Transcript Senate Meeting
September 20, 2016
James Goldstein, chair: It’s good to see everyone here. If people in the front don’t mind the subdued light in the interest of visibility of the screen. Welcome to the second meeting of this year of the University Senate. I now call the meeting to order.
Thank you for removing your clown mask before you entered (laughter). If they are looking for clowns, I think I do see a few, self included. Reminders, if you are a senator or a substitute for a senator please remember to sign in in the back. If you are a substitute, please be sure to print your name legibly in the second column, so that we know who you are and can list you in the minutes. If you are a regular senator, who’s name is already printed, all you do is initial it and you are good to go. Everyone who is a senator or a substitute senator will need clickers today because we do have one vote. Please remember to bring them back to the table at the end so that none of them go missing. You can put them in the back on your way out, thank you very much.
So, I introduced the officers at the previous meeting, so I won’t run through that again, but let me reintroduce our assistant, Laura Kloberg, who helps keep everything running smoothing both during the meetings and between meetings and we are very grateful.
For the new senators and guests, again, these are the Senate rules about speaking. If you’d like to speak about an issue or ask a question, please go to the microphones on either side and when you are recognized, please state your name and the unit you represent and whether or not you are a senator. The rules of the Senate require that senators or substitute senators be allowed to speak first then after the senators have had their chance anyone else is welcome to speak as well.
The agenda today was set by the Senate Steering Committee and posted on the Senate Web site in advance. First we need to establish a quorum so please turn on your clickers and sign in with button A. We need 44 for a quorum, so a quorum is established. [2:42]
The first order of business is to approve the minutes of the meeting of August 23, which were posted on the Senate Web site. Were there any additions or corrections to the minutes? Hearing none do I have a motion to accept the minutes? (moved) Do I hear a second? (second) All in favor please say aye.
James Goldstein, chair: Opposed? The minutes are approved. Thank you very much.
Dr. Gogue was unable to make it back from Birmingham in time for the meeting, so Dr. Boosinger will speak briefly on behalf of the Office of the President and then on behalf of the Office of the Provost. [3:33]
Dr. Timothy Boosinger, Provost: Good afternoon. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon. Dr. Gogue sends his regrets. I wanted to bring to your attention just a couple of items from the Board agenda, a lot of it’s been in the newspapers, but I thought you’d be interested to know that thanks to a 15 million dollar gift from the Harbert family we will be able to build a new building in the College of Business that will support (?) graduate education. I also think it’s important for you to know that we’ve got project initiation approval to begin to develop plans for additional student housing, initially looking at over the next two or three years building, adding as many as an additional 1,000 beds. Probably doing that in buildings with 300 or 400 in each unit. So we will see how that develops. Advisors and consultants are already working on that there were meetings this morning to get that project moving.
I thought I’d share with you some comments on the Strategic Plan that I brought to the attention of the Board of Trustees. On Friday we are in our 4th year of the Strategic Planning process. We’ve made significant progress in the first 3 years. As we enter into the 4th year our 4-year graduation rate has increased just in the last 2 years from 47% to 49.9%. That’s significant progress. Our 6-year graduation rate has also increased from 71% to 75%. I’m sure all of you realize that every percentage point gained that we make now becomes more difficult. So our 5-year goal is to get to 78%, if things go well and we make the right choices and we all work together we might get to 80% as a 6-year graduation rate. 6-Year graduation rates are how we are compared with our peers nationally, so that would be a significant accomplishment. Our first year retention rate also increased slightly. From 90% to 90.9%. [5:50] That doesn’t sound like a lot, but progress, that trend is a very positive thing.
We’ve also be working hard to decrease the ratio of between the number of students and advisors. When we started the strategic planning process our ratio in some colleges and schools was approaching 800. We are now down to 480. The ideal goal would be to get that ratio of number of students to advisors closer to 400. I would argue that some of the accomplishments we are making in the area of retention and improving graduation rates and enhancing student success is because of the change in that ratio.
We continue to recruit outstanding students, our ACT score went up slightly, 7.4 and we continue to stay within our enrollment strategy of admitting, recruiting, about 60% in-state and 40% out-of-state. That’s a strategy that seems to be working well for us on many levels; academicly and financially. So proud to see that number hold.
We, as I have spoken to you in the past, we remain diligent in working on inclusion and diversity issues. We have an implementation committee, you may remember working on implementing the 17 recommendations that came out of the climate study that we worked on last winter and spring. They are making significant progress. By the end of the week or early next week we will post on my Web site and maybe on some others a progress report so you can see exactly what we’ve been able to accomplish in those 17.
One of the 17 recommendations was to do a national search for Chief Diversity Officer. The title for that position will be Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity. You should be aware that’s in progress. We interviewed one candidate last week, we have a candidate on campus today, there will be a 3rd candidate here on Thursday, and then the search committee will stake the time they need to develop a recommendation for us to make a final choice.
You should be interested to know that we have more than 11 thousand Auburn students enrolled in undergraduate courses by distance. That’s a significant increase from where we were 4 or 5 years ago. We are currently offering 276 courses online to supplement the students progress through their 4 years at Auburn and hopefully 4 years. So that is also a significant change. We are reasonably close to be being able to offer all of the core courses online, but not necessarily every semester. A lot of these distance courses or Auburn courses get offered in the summer, but we are working again to enhance the student success, make it possible for them to get the courses they need, in the sequence they need, in order to graduate, but no single student is taking large numbers of those courses, but it does help them make progress.
We have now successfully completed over half of the searches for new faculty that will participate in the 5 academic clusters, research clusters, or strategic hiring clusters, whatever you want to call those. You remember those were designed to enhance and encourage interdisciplinary research. We are very pleased with the progress that’s been made.
At Research Week, last week, there was an afternoon session where all of the recent hires that are coming into those cluster groups gave presentations on their interests and how they will integrate into our programs. Because we are really trying to do this to leverage our strengths, and lead to the strengths of these research focus areas, so that was very impressive.
A couple of words about outreach and extension. We have more than a couple of examples, we have more than 1,000 Auburn students participating in “Auburn Serves,” that’s a service learning activity. In Extension, Dr. Lemme tells me that they estimate that more than one in four Alabamians participate in extension programs every year across the state. A very impressive number and a significant increase from where we were a few years ago.
We continue to support wellness activities across the state in collaboration with Extension, Outreach, Nursing, Pharmacy, and other allied health fields. We are very impressed with the progress that’s being made there. That’s really all I have. Does anyone have any questions or comments? Where we are right now with the Strategic Plan or any other issue? Thank you very much. [11:00]
James Goldstein, chair: Now a few announcements from the Senate Chair. The General Faculty Meeting will be October 4, same time, same room. I hope you will all be coming to that, especially if you are faculty members. Bring a friend. The agenda was posted on the Web site yesterday so you can see what we are doing. There’s actually going to be an action item, which is not typical of a Faculty Meeting; a revision to the Faculty Constitution concerning the procedures for amending the Faculty Constitution.
Could you just pull that up? No that’s not it. Oh, yes it’s not here because I am just telling you about it, that is for the October 4 meeting. Last year the Faculty Handbook was updated. The Senate Constitution which resides in the Faculty Handbook was updated on the procedures for amending the Senate Constitution and we’re making the same parallel change for the Faculty Constitution. That resides in the Handbook but it has less stringent rules for amendment. Even if we only have 3 people voting at that meeting that will be enough to make the change. So General Faculty October 4.
The Faculty Constitution also directs the executive committee, who are also Senate Officers, to form a 6 person nominating committee for the election of chair-elect and secretary-elect in the Spring. [13:00] I am happy to report that we were able to form the nominating committee well in advance of the Constitutional deadline. So please consider running for Senate Office, either chair-elect or secretary-elect. If not then please talk to one of your colleagues into thinking about it. If you know of anyone who may be interested in running for Senate Office please have them get in touch with one of the current officers and we will pass the name on to the nominating committee.
Speaking of volunteering, I want to thank everyone who’s agreed to serve on a Senate or University committee this year. Serving on standing committees is one of the most important ways for faculty to participate in shared governance, and we are always grateful to receive the names of volunteers when we put out a call. Occasionally a faculty member volunteers to serve on a committee, but ends up not being chosen. We can’t individually contact volunteers to let them know the status of that. So if you ever put you name in for consideration and are wondering what the status of that is you can always contact the chair or the secretary of the Senate. If it’s a Senate Committee, the name must be approved by the Rules Committee and then voted on by the Senate. We are going to be having another one of those votes in a couple of minutes. For University Committees, Rules approves the names that we put forward to the administration, who make the final selection. In the current round of calls for volunteers after repeated calls, we were unable to fill all the slots of one university committee with faculty, the 3 Traffic Appeals Boards. Three, count them, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. They are very large committees, each day’s worth, and each of the Boards is supposed to have 3 faculty members present. Once upon a time it was easy to fill those slots, not so much any more. So this summer the Senate leadership advised the administration that in the future it may be better not to attempt to recruit 3 faculty members for each of the 3 Traffic Appeals Boards. Since University Committees are not covered by the Senate Constitution, the Senate doesn’t have to take any further action. The administration may wish to consider revising the composition of the Traffic Appeals Boards in the Faculty Handbook. We are certainly grateful to any faculty currently serving on the Traffic Appeals Board, until their term ends. So don’t feel unloved if you look around and you are the only faculty member on the Board.
The other irregularity in University Committee composition that we have discovered is the Academic Honesty Committee. According to the Faculty Handbook, there should be 3 faculty members that are specifically serving as alternates. This provision dates from long before the current system of facilitated meetings, which is now the majority of the Academic Honesty cases are resolved. [16:15] In the last couple of years the Rules Committee has inadvertently slipped in the assignment of recommended alternates. It may be appropriate for the administration to rewrite the composition of the Academic Honesty Committee to eliminate the positions of alternate in the light of the new facilitated meetings. But again that is a University Committee so the Senate doesn’t vote on that, it is not the Constitution.
Turning to a few other announcements, I wanted to inform the Senate about a change to the University Mission Statement that grows directly out of the climate study on inclusion and diversity. Two sentences have been drafted to include in our Mission Statement, there they are, that will need to be approved by the Board of Trustees. The different deliberative bodies on campus involved in shared governance, the Senate, the SGA, the A&P Assembly, the Staff Council, and so on are all being asked to review this language which are those 2 red sentences. If anybody has any questions or comments about this revision, please come to the microphone when I take questions. In the near future Auburn will need to review the entire Mission Statement and that would require considerable time and effort, but we are not doing that now. It is quite a long Mission Statement compared to other institutions, so that’s on the agenda for some future time.
Finally, as many of you may be aware, last year in a response from a request from faculty, the Traffic and Parking Committee agreed to recommend that a limited number of parking places (here is where we can go to the map), be reserved for faculty to park in after 5 p.m. to avoid the student rush where they gobble up all the spaces. I was recently contacted by a faculty member who was unaware of what had happened with that request, which was approved and announced in the Senate in March (2015), so I requested that Don Andrae, the manager of Parking Services, to provide a map showing where these reserve spaces are located and how many in each of the lots. So this map has been linked to the Senate agenda and if you scroll through it you will see little circles, boxes actually, and a number which is the number of spaces which are set aside for evening parking from 5:00 p.m. until they stop enforcing which is at 10:00 p.m. So I would like to thank Mr. Andrae for his help. We’ll be wanting to review the usage, so please park in those spaces if you go home for dinner and come back to work in your office at night, because the students will get annoyed if they can’t park in these spaces that they used to be able to park in after 5:00 and they are empty. So it is always possible to improve the estimate of how many of these need to be set aside.
That concludes my remarks. Are there any questions? Please go to the microphone. Remember to state your name, whether you are a senator and what unit you represent.
Michael Baginski, senator, Electrical & Computer Engineering: I want to make a comment, I appreciate it, I think it would be really nice if you had some sort of a coloration and a large number for where the spaces are. Then is that map, I guess you are going to link it there, I know a lot of people are completely unaware as I talked with them. Right out front of Broun Hall now, that lot is until 10:00 p.m. and I’ve used that. I don’t know how many of you come in here, but I come in here at night to take care of things periodically and it if very nice to have a parking space right next to where you’re at. That won’t be there, I have a feeling if it is not being used, so come and park there. I am just encouraging you to park where these spaces are available, because I know for a fact they will monitor to see how much traffic it gets, and I don’t want them to take it away.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you. Any other comments or questions? Okay.
Now we turn to our only action item. Another vote on approving replacement members of Senate Committees. I will turn the floor over to our secretary, Xing Ping Hu.
Xing Ping Hu, secretary: Good afternoon. On the screen is a slate of 5 names for Academic Program Review, Faculty Research, Library, and Competitive Research committees. When there are vacancies the Senate Constitution asks Rules to nominate replacement members to serve on these committees. This list has been posted on the Senate Web site and I hope you’ve had a chance to review them. Because this is coming from a standing Senate committee it does not need a second. Before I ask you vote on the nominees let’s see if there are any discussion or comments. I hear none. Now I you to get out your clickers. If you approve of the slate of nominees press A, if you do not press B. A=59, B=2. Thank you it’s passed. [22:42]
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you. Just one clarification, when we vote for replacement members they finish out the term of the person they were replacing and then they are eligible, if they wish, to stand for election for full term and a second term if they want to.
Now we move into our 2 information items which are presentations. The first is a presentation on the STARS report on the sustainability initiatives at Auburn. The co–presenters are Mike Kensler, who is the Director of the Office of Sustainability and Nanette Chadwick, Director of Academic Sustainability Programs.
Mike Kensler, Director of the Office of Sustainability: Thank you very much. We heard that last month there was a technical glitch and it wasn’t working, so Nanette and I actually prepared an interpretive dance to do our program (laughter), but your lucky the PowerPoint’s working.
Sustainability, over the last 20 years it’s become a buzz word, [24:00] but it’s much more than a buzz word. If you read business books you know that there has become a paradyme shift in the world of business. And companies like Unaliver, Interface Carpet, Patagonia, permandeller, the list goes on and on, have understood that they need to frame the way they do business according to the principles and practices of sustainability if you want to be successful in the future. They are really leading the movement. The part of society that is really right behind them in creating sustainability transformation is higher education, incorporating sustainability throughout the curriculum, the way we operate our facilities, and the kind of outreach we do with citizens in Alabama and really around the world.
There are a lot of definitions of the term and some of them are really good and some I think are pretty mediocre. We have a definition, just so you know this is how when we are talking about it, this is how we define it. It really has 3 parts. The first part is about meeting human needs now and in the future. So right off the bat, sustainability is about meeting the needs of people. How do we live today in a way that we turn over a world that would meet our needs, by leaving enough resources and enough quality of life experiences that people who follow us can have the same or even better experiences? The second part is there really needs to be fair, just, equitable; everybody deserves a decent home to live in, good food to eat, a good education, an opportunity for a good job, a safe neighborhood, these are basic human rights and needs that should be met for everybody. The last part recognizes that we are utterly dependent on the biosphere for our survival, so restoring and maintaining the global ecosystem into perpetuity is essential to our existence.
One of the things we are constantly working on is helping folks understand that sustainability is in fact about more than the environment. You know the term “how green is your campus” and it infers that it is all about nature. Alan act, an international sustainability consultant based in Stockholm, and he came up with this idea of a compass, a sustainability compass. It’s sort of like a prisim in that it makes apparent the four system conditions of a sustainable world. So, a healthy environment, a thriving and inclusive economy that abides by the laws of nature, healthy communities, and healthy individuals. So nature, the economy, society, individual wellbeing are the four system components of a sustainable world. Pick you discipline, pick your major, your students land somewhere on the spectrum and without too much thinking you will make connections to every part of this compass.
We have a sustainability policy here at Auburn that says in part that sustainability is a core value and we strive for excellence in sustainability to continuous assessment and improvement. It’s what you do with your students it’s what any great organization does is it assesses its performance and looks for ways to improve. That’s what the STARS reports is about, we are going to tell you about assessing our sustainability performance.
And our efforts have been recognized. We were the first green ribbon school designated by the U.S. Department of Education. For the last 7 or 8 years we’ve been in the Princeton Review’s guide to green colleges. We’re a member of tree campus USA, the first and so far only bicycle friendly university in the State. We have a lot of other affiliations and things and this is just a small snippet of those.
It’s important to know that this is of importance to our clientele. Every year the Princeton Review does an annual hopes and worries survey and they give that to prospective students and their parents. And when they ask, does a school’s greenness, and here they really are just talking about the environment, does that matter? Does that factor into your decision to where you go college? [28:19] And consistently, 60% of parents, 60% of prospective students say, yes it does. It determines where I am going to go to school, and if we were to expand this question to include the whole sustainability compass, I think it would be a lot higher than 60%.
Eleven years ago the Higher Education Association of Sustainability was formed because all of these colleges and universities were establishing sustainability issues and they really needed help talking to each other. They started asking, What should we be doing? What should we be measuring, how should we be measuring it? How do we compare to our peer institutions in terms of our sustainability performance? So they developed this STARS program, this is hundreds of people over countless people hours put this system together. It had one major revision and a couple of minor ones just in the 6 years that is has existed. Sustainability tracking assessment and rating system (STARS). [29:23]
These are the 4 categories in which our sustainability performance are measured, and the percentage of points that are attributed to each category. So, planning and administration, academics, engagement, and operations. A total of 74 credits, different measures that are reviewed in these 4 categories. Cut right to the chase, for those that are reporting for evaluation it’s sort of like the Olympics, there is bronze, silver, gold, and platinum in terms of performance. You can see Auburn, this is the second time that we’ve done it, and landed solidly in the silver range. Compared to last time we’ve had about a 10% improvement in our performance. For the first time last year one school achieved the STARS platinum rating, that was Colorado State.
Here is a comparison between our last evaluation in 2013 and the one we submitted in January of this year. So you can see in academics there was quite an uptick. In engagement it appears there was a significant uptick, essentially there was a slight improvement in operations and not so much in planning and administration. It’s a little misleading because last time planning and administration and engagement were one category. So between the changes in them and splitting them out, I’m not sure how much this evaluates our performance in those 2 categories compared to last time.
This benchmarks Auburn compared to some of our peers. You can see that compared to a couple of our SEC partner schools we are just above them, essentially the same as Texas A&M and you can see where some of those other schools perform in each of the 4 STARS rating categories.
We are going to show you 5 more slides and each one of them has a graph like this. Let me explain what you are looking at here. The green bar shows Auburns performance in any particular area. We are going to show you these in clusters. So this means that in this particular area, and I’ve taken all the labels off, we achieved 54% of the points. You can see 3.8 out of 7, that’s 54%. The blue line and the average is the performance of our peer institutions, other doctoral institutions. Just for your information that bottom gray area, the gray line is the quartile, so if anybody is interested you can see that. You can see the darkest portion on the left, that’s the distribution of the bottom 25% of reports and so on up the chain. Pay attention to our performance and how we compare to our peer institutions. Nanette is going to introduce the Academic portion of our evaluation. [32:25]
Nanette Chadwick, Director of Academic Sustainability Programs: I’m going to report a little bit about our academic performance. This shows you the points that Auburn University area in the last 3 years for curriculum. We are above the average. We improved quite a bit since last time, we did this 3 years ago and the reason why we were able to gain this much was because of some of the programs listed on the left there. We do have a minor in sustainability studies which is open to every student on campus. The minor has stabilized with about 60 to 70 students in the minor each semester. They are from all of the undergraduate colleges on campus and it remains popular and if you as faculty are interested in getting you students to know more about the minor you can contact me. We give presentations to units on campus. The minor in sustainability studies has been listed by some students as being a main item that employers look at on their résumés when they graduate because it demonstrates interdisciplinary thinking and forward thinking curriculum. It remains popular and it’s one of the few in the United States that is actually interdisciplinary and managed outside any college through the Provost’s Office.
Just this last year we have our introduction to sustainability course which is now part of the core curriculum, It’s available to students as an option in the social studies core. So they can take sustainability as one of their social studies courses. This has caused a large jump in enrollment. We have approximately 100 students now every semester that are taking that class as an option. So that’s been an advance for our program. We also offer a faculty training program, and I see some faces here who have taken our workshop or have spoken at our workshop. Every other year we offer a workshop up at the Forest Ecology Preserve on the north part of campus. It’s a lot of fun to participate and if you are faculty you actually get paid to participate in the workshop and to revise one or more of your courses to include some sustainability content or to create a new course. So if you are interested in the workshop or you want to let your faculty know about that, contact me. We will be publicizing applications for the workshop later this semester. [34:50] So that’s a nice feature for faculty and that’s allowed us to infuse sustainability throughout our curriculum, separate from the minor. So, we’ve actually got quite a large number of sustainability related courses in our curriculum now through this workshop.
We are also using campus as a living laboratory, which is a central component of sustainability education, hands on education, we’ve developed a series of tours on campus. We have a sustainability foods tour, water systems, energy, built environment, walkability, and a few others we are developing. So if you’s like to get your students out of the classroom and get them to examine some components of what’s actually happening with operations and facilities on campus and actually in the downtown nearby you can contact us and we can help arrange tour leaders and where you go. So that’s a good academic related activity for students using our campus as a living laboratory.
Finally we have an increasing number of programs, degree programs on campus, that incorporate elements of sustainability. They are all listed on our program Web site and easy to look at, but Auburn is really enhancing not just the minor but the degree programs, the major programs in sustainability.
On the right are opportunities, basically these are things we are not doing yet. These are things that we could gain more credit on the national stage in terms of assessment if we do adopt these. One is having a literacy assessment. So how much do our students know about sustainability when they come to Auburn? How much do they know when they graduate? We are actually developing survey for freshmen to take. It turns out if you send a survey out to incoming freshmen, they all take it. There was a survey about something to do with health and wellness, I think alcohol issues, and I think all the freshmen took it. It was not a requirement, when they come in they are still in High School mode of thinking they have to do everything you ask them to do, by the time they are seniors they realize that these things are optional and they don’t always do them all. We are actually working on developing this, this is not hard to administer, so we are going to try to have this for our freshmen this next year. [37:03]
We do have a very uneven engagement across campus from different colleges and departments in sustainability education. I won’t name any names here, but you probably all know who you are, we are trying to engage more units on campus with sustainability in the curriculum and research so we need to expand our activities to engage more faculty across campus.
Finally, we don’t have a graduation requirement. The really top schools for leading the way with sustainability education in America require course work for their students to graduate and be educated about sustainability. That includes places like Stamford, Cornell, Harvard, those are the top tier universities. We’re not there yet, I think that’s one of those long range possibilities. The other area that we assess for in academics was research. You can see here that we are a little bit below the average but we have enhanced our activity research on campus and I think we are going to see it increase in the next few years. We do have research inventory of sustainability projects on campus in the last 3 years, that’s available on our Web site. The number of faculty who are engaged in sustainability more than doubled in the last 3 years. I can’t claim credit, but that was due to our program. That’s due to a national trend in funding opportunities and in the urgency actually of research problems related to sustainability issues. So that’s increasing on campus. We have increasing percent of faculty engaged, and we also have the cluster hire program has greatly enhanced, just this year, our faculty research capacity in sustainability by having cluster hires in climate systems, in energy systems, and in health disparities. Those 3 in particular are related to sustainability issues. So that has really enhanced our research capacity.
Areas that we are not active in that are opportunities that we need to engage in, we do not have any explicit incentives for sustainability research by our faculty. We would like to set up a seed grant program like they have at other universities and hope to engage pretty soon with research programs on campus to see about even a small seed grant program would encourage faculty to engage in sustainability research and allow them to create preliminary data that they could use to get external funding related to sustainability. Then we don’t have an open access policy yet for our results and I know that costs money and that might be something the library system would like to look in to, that would definitely give us credits on the national stage in terms of openness of our research results, accessibility. And we do not include sustainability research or teaching as even an optional criterion for T&P. Recently outreach was included as an area in which you could actually get formal credit for tenure and promotion. If you were to add sustainability activity through teaching and research to the tenure and promotion guidelines as a possible criterion it would actually increase our national standing.
So that’s everything about research and curriculum in terms of what we are doing now and if you have questions about that aspect I’d be happy to answer them. [40:32]
Mike Kensler, Director of the Office of Sustainability: I’m really good at taking notes to meetings and then forgetting to look at them. I meant to mention that among other things that, as I’ve said we’ve given you the 60 thousand foot view here. In the curriculum part there are 8 different credit, 8 different measures to look at to get that score and then in research there are 3. We are looking at engagement. In engagement there are a total of 16 between on-campus and off-campus engagement. [41:21]
You can see that on-campus we are about 70% and the average is 78%. You can read there what some of the things are that we do in orientation and publications and things like that. We have healthy intercampus collaboration and outreach to communities around the state and we offer a class in staff professional development as well. In terms of some opportunities, a couple of things we’re working on to improve our STARS performance as an office that we can do is develop a peer to peer engagement program. So, it’s Nanette, 3 in my office and our 7 interns and we really want to engage folks in their units with their colleagues to implement more sustainability actions. Some campuses that have done that have improved their performance, they’ve saved about 10% in terms of office costs, electricity and things like that, just by changing a few simple behaviors. So a peer to peer outreach program and there will be a couple of campus wide engagement activities as well to improve our score in this area.
We did split out operations because unlike some of the other 3 areas that get measured, these are all over the place. There not that consistent between them. So you can see this is air and climate, buildings, dining services, energy, grounds, purchasing, transportation, waste, and water. And you’ll notice the majority of these performance measures we are somewhat below our peer institutions in terms of our performance, we’re in the ballpark but for some of them and of course behind every one of these measures there’s a story and I’ll just tell you a couple of stories about operations.
One is buildings where it is one of the lowest scores we’ve got, 13%. Well there are several reasons for that. Two main reasons are that we have been building LEED buildings, leadership energy and environmental design, it’s really the national standard for certification in green building. LEED buildings have 2 goals; 1) to make sure that we build the most environmentally responsible buildings we can and 2) that we pay a lot of attention to human health and wellbeing. We have 4 LEED projects underway that were started about 3 years ago or more that are almost complete. They were each delayed for different reasons. What we’re measured on in STARS is the percentage of square footage developed over the last 5 years that are certified by some performance standard as being sustainably built. So once those are certified we will get credit for that.
The other thing that happened is that about 3 years ago the governor unwisely signed a ban preventing us from building LEED buildings. It’s a long sordid story but it has a happy ending because he has since lifted that ban, so we are now free to reengage with that and from the perspective of the Office of Sustainability, if we will recommit to LEED, work with folks who really know how to do this and use a fully integrated design system-design process, we will see a significant bump in our sustainability performance. But it is going to improve because these 4 buildings will be certified in the near future.
The other thing that we are measured on in buildings is operations and maintenance. How sustainably do we operate and maintain our buildings? Just last week Dan King finalized a sustainable operations and maintenance policy. Which means things like using green cleaning methods. New technology has been developed so you can eliminate the use of toxic chemicals and perform at least at the same standard, maybe even a higher standard, of cleaning that you could otherwise reach. So it means safer conditions for custodial staff, and safer conditions for the people that work in those buildings. We spend 90% of our time in buildings so everything that we can do to help make them healthy and safe and function properly the better.
The other mention is dining services. Glenn Loughridge is working very hard to improve and increase our local fresh food content. I don’t know if you know this, but if you’ve had tilapia on campus, this is something he’s partnered with Fisheries Program to develop. When that tilapia is harvested at 6:00 a.m., by 9:00 a.m. it’s on campus being processed for you to eat. So he is somewhat constrained by our existing food contract and other conditions, but this is something else we expect to see a lot of progress. [45:56]
Waste. A number of things going on here. One thing I will appeal to you about, and this is something we will work with in our peer to peer program is Auburn has yet to establish a culture of committing to waste diversion. Waste is a human invention, we created it, it doesn’t exist in the natural world. Aluminum cans, plastic bottle, these things are resources and there are companies that use them for feed stocks to create products. We can do much, much better in our own individual behaviors and as an institution in terms of the simple behavior of putting here instead of there. We will be working on that.
The last category is planning and administration. There are 4 groupings here. In terms of coordination planning and governance you can see that we out perform our peers. The fact that we have a Sustainability Office, Academic Sustainability Programs, a policy, a climate action plan, these things are significant commitments that Auburn’s made.
A few things we could do if you see in some of these other areas, obviously with our emphasis on diversity and affordability we are going to see improvement in that score. We’ve talked to the Human Resources folks, what would help us there is a campus wide all employee survey on job satisfaction. Another initiative, I know the university is talking about which is a big challenge, is making sure that every Auburn employee makes a living wage. That’s a criteria that was added in the new iteration of STARS and it is something that a lot of campuses and even communities are starting to talk more about.
The last one, investment, is something you can see here if the average is 16% nobody is doing that well. Basically for an investment portfolio are we putting sustainability screens on any portion of our investments? In other words, we won’t accept funds from, let’s say, the tobacco industry, the alcohol industry. We could put positive sustainability screens on. Do we want to make sure we invest in companies that perform high on environment socio and corporate governance scale? This is very much a growing conversation in business and the investment community and I’ve been very pleased with the collaborative thoughtful conversations I’ve had with the Endowment Office about this very point.
That is kind of it in a nutshell of where we are. We are in the game and we think we have lots of opportunities to continue to progress and we certainly have the commitment, we have the capacity and I think it’s important for our students, for our campus and really for the state of the future of the world, so we all should be proud of the fact that Auburn has made these commitments and that we are taking steps in this direction. If anybody has any questions about it we will try to answer them. Alright , thank you.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you very much for that. Our last report is on assessment by Dr. Megan Rogers Good, who is the Director of Academic Assessment. She has left handouts for everyone to pick up.
Megan Rogers Good, Director of Academic Assessment: Hi everyone. I am Megan Good and I did not prepare an interpretive dance, so I am thankful that the PowerPoint slides are working. Many of you might not be familiar with the Office of Academic Assessment. It is fairly new, it was just created in July of 2015 and it is located within the Office of the Provost. [50:00] So I want to give you all a quick update on what we’ve done in the last year. Just talk a little bit about academic assessment at Auburn and what does that mean, some resources that are available to faculty who are practicing assessment within their programs, and then we’ll finalize with a little bit of talk about the purposes of assessment.
Before I go any further I’d like to just give an overview of the assessment cycle because I realize we can all think about academic assessment in different ways. Within my office we are always talking about the program level, so not course level assessment, but program level assessment. And it always begins at the top, with the articulation of student learning outcomes. So that is when you think about students graduating from a program what knowledge skills and abilities do you hope that they can achieve as they graduate from your program.
Next we have curriculum mapping, which is the opportunity to align in those outcomes with the required courses and experiences within your program, followed by measuring the student learning outcomes, recording on the results and finally using that data to make informed decisions in an effort to improve the program.
The Office of Academic Assessment supports 2 major areas on campus, so this is not exhaustive. The first is general education assessment and then academic degree program assessment. I first want to briefly start with general education assessment. The Core Curriculum General Education Committee has talked a lot about assessment in the last year and a half, what you need to take away from this presentation is that if you’ve been doing assessment reports for the core, this year there will not be an expectation for an assessment report typically due in the fall. That’s because the Core Curriculum General Education Committee is exploring alternative ways of assessment and looking into more standardized metrics that take it out of the classroom and think about it more holistically at the end of the program.
Now academic degree program assessment; first, what is an academic degree program? All of our undergraduate degrees, all of our graduate degrees, and all of our certificates, both undergraduate and graduate certificates are required to submit assessment reports. So we think forward to our next assessment deadline. At Auburn that’s about 250 academic degree programs that we have on campus, they can be sliced and diced a little bit differently.
Since my arrival last July we’ve created a new system to provide feedback on the quality of assessment for each program that submits an assessment report. This figure walks through the general timeline. The reports are now due July 1 the next one will be in 2017, but my office will start accepting assessments as early as April 18. After we receive all the assessment reports we train faculty evaluators to provide feedback on the quality of the assessment. I want to emphasize that we are not giving feedback on the quality of the program, but just the assessment process. Then all of that feedback is accumulated to create assessment feedback reports and those reports are to be disseminated by October 1. This process hinges on the quality of assessment rubric which hopefully you all have access to at your seat. If not, maybe a neighbor could shuffle a paper to you.
This rubric was designed last fall and it articulates what our expectations are for assessment at the program level. There’s 5 major categories, those are the blue rows, so they all align back to the assessment cycle, student learning outcomes, curriculum mapping measurement, results and use of results. There are 4 columns, beginning, developing, mature, and exemplary. This rubric was created by about a dozen faculty in the fall semester. Our expectation is for most programs to achieve mature in the next few years. Exemplary is reserved for those programs that are going above and beyond in their assessment work. I will also note that this rubric has no plans for change, we want to freeze it for the next 5 years. The assessment expectations will not be changing over time. [54:25]
The feedback reports have actually already been disseminated to someone within your college or program, last Tuesday, so if you have not seen your assessment feedback report you might inquire of someone in your department to have a glance at that. Again, these feedback reports only talk about the quality of assessment and They give recommendations for improvement of the assessment process.
Because we use the same rubric to evaluate the quality of assessment across the 176 reports we received this summer we’re able to aggregate that data and have a university glimpse of how we are doing with assessment. The big takeaway from this graph is from our first year, we are around a 2 (2.4). We are between developing and mature on our quality of assessment within the university.
I did include information about variability but there is almost a 1-point standard deviation around each of those scores. There is strong assessment on campus and some room for improvement
As you all look forward in thinking about assessment in your program we do have a number of resources that are available. First the rubric itself, again it is not going to change, so consider that a resource of what the expectations are for program assessment.
My office is also holding workshops between October and through November 10 and we have a few panels scheduled as well. In the spring semester we will offer another workshop series. We are also open to doing one-on-one consultations within the program and we have a new offering of a focus group, so if your program has a question about student learning at the program level, my office will facilitate focus groups with students to learn more about that question and qualitative report.
We also have a Web site: auburn.edu/academicassessment and our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, it might be a little counterintuitive, but I like to end on this note. I am sure when you saw on the agenda that we had to talk about assessment you probably thought, accountability and perhaps you thought about SACS which is perfectly fine because we do have to assess for our accreditation standards, but for me assessment is really just about telling a story about student learning and actually making informed decisions for your program based on evidence. If we think about assessment for this reason then accountability will take care of itself.
Any questions? Thank you.
James Goldstein, chair: Thank you very much. That concludes the agenda. Is there any unfinished business? Is there any new business? Hearing none, we are now adjourned. [57:36]