on college campuses and the treatment of minorities by law enforcement.

The Provost reported on the Board of Trustees' decision not to have the endowment divest from fossil fuel-related companies because doing so would be too costly and would not meet the Washington's legal standards for endowment management. Provost Bass expects that students will likely continue their protest in favor of divestment. He also spoke about Ferguson and UVA and hopes that we can build a more inclusive community. Grade inflation will be looked at in detail next year by the Senate.

Candy Nelson reported on the creation of a search committee for the DAA position, which will begin its activities in the new year. Every school will be represented for this internal search.

The Senate passed a proposed change to the academic regulations: how to handle situations in which a student has three finals scheduled in a single day. They also endorsed a change in Gen Ed policy allowing students to take Gen Ed credits during study abroad.

John Douglass reported on the Budget and Benefits Committee. He reminded the Senate that the Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase in the new cycle of between 2.5 and 4.5 percent. Term faculty salary support was again noted, and the Provost commented that the lowest paid term faculty are his highest concern.

November 5, 2014 Meeting Summary

The minutes for the October meeting were approved, as was the membership of the ad-hoc social-media committee. The Senate then briefly discussed the Faculty Retreat, providing compliments and suggestions. In her report, DAA Mary Clark noted that about 40% of those eligible submitted their paperwork for the voluntary limited retirement offer. Vice Provost Lyn Stallings then presented more information about the three-finals-in-a-day situation and a revised proposal, and after discussion, the Senate voted to table a vote on the proposal so that more information and a revised proposal could come before the Senate. Vice Provost Stallings also presented a revised section on undergraduate dismissal and potential reapplication and return to the university. It was passed by the Senate. The Senate also received a report on term faculty salaries, accepted the report, and created a "sense of the Senate" statement to accompany the report, suggesting that the issue of fair pay be placed high on the budget agenda for the next two budget cycles. Lastly, Larry Engel and Vice Provost Jon Tubman presented the revised Conflict of Time Commitment procedure and form to the Senate. After lengthy debate and a friendly amendment to the procedure, it was voted on and passed. The form was sent back with a request for other sample forms, which will be brought to the December meeting.

October 8, 2014

Chair’s Report

Lacey Wootton brought up the need to discuss social media policies and guidelines both for students and faculty in the classroom and beyond. There is a request for units to solicit volunteers among faculty to participate on an ad hoc committee that will research the topic and make recommendations that may then be included in syllabi. Issues include ownership of intellectual property and the appropriateness of posting portions of students’ work online. This committee will work closely with the Committee on Information Services, which has been looking into this subject. The April minutes were passed as were the September minutes.

Provost’s Report

Scott Bass provided an update on the retreat, which as of Wednesday was “full” with 293 faculty registered along with about 120 partners and 70 children. He reviewed some of the most popular sessions including crossing boundaries, increasing the impact of faculty research, and developing relationships with research funders. There were 13 submissions for the $5000 retreat competition and that will be brought down to 5 finalists for the Saturday presentations. Scott reminded the senate that the voluntary retirement program will end on 20 Oct. If anyone signs up for this program but has second thoughts, then he or she will have 45 days to leave the program with no penalty. But after 20 Oct. the program closes. Other items: 

  • Construction on East Campus is moving along. 
  • There is a new task force on enrollment and student retention that will look at the overall infrastructure at the university level
  • The recent sophomore event attracted over 200 students and many faculty. The effort was to help prepare students for the upper class experience and to help with retention between sophomore and junior year.

Ombudsman Proposal

A proposal was presented that recommended the creation of a senate committee to explore the creation of an ombudsman (or, ombudsperson) at AU. There was much discussion about the value of such a position, both pro and con, but several senators reminded the senate that what was under discussion was only the creation of a committee to research and make a recommendation about the position. It was noted that in 2005/2006 a committee on governance looked into this and decided at the time that it was not appropriate. However, with a change in the faculty, including increased numbers of tenure-track and term faculty, it was felt that perhaps it’s time to revisit the topic. The senate passed the proposal and is seeking representatives from the academic units.

Senate Blog

Larry Engel reported that the blog is up and running. He urged the committee chairs to post blogs since most committees are now active. Several committees are active, especially the SET group, and the representatives from that committee expressed gratitude that so many faculty were commenting and hoped that more would participate. 

Budget Committee

John Douglass reported that it is now time for any faculty who have items for consideration with significant budgetary impact to present those items to the Academic Budget and Benefits Committee.  Faculty can email John directly or post on his committee’s blog site. John further emphasized the importance of linking requests or recommendations to the 2030 initiative and our strategic plan. 

SET's and Beyond SET's

There was a long discussion concerning the current status of the committee’s activities and recommendations. Particular points of discussion were the uses of SET's, the importance of meaningful context for SET results, and the problems with the "summary" questions. The committee members recommended that the conversation is ongoing and they continue to research and revise their reports, but still request active input from faculty. This year they will also reach out to students for their input.

September 17, 2014 Meeting Summary

The Chair welcomed the senators to the first senate meeting and introduced new senators. She also noted that the senators represent the faculty at large and that it is important for senators to report back to their colleagues on senate business. The Provost reported that Phyllis Peres is recovering from surgery and is at home. Faculty are encouraged to reach out to her while she regains her health. Mary L. Clark has stepped in and is performing effectively. Provost Bass also noted that undergraduate applications went down last year but the yield was the highest in AU's history. Convocation was a great success, with a high turnout and eager audience. Graduate enrollment missed its mark, although CAS saw a slight increase. Next, Jim Goldgeier reported on the upcoming faculty retreat. The main focus at the October faculty retreat will be on teaching and the challenges facing us in a changing student landscape and competition in higher education. This is an opportunity for faculty to step outside their fields, and for us to build a stronger sense of community. Then Karen Froslid-Jones discuss the Middle States report. The report was a positive one, but the university still has work to do to continue its evolution. The evaluation commended the university on its shared governance and innovations in teaching. Larry Engel reported on the new senate blog that is launching this week. Senate leadership feels that it may help improve dialogue among faculty concerning senate business and shared governance. It is informal and is not intended to replace the formal senate website. It will be password protected and will allow for anonymous posts. Several changes (mainly editorial, not substantive) to the by-laws were presented and passed, and several changes were to the Undergraduate Regulations were proposed and passed, while others were tabled for revision and clarity. Finally, Tony Ahrens, Chris Tudge, and Lenny Steinhorn discussed the work of the SET committee. The committee continues to review SETs and evaluation of teaching. It is eager to get feedback from the community, and is looking at online forms rather than paper.