Faculty Senate | Archive of Meeting Summaries

2014-2015 Meeting Summaries

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.

2013-2014 Meeting Summaries

May 7, 2014 Meeting Summary

The May Senate meeting began with good news about enrollments from Provost Scott Bass: We have the highest yield ever, at 1900 students, for this fall's freshman class. And groups such as racial and ethnic minorities, first-generation college students, and Pell-eligible students have all increased in number, too. This summer, the deans will meet to discuss ways to address the challenges that an unusually large freshman class will pose. The Senate also approved minor changes to the Senate Bylaws that clarify some election-eligibility and term-length issues, as well as revisions to the Undergraduate Academic Regulations concerning internship policies and hours, and Deans' List and academic probation and dismissal policies. In addition, the Senate approved the merger of the library faculty manual and the main manual, with an appendix for the section on continuing-appointment lines. A faculty subcommittee presented a revised document outlining procedures for reporting conflict of time commitments;these new procedures draw directly on language from the Faculty Manual, and the Senate approved them. Finally, the Senate's standing committees reported on their activities from this past academic year.

April 2, 2014 Meeting Summary

At the April meeting, the Faculty Senate heard yearly reports from President Neil Kerwin and from Athletics Director Billy Walker. President Kerwin discussed the recent visit from the Middle States team and characterized their initial response as “positive.” As the next budget cycle begins, AU will begin to set new objectives and budget priorities, keeping in mind the Middle States recommendations. In addition, President Kerwin described the general condition of the university as “sound” and said that we will end the fiscal year in balance. Dr. Walker also had good news in his report: The average GPA for student-athletes is 3.34, and he noted that multiple students were honored as Patriot League Scholar-Athletes of the Year in their individual sports. Provost Scott Bass then reminded the Senate about his upcoming Provost’s Report and said that he’ll discuss the ways that AU is a “transformed institution” since the last Middle States review. Finally, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Lyn Stallings presented changes to the undergraduate academic regulations; for the most part, these changes involved issues of consistency and clarification, and the Senate approved those changes. Vice Provost Stallings will be leading discussions on internship requirements and will bring revised academic-regulation language for internships back to the Senate in May.

March 5, 2014

At the March Senate meeting, the Senate dealt with four main issues: CFA/DAA guidelines, university learning outcomes, the conflict of time commitment procedure, and voting rights of emeriti and emeritae faculty. After some discussion of communication between unit committees and the CFA, the Senate approved the CFA’s revised guidelines for submitting files for action. The Senate then took up the draft of the university learning outcomes, with members of the Committee on Learning Assessment and representatives from the Office of Institutional Research on hand to answer questions. These learning outcomes will be part of the Middle States report, but they will also be further revised over the next year as assessment measures for the outcomes are developed; COLA will bring the revised outcomes back to the Senate next year. Finally, the Senate continued its discussion of the conflict of time commitment procedure. Senators raised concerns about the administration of this procedure, including the questions that would appear on the reporting form and the scope of activities and time covered. The Provost also reviewed the policy dealing with conflict of commitment in the Faculty Manual. The Senate asked the committee that originally dealt with conflict of interest and conflict of time procedures to work on the current procedure document and bring it back to the Senate at the May meeting. Finally, the Senate approved revised Faculty Manual language that limits the voting rights of emeriti and emeritae faculty to personnel issues with the Budgets and Benefits Committee.

February 12, 2014

The February Senate meeting began with the approval of Larry Engel as the Senate Vice-Chair for 2014-2015.  Senate Chair Candy Nelson also announced the formation of a committee to revise the current SET forms and to explore other ways of evaluating teaching; this committee has representation from across the university. Provost Scott Bass discussed undergraduate applications and admissions for fall 2014; although the application processes for special programs are particularly rigorous, applications have skyrocketed. The Senate then discussed voting rights for emeriti faculty, as outlined in the Faculty Manual; there are concerns about emeriti faculty who are no longer involved in units voting on personnel matters or on issues that substantively affect the work of the unit.  The Senate voted to table this issue so that appropriate Manual language could be developed. Next, after the Senators' questions were addressed by representatives from the library, the Senate voted to approve the library's new faculty manual; the revisions to the manual bring it into alignment with the main Faculty Manual and create a new category of "continuing-appointment line" faculty. Finally, the Senate heard from the Committee on Learning Assessment, who presented a draft of university-wide learning outcomes. Senators will take this draft back to their units, and the Senate will discuss it further at the March meeting.

January 15, 2014

The January Faculty Senate meeting began with a report from Senate Chair Candy Nelson, who highlighted the new emergency care service; she also urged faculty to complete the survey on work/life balance. In his report, Provost Scott Bass spoke about the loss of Don Myers. He also mentioned the work on East Campus, which will include a "technology innovation building," and a recent million-dollar gift to support student work in community-based research. Finally, Provost Bass discussed campus learning outcomes, a draft of which was presented at the Ann Ferren Conference for discussion by faculty. A revised draft will come to the Senate's February meeting for discussion and for eventual approval before the Middle States visit in March. The rest of the Senate meeting was devoted to discussion of the Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Time Commitment procedures. Jon Tubman described the implementation process for COI disclosure, which will include town halls and other informative efforts. The Senate then discussed the proposed COTC procedures, including who should be required to participate in the process, what kinds of activities would be covered, and the reasons for the disclosure procedures; the Senate voted to table the proposed procedure document for further revision.

December 4, 2013

The December 4 Faculty Senate meeting began with discussion and approval of a number of Faculty Manual revisions, including the addition of SPExS to the Manual language, new language covering joint appointments, changes to the delay of tenure language, expansion of the right to appeal a personnel decision to certain term faculty, updated language for the CFA responsibilities, and deletions of policies and procedures for adjuncts. The Senate also approved some changes to the Senate bylaws, including policies for convening the Senate outside the fall and spring semesters, clarification of the budget process for the Academic Budgets and Benefits Committee, and clarification of the procedural relationship between the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and the General Education and Honors Advisory Committees. Finally, the Senate approved a "fast-track" process for certificate programs, which was proposed by SPExS. For the rest of the meeting, the Senate discussed the draft of the Middle States Self-Study, particularly the chapters on faculty and undergraduate education; the senators offered suggestions for such areas as salary levels, recognition of different types of faculty productivity, level of rigor, and alumni feedback.

November 6, 2013

The Faculty Senate met on November 6.  Senate Chair Candy Nelson provided an update on CTRL's work with SETs, including upcoming research into SET measurements at other institutions and continued exploration of other ways of evaluating teaching performance.  Provost Scott Bass praised the Middle States Self-Study Report draft, discussed the new Honors Program, and described a possible initiative with a donor interested in "intensifying community-based learning." He also said that because of the widely reported problems with the Common Application, we don't have precise information about applications and admission.  Following these reports, the Senate approved the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Information Services that student photos be provided with course rosters and that student photos be available to student advisers. The Committee on Information Services will work with OIT to implement this recommendation.  The Senate then heard from the co-chairs of the Middle States committee, who introduced the self-study draft and described outreach to campus constituencies, as well as channels for comments on the draft.  Next, Dean Carola Weil of SPExS presented a proposal for procedures for fast-tracking the approval process for Graduate Certificate Programs; the Senate discussed this proposal and asked for some revisions.  Finally, the Senate continued its discussion of revisions to the Senate by-laws.

October 9, 2013

At the October 9 Senate meeting, Senate Chair Candy Nelson provided an update on emergency family care; emergency care will probably start in January of 2014. Provost Scott Bass then described some of the talks at the recent Board of Trustees' meeting, particularly a discussion of directions in higher education.  He also discussed retention, which is still a concern and a priority for the university, particularly with more vulnerable student populations. The Senate then reviewed and approved language for the Senate By-laws that would establish faculty oversight of student athletes' academic performance as required by NCAA. Finally, the Senate reviewed revisions to the Senate By-laws, most of which were reorganizations of sections to create consistency and reduce redundancy; the Senate voted to accept the bulk of the changes, with a few sections to be brought back for further discussion.

September 18, 2013

The Faculty Senate's first meeting of 2013-2014 was held September 18. Senate Chair Candy Nelson updated the Senate on initiatives proposed by the Family Work-Life Balance committee, such as lactation rooms (now available) and emergency child care (in progress). The Senate also voted to eliminate printed handouts for Senate meetings. Provost Scott Bass then discussed enrollments for the current semester; undergraduate enrollments and online enrollments are on target, but there are shortfalls for graduate and transfer enrollments.  Provost Bass also described five long-term challenges to work on over the coming academic year: diversity and inclusion, learning outcomes and skillsets (including quantitative literacy and writing skills), problem-centered learning, interdisciplinary research (as in AU 2030), and high-impact research.  Next, the committees of the Senate reported on their activities over the 2012-2013 academic year. Finally, Naomi Baron presented CTRL's report on the usage of SETs in evaluation of tenure-track faculty and CTRL's "Beyond SETs" initiative; her comments were followed by energetic discussion among the senators about SETs, learning outcomes, and evaluation.