General Faculty Meeting Minutes

October 3, 2017, 3:30 p.m.
238 Broun Hall

A full transcript is available for this meeting.

Senate and General Faculty Chair Daniel Svyantek, welcomed attendees and called  the meeting to order promptly at 3:30 pm.  He called for a vote to approve the minutes from the March 7, 2017 Spring General Faculty Meeting. The minutes had been posted on the University Senate Web site and were approved without comment via majority voice vote.

Dr. Steven Leath, President of the university was called upon to make remarks to his first meeting of the General Faculty.

  His first comments were to acknowledge some of the challenges within athletics, focusing on investigations into the basketball program. He shared disappointment and promise keep the faculty and others engaged in the process.

Provost Search
. He commented on the rationale to pursue an internal search for the Provost position. His thinking to conduct an internal search was influenced by the fact he is relatively new and from the outside and that Auburn would be better served by a Provost that really knew Auburn and its culture. He indicated a desire to have a name to the Board by November 10 Board meeting and have a new Provost appointed as early as before Thanksgiving.

Athletics Representative (FAR).
Since the FAR has retired from the university, he updated his plans to identify a fully active, fully engaged full-time faculty member to  serve. He indicated he had a nomination process involving members of the Senate.

School Visits
. He shared his achievement of a goal to make it to every school or college on campus with the exception of Architecture, Design, and Construction.

Miscellaneous.  He reflected on the cultural priority and focus on undergraduate education on the campus. He mentioned intent to incentivize research to grow scholarship opportunities and research for them. He commented on how well Auburn is doing fiscally compared to sister institutions which have been challenged  by cuts in budgets, cuts in salary, and no pay raises.  AU has given pay raises in recent past and  again this year, including an end-of-year supplement.  He indicated a vision to take the university to a higher level and raise its national and international profile. To help in this process will be urgency around efforts to streamline many of the policies and  processes.

Michael Stern, Economics:  In August when you came to Senate meeting you made the comment that you didn’t repeat today, that you didn’t see anything broken here at Auburn University and I was wondering if you still hold to that opinion?

Response by Dr. Steven Leath, President:  “I don’t know if the wheels are off the bus anywhere but there are some things that certainly need some serious revamping, yes.”

Comment: Michael Stern, Economics: Good.  Expressed concern about a fundamental lack of interest in shared governance as indicated by low turnout at the meeting. Dr. Steven Leath, President agreed that the attendance was low.

Comment: Michael Stern, Economics, continued to express concern about shared governance on campus, concerns about the FAR, Jay Jacobs as Athletics Director,  scandals at University of North Carolina as they relate to decisions at Auburn, internal search for Provost. Dr. Leath responded to those concerns.

Daniel Svyantek, Chair made some brief remarks which included:  introduction of the University Senate officers; update on the Nomination committee charged to recruit two candidates for the two offices up for re-election in the Spring semester. Announcements about these nominations will occur in February. Traditionally, the results of these elections are announced at the spring General Faculty meeting.  He encouraged people to volunteer for service as a Senate officer or volunteering to serve on one of the many Senate or University committees ; and reminded all about the next Critical Conversations speaker series to be held on October 5.

Chair Svyantek then moved into Information Items.                   

Jacqueline Keck , president of the SGA, offered an overview of ongoing and upcoming activities and items of interest for both faculty and students. She concluded with an invite to attend  the SGA Senate on Monday’s.
James Goldstein and Allen Furr made a presentation of  Proposed Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure Transparency. This involved collecting departmental guidelines to create a inclusive template of everything that units find important so that individuals who are applying for promotion or tenure will know exactly where the units expectations are, and they can plan their work accordingly. Also, it was suggested that it would be good to have a regular process for reviewing these.

Question: Mike Stern, Economics asked if they were creating a separate committee for guideline review?  James Goldstein indicated that would be correct and that no modification to the constitution is necessary.
Mike Stern, Economics followed with comments opposing there being a university Tenure and Promotion Committee.  Goldstein clarified by saying  the nature of the review of a putative committee would be making would not be on the disciplinary expertise or the content of it, it would be more the language, is this language that is understandable.

Jim O’Connor, Auburn’s Chief Information Officer presented  several concerns about cybersecurity issues and strategies to protect the university faculty, students and staff from cyber disruption and identity theft.

The final information item was a presentation by Diane Boyd. Diane updating all on the completion, capacity and use of the new Mell Classroom.

Meeting was adjourned at 4:35 pm.