Transcript Senate Meeting
February 4, 2014
Larry Crowley, chair: Come to order please. Welcome to the February meeting of the Auburn University Senate. I am Larry Crowley the chair of the Senate. Gisela Buschle-Diller is the incoming secretary, she is going to fill in for Judy Sheppard today as she is not feeling well. Patricia Duffy is the incoming chair and Laura Kloberg is our administrative assistant.
A short review of the rules of the Senate, senators or substitute senators please sign the roll in the back, we are not going to do it by clickers, The order of business that we have that requires a quorum is the approval of the minutes, so we will establish a quorum by the number signed in, and we do have a quorum.
If you’d like to speak on an issue go to the microphone and when recognized state your name indicate if you are a senator and state what unit you represent. The rules of the Senate require that senators or substitute senators be allowed to speak first, after all the comments by senators on an issue are made, guests are welcome to speak as well. [1:28] There are currently 88 members of the Senate a quorum requires 45 members and that’s been established by a count on the roster, so we have a quorum.
The first order of business is the approval of the minutes of the minutes for the January 14, 2014 Senate meeting. The have been posted online are there corrections to those that are posted? If there are no corrections the minutes stand approved.
I’d like to call on Dr. Gogue to come and make remarks from the Office of the President. [2:01]
Dr. Gogue, President: Thank you. I certainly appreciate everybody’s indulgence last week relative to the weather conditions. Made the best decisions that we thought we should make at the time and I think Chance Corbett is going to give you a little bit of detail on how we try to go through that. It’s never perfect but I appreciate your indulgence in that.
Secondly, the legislature is in session, they have been in for about 11 days at this point. It’s a 30 day session. They will probably, from what government affairs tells us, they will conclude their work in the middle of March which is much, much earlier than usual. The only thing I can figure, it’s an election year so they need to get back and do their business in their various districts. We’re told that they will probably will not bring up very many bills that are controversial in nature. So we will follow that as carefully as we can.
The Board of Trustees meets this Friday at AUM. The last meeting I went over the agenda with all of the items that are on it, so I won’t do that today unless there are questions about any of those items. I don’t anticipate there to be to much discussion on any of the items that are on the agenda.
On Thursday of this week, in the afternoon I believe at 3:00 p.m. will be a groundbreaking for the Medical School out in the Research Park. Certainly, everyone is invited. I know that there have been a number of announcements about that. Is it 3 o’clock Tim? 3 o’clock on Thursday.
Final thing I’ll mention is we received a letter about a week ago from the Gates Foundation. Auburn currently has 14 students that are being paid for as Gates Millennium Scholars. I just want to thank you for your work with those students. I’d be happy to respond to questions. Thank you.
Larry Crowley, chair: The next item of the agenda is remarks from the Provost’s Office.
Tim Boosinger, Provost: Thanks Larry. I took a quick look at my calendar, the groundbreaking is at 2:30 p.m. over on Donahue.
I just had 2 items. First I want to ask for your corporation relative to the make-up class days. A memo has gone out explaining the process. Dr. Relihan worked on that with others trying to give faculty as much flexibility as possible as far as how to address the make-ups. One thing we’d like for you to do is to communicate with your Associate Deans for Academic Affairs, the number of classes that you are going to hold on those make-up days. The reason for that is depending on that number, we will decide if or how many of the Tiger Transit Busses to run and do we need to do any other special things with food service and those kinds of things on Saturdays that we wouldn’t normally do. So we will try to make that as reasonable as possible.
The other thing is that I want to thank all of you that came and participated in the Open Forums. We had one in December talking about ways to improve the budget processes at Auburn University. We had a very well attended Forum over in the Conference Center in Ballroom B. We had about 200 people there. There were some questions at the Forum and there have been some since from faculty that want to know more about the process and where we are in our thinking and making sure that we have good communications. So Dr. Clark and I, as soon as we can schedule it, are going to come around and hold meetings at all 12 Colleges and Schools. Give faculty the opportunity to come. We will spend as much time as it takes to explain what we are considering and why. I think that will be a good process and we’d like to get those visits done within the next few weeks. So we will work with the Deans on setting those up, but I hope you’ll take advantage of that opportunity.
The other is, we got a few e-mails where people have made comments about consultants coming in and this being the Huron Plan and from the beginning our goal is for this to be, what ever we do, if we do anything, this is Auburn’s plan. This would be a plan for Auburn to improve the quality of our budgeting process and taking all things into consideration and being as reasonable as we possibly can. [7:02] Questions or comments at this time? As far as the budget model goes we have plenty of time as we go around to colleges and schools for a more in-depth discussion.
Larry Crowley, chair: Thank you Tim. We have no action items for today, but we do have a couple of pending action items. One is the nominations of Rules Committee (members). Gisela, would you come forward and conduct the nominations?
Gisela Buschle-Diller, secretary-elect: Hello everyone, my name is Gisela Buschle-Diller and I am secretary-elect. I am filling in for Judy Sheppard today because she is not feeling good.
I want to tell you a little bit about the Rules Committee. As such the Rules Committee has the responsibility of providing the President with a list of faculty nominations for University Committees and to provide a list of nominations to the Senate for Senate Committees. So in other words the Rules Committee is a committee of committees more or less, it consists of 11 members; 6 members are elected by the Senate, and the other 5 are the chair of the Senate, who is also the chair, the chair-elect, secretary, secretary-elect, and the immediate-past-chair. Elected members serve a term of 2 years and that is staggered so 3 openings will be there in August. All members of the committee must be senators at the time of their election. The nominations will be done today at the February meeting and the elections will be done in the March meeting. Senators will be provided with information on all of the nominees. With this said, I would like to call for nominations for membership on the Rules Committee from the floor. [9:25]
Bill Sauser, immediate past chair: I would like to nominate Peter Stanwick who is the senator from Management, he has agreed to serve.
Mike Baginiski, of the Steering Committee: I would like to nominate Emily Meyers (senator Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work).
Valentina Hartarska, senator, Ag. Econ and Rural Sociology: I would like to nominate Rusty Wright from Fisheries.
Lisa Kensler, senator, EFLT: I would like to nominate Vicky Van Santen (senator, Pathobiology).
Patricia Duffy, chair-elect: I would like to nominate Bob Cochran, senator from Accountancy.
Gisela Buschle-Diller, secretary-elect: Are there any further nominations from the floor?
So we have Peter Stanwick, Robert Cochran, Rusty Wright, Emily Meyers, Vicky Van Santen. Thank you
Larry Crowley, chair: Thank you, Gisela. The next pending action item is an action that was generated by the Core Curriculum and Gen Ed. It was unanimously supported by the Steering Committee and it will be discussed this Senate meeting and voted on next Senate meeting. So Constance would you come present?
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: Thanks for letting me come and present this to you. This proposal, as Larry said, came out of the Gen Ed Committee and was voted on and approved there, then it was discussed and approved by the Steering Committee. What I want to do is explain enough of the rules governing the core curriculum from the State level so that the proposal makes sense. I understand that these are complicated issues and I want to say at the outset that nobody on our committee was arguing that any Auburn student needed less education. This is not about less education, it’s about negotiating a lot of complexities. [12:33]
So the law that governs our general education requirements was passed by the state in 1994. It’s got 2 pieces to it. The one that matters for us today is what I’ve put up on the slide which says that the Alabama Articulation and General Studies Committee, the AGSC, will develop a general education curriculum to be taken at all colleges and universities. In other words there is a central framework of a core that all public two- and four-year institutions need to follow. The other piece of this legislation that you may be more familiar with is the piece that sets up the articulation agreements to assist students transfer their credits easily from 2-year to 4-year schools, but it does set up as well a general curriculum.
That general curriculum is what’s on the screen here. There are 4 areas of instruction, 6 hours of English Composition, 12 hours in the Humanities and Fine Arts, 11 or 12 hours in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and 12 hours in History and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Further embedded in these areas is a requirement that students complete at least 3 hours of Fine Arts courses, at least 3 hours of History, and at least 3 hours of Literature. In addition students have to complete a sequence in either Literature or History. Those are the rules under which all public two- and four-year institutions in the state are operating. I’ve given the Web site there in case you want to go and find out more. [15:15]
At the same time that this general education program was approved by the state it also approved an exception for colleges of engineering. This exception is used by all of the other public colleges of engineering in the state, that is to say, University of Alabama, UAB, UAH, and South Alabama. This exception was put into place because the Deans of the Engineering Colleges at the time felt that given the ABET requirements that they also operate under (ABET is the engineering accrediting agency) that the standard rules were too onerous. So an exception was made and approved that would require students in engineering only to complete 9 hours of Humanities and 9 hours of Social Sciences. Still these students are required to complete a sequence in either History or Literature, still required to complete the Fine Arts course, 3 hours of Fine Arts, just a 3 hour reduction in each of Humanities and Social Sciences.
At the time we began the core curriculum we did not choose to enact that exception. If you remember those of you who have been here for a while, at the time we enacted the core we initially said students had to take both sequences, but in 2011, we refined our core and went to requiring either one sequence or the other. One thing I should add is that, if this exception is approved, if a student begins in engineering but then transfers into another college he or she will need to complete the additional hours because they are no longer an engineering student.
Also in 2011 and because of concerns by the SACS commission on colleges and work done by the Core Curriculum Committee, we added a layer to the core that required students to have exposure to 11 different learning outcomes (LO). I have them up there for you. Outcomes in information literacy, ability to read critically and analytically, ability to critique and construct and argument, ability to apply simple mathematical methods to real world problems, solve open ended problems, be able to write effectively, communicate orally, be informed and engaged citizens of the U.S. and the world, understand and appreciate diversity, understand and appreciate the methods and issues of science and technology and understand and appreciate the arts and aesthetics.
Those outcomes we agreed would be mapped onto the core and currently all students are exposed to these and are in courses that assess for these in the core except for the oral communication outcome, SLO7, which some students cover, if you will let me put it that way, through taking public speaking which is a core Humanities course now. Some students address that outcome through courses in their major. In engineering it is through courses in their major except in the case of Computer Science.
We require our students to have one course that addresses each of the outcomes. I am just spelling that out because I want you to understand that if the exception is enacted, our engineering students will still meet all of our learning outcomes. The way courses have been mapped onto the outcomes, students will still address each of those outcomes. Just as an update because not all of you may be aware of this, in the time since we initially developed the outcomes, we’ve expanded the scope of what some courses covers, so that now for instance our literature courses assess for outcomes 2, the ability to read critically and 3, the ability to construct and critique and argument. It also now has just begun assessing for SLO 11, aesthetic appreciation as well. [20:11]
Similarly both of our History sequences assess for both SLOs 8 and 9, the engaged and informed citizenship outcome and the diversity appreciation outcome. So I am just trying to emphasize that engineering students would still be getting the exposure to the learning outcomes that we wanted them to get. [20:39] Checking my notes more than usual because I just want to make sure I don’t miss anything.
So the question is, we went along fine for 20 years, why adopt the exception now? Here are some reasons. University Strategic Plan calls for us to increase our graduation rates in the next 5 years. We’d like to go from 42 or more recently 44 percent to 50 as a 4-year graduation rate. We’d like to move from 68 percent to 78 percent as a graduation rate. To help promote that plan the Provost asked all Deans to look at how they could bring their undergraduate programs down to as close to 120 degrees as possible given various accreditation concerns.
Last year we had 38 programs that required students to complete more than 124 credit hours, that has come down this year so far to 32 programs that have more than 124 hours. Twelve of our programs have moved to reduce their hours, but engineering is the big outlier. Of their programs, only two are below 124 hours. Currently they have 5 programs that are 130 hours or above, including two at 134 hours.
As you can see their most recent data tells us that for students who start in the College of Engineering, only 24 percent of them will graduate in 4 years. More than 90 percent of students who come to college believe that they are going to graduate in 4 years. Engineering for a number of reasons has the lowest percentage of students who actually achieve that.
Additionally because the ABET accreditation requirements are so stringent there isn’t another place in the Engineering curriculum where these programs can be cut and still provide the education that our students need. As we know governmental pressure for accountability is only going to increase we may move to the Federal score card that will link Federal funding for institutions to graduation rates among other things. We know parents are concerned with the amount of money that it costs to attend universities. That scrutiny is not going to go away. I will say too that there is no silver bullet. We have already taken a number of actions to try to improve our graduation rates. You may remember a few years back we restructured the tuition plan so that students weren’t penalized for taking more than 15 hours a semester. We have instituted the early alert grades to try to help intervene with students before they did themselves a hole. We put more money into tutoring and I have you know that on this past semester about twice as many students as the semester before took advantage of tutoring. So this is good. We’ve put more energy into advising training and support for advising assessment. We’ve also asked Deans to look at DFW rates to see if there aren’t hold-ups that are occurring because of pedagogical or sequencing issues among classes. There is no silver bullet, but reducing the overall number of hours that a student is required to take, closer to 120 makes it more likely that a student is going to be able to finish that degree in 4 years.. [25:28]
If this exception is approved the next step would be for the College of Engineering to put forth its revised curriculum models to the University Curriculum Committee which would then have the responsibility of reviewing each of those models to make sure that it was appropriate and approving it as they saw fit.
So that is the presentation in a nutshell I am happy to answer questions as best I can. I am giving you names of all of the members of the committee so that you can address them questions in the coming month before you make a decision. As I said before, this is complex. I am not going to deny it, I am an English professor who used to run what we then called the “Great Books Program, ” so I get the complexities. I think in an ideal world we’d be arguing, all of us, for increased general education for all of our students. Including two years of a foreign language, statistics, and calculus for everybody, and a number of other things, but we live in the world we live in and I think this is something you should consider. So I am happy to answer questions.
Larry Crowley, chair: If there are questions or comments if you would come to the microphone, state your name, whether you are a senator or not, and what unit you represent.
Vicky Van Santen, senator, Pathobiology: Are there other exceptions?
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: No. I’m sorry. This is only something that Engineering may ask for, so COSAM, AG, I’m sorry.
Vicky Van Santen, senator, Pathobiology: So it’s not the first of many?
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: No, this is not the first of many. And this would be the last. First and last. Only Engineering.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: I don’t believe you have the authority to futurely constrain actions of the committee or the Senate as to whether we approve future exemptions from the core.
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: I can tell you that we can’t approve any exceptions unless the state changes the law.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: Not exactly because we used to have a different core than we do now. So we can change the core.
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: We can change it upwards, we cannot change it downwards from what was on the slide.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: I was reading the University’s Mission Statement from the recently adopted Strategic Plan and it says: “The university will emphasize a broad and superior undergraduate education that imparts the knowledge, skills, and values so essential to an educated and responsible citizen.”
I like that our first act with regard to the breadth after adopting this is to reduce the breadth for one quarter of the students at the university. I’d like to notice that. I didn’t see it in our Mission to achieve graduation at a particular time, but rather particular outcomes, that is superior outcomes. Now I didn’t see anything in the presentation about how engineering students are performing on the relative SLOs that will be affected through this modification. So I went to look for the data myself and I did find data related to Student Learning Outcomes on OIRAs Web site on the graduate survey which is broken down by college and we do direct surveying in our core we of course don’t ask students what their majors are so we just report it. But we do have self-reported opinions of the students at graduation as to the learning levels they achieved in these relevant areas. [29:14]
So I was looking at Engineering and the most recent one, and it seems to me that these changes directly affect for instance the following question that says “Describe how social systems, law, politics, economics, culture, development interact.” And I found that 43.5 percent of engineering students said that they achieved little or no ability or only a basic ability in this area. Now compare that to writing to communicate effectively for a variety of audience and purposes, an important skill, right? Only 12.1 percent of engineering students reported little to no basic ability. So you are looking at a magnitude approaching 4 times the failure rate in that particular area. In analyze young culture and history of society, 37.5 percent of engineering students failed to achieve even intermediate ability. Okay? In other areas like applied scientific method, you are talking less than 6 percent failed to achieve the level. So it appears to me by far due to their own assessment, they find their education to be weaker in the areas you propose cutting than any other we assess for by a massive margin.
So I thought well maybe there are improving over the previous year so now it’s time to cut it, but I found compared to the previous years, they had deteriorated in both those categories over the previous year. And they trail the university as a whole in terms of students in other colleges in those particular areas. So I thought for SLO achievement that it is not taking a course that meets an outcome. So the fact that students have taken certain courses at this institution doesn’t mean that they have achieved anything. I thought we moved away under the new core from taking courses meeting a requirement to achieving a learning outcome. And therefore we don’t look to see how many students took a course, we look to see how many achieved specific learning outcomes.
Now I don’t know if there is any other data at this institution about how engineering students in particular are achieving the learning outcomes related to the items we are cutting. [31:31] But the only one that I could find were our own customers unbiased statements when we survey them at graduation. They found no area of their education at Auburn weaker than the areas that are proposed being cut, in terms of their learning objectives.
Now my father was an engineer and he graduated from MIT way back when, and every semester he took economics, he took history, he took these things and he graduated in 4 years from MIT which has a pretty good engineering program. And interestingly enough we talk all about in this mission statement and our new strategic plan about preparing students for the global economy and the flexibility of the modern world where people change their careers, sometimes 3 times. So while my father was educated as an engineer and even made it all the way ABET at another university for a PhD in engineering, I asked him the other night, “how many years of your adult life did you work a job where you would have classified your job title as an engineer?” and he said 3 years. And he is now over 70 years old. Most of the time was put in other careers. Managing a business, managing real estate, and the various things that he’s done. So while we may train people with the idea that they are most likely to end up in this area, many college graduates end up with jobs that are not in their major area right from the start, and many down the line had to switch careers entirely. So I hope we’ll live up to our mission statement of a broad education and I hope we take student learning outcomes seriously and if there are people not performing well in them I hope they would be strengthened rather than cut.
Larry Crowley, chair: Thank you Michael.
Patricia Duffy, chair-elect: I would like to speak in favor of the proposal just presented. I did serve a little while as the chair of the Curriculum Committee for the university and while I was the chair I got to witness one of the engineering curriculum’s bump up to that 134 hour limit. I don’t know when the other one hit it. What we have seen over time in the engineering curriculums is as they go through ABET accreditation rounds the technology has changed since the 50s or the 60s, they keep having to add new material. The way they can add that new material is to add new courses. So this has bumped up the curriculum. It causes problems for students to graduate. All of the other institutions in the state and I believe also in some other states, I cannot remember which ones off-hand, but I believe there are some other states that have engineering exceptions because of the difficulty of getting the giant foot into the tiny shoe of 120 hours, and have cut some of these courses in the social sciences or the humanities. It’s not the best outcome in the world. This is not good that you would not get this broad education, but I was an English major as an undergraduate, I have a master’s in English, obviously I am very fond of the humanities and an economist by training also. So I also like the social science and would like to see everybody take more courses, but the reality is Auburn needs to stay competitive with the other engineering colleges in this state and also out-of-state because a lot of our students are from out-of-state. We really want to give the students and opportunity to graduate in a timely way given the expense of education. I think this is the best of bad choices, is to let the students have a lower course of 6 less hours to increase the opportunities for them to graduate on time.
Let me also say, although a quarter of the students enter in engineering not a quarter of them leave in engineering. I cannot remember the data off-hand but I think about half of the students in engineering end up transferring to other majors, including mine, we love to have them, so anybody send them my way in ag econ. So it’s not that a quarter of the student would come into Auburn and graduate on this modified core, it would be considerably less than that.
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: Can I make a couple of comments? One is the data on OIRAs Web site is a survey of recent graduates, the most recent data that is out there was from 2012, it was surveying people who graduated before the 2011 outcomes emphasized core was instituted.
Also the data that we as a committee have developed on student learning outcomes success indicates that in general our students have intermediate ability, again not broken down by colleges but just a little bit of information, have intermediate ability in all of our learning outcomes right now except in SLO11, the aesthetic appreciation and in information literacy. So regardless of what we do with this proposal I would encourage you to push both of those in your dealings with students. [36:24]
Hillary Wyss, senator, English: I really appreciate the attempt to get graduation rates up and that’s a great thing but are we sure that if we take these credit hours away they are not just going to bump up again to 130 or whatever the number is with other kinds of requirements? Or electives, or…is there a commitment to actually bringing those numbers down that will be sustained?
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: There’s a commitment from the Provost’s Office and that’s going to be emphasized to the UCC, which has the responsibility of approving the final plans. [37:04]
Guy Rohrbaugh, senateor, Philosophy: I guess I am still not sure what to think about this. I get the big idea that there is sort of a trade–off, a certain loss to these students for hopefully a gain in graduation rates which would help not just them but the university as a whole, the part I am worried about is half the students who are leaving Engineering they are included in those graduation rate figures, the low figures are not just for Enginneers…
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: The low…24 percent is for students who start in engineering and graduate in 4 years in engineering.
Guy Rohrbaugh, senateor, Philosophy: In engineering…Okay that makes a difference, thank you
Larry Crowley, chair: Any other questions, comments?
Bob Locy, senator, Biological Sciences: Constance is there any information available about what other engineering institutions are doing as ABET keeps adding things that they would like to see in an engineering curriculum added to the curriculum? Is everybody else just pushing their course hours up? Are they requiring that they take an extra year to finish an engineering degree rather than a 4-year degree for example? Or How is the rest of the world solving this problem, not just Alabama in coping with the Alabama core curriculum?
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: I think the struggles are going both ways and maybe someone from Engineering can address this more specifically. We know for instance that the state of Maryland has just passed a law requiring, with a few exceptions, requiring their degree programs to get down to 120 hours. So this is a discussion that if units aren’t having now they will soon. But it is a struggle for engineering programs throughout the country.
Larry Crowley, chair: Steve, did you want to weigh in on that?
Steve Duke, Associate Dean of Academics for College of Engineering, substituting for Chris Roberts, Dean: So the question was asked about ABET accreditation and is there going to be continuing increases in the credit hours. I am actually an ABET evaluator certified as of this past year, but I don’t anticipate that in terms of the former ABET models of where specific topics were decided and you had to meet those specific topics. That has gone away now to where an individual faculty or an individual discipline gets to decide what are our learning outcomes and how are we going to meet those outcomes and objectives. So I think over the past couple of years, there are a couple of others that are familiar with ABET as well, that it has kind of stabilized in terms of the number of technical credit hours. Those would be technical credit hours for engineering and technical credit hours for the sciences. So it has, I would say, stabilized.
Then our competing institutions, other colleges of engineering, we did do a comparative study of us and some other engineering programs in the state and some other institutions that we want to be compared to and we do have slightly more of the history and humanities hours compared to some of our colleagues. They do have though interestingly 130–134 hours in many of their curricula, so they have more of the engineering credit hours in there.
Charles Isreal, not a senator, History: Speaking as a former member of the Core Curriculum when we were making the previous round of recommendations, the 1987 Core Curriculum Committee in their evaluation of the then core that they put in place in 1991, pointed out 2 issues with the core. One they thought a core curriculum should represent a consensus of what college students should know and be able to do. And also concerned that the current curricula had become quote “unbalanced” sliding a broad liberal education in favor of what they called narrow pre-professionalism. So the idea was to, one establish a core set of expectations where everyone would have as close to a common experience, but to retreat from narrow major specifics.
Well we made a revision, obviously just a few years ago that challenged the first one of these concerns. I am not opposed to that one necessarily. We opened up the menu of courses that we might be able to take. But the proposal that is coming to us now seems to be a direct assault on the second of those concerns, namely retreating back towards this narrow pre-professionalism for some chosen major, some chosen colleges. I understand the way the state articulation agreement works. It sets a minimum, we have in the past not gone to the minimum but said we want to hold out a higher number of courses for this particular, or these majors.
The state gives us the ability to do it, but given our concerns or given the concerns of this body in previous iterations of the core, How are we now saying that engineers are exceptional and in some ways and less in need of these courses than are the other majors? I understand we can do it, but we are in effect saying these majors are less in need of these 6 hours of courses. [43:18]
Constance Relihan, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies: I said in an ideal world it wouldn’t be an issue.
Mike Stern: senator, Economics: It’s occurred to me, I’ve heard some speak of the other institutions in Alabama that we wish to imitate with regards to our education, like South Alabama and UAH and so forth. I returned again because we’re in a Strategic Planning phase and the University Strategic Plan and vision and the very first statement of the vision of this institution, which I believe was adopted by the Board is that, “Auburn University will emerge as one of the nation’s preeminent (I like that word, preeminent) comprehensive land-grant universities in the 21st Century.”
Now I don’t know what that means to other people, but that means to me we look in our region and nation at places that are considered preeminent. And I haven’t heard any of those mentioned today, I heard some places that don’t sound very preeminent to me. I also don’t look to the State of Alabama to say what a preeminent education is all about. Other than Mississippi maybe we tend to trail most other states in educational attainment. So I am not sure we should choose, if we wish to be preeminent, to follow the minimum requirements adopted 20 years ago by some state commission here in Alabama. [44:39] We’ve always previously rejected that. I see nothing that has changed to suggest that now that we have a vision stating that we will be a preeminent university dedicated, as I said previously, to a broad education, as it says in our mission, that our first act would then be, as Charles said, to narrow the scope of the education for one quarter of the students at this university. Especially since all the data I’ve seen is that the areas that we are cutting are their weakest areas.
Larry Crowley, chair: Thank you, Michael. Any other comments or quesions?
Bill Sauser, immediate past chair: I would just like to make a brief comment and that is, all of these issues which are quite important were well know when the law was passed. The law was passed with the exemption with the knowledge of these issues. All of the other engineering colleges within the state chose that option. We had a nobel experiment to try to do the entire core curriculum and I think we’ve seen some data indicating the consequences of that. This is a very fine committee and I would like to remind the group that this recommendation comes forward from this committee. I believe they’ve deliberated these issues. I am confident, personally, in their recommendation. [46:03]
Larry Crowley, chair: One more comment and question and then we have to close. We have some other information items.
Michael Watkins, not a senator, Philosophy: I too was on the Curriculum Committee, served with Charles for a while with a number who are on the committee now.
A quick question and then a suggestion. So as I understand it there is a range of the number of hours that the different programs in engineering that students have to take in order to get the degree. [46:42] So, some programs in engineering have more than 130, some 124, is that correct there is a range? (upper 120 is the response) But the suggestion that is being put forward is college wide, correct? It is not program by program, and so one suggestion is that we actually look at the programs and see the kind of pressure on those particular programs for the number of hours they need. If we have programs for instance in engineering, we reduce them by 6 hours and they are adding 3 hours in electives, that to me makes no sense. Even if I am moved by the arguments from the Curriculum Committee I don’t understand why we would make this college wide. Though perhaps here there is something I am missing.
Another comment, quickly, It would be nice if when we are comparing our engineering program with other programs and seeing what other programs are doing with this increased pressure to increase the number of hours, if we would look at programs outside of the state of Alabama. All of the sudden, Alabama becomes important to us. And I would take it, what’s important to us would be Cal Tech, or MIT, or Berkley, or anyway, somewhere else. So it would be nice to see how the comparisons would go elsewhere. Thank you.
Larry Crowley, chair: Thank you, this will come up as an action item at the next Senate meeting. If you have additional comments or suggestions that you’d like to make over the next month, if you will e-mail me and I’ll forward them to the people they need to be addressed by.
The next item on the agenda is an information item. Mary Boudreaux, who gives an annual address to the Senate, and she’s here to talk about the athletic program.
Mary Boudreaux, chair of Intercollegiate Athletics Committee: Hopefully this won’t be as controversial. [49:10]
I am Mary Boudreaux, I am in the department of pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. My area of interest is primarily hemostasis with some special interest of some platelettes. We study platelettes at the functional biochemical and molecular level, but I am not talking about that today. I am also the faculty athletics representative, also know as the FAR, so we are going on the FAR side today. I am also chair on the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, which I like to refer to as the CIA, it sounds sexier, whatever, and this is some of the things I will be talking to you about over the next few minutes.
As far as the charge to the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, you can read as well as I can but basically we interact with the Athletics Program and are advisory between athletics and the president. We do meet 4 times per year and our forth meeting is a tour of athletics facilities. In the past couple of years we have opened that tour up to Senators. We have not yet set that date, it will be in May. As soon as I get that date I’ll get that forwarded to the Senators. Any Senator who is interested in participating in that tour, please let me know and we will get you on the list. It usually takes about 3 to 4 hours to get the entire tour.
I say we meet once per quarter that’s basically the entire CIA there are several sub-committees and they meet a lot more often than that during the year. This is the composition of the CIA, again we have some fantastic people on this committee and they work very well together, it’s a good group to work with, just very enjoyable. Sub-committees of the CIA, listed here. Academic Standards; Awards; Compliance; Drug Education/Testing Advisory Group; Equity Welfare, and Sportsmanship; Priority and Seating; and Athletics Department Seminar Series; again, these committees meet a lot more often than 4 times a year.
Things I wanted to mention to you as far as student athletes are concerned, one thing that is very important that is going to change very quickly and that is the requirement for additional eligibility as far as academics is concerned for student athletes. This is going to impact the students who are in high school right now. It is going to happen August 1, 2016 there is going to be 3 possible academic outcomes for a college bound student athlete. One would either be a full qualifier, which means they can compete and practice; or two they are an academic redshirt meaning that they can practice and get athletics aid, but they cannot play; and the non-qualifier cannot do any of those things.
The full qualifier, this is where things are changing dramatically. High school students who are in school right now, in order for them to be eligible in Division 1, they must have completed 16 core courses in the following areas: 4 years English; 3 years math at the Algebra 1 level or higher; 2 years natural or physical science; 1 years additional English, math, or natural/physical science; 2 years social science; 4 years additional from areas above or foreign language, philosophy or comparative religion. They must have a minimum GPA of 2.3 in 16 core courses and they must graduate, obviously, from high school. Now that’s part of it. The other part of it is that they have to have completed 10 core courses before they start their senior year. They can’t find out as a senior in high school, hey I’d really like to play soccer, but I don’t have my core courses done so I will take them all in my senior year. Not going to happen. They need to know when they become freshman in high school, they have to meet certain requirements each year, because if they don’t they are not going to be eligible. This division 1.
If they fail a course in those 10 courses, it is not like they can repeat it in their senior year and have that added into the calculation. Nope, locked in for those first 3 years. This is a big change that is affecting the high school students right now. Wanted to make sure you were aware of that. [53:45] Now once a student athlete gets here, and this has been in place for a while the 40-60-80 Rule, and this was put in place to make sure that student athletes are making progress toward degree. And basically once they get here they must have completed 40 percent by the end of their second year, 60 percent by the end of their third year, 80 percent by the end of their forth year. If they don’t do that they become ineligible. It’s critically important for faculty, councilors, etc. to be talking to student athletes. If a student athlete drops a course thinking what’s the harm, I can pick it up next semester, they become immediately ineligible. So student athletes have to figure out what they want to do when they grow up in a hurry and they can’t change their mind. Not if they want to stay academically eligible and participate in their sport.
I’ll go over Graduation Success Rate with you. This is something that was developed a few years ago by the NCAA and it was in response to the president’s at universities who really were unhappy with what they call the Federal Graduation Rate, or the Fed Rate, because they didn’t feel that the Fed Rate was very representative of what was happening in universities/colleges across the country where people tend to move around a lot the Fed Rate just wasn’t cutting it. [55:10] So they developed the Graduation Success Rate to better capture the movement of students and also the fact that students transfer from 2-year to 4-year institutions and some students start in the spring versus the fall, those kinds of things that are not covered by the Fed Rate. Graduation Success Rate was developed to try to better cover those student athletes.
Again, the Fed Rate basically all it does is look at the students who enroll in fall. It does not include any students who enroll in the spring. The Fed Rate does not look at any students who move from a 2-year college to a 4-year college, none of that is included. Where the Graduation Success Rate does pick those up. So there are a lot of issues with the Fed Rate. The one thing though about the Fed Rate is if you want to try to make comparisons to other universities or within the university of student athletes to the general student body you really have to go with the Fed Rate. Because that’s all you have for the regular student body. It’s still used even though it is not a very good representation of what’s happening.
Again, the Graduation Success Rate does include those that enroll in the fall but it also adds those that come in the spring, it includes transfers and it also allows for a university to not count a student athlete who chooses to move to another university and graduate at another university. The Fed Rate if you go to another university and graduate, as far as the Fed Rate is concerned you failed, it counts against you, you failed with that student, they did not graduate.
These are the numbers comparing the Fed Rate to the Graduation Success Rate, which I will be showing you in a few minutes, is basically looking at the 2003–2006 cohort. What it does is it looks at a 4-year group and then looks out 6 years afterwards. So we are actually looking at a group of students that entered Auburn 7–10 years ago, so this is not a contemporary group it is really an old group. Look at how it goes here, how the Fed Rate and the GSR start with the same numbers, but the GSR adds in the freshmen that come in January, the 2-year college transfers, the 4-year college transfers and it takes out those who left eligible. So you end up with a number that somewhat the same. You have 82,226 in the Fed Rate cohort and you have 91,701 in the Graduation Success Rate cohort. [58:10] So that shows you what they are looking at and what students are included. So again, this is a cohort that entered the university between 2003–2006 six years later. So this data came out in the fall of 2013.
This is where Auburn is right now. I apologize at the bottom I’ve got two columns that are the same, don’t know what my brain was doing. In a couple more slides I will have all of the sports. But basically for Auburn student athletes, this particular cohort, again the one that entered between 2003–2006, has a 75% Graduation Success Rate. It shows a comparison how it’s been trending over the past several years, and again we fall between the mid to high 70 percent range, it’s not that big of a difference.
My prediction is that, especially, I am going to talk about APR in a few minutes and how that’s changing. And with the more stringent requirements for allowing students to become initially eligible, those kinds of changes, my prediction is that the Graduation Success Rate for Auburn’s student athletes is going to go up. I won’t be the FAR then because you are looking at several years down the road. The students that are coming on board now you are not going to see the impact until another 6 or 7 years down the road. My prediction it that we are probably going to see and increase in the Graduation Success Rate as we continue down the road. [1:00:00]
This is how Auburn compared to the rest of the SEC. Again, Auburn is sort of in the mid 70s and we’ve got other universities that are in the higher 70s and 80s, but this is how Auburn looks compared to the other SEC schools. This is a slide that shows specifically by sport what the Graduation Success Rate are for each sport, compared to the Fed rate. So you can see how it falls out, we have some teams that are doing exceptionally well and others that aren’t quite doing as well. But again this just breaks it out so you can see how all the sports are doing. Down on the bottom here this is Fed Rate if you wanted to compare the Fed Rate of Division 1 which is almost 3 million students. How it looks for men, women, and combined. Auburn in the center and then the AU student athletes on the right, this is Fed Rate this is not the GSR. There is no GSR for regular students.
If you want to use Graduation Success Rate, you can use that, if you want to compare Auburn to Division 1 student athletes then this is how Auburn compares to Division 1 as far as the men, women, and combined for this particular cohort 2003–2006.
Another thing that the NCAA looks at is Academic Progress Rate or APR. Basically this was created to try to institute some level of responsibility at the institution level to make sure that coaches, teams were paying attention and making sure that the student athletes were progressing through and graduating. The way this is set up is each student athlete gets 2 points, they get one point for being academically eligible and one point for staying on the team, staying at the university. So with each student athlete getting 2 points, what they do is go through and add up all the points possible on a team, divide it by how many points they have…take the number of points they have and divide by the number of points possible and multiply by 1,000 to get the APR. All this came off the NCAA Web site if you want more information.
An example of a football team with 85 grants in aid, 85 scholarships, their total then would be 2 times 85 to be 170 possible points. Let’s say that 3 of those student athletes became academically ineligible, but they stay in school. Remember you can become academically ineligible by just dropping a class when you are not supposed to, doesn’t mean that you necessarily failed out. Or doing something that makes you not progressing toward degree, you become academically ineligible. Let’s say 3 of them did that and they stay in school, but then 2 not only were not academically eligible anymore they also dropped out of school. [1:03:26] So you loose both points for those 2, a total of 4. And that’s 7, so you subtract 7 from 170, that’s 163 divided 163 by 170 and multiply by 1,000 and that team has an APR of 959. So that’s how these numbers are generated.
You’ll notice that teams that have large numbers of student athletes you are going to have a lot more students not doing what they need to do to impact the APR of a team such as basketball or one of these smaller numbers you really have got to pay closer attention because it doesn’t take very many students athletes to run into trouble to markedly affect the APR, on those teams that have fewer numbers of student athletes.
Anyway the NCAA will calculate then a 4-year figure, they will look at 4 years at a time and are looking to see where those teams fall. Historically teams that score below 925 and have a student on that team who becomes academically ineligible and drops out of school, that’s an “0 for 2,” they call it, they loose both points. That can be big trouble, those teams can loose scholarships for that, so this is a wake-up call to make sure these kids stay eligible.
There is another change that’s coming on, for a long time the APR was 900 as the minimum but now that is going to be bumped up to 930. So there are going to be more stringent requirements for the APR level. There is a penalty structure that goes into place if a team has a multi–year APR of less than 900 and again this is going to increase to 930 here shortly, level one would be just practice penalties in-season and level two would extend to out-of-season practice penalties. Then level three gets into all kinds of things like financial penalties, coaches being put on the bench and those kinds of things can happen with level three penalties. The other thing too that has changed is that if a coach leaves an institution and goes to another institution the APR follows them, so they can’t like walk away and say “that’s their problem, I’m just going somewhere else,” it will follow them.
And this is how it is changing, you can see there. This year 2013–14 we are still in the middle of that, we are still at 900. Next year it is going to 930 and any team that falls below 930 is going to run into problems. This is how Auburn’s teams look, this is posted in the spring of 2013, this is the 4-year rate again and all of our teams are doing fairly well here. Don’t see any real issues jumping out. Again this is something you have to stay on top of especially for those teams that have lower numbers of student athlete on their rosters they can be affected very quickly by things that happen.
The best part of my presentation, I like to really show you some of the fantastic things that Auburn Student Athletes have accomplished that you may or may not be aware of. One the Rhodes Scholars, I don’t know if you are aware of it or not but we’ve had several finalists including Jordan Anderson who actually did receive a Rhodes Scholarship. Jordan Anderson, Erica Meissner, Krissy Voss, Dan Mazzaferro, Ashton Richardson: we are the only SEC institution that has 5 student athletes as finalists in the past 5 years. The only one. And I have to credit obviously the faculty, obviously administration, staff that work with these students, obviously the students themselves, people who work to make sure these students are aware of their capabilities and foster their accomplishments. Special thanks to Paul Harris who works tirelessly with these students to make sure they are prepared for their interviews, etc. We have a great group of people working together not only in athletics but also in academics.
This is a recent award that started with the 1A Faculty Athletics Representative, Academic Excellence Award. This has been an award that they are now giving to student athletes who have just graduated and had a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or above upon graduation and participated in at least 2 years of intercollegiate athletics. And this is a list from Auburn, very proud of them. There are 3 pre-Vet, very, very proud of this group.
NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships; these are one of the highest academic honors that a student athlete can get from the NCAA. And these Post Graduate Scholarships are given to basically all student athletes, all divisions can compete for these scholarships. You are talking about thousands and thousands of student athletes. We are talking about all divisions, all sports. They only give out 174 per year. A tiny amount when you consider how many are eligible to receive these. Auburn student athletes received two of them this past year, which is incredible; both swimming & diving student athletes, just a great accomplishment.
Going back one year, 2012–2013, we’ve had 5 student athletes awarded NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, 5 in 2 years. Again just a great accomplishment and I have to thank the faculty that’s worked with these kids, administrators, staff, it’s just been wonderful. In addition to that we’ve had 3 student athletes as Walter Byers Scholarship finalists in this period of time. And it is the highest academic award. There is only one male and one female student athlete awarded this in the whole NCAA. And to have 3 that were finalists is incredible and it shows the academic proud of what these students have done.
This was posted this past summer the Auburn Swimming and Diving Team had 20 student athletes, the most in the SEC, selected as Scholar All-American by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. Auburn women were named to the CSCAA Team Scholar All-America list with a 3.23 GPA and the men’s team also earned honors. Very proud of what they’ve accomplished. [1:11:08]
As you see Academic Honor Roll…about to show you how many student athletes were on the academic honor roll, just wanted to make sure you knew what the criteria were. Basically they have to have a 3.0 GPA or above. If they go to summer school those grades are included in the calculation. It doesn’t matter if they are on a scholarship or not, they are eligible as long as they are playing on a varsity team for two seasons. Prior to being nominated they have to have successfully completed 24 semester hours toward their degree. And of course they have to be a member of the varsity team Championship segment.
219 Auburn students were on the Academic Honor Roll. Every single team had at least one student athlete on the SEC Academic Honor Roll. This slide just shows you how it folds out, the number of students per team, like I said every single team was represented for the 2012-2013 EC Academic Honor Roll.
Next two scholarship I am going to talk about, this is the Boyd McWhorter and the one right after it is Brad Davis. These are post-graduate scholarships that are given by the SEC. The Boyd McWhorter post-graduate scholarship is more recognizing academics and athletics where as the Brad Davis is more recognizing community service and academics. [1:12:46] Each SEC university chooses one male and one female per award, so Auburn would choose one male and one female for the McWhorter and one male and one female for the Brad Davis. This is something that goes through the awards sub-committee of the CIA and Dr. Jim Barboree is the chair of that sub-committee and they had an outstanding group of student athletes that they had to choose from to make decisions on these awards. With the weather we had things got kind of crazy and barely beat the deadline, but they were able to finally figure out which student athletes would get these awards from Auburn.
The next step; Two were chosen for Boy McWhorter and two for Brad Davis will go to the SEC Office. The SEC office will gather all 28 for each from all the other SEC universities and then they will compile it and send it back to the FARs and we will be asked to rank them. We cannot rank our own students. Then we send them back to the SEC Office and then based on the rankings from all the FARs in the SEC, it is narrowed down to only 3 students per category. These will be forwarded to our meeting in March and the FARs sit down and decide who the National winners will be.
Last year, Auburn University’s student athletes were the only ones that had all 4, male/female Boyd McWhorter, and male/female Brad Davis make the final cut of 3. I got to the meeting, and the way that this happens you get to the FAR meeting in spring and you have to sit down and decide, well if your student athletes are finalists you cannot speak. And you can’t vote. So…I was quiet. It was a good quiet, but that’s how they do it if you are a finalist. Of course the Faculty Athletics Reps I go to these meetings and they walk up to me and say it is incredible, the student athletes, the caliber of your students, they always are finalists. And here we go again where all 4 of them are finalists. I get a lot of complements and I take all the credit, it’s all because of me, right? But it is just phenomenal how Auburn presents itself and how good our student athletes look across the SEC.
We just decided who are finalists are for these two awards and decided not to present it because it needs to go through the proper channels before I blast it out over the Senate meeting. They have been chosen…(voice dropped out).
I wanted to show you, Dr. Gary Waters shared this information with me, these are some statistics on our student athletes to give you an idea for the team GPA for the semester, cumulative GPA, average individual student athlete GPS for the semester, and it goes on, total student athletes with 3.0 or plus It show the top team GPA is Volleyball, cumulative GPA is Volleyball, team with the most 3.0 plus GPAs is football, highest percent of 3.0 GPAs is Womens Golf, and then student athletes on track to graduate with honors in the fall semester was 156. This is fantastic information. [1:16:37]
Clustering has been a question and a concern by the NCAA. The more we make it more stringent for student athletes to stay in college, make progress toward degree; the worry was what are we going to do here then? We were worried that the universities, their response or the athletic departments response would be, okay put them all in the same curriculum so that we can make sure that they all pass and they can all get out. Clustering, okay. You can see this is where the student athletes are, there is no clustering here. They are spread out over essentially all of the colleges and schools, a wide variety of majors and they are all over the place. So this is very good information, we are not clustering our student athletes, they are doing well and are doing it in a wide variety of majors.
I wanted to share this with you. One of the things that is a positive for me as a faculty athletics rep, because this is a professional school I don’t get the ability to interact with the undergraduate students like you all do for many of you do because in the professional school by the time a student gets to that medicine they have basically used up all of their eligibility, they are no longer student athletes. But because I’ve gotten to know several student athletes and they figured out what I do, that has opened doors for them and for me and I’ve had several student athletes participate in research in my lab. Last summer I had 3 student athletes, the first row there, Maddie Barnes on the left, Melina Smith in the center, and Erica Kolakowski, all student athletes got to work with the one veterinary student on the upper left corner there all doing research. Learning how to isolate DNA, do CPR, all had their own projects, it was a blast we had a really fun time last summer. Maddie actually took credit during the summer and Erica took credit in the fall, and this spring I’ve got two more student athletes in the lab for credit; Jason Miller and Caitlin Moran. Again it has just been a great experience for me to interact with these student athletes at this level that I ordinarily would not have had a chance to do. So it’s been a lot of fun.
A little bit about who the faculty athletic representatives are in the SEC. I showed you this slide last year, it basically has not changed, it’ll give you an idea of what the backgrounds are. The faculty athletics reps and what their appointments are in their various colleges. Vanderbilt has a provost as their FAR, and we’ve got two associate deans and department heads and chairs, but the majority of the FARs are faculty and professors. [1:19:27]
So I just want to finish by saying thank you for working with these kids. They become well educated, they develop excellent time management skills and a sense of community that is unique to Auburn University/ Their success relies on the cooperation of faculty, counselors, coaches, sports administrators, and the students. They cannot succeed without being both academically and athletically prepared. And I want to thank you for working with them and helping them succeed, not only in the classroom but in their respective sports.
I have to show this to you. I got a chance to go to the football game in Pasadena about a month ago and it was kind of a homecoming for me because when I got out of Vet school I practiced in Orange County for a little bit. Anyway the hotel we were staying in was right next to an Art Museum, and it is modern art which I have a tough time with, that side of my brain doesn’t work very well, but I thought let’s just go see the art, maybe I could understand it. And this was a statue outside the Art Museum and I said “I can understand this art,” there is even yellow paint on the front of the building. It did bring back memories of when you are a vet student one of the things you have to do when you are working with a patient is get a urine sample for urinealysis, and we all had to run around with a cup trying to catch a urine sample. And the Provost can relate to this, definitely relate to this, and it sounds like it would be easy but I want you to picture the Provost running around after a dauchson trying to catch a urine sample. But I told my husband, “look how easy this would be to catch a urine sample,” and my husband’s comment was, “I can’t take my veterinarian anywhere.”
And for those of you who wonder what platelets have to do with athletics, remember that platelets make the best team players. Thank you. Questions?
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: You showed an interesting slide and made some statements about the clustering of athletes in regards to colleges (is what you showed). I wonder what percentage of football players this past season who saw significant playing time were public administration majors?
Mary Boudreaux, chair of Intercollegiate Athletics Committee: I don’t have that information. I don’t know.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: My colleague actually studied that fact and I think he found something like, there are 20 times more likely to be a public administration major than the average student at the university. It was an amazing number. They were all in the exact same major. So I am not sure about the slide and the statement you made about clustering in the programs, but incurring the football team players especially those that saw playing time, majors, we saw an awful lot of a specific repeated major for the football team. But I don’t know if you have broken it out by majors and particular athletic programs as opposed to athletics broadly speaking because a lot of the concerns about selection of majors, let’s face it, tends to be with the money support. They are the money supports and that’s what the typical claims are. So it would be nice to see with respect to the particular sports programs that people are most concerned about in that regard, to see actually what the distribution is in those particular programs, such as football or basketball. Thank you.
Mary Boudreaux, chair of Intercollegiate Athletics Committee: I am not familiar with public administration as a major and I certainly would not want to say it’s an easy or bad major. I have no problem with public administration, sounds like a good major to me. But anyway, thank you.
Larry Crowley, chair: We have been impacted last week, lost 3 days. Many of us including me lost a full week. Chance is going to talk to us about the deliberate approach that they take in making sure that we’re safe and pulling the plug on school. [1:23:59] I appreciate you coming and talking to us.
Chance Corbett, Assoc. Dir. Emergency Management: I was asked to come and speak to you. I’ve been able to speak to a couple of different groups in the last couple of days because obviously last week was a big deal. Closing the campus or what we say is a change in the normal operations of the campus and cancelling classes. The events last week were not normal for us. In fact most people we’ve talked to since then keep bringing up the comment that they can’t remember the last time we did multiple days, much less 3 days in a row. So hopefully we won’t have to deal with that too much more.
We thought it would be interesting to you to understand how we came up with the decision process. The fact that this was not something that we just decided overnight or within an hour or so, but it is a fairly intensive process.
I broke it down to both groups and I’ll do the same for you. As far as weather goes and weather closures or cancelling classes, we break it down into two different groups; one being winter weather and what we deal with there is the ice, not necessarily the snow, but the ice on the roads and sidewalks, steps and things like that and having to worry about people getting across campus safely. And the other which is severe weather, which generally is something that’s fairly quickly evolving and something that we don’t have a lot of warning about. The exception to that would be a hurricane, but us being so far inland usually what we worry about in that situation are the tornados and the other effects that spin off of that. Basically I say all that to say during winter weather conditions we’re far more likely to make a suggestion for cancelling classes or altering the level of operations for the university.
As far as monitoring the weather we also have an element on campus that monitors weather. Our emergency management element of the Department of Public Safety and Security on campus, we have emergency managers that are…I am the emergency manager for the campus, we have some personnel in the department that help do that. We’re on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week, we have great relationships with the National Weather Service, and when I say that we can pick the phone up anytime of the day or night and call and ask them a question, we also participate in webinars and briefings. We have radio contact with them so if we do have questions or we are not really sure of what we’re seeing or what we are trying to decide to do, we can ask that and get information from them as well. We also work very closely with the local emergency management agency which is the Lee County Emergency Management Agency to insure that we are all on the same page and if they have any information that we don’t have to make sure that we are getting it as soon as possible.
The decision factors behind making a decision such as this, number one is safety, we have to take safety into account. There are so many things that come into play but if we’re not directing all of them back to safety then we are failing on that. The type of hazards that go with that, obviously ice, driving conditions, road conditions and things like that we definitely have to worry about. The only time I can remember, and I have been here about 7 years, I can remember cutting a day short because we had a hurricane in the Gulf that was spinning up some really bad looking storms and we went into a couple of tornado warnings, early on a Monday morning and we ended up sending everyone home early on that day and unfortunately we did not have another warning the rest of the day. We know that can happen and sometimes it is a decision factor, but we also look at the timing of the event, the length of the event, the class schedules, how is it falling in the semester?, the work schedules of everyone else. Campus services are huge, we can’t have transportation across the campus if we have ice on the roads; the busses will be just sliding across the road, sliding through intersections, we can’t have that.
We have also looked at issues like whole day versus half a day. Talking with the Provost’s Office one thing that came up was if you have night classes the faculty members that are coming in for night classes generally are going to start arriving around 2:00 p.m. for preparing for that. So what is the magic time there; Do we cut it off at noon; Do we cut it off at 2:00 p.m.; Later into the afternoon; or what? So sometimes it is a hard decision on that but what we saw the last week is that a half-day situation did not work for what we were trying to accomplish.
Some of the other factors that work into it, we just don’t want to be wrong. Obviously we make a decision to close campus for 3 days in a row and then the third day, we have already put it out there, everybody has adjusted their schedule or made plans and the third day there is nothing to it, obviously there will be repercussions with that and we don’t want that to happen. We know there is loss of productivity. We know there are tests going on. Finals, it may fall in the time there’s final exams. If you remember when the tornados devastated Tuscaloosa, they had to cancel their graduation because of that. Huge decisions, and we understand some of those decisions going into it. I want you to understand that we’re not making these in a box. We are not saying it is all about one thing or the other, we are taking academics into account as well.
Other things. What is the degree of probability? The National Weather Service a lot of times have been burned a few times in the past and will make predictions that are a little more safe than maybe they have made in the past. We really try to look at those, get on Webinars, ask specific questions to our area, to our circumstances, and try our best to make the best decision for that.
Local schools are a big proportion of that too. When we look at the local school systems, what are the City of Auburn Schools doing? [1:29:49] What are the City of Opelika and Lee County schools doing, and the others because we want to know relative to us making our decision. We have a lot of employees on campus that have students that are in those schools and if you have closed all of the school systems down that will be a big hardship on our employees as well, especially they may help us make the decision a little better for on the bubble trying to make that decision. When all the school systems start going, although they are getting the same information we are, we may need to consider that as a huge factor in it as well.
So how do we make the decision? That decision is not made by one individual group and that’s a good thing. I think we have evolved in that over the last 6 or 7 years. [1:30:34] I come together with several other peoole or the designee in our department comes together with several other people including the senior administration and we’re on the phone and it doesn’t matter, we’ve been on the phone Saturday night, Sunday night, middle of the night, it doesn’t matter. We try to make those decisions collectively. The Provost makes sure that we’re talking the academic side, ensuring that we are not, if there is some way we can modify it to be more in tune with them we will do that obviously. Then we bring others into the discussion as necessary. We have things on campus that are occurring outside of normal classes and things like athletic events and things like that, we have to take those into account as well. We have a crisis management team on campus. The crisis management team is made up of individuals across the campus on the footprint of campus and will show you a slide of that in just a second.
But how do we communicate the decision. First off we feel we need to get this information out in as many ways as possible across the campus. AU Alert has been the system we have used since 2007. We brought that system on in late 2007 and signed our first contract in 2008. We have changed vendors recently and we think we have better delivery times. AU Alert sends it out by, text message, telephone, and e-mail. And we own all the university e-mail addresses, and we’ve pulled those and they are all 100 percent, but you may have seen the message that went out from the Provost, we need employees to be signing up. We are in the 60-percentile range of employees that have actually put a cell phone number in there for us to call. We urge you to go back and talk with the folks in your department and asked them if they have signed up for it. you really need to. One thing about that, those messages are only sent when we are asking you to take some type of immediate action, such as if we had an intruder on campus, or chemical spill or whatever and you needed to take some action to try to be safe, and the other one is for time-sensitive information such as we are closing the campus or classes are being cancelled. We are not sending daily reminders or anything else, that’s what the e-mail system is for. The AU Alert covers the e-mail, but again it is only during an emergency or sometime sensitive information.
Other ways we do send it out, we do redundantly send it out through the university e-mail, it would be usually this week at AU for the students or and Auburn Daily Extra message. When we send an AU Alert in automatically through an RSS feed populates the Web site telling you there is a change in status or what the emergency is so that if you go to auburn.edu it pops up right in front of you and tells you what it is. Social Media the way the students communicate we obviously work through Facebook and twitter. Not only does the university have accounts we also have emergency preparedness accounts that we really pushed out during the National Championship this year to try to get participation in that as well. Also our media partners; the media are calling before we ever make a decision. We are getting the calls wanting interviews, what is the university going to do? And we try to push it back until the final decision is made and we work through our communications and marketing’s department as much as possible to make that happen.
When we sent the AU Alert this last time there was some discussion; should we send the AU Alert? At this time we felt it was the right way to do it and I think was very successful sending it out. The students were tweeting all over twitter saying where is my AU Alert, we need our AU Alert I’m sitting on a decision. They are making their decisions based on that. Some of you may have been in a classroom when we actually sent the AU Alert and it popped up on your screen. If you are not familiar with this please don’t get frustrated with it. All it is, is a mouse click. If you will just go to the bottom green box there, it says acknowledge, click it and it goes away. It didn’t knock you off it didn’t mess any that you were doing up, and it will not affect you in any way. It is just a way for us to get information out there.
I know it’s the end of the day and I wanted to be as brief as possible. Just know that these decisions are made by as many people as we can bring into it, we know you have an important job to do, just like most of us do, we want to make sure that we’re responsive to that and we are making the best decision for everybody with safety being number one. I’ll open it up for questions for me, glad to take them. I see no questions.
Larry Crowley, chair: Thank you, you did a great job.
Is there any unfinished business? Is there any new business?
Sanjeev Baskiyar, senator, Computer Science & Software Engineering: I would like to bring two issues. The first one is about teaching evaluations. I think current teaching reviews of courses are done electronically. It would be nice to be able to have averages by the department and by class size as well as by the level of the course. So for example 1000, 2000, 3000, so that people have more accurate information. And I think it would make sense to do this as long as there are more than 3 samples of a particular course so that information is not disclosed inappropriately.
The other item I’d like to point out, I think several faculty in my department have talked about it, we just were told that parking for fall 2014, I think, there will be no hang tags. So it will be license plates. Two faculty member were very vocal about it feel that there should be hang tags because their concern is; number one if you have a vehicle which is in the shop and you bring a rental or a loner rental, how is that handled. So I guess that needs to be addressed. Number two, we are currently allowed to put 2 vehicles on the system, but to add the second vehicle you need to send an e-mail to the parking services. The first vehicle you can actually put the information online. I think there is some complexity with sending the e-mail knowledge inside the parking services. So what people are recommending is that the second vehicle registration should also be made online.
So these are the 2 things I wanted to talk about.
Larry Crowley, chair: Any other new business? We’ll be adjourned [1:37:36]