Transcript Senate Meeting
August 21, 2012
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you, if we would come to order please. Welcome to the August meeting of the Auburn University Senate, I’m Bill Sauser, the chair of the Senate. Before we begin I’d like to give you a short review of the rules of the Senate. First is that we want all senators and anyone who is an official substitute for a senator, please sign the roll in the back. We don’t have our clicker today because we are not anticipating any votes. So I will declare a quorum in just a moment, you can eyeball around and see we’ve got a lot of folks here, but do sign that roll in the back if you would. Second, if you’d like to speak about an issue or ask a question, please go to the microphone located on either aisle, wait to be recognized, and when you are recognized please state your name and indicate whether or not you’re a senator and if so, what unit you represent. Finally the rules of the Senate do require that senators have the opportunity to speak first, then after all comments by Senators on any issue, our guests are welcome to speak as well. So if you are a guest you may address us following any senators who need to speak to an issue.
We don’t have our clickers today. It looks to me as though a quorum is present, unless there is an objection I will declare a quorum present. Hearing none, we declare a quorum is present.
The agenda is shown on the screen. The agenda is set for every meeting by the Steering Committee, so this is an officially adopted agenda set by the Steering Committee. We’ve called to order and established a quorum and our first order of business is to approve the minutes from our June 5, 2012 meeting. Those minutes were posted on everyone’s e-mail, they were posted on the Senate Web site, I think everyone’s had an opportunity to see them. Are there any corrections to the minutes that anyone would like to our attention? Seeing none then I declare that the minutes of the June 5, 2012 meeting are approved. [2:22]
Our next order of business, are remarks and announcements and we will have remarks from the Office of the President presented by Tim Boosinger, our Provost. Dr. Boosinger.
Dr. Tim Boosinger, Provost: Thank you Bill, I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you this afternoon about just a few things. First I’d like to welcome everybody back. I say that with some caution because we have a large summer school program and I know many of you here were here through the summer, but we’ve been busy welcoming the students back. Transition to fall term has gone smoothly, the move in, convocation, a few little glitches, but overall very pleased with how the fall semester has gotten off to a good start.
Dr. Gogue sends his regrets that he could not be with us this afternoon, his responsibilities take him elsewhere, he asked me to update you with a couple of words on the budget. Everybody is always concerned about the state budget and the support for higher education in Alabama and right now the tax revenues for the state to go to higher education and all of education for that matter, the education trust fund, are running ahead of projections, so there’s no indication that there will be any proration through the rest of this year, so that’s just 6 or 7 weeks. Getting prorated at this point in time is a serious challenge, but it has happened. We’re optimistic that that trend will continue. The tax revenues will remain stable or may increase slightly as we move into 2013, so hopefully that will provide us with some financial stability for the next year. So, that’s good news, it’s not real good news but it’s good news given what we’ve been through since 2008.
I wanted to update you just briefly on some enrollment since the start of the semester. Total enrollment at Auburn University is 24,725 students as of yesterday. There are 20,078 undergraduates and 4,647 graduate students, which that number now includes the professional students. New freshmen are at 3,856, that’s down 350 or so from last year, but that’s okay because that was a targeted number we were trying to hit around 3,800 and get under that 4,000. 3,856 is a good number for us, we are please with that. 63% of the new freshmen are Alabama residents, that’s up from 56% last year, but you should know if you didn’t already our target for striking that balance is 60/40, 60% residents and 40% non-residents in our undergraduate population and so that’s pretty close at 63%. The average ACT scores for entering freshmen is 26.9 that’s down just slightly from last year when we had a record high of 27.2. I don’t know if that is significantly meaningful. The Honors College, we don’t have exact numbers yet, the target; we were trying to bring the Honors College numbers down below 1,000 and the target we agreed on was about 750 new students in the honors program. We think we are close to that, we might be a little under 750 and then would be a good thing.
A couple more items; I wanted to talk with you for just a minute about some of the things that the Provost’s Office is going to be working on this fall and working on with many of you. [6:29] One of those has to do with student success and ways in which we can work on improving retention of undergraduates and improving our graduation rates at 4, 5, and 6 years. So all of that kind of falls under student success, I’ve tried to communicate that to you as a priority in my monthly letter. You will hear more about that as we move forward. We are also going to work this year as we have in the past on programs that will enhance faculty success, so be looking for those things.
Dr. Gogue has asked the Provost’s Office to staff the strategic planning process that we are going to start this year, setting our strategic priorities for the next 5 years. As you know during the president’s first 5 years we went through a strategic planning process, a very inclusive strategic planning process, we re going to do that again and we’re going to ask all stake holders that are interested to comment on what should now be the priorities for the future. We made significant progress in the last 5 years, so we need to have a discussion now about what are our goals and objectives for the next 5 years in order to advance the mission of Auburn University. I think it’s actually, in spite of our financial challenges, it’s a very exciting time to be at Auburn University. There are a lot of opportunities for us to consider, always some challenges, some of those challenges become opportunities.
To kick that off, that strategic planning process, Dr. Gouge and I are going to come around and meet together with every academic unit at Auburn University during the coming weeks. [8:18] A memo is going to go out to the deans maybe later today or tomorrow with a set of dates where Dr. Gogue and I have set aside to come and make those 55 visits. We’ve gone through calendars and everything to try to figure this out, it will take us until February to have all of the discussions, but I think it is a great opportunity for the two of us to sit with the faculty in every department and talk about the department’s strengths and your shared vision for the future of Auburn University. I look forward to those discussions and appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today for a few minutes. Are there any questions for me, or any that I can pass on to the president?
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you very much Dr. Boosinger. The next order of business I have a few comments that I’d like to share with you as chair of the Senate. So I think Laura is going to bring those up for me. [9:26] Thank you, Laura.
Just a brief report. First I wanted to be sure that you know who your elected officers are. Our Immediate Past Chair is Ann Beth Presley. I don’t’ believe Ann Beth is with us today, she is dealing with a health issue and we hope to have her back among us shortly. I am the elected Chair, Chair-Elect is Larry Crowley, our Secretary is Robin Jaffe, and our Secretary-Elect is Judy Sheppard. We are the 5 elected officers of the Senate, I had the privilege of appointing a parliamentarian and I’m delighted to state that Constance Hendricks has agreed to be, here she is right in front of me, our parliamentarian this year and we very much appreciate that. Also I want to point out the excellent Administrative Assistance we receive from Laura Kloberg, as she assists us every day including during these meetings.
What do we do between meetings? Your executive committee members represent you in lots of different ways. I just wanted to point this out because you may not be aware of the representational activity that we seek to do on your behalf. First you will note that the executive committee, the 5 of us I just mentioned, meet with the Provost weekly. Those are great meetings and Dr. Boosinger is very open to our suggestions and we listen very carefully to his as well. We try to find ways that we can work together with the Provost’s Office for the benefit of Auburn University. Those of course include the weeks when the Steering Committee meets. The Steering Committee includes Dr. Boosinger as well as 4 other of the Senate and we get together and set the agenda. So those meetings occur every week. We also meet with the President and the Provost and the Executive Vice President every month, again a fine set of meetings, very good discussions. The President, the Provost, and the Executive Vice President are very open to our comments, so if you have information that you want to share you can contact them, or if you wish for us to speak on your behalf just let one of us know.
Ann Beth represents you to the Board of Trustees, Larry represents you on the Search committee for the Dean of the Veterinary College, Robin represents you on the Central Classroom Facility Committee, which has been very active of late. I have the privilege of representing you on the Executive Facilities Committee and on the Campus Master Plan Update Committee and I also represent you at meetings when the President and the Provost call their direct reports together, which for the President is about every week, for the Provost roughly every other week. So there is quite a bit of representational activity in all of us, we were involved this morning in the presidential assessment activities that occur, so this is the kind of thing that we seek to do between meetings as we are hoping to represent you well. [13:00] Let us know if you have any issues, ideas, concerns that you want us to address. We’re always interested in hearing from you. Of course we hear from faculty members at least every day, some we hear from multiple times a day which is good.
A little bit about what we are trying to accomplish at present. Current activity, the Rules Committee, is a committee on committees, the Rules Committee has been very busy over the summer and has just about completed all of committees together, but the Rules committee is finalizing the committee appointments The Steering Committee is assisting me as I try to get all the chairs and charges finalized for the committees, so that’s what’s going on. We have been in negotiations, I’ll put quotations around that, we have been in very productive discussions with the President and the Provost about an administrator hiring policy. You may recall if you a member of the Senate in 2007 that we passed a resolution on this issue. That resolution was sent to the then Provost and President and it was never officially adopted. The president has been operating as though it had been adopted. I think he recently received a statement from the Provost regarding his position on the matter, which is line with ours, and he’s very helpful and appreciate that very much. We will be brining to you, from the Steering Committee, a pending action item for your information next month and to vote on the month after about this resolution. So we may be seeing a completion of this matter left over from 2007.
We are also looking for some clarification on a number of issues related to employee pay and benefits. There is always issues about that you’ve received information sporadically in the past and there are a lot of questions about pay and benefits issues. We want to bring to you a comprehensive report that’s coming to you from the business office and that’s going to be on the agenda next month. Please come and bring your questions, any questions you have about this, we’ll have a good presentation.
Also does that last one surprise you? That we are acutely aware of parking issues, in fact I had one of my colleagues come and chew me out yesterday, saying “You’re chair of the Senate, do something about it.” So we are acutely aware of the parking problems and being a faculty member in Business I know that the half lot we now share with Engineering and with Pharmacy and the Nursing school and who ever else uses it, is rather inadequate and we are seeking to address that. I believe it is fair to say, Tim, that the administration is aware of the issue as well. I think that’s quite fair to say, actually I think everyone’s concerned about it, we’re trying to work on it.
Priorities, what are the priorities for the Senate? I was asked, “Bill, what was your platform when you ran…?” well I didn’t have a platform, I said my intention is to see to it that the business of the Senate is dealt with expeditiously. But we do have priorities that are established by the executive committee and the steering committee and this body. [16:30] The priorities of the Senate are established by the members of the Senate and these 2 committees on your behalf have talked about some priorities of some things that we have been working on over the previous years, probably will work on over the next several years and we’ll certainly pay attention to this year and here we are. One is to maintain a productive working relationship with our central administration and with the Board of Trustees.
We enjoy a good relationship with the Board and with the administration at present. That good relationship was formed through the blood, sweat, and tears of a lot of people, and I want to credit our former faculty officers and our current Trustees and our current President, Provost, Executive VP for making it happen. We’ve got a good relationship right now and we want to keep it, we understand that it is faculty responsibility as much as the Board’s and the Administration’s responsibility to see that that relationship remains strong.
Can you agree with that one? We want to make certain that our accreditation is reaffirmed. We will be working certainly toward that and will hear a report about that coming soon. We want to participate actively in the strategic planning and priorities process as Dr. Boosinger just described. We’ve been invited to participate, it will be a very open process. All of you will have the opportunity and we will see to it that faculty voices are heard. [18:07]
The Campus Master Plan is being revisited we’re looking toward the future and I was appointed to that committee, thank you very much. We want the faculty to help shape the Campus Master Plan update, including perhaps some more parking. We already heard from Dr. Boosinger, a priority of the entire university, I want to reiterate this is very much a faculty priority as well, we want our students to succeed and we want to retain them through graduation. We will be looking at some things that may help student success and retention. We certainly hope so, and invite all of you to participate in that as well. We want to complete the revision of the AU Faculty Handbook. This process started 3, 4, 5 years ago, it’s been proceeding quite well. We completed Phase I and Phase II. We’re in Phase III right now trying to go through and make sure we polished it down and it looks good, you will be hearing from us a little bit later in the year.
The seventh priority, we want to strengthen the role of the Senate and University Committees. We have a lot of people serving on a lot of committees and those committees have a lot of work to do. Well we don’t want to appoint people to committees and then have them not do anything, instead we want those committees to be very active because that’s the grassroots opportunity for faculty, staff, students, and others to participate in the grassroots shared governance of the University. So we want those committees to be very active and we as the Executive Committee are going to do everything we can to activate, charge, stay on top of, and support our committees as they are involved of the governance of the university.
Eight is the total compensation package. We used to talk about salaries over here and benefits over there, it’s very clear these days we’re interested in the total package of salary and benefits. How do Auburn University faculty members compare to their peers at other universities. We are going to investigate that, bring a report forward and see what we can do to strengthen our compensation at this university. [20:32]
Number 9 is guidance in the Central Classroom Facility, it’s a very exciting development, it’s going to be really important to all of us, we have a great central classroom, it may be one building, it may be multiple buildings, the key is, let’s do it right. Robin’s right in there with us, give all of your suggestions to Robin, he’s welcome to hear what you have to say. He’s been working really hard to see to it, as many others in this room, that we have a great new central classroom facility.
Finally the tenth, the Performing Arts Center, it’s been on our agenda for years. We re trying to bring it to the top of the agenda, the forefront; I have received assurances that it is very high on the President’s agenda as well, it’s going to be high on our development agenda, it’s going–we hope to appear on the Campus Master Plan. We are going to do everything we can to bring a Performing Arts Center to Auburn University. It won’t be up and operating by the end of this year, this is a multiple year effort, everyone realizes that., but we are going to pick up and see to it that this gathers steam over the year.
Well those are our priorities and that’s the conclusion to my report. If there are any questions or comments, I invite you to go to the microphone to be recognized. Please remember when you are recognized, state your name, the unit you represent. Robert we’ll start with you.
Bob Locy, senator Biological Sciences: In 2007 I believe you said when the administrator hiring policy was considered by the Senate, as I recall I was the chair-elect of the Senate at that time and as I recall. Then Provost, Dr. John Heilman, sat in of course on all of our meetings and was well aware of the administrator hiring policy that came to the Senate, and passed. However as I understand it, he never signed it and forwarded it to the president, so that’s the reason it never really became an official policy. That suggests to me that there is a need for looking at the policy on the roll of the Senate in making such things as this become, shall we say–signed into law. And I’d like to ask that the Executive Committee, Steering Committee, and/or Rules Committee take up consideration of what changes perhaps in the Faculty Handbook would be necessary, and my suggestion would be putting a time limit on the Provost and/or President notifying the Senate leadership about the fact that they are not going to or are going to enact those resolutions passed by the Senate into real policy for the University. I hold no malice for anyone for what has happened before only that it seems to reflect the lack of something we need to have because although Dr. Heilman participated in all the discussions for it, I have no idea whether he failed to sign it just as an oversight or whether there was something purposeful about his failing to sign it that kept it from becoming law and I think we need a policy to ensure that if things are not going to be signed, the Senate leadership is notified of that so an alternative can be brought back to the Senate for consideration that would be acceptable. [24:21] Normally I would think those things would come up during the deliberations before it ever came to the Senate in the first place.
Bill Sauser, chair: Thank you Bob, that’s and excellent suggestion and I appreciate you also reflecting on your memory of those days. Thank you. Are there any other comments or questions? Thank you, then we will proceed to the next item of business. We have no action items on the agenda today nor are there any action items pending. Action items pending are those items that we are bringing to you for information one month before being voted on the next month. We don’t have any of those at present. We do have 3 very important informational items and to present the first one, this is the University Ombuds Office Report coming from our ombudsperson, Dr. Jim Wohl. Jim if you would. [25:12]
Jim Wohl, ombudsperson: Thank you, good afternoon. I have a brief presentation we will look at some slides and then look at some data. I wanted to start and just briefly talk about the origins of the office just as a reminder for everyone. The origins of the office began in 2004 through some discussions in the University Senate, the A&P Assembly, and Staff Council, that as I understand it resulted in resolutions at that time. That was postponed or decisions on a Ombuds Office was postponed until 2007 when a second resolution was offer to President Gogue and supported funding for the office and a search was done and the office officially opened it’s doors on September 2, 2008. Originally it was a 2-year trial. In 2010, the office was evaluated by this body and, it was recommended that it be continued. The only change since 2010 is that in 2011 of October of last year the services were expanded to the student population. So the Ombuds Office since October serves all members of the campus community, where originally it was designed to serve faculty and non-faculty employees at the Auburn Campus including the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
A word about the work; it is based on the standards of practice and the code of ethics of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA). It is a standard for the work that’s conducted in the office. The work in the office or my work specifically is based on providing confidential, independent, neutral, and informal assistance to members of the campus community according to the standards of practice and code of ethics of the International Ombudsman Association. I won’t go into the details about that but there is a great deal of information in detail about those standards of practice and code of ethics both located on the Web page of the Ombuds Office which is listed above as well as an office brochure that’s available electronically at the home page of the Ombuds Office and also obviously some paper copies are available as well.
Okay, how about that data? What I am providing here this afternoon is a summary of the annual report for the past/current year of the Ombuds Office which is the forth year of the Ombuds Office. I begin with talking about the total population of the university as a kind of reference point. So of our total 4,610 approximately employees at the university about 25% of them are faculty member, 31% are staff members, and 43% are administrative/professional employees. Of the faculty about two-thirds are male and one-third are female; on the non-faculty side, that’s staff and A&P combined, 56% female and 44% male; and about a 50/50 split approximately of our student population, that includes graduate professional and undergraduate students combined. [29:06]
From that reference point I wanted to share information about visitors to the Ombuds Office in the past, almost 12 months, which has been a rate of 129 people in this past year. That’s pretty consistent on a year-to-year basis with about 10 or 15 visits per year. Of these 129 visitors a third or so are faculty members, a third or so were A&P employees, about 18% were staff members and as you can see 12% students and 5.4% other. The other category could be parents, community members, someone who does not fall into one of the other categories that we mentioned.
Looking at the gender distribution, for faculty the distribution is almost identical to the overall population of our faculty members. What we see on the non-faculty side, non-faculty employees is that women are overrepresented as visitors compared to the oveall population of our non-faculty employees. That is actually something that is evident not only in other Ombuds reports but also other informal conflict management methods like mediation programs or other informal conflict management systems in a variety of different work environments; academic and corporate sector for example. That overrepresentation is significant compared to the overall population however and I will be sharing that information when I meet with A&P Assembly as well as the Staff Council to discuss the details of those statistics.
The next piece of information I have is a summary of the responses that the Ombuds Office takes and what we see on this graph, which I’d like to appreciate Laura for developing and assisting with the images here, is on the y axis or the left side is percentages of these 129 visitors the percentage of those visitor where this action was taken, by me essentially, and on the x axis is just the raw number of those visitors. On the left that adds up to more than 100 percent and the explanation of course is that sometimes more than one action might be taken prompted by a visit. By the way, I’d like to also add too that, linked to the agenda of this meeting as well as linked to Ombuds Office Web page is a full report, this is just summary data. The full report has explanation of these activities as well for anyone that is interested, but far and away the most common event I suppose or action in the Office is a private conversation exploring options discussing the concern at hand and really about what are the different opportunities or different options one has of addressing that including formal processes or formal complaint mechanisms and a host of informal complaint mechanisms that are left with really the visitor to the Office who is raising the concern; is left with the choice of how to pursue that. [32:24]
This data is something that I’ve been tracking as well and this is pre-dispute verses post-dispute. What this refers to is at what point are visitors approaching the Ombuds Office. The distinction here is between engaging in the formal complaint process or formal disciplinary action, some formal action by a compliance office or regulatory office of some kind or even a disciplinary action of some kind. So of the visits of these 129 visitors the concerns brought 88% or so of it were before engaging with a formal complaint process on campus and about 12 or 13% was after that had happened. I think that’s important information in the sense that that’s generally what an Ombuds Office is designed to do, is to be in front of, if you will, the formal system to try to address concerns that are raised before engaging with a formal process. However there are very appropriate times where the Office may of assistance to people even after engaging with a formal process. That proportion seems to reflect the intent of the Office.
Then finally, maybe out of place, but this is a breakdown of the categories of issues that are raised in the Ombuds Office for your information. What I’m relying on here is the organization of the International Ombudsman Association provides a reporting scheme for ombudspersons to record concerns that are brought to the office, they break down into 9 different categories listed on the bottom left; compensation and benefits all the way through the values and ethics and standards of the entire institution. A pretty reasonable list if we were to think about the sort of concerns people might bring in a work setting to the Office. Far and away, we can see which is bourn out in most every ombuds report that I’ve reviewed is the preponderance of the issue category of evaluative relationships which refers to a supervisor/supervisee relationship on the academic side or the non-academic side. Whether there is a power imbalance or there is a… someone is evaluating someone else’s work or performance on the job, the relationship between those two is about half the time what the concerns revolve around.
What we’ll also see is that there are sub-categories to each of these categories as well and generally it’s rare when it’s just one solitary concern as they are broken down by the IOA here, so there’s an average of 5 concerns that get checked off per visit-just for your information to help you understand some of that data as well. Again a little bit more detail including a breakdown of the concerns that are raised and the subcategories by faculty members vs. non-faculty members that you might find interesting to take a look at is available in the full report online. [31:52]
The final slide here is contact information for the Ombuds Office. My office is located in basement floor of the Quad Center Building, same building where enrollment services is located, it’s in room 005. The phone number is listed and the Web page has more information as well. If I can answer any questions I’d be happy to. If I can provide any assistance to any of you or anyone that you know of on campus I am more than eager to do so as well. Thank you. [36:26]
Bill Sauser, chair: Are there any questions for Dr. Wohl? If none, then thank you very much Jim. I do want you to know that the Executive Committee participated in the written evaluation of Dr. Wohl’s work and uniformly we believe he’s doing and excellent job on behalf of the University. Jim, we very much appreciate what you do for all of us, thank you so much.
Our second informational report will come to us from Richard Burt, who is chair of the QEP Development Committee, and he’s going to talk about the e-portfolio project. Richard if you would.
Richard Burt, chair of the QEP Development Committee: Good afternoon, my name is Richard Burt. I’m the head of the McWhorter School of Building Science here at Auburn, but I’m here today in the capacity as chair of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Development Committee to talk to you about the Auburn Professional E-portfolio Project. The QEP is one of the key components of the SACS reaccreditation process. The development of the QEP has been a SACS requirement for several years, but this is the first time Auburn University’s been required to do this. You will see from this slide for a project to be successful, which we hope our will be, several criteria have to be met. Process for developing the QEP has so far taken 2 years. The 30 member exploratory committee was constituted in August 2010 to identify possible topics, solicit proposals, and make recommendations to senior leadership. Process resulted in 4 topics being recommended to the senior leadership for consideration of which the e-portfolio project that was chosen. The development committee from which I am chair was constituted last September with a charge to develop a working plan to implement the selected QEP topic of e-portfolios. [38:50] I believe some of the exploratory committee and some of the development committee are here, so I would like for those folks to raise their hands so people know who they are.
Our initial deliberations focused on what type of e-portfolio our project would focus on. After review of the current research and analysis of e-portfolio project of other institutions we settled on professional e-portfolios or sometimes called showcase e-portfolios. So what is a professional e-portfolio? A professional e-portfolio allows a student to synthesize learning experiences, showcase their skills and abilities to multiple audiences, such as future employers or graduate program administrators. The nature of electronic communication allows a wide range of artifacts to be included, word documents, Powerpoint presentations, spreadsheets, images, even movies, they go beyond the materials that could be included in traditional portfolios that many disciplines already require. You are probably aware of online networking sites like, Linked-in, which allows students to present the evidence of their learning to real audiences, but such site don’t include the reflective process that helps students find connections or synthesize their experience. Paper portfolios, [40:23] the types that I see architects in my college carrying around, include artifacts as evidence an offer a reflection that allows a student to synthesize and make a connection to different learning experiences, but because of their nature they are difficult to share with real and multiple audiences and rarely include evidence of technology competency necessary to modern life. Likewise, online writing such as blogs might include opportunities for students to reflect, communicate to real audiences and utilize technology, but they don’t include different kinds of documents that is evident in student learning experience. The e-portfolio combines all of these.
A professional e-portfolio provides students with an opportunity to reconsider, synthesize their experience both academic and extracurricular. It is not a static document and will change as students acquire new skills and abilities both within the university and as they progress into their careers. During their time at Auburn students acquire multiple skills and abilities in and out of the classroom. Students have expressed an interest in showcasing their skills to help them move into their future careers. The professional e-portfolio will give them this opportunity. The nature of the professional portfolio is that it is developed for an audience of the students choosing. The student might develop several different e-portfolios, each for a different audience. Many academic programs, like building science–my own program, require students to have a capstone or a senior project. This requires students to reconsider their academic experiences as a steppingstone into their future career. It would be and easy fit to accommodate professional e-portfolio into these.
I don’t have an e-portfolio, I’m no longer a student. I guess I don’t need one I’m probably might do one in the future, but I thought it would be good for you to hear from a student that has one. Laura Elmer is a graduate student and is a member of our QEP Development committee and she is here to tell you about her professional e-portfolio. [42:49] Laura.
Laura Elmer: good afternoon and thank you for letting me come today. Again, my name is Laura Elmer and I am finishing my dual masters degree in literature and rhetoric and composition and I am also joined today, I wanted to point out right here, by student representatives from SGA, The Student Writing Council, The MDRL, the AU New Media Club, and the Miller Writing Center who are all very excited about this project. But my interest in this project came from working on my own Master’s portfolio because I wanted my portfolio to be more than a stack of documents or pdfs with a statement of purpose on it. My interest also stems from my experience as an instructor in the classroom where I personally required a written portfolio, but I found my students playing around with the options of digital portfolios on their own. So thank you for letting me speak and I am going to take you on a tour of my own learning experiences with e-portfolios.
So my portfolio opens with an introductory page giving you a little bit of background about me. I found this page to actually be difficult for many students to write because it forces them to think about their own professional identity and ask them to situate themselves within their own field. In creating a structure for my e-portfolio was also a place where I had to synthesize my own experiences at Auburn because I had to recall and organize all that I had learned and figure out how to showcase my different skills to a particular audience, in my case a Master’s portfolio committee. From there working on individual pages like these forced me to work out dozens of different genres to find different themes throughout my work that I could connect the individual artifacts together to build a full body of work.
I was amazed by the freedom that an e-portfolio gave me to use a multitude of artifacts. When I use this word ‘artifacts,’ I mean the different sorts of documents or media that can be embedded into a portfolio. So for example you will see pictures here, blog posts, links, and I also created a video series working for the Office of University Writing on designing engaging writing assignments, which you see here.
I feel like this is a much better representation of what I’ve accomplished as a student and what Auburn has taught me. And with and end goal like this one I feel much more engaged as a student because I am working to create a real body of work that I can take with me instead of simply working towards a letter grade. I also wanted to include two shots from other students because they have been working really hard this summer, we have a pilot program and you can see how different each portfolio looks and the content varies. So what’s about to show is a downloadable CV, I had a downloadable CV but this student Eric used a resume that he displayed online, but also the next student who’s here Karisa Womack, she shows you how she connects her out-of-classroom experience to her coursework. So you can see here lots of experiences she had at Auburn, for example, the editor of the Auburn Circle literary magazine, and you can see her reflecting on this there.
o I just wanted to give you a little tour of what potential these have. These are all out side of the classroom and I feel like there could be incredible learning experiences that would come with your help. So thank you for having us speak today and I look forward to taking your questions at the end as do these students. So, back to Richard. [46:40]
Richard Burt, chair of the QEP Development Committee: Thank you Laura. I think I’m going to have to get me an e-portfolio sooner or later.
One of the key things of the QEP is we have to put together a set of learning outcomes. The professional e-portfolio project aims to impact student learning by including 4 broad learning outcomes. These are effective communication, critical thinking through connections and contextualization, technical competence, and visual literacy. Hopefully you saw all of those learning outcomes demonstrated in Laura’s short presentation.
Obviously a project chosen to enhance the quality of student learning will have a significant impact on the university. We envision that the professional e-portfolio project will help unify academic support units such as the Biggio Center, the Media and Digital Resources Lab, the RBD Library, the Miller Writing Center, and Career Services. The use of e-portfolios will be new to many academic units and this will require creation of infrastructures to support faculty, staff, and students. It is also hoped that the integration of professional e-portfolios into the various disciplines will provide new research opportunities. [47:56]
One of the things I want to stress about the e-portfolio project is that it is not an mandatory program and like the University Writing Program it is purely voluntary and participation is possible at all levels. An individual student could do this, and individual faculty member could do this or it could be done at a program or college level.
The draft QEP that we’ve been working on laboriously since last September will be available for public consultation very early in September. It sets out exactly what we intend to do. We intend to develop infrastructure to support students, faculty, and programs; support student learning through the expansion of support; and increase co-curricular activities many of which we are already pilot-testing; and support faculty development in extending curriculum monitoring students; and connect e-portfolios to teaching and research.
The draft QEP sets out several stages of development that will carry over the next 5 years. Initial work will focus on hiring a coordinator and identifying first adopters. Over the past year the QEP development committee has identified several programs that are willing to incorporate e-portfolios into their academic program. As the plan matures seed grants will be offered to encourage greater participation and workshops will be provided to support new participants. As the early adopters acquire knowledge and experience of using e-portfolios lessons will be learned and revisions made. Finally, an award system will be established and research initiatives will be sponsored.
So what happens next? We are going to continue to identify interested participants. And I hope this presentation today might bring some more folks out of the woodwork. The draft QEP Plan is going to be made available in September and there will be a public consultation process. We aim to solicit responses to the draft by the beginning of October and that will give us time to revise the document and submit it to senior leadership towards the end of the year and then it will be submitted to SACS. We will also make preparations for the SACS visit in March of 2013 by helping marketing in the QEP during the months leading up to that. We’ll also be responsible for doing the implementation action such as hiring the coordinator.
We have put together a short video that shows other students within the university talking about their experiences and work on the e-portfolio over the summer. I don’t know, Bill, if we have time to show this? There is a link to this on the Web site. (3-minute video)
Bil Sauser, chair: Our students have worked hard on this video, so let’s view it. [51:36--Video plays—55:00]
Richard Burt, chair of the QEP Development Committee: Thank you for that. It’s interesting whenever students see themselves it’s like ahhh… Are there any questions about the QEP Project that I might be able to answer?
Fodel Megahed, ISE, not a senator: I am a really, really new faculty in Industrial Engineering, I’ve been here for 4 days now, so I’m still getting used to it, but I had an e-portfolio coming in, in Engineering. It was interesting to see not a lot of engineers having it on your presentation and my experience is kind of come with the same experiences. At Virginia Tech we had a lot of focus on doing [56:00] e-portfolios as a part of engineering education and it was very helpful, the thinking process itself is helpful, in Engineering you can put designs you can put videos. My e-portfolio pretty much had a collection of research, service and teaching experiences, and I also had testimonials from students. When I was TAing they had made me a cute card that I put and had news-like things in the news, and papers published and stuff like that. Even for faculty I think that it is very helpful. I would just make one quick comment, two quick comments I guess. One, it’s great keep it up and I’ll do whatever I can to help and the second one; you probably need some sort of a template which would allow students to use it because for the technologically challenged people like me, even though I’m in engineering, it was hard to do. I did it through Google sites which is helpful, but coming here translating my e-portfolio to Auburn was the most challenging experience I had because you don’t offer Google sites, you have word press which is kind of similar, but I went through it through the backbones and html coding which wasn’t fun. That being said a lot of students wouldn’t need to be doing that because they don’t have the first original site. But give them tools, this is a template, this is the kind of things you can put, and use it for the evaluation of students is also very important. You evaluate students as they learn from one year to another and the way I think it was being talked about was. how can we use that to evaluate TAs and RAs people were funding and how can we use that for research credits to capture the year-to-year or semester-to-semester advances. We don’t expect them to write a paper each semester, we hope, but that doesn’t really happen so how can we capture the progression from one semester to another and how can they demonstrate that to themselves and to the faculty and to department. Thank you for the time and good luck.
Richard Burt, chair of the QEP Development Committee: We need to add him to our first adopters. [58:02] Any other questions? Thank you very much.
Bill Sauser, chair: Folks we are at the beginning point of a 5-year journey with this project, it’s going to be an exciting project and I wanted to let you in on the ground floor. Laura we appreciate you and your student colleagues for the very fine work that you presented and Professor Burt, you and your committee members for a great job. This project can be a showcase for Auburn University and the good work of our students and I’m excited about it, wanted to share it with you.
Now for our third presentation we have on the agenda Calvin Johnson. Calvin is coming to us in the role of chair of the Health Sciences taskforce to talk about some of the work of that taskforce. [59:01]
Calvin Johnson, chair of the Health Sciences Taskforce: Thanks for this opportunity to come to you to bring you up to date on the work of the Health Sciences Taskforce. Our charge was from the Office of the Vice President for Research and we were to implement a focused plan to enhance the Health Sciences Research on our campus while promoting broad faculty engagement and participation. This was a taskforce that built upon another committees work, a committee of 35 people chaired by Dean Evans, the Health Science Review committee that essentially evaluated high level portfolio of health services research ongoing on our campus. So we built on that and assessed what our potential was in Health Sciences on the Auburn campus by engaging representatives from 9 colleges on our campus.
First of all Auburn has tremendous capacity in the health sciences. It has a capacity that’s unique in the state when compared with universities that have colleges of medicine. We don’t intend to be a comprehensive health sciences center, we do intend to be a center that focuses on very specific aspects of health sciences based on our strengths and our competitive advantages to move forward. When the committee sat and discussed health sciences at Auburn we identified 4 areas that we believe are particularly promising for development and bringing people together. These 4 areas are: biomedical imaging, building upon the strengths of the MRI Research Center under the direction of Tom Denney, and the faculty that have been recruited, and the program that is being developed, and it is already engaging in multiple levels across the university.
Food safety and security, this builds on Pat Curtis’s program in food systems in the College of Agriculture, but it also addresses the aspect of food security as it relates to the hunger institute under the direction of Dean June Henton.
Social Health Sciences, social health might be defined as the capacity of a society to support individuals to meet their potential and also then to return and contribute it back to that society. We have a tremendous capacity here. Much of it is housed in the College of Human Sciences and we believe that coupled with a variety of other programs has very promising future.
Then finally at the bottom, drugs and devices, discovery, development, and delivery, just so happens that everything’s a “D” in that one. This is one that’s extremely broad, this one looks at disease from the very basis of the mechanism of the disease to identifying a molecular target, to designing a therapeutic approach to direct against that target, to testing it in cell culture, to testing it in vivo, and then to promote it into a clinical trial.
When you look at Auburn we have the potential to contribute very quickly to many of those steps but also to partner with some other institutions and some other businesses in the state of Alabama to really make an impact in this area of work.
Now all of these 4 categories focus on one concept that we believe is very important and that is to have a unified graduate program in Health Sciences that essentially complements the current departmental and college based graduate programs basically providing an opportunity to add and expand our graduate enrollment in the Health Sciences. Great research requires great graduate students and we just believe that if we bring people together and recruit new people in it is going to be a tremendous training opportunity for graduate students to come in and get a great training, also to reach critical mass in offering a graduate curriculum. [1:03:49]
So just to look at each one of these categories individually we performed an assessment of the university by looking at our funding portfolio over a 5-year period. This is about 10,000 entries that were evaluated, and we tried to pinpoint for those extramurally funded projects where they fit into the 4 categories that we had developed. So these numbers in parentheses don’t really indicate the number of people working in those areas as much as it is the people that were funded as PIs individually over this 5-year period. So it will be an underestimate of the total number of people working in these areas.
Obviously MRI Research related to the technical and scientific aspects of MRI imaging, that’s been applied very effectively to cardiac and cardiovascular research currently and that can be expanded. Studies on sleep and the quality of sleep and the impact of the lack of quality of sleep on social health is an area that has very strong potential in biomedical imaging, and then the scientific advancement of the procedure itself.
In food safety and security, this essentially dovetails with an existing program that is showing nice productivity early in it’s process and we want to complement that and expand it and basically bridge several existing programs in this particular approach, to include also water quality which is an area of emphasis at our university.
In the social health sciences we have potential to engage the Cooperative Extension System to reach out and to branch into the counties in the state. That is ongoing, we had 1,100 projects in that particular area, but family and child health, rehabilitation, workplace safety, medical care delivery, and then of course the sleep studies as well all enter into this focus.
Our drugs and devises in terms of characterization of disease, discovery, development and delivery, we are looking at some very important public health concerns in the state of Alabama and in this region diabetes and obesity, delivery of nano-therapeutics, creation of nano-therapeutic approaches, reproductive diseases, toxicology, gene therapy, cancer biology, and so forth. So this is compiling and bringing in expertise from at least 9 of the colleges and very quickly we could have all of the colleges involved in these areas of work.
Our priorities now moving forward, first to consider how we would create a health sciences unit on campus, how it would fit in, would it be a standalone college, would it be an institute, or would it be a virtual college? We’ve got several options each has a set of advantages and disadvantages. We’re very interested inputting together our strengths and going after opportunities to bring in new faculty who could make a huge impact on these areas of work. We would be talking about National Academy of Sciences caliber people, we’d like to go after 4 of those and have the selection of their area of expertise somehow linked in with our stated areas of health science expertise. The mechanism of that, the identification of funding for that is all pending right now, but I would say that we would anticipate an investment there yielding a 5-fold increase in return over a 5-year period.
We believe that in this master plan for the campus it’s very important to be engaged right now in discussion of a health sciences campus and the infrastructure that supports that campus. That may be at the Research Park, that is very early discussion at this point and there are discussions to be had there. We are also interested in engaging with the private college of osteopathic medicine that very well may be coming to Auburn and having that be a part the health sciences effort.
We want to develop extramural partnerships within the state, outside of the state and the region and of course nationally. This needs to be a nationally competitive research center and resource cluster that is very much focused on research and graduate education. Obviously to make this happen we have to be competitive and we have to bring in extramural funding; not just the sum of our individual efforts, but basically a synergism of new hires and existing people to expand our current portfolio.
That’s where we are we are finalizing our report it will go to the Vice President for Research. Then how to implement this will be the next step in the process. Are there any questions? Thank you.
Bill Sauser, chair: You can see from that report that there’s lot of room for interdisciplinary work within this area, there’s lots of room for faculty involvement. I really appreciate Calvin your bringing to us the status report on the Health Science Taskforce. I think we see the beginnings and actually the continuation of some great work on this campus. Thank you very much Calvin.
I want to thank also each of you for your attention and participation today. I’d like to ask if there is any unfinished business to come before the Senate? Hearing none, is there any new business to come before the Senate? Hearing none, I declare this meeting adjourned. [1:10:28]