Minutes of the University Faculty Meeting
March 11, 2008
David Cicci called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.
The minutes of the October ?, 2007 University Faculty meeting were approved without change.
Remarks and Announcements:
David Cicci (Faculty Chair)
David Cicci called the General Faculty Meeting for Spring 2008 to order and invited Dr. Jay Gogue to give the State of the University Address.
State of the University Address:
Dr. Jay Gogue (President, Auburn University)
Dr. Gogue had three main issues he wanted to present to the Faculty: 1) to share a budget concern, 2) discuss some administrative and academic issues, and 3) to ask for help in one particular area. He also expressed appreciation for the kind words and hospitality that he had received since his arrival in Auburn.
The concern he wanted to share was in regard to the short fall in state funds, specifically the 14% being proposed for all four year universities in the State. The two year schools would receive a cut of approximately 8%, and the cut for K through 12 would be 3%. However, if they were to cut four year institutions, two year schools and K through 12 equally, the cut would only amount to a 5% budget cut across the board which would be considerably easier to live with. However, 14% requires considerations for the revenue stream and what that might mean in terms of tuition increases. He explained that the actual budget would probably not be taken up until April. However, it appeared likely that only four states would not have to make substantial cuts in their budgets – Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico and Texas – and these are all gas and oil states.
Dr. Gogue expressed his pleasure with the increased engagement being made at the Federal level in Auburn’s behalf by Alabama’s representatives and senators. Supposedly there will be no more earmarks, but ever since he first testified concerning budgets in the early 70s; however, this has not been the case, and earmarks have continued to grow at a rapid rate. Therefore, he was hopeful that they would continue. Another positive for Auburn is that we were ranked number one in the Southeast Conference in terms of Alumni giving, and he complimented the faculty for being responsible for this high rate of giving. Although professional advisors predicted that we would be lucky to raise between 220 and 250 million dollars, we set a goal of 500 million which had been surpassed since his arrival.
In the fall of 07 there were 18,000 applications for 4,000 spots, and Auburn enrolled 4,123 students. The quality of the class went up one half of a click of an ACT point for the past year. So the quality aspect and the demand aspect continue to grow. Also, the ethnic diversity of this class is greater than ever before. It’s at about 13% which is way up over 1991. New housing is being constructed on campus which will bring an extra 1,700 beds. With the change in food services both the quality and quantity of food is much better. During the past fall a security audit was completed, and there were three recommendations.
1) A director of public safety was hired within days after the report was issued.
2) The audit recommended increasing the number of security cameras on campus. The slow up on this one is that the administration wants to be sure that they interface with the cameras we already have.
3) We need to be sure we get the coverage that we expect and need from the Auburn Police Department.
Dr. Gogue complimented the University on our transit bus system which is currently providing transportation for 18,000 Auburn students per day. Another plus is the Research Park which is moving forward with their first tenant, Northup Growman.
Dr. Gogue also reminded us of the current searches for administrative positions. They are Vice President for Research, Dean of the Graduate School, Vice President for Development, and a new Provost. Interviews should be underway by next fall for the Provost position, and he hopes to have a new Provost by January. The timelines for Vice President of Advancement or Vice President of Development is when Bob McGuiness leaves in the summer.
On the academic side, President Gogue complimented David Cicci, President of the Faculty Senate and the Executive Committee for their hard work and their support. Also he mentioned that for the first time there have been systematic training sessions for department heads and that these will continue into the future. A number of reviews of academic programs have occurred during the past year. Some have been internal, while others have been conducted by outside accrediting bodies, and all have been useful to the University. With respect to Post Tenure Review, there were 71 individuals reviewed during the past year. Eight received special recognition for their achievements and six were asked for individual development plans. Therefore, the vast majority scored very well.
Dr. Gogue applauded the Senate for a number of achievements. The policy for Appointments of Administrators and the Professional Leave Program (a Sabbatical Leave Program) provided some needed ground rules. The Provost and Don Large are working hard to find the resources to support the Professional Leave Program. Also, Dr. Gogue was delighted to announce the creation of 80 Endowed Professorships at Auburn, and it appears that there will be enough resources to fund about 40 of these. Finally, Dr. Gogue talked about some of the academic metrics used to look at quality of an institution that Auburn needs to improve on. Therefore, we need to look at new ideas and strategic initiatives to help us move in dramatic ways.
Questions and Remarks
Speaker Unknown? (Connor Bailey, Rural Sociology)
Conner thanked Bob McGuiness for running a successful campaign. He also wanted more information on the new plan for flexible admissions involving AU and AUM. For example, who is going to teach the classes? Will they be AUM faculty? How will we do that? What will be the cost to our main campus for all the additional students on campus?
Dr. Gogue answered that AUMs enrollment had been flat and declining for a decade. Auburn’s policy in the past has been to send students who were not admitted to Auburn a letter saying that if they enrolled at AUM and were successful that they would be able to transfer to Auburn after one year. He and John Devres had discussed various options for increasing AUM enrollment. Finally they hit upon the idea of permitting 200 students to enroll at AUM and to live in the Auburn community and take courses at night on Auburn’s campus. They would pay all their fees to AUM, and they would be taught by AUM faculty. Many of the students in this experimental program would be sons and daughters of folks with an Auburn connection who had ACTs of approximately 23. AUM would pay a fee for room usage, and Dr. Gogue felt this was a good idea because the room utilization drops to about 2% after 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The program would be only for freshman and only for one year. The guarantee would be that a student who completes this program with a 2.5 GPA would be admitted to Auburn. Dr. Gogue explained that in reality we have this program now because a student can transfer to Auburn form Southern Union or from Troy State or from University of Alabama with a 2.5 GPA.
David Cicci (Chair, University Senate)
David introduced Bill Tremble who presented the Academic Freedom Award from the AAUP.
Bill Trimble (President, AAUP)
Bill presented the award to George W. Folkerts. George came to Auburn in 1969 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and was here until his death in December of last year. George was an advocate for human rights and no stranger to political action. In 1970 George testified before Congress concerning stream degradation, especially the channelization of streams and what that meant to the environment. Afterwards, an Alabama Congressman asked him to resign his position at Auburn University. Also, George stood almost alone against the Board of Trustee’s decision to put the new art museum in the Davis Arboretum. These were two dimensional examples of academic freedom in action. One was obvious. George was able to exercise his academic freedom to stand up for a political issue, but the other was probably more important because he was able to stand up to the Board of Trustees and ultimately to win. As a result the Jule Collins Smith Art Museum is located ideally at the gateway to the University and the City of Auburn. It was a win-win situation because we also preserved the Davis Arboretum. Debbie and Molly Folkerts accepted the award.
Debbie Folkerts thanked the AAUP for honoring George. She also stated how proud she had always been of him, as she was in at this moment in accepting the award.
David Cicci thanked the various members of the Executive Board for their support and help during the past year. He also thanked John Heilman and Dr. Gogue for their strong support. Finally, he thanked his Department Head and other faculty members who provided great suggestions and advice throughout the year. Even though there had been frustrations David felt that the job had been one of the most rewarding experiences of his 21 years at Auburn. He expressed pleasure at being Chair during a transition period and felt that we had a good year with some important initiatives. He mentioned a few, such as the Professional Improvement Leave Program, the New Ombudsperson position, the Administrative Hiring Resolution, and the Faculty Merit Raise Resolution. David expressed his optimism concerning the opportunity that our new President would give us to strengthen the Shared Governance Process. The faculty will now have to do their part. He mentioned the extraordinary compensation package now in place for leadership positions in the Senate. We must now seize the opportunity for shared governance because if we don’t we will have no valid complaint in the future.
David expressed disappointment that some issues were not handled in the proper shared governance manner. This made him remember his days as a member of the Auburn City Council where he observed secrecy, hidden agendas, and backroom politics to perfection. He has not seen that kind of behavior with this administration. He also expressed his concern about the accountability measures that seem to flow downhill to the faculty. Our work is constantly being evaluated by student reviews, peer reviews, evaluations of grant proposals and journal submissions, yearly performance reviews, tenure evaluations, promotion evaluations. Now we have Post Tenure Review and a new Faculty Dismissal Policy which were forced upon us by the previous administration. Because accountability is expensive and because there are so many assessments, David felt that Post Tenure Review was redundant, especially with the demand on resources and with such a small payoff. However, he did applaud the new training program for department heads and new administrators.
David expressed concern over our reliance on national rankings as they are contrived by magazines. He felt that Auburn and other universities are spending a fortune chasing the same ill-defined metrics that often have little or no relationship to the quality of the education we provide. Therefore, we are losing our uniqueness, our charm and the ability to do what we do best. He would much rather see us focus on our rankings in the National Survey of Student Engagement which offers a more realistic measure of the quality of the institution. His other concern was that after frequently requesting an increase in counseling services on campus, we still have a long way to go to be adequate in this area.
However, he was excited about many things -- the completion of a strategic plan, the expansion of the Undergraduate Scholarship Program, the development of the Writing Initiative, the continued strengthening of academic programs, and the hiring of more outstanding faculty members. He was hopeful for a successful search for a new Provost and for the strengthening of our shared governance system. He will continue to support the best interests of the faculty and our academic programs as the Faculty Representative on the Board of Trustees for the coming year. He thanked everyone for the opportunity to serve and he passed the gavel to Bob Locy.
Bob Locy (New Chair of the Senate)
Bob thanked David for setting a high standard during his year as Chair and hoped that he could live up to those standards. Then he announced the new Secretary Elect, Dennis Devries from Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures and the incoming Chair Elect, Kathryn Flynn from Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. He thanked Ron Clark and Larry Molt the other two candidates that ran for offices and expressed the hope that they would run again in the future.
Bob expressed his outrage at the apparently senseless random act of violence that had occurred on our campus and felt that it had given us a significant teaching moment in our University’s history. He encouraged us to honor the memory of Lauren Burke and the other students that have died on other campus recently with acts of kindness.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:10 pm.