Faculty Senate

October 8, 2014 Meeting Summary

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.


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Photo of Larry Engel, Lacey Wootton, and Candice Nelson

Larry Engel, Lacey Wootton, and Candice Nelson

Faculty Senate Leadership 2014-2015