Minutes of the University Faculty Meeting
April 10, 2012
3:00 pm
Broun Hall Auditorium
Submitted by
Larry Crowley, Secretary of University Faculty

A complete transcription of this meeting is available.

Call to Order:
Ann Beth Presley, Chair of University Senate, called the meeting to order at 3:00 pm.

The first order of business is approval of the minutes of the 25 October 2011 General Faculty Meeting. The minutes were approved and posted without change.

Remarks and Announcements:
Dr. Presley called on Dr. Gouge to present his “State of the University” remarks.

President’s Remarks:

Dr. Gouge opened with thanking everyone for their attendance and for a good year despite a tough budget.  He remarked that the EFT (Educational Trust Fund) is now growing; however, some of those funds will now go into a “rainy day fund” for the state as stipulated by legislation passed last year.  It’s a good move long-term, but not right now if you need money and its being put aside for tougher times.

Today got word that all of our trustees were confirmed.  One trustee, Mr. B.T. Roberts, will not be seated until May 15th so that he might have a full term and not simply completing the unexpired term of Jack Miller, who died in office, and whose term would end on May 15th.  Two trustees have terms that just expired, Sam Ginn and John Blackwell, but the constitution allows them to serve an additional year in office.  Expectation is their terms will end next year and a decision made at that time.

Freshman class entering last Fall had an average high school GPA of 3.81 and an ACT average of 27.2. It is Auburn’s 19th consecutive year on the top 50 public universities in the United States.  Auburn was listed as top value for the money in Alabama. Student debt at graduation for Auburn students is the lowest of any 4-year school in the state.

The board has approved a new central classroom facility. Names of the architect and construction manager will be presented at the Board Meeting in two weeks.  This central classroom facility will provide some flexibility in dealing with Haley Center and other buildings.

Dr. Gouge expressed his thanks for the faculty, Honors College, Paul Harris, and many in the room for working with and encouraging our students to apply for prestigious awards and post-graduate fellowships.  Our students are either finalist or winners for a variety of these types of awards. 

He mentioned this is Auburn’s fourth year in a row to have a Fulbright undergraduate which this year is, John Bergen.  He will be going to the Technical University of Munich.  Two other Auburn students won NSF awards providing $30,000 for 3 years with an additional $10,000 for other costs.

The top award for student athletes is the Walter Byers Award.  Three male and three female student athletes are selected to interview for the award in Indianapolis on April 15th and Auburn will be represented in that group of athletes.

The search for Dean of Engineering is down to two candidates and an announcement will be made soon about the selected candidate.

Auburn has a new Vice President for Development, Jane Parker, who has worked at Emory for 37 years in a development role and at Arizona State for a couple of years in a similar capacity.  She will be a key individual as Auburn University starts our fourth comprehensive campaign.

Dr. Gouge reports the Provost’s Office has told him that Auburn is virtually at 100% of departments having prepared plans on our effort to have writing across the curriculum.

Degree works (a software program) will be implemented this summer to allow students to know exactly where they stand with their grades, courses, and what they need to graduate.  This is in support of a strategic goal to improve graduation rates for our students.

Auburn has completed the second year of the common book program which Dr. Gouge reports is going well.  Tracy Kidder, the author of this year’s common book Mountains Beyond Mountains, was on campus last week and had interactions across campus.  Next year’s book will be announced later in the meeting by the Provost.

Dr. Gouge reported that Auburn had 16 academic items that were approved by the Board of Trustees since last spring.  These included 2 new bachelor’s degrees, 7 new graduate certificate programs, 3 accelerated bachelor/master’s degree programs, 2 new institutes – one on international hunger studies and the other on business aspects of aquacultures and fisheries.  Also approved by the Board was a new degree option and a new degree concentration.  

Auburn has grown about 9% in total expenditures, which is in line with other strong research universities where growth ranged from 7 to 12% last year.  Industry supported contracts for grants and research is up 46% from the previous year.

Auburn’s Internal Grants program is reporting the award of several million dollars in grants last year.  Fourteen faculty were awarded support for international travel related to research work or development efforts for study abroad type programs.   Auburn received a million dollar budget line from state appropriations to focus on cancer research being largely carried out within the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Gouge reported a 70,000 square foot research building is being constructed in the Research Park to focus on economic development.   The Department of Commerce supplied half the funds and the other half was provided by the state.

The City of Auburn has added a number of new plants, companies and their facilities last year.  Many come to the area in part due to faculty efforts.  Dr. Gouge provided an example of this with the GE Aviation Plant locating here in response to engineering faculty’s work in advanced materials. 

Dr. Gouge encouraged those in attendance to become involved in the University Senate activities, if they weren’t already.

The floor was opened for any questions. 

Questions following Dr. Gouge’s Remarks:
Connor Bailey, College of Agriculture, asked about the school’s debt in order to fund construction that has occurred over the last number of years and will this be a constraint on growth of other aspects of the university over time.

Dr. Gouge answered that residence halls pay for themselves through student charges for use.  Athletic facilities are paid for by the revenue stream of the athletic department.  The Wellness Center is paid out of student fees.  Auburn is still within borrowing limits advised by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s based on our capacity. 

Richard Penaskovic, Philosophy, stated he is concerned about low pay to our contingent faculty teaching heavy course loads.

Dr. Gouge responded that in the Southeast about 70% of undergraduate courses are taught be contingent faculty and graduate students.  At Auburn only about 30% are taught by contingent faculty and 70% by tenure and tenure-track faculty.   He further remarked that it is a departmental decision to use contingent faculty and also what to pay them.   Dr. Gouge shared that within the College of Liberal Arts contingent faculty are paid anywhere from a low of 30 to a high of 64 thousand per year.

Richard Penaskovic followed with the question if there is a continuing need for teaching a particular class can tenure-track positions be created to fill that need. 

Dr. Gouge restated that positions can be created if resources are available.

With no further questions from the floor for Dr. Gouge, Ann Beth Presley thanked Dr. Gouge and called on Dr. Boosinger, Interim Provost, to provide updates and announcements from the Provost’s Office. 

Provost’s Remarks

(Provost Presentation is available at the following link: http://www.auburn.edu/administration/governance/senate/website/agendas/2011-2012/Apr12/PO_GeneralFacultyPresentation%204-9-12%20docx.pptx)

Dr. Boosinger began his presentation discussing recent activities on budget related items including two budget-planning retreats to involve the deans more in the budgeting process, discussions on developing more data-driven budgeting process, and reached an agreement amongst the deans on a summer semester budgeting model for 2012.

Next, Dr. Boosinger discussed efforts on enrollment management with a goal to maintain a sustainable enrollment where the target for this year’s freshman class is at 4050 students.  Also, enrollment in the Honor’s Program will be brought down to a more manageable level of 600 to 700 incoming students by 2016 or sooner. 

The Provost reported that Research Week had over 1000 people registered and 1200 participants.  There were over 400 presentations when including both platform and poster presentations.  The week’s activities also included 47 workshops and two keynote speakers.  At the same time Dr. Mason, VP for Research, held a meeting with the Research Advisory Council.

Next year’s selection of the common book is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  The hope is to follow a similar format to this year’s common book with the author being brought to campus during the spring of 2013.  Faculty wishing to use the book in their classes during the fall semester can preorder.  The book will be incorporated into Camp War Eagle as well. 

The Central Classroom facility planning process involves a large committee of 22 faculty, students, staff and administrators.  Dr. Boosinger remarked there has been significant work and progress since August including visiting peer institution facilities, reviewing current and future AU classroom needs and developing a basic program plan.  With the selected architect coming on shortly, the comprehensive program plan will be developed which will lead to schematics, design, and elevations.  The committee is very involved in a recommendation of an architect and construction management firm for Board of Trustee approval.   The Provost advised we are about 2 years away from being able to occupy the building which will cost in the range of 30 million dollars and provide Auburn with a state of the art facility.

Dr. Boosinger informed the gathered faculty about a trip to Clemson on April 24th by a group of 6 individuals from Auburn to compare notes on matters of mutual concern including strategies on enrollment, student evaluations of teaching, and tuition and scholarship.  While Clemson is similar to us in many ways they excel in certain areas where we need to improve.  Our 6-year graduation rate is 67% and theirs in the high 70’s. 

In closing, Dr. Boosinger spoke about the success of course-eval.  Auburn has a 70% participation rate, which is higher than the committee’s projected rate of 66%.  This compares favorably with the participation rates of a paper evaluation process.  In the spring semester the individual departments will be able to select their own questions with the recommendation they include a standard 4 questions to be shared across the university in order to facilitate assessment of student learning outcomes.  The survey period will be April 21-29.

Dr. Boosinger then asked if there are questions from the floor.  There were none.

Dr. Presley, Chair, then called on Robin Jaffe, Department of Theatre, to present the AAUP Glenn Howze Academic Freedom award.


Information Items

AAUP Glenn Howze Academic Freedom Award Presentation

Robin Jaffe, a member of AAUP, presented Auburn University AAUP’S 2012 Glenn Howze Academic Freedom Award, an award presented annually for the past 19 years to a person who demonstrated high ethical standards and professionalism in her/his field and made significant contributions to advocating, protecting, and extending academic freedom at Auburn University.  The award went to Bill Trimble.

In accepting the award, Bill Trimble thanked those that have contributed to academic freedom during a particularly difficult time in Auburn University’s history.  He expressed his pride in being a member of AAUP and his firm belief in their shared principles.

SACS Reaccreditation

Ann Beth Presley, Chair, then called on Drew Clark, Director Institutional Research and Assessment, to provide an update on the upcoming SACS reaccreditation. His presentation can be found at the following link:

At the close of Drew Clark’s presentation there was a question asked from the floor.

Richard Penaskovic , Philosophy, asked if many institutions loose accreditation due to financial reasons.

Drew Clark responded that it is the most likely reason to lose accreditation.

Richard Penaskovic followed by asking if the SACS committee will look at how contingent faculty are handled?  Asking about office space to meet students, credentials, etc .

Drew Clark responded that SACS has very specific standards.  There are about five standards relating to faculty and the one most often not met is the one dealing with credentials.  The SACS standards are not written with the assumption that the institution has tenured faculty or not.

International Programs

Ann Beth thanked Drew and then called Andy Gillespie, Assistant Provost International Programs, to speak on International Programs at Auburn.  A copy of his presentation can be found at the following link:


The floor was opened for questions, but none were asked.


Chairs Remarks

Ann Beth Presley, Chair, began her remarks by saying it is a privilege to have represented the faculty over the last year.  She thanked the senate officers, steering committee, rules committee, and Constance Hendricks, Dr. Boosinger, Emmett Winn and Laura Kloberg for their time and effort.

Election Results

Ann Beth Presley, Chair, now called Bill Sauser, Chair-Elect to come forward to announce the new officers that will take office on July 1.

Bill Sauser, Chair-Elect, announced that Larry Crowley was elected as the incoming Chair-Elect and Judith Sheppard as the incoming Secretary-Elect. 

Ann Beth Presley then called for any unfinished business. There was none so she called for any new business. There was none. She then adjourned the meeting at 4:14 pm.