Transcript Senate Meeting
August 27 2013
Larry Crowley, chair:
(The beginning of the meeting missed getting recorded. Technical difficulties all around) [A less smooth start to the Senate Meeting]
Dr. Gogue, president: Smooth start to the semester. [four things to mention today]
We welcomed new faculty (approx. 60–70) at the reception.
1.Board of Trustees meeting is in 2 weeks. On the agenda there will be the approval of the 2013–2014 Budget, a Masters of Science in Agricultural Leadership, Graduate Certificate:Public Horticulture, and a review of Chapter 3 of the AU Faculty Handbook.
2. The Kinesiology Building will have its Formal Opening…Next week…
3. I do want to mention to you, last week you have probably read things in the news that have to do at the Federal level where the Obama Administration is looking at some different metrics [00:14] in looking at universities. Some of those metrics are Pell Grants, and Drew correct me, we have a fairly low number of Pell Grant recipients, 14%. The number of Pell Grant students is a very important thing. What the rankings show it the more Pell Grants that you have is probably better in terms of the way they rank. They are looking at Student debt, academic degrees that lead to jobs, and payback on student loans.
4. The final thing I wanted to mention to you is this begins the 50th year in which Auburn integrated. So there will be celebration with a number of different speakers and events that will occur throughout the year. As you see the announcements on those I encourage you to participate. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. (pause) Thank you.
Larry Crowley, chair: We now have technology back so we can vote and Laura is going to set up the clicker. Press A if you are present. There are 59, a quorum is established.
The next order of the agenda is the Office of the Provost. Dr. Boosinger will present.
Dr. Tim Boosinger, provost: Thank you Larry. I appreciate the opportunity to update you on a few things the Provost’s Office has been working on. One is that following a national search, Kevin Coonrod, an attorney from Seattle, Washington has been appointed as the ombudsperson for Auburn University. He is coming to work in September. Judge Bryan will work for a few weeks in September to help the transition, then Coonrod will be the ombudsperson.
Following up on the new Strategic Plan that was approved by the Board of Trustees in June we have appointed an implementation planning committee. Folks of that committee provide oversight over the next four years and evaluate the progress toward our goals. So I will update you probably once a year on the implementation committee’s reports. [3:18]
Also I’d like to announce again to remind everyone that the new Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, Dr. Nicholas Giordano, who comes from Perdue University and chaired his department before becoming Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. Dr. Joseph Aistrup, coming here from Penn State University, will be the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts starting September 1. Finally again a reminder that is posted on the Web is the announcement for the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Research, that is a position currently held by Carl Pinkert. That’s an internal search and applications need to be in by September 8. We hope to complete that entire process by early October.
I’d be glad to answer any questions or hear any comments. Thank you very much.
Larry Crowley, chair: Next are my remarks. Bill had started giving remarks that were well received. I asked him how he did it and he tried to steer me in the right direction, but I told him that I am not near so interesting as you are. So I don’t know that I can do his Bill Sauser but I will give you a sense of what I think is important in terms of the Senate.
First if you are a new Senator here, welcome. This is a part of shared governance, it provides a vital role, we do have a voice in this administration and it’s a refreshing part of my day to be part of the Senate. [5:40 now wired for sound] I want to introduce people. I want to introduce the fellow officers; Bill Sauser, Immediate Past Chair, Gisela Buschler-Diller is the Secretary-Elect, Judy Sheppard is the current Secretary, and Patricia Duffy is our Chair-elect. Constance Hendricks has graciously agreed to spend another year as Parliamentarian, she has signs and postings and her ipad lights up if I need to do something different so she will help me stay on track and I appreciate her agreeing to do that. She’s already reading the book to see what I am doing wrong. And then Laura Kloberg, who is our administrative assistant and she, especially during this busy part of the year, she does so, so much and we can’t thank her enough for all the things that she does for us.
And speaking about that I’d like to talk a little bit about committees; [6:50] because that’s the thing we are doing right now. As a Senate we kind of represent a committee as a whole as well because we advise the President on issues that are important to the academy and to the university. I counted, there are 60 committees, that’s a lot. I didn’t count the membership on each committee but if you assume a membership of 10 per committee, that’s 600 people that are involved in different aspects of the university to weigh in on different topics that interest them and agree to be a part of. Thirty-eight of these committees are University Committees and Twenty-two of them are Senate Committees. We have Senate Committee that evaluate and review things, 4 of those committees do things like Academic Program Review and Administrator Review and all those parts are part of shared governance. We also have committees that weigh in on curriculum. We have 5 committees doing that. We have 2 committees that support issues important to the Faculty, we have 2 committees that weigh in on issues that are important to students, such as Retention. We have administrative committees such as the Executive Committee of the Steering Committee that helps set the agenda or the Rules Committee that helps us reach out to the rest of the community here because it’s impossible to know everybody and everybody that is part of the university should have the opportunity to weigh in on committees that are important to them. So the Rules Committee is an important job for the sake of shared governance.
Then we’ve got an agenda, an agenda which weighs in pretty heavily as what we do as committees because we have nominations for committees for committee assignments that have not yet been filled that we will bring to you as a first agenda item. The second agenda item is an action item that is coming from the Academic Standards Committee. They have looked at and vetted a policy on attendance that is important to students and also weighs in on the faculty responsibilities, and they will be bringing that for action. We will surely have a lively discussion about that. [9:28] Then will take nominations for Rules Committee, this is a little bit late this year but we’ve got 4 open slots, one because they were promoted to Associate Dean and we will need to fill that slot as well. Then we will have the opportunity, to close, to hear from the Faculty Research Committee (FRC) Report. The FRC has taken a look and discussed with administrators and done some of their own investigation about the tuition charges to contracts. George Flowers is here to answer any questions if need be.
Let’s move to our action items, the first action item has to do with nominations for the university Senate Committees. [10:30]
Judy Sheppard, Secretary: Ever so much appreciated committee volunteers as being on the Rules Committee and trying to find people who are willing to do the work that we all need done. Our faculty runs on committees and it’s a lot of work, some committee more so than others, but it is quite a commitment and it is a good thing to do to step up and be willing to meet and debate and bring policies before the Senate.
You can see there the slate of nominees that the Rules Committee has put forward to fill these positions who’s terms have ended. These would have been posted much earlier, but due to technical problems we were not able to get them before you until now. I move that we accept this slate of nominees.
Larry Crowley, chair: This comes from the Rules Committee and it doesn’t need a second, but we appreciate that. Is there any discussion on any of the nominees? If not then we will move for a vote for them to be approved in mass. If you have your clicker turned on, vote A to accept the nominations and B to decline. Yes.
Someone: Just a typo on Rivas it should be Ravis.
Larry Crowley, chair: Thank you very much. Overwhelmingly passes. A=59, B= 1. Thank you for your vote and thank you for those of you all that have volunteered and thank you for participating in university service.
The next item on the agenda is Brian Parr, he will give a policy statement on the attendance. He is the outgoing chair of the Academic Standards Committee. This has been held over from the spring because it did seem to be a bit controversial than what we though might happen so we wanted to hold it over the summer until it could be reported on to the full Senate. [13:56]
Brian Parr, Immediate Past (IP) Chair of the Academic Standards Committee: Thank you. You may remember the meat of this proposal was to change our class attendance policy in the e-Handbook from an arrangement to make up missed major examinations, for example hour exams and mid-term exams to read; arrangements to accommodate missed graded assignments due to properly excused absences. That’s the major change. It’s from just naming examinations to making it a little broader to graded assignments.
I do want to point out a couple of things. Also there was a footnote added in the proposal that did state pretty clearly that things that have a nature that where they could not be recreated like, classroom discussion and other things that the instructors discretion may or may not be able to be recreated and if it passes that threshold, and this is at the discretion of the instructor, where the student just simply has missed too much of those things that cannot be recreated then the student simply won’t be able to complete the course.
Also I wanted to point out that the last sentence of the first paragraph of the original policy was retained, or the last two sentences. And I’d like to read those. It says, “Specific policies regarding class attendance are the prerogative of the individual faculty members. Faculty shall inform each class in writing at the beginning of the course regarding the effect of absences on the determination of grades.”
So I had some questions about faculty asking their students to notify them ahead of time for planned absences and that was stated in their syllabus. This change in no way would preclude a professor from doing that. [15:48] Okay, therefore I move for adoption of this new policy.
Larry Crowley, chair: This comes from the Academic Standards (a Senate Committee) so it doesn’t need a second. Is there discussion? If you want to discuss the policy, come to the microphone, state your name, whether you are a senator or not, and what unit you represent.
Eduardus Duin, senator, Chemisrty & bio Chemistry: My first point, why is this change made? It’s still not clear why this had to be changed?
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I’m not sure I can completely answer that. This was passed through the Academic Standards Committee in the chain of bringing it before the Senate so it did not originate in the Academic Standards Committee. It is my understanding that it could broaden the scope of what a student would be allowed to make up in the event of an excused absence as opposed to just missed major exams. They could possibly make up graded assignments that were not major exams, that may hurt their grade due to a university approved absence.
Eduardus Duin, senator, Chemisrty & bio Chemistry: Thank you.
I would like to describe our classes. We have a lot of freshmen classes with about 200 students, up to 350 students. The same is true for organic chemistry, the same is true for bio chemistry classes, so I think there’s about 40 percent of our teaching involves these large classes. Typically we give 3 tests and a final, then we through in quizzes to keep the students on track. Some teachers do some iclicker questions. I also know some teachers that do attendance grades, if they show up to all of the classes they get part a grade for that.
So with this change in policy now we are forced to make all this stuff, as it follows the policy every student has a chance to make up these things and that becomes too much. It is not possible to make up all of these quizzes, attendance, iclicker questions. So we don’t like the change, we like the original version with major exams. Maybe you can be more specific if you don’t want to include quizzes, but the way the policy is written now it is not acceptable at all.
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I understand and I am not disagreeing with you, but I would like to just point out that footnote that really does leave it to you as to what you determine that could be recreated and graded on a makeup policy. [18:45]
Eduardus Duin, senator, Chemisrty & bio Chemistry: Yes, but still the policy says graded and major exams or reports or something instead of having a general…
Brian Parr, chair of Academic Standards Committee: I understand
Eduardus Duin, senator, Chemisrty & bio Chemistry: What’s going to happen of course if this stands, a student may say “I’d like to make up this quiz.” Then we are just not going to offer quizzes anymore. Stuff is going to slowly disappear. I know some teachers have 3 classes in a semester, which is way too much work, so it is not going to work for us. This is not a good policy. [19:24]
Larry Crowley, chair: Other questions? Comments?
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: I made some comments when this was originally proposed as an information item, that I think still apply, but I am a little confused about how this reads now.
As an instructor, if I write a syllabus that states a policy related to attendance and grading on my syllabus, that policy controls? Or does this thing control?
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I may have to give you my interpretation as well, but the way I read this is that specific details are left to you. The policy is that missed graded assignments that are documented, if they are recreate-able, and that’s for you to determine as well, then the student should be allowed that opportunity.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: I am still confused. So if I write a syllabus that says in my opinion no work should be made up in this class because I cannot properly recreate it. [20:39] Does that policy now bind?
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I am not going to say that you wouldn’t have an argument on whether it could or could not be recreated.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: Okay, so the student tells me that I have to allow him to make up work, it’s not clear that I have to allow him as long as I write in my syllabus that in my opinion as a professor this work can not properly be made up.
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I think you have that opportunity.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: So I am now free to produce my own policy for my syllabus and that’s what controls. So if somebody goes to an upper administrator waiving this thing around, as long as it is clearly written in my syllabus what my policy is going to be, then my syllabus controls?
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I think we have an upward administrator who would like to speak.
Constance Relihan, associate provost for undergraduate studies: There is in the policy and this has been in the policy in its earlier form a list of 6 items for which faculty members are supposed to excuse student absences. You may say that it needs to be with prior notification, but obviously no one can give you prior notification of being hit by a car on their way to class. So some reason is called for. My understanding of the policy has been, you have to with proper documentation, allow for these instances in this list.
What’s different about this policy, or what’s revised about it is that it expands the scope of what should be permitted to be made-up. The principle behind it, and it is always hard to revise a policy so that you are specific enough without being too specific, but the intention behind revising it was to acknowledge that pedagogy takes a lot of different forms. Students get graded on a number of things besides a mid-term and final exam in different kinds of classes and different kinds of circumstances. So we wanted to try to expand the policy so that a student who has a legitimate excused absence is not penalized unduly for being in the hospital, for a week and a half for instance. But as that all-important footnote spells out, there’s and understanding that there are things that cannot be made-up. Clicker quizzes cannot be made-up, probably, in-class discussions cannot be made-up, but he goal here is to have students treated fairly and not be penalized because they were legitimately absent.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: I am still confused. [23:44] Do I write the policy on my syllabus or not? What controls? This policy uses language that says the instructor should have a policy, write it down on that, but if we have decided centrally what the policy is going to be then that is not the case. Then we’ve got these clauses in here and stuff and reading this thing now as it appears. Previously we had discussed is appeared mandatory coverage, now it’s kind of reading somewhat like, well, I don’t know. You should have a policy in writing on your syllabus and you decide, or the policy decides, or who decides whether you are allowed to make up things or not?
I mean, at the previous institution I was at they trusted their faculty, they thought their faculty were very good teachers, that’s why they hired them, so the policy was that the instructor have a policy and have it written in your syllabus. The only policy was that each instructor had to have a policy in writing. So all the students and everybody could read it, and then, the syllabus would bind it. So if a student had an objection to it, whoever was reviewing the situation would refer to the syllabus to see what the written policy of the class was and whether it was followed or not, because it was a contract between the students that took it and the professor. [25:02]
So you’ve got some of that language in here but there is other language in here so, I don’t understand whether I am going to be in violation of this policy or not, if I say something can or cannot be made-up in my judgment. Is it the professor’s judgment or is it some third party’s judgment?
Larry Crowley, chair: Your question, I think, as I hear it is the fact of can this policy be adjusted to a class? I think the answer to that, based on what the answers that were given is yes.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: So, it is the opinion of the Senate, that if I write a syllabus outlining attendance policy, which in my opinion is appropriate for my class–the way I am going to do things, my syllabus is then the policy.
Larry Crowley, chair: I think that has been asked and answered.
Mike Stern, senator, Economics: So, the answer is yes.
Larry Crowley, chair: I believe that you have the ability to customize this policy to your class. If I am speaking out of order if that’s not the determination, we have a lawyer here so we will be more confused. I think he has an opinion.
Lee Armstrong, General Council: I think Constance’s explanation…and I haven’t had anything to do with this, this is the first time I’ve seen it. I think Constance’s explanation, is in fact what they were trying to get at, but you’ve identified a problem with it. I have a problem with it as written, in particular with respect to things like religious holidays, we have an obligation to reasonably accommodate those sorts of things, so I don’t think a faculty member could just overturn that. Court subpoenas; we would probably have a problem with that if a faculty member decided I’m just not going to recognize that subpoena. So I think it does need some work to clarify where the boundaries are. [27:02]
Larry Crowley, chair: Any other questions or comments?
Jimmy Mills, from Chemistry, not a senator: After reviewing the policy, at least the one that we got some time ago some of the terms seemed not very appropriate for our courses, particularly the ones where we have above 100 people. I’ve taught probably 25 of those, ranging from 100 to 250, and sometimes, 300 on one occasion. I normally have quizzes and I allow the students to take 6 quizzes, out of which 4 count, 2 are dropped. In other years that I’ve been teaching I have never had any problems except one student that, let me say the general grades were not excellent, that was the only person that wanted remakes of the quizzes. Now you can imagine that if we allow remakes of quizzes, we cannot do it in the semester, there is no way because there are always going to be people for which I have to make a remake of the remake of the remake, so we never end up in the allotted time. I think this is a serious problem for people that teach very large classes. So far I have never had problems. We do have remakes for 3 exams that they have to take, let’s say in a general chemistry course, that is reasonable and it works fine.
So I understand that some people will want to have more regulations, I am for less regulations, because the ones that we have in Chemistry work and we don’t have complaints. So I don’t know what to do if the new regulations come with more regulations mimicking what the colleague said before, I will just ignore them. I don’t want to do that because that will create conflict, but believe me after teaching so many courses and having no problems with a system that accounts for people being sick or having all kinds of personal problems, we have never seen a big issue with that. So I do believe that it is reasonable to leave it up to the instructor to set up some rules that are fair to everybody, but I think that if the students know what the rules are from the beginning, you avoid most of the problems.
Jody Graham, Senator for Philosophy(sub): I have a question about what part of the policy tells me where I have prerogative to refuse the student to make up a form of work that’s graded? So sometimes I have participation or group work that I have in the past said, “You cannot make this up, no matter what.” And sometimes I do that because of the kind of activity it is, and sometimes it is also because of , what people have been saying, to try and make arrangements for many students to make up that kind of work is going to be too much work for me and it’s taking away from my teaching time elsewhere. So sometimes I have a small, what might be called less significant, not a major piece of grading, it’s a small piece none-the-less graded, but small piece of grading which I specify will not be made up, regardless. So I am trying to figure out where on the policy that it allows me to refuse the student to make up that piece of grading. If it is not significant.
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I believe that is the intention of the footnote.
Jody Graham, Senator for Philosophy(sub): I am worried about in-class work or discussion that contributes to the participation grade, may need to be accommodated differently. And that’s what worries me is that. What you are telling me in the footnote is that I needed to make it up but just some other way, NO?
Brian Parr, chair of Academic Standards: That’s a piece of the footnote, read the rest of the footnote.
Jody Graham, Senator for Philosophy(sub): So “in the case of some activity based classes in which in-class performance constitutes a very substantial portion of the final course grade, it may not be possible for the student who has accrued a very large number of excused absences to complete the work.”
But that addresses the major, so it’s small pieces, I have prerogative too? Because this talks about significant.
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I think the intention of this footnote is to say if there are a substantial number of those small pieces that string together, even though it is excused absences, then you have the prerogative to say the student may not complete the course. The encouragement there is to prorate or to find a way not to penalize that student. Just to reiterate what’s been said, the logic here is the student missed a clicker quiz on a day that something tragic happens, so if that happens, then you prorate that grade to where it neither counts against them or for them, and at the same time if that happens six times throughout the semester then of course we understand that’s too much. It doesn’t matter if it is excused or not. And that’s the intention of the footnote, and I don’t know if it’s clearly getting that message through. [33:35]
Jody Graham, Senator for Philosophy(sub): So it is for any small or significant, in principle I have to give them a make-up unless it adds up to a significant amount and it can’t be made-up?
Brian Parr, IP Chair of Academic Standards Committee: I think that sounds right.
Larry Crowley, chair: Any other discussion? [34:13]
Ria Yngard, from the Chemistry Department, not a senator: I am teaching classes in Chemistry, 200 to 250 students and in general I give them the opportunity to do make-ups for exams and it is quite some work in general for an exam it is not uncommon for 10 to 20 percent of the students to come up with an excuse and you have to write a make-up. Now if I have to write make-ups, after make-up, after make-ups for those 200 students or the 20 students that it will end up, you can imagine what it will be like if I have to do make-ups for iclicker questions and also for quizzes. It will be a lot of work. What will happen with this ruling will be that iclicker questions and quizzes will not be given any more in order to avoid having a lot of work. That is one thing.
Another thing in the change is as it stated: “such make-up assignments should not be substantially more difficult than the original exam or assignment. My question is who will determine what is more difficult? My students,? My colleagues? In the department or outside of the department? Who will determine what is more difficult or not?
So nobody will decide other than myself? My students could not be complaining whether it is difficult or not.
Brian Parr: Think you will be audited on that regularly, no.
Ria Yngard, from the Chemistry Department, not a senator: Why is that not in the policy? Why would we write that in a policy, why not leave the policy the way it is? The moment you write it down and students see that, they will use that. And I will guarantee that you will have students that when they do not do well on a make-up exam, that they will come and complain (“my make-up exam was more difficult). Then somebody will have to determine whether that is correct or not. And who will decide that?
Larry Crowley, chair: Patricia?
Patricia Duffy, chair-elect: I spent some time as chair of the Student Academic Grievance Committee, so I have some insight here that might be useful to you. Also I believe and you can correct me if I am wrong that that wording about the difficulty on the make-up exams, etc., that’s many years old, that is not part of the new changes that is being brought forward, is that correct?
Brian Parr: That’s correct, but I can’t find it.
Patricia Duffy, chair-elect: I do believe that’s correct because that’s been around a long time. The Student Grievance policy is what would be the student’s recourse if the student thought that you were penalizing them by making super-hard make-up exams. That would go first to appeal to you, then to your department chair, then your Associate Dean, and then the Grievance Committee. In the time I spent on the grievance committee we did not have a case that emerged all the way to the Grievance Committee on this one. I did have once personally a student challenge me that my make-up was harder because he did not do well on it.. but he never pursued it beyond, your make-up was too hard. I said how is it too hard and he had the other one and it looked pretty similar but the numbers were different…and it ended there. But that would be the process.
I do believe this has been around for 15 years or 20 years, a long time because it has been in my syllabus a long time.
Larry Crowley, chair: Any other comments? [38:02] If there are no other comments then we will vote. If you vote A you are in support of the revised proposal, if you vote B, you will vote that down. This is a revision to the existing policy. So A you are in favor, B you are opposed. [38:33] A=23, B=42
The motion to revise the proposal failed. (problem with the count.) Let’s re-vote, I think it’s still active. Revote A to adopt
A=21, B=41. The motion fails.
The next item on the agenda is Judy Sheppard who is the chair of the Rules Committee, will call for nominations to Rules.
Judy Sheppard, secretary: The Rules Committee has 4 vacancies because members have rotated off. It is a two-year term and the people who are nominated should be senators at this time and they should have agreed to be nominated. [40:32] We will now take nominations from the floor.
Bill Sauser, Immediate Past Chair: I’d like to nominate Peter Stanwick from the Department of Management.
Patricia Duffy, chair-elect: I’d like to nominate David King, Geology and Geography.
Beth Guertal, Crop Soil and Environmental Sciences: I’d like to nominate Vicky Van Santen from Pathobiology
Gisela Buschle-Diller, secretary-elect: I’d like to nominate Lisa Kensler from Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology.
Sushil Adhikari, senator, Biosystems Engineering: I’d like to nominate Mark Taylor from Building Sciences.
Judy Sheppard, secretary: Are there any more nominations?
Larry Crowley, Chair: Nominations are closed. There will be bios posted for those nominated. If you go to the Senate Web Page, the bios will be posted under News. So if you go there we will have those posted. We will vote on those at next month’s Senate meeting, which is September 17.
The next item on the agenda is an information item. Chris Newland will report on their findings on looking at this particular policy, of the graduate tuition policy. [42:28]
Chris Newland, chair of Faculty Research Committee: Thank you Larry and thank you to the University Senate. I’ve been asked to present some information on the recently proposed tuition remission policy that was assigned to the Faculty Research Committee for review. I plan to spend about 10 to 15 minutes on this as requested by the Senate Leadership, then we can take questions.
As you all know the Graduate School was recently imposed a tuition remission rate, essentially a surcharge on stipends that are used to support graduates who are supported by extra mural funds. I will provide a little bit of background on this policy. Describe the policy and give a couple of examples, the charge to the Senate, review our discussion and our recommendations.
By way of background, Auburn University waives all tuition for all graduate assistants now that receive at least a 33% full time equivalency support. [43:55] One half of instate tuition for those 25% to 33%. Out-of-state tuition is automatically waived. This policy was established in the 1990s in an effort to improve competitiveness at Auburn University in recruiting graduate students. Financial support for this comes from the general fund, so this is not monopoly money, it is not funny money, it is real cash that comes out of the general fund.
Auburn would like to recoup some of these expenses now and to do so through a surcharge on students that are supported by extra mural grants and contracts. It can be noted that peer institutions and aspirational institutions are doing this now or are certainly moving in this direction.
The policy as promulgated in a memo on the 7th of January earlier this year identified a tuition remission rate of 40% of the GRA stipend amount that will be applied to grants and contracts that are submitted after the first of August, just a couple of weeks ago. There are exceptions as described here. One was a dean may grant a lower rate down to 10%, to a minimum 10% surcharge, the policy would not apply if support for graduate students is explicitly forbidden by the sponsor, and the amount charged may not exceed the full-time tuition. As the policy discussion has evolved it is now understood that the mandatory rate will be 10% and that will be the case. There will be a rate of 10% charge on extra mural grants and contracts over the next 3 years. Then it will be reevaluated at that time. [46:00]
So where did the 40% rate come from? At that rate given the number of students that are supported by extra mural grants and contracts a substantial portion of the cost of the tuition waiver could be recovered. This number is placed in the policy and remains in the policy in part because it is helpful for a couple of reasons. One in negotiating with outside partners who wish to support graduate students, it give Auburn the ability to say, here’s what the courses cost, here’s what the stipend is, and this 40% will help us recover certain expenses. It also is helpful in calculating cost share; the difference between the 10% that will actually be charged and the 40% that is estimated for accounting reasons can actually contribute to cost share. If that’s confusing I will give a couple of examples.
First example, a simple one; Consider a half-time graduate student supported on a $20,000 stipend on a $100,000 contract. The stipend will be $20,000, the tuition remission applied to that will be $2,000 or 10% of the stipend. The main reason for including this example is to make the point that the size of the contract or grant is irrelevant here. The charge is only applied to the tuition. I bring this up because there have been some questions about this.
The second example is a student who is supported by two grants. Again we have out student who is being paid $20,000 for a halt-time GRA, 75% of the students effort will be devoted to one contract, 25% to the other. So $15,000 stipend comes from one, $5,000 comes from the other, and at 10% that means $1,500 tuition remission rate would be charged to one and $500 for the other. Calculating it this way is easier than some of the other alternatives that were considered. The tuition remission rate is apportioned fairly between the two contracts and once again the size of the contract is not relevant.
Third example involving cost sharing. Again we have our student with $20,000, nearly full recovery of tuition would require $8,000, but the actual recovery that is charged is $2,000, so the difference between those two, $6,000 would be considered as cost share provided by the institution, which presumably would be matched by the sponsor. [49:03]
There are a lot of questions that arose when this policy was first written. The Senate resolved that a moratorium be placed on this policy until such time that the appropriate faculty body should be consulted for their input, the likely impact of such policy and Auburn University’s Mission can be assessed and graduate education can be determined, and a report of these deliberations provided to the University Senate. That’s why I am here today.
Okay, there is a specific charge to the FRC, the Faculty Research Committee, was to consider and provide input on a policy for inclusion of tuition and externally funded contracts and grants. So by way of background the FRC comprises one representative from each College and each School represented by a Dean, so there are 12 faculty representatives, there are ex-officio members from the compliance committees, the Internal Review Board for human subjects, the IACUC for animal experiments, and the Institutional Biosafety Committee, in addition the Vice President for Research, the Assoc. VP for Research who attends regularly, and the Dean of the Graduate School who also attends regularly. [50:28] A sub-committee was appointed to review this policy and then the full committee reviewed this over the course of a couple of meetings.
The Faculty Research Committee identified four basic concerns, which are listed here. The first had to do with Auburn’s competitiveness in securing grants and contracts. The tuition waiver offers AU investigators the competitive advantage from competing with investigators from other institutions. This charge could erode or the concern was that this charge could erode an advantage that AU investigators may have and the degree to which this occurs will depend upon the size of the surcharge.
The second was what we call the slippery slope. As originally written the policy provided a 10% to 40% range and Deans could hold it to 10% if they so chose, but there wasn’t any requirement that that be the case. So there was a concern that this amount could creep up. One significant issue for this was with planning. In planning a contract or a grant over a course of a few years, if additional charges creep up then it makes it very difficult–and again, this is real money so if there’s an increase in the stipend it has to come from someplace else.
The other had to do with the support and recruitment of graduate students. For Auburn to become a high quality research institution it’s necessary to recruit and retain high quality graduate students. These are invaluable to the research mission of the university and this is absolutely fundamental. Any impediment to the ability to support students could result in a net loss of students, but Auburn should be looking for ways to increase the number of graduate students on campus.
The tuition waiver was widely viewed to be of significant value especially in recruiting graduate students. It is noted that is sometimes difficult to recruit students to the rural south. This waiver has given us an edge over other institutions and I can attest to that personally. [52:38]
Finally the issue with differential impact on different schools and colleges. About 2,000 graduate students receive tuition waivers and about half of those are GRA that are funded by external funds. Approximately 600–700 are in Engineering, 280 in Agriculture, so there can be differential impact. These research-intensive units would feel the policy especially hard. More over smaller units such as Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, just to name one, are other research-intensive departments could also be significantly affected by this policy and could have difficulty in finding a buffer.
Finally there could be unintended consequences. If there is more money devoted to this tuition remission then this could reduce support for undergraduate students who might be working on a project, could reduce the number of total graduate students who are supported or could move the use of post docs rather than graduate students if the cost of a graduate student goes up so much it may be worth going for. So those are our concerns.
Just by way of some additional background, other models we were told before recouping funds were considered instead of a tuition remission rate. For a number reasons, one model that received some attention was a fixed price model another was just charging tuition directly to the grant. But the problem was that this could have a huge impact on small projects and make it very difficult for small projects to absorb. It would also make bookkeeping very difficult especially if you have students supported by more than one contract or grant. So a rate that was charged against the student stipend was considered the simplest to implement and generally fairer across the board, while recognizing that no system is perfect.
Another note of background, this does not apply to Graduate Teaching Assistantships nor does it apply to GRAs that may be funded through internal mechanisms, because those come from internal budgets.
So the Faculty Research Committee made four recommendations.
The next slide provides that. So this represents a comparison that has been made. There are nine institutions that are listed at the top that charge full in-state tuition on grants and contracts. That other school in the state is one of those, University of Alabama, Clemson, Florida,…you can read the list. One school was noted that had complete waiver of graduate research, GRA tuition and that was the University of Georgia. As it turns out they are in a slightly different situation than we are, they receive formula funding, so for every student they have they get some money from the state and they can apply that. But evidently they are undertaking some discussions too as to whether or not that policy is sustainable.
And finally, LSU and Oklahoma State charge 30% and 15%, respectively, tuition remission rate.
So this constitutes our report. I appreciate your attention and will try to answer any questions that I can. [57:13]
Eduardus Duin, senator, Chemistry & Bio chemistry: My personal situation, whenever I have a grant and I have aids and one or two collaborators, you get close to one million dollars. I don’t see a problem having this policy even at 40% that it is fine, I think it’s a good thing to do. But if I have a small grant that apply for a very limited amount of money, I don’t want to have a chunk taken out of that money that I have to use for salary when I can use that money to buy chemicals. So, I support this when it is just for grants that are pretty much unlimited but I don’t like it when the grant is limited to a certain amount of money.
Chris Newland, chair of Faculty Research Committee: I can reply by saying that that was one of the major points of discussion that we had at the FRC as well. NIH and NSF grants really isn’t the issue, it’s the contracts that are limited. I think the best way we can address this is one, to acknowledge that there is an issue of having to recoup funds and that a 10% charge may be absorbable. Since it was not implemented immediately, it would be implemented after August, there would be the opportunity to plan for it. It would not be applied retroactively and it makes it possible to work with sponsors to plan for this. It is more money.
Eduardus Duin, senator, Chemistry & Bio chemistry: But I’m not sure how much money you get out of smaller grants but I would leave the smaller grants alone and not apply this in the smaller grants at all is what I would advise.
Chris Newland, chair of Faculty Research Committee: Point taken.
Larry Crowley, chair: We move to new business. Judy has some new business she’d like to present. As you come forward, if Robin can come forward and Bill as well come forward, we have a presentation.
Robin Jaffe, immediate past secretary: Everybody, I want to thank you for coming today. In the Senate, the officers come and then they go. Senators come and then they go. We have something in the office that we have as a constant is Laura Kloberg. There is pre Laura Kloberg and there is post Laura Kloberg. The secretaries, and a couple of them are in this room know what pre Laura Kloberg was, and I appreciated the work Laura’s done and I know the last six or seven secretaries have also. I know the Executive Committee want to make a presentation to Laura to thank her for her work because we really appreciate what she’s done.
Judy Sheppard, Secretary: Let me present this Certificate of Appreciation to Laura Kloberg. I am just now getting to know her, I’m getting to understand why she might feel somewhat overwhelmed and horrified every time a new secretary comes in. And every time some bizarre little thing happens with all the committees and all the letters, all the notices, she deals with AUM, the Senate, University Committees, Senate Committees, graduate students, just about everybody, it’s a huge thing that she does and she is so wonderful to have. I’ve been on Senate committees before when we didn’t have a Laura, and why did we do that? I can’t imagine how we could have done that.
So certainly I know the immediate past chair, Robin has already said his piece, I and Larry Crowley, really want you to know how much we appreciate Laura.
Laura Kloberg, administrative support for the Senate: Thank you very much, I really appreciate it…It’s a challenge that you wouldn’t believe.
Larry Crowley, chair: Robin is in the Theatre Department and suspense and mystery is not their forte they go right to the chase and this is the guy that did it. He is always that kind of guy, but we also wanted to present to the Immediate Past Chair, he did such a wonderful job and I told him over and over again that I have been a student of his. I just cant’ be as entertaining as he is but I’ll do my best.
So this is to William Sauser, Senate Chair 2012–2013, for exemplary service to the AU faculty.
Bill Sauser, Immediate Past Chair: I want everybody to know how much I appreciate this and all of the good work that the Senate did last year. Please give Larry the same level of cooperation that you gave to me. Thank you.
Judy Sheppard, Secretary: Well we all know Robin, right? Robin is a Theatre guy, a theatrical guy, his e-mail is theatre tech guy, he provides wonderful drama and did such an amazing job as secretary, we are all grateful. I know I will not live up to Robin, blah, blah, blah, I accept it, so we wanted to give Robin some official recognition and when I saw this I just had to have it.
And the Oscar for best performance as AU Senate Secretary goes to Robin Jaffe.
You would not believe the trouble we had getting Robin here today. I called him and said, “it’s my first meeting, I’m going to be so nervous.” He said No, you’ll be fine. I called him today, I said, Robin we’re giving Laura a certificate, I know it would be more meaningful to her if you gave it to her. He said no I don’t think so. We had a 15 minute battle on the phone, so then I called Emmett, and Emmett what did you do to make Robin come?
Robin Jaffe; He asked me.
Judy Sheppard, Secretary: I groveled actually. Anyway, here he is. Thank you Emmett, Thank you Robin.
Robin Jaffe: Thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed being the secretary. It was a lot of fun. People say it wasn’t, but it really was and maybe one day I’ll decide to get back into things, but right now I am scrapping the cement in the studio at my house, so I’ll get back to that.
Larry Crowley, chair: Any other unfinished business? Any new business? Al right we’ll be adjourned.
Jill Meyer, senator, Special Ed, Rehab. Counseling/ School Psy: I’m sorry, maybe I am not quick enough to the microphone. [1:05:49] I do have new business.
I just want to bring up discussion of some recent events that I am sure you all are aware of. One is the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA and also the recent announcement by The Princeton Review on LGBT Friendly Campuses. They have released a ranking on the friendliest campus environments. Unfortunately Auburn University is in the top 20 list of least friendly for LGBT campuses. Actually we are 14 out of 20, so not only are we on the list but we are on the bottom of the list. We are also only one of 4 public institutions to be on this list. A lot of other institutions are Christian Colleges, kind of makes sense.
I understand that this past summer the University of Missouri instituted partner benefits at all four of their campuses. And as you know University of Missouri in now an SEC University and considered somewhat of a peer institution. In light of the recent developments we are curious about Auburn’s position on the equity of benefits for all valued employees and what specifically is being done to address the inequity and negative reviews from The Princeton Review?
We are always quick to quote and site, The Princeton Review has us on here, world news, we are at the very top, and I hope we take this review as seriously as the others.
Larry Crowley, chair: Thank you. Any others? I’ll leave more time. I said the other day it is like a horse going back to the barn, once you turn his head toward the barn there is no stopping him, and I apologize. Yes?
Gwynedd Thomas, Senator, Polymer and Fiber Engineering: I am a rather obvious representative of the LGBT community here. I would like to say that having been the first faculty member at Auburn to come out as transgender or intersex, is not as bad as what the review indicates. You and the faculty, my students, and other people in the community have been incredibly supportive. It was scary to do this. So I want to refute that part of the article. On the other hand, my group, the intersex and transgender people do not have any recognized rights at this institution and we would greatly appreciate having the same rights as the lesbian, gay, various racial, ethnic, and religious communities here. We’re people too. That’s all I have to say.
Larry Crowley, chair: Any other new business? Any unfinished business? Be adjourned. [1:09:37]