Senate Meeting: September 20, 2022
3:30 p.m. via Zoom Meeting
A Panopto recording is available.
Please refer to recording for details not included in the minutes.
Presentations are available from the agenda for the meeting.
Attendance Record at the end of the minutes.
A quorum was established, with a final count of 63 Senators out of 69 responding to the poll.
It takes 45 to establish a quorum therefore there was a quorum.
Chair Mark Carpenter, Senate Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:30 pm. Mark Carpenter gave attendees an overview of the basic procedures for the Zoom meeting format, and then began the meeting. He introduced the new members to the Senate Executive and Steering Committees and offered a welcome to the entire Senate.
Approval of the minutes from the Senate Meeting of August 30, 2022.
No objections or corrections were raised to the August 30, 2022, minutes. Minutes approved.
The Chair then invited the AU Administrators to make remarks.
Chris Roberts, Auburn University President Remarks:
The President welcomed everyone to AU Senate meeting, September 20, 2022.
His remarks centered around the following:
President Roberts asked the Chair if he could address a previous question posed to him from the previous August 30, Sente Meeting regarding the knowledge of a company or vendor that was previously mentioned. President Robert asked Jennifer Adams to address the matter. Jennifer Adams, the director of Public Affairs stated that a mainstream firm advised the university on a broad range of issues related to communication and this service had been used for more than three years with firm’s advice being valuable to the university.
The President closed his remarks and returned the discussion back to the Chair.
The Chair then invited Interim Provost Nathan to make remarks.
Vini Nathan, Auburn University Interim Provost Remarks:
The interim provost welcomed everyone and shared the following remarks:
She presented four items to address in the meeting.
The Interim Provost concluded her remarks and returned the discussion back to the chair.
The chair asked if there were any questions.
Kim Gaza asked the provost about a recently updated organization chart for the units that report to the provost office. Kim Gaza wanted to know the rationale for organization structure. After a preview visit from SAC during the summer, Auburn University was cited on academic effectiveness and institutional effectiveness. The interim provost stated she looked the faculty handbook to see if there is a process how to make changes to the organization structure. At present there is no process in place. Therefore, she came up with 6 individuals representing five units in the provost office. Research was done on the SEC, SREB, and two-three AAU institutions to see how they had set up their provost offices. After much research she looked a process of change and improvement, faculty driven and best practice. Interim Provost Nathan stated that it will be refined continuedly as needed.
Next Alan Seals was recognized with a question by the chair to the President.
Alan Seals asked a question on the policy of conducting background checks to President Roberts. He reminded everyone that he had asked the question last year in May regarding faculty surveillance of people’s social media. Alan Seals commented that University Council said that there was no awareness of this information. General Burgess commented that current employees are not screened. Alan Seals noted that he had looked at the new policy and it stated that background checks may include any written or other communication or information bearing on an individual credit, character, general reputation, personal characteristic, or mode of living.
President Roberts commented on the question about new hires and current employees taking a higher administrative position having to go through background checks. Much discussion was given about the statement that Ron Burgess had made about background checks that seemed different what previously said in the May senate meeting. President Roberts continued with the explanation and ask that Jammie Hammer to comment. The Chair asked if the Senator Seals if his question was answered sufficiently. Senator Seals responded yes.
The Chair asked for other questions to the President.
Anthony Moss asked if the BOT had made a final approval on the STEM Ag Building.
President Roberts said that final approval will come at the spring meeting. The project is being reviewed and the President noted that there should not be any anticipate challenges with moving forward.
Anthony asked for clarification of the names of individuals who reviewed the Mission Enhancement funds. Interim Provost Nathan answered that those names were Charles Bryn Gardner from the College of Liberal Arts and Angela Wiley from the College of Human Sciences.
Chair Carpenter recognized Senator Roy Hartfield. Hartfield revisited the question that Senator Alan Seals had asked about background checks and policy on policies. President Roberts asked Jamie Hammer to provide clarification. Counsel Jammie Hammer agreed that President Roberts was correct in his response about policies. It was then suggested that someone from HR may be able to answer questions about policy and background checks. Much discussion went back and forth with President Roberts and Jammie Hammer to clarify what the policy states.
Senator Hartfield stated that he still had concerns.
After much discussion Roy Hartsfield made a motion on the policy about background checks. The motion was made, and Senator Liliana Stern seconded the motion.
The Chair re-stated the motion and then indicated that it will be placed on the agenda for the October Senate meeting.
The motion is given below:
The Senate States as Follows:
Whereas the Faculty Handbook, approved by the Board of Trustees contains the governing policy language over faculty disciplinary action and dismissal,
Whereas, the University HR department has circulated a document dated September 7, 2022, purporting to augment the basis for disciplinary action and dismissal authority over faculty,
Whereas, the University HR document is expansive, arbitrary, and creates broad and ill-defined new bases for disciplinary action up to dismissal, inconsistent with the Faculty Handbook,
Whereas the Faculty Handbook guarantees broad protection of the First Amendment and academic freedom rights of Faculty members,
Whereas, the new document from September makes no mention of the academic freedoms extoled in the Faculty Handbook, makes no mention of the Faculty Handbook, and grants nearly limitless power to the administration to surveil speech of Faculty both internal and external to the University using State of Alabama resources, which undermines academic freedom. And,
Whereas, the University HR document was not considered by the Senate processes of Shared Governance to include consideration by the Faculty Handbook Committee or the body of the Senate as required under the terms of the Faculty Handbook.
WHEREFORE, THE PREMISES CONSIDERED, The Senate resolves as follows:
1. The Senate does not recognize that the University HR document dated September 7, 2022, has been developed through legitimate processes and does not recognize its applicability to Faculty.
2. As such, the University HR document dated September 7, 2022, as applicable to Faculty should be immediately withdrawn and discarded by the administration.
3. Language or conditions relating to the potential basis for faculty dismissal should only be considered through the established shared governance processes as outlined in the Faculty Handbook.
4. In the interest of following the procedures established by the Board of Trustees, and in the interest of maintaining academic freedom, all policies governing the discipline or dismissal of Faculty members should be contained within the Faculty Handbook where they are modified through the agreed upon processes of shared governance, set up by the Board of Trustees.
For reference, the policy of interest is located at: https://sites.auburn.edu/admin/universitypolicies/Policies/Policy_on_Conducting_Background_Checks.pdf
Immediate Past Chair Dan Svyantek was approved as the Immediate Past Chair to replace Todd Steury. He will be the representative to BOT.
A motion was passed in January 2022 for the continuation zoom meetings for the Senate meetings with a new vote scheduled for August 2022. The floor was left open to discuss the motion. After discussion it was decided to vote for zoom instead of face-to face.
The vote resulted in 54 Yes (90%), 4 No (7%), and 2 (3%) Abstain. The motion to conduct meetings via zoom carried. It was concluded that for 2022 – 2023 Senate meetings will carry on via zoom.
Nominating Committee – Chair Carpenter announced the committee has been formed with the following faculty:
Don Mulvaney (Chair)
Dean Schwartz, College of Vet Med
Cheryl Seals, College of Engineering
David Martin, College of Human Sciences
Michael Baginski, College of Engineering
Elizabeth Davis-Sramek, College of Business
Adjournment: Chair Mark Carpenter adjourned the meeting at 4:52 p.m.
L. Octavia Tripp
Attendance for Senate Mtg. September 20, 2022
Mark Carpenter Chair
Lisa Kensler Chair-elect
Lucretia (Octavia) Tripp Secretary
Linda Gibson-Young Secretary-elect
Dan Svyantek Immediate Past-Chair
Kelli Shomaker VP for Bus & Fin & CFO
Arthur Appel, sub for
Paul Patterson Dean, College of Agriculture
George Flowers Dean, Graduate School
Bobby Woodard SVP for Student Affairs
Jared Russell sub for
Jeffrey Fairbrother Dean, College of Education
Todd Steury sub for
Janaki Alavalapati Dean, College of Forestry, Wildlife, and the Environment
Greg Newschwander Dean, College of Nursing
Calvin Johnson Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine
Absent without substitute:
James Weyhenmeyer VP Research Absent no Substitute
Vini Nathan Interim Provost
Shali Zhang Dean of Libraries
Evelyn Hunter Steering Committee
Arianne Gaetano for
Danilea Werner Steering Committee
Robert Cochran Steering Committee
Robert Norton Steering Committee
Absent without substitute:
Jake Haston SGA President
Makeda Nurradin GSC President
Ashley Reid Staff Council Chair
Clint Lovelace A&P Assembly Chair
Senators by Departments
Xu Cheng sub for
Elizabeth (Lisa) Miller Accountancy
Roy Hartfield Aerospace Engineering
Mary (Molly) Gregg ACES
Jacek Wower Animal Sciences
Vinicia Biancardi Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology
Kevin Moore Architecture
Katherine Arpen, sub for
Lauren Woods Art
James Birdsong Aviation
Anthony Moss Biological Sciences
David Blersch Biosystems Engineering
Mark Tatum Building Sciences
Bryan Beckingham Chemical Engineering
Wei Zhan Chemistry
J. Brian Anderson Civil Engineering
Kevin Smith Communication and Journalism
Peter Weber Consumer & Design Sciences
Christine (Chris) Schnittka Curriculum & Teaching
Liliana Stern Economics
Andrew Pendola Educational Foundations, Leadership & Technology
Michael Baginski Electrical & Computer Engineering
Sunny Stalter-Pace English
John Beckmann Entomology & Plant Pathology
Damion McIntosh Finance
Nathan Whelan Fisheries & Allied Aquaculture
Zhaofei (Joseph) Fan Forestry, Wildlife, and the Environment
Kimberly Garza Health Outcomes Research and Policy
Zachary Schulz History
Elina Coneva Horticulture
Diana Samek Human Development & Family Studies
Ben Bush Industrial Design
Rich Sesek Industrial and Systems Engineering
Christopher (Brooks) Mobley Kinesiology
Kasia Leousis Library
Liesl Wesson Management
Hans Werner van Wyk Mathematics and Statistics
Sabit Adanur Mechanical Engineering
Lee Johnson Music
Chris Martin Nursing
Clark Danderson Nutrition, Dietetics, & Hospitality Mgmt.
David Mixson Outreach
Lena McDowell Pharmacy Practice
Luca Guazzotto Physics
Peter White Political Science
Amit Morey Poultry Science
Rebecca Curtis Special Ed. Rehab. Counseling/School Psych
Gregory Spray sub for
Nancy Haak Speech Language and Hearing Sciences
David Strickland Supply Chain Management (new)
Regina Gramling Systems and Technology
LTC, Laura Fryar ROTC Army
Janice Clifford Socio/Anthro/Social Work
Adrienne Wilson Theatre
Zachary Zuwiyya World Lang & Literatures
Absent without Substitute:
Valentina Hartarska Agricultural Economics & Rural Sociology
Shehenaz Shaik Computer Science & Software Engineering
David Han Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences
Murali Dhanasekaran Drug Discovery and Development
David King Geology & Geography
Jeremy Wolter Marketing
Peter Christopherson Pathobiology
Jennifer Lockhart Philosophy
Alejandro A. Lazarte Psychology
LTC, Michael Quinn ROTC Air Force
Captain, Matthew Roberts ROTC Naval
Robert Cole Veterinary Clinical Sciences