Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Summary Feb. 15, 2010
March 24, 2010
I. Roll – The following senators were absent: Beane, Cariens, Fraas, Givan, Harvey, Kaen, and Simos. John Aber was a guest.
II. Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost thanked the senate for meeting with him. He said that he was pleased with the response to the strategic plan and that it was prepared in a very inclusive manner. He said that the plan contains enduring values matched with five requisites for change and eight programmatic initiatives and that the plan will contribute to making faculty work more effective and exciting. He said that, without ignoring the impasse and work to rule, the provost should work with the faculty to make faculty life more rewarding. How to do that in this environment is important. The provost said that, although the preparation of the strategic plan had deep faculty involvement, deciding how to go forward on it would also need such faculty involvement. A former senate chair said that the single greatest asset that this or any university has is the generosity and good will of the faculty and that faculty always work very much beyond their contractual obligations. He stated that every time there is a contract impasse, faculty feel like an object of contempt, that every impasse poisons interaction between faculty and administration, and that it is difficult to make this feeling go away. He said that the good will and generosity is sapped by the impasse and that he pleads with the provost, who is the chief academic officer of the university, to work to get the university out of this cycle of contempt.
The provost said that the conversation about the Marine Program has gone on for a long time and that the Faculty Senate has taken up a charge about the policy on interdisciplinary schools. He added that, even if there is not a response from the senate on that issue during work to rule, the group discussing interdisciplinary schools will continue but can only go so far without input from the Faculty Senate. He said that NAVITAS is another important issue which would have tremendous value for faculty and the campus as well as financial benefits for the departments directly. In answer to a question about assessment of the January term, the provost said that the courses were delivered as scheduled, that most registration was on line, and that technically and financially the January term worked well, although academic issues remain to be assessed. In response to a question, the provost said that he would find out what courses students had requested for the January term. A senator said that, when calculating whether the January term was cost effective, the administration should include the non-direct costs such as training faculty to teach online and hybrid courses and the cost for the work of the university's technical staff. The provost replied that part of that cost would come from the money that UNH must pay to the university system office each year.
A professor asked what percent of the UNH summer school enrollment is by residential students and what percent is by on-line students. In response to a senator's statement that the only CEPS course that made money during the January term was not an on-line course, the provost said that he would look into that. The provost said that the January-term experience indicates that students want more on-line courses. A professor replied that, although most students prefer classes with personal contact with faculty, on-line courses may be more convenient at certain times of the year. He added that the traditional teaching at UNH is far superior to the education offered by on-line universities. The provost agreed but pointed out that some large lecture courses with modern touches such as student response clickers have been very successful, and he suggested the possible increased use of very large lecture courses. On the other hand, he stated that traditional education at UNH teaches students how to think and how to present themselves orally and in writing. A senator said that UNH does a lot with very little and that the current labor situation makes working for change very difficult. Other professors said that, when considering the strategic plan, the university should adapt but not overthrow traditional values.
III. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that normally the university president and/or provost come often to speak to the Faculty Senate. Under the current circumstances, how can the senate sustain shared governance and be respectful to work to rule in that regard. David Richman moved and Doug Lanier seconded a motion that discussion of this matter should go on the agenda of the next senate meeting and that administrators should not be invited to Faculty Senate until the senate has that discussion. The motion passed with thirty-four ayes, no nays, and three abstentions.
The senate chair said that the PAT and Operating Staff are concerned that not only are their salaries frozen but their benefits may be reduced. These benefits may include longevity, tuition, shift differentials, and insurance. The Agenda Committee could draft a letter in support of these concerns and bring that draft to the Faculty Senate for approval before sending the letter to the university president. A senator said that threatening pay raises and benefits is the behavior which caused the faculty to join the union. Many senators said that staff work hard and that faculty should support them in this matter. After discussion, it was the sense of the senate that the Agenda Committee should gather the facts and, if appropriate, bring a draft letter to the Faculty Senate for approval.
The concept of “mission critical” is used in the Central Budget Committee as a measure of fundability. How and by whom was that concept defined? Faculty should be involved in determining that definition and should make sure that it refers to the university’s mission statement and specifically to teaching, research and engagement. Also, most issues seem already to be decided, before they are presented at the Central Budget Committee meetings; and that does not conform to shared governance. The Faculty Senate should schedule a discussion of these matters and develop a statement of what mission critical is.
The senate chair said that David Proulx had asked to speak to the senate this month on RCM and that the Agenda Committee had suggested that he should instead speak with UCAPC which would report to the senate and ask for a senate decision. The Agenda Committee has also asked the senate's Academic Affairs Committee to contact each of the UNH colleges and request copies of their bylaws relating to the college academic affairs committee, in order to confirm that the college bylaws are reasonably consistent with one another and are in harmony with the principles of shared governance relating to academic matters.
The senate chair said that each senate committee should give a summative statement on each of its charges, on or before the last senate meeting in early May. Such a statement could be a motion or a recommendation or could even say that the charge should be deleted or that the committee has tried a number of times but been unable to get the needed information from the administration; but some specific statement on each charge is needed for the record and to guide in preparing next year’s charges. A procedure on handouts for senate meetings will be sent to the senators on email, in order to save time at this meeting.
IV. Minutes – The minutes of the last senate meeting were approved unanimously.
V. NAVITAS – Marco Dorfsman said that he is the senate's representative to the NAVITAS Task Force and asked whether or not the senate would like him to continue to work on this committee during work to rule. The task force had made a positive recommendation to the president about NAVITAS in general and is now considering specifics like what clauses a contract with NAVITAS might include. However, the Faculty Senate and its Academic Affairs Committee and Finance and Administration Committee have not approved a partnership with NAVITAS. That and much other work would have to be done before the university should sign a contract. Although some senators said that NAVITAS would be of benefit to the faculty and students, others said that this is true of almost all matters which come before the senate and thus cannot be the deciding factor in how to deal with this issue under work to rule.
The chair of the senate's Academic Affairs Committee said that his committee, in consultation with the Finance and Administration Committee, is charged to consider the advisability of a partnership with NAVITAS. However, during work to rule, the Academic Affairs Committee will not work on this charge and recommends that the Faculty Senate hold on this matter. He added that it falls squarely into the area of faculty jurisdiction and that considerable thought, discussion, and time would be required for faculty to ascertain whether it is advisable to move forward with the NAVITAS partnership. The Academic Affairs Committee not only recommended that the Faculty Senate hold on NAVITAS, but the committee also urged the Faculty Senate to make clear to the administration that, if it moves forward with this partnership without Faculty Senate approval, such action would constitute a violation of shared governance. On the other hand, the senate's Finance and Administration Committee decided that it should work on NAVITAS and prepare a report to the senate about it, with the idea that then the senate itself could decide whether or not to approve NAVITAS during work to rule.
NAVITAS would be a partnership with an Australian for-profit firm to bring international students to UNH. Information about this proposal was provided to the senators last semester both on email and in the senate discussions, the minutes of which are available on the senate website. Marco Dorfsman said that the task force is carefully considering the details about this proposal and is well represented with faculty. NAVITAS is expected to be financially beneficial to UNH and might go elsewhere if UNH does not reach a decision. Senators expressed different opinions as to whether or not NAVITAS will be beneficial to UNH and its departments. Some said this matter is about making the financial pie bigger, but other senators said it is about changing the character of the university. Some senators said that each individual faculty member should decide what work to do under work to rule. Erik Swartz made and Gary Weisman seconded a motion which, after a friendly amendment, stated that Marco Dorfsman should no longer serve on the NAVITAS task force as a representative of the Faculty Senate. Senators stated that this motion does not deal with approval of a partnership with NAVITAS but rather whether Marco Dorfsman should continue to give and receive information about how a possible partnership might be constructed. At a later date, any proposed contract or partnership should then be brought to the Faculty Senate for approval. The motion failed to pass, with seven ayes, eleven nays, and seventeen abstentions.
VI. Report from the Finance and Administration Committee, on work-to-rule decisions on charges 2 through 6 – The Finance and Administration Committee decided not to complete any of the committee’s charges during work-to-rule, with the exception of the review of RCM, the committee chair’s representation on the Central Budget Committee, and a report to the senate on the NAVITAS proposal. The committee’s discussion of NAVITAS raised many issues, overlapping to a large extent those raised in the report of the task force. Critical, however, was the desire to view contractual language or summaries of that language during the preparation process. The Finance and Administration Committee will hold until after work to rule its charges on the Academic Plan, economic diversity at UNH, accountability of the New England Center, capital campaign issues, and scholarship issues. After this committee reports to the senate on NAVITAS, the senate could then decide whether or not to act on NAVITAS.
VII. Report from the Student Affairs Committee, on work-to-rule decision on paperless advising – The Student Affairs Committee will continue its work on booklist monitoring and on the shift of the cost for transportation to the departments. The committee will hold until after work to rule its charge on whether advising at UNH should be done in a paperless fashion.
VIII. Report from the Library Committee, on open access – The senate's Library Committee proposed that the senate pass a motion that the Faculty Senate recommends the use for publication of open access journals where feasible and supports the establishment of self-archiving in an institutional repository for scholarly work. The committee did not include in this motion wording proposed by the administration saying that faculty who did not use open access must fill out a form stating why they did not participate in open access. Since the Library Committee’s motion had been ready prior to work to rule, the committee would like the senate to vote on the motion. The motion was tabled until the next senate meeting.
IX. Report from the Research and Public Service Committee, on scholars at risk – This committee had prepared a motion on scholars at risk two months ago, prior to work to rule. Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of universities and colleges seeking to protect scholars who are attacked for their words, ideas, and place in society. SAR promotes academic freedom and defends the human rights of scholars and their communities worldwide. The network is managed by New York University. Their website states on http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/About-Us/Mission.php that “Scholars at Risk members save lives by providing sanctuary to professors, lecturers, researchers and other intellectuals who suffer threats in their home country. Through temporary academic positions, SAR members help scholars to escape dangerous conditions and to continue their important work. In return, scholars contribute to their host campuses through teaching, research, lectures and other activities. Many scholars return to their home countries after their visits. When safe return is not possible, SAR staff works with scholars to identify opportunities to continue their work abroad. The benefits are clear: Scholars are free to live and work without fear. SAR members gain talented academics and inspiring, courageous educators. The world benefits from solidarity among universities, greater awareness of current threats to academic freedom, and deeper appreciation of the vital role of higher education and scholarship in free societies.”
UNH is a member of the network, but its membership does not appear to be institutionalized. A small group of faculty met on the topic, but there is no record of any official appointments to a committee. There is no record of any financial contribution to SAR. UNH did review two folders in the recent past, conducting the reviews at the department level in cooperation with the college dean. One person was identified as appropriate for a visiting faculty position at UNH; however, the status of that person changed; and so there was no final agreement. Typically, SAR provides $25,000; and the host institution works out its own arrangements with the scholar regarding compensation, research and office space, housing, and teaching responsibilities. SAR provides seminars and other activities for those who wish to become more involved. The senate committee concluded that SAR is a worthwhile organization, that UNH has participated in the past, and that what is lacking at UNH is an institutional commitment. The Committee on Research and Public Services proposed a motion that the Faculty Senate recommends that, upon ratification of a new contract between the AAUP and UNH, the provost’s office convene a standing committee on Scholars at Risk with an appropriate charge including the responsibility to monitor the network and distribute information to the faculty as appropriate. Membership would include tenure-track faculty from all UNH colleges. The motion passed with twenty-eight ayes and no nays or abstentions.
X. Report from the Campus Planning Committee – The chair of the Campus Planning Committee reported that the committee will continue work on most of its charges. The committee has been charged to review the availability and quality of large lecture hall space and has appointed a liaison to the university’s joint committee on large classroom repair and renovation.
XI. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.