Transcript Senate Meeting
May 16, 2017
James Goldstein, chair: I call the meeting to order. Welcome to Lowder Hall for the ninth meeting of the University Senate of 2016–17. First some reminders.
If you are a senator or a substitute for a senator, please make sure you sign in at the back and pick up a clicker. If you are a substitute, please remember to print your name clearly in the second column so that we can read your name. Senators only need to initial beside their name on the sign-in sheet. Here again are the Senate rules about speaking. If you’d like to speak about an issue or ask a question, please go to the microphone on either row, wait to be recognized, then state your name, whether or not you are a senator, and the unit you represent. The rules of the Senate require that senators or substitute senators be allowed to speak first. After senators have had a chance to speak, guests are welcome to speak as well.
The agenda today was set by the Senate Steering Committee and posted on the Senate website in advance. It is now up on the screen. First we need to establish a quorum. We need 44 senators present for a quorum. Please press A on your clicker for the count. Quorum is established
The first order of business is to approve the minutes for the meeting of April 18, 2017. The minutes have been previously posted on the Senate Web site. Are there any additions or changes or corrections to these minutes? Do I have a motion to approve? Do I have a second? All in favor please say aye.
James Goldstein, chair: Opposed? (no response) The minutes are approved. [2:26]
And now I turn over the lapel mic to Dr. Gogue.
Dr. Gogue, President: Thank you James. Delighted to be with you.
At our last University Senate meeting several of us dashed out because there was a speaker here on campus that night. And I only bring it up to say thank you to faculty on this campus, because it was a difficult set of circumstances and I would have to say at the end of the day it was probably as well as it could be under some rather extra ordinary situations. So I want to thank you. I want to particularly thank you for the way you guide students because it was a great opportunity for us to have made a lot of news that night and we didn’t, so I just say thank you.
The Alabama Legislature is in session. As all of you know they have 4 remaining legislative days. We think they may use all 4 this week and actually adjourn on Friday. If they do not they have to adjourn on Monday, so they are right down to the very end. The issues that affect us, the educational trust budget we expect to either be approved this afternoon or in the morning. We expect it to be level funding, 2017 funding support level. [4:04] Not excited about it, but I saw in the news yesterday, I think it was, University of Missouri is laying off 400 people. So I thought, maybe level funding isn’t so bad under those circumstances.
Several bills that we’ve tried to track; one has to do with veteran’s scholarships, most of you are aware that it took about 30 million dollars out of the ETF to support that area. Both Veteran’s as well as National Guard members, there’s an effort to try to put some parameters on that to keep it from expanding beyond the original intent. There is a bill still working it’s way through on that. We do not anticipate the bill that pertains to handguns on campus to go anywhere. Obviously there’s a couple of days left so anything can happen, but at least at this point, I was down there yesterday and expectation is that it probably just be in committee and it will be the end of that for this session.
The other one had to do with ‘Sanctuary Cities’, that bill too we expect to just disappear, die in committee. Again I won’t say much about it because it’s 3 or 4 days and you never know with the Alabama Legislature. They want to get through with the appropriation bill for us as quickly as possible because on their agenda in these last couple of days, there are prison redistricting, that’s what we’ve got to get done. And the autism legislation. So those are their big issues.
The Board of Trustees will meet on June 6. Several items I want to share with you; a couple of academic items that have come through all the appropriate committees. I think Drew, what is it, eight or nine name changes…12 name changes in the College of Agriculture. From a glance at it, agronomy will not be used any more, it will be Crop and Soil Science, so a number of changes in the College of Agriculture. And the suspension of a degree in Architecture, Design, and Construction and it has to do with, suspension is not the right word…
Drew Clark (from the floor): Placed on inactive status.
Dr. Gogue, President: …inactive status. Not enough people enrolled in this particular degree and part of it has to do with the job market not being particularly good. I think it can be in that status for 5 years and then it either has to be reactivated or removed. So those are the 2 academic ones.
The other thing that this is the key Board meeting in which the guidelines for the budget for 2018 are approved at this meeting. So that’s when the Board will begin to look at what will be the new revenues in terms of tuition monies and how will we allocate those monies. It’s also when discussion occurs on ranges of pay raises. Don, I’ll ask you correct me if I’m wrong, somewhere around 21-22 million dollars is what we expect in increased tuition revenues. [7:12] About 11 million, about half of it will go into salaries. The range that they are looking at is from 0–6% in terms of a guideline for salary. This year will be one in which you actually do the evaluation for both the permanent funds as well as any one-time funds. I think in the past you’ve done permanent funds at one time, then later in the fall you did the one-time for the December. The anticipation is that it will be both the one-time funds…
Don Large, executive Vice President: They will both be turned in the summer, the one-time will be distributed in December, you will make the decision at the same time as you do the permanent.
Dr. Gogue, President: Gotcha. A lot of discussion in the last day or two about ransom ware and we have Jim O’Conner with us. Jim, come on down here and give everybody a quick heads up briefing on where we are relative to that particular issue. [8:10]
Jim O’Conner, CIO of OIT: You probably have read in the press on Friday that there’s been a world wide virus that hit primarily Europe, Asia, and some of Southeast Asia. So we wanted to give you a quick update. First of all, campus is in really good shape at this point. We don’t have any outbreaks here. We are continuing to scan the systems to make sure that they are as secure as possible. Working very closely with the folks in your departments to make sure that your machines are updated the way they are supposed to be. The vulnerabilities appear to be at this point older versions of operating systems that have not been updated properly. So we’re working really hard on campus to make sure that’s done. Some of the IT people in both you departments and OIT have been working round the clock to stay on top of this. Daniel Newton back there, Daniel wave at everybody, Daniel is the manage of the cyber security team that’s on top of this.
As of right now there’s about 375 thousand machines that have been hit world wide. The ransom ware has collected a little under 60 thousand dollars. It’s not wildly effective. The thing that we’re concerned about is the outbreak later in the week as the hackers adjust to the fixes that have been put in place. So we’d like to ask you to do a couple of things.
First of all, if you have any questions about the way things are working on your machines, talk to your IT people or call Daniel and his team. A lot of weird stuff floating around out there right now, so if you’re not sure don’t click on it, call somebody, check it out. It doesn’t hurt at all to check these things out if there’s nothing wrong. It Just makes things a lot safer.
There are some things we are going to recommend to you that you look at both here and at home. Here, your IT people will keep your machines updated. A lot of you will see your machine will come up at night and will say please don’t turn off your machine, it is being updated. We’d like for you to do the same thing at home. If you don’t know how to keep your machines updated at home, talk to your IT people, they can show you how to do that. All your machines, whether they are here on campus or at home, anti-virus protection. Have passwords on them. And if you are carrying a laptop around get it encrypted. That way if you loose it and somebody tries to get to it there is nothing lost.
Here on campus, your IT people are backing up your systems. If you are hosting with OIT, we back them up for you. So if there is any question about the data that you have on your machine, you want to make sure that it is backed up, please talk to your IT people and make sure.
Ransom ware looks like this: somebody goes in they encrypt all your files and send you a lovely e-mail that says we’ll let you have the key to decrypt it if you give us money. The real solution to that is, you don’t answer that, you get your latest backup, load it over the top and you are good to go. So watch those backups.
Phishing, there’s no definitive information yet about how this virus hit the world so fast. Initially it was thought it was fiction, probably not the case at this point, but future outbreaks could very well use that. So please know how to detect phishing. If there’s an attachment that you are getting from outside the institution and it doesn’t look like something you are expecting, don’t open it. If there is a link in an e-mail someplace and you don’t recognize the e-mail and you just put the mouse over it don’t click on it, send it to <email@example.com> and we’ll look at it and determine whether or not it is dangerous.
So we’re on top of things. We’re going to keep monitoring. It’s about a 24/7 operation at the moment because this thing is mutating a little bit. We’ll try to keep you informed. Are there any questions I can answer real quick? Thank you. [12:10]
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you Dr. Gogue and Mr. O’Connor.
I have very few remarks for today. [12:34] After today’s meeting I will be chairing one more meeting, June 13. That will also be the final meeting that Dr. Gogue attends as University President. At the conclusion of the June Senate meeting I will follow Senate custom and pass the gavel to our chair-elect, Dan Svyantek, who today is serving as parliamentarian because Mitchel Brown couldn’t be here today. His term as chair doesn’t begin until July 1, but he will get possession of the gavel.
Dr Leath has already arranged to meet with the Senate leadership on his first day in office, which will be June 19. Please let us know if there is anything you wish us to convey to Dr. Leath during that meeting.
At our last meeting we failed by one vote in our effort to amend the composition of the University Curriculum Committee. Since the typical Senate attendance in May and June makes constitutional amendments even more difficult to pass than during the rest of the year we will postpone taking another shot at this until the fall. Does anyone have any questions for the chair?
We turn now to our first action item which will be presented by Xing Ping Hu, Senate Secretary. This is the vote on members of Senate committees.
Xing Ping Hu, Senate Secretary: Good afternoon. This time every year the Rules Committee has worked really, really hard to get volunteers to serve a variety of University and Senate Committees. What I have today for you is on the screen a slate of nominees for the different Senate committees. Some were from volunteers, some were recruited. This slate of names has been posted on the Senate Web site. I hope you have had a chance to review it. As the Senate Constitution stated the names requires no second because it comes from a Senate standing committee (Rules). Before I ask you to vote I would like to ask is there any questions or concerns about the list of names?
I hear none. Okay, now I will ask you to pick up your clicker and press A if you approve the list, if not press B. A=54, B=0. Okay, we have 54 As all approve, thank you so much for the support.
James Goldstein, chair: We should have some more committee members for voting ready for the June meeting. The next action item is the revision of the Student Academic Grievance Policy presented by Robert Agne, chair of the Student Academic Grievance Committee. As I explained last time even though this is a University Committee mater, changes to the policy must be approved by the Senate. That’s why we are voting today.
Robert Agne, chair, Student Academic Grievance Committee: Okay, I hope folks have had a chance to look at the revisions from the last month. We made no changes to the actual procedure, we just made some changes to the policy that involved making it easier for students to follow the process in terms of giving them some clarity in what to do. And we included that flow chart that helps students see what the process will look like. Were there any questions about the proposed changes that were presented last month?
James Goldstein, chair: Alright, in that case we are ready for a vote, if there is no further discussion. Please press A if you vote to approve the changes, B if you oppose. A=54, B=1. Motion carries.
The final action item for today is a revision of the Faculty Handbook on the new tenure calendar. The Senate has already approved the new policy, today we are just voting on revising the Handbook language needed to implement the new policy. Ralph Kingston, chair of the Faculty Handbook Review Committee, is out of the country and no one else from the committee was available to present the recommendation today. Since I am the previous chair of the Faculty Handbook Review Committee, I’ve offered to present this proposal which was approved by that committee, technically I am also a member of the committee because the Senate Chair is a member of every Senate Committee (We don’t usually attend them all.).
Since it comes for a standing committee no second is needed. During my presentation I must step away from chairing the Senate meeting. During my presentation the chair-elect of the Senate will be chairing the meeting in case a fight breaks out on the floor of the senate and we need someone to call us back to order. Thank you Dan for acting as chair during my presentation. [20:12]
James Goldstein, past chair of Faculty Handbook Review Committee: (directive: If you could click on the red line so they could see the change?)
If you recall, we’ve already approved a policy so that the normal time to come up for tenure and promotion to associate would be after completing five years instead of four years. [what he meant to say was: after completing four (4) years, now changed to five (5) years] That’s reflected here (pointing to the change).
(some explanation regarding the track changes being difficult to read.)
This is pretty straight forward with just this language to implement the policy change that we’ve already approved. So are there any questions about the wording, not the policy, but the wording? It sounds like we are ready for a vote then.
James Goldstein, chair: I now return to my roll as chair. And call for a vote on the current motion. Pleas press A if you approve, B if you vote against it. A=51, B=4. The motion carries.
We turn now to our pending action item which will be voted on in June. This is the proposal for the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Committee to allow certain non-tenure track faculty to be eligible for emeritus status. This will be presented by Barbara Brumbaugh, chair of the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Committee.
Barbara Brumbaugh, chair of the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Committee: It’s probably pretty much self explanatory so I thought I would say something about what our committee did this year and is planning for next year. We didn’t have a charge from the Senate this year, but in November I had an e-mail sent to all of the non-tenure track faculty on campus to ask them for suggestions of issues that they would like our committee to work on. In some cases I was able to direct people to existing resources that they didn’t know existed, like some people didn’t know that there is an Ombuds they could use and so forth. Some other requests we got…and we also helped to address a few situations that were specific to individual departments, but among the other requests some would be fairly expensive and we decided that we would request access to the COACHE survey results from non-tenure track faculty members when they are available this summer and use those to get a larger data set about the concerns that would be about the concerns that would be of interest to the largest number of non-tenure-track faculty. So we’re planning to use those to help set our priorities for next year.
For this year we picked a few requests that all members of the committee agreed on. The committee consists of both non-tenure track and tenure line faculty, some department chairs. We picked a few that were not too expensive and we sent those to the Executive Committee of the Senate for them to consider and they recommended that the proposal for the emeritus status seemed most feasible for this year. And that’s the one that we decided to go with. To state some fairly obvious advantages, being able to continue to use the Library…the main advantage of getting emeritus status is being able to continue to use the Library after you retire. And being able to do that would be quite important for non-tenure track faculty who do want to continue to do research and publish after they retire, but it shouldn’t be too expensive for the university to provide it, we thought. Obviously if non-tenure track faculty members do have access to these databases they will be more likely to continue to publish after they retire. They will be able to do so more easily at least. If they do publish and list their affiliation as emeritus from Auburn then the university in its research mission will get some publicity each time that affiliation is listed at a relatively low cost. The change should help to generate good will among non-tenure track faculty. That’s what we have.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you. So just to clarify, it seemed easier to propose this in the form of a revision to the section of the Handbook that lists who is eligible for emeritus status rather than to have a separate resolution with whereas clauses and so on, but before we bring this back in June we need to run this particular language by the Faculty Handbook Review Committee because they haven’t looked at that yet, in case they see a missing comma or anything else under their prevue. So we will get that done before it comes back in June.
We now turn to our only information item. The report by Todd Steury, chair of the Teaching Effectiveness Committee on a significant revision on the questions on the student evaluation of teaching. He will also report on the committee’s plan for next year. [27:33]
Todd Steury, chair of the Teaching Effectiveness Committee: Thank you James. So the Teaching Effectiveness Committee was a couple years ago tasked with rewriting the student evaluation of teaching (SET) questions. We worked on that last year and were not able to come to a set of questions that we were pleased with, so we kicked it off to this year. We think that we’ve pretty much got what we want for our set of questions.
Let me start by saying that the questions that we are currently using, the basis for them is largely historical. I was on the Teaching Effectiveness Committee when we switched to electronic questions and changed the questions that were asked and the committee basically used the questions that were paper based and we had to change them slightly because those questions belonged to the people who sold the paper based questions. So we changed those questions and that’s how we got to the questions that we have now.
For the new questions we’ve used as the basis research on quality undergraduate education specifically a paper by Chickering and Gamson from 1987, The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education which was published in the American Association of Higher Education and it was based upon ten years of their research. So what we did is we took those 7 principles for good education and we basically turned them into questions. I am going to say that these questions…the Teaching Effectiveness Committee still may work with these questions to do some word-smithing but these questions, the content of the questions are pretty much where we want them to be.
So let me go quickly through the 7 principles for good education and the question that is associated with them. So one of the principles that an instructor should encourage contact between students and faculty, so the question is; did the instructor encourage me to interact with them regarding course content, either electronically, during office hours, and class. As we’ve done in the past these will be scored with a Likert scale 1–5 range.
Question 2. The principle is that instructors develop reciprocity and cooperation among students. The question would be the instructor provided opportunities for me to cooperate with other classmates about course material electronically inside or outside of class, etc.
The third principle is that the instructor communicates high expectations to students. And the question is: Does the instructor communicate high expectations for my work in this course.
The next principle is that the instructor provides prompt feedback. And the question is: The instructor provided me with an evaluation of my academic progress at regular intervals during the semester.
The next principle is the instructor emphasizes time on task, essentially the instructor shouldn’t have the student doing busy work, but they should be doing things that are important for their learning. And the questions is: The instructor provided me ample opportunities to develop, apply, and demonstrate my learning in this course.
The next principle is the instructor encourages active learning. Essentially this is the idea that the best learning is the kind where students are engaged in that activity in some way, shape, or form. This one was a tough one to write a question for because it is kind of hard for students to know what active learning is. The question we settled on is that the instructor prompted me to think analytically and critically about the course material.
And the last question or the last principle is the instructor respects diverse talents and ways of learning. The question is the instructor provided an environment that encouraged me and supported my learning.
Now there is an eighth question and it’s just the typical; please provide additional feedback to improve future instruction or areas that need improvement. This is an open ended question, an opportunity for students to write any information that they want about the teacher of the course.
I want to point out that the use of these SETs have been written in such a way because we want to encourage faculty and students and administrators to use the SETs in a particular manner. Specifically, due to a variety of factors SETs should not be used in a summative manner. What that means is they shouldn’t be an absolute evaluation of the quality of teaching. The reason is because they really cannot be used as a good measure of he absolute quality of teaching, there’s too many other factors involved; are you teaching a fine arts course? Or a statistics course? Are you teaching at 8 a.m. or 11 a.m. These are factors that influence how students evaluate teachers and they really don’t have anything to do with the quality of the teaching. So SETs really shouldn’t be used as a summative evaluation of teaching. Instead they should be used in a formative way. That is, do the scores go up over time? Can the teachers use the information to improve the class and do we see those classes improve from year to year?
I just want to talk briefly about the future plans of the Teaching Effectiveness Committee, what we’d like to do next year. First of all one of the things we want to do is we want to validate these proposed SETs. We’ve got a fairly simple plan in place, basically what we want to do is ask students and faculty; can they connect the question to the principle? If the questions are meant to capture the principles, then we should be able to…students should understand the link between those questions and those principles. We already know one of those questions analytically and critically with the principle being active learning. The link there is going to be weak, students are not going to be able to meet that link and we’re okay with that.
One of the other things we want to do is we want to is we want to examine how these SETs are being used at Auburn University. We already started this. We started looking at the documents at the various units on campus have detailing promotion and tenure, guidelines for promotion and tenure, we want to know exactly how are the units on campus using SETs. We also want to look at how SETs are used at other SEC schools. Particularly we’d like to look at the research on how SETs should be used.
Then finally we’d like to come up with a document that makes specific recommendations for the use of SETs at Auburn. One of our goals here is that we want these recommendations to be efficient and what I mean by that is we know that administrators have to evaluate 30, 40, 50, 100 faculty in terms of annual review. So we understand why administrators may choose to just use the scores. As we pointed out the scores really shouldn’t be used in a summative way. So we are hoping to come up with specific recommendations for how SETs can be used.
With that I’ll take any questions. (pause) Okay, thank you very much.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you Todd.
That concludes our business for the day. Is there any unfinished business? Is there any new business? In that case the meeting is adjourned. [35:52]