Minutes of the Auburn University General Faculty Meeting
Oct. 29, 2013
Broun Hall Auditorium
Submitted by Judith Sheppard
A complete transcript is available.

Auburn University Senate Chair Larry Crowley called the meeting to order at 3:30 p.m. There being no quorum needed for the biannual general faculty meeting, the first order of business was approval of the minutes of the March 19, 2013 faculty meeting. Dr. Crowley asked if there were any corrections. There being none, the minutes were approved. Dr. Crowley then asked President Jay Gogue to speak to the faculty.

Dr. Gogue thanked the faculty in attendance and thanked the Senate in particular for its leadership. He urged the faculty to consider that as election of officers neared.

Dr. Gogue’s announcements included:

• The university budget, which is balanced for the first time in several years. Faculty received small raises and a one-time bonus. However, the state allocated money especially for cybersecurity, and AU was named one of four universities to be honored by the national center for academic excellence in that area.

• Three departments had been designated as schools: kinesiology, communication and journalism, and fisheries. Fisheries has fewer numbers than usually required, but peer universities designate that department a school.

• A partnership with Raycom and the School of Communication and Journalism which has resulted in a television studio-classroom facility on Gay Street. Students will be engaged in producing broadcast news programs.

• The $40 million gift to the College of Business by Raymond and Katherine Harbert, the largest in the university’s history. “So, if you see Raymond or Katherine, be sure to thank them,” he said (general laughter).

• The Auburn University vet school has for years been running the “Vapor Wake” program, in which dogs are raised and trained to detect and differentiate between 80 different explosive devices. Because the university has had trouble producing the number of dogs needed, a private firm in Anniston has been engaged to help. The school will still raise, breed and train the dogs.

• Three faculty members were selected for the SEC leadership training program: one from Communication and Journalism, one from McWhorter Building Science Program, and one from Mechanical Engineering.

• Professor Bill Buskist from the Psychology department has been given a lifetime achievement award from the Psychological Society.

• Notable among research efforts is the department of biochemistry, which has created a new disease detection device that first responders can use to use a blood sample to detect within three minutes a number of factors. The usual test takes six hours.

• The Southern Association for Colleges and Schools will make an announcement about AU’s accreditation status in December. All material requested has been filed.

• Two buildings: a research facility in the industrial park which offers space for research in Forestry, the College of Science and Mathematics, and the College of Engineering. However, it will also be for multi-disciplinary research. For those who win large research awards, space will be available quickly.

• Auburn has been designated as an Olympic training site for handball. An Olympic group looking for handball courts for competition came to Auburn. The group “was very disappointed in me” (general laughter) and told me it is the second most popular sport in the world, but the United States is always at the very bottom in the Olympic competition. It’s played with a ball the size of a cantaloupe and is similar to soccer. About 30 men and 30 women will be trained.

• He thanked Paul Harris and other members of the honors college whose work resulted in six students nominated for Rhodes scholarships.

Provost Tim Boosinger discussed the steps being taken to implement the university’s strategic plan.

• Number One is student success; we are optimistic we’re moving forward. (a) One point is increasing distance learning opportunities at the undergraduate level, up to 5,000 within the next five years. A private firm has been hired to help. (b) Recruitment for diversity in the undergraduate level. We have “barely a hundred” out of 20,000 undergraduates. The goal is 1,000 international students. A private firm will be hired. Dr. Emmett Winn is heading committees involved in these two initiatives.

• Number Two in the strategic plan is faculty success. The COACHE survey (a Harvard University Graduate School program) will focus on productivity relative to instruction, discovery process, engagement, outreach, and those kinds of things that are core to our mission. Though the university has been working with the COACHE people since 2005, questions we wanted are added.

• Strategic Plan Priority No. Three is focus on research and excellence in research. A committee is working on this and making multidisciplinary research a priority.

• Strategic Plan Priority No. Five is maximizing budget allocations and making the budget more transparent. So we need to improve the quality of our processes and also how we communicate the budget to the faculty so everybody understands how these resources are being allocated. Huron is working with us on that. He encouraged faculty to come to the Nov. 5 senate meeting where a Huron representative, Andrew Law, will speak.

Dr. Crowley thanked the provost and introduced the next speaker, John Mason, associate provost and vice president for research. Dr. Mason said he’d asked two people also to speak: Ms. Martha Taylor and Ms. Marcie Smith.

He commented that the search for the vice president for research (to replace Carl Pinkert) is going well. He said that one of the main things he liked about Auburn was faculty participation in the search and academic process. In the meantime Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess has joined the office of research and is also looking at opportunities for funding with the Department of Defense. Other issues: there is no university veterinarian; a search should begin soon. Interdisciplinary efforts will engage the College of Engineering and the College of Osteopathic Medicine is looking for research space. Some entities in Huntsville are interested in Auburn, including NASA, which might bring its B.S. degree here. Some long-range public/private partnerships might come to the industrial park. Questions?

Sanjeed Baskiyar, senator from computer science and software engineering: What is the solution to the slowness of the patent process and the high speed of technological advancement and marketing?

Dr. Mason: I will be happy to sit down and speak with any faculty member. We have hired a firm to help us with that.

Dr. Baskiyar: Thank you very much.

Dr. Mason introduced Ms. Taylor, assistant vice president for research.

Ms. Taylor: We are looking at the overlap between Strategic Priority No. Two and Three, which involve productivity and stronger research. But the main issue is faculty vitality and the way faculty can be engaged, particularly in sponsored programs. Assistance available to faculty includes:
• “myfunding,” an electronic system that gives faculty a quick way to check for funding, deadlines, contracts and so on. It improves eVouchers in particular.
•  A Plus 6 group in the vice president for research’s office helps faculty navigate the proposal process. Colleges involved are Education, Engineering, Human Sciences, Vet Med and the Alabama Cooperative Extension.
• A grantsmanship program.
• Available on the VP for Research website, information on compliance, biosafety, conflicts of interest, technology transfer, public access to contracts and grants, etc.
Ms. Taylor said that faculty committees are regularly in the loop for information about funding, research, sponsored programs, a dean’s retreat, etc.
• Space in Foy Union is being renovated to provide space for meetings for communications between these groups.

Dr. Crowley introduced Dan King, assistant vice president for facilities management. He offered an update on the master plan. Major construction on buildings, including a dorm, parking lots and instructional buildings, has been done. Three buildings will be started: the small animal teaching hospital; a wellness kitchen; a new performance center for Telfair Peet. Projects going forward are renovations of the former Bruno’s supermarket and the lease of a former Wal-Mart. Treasury Accounting, Human Resources, and the library may move some functions to one of those buildings. Demand is high for food facilities. A student lounge at Lowder Hall with a Starbuck’s coffee shop has been approved by the Board of Trustees because there are no dining facilities on that side of campus. A chicken restaurant will come to Foy. Renovations to Dudley Hall should begin. Ground should be broken for the College of Osteopathic Medicine in early 2014.

He noted that he could look anyone in the eye and say that all these projects have been inclusive in nature. Also, there’s a move to designate open spaces on campus as field laboratories. Also, there will be a greater focus on the Parkerson Mill river and wetlands.

A survey about space deficit on campus has shown that COSAM has the greatest shortage of instructional laboratories. We don’t have a shortage of classrooms but do have a problem with condition, size and flexibility of use. The greatest deficit of space is in the School of Nursing. They have about 21 percent of the space they need and have been turning away high quality applicants.

One major focus we’ve had is removing older buildings: Haley, Spidle, Allison, Upchurch, Funchess. But the university has to be sensitive to how much money it’s borrowed. The focus has now turned to space to enhance student success. (He then presented a series of maps to indicate where possible construction is being discussed.) Included are plans for a Mell Street extension of the library and a classroom and social center in the area of Allison and Parker near the Roosevelt Commons and the Transit bus center. This would open up space in Haley and the bookstore, etc., might be moved as well. A new building for the College of Education would reduce need for classrooms in Haley, so the towers could be taken down. Questions?

Immediate Past Chair Bill Sauser agreed that these have been very transparent discussions and that he was pleased to see the Central Classroom Facility heading the list of projects.

Dr. King said the three top projects are all directed toward student success: the STEM laboratories, and academic success centers.

There being no new or unfinished business or announcements, Dr. Crowley adjourned the meeting at 4:48 p.m.