Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Summary Sept. 10, 2012

Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Summary Sept. 10, 2012

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Fagerberg, Kazura, Scherr, and Simos.  Guests were John Aber, Terri Winters and Sonic Woytonik.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost said that President Huddleston will come to the Faculty Senate meeting on October 8.  The president and the provost meet with the senate chair and vice chair on a monthly basis.  The provost and the president have just been attending a Board of Trustee retreat where strategic updates were presented from each USNH institution.  The provost said that the president gave strong support to UNH faculty in his presentation and also stated that UNH will sustain its traditional commitment to high quality undergraduate instruction, select excellence in graduate education, research and competitive excellence.  The provost said that today the senate will consider a motion on the general schools policy and that the latest version has many changes in it that were taken almost word for word from the 5/7/2012 senate motion on the proposed policy.  In addition, other changes were made as a result of suggestions from the Agenda Committee this summer. 

III.  Discussion about the vision and plans for e-UNH – The provost introduced Terri Winters, who is the director of academic technology, and said that the e-UNH forum last spring was very helpful in guiding the direction for e-UNH.  Another e-UNH forum will be held this fall, and both fora are sponsored by the Faculty Senate.  The provost said that the latest draft mission statement currently indicates that on-line courses must produce the same or better results as face-to-face courses.  E-UNH should highlight and market areas of academic excellence.  Terri Winters said that she provided information to the Faculty Senate last spring on the selection process for an e-UNH vendor which may participate in launching UNH graduate professional and other programs.  The vendor chosen is Academic Partnerships.  Now meetings are being held with the participating UNH departments (including the Nursing Department, WSBE’s MBA Program, the Education Department and the Social Work Department); and the university is in  the process of negotiating a contract with the vendor.  The university has not made any commitment to use the vendor if it does not seem to be a good fit.  The vendor could provide market analysis including how other institutions structure their on-line courses, the length of those courses, and what the most successful practices are. 

UNH IT Academic Technology is offering to faculty a course on the fundamentals of on-line instruction.  That training and development course for faculty will be held again in October, shows what an on-line course should have, and gives a stamp of approval that the faculty member who successfully completes the training course knows how to do a good on-line course.  The training course is a five-week modular course requiring three to five hours per week and must be taken during the specific time line.  The course will be offered about three to four times per year.  Except for an introductory class, the course is entirely on line.  Faculty desiring to teach an on-line course can work with their department chair and dean and then start to build the new on-line course during the training course described above.

UNH has progressed the most in regard to on-line courses for the summer and January terms.  UNH IT Academic Technology is working with the Academic Standards Committee, so that the students will know what on-line courses they can count on.  That committee has representatives from all the colleges and wants to develop a cadre of on-line courses which will be enough for all departments which want to participate.  Students in on-line courses pay out-of-state or in-state tuition, just as face-to-face students do.  There is also a different charge for undergraduate and graduate students.  The university is currently reviewing the cost per credit hour.  In response to a question about whether the on-line UNH courses would be designed to have the same contact hours, Terri Winters said that this has not yet been specifically discussed.  Currently in practice, the faculty member is assigned an instructional designer, who works with the faculty to redesign the course for the new delivery method.  A senator who teaches an on-line course said that he tries to keep the number of work hours per week in the on-line course the same as in the face-to-face course but that this is at the instructor’s discretion.  

IV.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that there is an E-UNH Advisory Committee with wide representation and that Ihab Farag is the senate’s representative on that committee.  The senate chair has written the provost, asking him to start developing a plan for on-line programming for undergraduate and graduate instruction.  The senate chair said that there should be a lot of conversations about on-line instruction, in order to develop a better understanding and wide-spread agreement about the goals, limits and structure.  He has written to the department chairs, asking them to have departmental discussions about these matters.  The senate chair said that graduate on-line programs may work in conjunction with Academic Partnerships.  He added that he does not think that undergraduate on-line instruction will be a separate RCM unit.  E-UNH is a different method of instruction but not a different enterprise.  He hopes that, by the end of the year, there will be a consensus on how UNH wants to proceed with on-line instruction.  

V.  Minutes – The minutes of the last senate meeting were approved unanimously.  

VI.  Motion on general schools policy – The senate chair said that he has sent to the senators a cover letter and the latest version of the proposed general schools policy.  On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Todd DeMitchell moved that the Faculty Senate accept the Policy on Interdisciplinary Schools at UNH for a vote.  Because this is a substantive matter, no vote will be held today, in order to allow time for the senators to discuss the issue and to consult with their departmental colleagues.  A senator asked why faculty would want to work in a school in addition to the normal departmental responsibilities.  Senators responded that faculty members might want to come together with faculty from different disciplines and that some faculty see schools as a way to combine resources and market parts of the university as attractive opportunities for learning.  Another senator asked if faculty who decide not to belong to a school might later be disadvantaged.  Will faculty have a burden of responsibilities to a school in addition to their current responsibilities to the department and to service?  A senator said that the faculty proposing the marine school want to combine disparate parts of the university into a cohesive group as a school, in order to facilitate their work and improve marketing opportunities.  Some faculty are concerned about whether any new schools would be financially sound and not remove funding from the departments.  Wording has been added to the general schools policy in that regard.  A senator said that originally there were no clear guidelines for new schools and, in that time of severe budgetary restructuring, many faculty, especially in COLA, were concerned that new schools might become a drain on the financial and instructional resources of departments and colleges.  

In order to clarify the differences between the April draft of the proposed general schools policy and the current version, the senate office will send to the senators the April version of the policy.  A senator said that clinical faculty and others teach and can be in a school.  How would departments make teaching assignments to faculty who are partly or primarily in a school and have a departmental affiliation?  Also, one of the goals of new schools is to offer new courses.  Who will make the teaching assignments, especially when there is a freeze on faculty hiring and a number of faculty have left due to the Separation Incentive Program?  The past senate chair said that those relationships need to be spelled out and that a section of the proposed policy deals with this matter.  The fourth paragraph of item III. B says the following:  “Deans and Chairs will continue to be responsible for overseeing faculty time commitments and any changes in teaching responsibilities will be negotiated and specified in an MOU signed by the School Director and relevant Dean(s) and Chair(s).”  In contrast to other possible new schools, the proposed marine school has identifiable sources of significant funding for part but not all of their expenses.  A senator said that a feasibility study should show that a proposed new school may be able to pay for itself.  Although item III. B of the proposal only says that schools will be led by a director who will be a member of the university faculty, in practice it might be necessary for the director to be a tenure-track faculty member, in order to find a person of the requisite stature.  

The past senate chair said that the notion of primary responsibility to schools should be clarified.  Will those faculty meet the same expectations about scholarship, service and teaching; or is the assignment of those faculty to tenure homes in departments an administrative convenience only to meet the letter but not the spirit of the AAUP-USNH contract?  Should a specified percentage of the time of faculty with primary responsibility to a school be spent on work for the department?  The proposed policy states that “The School will comport with policies and protocols of faculty governance as elsewhere in UNH, including existing policies on joint and affiliated appointment and promotion of faculty.”  However, a senator said that the existing policies are not clear.  Also, if a faculty member has a primary home in a school, how would the department handle promotion and tenure?  The senate vice chair said that no policy can cover all possibilities and that specifics could be put in memoranda of understanding.  If the senate passes a motion to accept the current draft of the general schools policy, that policy would cover all individual school proposals.  The senate chair said that currently the senate is waiting to receive a revised marine school proposal and that all proposals for individual schools must come before the Faculty Senate for approval. 

A senator asked how the university would gain from having new schools instead of new programs.  A professor responded that faculty proposing the marine school think that the new school would be a focal point which will highlight, for those outside of the university, the many resources UNH has for marine studies and the very productive marine researchers here and that this would make the UNH efforts more competitive with the very visible schools of marine studies at other institutions.  Internally, a marine school could make it easier for faculty to cooperate and to deal with the deans of the colleges housing the various current marine entities at UNH.  Larry Prelli moved and Deb Kinghorn seconded a motion to postpone the main motion until the next senate meeting.  The motion to postpone passed unanimously.  In response to a question, the senate parliamentarian said that the motion to postpone allows the senate to continue the discussion at the next meeting and to vote or not vote on the main matter then as the senate wishes.  The senate chair asked all senators to consult with their departmental colleagues on these matters before the next senate meeting.  

VII.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.