Minutes of the University Senate
March 7, 2006
Broun Hall Auditorium
Submitted by Patricia Duffy
Present: Conner Bailey, Richard Penaskovic, Patricia Duffy, Kathryn Flynn, Willie Larkin, Paul Bobrowski, Stewart Schneller, John Heilman, George Stegall, Zachary Bryant, Harriette Huggins, Roger Garrison, Garnetta Lovett, Robert Locy, Ronald Cark, David Cicci, Diane Hite, Mario Lightfoote, Charles Mitchell, Werner Bergen, Barbara Kemppainen, Barry Fleming, Anthony Moss, Anoop Sattineni, Larry Crowley, Debra Worthington, Sridhar Krishnamurti, Alvin Sek See Lim, Ann Beth Presley, Suhyun Suh, Randy Beard, Judith Lechner, Charles Gross, John Bolton, Sadik Tuzun, Claire Crutchley, Allen Davis, Jim Saunders, Cate Guistono, Thomas A. Smith, Chris Arnold, Saeed Maghsoodloo, Andrew Wohrley, Roger Wolters, Hugh Guffey, Darrel Hankerson, Daniel Mackowski, Richard Good, John Rowe, Robin Fellers, Cindy Brunner, Forrest Smith, Bernie Olin, James Shelley, Francis Robicheaux, Virginia O'Leary, Vivian Larkin, Carole Zugazaga, Howard Thomas Scott Phillips, Saralyn Smith-Carr
Absent, sending a substitute: Debbie Shaw, Charlene LeBleu, Raymond Hamilton, Gary Martin, Michael Raby, Alice Buchanan, Ken Tilt, Joe Sumners, Tom Williams
Absent, no substitute: Don Large, David Wilson, June Henton, Dan Bennett, Dick Brinker, Michael Moriarty, Bonnie MacEwan,, Jenny Swaim, Jack DeRuiter, Timothy McDonald, Robert Chambers, Rik Blumenthal, Larry Teeter, Salisa Westrick, Anthony Gadzey, Robert Norton, Randy Tillery, William Shaw
Conner Bailey called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m. and reminded Senators to please sign in at the back. He said that he would continue the practice of allowing anyone present from a represented group to ask questions or take part in discussions from the floor. He asked that Senators have precedence if many people want to speak and reminded speakers to go to the microphones and state their name, whether or not they are a Senator, and what unit they represent.
Conner Bailey then called for approval of the February 14 Senate minutes. Tony Moss moved that the minutes be approved. They were approved by voice vote without opposition.
Conner Bailey noted that Dr. Richardson could not be here today, but that he will attend the Faculty Meeting next week. Conner Bailey said that John Heilman was here from the Provost's office.
Announcement from Provost John Heilman
Provost John Heilman spoke about the
upcoming meetings of the Board of Trustees in April and June. He said that Dr. Kuhnle was expected to be
present at the April meeting. He said
that he expected that there would be discussion of the Fisher Report,
especially with respect to the presidential search. He said that Dr. Large will probably discuss
the university budget and that Dr. Large had met with the Staff Council that
morning on the subject. He said he
expects there will also be a discussion of the assessment of learning outcomes,
lead by Drew Clark. He said President
Richardson is expected to address the AU-AUM system and the scheduling with
respect to academic program review and post-tenure review. He said the June Board meeting will have
President Richardson's annual report and a discussion of the Ag
Questions and answers for Provost Heilman
Tony Moss asked about staff-faculty program of giving. He noted that an announcement went out right before the Senate meeting.
John Heilman said he did not know the answer. He said he would find out and communicate back through Senate leadership
Announcement from Senate Chair Conner Bailey
Conner Bailey invoked the privilege of the chair to invite Willie Larkin forward. He noted that Willie Larkin has been the Secretary, the Chair-elect, the Chair and is now completing service as the Immediate-past-chair.
Willie Larkin said that three years ago the faculty placed great trust in him by electing him to the position of Chair-elect. He said that the honor has benefited him greatly and that he appreciates the opportunity to have served in a leadership role. He said he wanted to come to the Senate on this day to say "thank you.' He said it was a great experience and thanked the Senators and other faculty members.
Conner Bailey than asked Harriette Huggins, outgoing chair of the A&P Assembly, to come forward and address the Senate.
Harriette Huggins said that on behalf of
the A&P Assembly, she thanked Senate and its chairs over the last years for
the collegial relationship developed between the groups. She said that the ability to communicate across
all groups has been beneficial, and she mentioned the Intimate Relationship
Policy as an example of cooperation. She
said she believes that if the various leadership groups can continue to work
together, it would help move
Conner Bailey thanked Harriette Huggins for her service and also thanked Jenny Swain, chair of the Staff Council. He also thanked Willie Larkin for his service.
Comments from Senate Chair Conner Bailey:
Conner Bailey noted that the Board of
Directors of the Alumni Association met this past weekend. He said he has made it a practice of
attending these meetings and would encourage future chairs to continue doing
so. He said the Alumni Association is
dedicated to strengthening
He noted that the University President
usually addresses this Alumni Board, and Dr Richardson did so last
Saturday. Conner Bailey said that
President Richardson noted at that time that the
Conner Bailey said that President Richardson also told the Alumni Board that another indication of Auburn’s strength is strong enrollment demand, and that he (President Richardson) and the Provost are discussing the appropriate enrollment targets for the coming academic year.
Conner Bailey said that as Senate Chair he has had the opportunity to serve on the Enrollment Management Oversight Group. He recalled that in the fall of 2003 we had a sudden bubble of freshmen enroll, and that this led to a rapid scramble to ensure capacity to teach enough courses. He noted that we continue to experience the consequences of that bubble as the 2003 cohort moves through our undergraduate programs.
He said the EMOG was formed to create a mechanism to manage enrollment, and has established as a target 3800 incoming freshmen. Two years ago, while we were on probation, we fell below that target, while last fall we greatly exceeded enrollment targets, with an entering freshman class of over 4000. He said that due largely to the efforts of those on EMOG, the dislocations were far less serious this year than in 2003 because the monitoring process was much improved and funds were made available in a timely fashion to meet the surge in demand. He cautioned that just as with the Fall 2003 cohort, the Fall 2005 cohort will move through our academic programs, putting increased pressure on popular programs.
He noted that the Fisher Report made recommendations on enrollment management. Active discussions are now in progress about enrollment management. He said he hopes that at the March 14 Faculty Meeting, Dr. Richardson will address this question in his State of the University address.
He said he would like to touch briefly on the subject of post-tenure review. He noted that the Fisher Report recommended that the administration proceed with designing a process but delay implementation until a new President is on board. In the meantime, he said, the Fisher Report recommended that the university work at improving the annual performance evaluation process.
He said that the Senate leadership has consistently recommended to the administration that improvements to this evaluation process must be established whether or not a post-tenure review process is put in place. He said that steps are in progress toward this goal. He noted that the Senate leadership has also argued that peer evaluation of teaching performance, called for in the Faculty Handbook but unevenly applied across campus, must be in place before any post-tenure review process could be instituted.
He noted that the Senate leadership has had numerous discussions with Dr Richardson and Dr Heilman on this topic. He said that President Richardson is determined to establish a post-tenure review process, but that President Richardson will leave to Provost Heilman the details of this process. He said that he believes both President Richardson and Provost Heilman understand that there is substantial groundwork to be completed before a beta version of a post-tenure review process could be tested.
He said that because these discussions are continuing and there is no immediate prospect of a post-tenure review process being established in the near future, the Senate Executive Committee – which simultaneously serves as the Executive Committee of the University Faculty – has decided not to bring forward the topic of post-tenure review for a discussion and vote at next week’s meeting of the University Faculty. He said he does anticipate that there will be further opportunities to discuss this topic if the university administration moves forward on this initiative.
He said that the Academic Computing Committee recommended to the Senate leadership that the changes are not substantial enough to warrant a discussion and revote in the Senate. He asked the Senators to look at the policy to decide if they feel differently. If they believe it warrants further discussion, they were encouraged to bring their concerns to Rich Penaskovic, the incoming chair. Conner Bailey said he is proud of this policy and thinks it is one of best in nation.
He thanked George Mitrevski, and his predecessor Harmon Straiton, and the Academic Computing Committee for working with the Senate leadership and the administration on this policy. He also thanked Rich Burnett, Director of Information Technology, and Provost John Heilman for their support. In addition, he thanked Lee Armstrong, General Counsel to the university, for providing excellent professional counsel.
He said he does not have news on plans to establish a university ombudsman. He said that we may learn more about this position at the upcoming Faculty Meeting.
He noted the central role committees play on campus. He said that the Academic Program Review Committee would be coming forward with a report at the April meeting and that other committees have been very active as well. He noted that the volunteer process via CAMPUS would close later that evening (March 7). He said that those who want to volunteer subsequently should contact Kathryn Flynn, incoming Senate Secretary.
He said that the provost has asked the Senate officers to establish an ad hoc committee on assessment of student learning. He said the Rules Committee is in the process of forming a joint ad hoc committee with representatives from a variety of committees. He said Drew Clark will provide staff support for the committee.
He noted that elections for the position of Chair-elect and Secretary-elect of the University Senate and Faculty will take place during a 5 day period starting 8 a.m. on Thursday, March 9th and ending Monday, March 13th at 5:00 p.m. and that results would be announced Marh 14 meeting of University faculty.
He noted that this was his last meeting as Senate chair, and that Rich Penaskovic would take over as Chair and Kathryn Flynn would be the incoming Secretary.
There were no questions for Conner Bailey.
Rules Committee Nominations
The first action item was election for Rules Committee. Three nominations were made in February, Claire Crutchley, Bernie Olin, and Andrew Wohrley. Kathryn Flynn asked if there were additional nominations. As no additional nominations were made, she asked for approval of the three nominees for the three open positions by voice vote. The three nominations were approved by voice vote without opposition.
The new SGA president, George Stegall, was introduced.
Action Items (Continued)
Resolution on the Fisher Report.
Rich Penaskovic read the resolution, which came from the Steering Committee, and moved for its adoption.
There was no discussion. The resolution passed on a voice vote without opposition.
Fisher Report Discussion
Conner Bailey said that the April meeting of the full Board of Trustees will take up the Fisher Report. He noted that Provost Heilman is soliciting input. Conner Bailey said that the Rules Committee was called together to discuss the Fisher Report, especially how it relates to the Senate and to shared governance, generally. In addition, he said he has asked past chairs of the Senate for their input on the Fisher Report. Conner Bailey said that as he moves into his new role as faculty advisor on the Board of Trustees, he would be paying special attention to what was said in this Senate meeting.
Rich Penaskovic said he thinks the Fisher Report is a mixed bag. He said that, according the Fisher Report, the next university president would have to be a superman. He said that the Fisher Report implies that change would come from the top down, but that he isn't sure that is the case. In terms of the next president, Rich Penaskovic said he would like someone with an academic background, who has been through promotion and tenure and understands the rigor involved. He noted that the Fisher Report says the Board can't continue to be at odds with the faculty, the AAUP, SACS, and others. He said he hopes the Board will keep this in mind.
Bob Locy said he'd like to comment that there were useful things in the Fisher Report, but that there were a number of areas where the depth of data didn't outline problems in critically important ways. He said he hopes there remains an opportunity for faculty to continue to inform the process the Fisher Report started. He expressed concern that the Board may treat the Fisher Report as be-all and end-all, but he believes there is more information needed, especially in academic areas.
Cindy Brunner said she has three concerns. First, she said she found many of the Fisher Report recommendations relatively shallow. She said that one of the people who met with a member of the Fisher team told her that his meeting was with a group of faculty members. She said the interviewer had a list of questions and asked one question of each person there and that was the end of the discussion on that question. She said that if such interactions formed the foundation of some of the recommendations, she was concerned that they needed to spend more time on campus. She said her second concern was that so many recommendations were academic in nature. She said we don't know how the Board will handle the discussion of those recommendations, but she is concerned that faculty will be told that they need to implement the recommendations without discussing their merits. She said she thinks the recommendations should be debated at the ground level. She said her third concern is the time line. She questioned how we could consider these recommendations and implement those that are worthwhile in time to have a new president chosen by December. She said she would like the Board to address that issue.
Conner Bailey said one of the things in the Fisher Report concerns the relationship between various stakeholders. He said he appreciates what the Senate did in passing a resolution that says we are ready to engage with the Board.
Sadik Tuzun said he was concerned that the Board will use the Fisher Report to delay the search. He said that, before Ed Richardson took office, the university presidents attended most of the Senate meetings and also were more involved with the academic community. He further mentioned that this comment is not a critism of President Richardson but it is a reason why the new president should have an academic background. He said the most effective leaders are the ones who lead the troops by being amongst them. He said the new president should understand what faculty members go through to get tenure, and would thus know their needs and be able to communicate their accomplishments to the Board and the Legislature.
Conner Bailey said that there might be some things in the Fisher Report on which action would be taken and others on which no action would be taken. He said it is a question of which recommendations will be acted on.
John Rowe said that the Senate should respond to some things in the Report, and one of those items is the charge that the Senate doesn't represent faculty. He said another issue is the role of the Senate in governance. He suggested that the Senators need to say what we believe our role to be.
Conner Bailey said that the Rules Committee would develop a survey which will be implemented this spring. The survey will ask faculty some questions concerning the Senate. He asked Senators to please encourage their colleagues to respond to the survey, which he hopes will provide a good data base to answer those questions.
Judith Lechner said she would like to reinforce what Cindy Brunner said and that she hopes the Fisher Report will not be taken as the be-all and end-all on academic issues. She said we do need to pay attention to some aspects, such as need for diversity in the student body and curriculum. She noted that Ruth Crocker had previously mentioned those recommendations and that Ruth Crocker had also mentioned the reorganization of the EEO office under Human Resources. She said it should be changed back.
Rich Penaskovic said that John Rowe has asked an excellent question. He said that if the Senate leadership is not representative of faculty at large, he doesn't know who is. He said the number of people voting on officers has been large.
Conner Bailey said it has been the culture of body not to announce numbers of votes cast, but that custom may not be serving us well.
Cindy Brunner said a consequence of skepticism about the representativeness of the Senate is that we are not as valuable if we are seen as not representative. She said it doesn't matter what we think about our representativeness if there is a negative perception. She said a task for the Senate to embrace is to be sure we are seen as the body representing the faculty. She said that maybe starting with a survey would be the way to go.
Conner Bailey noted that this is a university and not a faculty senate. He said there is no doubt that it is a faculty driven body as the numbers are clearly weighted toward faculty. He said there is an opportunity in the Fisher Report to rethink the composition of the Senate. He said there would be dialogue with other groups, such as A&P, Staff, and students, to see if we can make this body more effective.
Harriette Huggins said the executive
committee from A&P has a discussion board up, soliciting comments. She said there is a perception that this is a
faculty senate because of the issues that are brought up. She noted that we do have the A&P
Assembly and Staff Council. She said she
does not want
Conner Bailey agreed with Harriette Huggins.
John Heilman said he had some comments. He asked the Senate leadership to write a letter to President Richardson, stating that there is a preference for an academician for the next president, that there are questions about the sufficiency of the data gathered by the Fisher Report, that faculty need to address the faculty-related academic issues, and that it is important we proceed with the search.
John Heilman said he believed that Dr. Kuhnle will be at the April Board meeting and it was his personal observation that the discussion should engender confidence that the search will move forward. He said that just because a recommendation is in the Fisher Report does not mean the Board will act upon it.
Third, he said he would like to offer a challenge. He said that if the faculty want an academician as the next president, for that argument to have force, there would need to be a story as to why it matters.
He congratulated George Stegall, the new president of the SGA, and said he looks forward to working with him in the next year. He said this marks a year in which Conner Bailey has represented the faculty and that Conner Bailey has represented the faculty ably and that he (John Heilman) was grateful to work with him (Conner Bailey).
Rich Penaskovic said the first reason to hire an academician is to gain faculty respect. He noted that the Board could put into office whomever they want but it doesn't mean faculty will respect that person. If the new president hasn't gone through the ranks and doesn't know what it is like to publish, it would be difficult for that person to have a true understanding of the university. He said some decisions, such as enrollment management, need to be made in terms of academic implications. He said that someone from outside, who is not an academic, could not truly understand that.
Conner Bailey said he and Rich Penaskovic
attended a meeting last week, a coalition on faculty senate leadership. He commented on the recent situation at
U.N.A., involving turmoil over a non-academic president. U.N.A. subsequently hired a new president
with an academic background, he said, and much of the turmoil has been
eliminated. With regard to
John Rowe said the university is a community of scholars and that scholarship is needed to provide leadership. He said he likes the provost's suggestion of a letter and wondered if the Steering Committee could draft a resolution for a vote.
Conner pointed out the difference between the Steering Committee and the Executive Committee. He said he would talk it over with the Executive Committee. He noted the agenda for the Faculty Meeting had already been drafted (and posted).
Saralyn Smith-Carr said she asked for input on the Fisher Report in her department. She said some endorsed it and some had reservations. She asked for clarification about the survey that will be sent out to the faculty.
Conner Bailey said the survey will be about the structure and representativeness of the Senate and that some other matters may be included. He said if he has such information in hand, as advisor to the Board, he could bring that information forward. He said the survey has not yet been drafted.
Saralyn Smith-Carr asked if the survey could address what people felt were the strengths and weaknesses of the Fisher Report.
Carole Zugazaga said she supports the notion of a letter and asked about the process. She asked whether Senators would be able to see it and provide input.
Conner Bailey said he is one individual of a five member Executive Committee, and we are about to have two new members elected. He said he would like to consult with the group before he makes a commitment to a process. He said he believes that the process will be as open as possible. He said he doesn't know if he can get it on the agenda for next week, but he could post the letter on the web. He said he doesn't see much possibility of getting this done in seven days (e.g. before the Faculty Meeting).
John Heilman said that he had noted the comments that were made about the Fisher Report and that the minutes of the Senate meeting will be available. He said that Dr. Richardson can read those comments there and also that he (John Heilman) would report the comments to President Richardson. He said a letter would be helpful, but that he didn't see it as having a larger role other than summarizing the comments that were made at the Senate meeting.
Conner Bailey said he anticipates that the Board might get copy of letter.
Cindy Brunner commented on an earlier reference made to the report from the committee chaired by Larry Gerber. She read part of report dealing with whether the president should be an academician, which she took from the version on the Senate web. She said that from a survey conducted as part of the process involved in making that report, there was a preference for a new president with a university background and an earned doctorate. She said that while the committee was in general agreement with the survey results, there was also the view that room should be allowed for a non-traditional candidate, offering exceptions for exceptional individuals.
Conner Bailey noted that the wording was not all that different from the Fisher Report language.
Willie Larkin moved adjournment, which passed on a voice vote without opposition. The meeting ended at 4:25 p.m.