Summary of Faculty Senate Meeting, May 5, 2021
The Chair of the Faculty Senate, Professor John Heywood (WCL), began the meeting with a review and approval of the minutes of the April 7th meeting.
Professor Heywood made a series of announcements:
-He welcomed and read the list of the newly elected Senators, as well as the newly elected Senate committee members for the academic year 2021-22.
-He mentioned that all the Senate Committees had submitted, as requested, their annual reports.
-And he touched upon the Athletics Report for the academic year 2019-20, which was shared to the Senators via a PowerPoint presentation, as opposed to a presentation by Director Billy Walker.
The Senate then approved the election of Professor Richard Sha (CAS) and Professor Mirjana Morosini (SIS) as respectively the At Large Senator, and the Additional Senator, for the Senate Executive Committee for the academic year 2021-22.
The Senate then discussed three laudatory resolutions:
- A laudatory resolution for the School of Professional & Extended Studies, read by the Chair, Professor John Heywood.
- A laudatory resolution for Professor John Douglass (SOC), introduced by Olivia Ivey (UL) and read by Past Chair of the Senate, Professor Elizabeth Worden (SOE).
- And a laudatory resolution for Chief Financial Officer, Vice President and Treasurer, Doug Kudravetz, read by Vice-Chair of the Senate, Professor Garret Martin (SIS).
Provost Starr began his report by congratulating Professor John Douglass and Chief Financial Officer Doug Kudravetz. He also thanked the whole AU Community for its very hard work in this challenging past year and added a particular praise for the Chair Professor John Heywood.
The Provost mentioned that there is currently a surplus when it comes to Undergraduate enrollment. While there will still likely be some melt over the summer, especially with international students, AU should still have a larger first year class than usual in the fall, which will partly compensate for last year’s smaller first year class.
Graduate enrollment is currently up 39.9% as opposed to last year, but there will also be pressure on the international student front.
The Provost emphasized that there is still uncertainty about fall planning and seat planning in classroom. He added that AU has already announced that vaccination for Covid-19 will be required for all students, and that similar discussions are underway for faculty and staff.
The Provost touched upon the fact that the process of reassignment for SPExS staff was nearly completed, with all staff reassigned, and he ended his report by reminding all that while the enrollment data suggested good financial news, AU was not out of the woods yet insofar as the pandemic.
Deputy Provost Report
Deputy Provost Jackson started her report with an update on faculty placement in SPExS, with the establishment of a faculty sub-committee to develop a fair and equitable process for reassignment.
The reassignment established two separate processes, one for faculty on multi-year contracts and one for faculty with single year contracts. The Deputy Provost expects that the placement for faculty with multi-year contracts will be completed by mid-May.
The placement committee for faculty with single year contracts will send recommendations to the Deans, after a round of interviews for all SPExS faculty. The Deputy Provost hopes that the first tranche of placement will happen in early June, with the possibility for a few additional faculty members to be placed later during the summer. Finally, the Deputy Provost reminded all that there is a website and a FAQ with information about the realignment process.
Annual Financial Report
Chief Financial Officer Doug Kudravetz gave a presentation on the current state of AU finances. He covered recent numbers, including the $27M shortfall for the academic year 2019-20, because of the sudden shutdown of the campus in spring 2020, which was slightly mitigated by the small profit during the summer 2020 semester.
AU conducted extensive financial planning and modeling during the summer 2020, with conditions changing rapidly. This included establishing various stress tests for the Fall 2020 semester once AU committed to going completely virtual.
CFO Kudravetz reminded all that the projected shortfall was just shy of $100M for the academic year 2020-21, before breaking down various categories to explain the shortfall, and he highlighted parallel mitigation measures, such as furloughs.
CFO Kudravetz mentioned that the modeling assumed that the pandemic would have at least a three-year impact on AU’s budget. He also outlined the amount of federal stimulus received by AU, and the conditions under which this stimulus can be used.
AU shifted to a one-year budget for Fiscal Year 2022, because of the continuing uncertainty, and opted for the first time in its history to not increase tuitions. The plan would be to return to the usual two-year cycle for the budget for Fiscal years 2023-24.
Finally, CFO Kudravetz reminded all that AU remains 90% tuition dependent and he discussed the growth of the University endowment, which now stands over $800M.
A question-and-answer session followed, which included a discussion of Assistant Professor and Term Faculty salaries lagging as compared to peer institutions.
Core Membership Changes for Senate bylaws
Professor Cindy Bair Van Dam (CAS), the Chair of the AU Core Committee, and M. Brad Knight, the Director of the AU Core, presented a series of proposed changes to the membership of AU Core committees. Those changes reflected the dissolution of SPExS, the emergence of SOE as a distinct school, units re-evaluating plans to contribute to certain courses, and a reassessment of the student involvement on the AU Core Council.
After review, the Senate approved the proposed changes.
Graduate Regulation Changes
Dean of Graduate Studies Wendy Boland and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Michael Keynes presented a series of proposed graduate regulation changes.
The proposed changes were grouped in a series of broad buckets:
-Acknowledging the dissolution of SPExS and the establishment of the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.
-Allowing 500-level courses to be counted as requirements within master’s degree programs.
-Fostering greater flexibility around cross-calendaring enrollment, so to allow students to take courses in the calendar not aligned with their program.
-Small technical edits to clean up old language.
After review, the Senate approved all the proposed changes.
Undergrad Regulation Changes
Dean of Undergraduate Studies Jessica Waters presented two proposed regulation changes:
-The amendment to regulation 8.1.6 would allow students seeking a combined master’s/bachelor’s degree to satisfy AU Core requirements with cross-listed or other appropriated 600-level courses.
-The amendment to regulation 11.4 would allow students in the new Cornerstone program to complete their Mentored Field Practicum in the first 30 credits.
After discussion, the Senate approved all the proposed changes.
Faculty Senate Bylaw Changes
The Chair of the Senate thanked the members of the working group who assisted him – Professor Elizabeth Worden, Professor Garret Martin, Professor Cathy Schaeff, and Senate Operations Coordinator Lura Graham – for their dedication in previous months.
The Chair then reviewed the four major categories of proposed changes for the Faculty Senate bylaws:
- Clean up provisions, whether relating to formatting, keeping consistent names for committees, or acknowledging the dissolution of SPExS.
-Provisions relating to how meetings are conducted, be it clarifying how to trigger executive sessions or the rules guiding no-confidence votes for senior administrators.
-Revisions to explicitly list course releases for certain positions on the Senate, as well as to provide clarity around vacancies and committee membership.
-And a proposal to widen the pool of Vice-Chair candidates to include all faculty who have served on Senate committees in the past five years.
After a discussion, the Senate voted in support of all proposed changes.
Intellectual Property Report
The Chair first briefly introduced the report produced by the working group, with members jointly nominated by Provost Starr and Chair Heywood.
The Chair also thanked all the members who worked with him – Chair of the working group Professor Brian Yates (CAS); Professor Patricia Aufderheide (SOC); Professor Mike Carroll (WCL); Professor Jennifer Gumbrewicz (SPA); Professor Patrick Jackson (SIS); Professor Chris Lewis (University Library); Professor Aram Sinnreich (SOC); Professor Bei Xiao (CAS); Vice Provost for Research Diana Burley; Vice Provost and Chief Online Office Joseph Riquelme; Jeannine Bulbulia (Provost’s Office); Dr Michael Piller (University Library); Carey Needham and Michael Scher (WAMU); and Justin Perillo (Office of General Counsel) - for their hard work throughout the academic year. Professor Heywood clarified that the Senate was now asked to bless the findings of the report.
The Chair of the working group, Professor Brian Yates (CAS), emphasized that the report outlined a comprehensive and flexible Intellectual Property policy, as well as one that was in tune with the interests of faculty.
After a further discussion, the Senate voted in support of the proposed Intellectual Property policy.
DEI Guidelines Schedule
Deputy Provost Monica Jackson and Associate Dean of Faculty Karen Baehler outlined a tentative schedule whereby each unit would amend tenure, promotion, and reappointment guidelines, with the goal of including:
-DEI elements presented in the Equity Task Force Report.
-The Provost’s requirement of using teaching portfolios when assessing teaching for major faculty actions.
-And recognition of cross-disciplinary scholarship, following Faculty Manual revisions approved in the spring 2020.
After review, the Senate gave a tentative support for the proposed timeline.
Fall Accommodation Discussion
Professor Nina Yamanis (SIS) discussed two separate letters sent to senior members of the Administration of AU, which covered:
-How to accommodate Faculty who experienced severe disruptions during their sabbatical in the Spring 2020 semester.
-And a plea to accommodate the caregiving responsibilities of faculty, staff, and students in planning for the Fall 2021 semester and beyond.
The Senate discussed this presentation and acknowledged the need to follow up on these issues in the fall.
Changing over of the Gavel
Before passing on the virtual gavel to the Vice-Chair, Professor Garret Martin, the Chair said a few words to thank all the colleagues that he had worked closely with and who had supported him, during a challenging year, whether Senators, members of the Senate leadership, members of the administration, colleagues, and his family.
For the Good of the Order
Vice Chair Garret Martin and Past Chair Elizabeth Worden read a laudatory resolution to thank Chair Heywood and Senate Operations Coordinator, Lura Graham, for their leadership and diligence when confronting the many challenges posed by the pandemic.
Vice Chair Garret Martin then adjourned the meeting.