Minutes of the Senate meeting, February 4, 2014
Prepared and submitted by Gisela Buschle-Diller, secretary-elect
A full transcript for this meeting is available.
Larry Crowley, Chair
Patricia Duffy, Chair-elect
Gisela Buschle-Diller, Secretary-Elect
William Sauser, Immediate Past Chair
John Mason, VP Research
Joseph A. Aistrup, Dean, College of Liberal Arts
Nicholas Giordano, Dean, COSAM
June Henton, Dean, College of Human Sciences
George Flowers, Dean of the Graduate School
Timothy Boosinger, Provost
Bonnie McEwan, Dean, Libraries
Frank Sturm, GSC President
Bryan Elmore, Chair, A&P
Don Mulvaney, Steering Committee
Michael Baginski, Steering Committee
Robert Cochran, Accountancy
Andrew Sinclair, Aerospace Engineering
Valentina Hatarska, Agricultural Econonomics and Rural Sociology
James Bannon, AAES
Dean Schwartz, Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology
Barb Bondy, Art
Cliff Defee, Aviation Management and Logistics
Bob Locy, Biological Sciences
Sushil Adhikari, Biosystems Engineering
Allan E. David, Chemical Engineering
Eduardus Duin, Chemistry
Daniel Phillips, Com Disorders
Sanjeev Baskiyar, Computer Science And Software Engineering
Michael Stern, Economics
Lisa Kensler, Educational Foundations, Leadership And Teaching
Thomas Baginski, Electrical And Computer Engineering
Hillary Wyss, English
Leonardo De LaFuente, Entomology And Plant Pathology
Harris Hollans, Finance
Rusty Wright, Fisheries And Allied Aquaculture
Adrienne Angelo, Foreign Language And Literatures
Gary Hepp, Forestry And Wildlife Science
David King, Geology And Geography
Tiffany Sippial, History
Amy Wright, Horticulture
Jerrod Bradley Windham, Industrial Design
Sean Gallagher, Industrial Engineering
Leah Robinson, Kinesiology
Pambanisha Leilani Tanisha Whaley, Library
Peter Stanwick, Management
James Carver, Marketing
Dmitry Glotov, Mathematics And Statistics
Matthew Hoch, Music
Iris Mullins, Nursing
Kevin Huggins, Nutrition And Foods
Vicky Van Santen, Pathobiology
Muralikrishnan Dhanasekaran, Pharmacal Sciences
Brent Fox, Pharmacy Care Systems
Wesley Lindsey, Pharmacy Practice
Guy Rohrbaugh, Philosophy
Mike Bozack, Physics
Murray Jardine, Political Science
Gwynedd Thomas, Polymer/Fiber Engineering
Tung-Shi Huang, Poultry Science
Daniel Sventek, Psychology
Jill Meyer, Special Education/Rehabilitation/Counseling/School Psychology
Paul Michael Esposito, ROTC Naval
Emily Meyers, Sociology, Anthropology And Social Work
Chase Bringardner, Theatre
Annette Smith, Veterinary Clinical Sciences
Absent, sending substitutes:
Steve Duke for Chris Roberts, Dean, Engineering
Amy Anne Olson for Harrison Mills, SGA President
Werner G. Berger for Dale Coleman, Animal Sciences
Jane B. Teel for Robert Agne, Communication and Journalism
Jamie Harrison for Jada Kohlmeier, Curriculum And Teachin,
Absent, no substitute:
Judy Sheppard, Secretary
Don Large, Executive VP
Debbie Shaw, Vice President, Alumni Affairs
Jane Parker, VP Development
Don Large, Vice President for Finance
Jane Parker, Vice President for Development
Jennifer Richardson, Staff Council Chair
Laura Plexico, Steering
Larry Teeter, Steering
Paul Brown, ACES
Beth Guertal, Crops, Soil and Environmental Science
Jocelyn Zanzot, Architecture
Mark Taylor, Building Sciences
Cliff Lange, Civil Engineering
Wi-Suk Kwon, Consumer Affairs
Ellen Abell, Human Development And Family Studies
Dong-Joo Kim, Mechanical Engineering
Chippewa Thomas, Outreach
Jeffrey Hemmes, ROTC Air Force
Scott Copeland, ROTC Army
Call to order
Senate Chair Larry Crowley called the meeting to order at 3:30; quorum was established based on count; minutes of the January 14 Senate meeting were approved without corrections
Remarks and Announcements
Office of the President: Jay Gogue, President:
The president briefly mentioned the recent closure due to the winter weather. Legislature is in session (11 days of 30). Work will be concluded by mid-March; there are not many bills to be expected that are controversial. The BOT meets this Friday at AUM; not much discussion to be anticipated on the items on the agenda for this meeting. On Thursday the ground-breaking for the Medical School in the Research Park will take place at 2:30 PM and everyone is invited. The University received a letter from the Gates Foundation: Auburn currently has 14 students that are being paid for as Gates Millennium Scholars.
Office of the Provost: Tim Boosinger, Provost:
The Provost asked everyone for their cooperation in regard to the make-up days which have been worked out with Constance Relihan office. The Provost asked everyone to closely work with their Associate Deans of Academic Affairs to determine the number of classes on those make-up days; the number will decide over how many of the Tiger Transit busses will be needed as well as possibly food services on Saturdays, etc. He further thanked everyone that participated in the open forums to discuss ways to improve the budget model in Auburn; one was held in December and one in January. During the forums there have been many questions and he tried to illustrate where we are in the process. The Provost and Dr. Clark will come around and hold meetings in all 12 Colleges and School with as much time as it takes to explain what is considered and why. These visits should be done within the next few weeks and schedules will be worked out with the Deans. The goal is to make (if at all) not any plan, but a plan for Auburn.
University Senate Chair, Larry Crowley:
There are no action items today but there are a few pending action items.
Pending Action Items:
1.Call for Nominations for Rules Committee Members: Presenter: Gisela Buschle-Diller, Senate Secretary-elect standing in for Judy Sheppard, Senate Secretary explained the function, composition and regulations of the Rules Committee and called for nominations from the floor. Nominations will be made during this meeting and elections will be held during the March Senate meeting for three slots to open in August 2014; terms are two-years, staggered
Nominations from the floor:
2. AGSC Engineering Exemption to Core Curriculum: Presenter: Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies – pending action item was generated by the Core Curriculum and General Studies Committee. Constance Relihan explained the background that led to the request for exemption for 6 credit hours of the core for Engineering students. It was approved by this committee as well as anonymously by the Steering Committee. Constance Relihan emphasized that no one on the committee argued that it was not the point that Auburn students needed less education. “It is not about less education but about negotiating a lot of complexities. In an ideal world we would argue for an increased general education, however we live in the world we live.” If approved, the next step would be for the College of Engineering to put forward its revised curriculum to the University Curriculum Committee which will then have to ensure that each of these departmental models was appropriate before approving them.
Discussion and Questions:
Vicky van Santen (Senator Pathobiology) asked if there will be other exemptions to follow.
Constance Relihan replied that no, this is NOT the first one of many. This is it. Only Engineering.
Michael Stern (Senator of Economics) questioned whether Constance Relihan and the committee have the authority to constrain whether we approve future exemptions from the core….
Constance Relihan replied that no further exemptions will be approved unless the State changes the law …
Michael Stern: … we had a different core than we have now…
Constance Relihan: … we can change it upwards, we cannot change it downwards from what was on the slate…
Michael Stern read from the Mission Statement relating to the recent Strategic Plan, referring to the importance of the breadth of education as opposed to achieving graduation in a particular time; thus rather a particular outcome, and that of a superior outcome. He did not see any data in the presentation on SLOs on how this modification would affect the student outcomes. He questioned the successful performance of the Engineering students in regard to those SLOs that would be directly affected by this modification and cited data of self-reported graduate student opinions on the OIRA website, broken down by College and direct surveying in the core without asking the students what their majors were, as to the learning levels students achieved in the relevant areas. He looked at the most recent survey of Engineering students, specifically at the question dealing with the analyzing interactions of social systems, law, politics, economics and culture and the survey showed that 45% of students achieved either little or no ability or only minimal ability in this area. Compared to writing, communicating effectively, 12.1% of Engineering students reported little to no or basic ability, approaching 4 times the failure rate in this particular area. He summarized that the students, due to their own assessment, found themselves weaker in the areas that are proposed for cutting than in any other. Compared to previous years students’ capabilities had not improved but deteriorated in these categories. For students that have taken certain courses at this institution, it does not mean they achieved anything. He thought that under the new core we had moved away from taking courses equals meeting requirement to achieving a learning outcome. He then related the situation of his father who had received an engineering degree at MIT in 4 years and had not worked in his field of training more than 3 years, but rather in other jobs to further emphasize the importance of the core.
Patricia Duffy (Chair-elect) pointed out that she is speaking in favor of the proposal having been the Chair of the Curriculum Committee for the University in the past. She said that she witnessed previous ABET rounds and had seen material being added due to changes in technology. The way to add new material was to add new courses which bumped up the curriculum. It causes problems for students to graduate. All of the other schools in the State and also in some other States have also cut courses in Social Sciences and Humanities. She pointed out that it is not the best outcome in the world to cut these courses (herself being an English major), but Auburn University needs to stay competitive with other Engineering institutions in-State and out-of-State by giving the students an opportunity to graduate in a timely way from an expensive education. This modification is the best of bad choices to let the students have a lower core by cutting the core by 6 h and letting them graduate in a timely manner. Also, although ¼ of students get into Engineering, not all of them are leaving with an Engineering degree. Approximately ½ of the ¼ of students entering Engineering in Auburn end up transferring into other majors. Therefore, a considerably lower number of students would graduate with this modified core.
Constance Relihan added that the most recent data of a survey of graduates on the OIRA’s website is from 2012 and showed that the students reported intermediate ability (not broken down by college, and students graduated before the 2011 outcomes-emphasized core was instituted). Also, data the Committee developed on learning outcome success indicated in general our students have intermediate ability in all SLOs right now except in SLO 11 (aesthetic appreciation) and in information literacy. Regardless of the proposal, she encouraged everyone to push these outcomes in dealings with students.
Hilary Wyss (Senator of English) asked if there will be a sustained commitment that when we are taking down the number of core courses there will not be a bumping up the number of other requirements and courses, such as by adding electives, etc.
Constance Relihan affirmed the commitment from the Provost’s Office. It will be further emphasized by the UCC which has the responsibility of approving the final plans.
Guy Rohrbaugh (Senator of Philosophy) added that he understands that there is sort of a trade-off between graduation rates and core courses which will help not only the students but the University as a whole. He worried that about ½ the students who leave Engineering are included in these figures…
Constance Relihan … both - the 24% was for students who start in Engineering and graduate in 4 years in Engineering…
Guy Rohrbaugh (Senator of Philosophy) … in Engineering? The answer clarified his question.
Bob Locy (Senator of Biologic Sciences) asked whether there is any information available on what other Engineering schools do about ABET pushing for more courses and how others are solving this issue. Are they just pushing their course hours up or are they requiring an additional year instead of 4 years for graduation? How is the rest of the world solving this problem, not just Alabama?
Constance Rehilan said that it was a struggle both ways. The State of Maryland passed a law to require a degree program to not exceed 120 hours, so if units are not having these discussions now, they will be soon. But it is a struggle for Engineering admittedly.
Steve Duke (Assoc. Dean of CoE, substitute for Chris Roberts) referred to the question about ABET requesting and increasing credit hours. He himself just got certified as an ABET evaluator and he does not anticipate it in terms of former ABET models where specific topics were decided on and you had to meet those topics and an individual faculty or discipline got to decide on outcomes and objectives and how these outcomes and objectives are being met. He believes that over the past years the process has been stabilized in terms of technical credit hours for Engineering and the Sciences. Compared to other (competing) institutions, we do have slightly more hours of Humanities and History. Interestingly, they (our competitors) do have 132-134 credit hours though in many of their curricula. So they have more of the engineering credit hours in there.
Charles Israel (not Senator, History), also former Curriculum Committee member when the Committee was making recommendations (1992), pointed out the concern that the core curriculum should represent what a college student should know and be able to do and that the then current core curriculum showed an imbalance that had narrowed to the professional discipline. The Committee then made a revision to retreat from the narrow major specifics. The revision back then led to a menu of courses to be taken that we have now. The proposal coming up now, however, seems like a direct insult by going back to the narrowed curriculum. The State gives us the opportunity and that, yes, we can do it, but how are Engineering students indeed less in need of these courses than are the other majors?
Constance Relihan …. In an ideal world it wouldn’t be an issue….
Michael Stern (Senator of Economics) returned to the Mission and Vision Statement and the Strategic Planning phase of Auburn University and added that according to this Vision Statement Auburn University will emerge as one of the “preeminent” comprehensive Land Grant universities of the 21st century. If we wish to be “preeminent”, should we follow the University of Alabama or follow the minimum requirements adopted 20 years ago by some State Commission here in Alabama? We always previously rejected that. Why would then our first step towards being preeminent be to narrow the scope of the education for a ¼ of the students of this University, especially since the areas we are cutting are their weakest areas?
Bill Sauser (immediate-past Chair) mentioned that these issues were well-known when the law was passed. All the other Engineering institutions in the State chose this option. “We had a noble experiment to try and we have seen some data on the consequences of it.” The Committee had deliberated on these issues and he feels personally confident in their recommendation.
Larry Crowley: …. One more comment or question…
Michael Watkins (not Senator, Philosophy Dept.) replied that, having been on the Curriculum Committee back then together with Charles, he understands that the credit hours are high, some programs in Engineering have more 130, some 124 and above, but the recommendation put forward is College-wide, not program by program. He suggested to not looking at the College, but at programs. He said that we have programs that reduce their hours by 6 and then add 3 technical electives which does not make sense. Why are we making this College wide? It would be nice to see what other Engineering programs are doing outside the State of Alabama. How is this issue handled by Cal Tech? MIT? Berkeley? It would be nice to see how comparisons look like elsewhere.
Larry Crowley (Chair) ended the discussion by adding that this item will come up as an action item during the next Senate meeting. He suggested emailing comments and questions over the next month to him which he will forward.
1. Intercollegiate Athletics Committee Update, Presenter: Mary Boudreaux, Chair, gave an overview on Athletics, student successes, scholarships and other issues related to Intercollegiate Athletics. She announced that there will be a tour of the facilities open to the Senators in May (to be announced)
Questions and Discussion:
Michael Stern (Senator of Economics) asked a question about clustering in sports programs broken out by majors, e.g. public administration students as football players (?).
Mary Boudreaux said she is not familiar with the major of public administration.
2. Winter Weather Campus Closing Procedure, Presenter: Chance Corbett, Associate Director, Emergency Management, gave an overview on the chain of command in case of inclement weather and how decisions are made in regard to campus closure.
New Business: Larry Crowley, Senate Chair
Unfinished Business: Larry Crowley, Senate Chair
Sanjeev Baskiyar (Senator of Computer Sci. & Software Engineering) brought forward two items. First, with teaching evaluations being done electronically, it would be nice to have averages by the Department, by class size, by the level, and thus have more accurate information. It would make sense as long as there are more than 3 samples of the course so that information is not disclosed inappropriately. Secondly, in Fall 2014 it seems there will be no hang tags anymore for parking. Parking permits will be tied to the license plate. However hang tags would allow for rental cars or loaned vehicles while your car is in the shop. Currently two vehicles can be registered by sending an email to Parking Services, but registration for the second vehicle should also be possible to register on-line.
Adjournment: Larry Crowley, Senate Chair, at 5:08 PM