Transcript Senate Meeting
August 22, 2017
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: Welcome to the first meeting of the University Senate for 2017-18. I now call the meeting to order. For those of you who don’t know me I’m Dan Svyantek. I am the Senate Chair this year. I will apologize if I mess your name up, but look at the spelling of my name and then try to pronounce it without knowing that it is pronounced [swan tek].
I would like to take time to remind you of some basic procedures for the Senate meeting that are important for first-time members of the Senate, returning Senators and visitors. First, if you are a senator or a substitute for a senator please be sure you sign in onto the sheet at the top of the room (the left side today). If you haven’t already picked up a clicker, you will need one because we have one vote today. Second, for new senators and guests let me explain 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 side of the room. When it is your turn, state your name and whether or not you are a senator and the unit you represent. Finally, the rules of the Senate require that senators or substitute senators be allowed to speak first and then after they are done guests are welcome to speak as well.
The agenda today was set by the Senate Steering Committee and posted on the Web site in advance, it’s now up on the screen.
First we need to establish a quorum, so please turn on your clickers. We have 86 Senators in the Senate and we need 44 for a quorum. Let the record show that we have 50 present so a quorum is established.
The first order of business is to approve the minutes for the meeting of June 13, 2017. Those minutes have been posted on the Web site. Are there any additions, changes, or corrections to the minutes? Hearing none do I have a motion to approve the minutes? Do I have a second? Second. All in favor of approving the minutes say aye please.
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: Opposed? (no response) The minutes are approved. Thank you.
Now, the first item of business is the first visit to the Senate by President Leath.
Dr. Leath became President of Auburn University on June 19, 2017. Dr. Leath was president of Iowa State University, one of the nation’s top research institutions. During his time as president Iowa State achieved its highest student graduation rate, lowered student debt, and grew research expenditures. Dr. Leath served in various administrative and academic positions in the University of North Carolina System; North Carolina State University; and the University of Illinois. He holds a B.S. in Plant Science from Pennsylvania State University; M.S. in plant science from the University of Delaware and Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Leath has tirelessly worked to meet with Auburn University constituent groups from Huntsville to Mobile in his first months as President. He has met with governance groups on campus and will meet with these governance groups monthly. I would like to add that the Senate leadership has found that he is a good listener; an individual who will give you his opinions frankly; and someone very willing to use the information we provided him.
Therefore, it is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Leath to the Senate and hear his first comments for us.
Dr. Steven Leath, Auburn University President: Thanks Dan, it’s a pleasure to be here. I had to get someone to lead me here, but I am here and that’s good. I hope this is the first of many meetings where we can interact. Not necessarily just formally in a meeting like this but also in my office and anywhere else, maybe in the woods with a couple of us.
Janet and I are thrilled to be here. We weren’t looking to move but this was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities where I think my skills lined up with what Auburn wanted to do over the next few years and I was fortunate to end up in this position. I will share we are all in, we know these jobs are lifestyle choices and we are really excited to be here. [5:15]
I would like to start by saying thanks for the groups efforts in this Senate. These organizations take a lot of time and effort. You get a lot of pressure from your peers and not everybody is willing to do this, but the university won’t function well without a good shared governance model. Without people like you rolling up your sleeves and being willing to participate step out as leader. So I recognize that and I say thank you.
My philosophy on a lot of these big universities decisions is if we get enough smart people in the room and they are willing to speak up we won’t make many mistakes. When I see this room pretty crowded with what I presume is really smart people I feel pretty good about our future.
As far as my schedule goes, I have met with Senate Leadership quite a few times since I came here. I moved here Memorial Day weekend and started June 19 as President. Those meetings will continue monthly. They are not restricted to monthly, some of these people already have my cell phone number. My cell phone is on, you can call it, doesn’t really matter what time of day it is because if it’s on you will not find me stressed over that. I think you will find me pretty approachable, pretty accessible, if you have issues bring them up. There are some things I might have to run back through Senate, but if I am going to do that to you I will tell you that at the beginning that this is a serious enough issue it’s got to come back to Senate. If any of you have any individual concerns don’t hesitate to reach out.
The question I get most; What are my plans for Auburn? What is the long term vision? That’s a fair question but I’m not quite ready to answer. I will tell you this is one of the reasons I was hired was to grow our research and scholarship efforts across campus to improve our national and international reputation and to raise money. I see my job mainly to empower faculty and remove obstacles and those things can align pretty well. But as far as a specific vision there’ll be some type of installation of me right after the first of the year, that’s when I’d expect to layout a vision. The conversations I’ve had, we have a strategic plan coming to an end and a new strategic plan process starting next year, if I can kind of layout my vision and couple that with what the faculty’s vision will be for where we want to go next, hopefully we can get a strategic plan we can all buy into and really go forward. This fall will be a lot of listening, taking notes, walking around trying to figure out what we can do what we can accomplish. As many of you know the Deans have been challenged to tell me where they think their college can be great, where it’s already great, where it can be great new areas, where they can expand–when we get those items in September we’ll really be able to start forming a better vision of where this university is going to go in the next few years. [8:12]
I will say, the good part for me is there is nothing broken here. I got a university that is running fine, so we’ve got the opportunity to really look and say what do we want to do better? What do we want to do differently? But there is no crisis that we have to manage right now. That being said we have a little bit of running room here to figure out how we really want to improve.
Students, education, especially undergraduate education will come first. Auburn has done a tremendous job. When I was studying for my interview to see 91% freshman and sophomore retention rates, high graduation rates, those numbers as we do everything else we need to make sure we don’t mess any of those things up because it’s been done so well here. At the same time we will try and grow our scholarly efforts here, that will feed right into our national and international reputation. You’ll see resources being reallocated to help enable faculty to be successful where they want to be.
A couple of other things I’ll mention. I am making some changes in upper administration. You will see more of those over the next few months. The first most noticeable one, which was in the paper recently, and leadership here knows, we’re going to have a chief of staff model run the President’s Office. So we’ve been interviewing chief of staff candidates. We had 29 external, 2 internal candidates. This is not a gatekeeper position it is more like a chief of staff you will see in a senator’s office or governor’s office to implement a lot of the things when I am not there, handle things when I am not there. I like to be out of the office probably about 40% of the time. For example, I am trying to go to all the colleges right now. I have Education and Engineering this week, then I will start on departments, I have been on Extension visits, lot of fundraising efforts; it’s hard to do all those things without someone making sure things are implemented while you are gone, so we’ll do that. We will also see some other shifts in responsibilities over the next couple of months. Some of those will be announced fairly soon, some won’t be until January. None of the leadership in this group will be surprised by any of those, they will be up to speed ahead of time. The effort is to drive efficiency and move the university forward.
Jay was a great President and probably the right guy at the right time. I am very different than Jay in my operational style, management style, so we will have to realign things a little bit to make sure that I’m effective going forward. I think that makes sense and most of you have seen that happen before.
So with that what I’d really like to do is address things that are of most concern to you folks. So what I’d like to do is stop and take questions if there are any. [11:03]
Oh, I didn’t talk about Brian. Brian, I don’t know if he’s made it here but Brian Keeter, many of you know has been a long time employee of this university, is serving as interim chief of staff. He was with a Trustee member a little bit ago, I don’t know if he is still with the Trustees, but if he gets here I’ll introduce him. Brian is serving in that role right now, he also handles Federal relations for the university.
Other comments, questions? Is this group usually this quiet?
Mike Stern, substitute senator, Economics: President Leath my names is Mike Stern, I am substitute senator for today, I am also chair of the Economics Department and also typically the only one that will ask the President a question during the remarks, much like you see today.
So when you mentioned that you didn’t see anything broken here at Auburn, I have to disagree with that. One of the things that’s broken is what you just witnesses, the fact that I was the only one that rose to ask you a question and there should be many questions. When you attend the fall or spring general faculty meeting you’ll find less than 2% of the faculty will show up to it. The room will be virtually empty except for people that are in administrative sort of roles, there will be almost no dedicated faculty members in attendance. You can look at previous ones. There are times in the past where they had to get a bigger room to fit 300–400 faculty members, so the faculty is very disengaged in governance here generally speaking. We have to fight to get someone to serve as senator and I often have to come substitute. I don’t see much faculty involvement in governance. Unfortunately, at this institution, you can look at what percentage of faculty will vote in Senate Officer elections as sort of further evidence in that regard. I do think there are some things that are broken here in that regard. Thought I’d let you know my thoughts on that. [13:53]
Dr. Steven Leath, Auburn University President: I appreciate your thoughts. Looking at the attendance numbers in the room they are somewhat impressive compared to a lot of Senate numbers. That being said I realize there’s 1300 of you. What are the percentage of senators that should be here that are here?
From the floor: 86 Senators total, 51 present today.
Dr. Steven Leath, Auburn University President: 86, there’s a lot of people in here. Okay that gives me something to have as a goal to push shared governance forward here. Hopefully there will be enough excitement and more will want to do this. It’s hard to make faculty attend these things, you realize that because you guys are faculty.
Tony Moss, senator, Biological Sciences: I have been a senator before many years ago and I am returning to the Senate. A couple of years ago I ran into a frustrating situation that relates to money. [15:07] We had a potential offer, you never really know how far down the road you are going to get with these things until you can start to travel with it, but there was an offer of a potential research and teaching facility in extreme south Florida, right on the Florida straights. I worked with the people I could trying to see whether or not if there was any way we could drum up some money, but there never seemed to be any free money available, there never seemed to be kind of a slush fund that could go to an opportunity to get something that would be unusual. It was a multi-million-dollar house that was being offered as a research and teaching installation by a person who was very science astute. And we lost an opportunity in my opinion. How do you think you can go about helping or perhaps encouraging development and maybe other aspects of the university to try to build a little bit of listless into available cash?
This installation was multi-million-dollar, but would have required something on the order of between $75,000–105,000 grace money in order to start the financing process and the owner was willing to carry on financing, so there was a lot of lack of flexibility there. On our part we could not even get to the starting point. Thank you very much. I know this is a difficult question because it’s money. Money is always difficult. [16:52]
Dr. Steven Leath, Auburn University President: I’ve got all these money questions if front of these money people, the CFO and the Executive Vice President. Actually, this university is pretty reasonably resourced, right now. Frankly, a lot of the cash is sitting in the Colleges. So you can bring these to me and it’s not like I won’t participate but generally speaking when I see 100 million dollars sitting in the Colleges and someone like you brings me a good idea, my initial reaction is how much skin is your department or dean going to put in the game. Because if your dean is not at all interested then it’s hard for me to put (forth) central resources especially if I know that there’s a lot of cash in that College. So my approach to that will be, these initiatives need to be driven by the faculty. If you’ve got donors or dean or chair person that is interested in funding, we will do our part and be partners. You will find we have some capacity to do that, but everybody has to be in on it. That’s where we are at. The Colleges do have quite a bit of cash right now.
Yes sir? [17:59]
For some reason the microphone got turned off before the next speaker began. The following comment was provided by Dr. Schall.
Mark Schall, senator, Industrial and Systems Engineering: Hello Dr. Leath. Thank you for providing the faculty senate an opportunity to share some of our questions and concerns with you. As the faculty senator representing the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, I believe it is my responsibility to express my department’s concern with what appears to be growing inefficiencies in the processes associated with obtaining and executing extramural projects that may be related to a growing gap in communication between the faculty and senior administration. While many of my departmental colleagues and I feel we have tremendous support from Dean Roberts and the Associate Deans in the College of Engineering, an apparent increase in the number of levels and operations in our university’s structure seems to be slowing operations to the point where it only makes sense to target very large grant opportunities. All the while, funding opportunities nationwide appear to only be shrinking. Speaking from personal experience, I recently had opportunities to engage with a large company that would like to execute approximately 10 contracts with Auburn (each at different facilities) that are worth approximately $25,000 each over the next year. When combined, these projects represent a substantial amount of funding, particularly for a young assistant professor. However, to engage in those projects, I am forced to work through various levels of our organization multiple times; for example, the contracts and grants office, IRB, etcetera, etcetera, to accomplish something that would seem to be easy to streamline given the scope of the work. This is especially important when working with industry as speed and flexibility are often critical components of success. While I know you are new to Auburn and are just becoming acquainted with our procedures, my question to you is what opportunities do you see for streamlining procedures at Auburn, particularly with regard to obtaining and executing extramural research contracts and grants? Thank you.
Dr. Steven Leath, Auburn University President: Well I appreciate that. I’m going to address some of those if I may. This is probably the most risk averse university I’ve ever seen. (sounds from the room) Guess I’m not the only one, but to that end we do have a lot of layers. Don has volunteered and I accepted, he is plowing through the org chart to make us more streamlined, more efficient, a lot less layers of management. We are going to totally revamp the way we partner with industry and how we handle tech transfer starting this fall. To me tech transfer, intellectual property, invention disclosures ought to be a way to recruit and retain good faculty and staff. And to make them successful send them back in the Labs so they can be serial entrepreneurs. You will see a major overhaul in that.
For the person that asked about participation in faculty Senate, your senator’s leadership came to me over a couple of weeks ago and complained about our fixed cost policy that went into effect this summer and we rolled it back because Senate leadership felt like it was hindering people like you from doing your jobs. We are trying to be sensitive. That was a temporary fix to roll it back, but you’ll see something that will make you nervous when I say it, but I think there is good in it, I told the Trustees when I got hired that I would not run this place like a business because it was an educational institution and I worried some faculty at a meeting when I said I would run it more business like than it’s ever been run. The reason I said that is exactly what you just brought up. We should be streamlined and have an efficient process where you should be able to write that one time, go to IRB and just do task orders to amend that initial contract and it should be like, boom–boom-boom when you add other companies. So we are going to move in that direction. We’ll get input, we’ll make sure this is not done in a vacuum. I think you’ll find this a much easier place for the faculty and staff to do business going forward. We are going to have to change the culture on risk tolerance. There will be a little more risk doing it that way, but I think the overall good and the relief for you folks mentally will be worth it. We are going to need your help, because if we do this we are going to need a lot of faculty and staff to come along with us. I need examples like this.
I would say if you get another one of these this is your lucky day because I am one of those presidents that came out of research rather than the classic Provost route. If you have another one of these and you are banging your head against the wall, you bring it to me personally.
We’ll use the old Extension example, we’ll do one and get it right and everybody else will see it and say that’s a lot better way to do it. Bring that one to me.
Other questions or comments? Alright. You will see me regularly around here, don’t hesitate to stop me on the street or anywhere else. I have met a lot of the faculty on the street quite frankly, in stores or in restaurants…met a finance professor yesterday at lunch, so don’t hesitate. If I can help anyone let me know. Thank you. [23:48]
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: Thank you Dr. Leath. Dr. Boosinger is not in town and sends his regrets. I will now move on to my remarks to the Senate.
First, I would to introduce the officers of the Senate and our administrative assistant. James Goldstein is the immediate past chair, Michael Baginski is the chair-elect, Donald Mulvaney is the secretary this year, and Beverly Marshall is the secretary-elect. James Witte is our Parliamentarian. Finally, our administrative assistant is Laura Kloberg. Laura works behind the scenes for the Senate. She makes sure that everything is running smoothly and the Web site is up to date. One of her primary tasks is to make sure I do things correctly… So she may have one of the hardest jobs on campus. So I would like to say thanks to Laura for the Senate leadership and the Senate.
Second, I have two announcements.
The first announcement is a sad one. Recently, Dennis Rygiel, a former Senate chair who was a faculty member in the English Department, died. I have asked James Goldstein to make a few remarks about Dennis. [25:20]
James Goldstein, past Senate Chair: I am saddened to report as you just heard that the Auburn family lost a former chair of the University Senate earlier this month. Dennis Rygiel served as Senate Chair in the 1987-88 academic year. He was a professor of English when he retired in 2008. He served as head of the Department of English from 1990 to 200, quite a run. In fact, he was the department head who hired me in 1991. He set the bar very high indeed for department administration. I valued him as a mentor and a friend. Much of what I’ve learned about shared governance and parliamentary procedure I learned from observing him. He helped inspire me to become actively involved in the Senate. Dennis Rygiel was a man of great personal integrity and sound moral character. He was also an excellent teacher as well as administrator. He will be greatly missed by all those who worked with him as well as by his family and friends. Thanks.
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: Thank you James. The second announcement concerns the opening of the Mell classroom. We didn’t get it on to the agenda during Steering, but I am doing it during my remarks. Diane Boyd will provide some information on this. [27:00]
Diane Boyd, Director, Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning: Thank you Dan, and to Steering for letting me sneek in here in the first week of class. I am Diand Boyd the director of the Biggio Center, note the hard “G” Biggo Center for the enhancement of teaching and learning here at Auburn. I have the distinct joy of sharing with you a few of teaching and learning updates related to the Mell Classroom Building opening. All the updates related to the humans doing the work of learning and teaching and doing the work in the space.
How many of you have been in the Mell Classroom Building? Beautiful. How many of you have been in the Mell Classroom Building with humans in it? Okay, good, beautiful. It is a distinct difference, it’s kind of like being in the Louvre on Bastille Day, you know when there are people in the space moving around in it. It’s a lovely, good energy.
Briefly, if you have not been made aware, we have a huge building where we are doing active learning. Here at Auburn we call that engaged and active student learning. Eighty percent of your instructional faculty, staff, and GTAs have had some form of calibrated development to help them maximize student learning in these spaces. I use the work calibrated because several of you are already well versed in pedagogical practice that would enhance student learning using active means, but you need some help with the technology. These are technology rich classrooms. I don’t have time to explain all the different technologies, we will share a few. Then, we run the gamut from a 3-week course redesign intervention where faculty totally redesign a course all the way to a 15-minute technology refresher for faculty that was happening last week and continues into this week.
We’ve also been supporting students with welcome week sessions so that students understand what’s required for them to maximize their learning and collaboration with colleagues in these spaces. Namely the groundbreaking idea of preparing for class by doing the reading before you get there and being willing to give and receive specific actionable and kind feedback as you work through problems.
These pictures, I’ll give photo credits where they are due, I took them so they are not beautiful, not OCM perfect but they are of actual humans learning and facilitating each other in the space. This is new faculty orientation last week and we owe a debt of gratitude to Ben Chappman and his team in facilities to allow us to have a new faculty and GTA orientation in the space before it was exactly ready for prime time. As you know with all of the buildings coming up on campus there’s lots of time between when the building is open and when it’s actually ready for prime time. In this interaction you might be able to see in the lower left corner a colleague from Vet Med is using her phone which is something we actually want to do in this space. They are using the free interactive software “Mentimeter” to answer quiz questions and create word clouds, and it’s your lucky day because I won’t subject you to using “Mentimeter” in here because I heard that the internet in here is not working. [that has been corrected.] Dang it. I missed an opportunity to get you to respond to things about Mell.
This is the full “bling” EASL classroom, notice there is a monitor and glass board space for each of the tables. [next slide] This is the large lecture classroom. It’s not super large, it holds 166 students. What you can see here is it’s designed to facilitate quadding up in large lectures so instead of having one table on each tier, there is two tables on each tier so students can turn around and collaborate at the faculty’s wishes to solve problems or interact with one another. [31:01]
Here, I’d like to share with you quickly and convey our collective thanks to OIT, John Gober and Jason Deblanc and their team because what they’ve done with this is used an entrepreneurial application of technology in the higher ed setting for the first time that they are aware of in the country. So, what can happen here is someone can be delivering a lecture or giving an interactive session in this room in Mell and can simultaneously be beamed to all of the rooms in Mell and as new buildings are created it can be beamed to other buildings. So you can see the applications for that in terms of interdisciplinary co-teaching across campus or collaborations if you have large research symposia on campus. It’s really amazing. I wanted to definitely to make sure to thank them.
This photo is credited to Ben Chappman, this was the first day of class yesterday. I want to give you a second to absorb what’s happening. I mentioned the energy of being in the space when students are there and it really is palpable. What you can see here is that the space is doing what it was intentionally designed to do. There is easy spaces, those wooded tiers where students can chill out or study or interact with one another. Up on the higher levels, you can see through the glass, these spark spaces (that’s what the architects call them) where students have access with monitors and glass boards for collaborative exchange. It’s a very interactive space. If you look closely, on the second and third floor you will see white maps, huge maps, a shout out to the librarians who were there on hand yesterday and today and have put up with the construction right on their doorstep. The army of librarians helped faculty and students find their way.
I have one more first day of class photo. If you look carefully you can see through the windows the stadium. The views in the rooms are amazing. I’d like to thank your immediate past chair, James Goldstein, this is his class meeting on the first day and you can see they are already interacting with the material. We are making good in this building and in many other ways for our promise for instructional excellence at Auburn.
If you would like to learn more about how you or your faculty can teach and learn in this space contact Wiebke Kuhn, she is our learning spaces and faculty development coordinator. You will notice today in the Auburn News we’ll be announcing our EASL Accademy, a series of workshops to help people to prepare to succeed in these spaces.
Just in case you are not blown away by the miracle of this, I want to share with you a picture that was taken one year and 2 weeks ago. We can answer any questions related to instruction in the spaces or be in contact with us offline. Thank you.
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: Thank you Diane.
The Senate at Auburn University represents all members of the University community. The Senate serves as an advisory body for the president of the university. The Senate deals with issues involving the teaching, research, service and outreach missions of the university. In addition, the Senate is concerned with all issues that affect members of the university community in other areas, such as the budget, employee welfare programs, the calendar and facilities.
I have been learning since taking over on July 1st from James. The first thing I have learned is that I was not told about all the meetings. I seem to schedule a new meeting every day!
The most important thing, however, I have learned the last couple of months is that our input is valued and used by the university administration. Sometimes our input may question proposed policies and decisions. However, even when the Senate may serve as the “devil’s advocate”, I believe that our input is heard and considered by the administration. Dr. Leath mentioned one example, the fixed price residual rollback. The members of the faculty sent information to the Senate Leadership, we provided to Dr. Leath, and the policy was rolled back. So I believe they do listen.
The Senate officers have been at work during the summer developing a list of issues which we hope to continue to work on during the upcoming year. I have condensed these to five. When Don sent me the original list I think there was about 50, I’ve tried to keep to general ones. The first and related to Mike Stern’s comment is:
These issues are only some of our initial brainstorming. I am sure that other issues will also arise and add to these as the year passes. I am looking forward to an active year for the Senate. Please let me or any of the other officers know of any issues that you feel require investigation and action by the Senate. Are there any questions?
Mike Stern, substitute senator, Economics: Hi, Dan, I am Mike Stern, substitute senator. What is the status of the Faculty Athletics Representative position of this institution? Is Mary Boudreaux still in this position?
Dr. Steven Leath, President: I am searching for a Faculty Athletics Rep. Mary Boudreaux, who has retired from the university is still serving in that capacity. Maybe a week or two ago I addressed Senate Leadership and asked for names, I’ve asked all the Deans for names, and I’ve asked Mary and Jay for names. I need a person that likes athletics, but is not going to become embedded in athletics, someone who has enough backbone to bring concerns forward to administration, someone who is going to pay attention and advocate on behalf of faculty and the university as well as on behalf of student athletes. So if we’ve got a faculty member that won’t excuse a student athlete for an athletic event the FAR needs to go over there and discuss that. If we’ve got too many people in one faculty member’s class making As when it doesn’t reflect their normal grade point average, I need to know about it.
I am actively soliciting people and in a real difficult spot because I am new and don’t know the faculty well. So I have perused the people who have served on the Athletics Council before to see who might be available, but I could really use some help here folks.
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: And I will say that we have a slate of candidates that we are going to go through the Rules Committee and judge their acceptability and we will be putting the Senate’s slate forward for Dr. Leath.
Mike Stern, substitute senator, Economics: I hope the committee, that’s the chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee serves as the FAR?
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: Technically it can be two positions, currently Barb Struempler is chair and Mary is the FAR,
We have one action item. We are voting on names for replacements for a number of Senate committees. During the summer, we often get last minute notifications of people needing to be replaced on the committees we voted on last Spring. So I turn the floor over to our secretary, Donald Mulvaney, who will present the list of nominees and preside over the vote.
Donald Mulvaney, Secretary: As Dan said, the cycle will open the Web site for volunteers for the next year’s slate of committee positions. It can get complicated because some of the positions have specific term limits and sometimes need to be from a specific College/School; so when we get together as a Rules Committee in the spring and sort through this we identify and try to fill all the committees and inadvertently we get someone who is then assigned to serve on 2 or 3 committees (or more) and then will decline to serve on a particular committee (due to overcomittment) This leads to the situation now where we are trying to fill several positions on several committees with vacancies. So we are not done yet, but hopefully by the time of our next Senate meeting we will have our last vote.
Today we are voting on the Core Curriculum and General Education Committee and the candidate is Benson Akingbemi from the College of Vet Med. That will be a one year post. The other committee is the Curriculum Committee and the representative from the College of Agriculture is Carolyn Huntington, and that would be a 2-year post.
If you are ready to vote with your clickers. If you affirm those candidates vote A, if not, B.
A= 51, B=0.
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: We have one information item. This item concerns the development of a new speaker series at Auburn University, and the important goals that this series seeks to meet here. Taffye Clayton will present some information on this speaker series. [43:11]
Taffye Clayton, VP and Assoc. Provost fro Inclusion and Diversity: Good afternoon everyone. I want to thank chair Svyantek for this invitation.
I am really pleased to announce the launch of Auburn University’s speaker series entitled “Critical Conversations,” exploring intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas. By way of background the idea a critical conversations speaker series has evolved over the last 9 months. Originally the OIT unit and the Provost’s Office planned a premier of refreshed university wide speaker series that focused on top of ? issues of diversity and inclusion science particular to higher education. We also began to hear from faculty who felt strongly about the underrepresentation of conservative voices within the academy, an important aspect of intellectual diversity. And we later, based on spring conversations with governance groups, began incorporating free speech issues. Given the emergence of the topic nationally and on our campus.
So we have in effect combined the thematic elements of each of these 3 areas; diversity and inclusion science, intellectual viewpoint diversity, and free speech to create the “Critical Conversations” speaker series.
For the last year and even longer there has been a more pronounced narrative regarding perceptions of the academy’s drift from it role as America’s long standing centerpiece of free speech and intellectual discourse. At Auburn we seek to more actively and intentionally support and demonstrate the robust and free exchange of ideas that are so central to the scholarly experience. Whether an indication of Auburn’s commitment to the academy’s ideals of intellectual discourse or demonstration of our university’s understanding of the vital nature of diversity intelligence and cultural competence of equipping students for an increasingly diverse society in a global economy or an intentional effort to examine free speech and a range of perspectives. The purpose and the timing for our university for this kind of series is right.
By launching the speaker series at Auburn we are creating opportunities to inform the practice of constructive debate and of civil discourse. It’s important that all students at Auburn understand the value of constructive and intellectual engagement with others who may hold differing views.
Now, there are several folks to thank for their contributions to informing this evolutionary planning process. So the representatives from our various governance bodies, for students, faculty, staff, and administrative professionals, thank you. To our President’s Office, President Leath in particular, thank you. To the Provost and the Provost’s Office, the university Special Events Team and the Office of Communications as well as a collaborative core work group of various individuals, who’s names I won’t call, but they know who they are, thank you.
The speaker series will launch on September 1 at 4 p.m. in the Student Ballroom in the Student Center. The launch will also be live streamed. Our kickoff will feature professors Robert George and Cornel West, ideological different individuals.
Bob George is a McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He’s also the Herbert Vaughn Fellow of the Witherspoon Institute at Princeton and has on several occasions been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.
Dr. West is a professor of Philosophy and Christian practice of the Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton and many of you know he has taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris.
The fall slate will also feature thought leader and author, Howard Ross of Cook Ross; Professor Derald Wing Sure of Columbia University; The New York Times columnist, column of “Closed Minds on Campus,” Frank Bruni; and media duo, former White House correspondent, Ann Compton alongside Donna Brazile, political commentator.
The spring 2018 speaker slate also promises to be especially exciting and will be announced in October. More detailed information about the speaker series can be found on the Web site and on flyers that are at the rear of the room that you can pick up on your way out. This is certainly an exciting time to be a part of this vibrant academic discussion and to be a part of the Auburn Family. Thank you. [48:13]
Daniel Svyantek, Chair: Taffye, thank you very much for your presentation. This series has great potential for providing a model for true civil discourse on hard issues. This concludes our formal agenda for today.
Is there any unfinished business? Hearing none, is there any new business? Hearing none, I now adjourn the meeting. [48:37]