Senate Steering Committee

Aug. 1, 2013

Present: Larry Crowley, Chair; William Sauser, Immediate Past Chair; Judy Sheppard, Secretary; Patricia Duffy, Chair-Elect; Gisela Buschle-Diller, Secretary-Elect; Laura Plexico; Larry Teeter; Mike Baginski; Don Mulvaney; Associate Provost Emmett Winn.

• Meeting called to order by LC at 3:35 p.m.

• Minutes from June 20 meeting approved, with minor grammatical corrections and Bill Sauser as present.

• Judy Sheppard reported on the status of senators and committees.

A full roster of senators is now elected.

Most committees have nominees to go forward for approval by Senate in September. Several possible new Rules nominations.

Faculty grievance committee -- deans of College of Education and CADC Status are conducting elections.
Larry Crowder has identified chairs.

• Provost’s Administrator Review Guidelines: in absence of a Senate meeting and because very minor requests for revisions were made and were incorporated, Steering approved the guidelines.

Emmett Winn said that the Executive Committee will receive a list of administrators who have been identified as having served 3 to 5 years in position. It will then add or delete names as it identifies them. Deans are responsible for ensuring evaluations are done.

The fact that all chairs and heads are ultimately appointed by the deans, although department bylaws may specify elections, was discussed.

Emmett said that he will chair the review of Graduate School Dean George Flowers; Rick Cook will chair the review of John Mason (reporting directly to provost).

Mike Baginiski suggested that evaluations are best in the spring. He noted that many faculty still fear retribution following evaluations. Gisela Buschle-Diller said it needs to be made clearer that the faculty’s voices make a difference.

• Larry noted that the Board of Trustees has approved the strategic plan. Faculty vitality is an important factor and hopes that the COACHE committee will come up with strategies, rather than “take the temperature” of the faculty, as was done in 2005.

• Status of searches:

Senate leadership will be asked to provide a representative for both the VP for Research and the VP for Student Affairs searches. Larry hopes for “top notch” people. For VP for Research (an internal search) an extremely respected researcher is needed; several names were discussed. For VP for Student Affairs, Larry emphasized a candidate who is more involved in retention, undergraduate student concerns, etc., than research in that field.

• Status of initiatives.

a) Policy on external fellowships: only an omission in current leave policy. Needs to be fixed so that it’s clear that new faculty not yet eligible for research leave can go on Fulbright fellowships, etc., without penalty.

b) Conflict of interest policy: It is still in the office of the VP for Research but moving forward. Larry has encouraged them to coordinate with the Faculty Research Committee before bringing it back to the Senate.

c) Annual tenure review clause in Faculty Handbook: James Goldstein’s resolution will be taken up by the Faculty Handbook Committee, on which he now serves.

d) Graduate tuition waiver and grants: Chris Newland will come to next Steering to discuss the recommendations that the FRC came up with. Several committee members noted that the faculty remains upset about this; that other universities seem more aggressive about recouping the graduate student faculty moneys; that George Flowers needs to hear and speak to faculty concerns. Larry said he will invite George to the next steering committee as well.
In the meantime, the requested moratorium on this policy remains in effect.

e)Total faculty compensation information: Larry wants more transparency about how AU stacks up with other universities, particularly in its 403B matching contributions (AU being the only school in the state with a cap).

• Committee charges, discussed by Larry:

1. Policy on returning retired faculty to classroom. Current cap is $23,000 in salary before retirement funds are reduced. Because it is a state law, we need to push this – it keeps good faculty in classrooms, encourages retirements, eases some need for non-tenure-track faculty hires. Which committee: Faculty Salaries and Welfare? Steering?

2. Standardizing maternity leave/tenure clock issues across campus. Committee: Faculty Salaries and Welfare?

3. Teaching evaluations: Numerous problems. Larry would like data grouped by grade point average. Emmett suggests making the evaluations about courses, not teachers, and that tying merit raises to evaluations is a problem. Committee: Teaching Effectiveness?

4. Comparison of faculty benefits and welfare (salary, retirement, etc.) to peer institutions. Committee: Faculty Salaries and Welfare?

5. Non-tenure track faculty: The NTT Faculty Report indicates that many feel isolated and left out of faculty votes, etc. The Handbook states that full-time non-tenure track faculty can vote on everything but tenure and can serve as senators as well. How to address this issue: A Senate policy proposal? Ask provost to make it clear through administrative channels how NTT faculty should be included? Bill suggests broaching this at the president’s meeting on Aug. 12.

6. Outreach – how to define, value and promote it. Larry asks if a new committee is needed to examine how it affects promotion and tenure, is considered scholarship, etc. Such a committee could be given a charge similar to the FRC.

7. Learning objectives. The Gen Ed committee will be asked to study the number of learning objectives and how they are measured at peer universities and bring back several options to reduce our number of learning objectives and to successfully measure them. (AU has 11 objectives; many colleges have 5.) Patricia emphasizes that objectives should be disconnected from specific classes and that the objectives measure student competencies, not whether classes are provided.

• Sheppard brought up the issue of providing health benefits to adjuncts and the arguments developing over whether to cut part-time hours to save health care costs now mandated by law. Emmett said the provost has been clear that academic decisions are made for students’ best interests, not because of who we offer health care to.

Tentative agenda for Senate Meeting Aug. 27:

1. Academic Program Review committee membership – add representative from associate provost for undergraduate studies (presented by Patricia). Vote in September.

2. Confirm new Senate committee nominations and present nominees for Rules committee, accept nominations from the floor (Sheppard). Vote in September.

3. The FRC report on graduate tuition and grants: Chris Newland, possibly George Flowers.

4. Revisit the policies on INC, attendance and make-up work, as presented by Brian Parr at May meeting.

Adjourned at 5:08 p.m.