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Faculty Senate Minutes Summary Sept. 14, 2009

September 30, 2009    

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Fraas, Harvey, Kaen, Morgan and Simos.  Guests were John Aber and Tom Kelly.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost said that he had received an email from a faculty member who was concerned that the UNH Health Center’s guidelines for preventing flu might be used as an excuse to skip exams, and the provost said that he believes that any fraudulent excuses will be similar to those in the past.  Regarding the requirement by CIS that faculty must take a training course before receiving the combination to the equipment box in the super-technology classrooms, the provost intends to discuss with CIS how to make this process more user friendly.  His office is also dealing with issues about time and effort reporting.  He invited all faculty to attend the convocation on 9/15/09.  A past senate chair expressed concern that, if many faculty concentrate more on research/scholarship and have perhaps smaller teaching loads, there may be fewer teaching faculty and fewer tenure-track faculty and that this might change UNH significantly.  The provost responded that how the university can meet the demands for teaching and yet allow faculty to have the time to do research/scholarship is an issue which should be discussed.

III.  Policy on Schools – The provost said that he has read the draft policy and the questions and answers in last spring’s report on schools, from the UCAPC group led by Elizabeth Slomba.  Many faculty would like to collaborate with faculty in other disciplines.  The provost said that a new policy on schools would provide better opportunities for such collaboration and more visibility and would facilitate recruitment of both faculty and students.  Schools would not be RCM units or colleges and would not have tenure lines, but the schools could grant degrees.  Examples of possible schools might include marine sciences, nursing, and earth systems sciences.  A senator asked how schools could operate if they could not receive tuition dollars.  The provost said that schools should not receive the tuition dollars currently going to departments.  However, schools could offer new programs that provide new opportunities.  Perhaps a director of a school could sit on the executive committee of a college.  A professor asked how faculty who would like to work in a school can still provide the courses needed by the majors in the department and how the provost envisions successful management of teaching loads.  How do you ensure that you do not deplete existing programs?  The provost said that the university wants to make better use of the existing classes.  If a school is successful and grows, that can help fill up classes in related programs or departments.  He sees the departments and colleges as providing the needed continuity.  He said that schools could have a national effect and be very feasible.  Work is needed on the definitions of college, school and department, how they differ, and how they each deal with RCM and budgetary issues.

A professor said that he has been doing interdisciplinary work for years and does not understand why this would require additional administration such as a director of a school.  Another faculty member said that the university should not get new administrators or new buildings until it can pay for them both now and in the future.  Some senators said that the needs of professional schools differ from interdisciplinary schools and should be dealt with separately.  In answer to a question about whether there is enough enthusiasm to establish new schools, the provost said that schools should be intellectually driven, might meet course needs with greater efficiency, and would allow faculty to grow in ways they desire by interacting more effectively with their colleagues.  He said that participation in schools would allow for more creativity and would be voluntary.  A senator said that, in some colleges, RCM is applied in such a way that there are disincentives to using cross-disciplinary faculty for a course; and therefore having a school would be difficult.  The provost suggested possibly having a sunset clause if a school later had few faculty members.  A senator asked what would happen to the collegiate structure if schools took hold.  The past senate chair said that the issue of schools is a charge for the senate’s University Curriculum and Policies Committee.  The senate chair asked faculty to forward any issues or concerns about this matter to Elizabeth Slomba, who has been the chair of that committee.

IV.  Sustainability – Tom Kelly, who is the UNH chief sustainability officer, said that the Salzburg global seminar of July, 2009, that focused on planning for a Sustainable Futures Academy, had seventy-five participants from forty institutions and twenty countries.  Sustainability at UNH has been a grass-roots movement since the 1970s for faculty, staff and students.  He added that sustainability is a part of the university’s mission and identity and also the strategic planning goals and has emerged as a theme in higher education.  Faculty may access the UNH Office of Sustainability’s website at http://www.sustainableunh.unh.edu/.  Many universities now have sustainability directors.  The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has been formed.  One of its initiatives is the Presidents Climate Commitment, and the more than four hundred signatories work towards carbon neutrality.  AASHE has established a sustainability tracking, assessment and rating system (STARS), which is a voluntary, self-reporting framework for gauging relative progress toward sustainability for colleges and universities.  Tom Kelly said that this effort may be related to research and public service work and assessment, since AASHE has led the collaborative effort to launch this tool for campus sustainability, with standards by which institutions may measure themselves and qualify for different levels of recognition.  UNH signed up to pilot the STARS program last year.  Sustainability science programs have also emerged in the National Academies and AAAS, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities talks about liberal education and sustainability.
Sustainability is more than the effort not to use up resources faster than they can be replenished.  This is a matter of culture and how we define the good life for ourselves and the generations to come.  Prior to the 1970s, the goal was to enhance development of economic growth through world trade; but now many people understand that there is an intergenerational ethical obligation.  In 1991, UNESCO had a world commission on culture and development, which discussed who has the right to define development goals.  Climate change and weather-related disasters are also part of the concern, as are deaths from hunger and disease and the increase in wildfires.  The Salzburg seminar was held to develop global work aimed at linking universities in collaborative efforts to engage in integrated scholarship for sustainability.  Tom Kelly said that climate has had unprecedented transformation; emissions are growing faster than expected; and the response must be systemic, comprehensive and transformational.  Ecosystem collapses become increasingly likely.  Human activities are the most critical uncertainty in projecting conditions over the coming four decades, and a number of areas should be dealt with at once.
Coherence of curriculum, operations, research and engagement, which our sustainability program refers to as the CORE, is needed.  Examples Tom Kelly cited included UNH's  co-generation power plant, EcoLine, building efficiency, and transportation and energy conservation; and he expects to see a fifty percent reduction by 2020.  Carbon Solutions New England is a public and private partnership based out of the University of New Hampshire, to promote collective action to achieve a clean, secure energy future and reduce carbon impact.  The group performs analysis of the carbon reductions and economic impacts of proposed new fuel economy standards in New England.  Integrated scholarship is being brought to bear on these problems, which also include food and nutrition.  UNH offers an ecogastronomy dual major which has forty-seven students enrolled in the introductory course.  UNH has the first organic dairy research farm at a university in this country, and COLSA is developing a major in sustainable agriculture.  The northeastern part of the United States and the nearby parts of Canada are collaborating on sustainability issues, and the Salzburg Sustainable Futures Academy envisions greater regional collaboration.  Tom Kelly stressed that sustainability is ultimately a cultural and political challenge, not merely a set of technical problems to be solved.   There is an urgency for action, but we must be grounded and know what principles guide us.  He stressed the importance of the humanities in understanding and interpreting the breadth of sustainability; and Associate Professor of Art, Ben Cariens, who also participated in the Salzburg seminar, provided his perspective on the critical role of the arts and humanities in sustainability.  Research Associate Professor Steve Frolking, who was the final member of the UNH delegation to Salzburg, provided comments on the linkages between sustainability and science.  A trip report from the Salzburg meeting prepared by Drs. Kelly, Cariens and Frolking will be made available on the University Office of Sustainability website in the coming weeks.
The UNH cogeneration plant added a transformer but had a problem with the additional heat in the summer.  However, perhaps this heat could be used as energy to produce air conditioning in the summer.  A discussion ensued on the merits of requiring first drafts from students on paper or on line.  Tom Kelly said that sustainability is a plural concept, the methods of which are multidimensional, contested and need discussion.  The recycling of cans and bottles in the academic departments has had budget problems and is under review.
V.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that the deadline for January-term courses was on Friday.  However, faculty have serious concerns about giving four-credit courses in only three-weeks.  What are the promises and limits of the January term?  How will faculty and students be assessed given these time constraints?  Similar concerns exist about on-line and distance-learning courses.  Are academic values likely to be compromised in the effort to deal with economic constraints?  What kind of approval process has been or will be done for on-line or January-term courses?  Faculty are invited to bring their questions or concerns to David Richman, the chair of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee, which has a charge on assessment.

Faculty senators are invited to attend the Distance Learning Forum and luncheon on September 25, from noon to 2:00 p.m., at the Art Gallery in the Paul Creative Arts Center.  The purpose of the event is to help CIS understand the questions faculty have and their needs regarding distance learning.  Faculty senators are asked to gather information from their departmental colleagues prior to attending the event.  CIS wants to get feedback from faculty on distance learning, which is a relatively recent initiative.  Faculty members will describe their experiences with distance learning.

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

VII.  NAVITAS – The former senate chair said that he met recently with NAVITAS, a for-profit company which would like to set up a UNH auxiliary program, in which Asian students would study for a year or two on the UNH campus in a preparatory school and then plan to apply for admission to UNH.  NAVITAS may want to start in the fall of 2010.  The former senate chair will send to the senators an article on this matter from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and he will give a report to the senate as soon as he visits a university which has this program.  Please contact Marco Dorfsman with any questions or concerns on this proposed initiative.

VIII.  Discriminatory harassment survey – An Agenda Committee member said that all faculty and staff received an on-line survey on discriminatory harassment training that was described as mandatory.  However, in the faculty contract there is a clause on discriminatory harassment; and therefore the AAUP considers discriminatory harassment to be a bargainable issue.  The USNH contract administrator, on the other hand, says that the issue is not bargainable unless there is a contract dispute on it.  Part of the survey asks faculty to sign off on the survey/training document, and faculty are concerned about how that might affect their liability if a problem should arise.  These issues have been sent to the labor board and can be discussed at a later date.

IX.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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