Draft Minutes for University Senate Meeting
September 4, 2007
Broun Hall Auditorium
Submitted by Ann Beth Presley
Present: Dave Cicci, Robert Locy, Ann Beth Presley, Richard Penaskovic, Sue Barry, Debbie Shaw, Royrickers Cook, John Heilman, Don Large, June Henton, Stewart Schneller, Drew Clark, Fran Kochan, Bonnie MacEwan, Wendy Pechman, Gary Martin, Winfred Foster, Norbert Wilson, Sondra Parmer, Charles Mitchell, Keith Cummins, Barbara Kemppainen, Christopher McNulty, Anthony Moss, Timothy McDonald, Robert Chambers, Rik Blumenthal, Larry Crowley, Alevin Sek See Lim, Suhyun Suh, John Saye, Dan Gropper, James Witte, Scott Hodel, James Goldstein, Robin Huettel, Claire Crutchley, Larry Teeter, Jim Sanders, Mark Fischman, David Carter, Robert Bulfin, Andrew Wohrley, Steve Stuckwisch, Bart Prorok, Howard Goldstein, Claire Zizza, Jim Wright, Daniel Parson, Salisa Westrick, Bernie Olin, James Shelley, Francis Robicheaux, Changhoon Jung, Robert Voitle, Dan Svyantek, Peggy Shippen, Tom Williams, Carole Zugazaga, Howard Thomas, Scott Phillips, Adele Balmer, and R. D. Montgomery.
Absent with Substitute: Overton Jenda (Florence Holland), Laura Plexico (Rebekah Pindzola), Michel Raby( ), and Don-Terry Veal( ).
Absent without Substitute: Johnny Green, Matt Jenkins, Robert Gross, Jim Bradley, Ronald Clark, Charlene LeBleu, Brian Gibson, Anoop Sattineni, Debra Worthington, Carol Centrallo, Allen, Davis, Raymond Kessler, Thomas Smith, Chris Arnold, Roger Wolters, Edith Davidson, John Rowe, Randy Tillery, and William Shaw.
David Cicci called the meeting to order.
Approve of Minutes: The minutes of the July 10, 2007 Senate meeting were approved by voice vote without opposition.
Remarks and Announcements:
Remarks from Jay Gogue, President
Several personnel changes. I will not fill the Chief of Staff position formerly held by Sid Macanalley. I have initiated a national search for the dean of the graduate school. The Vice-president for research search will begin next week.
Other organizational changes will be postponed until further work on the Strategic Plan has been completed. The Strategic Plan is a work in progress and Messina and Associates continued to assist the University with the development of the plan. We hope to have the final draft of the Strategic Plan to the Board of Trustees by the February ’08 meeting and approved at the April ’08 meeting. Dr. Gogue specifically asked for the help of the faculty in the strategic planning process for Auburn University. If you study the national picture, there are several areas that nearly all universities are examining: academic quality, outcomes assessment, safety, international work, cost, access and equity. The key is issue is not knowing the topics but how we address the topics and the matrices we use to measure ourselves. I would like to see an annual review to examine progress on the Strategic Plan. As the plan proceeds, priorities may need to be adjusted. The consultant, Messina and ###, should be here to address the either the Senate or the General Faculty Meeting in October. Other issues the need to be addressed include graduate students and their stipends (inequity across campus), quality of undergraduate students and lack of undergraduate scholarships.
It is extremely important that faculty ideas are marketed to our elected officials. The normal process is to have an agenda of many ideas (not just those of 4 or 5 individuals). Elected officials tend to gravitate to a few of these ideas. This process needs to be open to all. Work needs to be done at the August Board of Trustees meeting so that an agenda can be approved and sent to Federal representatives. Our timeline is compressed this year. We want to have an agenda by the November Board of Trustees meeting. We will go to Washington, D.C. as a group in October to say “thank you”. The key legislative meeting is in late January or early February. The agenda needs to be presented at that time so that legislators can identify the areas they are interested in supporting. A similar process is followed at the state level. It is usually approved by the Board of Trustees at the August meeting. If not sold by Thanksgiving, then it will not survive the legislative session.
Just received a check from Alabama Power Company to support the engineering faculty. Buildings are important but they can be destroyed (earthquakes, etc.). Students are important but if all the students left we could be up to current enrollment, easily, in four years. However, faculty are the heart of the University. If we lost all the faculty today, we could not rebuild completely for 20-30 years.
Conner Bailey (former Chair) – How does faculty input tie in with the strategic plan? Will this plan only be the product of an outside consultant?
Jay Gogue (President) – Auburn University had tended to hire outside consultants for many things. We need to believe in ourselves and the institution. We need to start relying more on our own people for ideas and strategies. May run into roadblocks occasionally, but need to start developing plans from within. Consultant has, primarily, done data gathering. You can’t have the discussion needed in a big group like the Senate but, rather, in smaller groups.
Remarks from David Cicci, Chair
This past summer was a relatively slow time for Senate business. However, that will change beginning with this meeting. We have a very aggressive agenda today so I will only offer a few comments.
We are starting a new academic year with a new president, a new outlook, and a renewed energy. In the coming months, Senate leadership will submit proposals to the administration to create an Ombudsman position and a Professional Improvement Leave program. We are also planning additional initiatives to be undertaken throughout this academic year.
At next month’s Senate meeting we hope to introduce a Senate resolution regarding the awarding of merit raises. We also plan on having John Mouton give a report on campus parking, and we hope to have Richard Messina from Messina & Graham to discuss the University’s Strategic Plan.
It should be an interesting, informative, discussion-filled, and hopefully productive year ahead.
Just a reminder, throughout the meeting, if you wish to make comments or ask questions, please come to the microphone, state your name, unit, and whether or not you’re a senator. Also, please only speak once on any topic until everyone has had an opportunity.
Presented by Ann Beth Presley, Secretary
Nominees for committees approved by voice vote.
Resolution for Administrative Hiring, Bob Locy, Chair-elect
In the past five years, we have had much turnover in administrators often covered by interim people or limited searches. In addition, after lengthy interim terms, the replacements have gone on to permanently fill the position with a non-existent or limited search. This policy is not aimed at any particular individuals.
Larry Gerber (AAUP) – There are other policies in place for department heads and chairs, related to searches.
Rich Penaskovic (Immediate Past-Chair) – The wording could be changed to say “apply only at level above department head/chair”.
Scott Hodel ( ) – We have not seen this policy before today. Can we take this back to our departments and then email suggestions to Locy or Cicci?
David Cicci (Chair) – Since this comes from the Steering Committee we will need to table the motion if we choose to do that.
Kinesiology (acting Dept. chair) – The resignation of a department head may lead to a growth in the number of faculty if the person resigning goes back to the faculty full-time. This would mean a new line would need to be created to fill the chair/head’s position.
David Carter (History) – Can we proceed to a vote today or do we need some time for review?
David Cicci (Chair)—We will table the motion until the next meeting.
New Policy on Incompletes, Grade Changes, and Signatures—Sharon Gaber, Sr. Exec. Provost (link)
In response to the problems with directed readings and grade changes in the last year and as a result of internal auditing, a new policy for IN and Grade Changes had been developed. Until August 16, 2007, grade changes could be made at any time and had no time limits on changes. For example, an Incomplete turns to an F automatically after 6 months but, that F could later be changed to another grade.
A draft of the new policy was given to the deans after meeting with them in February. A draft of the policy was given to the Academic Standards Committee and all groups were asked for and provided feedback on the policy. The policy was revised and resubmitted to the Academic Standards Committee in May and approved by the committee. The existing policy (see pg. 10 of the AU Bulletin) has no time limits. In some cases, the required approvals were circumvented through a variety of people and methods.
New grade change procedures includes NR and excludes IN—grade changes are to be made only under extraordinary situations (other than clerical errors). Grade changes must be changed within six months of completing the course. Grade changes outside this time frame must be approved by the provost.
This policy was put into effect on August 16, 2007. This policy applies to fall 2007 semester courses.
New Incompletes Process (excludes Distance Education) – the current policy an IN counts as an F in GPA calculations and becomes an F in six months. Some students only attended one class but were never dropped from the roll and got an IN. In the new policy, the student (or a representative) must request an IN prior to the end of the semester. If not requested, the faculty member should assign the grade based on work completed and assign a 0 for any missing exams/assignments. The student is eligible for an IN only if they have completed and passed at least half of the assignments. The faculty member must complete the IN form including the reason for the IN and specifying work to be completed with a corresponding time limit. An IN becomes an F if not cleared within 6 months. The department head/chair can complete the work if the faculty member has left Auburn University. Once an IN becomes an F, it cannot be changed in the future. The IN is calculated as an F until it is cleared.
If the student has a medical issue during the semester, they may receive a medical withdrawal from the University.
Academic Signature Authority – in the new policy, only deans or designated associated deans may sign the grade change form. Stamped signatures are not acceptable. The dean may delegate signature authority with a letter on file to the Registrar and the Provost.
David Carter (History) What happens if the instructor is the department chair/head?
Sharon Gaber (Provost’s Office) A dean’s signature would be needed. Want to avoid only one person having signature authority.
Rik Blumenthal (Chemistry/Bio-Chemistry) (A) The 50% of class assignments graded conflicts with my grading policy. Much of the grade is determined later in the semester. Under this policy, could not have extended the option of an IN to a student that could have passed the class with a sufficient grade on the final exam. (B) I’m nervous about the IN to F not being able to be changed in such a strict time frame. What if a student misses a deadline by only one day? (C) I am concerned with the signature authority process and delegation.
Sharon Gaber (Provost’s Office) Maybe flexibility could be built into the faculty grading policy. If the student is a day late, or other unusual circumstances, then you would be able to work with the registrar.
Statler (Education) If you cannot change and F for a graduate student, then the student will not graduate.
Sharon Gaber (Provost’s Office) A separate policy is need for graduate students and is not addressed in this policy.
------- I agree with Dr. Blumenthal, some flexibility is needed. In many classes, the majority of class credit is given towards the end of the class. I, also, have concerns about graduate student grade changes. There is need for flexibility to be built-in and, also, for faculty discretion in making these decisions. There is no need for distinction between changing an NR grade versus an IN grade.
Scott Phillips (Theatre) Can we have the grade revert to what it would have been—as opposed to an F? When I taught at Ohio State, their IN form had the option for a later assignment if no changes were made.
------- Is an IN for all graduate students going to count as an F for graduate students?
Sharon Gaber (Provost’s Office) This policy applies to undergraduates only.
Rich Penaskovic (Immediate Past Chair) This policy sounds very rigid. I would prefer more discretion left to the individual faculty member. For example, I’ve had really good students that have overslept and missed the final exam.
Sharon Gaber (Provost’s Office) We need flexibility without the opportunity for abuse.
National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)—Drew Clark (link)
Auburn University surveyed students for their engagement in the learning process. 2500 students were asked with a 40% response rate. The survey examined 2nd semester freshmen and graduating seniors.
Results from the senior year tend to be more balanced than those from 2nd semester freshmen.
David Carter (History) This is a group think or U.S. News and World Report type of mentality where higher education is referred to as an industry.
Core Curriculum Oversight Committee Report—Linda Glaze, Associate Provost (link)
Currently undergoing a core assessment which is needed for the next SACS accreditation. Under the new rules, the committee will identify college-level competencies.
Updated Draft of Faculty Dismissal Policy—David Cicci, Chair (link)
In April, the faculty leadership asked the administration for permission to develop our own Faculty Dismissal Policy. The first part of the policy, which addressed dismissal for misconduct, was approved by the Board of Trustees at the June meeting. Today’s policy discussion is the performance component of the policy. A vote will be taken at the October 2 Senate meeting. Link
This policy addresses dismissal for Just Cause resulting from performance, terminal salary, and hearing and dismissal procedure.
Open the floor for discussion.
Larry Gerber (AAUP) – The policy is much better than it was in April but there is still room for improvement. On page 2, the inclusion of the dean is in contradiction to AAUP policy. It should be a peer review. What would happen if a proceeding was initiated by another dean? On page 3, paragraph 3, “waive the right to a hearing”, this should be peer reviewed as well, not just forwarded to the president. On page 4, paragraph 2, character testimony—is this relevant? On page 5, last paragraph, suspension without pay is by President, suspension without pay has faculty input. Both options should have faculty input. On page 6, terminal salary should not be given if moral turpitude applies, according to the AAUP.
Lee Armstrong (General Counsel) With regard to the suspension with or without pay, I will agree that faculty input should occur in both cases. Proceedings from these type of cases must be confidential. Current policy has a great deal of ambiguity. This one of the reasons we want input from an academic dean on the committee. Character testimony is not relevant with regard to guilt. However, it is relevant to sanction. Why should the public pay for a terminated employee? Moral turpitude is a very imprecise term.
James Goldstein (English)
Prepared Remarks to Senate, 9/4/07 by R. James Goldstein, Senator, Dept. of English
I would like to welcome Dr. Gogue to this Senate meeting, and to express my hope that his presidency will usher in a new era of mutual respect, trust, and cooperation between the administration and the faculty. I myself am a new senator, having agreed to serve because I believe the University Senate and its committees provide a crucial role in shared governance. No one disputes that the Board of Trustees and the President have sole legal authority to make policy here. Article 1 of the University Senate Constitution states that the Senate is advisory to the President.
When the previous administration announced its intention to change university policies regarding the causes for dismissal of tenured faculty, it is true that the administration allowed the senate leadership to participate in drafting a policy on PTR, and in making significant changes to the existing dismissal policy. The senate leadership agreed to participate in drafting these policies in the sincere belief that faculty participation of this kind is greatly preferable to not playing any constructive role in the forging of such important policies.
We can do better. I have great hopes for the possibility of a more properly constituted, more inclusive, and more deliberative form of shared governance, one more in keeping with the Senate Constitution. In my view, the proper procedure for seeking the faculty’s advice on revisions to policies governing the dismissal of tenured faculty members would be for the administration to request the chair of the faculty to charge the Faculty Handbook Review Committee, a standing committee of the Senate, to draft new language for the Handbook that would specify what kind of conduct might warrant a Dismissal Hearing. According to the Senate Constitution, the charge of the Handbook Review Committee is to “receive and solicit suggestions for changes and updating of the Faculty Handbook and recommend to the University Senate such changes as it deems appropriate.” Alternatively, the Faculty Chair could appoint an ad hoc committee to create a preliminary draft of new policy [sentence omitted from edited version presented orally-RJG]. The Provost could even offer draft language to the committee. Normal procedure would then have the committee offer its recommendation in the form of a motion on the floor of the Senate, a motion subject to debate, amendment, and a vote.
The administration is only required to take the recommendations of the Senate as advisory. However, an administration that exercised extreme caution about overruling faculty advice after such a careful deliberative process would be an administration that faculty would be able to work with in a spirit of mutual trust, respect, and cooperation. Such a process has clearly not been followed with the draft document on Faculty Dismissal that recently appeared on the Provost’s website on August 28.
I would like to draw attention to a few places that I think would benefit from faculty advice. In the section enumerating the forms of Misconduct that would constitute Just Cause for Dismissal, numbers 4 and 5 seem clearly to be examples of overreaching. Number 4, “repeated convictions . . . of misdemeanors” would seem to threaten the liberties of anyone who might choose to engage in acts of civil disobedience leading to arrest. It has never been my personal style to get arrested to make a political point, but the current president of the AAUP, for example, if he were on the faculty here, would be vulnerable as a target of this clause. No. 5, “repeated violations of substantive University policy, rules, or regulations,” seems to leave an employee subject to dismissal for repeated parking violations on campus. Moral turpitude, on the other hand, has long been recognized by the AAUP as a cause for dismissal. No one here has a problem with that, or with clarifying its definition.
In the section on Just Cause resulting from Performance, the second item similarly conforms to AAUP standards, which recognize incompetence as grounds for dismissal. However, the AAUP recommends “qualified faculty members” should provide testimony in hearing charges of incompetence, which I believe provides important protections.
The first and third clauses on performance, however, could benefit from further clarification. No. 1 lists “serious violation of professional ethics.” I wonder whose idea of profession ethics governs here? This clause seems hopelessly vague and open to arbitrary abuses of power. Finally, no. 3: “substantial neglect of professional or academic responsibilities.” This clause also seems hopelessly vague and open to arbitrary abuses of power.
In sum, I believe that following the procedures in the Faculty Handbook for having the University Senate formulate and recommend policy to the administration and Board of Trustees not only would have resulted in a better policy document, but would have strengthened rather than undermined the spirit of cooperation between the faculty and the administration. The administration of a new President provides a historic opportunity for improving shared governance and protecting academic freedom in the future.
Barnett (Civil Engineering) If one side is represented by counsel and the other is not, we have trouble. Currently, only the Auburn University counsel has examined the policy.
Boller ? (Physics, not a Senator) As a participant in the faculty dismissal committee, I agree with Larry Gerber. The committee advises the president on how substantial the case is, i.e., did it happen and how important is this? Experience requests advocates on both sides but once advocates enter the picture, it is more difficult to maintain absolute confidentiality. If a dean is present, confidentiality becomes an even bigger issue.
Rich Penaskovic (Immediate Past Chair) This policy is the result of extensive deliberation between the faculty leadership, administration, and the general counsel. Perhaps we should have no terminal salary for misconduct but some type of flexibility with regard to incompetence.
Lee Armstrong (General Counsel) I believe that AAUP counsel has looked at this policy.
Rik Blumenthal (Chemistry, Bio-chemistry) The administration has a hard line on terminal salary for faculty misconduct. I would like to see a similar hard line for administrators, football coaches, etc. instead of this only being applied to faculty.
Bill Trimble (President, local AAUP) The national AAUP office has examined this policy and given input. AAUP is concerned about faculty legal representation. The AU administration brings in counsel almost immediately, before legal proceedings have begun. Faculty have very little support. AAUP is most concerned about this.
Larry Gerber ( ) Our previous policy from 15 years ago was approved by legal counsel.