Minutes of the University Senate Meeting
4 October 2011
3:00 p.m.
Broun Hall Auditorium
Submitted by
Larry Crowley, Secretary

A complete transcription of the meeting is available

Present: Ann Beth Presley, Bill Sauser, Larry Crowley, Robin Jaffe, Claire Crutchley, Gregg Newschwander, R. Lee Evans, Chuck Savrda, Calvin Johnson, Ann-Katrin Gramberg, George Flowers, Timothy Boosinger, Bonnie MacEwan, Steven Clontz, Andrew Wohrley, Laura Plexico, Michael Baginski, Robert Cochran, Norbert Wilson, James Bannon, Sondra Parmer,  Werner Bergen, Dean Schwartz, Jocelyn Zanzot, Bob Locy, Sushil Adhikari, Steve Duke, Robert Agne, , Sanjeev Baskiyar, Wi-Suk Kwon, Charles Eick, Michael Stern, James Witte, Thomas Baginski, James Goldstein, Andrienne Angelo, Larry Teeter, David King, Ruth Crocker, Fenny Dane, Ellen Abell, Jerrod Windham, Jerry Davis, Jared Russell, Pambanisha King Whaley, Peter Stanwick, Herb Rotfeld, Tin-Yau Tam, Bart Prorok, Doug Rosener, Stuart Pope, Brent Fox, Wesley Lindsey, Guy Rohrbaugh, Mike Bozack, Yasserr Gowayed, Lewis Baker, Richard Fox, Emily Myers, Adrienne Wilson, and Ralph Henderson

Absent, sending a substitute
: Norman Godwin (for Bill Hardgrave), Darren Olsen (for Mark James Taylor), Rebekah Pindzola (for Daniel Phillips), Alan Wilson (for Rusty Wright), and Chas Hendrix (for Vicky van Santen)

Absent, no substitute
: William Batchelor, Betty Lou Whitford, Kirby Turnage, Nakeisha Hicks, Seth Humphrey, Nedret Billor, Winfred Foster, Scott McElroy, Gary Wagoner, Paul Swamidass, Eduardus Duin, Prabhakar Clement, Xing Ping Hu, Harris Hollans, Suresh Mathews, , John Freeze, Forrest Smith, Steven Brown, Shelly McKee, Annette Kluck, Joe Fetsch and Scott Copeland

Call to Order:
--Ann Beth Presley called the meeting to order, confirmed a quorum was present, and reviewed the rules of the senate.
-- Minutes from the September 13, 2011 meeting were accepted as posted without change.

Remarks and Announcements:
Dr. Gogue (Office of the President) shared several items.
1. Federal Judge ruled on various aspects of the immigration law for the State of Alabama.  Lee Armstrong, Wayne Alderman and groups are looking into its impact on our business transactions and provisions for verification of immigration status for enrollment.
2.  There will be no additional proration this year.
3. Discussions are underway to change health insurance payment categories from the current two, family and single coverage, to four with the addition of two categories which are single parent with family and employee and spouse. 
4. Delaware data that we just received indicate that we exceed our peer groups in 21 departments with respect to research dollars.  (See posted transcript for a listing of noted accomplishments.)
5. Large research awards made this year were noted including: $4.6 million competitive award to University Outreach for broadband equipment in support of Alabama computing centers; $3.2 million award for air filtration system from the Office of Naval Research; $1.3 million to fisheries from BP; $1.5 million for a Plasma Magnetized device being worked on by Ed Thomas of Physics; $6.5 million for the FDA Food System Training Consortium; $3 million on sustainable production of fuels and chemicals; $15 million shared with the University of Tennessee for biomass supply system; $2.5 million for the Alabama Healthy Marriage Initiative.  Overall research and sponsored programs are up about 7% this year.

Ann Beth Presley, Chair of University Senate, remarks.
1. Diplomas will now be mailed out rather than picked up by students on the day of graduation.  This allows faculty to have an additional day of grading, students no longer wait to pick up diplomas, and the university will save $12,000 annually.
2.  Ombudsperson position will now be a 100% appointment with responsibilities to include both faculty and students.
3. The Fall General Faculty meeting will be October 25th.
4.  Rules of the senate in terms of attendance/sending substitutes and voting procedures using clicker were reviewed.

Action Items:

-- Larry Crowley (Secretary) presented eight nominations from Rules to refill open membership on senate committees.  The committees and nominees are as follows: Academic Program Review Committee --Emily Myers (Liberal Arts) term ending 2013; Administrator Evaluation Committee -- Tin Yau Tam (Mathematics and Sciences) term ending 2012; Core Curriculum and General Education Committee -- Daniel Henry (Educational Foundations, Leadership and Technology) term ending 2012 and William Schaffer (Music) term ending 2014; Faculty Grievance Committee -- Robert Tufts (Forestry and Wildlife Sciences) term ending 2012; Faculty Research Committee -- Lori Echkardt (Forestry and Wildlife Sciences) term ending 2012; Non‐Tenure Track Faculty Committee--Department Heads/Chairs -- Gerry Gryski (Political Science) term ending 2013; Writing Committee -- Libba McMillian (Nursing) term ending 2013.  With no discussion offered by the floor, a vote was called.  The nominees were elected by 53 yes and 2 no vote.  The list of nominees as presented is available (pdf) .

Information items:

-- Margaret Marshall (Director of University Writing) presented an update on the University’s Writing Initiative. (ppt) 

-- Emmett Winn (Associate Provost and Chair of CoursEval Implementation Committee) and Sushil Bhavnani (Chair of Teaching Effectiveness Committee) provided an update of implementing the online student evaluations of teaching this fall. (ppt) 

Questions following this presentation:

Sanjeev Baskiyar, Senator, Computer Science and Software Engineering, asked about question dealing with student attendance prior to the student providing a response.  Emmett Winn responded that these types of questions can be included in the survey, which is a decision to be made by the faculty and their departments.

David King, Senator, Geology and Geography, expressed concern over potentially low student participation rates.  Sushil Bhavnani responded that University of Maryland has instituted it campus-wide with a 63% participation rate.  Purdue has a 59.5% participation with online evaluations which is a 10% drop from a paper tool participation of 69%.  The committee hopes to increase participation with an incentive program for responses.

Bob Locy, Senator, Biological Sciences, asked about available information about correlation between online evaluations and class attendance.  Emmett Winn responded by acknowledging that it doesn’t speak directly to his question, but suggested that data supports the correlation between online and paper evaluations.

Bob Locy continued by suggesting that the money saved on the paper copy evaluations should be redirected to efforts in improving instruction.

Peter Stanwick, Senator, Management questioned how we would know who would be actually filling out the evaluations. Sushil Bhavnani answered by saying that it will be governed by the same rules applied to who would be registering for classes.  Emmett Winn continued by saying evaluations for class would require ID and password associated with the enrolled student.

Ruth Crocker, Senator, History, suggested that it could perhaps be administered during class period with students accessing the survey through their wireless devices. Sushil Bhavanni said that other campuses incentivize responses by making part of the grade, say 1%, associated with filling it out while in class.

David King, Senator, Geology and Geography, mentioned a concern about parents who have access to student’s ID and password filling out the survey which to him might be a good thing.  Another suggestion was that departments monitor how individual faculty responses vary between paper and online during the transition, which might represent a difference associated with the collection method.  Sushil Bhavnani answered by saying that this is similar to what occurred with adoption of the University of Washington system at Auburn.  Responses were observed to go down slightly but uniformly.

Charlie Eick, Senator, Curriculum and Teaching, spoke to the mandatory nature of the policy and would encourage the committee to look at ways of having them completed prior to the release of final grades.  Emmett Winn said reminders would be sent to students that hadn’t filled out their responses.  Concerning the mandatory nature, Dr. Winn said student leaders and student affairs are supportive of this approach if necessary.  However, he advised that the unintended consequences if this were done might extend to dropped schedules, lost financial aid, etc. He indicates the committee would like to wait and see what the response rates actually are before moving to consequences such as holding grades.

Ralph Henderson, Senator, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, said that Vet Med has been using electronic evaluations for 3 to 4 years and it seems to be working well.  He wondered if a response could be sent by the faculty member to a specific comment made by an anonymous student.  Sushil Bhavnani responded by saying our peers suggest a more directed open ended question than simply to ask if the student has any additional comments.

Herb Rotfeld, Senator, Marketing, summarized the majority of questions center around either concerns for a high response rate or concerns about those who shouldn’t be responding in the first place.  He questioned if a student with a “W” would be able to complete the survey.  Sushil Bhavnani replied that they would not.

Herb Rotfeld continued by asking if the system could link student response data with grade or attendance data after the fact.  Emmett Winn suggested cumulative course data could be added at the department level to go along with CoursEval when sent forward beyond the department level

Herb Rotfeld also suggested that someone with expertise or insight in social science research might be helpful to the committees dealing with these issues.  Dr. Winn responded that it is a valid recommendation to the Teaching Effectiveness Committee.

Bart Prorok, Senator, Mechanical Engineering, commented that concerns about students not coming to class but then responding to online evaluations may be overblown.  His question that followed dealt with the ability of the system to capture the IP address of the response to determine if too many responses came from one computer.  Bliss Bailey, Director of OIT, said that it was possible.

Sanjeev Baskiyar, Senator, Computer Science and Software Engineering, mentioned that the survey could be coded so that faculty could distribute this code during class which would be used to control who could access the CoursEval to fill out the forms for the course.  Sushil Bhavnani remarked that the committee would look into it.

Michael Stern, Senator, Economics, noted a principal concern is about sampling.  He suggested that you calculate the average GPA of those that responded to the survey.  This will inform the data user about the quality of students being sampled.  Dr. Stern also mentioned attendance is also an indicator of what students might feel they are getting out of the course.


Unfinished business:

New business:
Guy Rohrbauh, Senator, Philosophy,  asked if it were possible to put on next month’s agenda an information item concerning the changes to Payroll and Benefits.  Ann Beth Presley, Chair, said this is planned for the upcoming general faculty meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.