Transcript Senate Meeting
September 19, 2017

Daniel Svyantek, Chair:
Welcome to the September 19th meeting of the University Senate. This is our second meeting of the 2017-18 academic year. I now call the meeting to order.

I would like to take time to remind you of some basic procedures for the Senate meeting that are important to remember. 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. If you haven’t already picked up a clicker, you will need one because we have two votes today.

Second, for 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 aisle. 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.

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 52 present so a quorum is established.

The first order of business is to approve the minutes for the meeting of August 22, 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? All in favor of approving the minutes say aye please.


Daniel Svyantek, Chair:
Opposed? The minutes are approved. Thank you.

Dr. Leath is out of town and cannot attend this meeting. However, Dr. Boosinger will provide some remarks.  [2:31]

Dr. Boosinger, Provost: Thank you Dan. I appreciate the opportunity. First I wanted to make a few comments about the speaker series, the Critical Conversations speaker series that we developed last year about January or February. I get a lot of e-mails about how we might structure these kinds of conversations by bringing in guest speakers that are truly scholars. We had some visitors last year that some m. ight not describe as scholarly as we would like on our campus. So we put a process in place, committee made recommendations trying to strike a balance between scholars and experts that are on the liberal side and scholars and experts on the conservative side and also experts that could lead us in thoughts about free speech on campus. So far I think we’ve gotten off to a great start.

I would remind you that we have 5 speakers between now and the holidays that I would encourage you to attend all of those. They are available on the Web. Let me remind you of a couple that are coming up real quick. September 25, Howard Ross will be here in the Mell Building talking about unconscious bias. On October 5 at 5 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager will speak. Look for opportunities to attend those secessions. I think we’ve gotten off to a great start with the one we had a week ago.

You may have heard, and I think generally it is a very positive thing, that our enrollment has increased for this next academic year. Based on head count we have a total enrollment of 29,776 students. That’s up a little over 5%. It’s important to note that almost 24,000 of those are undergraduates, that’s a 5.8% increase, but we also saw significant increase in our graduate student enrollment, up 3.2% to a total of 5, 012. So all of those are positive trends.

You may be interested to know that there are others in the room that are on the enrollment management council, but the entering class for this fall, students that are coming to college for the first time was 4,836. What is interesting to me about that is that is up 6.8% over last year, but it’s also up significantly from a goal that we set. Which means that it’s being influenced by a lot of different things. We haven’t fully analyzed all this yet. It suggests that Auburn has a very positive brand that students want to come to Auburn. In some areas the yields are up.

The other thing you might be interested in is with one exception, those with increases span all of the colleges and schools. So it’s not isolated in just one or two schools, so I think that’s a positive thing.

The academic credentials for the incoming students, the class that just joined us, the ACT score is 27.3. That’s right about where it’s been for a long time. The average high school GPA is 3.86. We have a large number of very talented students. I’d like to thank departments, deans, and associate deans for working hard to make sure we accommodate those students and give them a great education at Auburn University. And thanks to all of you that are teaching the classes and all of those bright young people.

Finally, I am sure you know by now. Two arrests have been made resulting from a sexual assault that occurred early Saturday morning. Auburn University is working with the City of Auburn Police Division in their investigation. Our top concern is the wellbeing of the victim and we cannot stress in strong enough terms our shock and distress over this despicable act. We immediately provided support and all available resources to the victim and we will continue to do so. Suspects are employees of First Transit, the contractor hired by Auburn to provide late night transportation service for students. The contractor is required to conduct background checks on it’s employees and has terminated the two suspects.

We confirmed today that those background checks were done, inspite of what is out on social media. We are reevaluating the future of Auburn University’s relationship with First Transit. As this is a subject of ongoing investigation, further questions should be directed to the Auburn Police Department.

I am pleased that I could start out with some positive news and sad that my comments end with that message. I think everybody needs to know the facts and actually what’s going on because with social media that sometimes is less precise than what we can deliver. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer them now on topics other than the assault. Thank you.

Daniel Svyantek, Chair:
Thank you Dr. Boosinger.  I now have a few remarks for the Senate.

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.

We ran into a glitch in sending out the usual email announcements concerning Senate meeting and make-up dates for classes. The emails were sent to the auprofs mailing list; the emails were marked as sent on Don Mulvaney’s sent file; and the emails went nowhere. Don worked with OIT all weekend and was able to come up with a solution so that the emails finally went out yesterday. Hopefully, this problem has been solved and will not occur again.

The September 2017 meeting of the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved measures requested by the Senate last spring.  These measures are changes to the Faculty Handbook.

First, the new tenure clock policy extending the tenure clock by one year for probationary, tenure-track faculty was approved. This policy will formally be in place for Fall, 2018. Current tenure-track will be given the option of using either the current or new tenure clock policy. This policy provides another year for tenure-track faculty to develop their materials for applying for tenure. Second, the Board approved a policy providing a process for non-tenure track faculty to apply and receive emeritus status after 10 years of meritorious service. Third, the Board approved the requiring of letters of evaluation by outside reviewers for candidates for promotion to associate professor, as we do for assistant professors. 

We are beginning the process of addressing issues brought to us this year.  After-hours parking by faculty is being discussed again between Senate leadership and the Traffic and Parking Committee. We hope to have a survey sent out to determine both the need and locations needed for such faculty parking at the end of this discussion. 

I have the same reaction as many of you to surveys—however, I would ask all departmental Senators to emphasize in their departments that to make changes for such policies, we need data to guide the process. Please fill out the surveys when they are sent out.

I was asked to reiterate one of Tim’s points, the Critical Conversations speaker series, our next speaker will occur Monday, September 25. Howard Ross is a well known researcher on the topic of unconscious bias, he will proved an address first and then a question and answer secession.

Please let me or any of the other officers know of any issues that you feel require investigation and action by the Senate. You can send them by e-mail, you can talk to me before the meeting, whatever. Are there any questions for me? Okay.

Our first action item we are voting on replacements for a number of Senate committees. 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: We have a few lingering vacancies on the committee shuffles this time of year. So we have these posted; University Writing Committee, Academic Standards Committee, Non-Tenure Track Faculty Committee, Faculty Handbook Committee, and Faculty Research Committee. This leaves a couple of additional vacancies, so if you want to go back to your department and find someone who is fitting for a particular committee. One that we have left is Academic Standards Committee for a one year term and Retention Committee for a 3-year term.

Since this has been approved by the Rules Committee and the Steering Committee it needs no second. So I would like to proceed to have a vote to fill these vacancies. Press A if you approve, press B if you disapprove. A=65, B=1. The motion passes.

Daniel Svyantek, Chair: Our second action item is a proposal from the Curriculum Committee to change the membership of that committee. This motion was originally brought to the Senate on April 18, 2017.

This motion is a constitutional amendment and requires two-thirds of all Senators vote for the motion. Two-thirds of the Senators is 58. The original vote was 57-3 and failed. At that time, it was noted that this item would be brought back on a future agenda.

The Senate Steering Committee was asked on September 14, 2017 to place this item on the agenda. The Steering Committee discussed this and approved the request. The Steering Committee chose to make this an action item for today instead of a pending action item. James Goldstein will now present the motion. [14:54]

James Goldstein, Immediate Past Chair: Good afternoon. I volunteered to be the one to present this since I am the one in April who announced that we would be bringing it back. I thought it was appropriate for me to be the one. As you heard, it originated in the Curriculum Committee. In a nutshell, the request is to have a voting member from both the Honors College and the University College rather than just being a guest non-voting member of the committee since there are courses that are specially designated Honors courses that they ought to have a roll in establishing and now since the summer there are 2 degree programs in the University College as well as other academic issues, so it really seems to make sense. We were just one vote short in April because of the constitutional threshold of two-thirds. Now there are enough of you, I can tell from the last vote, there are enough of you that if the same 3 people want to vote no we still have enough to be able to pass. For those of you who are brand new to the Senate, this is an indication of how difficult it is to have a constitutional amendment even if it’s a great idea it can still because of attendance issues still be difficult. So we are hoping there are enough of you out there now who are willing to make this change because we think it’s for the best. Are there any questions? No, okay.

Daniel Svyantek, Chair:
Thank you, James. This motion comes from a standing committee of the Senate and does not require a second.

Once again, this vote requires two-thirds of all Senators to vote for the motion. Passage requires 58 votes for the motion. Please press A on your clicker if you approve this motion revising the UCC committee composition; if you do not approve, please press B. A=62, B=8.

The vote for = 62; The vote against =8.  The motion passes.

Pending Action Item
We now will turn to our one Pending Action Item. This item comes to the Senate from the Core Curriculum and General Education Committee. This item concerns the revision of Student Learning Outcomes. James Shelley will present the motion. Constance Relihan and Megan Good are also here to answer any questions you may have.

Constance Relihan, Assoc. Provost for Undergraduate Studies: This proposal is the result of a lot of work by a lot of people, and it is to revise our General Education outcomes, as I am sure you’re aware we are required to have general education outcomes by our accreditor following this guideline in the SACS standards. I should add that standard is likely to augmented in December when SACS votes. The proposal is that there be a change to include not just that we have outcomes and assess the extent to which our students achieve them but also that we are using the results of that assessment to improve. So the proposal that SACS is dealing with is to make this standard much more like the standard for program assessment, which does require improvement.

Because we are required to have outcomes and because it’s good to know what it is that we want our students to learn, the Gen Ed Committee, many years ago now, developed a slate of 11 outcomes that this body approved them and they became the outcomes that we’ve been assessing for in our general education program. There are 11 outcomes grouped in 7 broad categories. As you can see outcome number 5 was deleted in fall of 2014, even though we didn’t renumber everything, but since then we have the remaining 10 outcomes.

What we are proposing is that we streamline and simplify the outcomes further to these 9 outcomes which roughly parallel the broad categories of the outcomes we have been using, fall into. Those outcomes came about because of a long process. For those of you who have been here for a while you know that for a number of years we assessed general education courses. We assessed in each core course the learning outcomes competency of our students and then in 2015–2016 we took a year off. Instead of submitting assessment reports we had focus groups with faculty, with students, with people who write the assessment reports, with people who were not teaching core courses, but teaching students extensibly after they have been exposed to these outcomes and as the result of all of that work and thinking we decided in the committee that we really wanted to focus on what our students know as seniors. And that we wanted to centralize assessment because honestly we were not happy with the data we had been getting from the course embedded assessment, and no one was really happy about giving it to us. So no one was getting what they wanted out of the process.

Having decided those two things  we created 9 faculty working groups. Really our assessment specialists Megan Good and Katie Boyd, led those efforts, brought people together, had a lot of discussions as we talked about different kinds of assessments that we might use and how the outcomes might change if we are focusing them on senior level students. But just to give you a sense of who all was involved, this is the committee (slide of names) from last year. At least one representative from each College. While this looks like a large group of people, this is the list of all of the faculty who were involved in one or more of these working groups to refine outcomes and to work on developing or selecting an assessment instrument. With each one of these groups, either Dr. Boyd or Dr. Good met so that the focus was not just on the content to be assessed but also strategies for assessing well. So that is how we came up with those outcomes. Which as I say are just refined versions of what we have had before.

Assuming that this body approves these outcomes what the CCGEC wants to do next is have some faculty development sessions in conjunction with the Biggio Center to help faculty think more deeply about the revised outcomes, about how they are addressing them in their classes, about how they can help students understand the significance of what they are doing. We also are piloting a new assessment strategy that does work with students in their senior year to have the take one of several instruments; some developed locally, some nationally purchased assessments, to help us understand how they are doing. This year we have an entire College, a large-ish College that has volunteered all of it’s graduating seniors in addition to the students that have been volunteered by people teaching senior courses. So if you are someone who volunteered your students, thank you. But we are moving forward in that direction.

We also are working to strengthen students understanding of the significance of the core because if we are going to assess our students we want our students to take the assessment activities seriously. There are a couple of strategies that we are using; there are flyers that I’ve put down here and also at the clicker table that talk about the connections between our general education outcomes and the career readiness outcomes that are promulgated by the National Association of Career Educators. We also have some cups with our slogan, “This is Core to a Successful Life and Career” that we are working with SGA to distribute as part of a broad effort to help students understand the strength of the general education program and its importance to their overall education.

The step we’re at today is asking you to consider the revised outcomes and ask any questions you may have about them. James and Megan know all the answers (maybe). That’s what I’ve got, so if there are any questions…Thank you very much. [26:44]

Daniel Svyantek, Chair:
Thank you for your presentation. This item will be voted on during the October meeting.

We have two information items. The first is a presentation by Amanda Malone describing a process making application for Professional Improvement Leave simpler.

Amanda Malone :
I am very appreciative of the header, making the process simpler. That’s what I am hoping I can answer questions about today.

Just to give you a point of reference for where we have been with our professional improvement leave external fellowship programs, we’ve been operating under a system where we have been running about 3 different types of professional improvement leave programs. I don’t know if you can see from the font size there, but the handouts are posted on the Web if you wanted to pull those up. We have actually been running 3 different types of programs, two separate sections of the Faculty Handbook govern professional improvement leave, so that presents a problem, then we’ve also been running different criteria, different programs for the one professional improvement leave category.

What I am bringing to propose is that we streamline this process. No changes to the Faculty Handbook, only process changes. This conversation has been ongoing with the Senate Executive, specifically, Dr. Teeter, Dr. Goldstein, Dr. Svyantek, thank you for your help in working through this process, but what we’d like to to is actually pull out external fellowships and simplify those and really treat those in the way they are written in the Faculty Handbook and also streamline the professional improvement leave process so that we’ve got one application. It is a more thorough process, peer evaluations, and I’ll talk about those in just a moment.

So for external residential fellowships you can see the section in the Faculty Handbook that governs that. The eligibility for external fellowships is any tenured or tenure-track faculty that’s been the recipient of a competitive external process. Most commonly these are going to be your Fullbright proposals, these are going to be your Carnegie programs. Some of these programs do carry with them some support either compensations, stipends, cost of living, through your sponsor or host institution, but again because these are not competitive on campus with the exception of your salary that’s continued that is still available through the term of your external fellowship, there really is no other resources that Auburn’s providing, so this one is going to be just a form process. We have taken the existing professional improvement leave application form that is on the Provost’s Web site, kind of revamped it, added some specific questions to the fellowship program. We would like to publish that on the Provost’s Web site starting October 1. So that would be the process you could really find, notify your department head, your dean, as well as the Provost’s Office that you’ve been either notified as a finalist or selected as the recipient of one of these external fellowships.

Talked about October 1st, this is really just a notification process. I will say that it is incredibly important to continue to keep your department head and chair involved in the process so that we make sure that your teaching assignments can be covered and research activities can be restructured, covered, done remotely, whatever is necessary for those.

Professional improvement leave (PIL), I am breaking this up over 2 slides, the first slide is really just the policy side of this. Again no changes to the Faculty Handbook so eligibility will remain the same. Faculty must hold tenure to apply for professional improvement leave and eligibility is after 6 full years of calendar service. Some of the little nuances, I’ve included under important notes, there’s no restrictions on the duration of your PIL so you can go for 6 weeks, a whole semester, that’s very flexible. There is also no hardline restriction as to the location. So in some instances it is very appropriate for you to remain in Auburn to conduct those activities and other instances you may have opportunities at other institutions or organizations for your PIL.

Primarily activities do have follow your departmental missions and goals. Again that is about the only hardline restriction there and the amount of leave that you can request is based on a 4-year service cycle. Initial eligibility is after 6 years, but you may request a semester of leave after 4 years. Then if you are interested in half pay we can stretch that over 2 semesters.

Process wise this is a change. One of the earlier slides I circled the Faculty Handbook sections, there were 3 columns there. The 2 columns for professional improvement leave, one was the paper form submission, the other was and electronic competitive call that included travel and equipment funds that are allocated from the Office of the Provost. So we are not doing away with the Provost funded competitive travel and equipment process, we are actually going to combine that into one annual electronic submission process. That is what we are proposing, we will announce a call in October which we have done in the last several years around our Provost funded PIL. So we will mirror that timeline and do competitive call for proposals in October. Those proposals should apply to the following academic year, starting with fall 2018 through spring and summer of 2019. And November 1 is when those proposals would be due. At that time we will evaluate those proposals and see what disciplines are represented and we will come to the Senate Rules Committee to seek individuals who can serve to review those applications on the merits based on those disciplines. So you see this November through February section is set up for the ad hoc committee, chaired by the Provost, and will consist of the comptroller for business questions as well as the Assistant Vice President for Research to handle any research related questions, then the 5-member peer review will evaluate the merit of the work being proposed.

So, I just wanted to leave you with a summary of what these changes are, again the slides are on the Senate Web site linked to the agenda for today. If you’ve got any questions, I’d be glad to take those. I appreciate your time. [33:57]

Daniel Svyantek, Chair:  Thank you. The forms are linked to this agenda if you want to look at them in detail.

Our second information item is a presentation by Jim O’Conner, Auburn’s Chief Information Officer.  His presentation to the Steering Committee scared me enough to take personal action and I believe you will find this presentation useful.

Jim O’Conner, CIO:
I want to thank the members of the Steering Committee for being some of those people sitting up front here. I must not have scared the that bad, so let me take another shot at it.

We’ve talked with a lot of folks over the course of the summer in various venues about cyber security. We had a lot of questions come up. One of the things I want to talk to you about today is the kind of things that we are seeing going on around the campus and around the area to give you some idea why we are putting in place some of the things we are doing and ask for your help at a couple of places.

I am not going to spend a lot of time with slides because I want to give you some context and then take any questions you have. This slide is simply going to tell you about the things going on. With regard to e-mail, we get a number of questions about spam and things of that nature. Right now we are running about 6% and 7% of our incoming is clean, meaning 93-94% has some sort of spam, malware, or my colleague back there Bliss Bailey, just doesn’t like it and won’t let you have it. Seriously, there is that much junk coming into our institution. So we are trying to filter out that stuff that we know is harmful and only about 6 or 7% of what we’re getting is good stuff.

You can see, 231 million e-mails in one month. In August and July is was more like 260 million e-mails, that’s a lot of stuff hitting our boarders. We’re blocking viruses of all kinds, and just to give you an idea; how many of you have heard of the ‘want to cry’ or ‘want to crypt’ ransomware virus that hit us sometime in the spring? Well as of today in the news Montgomery county, just to the west of us is trying to work their way through a ransomware event. This stuff is all over the place. We are trying to be real careful about filtering it out.

It’s always a spike in phished accounts, compromised accounts when the students come back. They come back and don’t always have the best habits when it comes to logging into the network. We have sent a targeted e-mail to the students trying to make them aware of this stuff, but 120 accounts compromised in August and most of those were the result of phishing. And most of those were students. We wanted you to be aware of the kind of trends that we are seeing here. These numbers continue to increase and the trend is a little disturbing. As you can see we are tracking toward more types of security issues over the course of 2017 than we have in previous years.

One thing I will mention here, we look a lot harder now. We have put additional monitoring tools in place, we put some additional functionality in place. Your IT people are working really hard so some of these cases it may be a fact that we’re actually turning up more than we turned up before.

I want to make a plea on behalf of your IT people. I know it’s really hard to give them time and I know sometimes they come along and they want to do patching and updates and whatnot at times that are not always widely convenient, but please work with them. They are trying really hard to keep your system safe, to do the patching and do the services like 2 factor rolling out. They really need your support in understanding why they are asking you for the time to do that. We have to do it. The more support from you the easier their job is going to be and the safer your material is going to be.

Just a point about credit card fraud. This number is before Equifax. There’s a British security company that thinks that number is closer to 24 Billion dollars this year. I have no idea what it’s going to be after Equifax.

Some things we’d like you to understand what we are doing and why we are doing it. Two-factor security. If an account becomes compromised, we’ve had a number of accounts where even staff members, faculty members who had their accounts compromised through phishing, if you are using the 2-factor approach you are much, much safer. I won’t say that 2-factor is absolute bottom line solution to everything, but if you loose your credentials and somebody else has gotten a hold of those things and you are using 2-factor, they cannot get to your personal information without having that device that you are using for 2-factor. Most banks, insurance companies, investment companies, you name it, are all using this same sort of functionality. We are trying to put it in place. Some of you noticed that as of yesterday, when you log in from off campus you are required to use 2-factor. The help desk is ready to help anybody that needs assistance in getting that set up.

We have got to do this. We are getting pounded from outside the institution. They are after our credentials everyday, there are really bad guys out there and this is one of the ways we can mitigate that risk. [39:30]

Cleaning up old data. We’ve had a couple of issue over the last few months, every single one of them was the result of having old data sitting on a machine someplace that somebody forgot about, didn’t know it was there, had to get rid of, we had an account compromised through phishing, we lost some social security numbers, we lost things of that nature. So, if you can get rid of the stuff you don’t need to have any more.

I know some of you like to keep grades from students from years back because you are asked for references and things of that nature, I understand that, work with your IT people to put it someplace secure, but if you don’t need it get rid of it. It causes us all sorts of difficulties when we keep stuff that we really don’t need. Start doing the forensics on compromises and this stuff starts popping up. We can just avoid the risk to the institution.

We are doing a lot more for scanning. We scan weekly. We put some tools in place for your IT people to do patching. Some of you know that the first Tuesday of every month Microsoft releases their patch. They never run out of patches to deliver, so every first Tuesday expect that to happen. You’ll hear a lot from us and I hope we are not going to bore you to death, but we’re going to be putting out a lot of information about security related things for you just to keep it in front of your minds and most of all to keep it in front of your students minds.

This is a list of the things we put out since June. You can go back to some of those if you want to take a look at it, but it really is a multi-dimensional approach to this. What I did want to show you if I can get to it. [41:15]

You will find a lot of information on this cyber security center site. If we know about phishing, you can go to the phish tank. If you look at that site, if we know about a phishing attack on campus we’re going to put that information out there for you, so you can take a look and check that e-mail before you click on anything. Down below here, there are some thoughts on 2-factor. We put stuff out there about the Equifax breach. Anything we can put out there to help you we will put out as rapidly as we can as well as to the other venues, AuburnNews, e-mails, directly those sort of things.

I do want to close just be saying this, the internet is a really bad environment and there are people out there that are really after us. We have such tremendous intellectual property here, we have personal data, we have ferpa data, hipaa data, all of that stuff is very valuable on the dark net. They are going to be after us. What we are asking you to do is take reasonable steps to keep us from being compromised. We certainly don’t want you if you’ve been working on a research project for 10 years have somebody steel it, and 10 years of work are gone. That’s what we are after her is for that.

I’d really like to take any questions that you have. I have had a couple of departments ask me to come speak. I am more than happy to come speak at chairs meetings, deans meetings, even the Provost lets me talk every now and then (but I tend to ruin his day). Questions? Have you locked your credit reports? 143 million reports compromised in Equifax, I’m one of the winners.

Anything? Well, thank you for the opportunity. If anything comes up you know how to reach us. Just let us know, we’d always rather know about problems early than wait until they become a big deal. Thank you.

Daniel Svyantek, Chair: 
Jim, thank you. One of the things I heard today that was a new one, is they are going after home titles now.

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. [44:10]