Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes Summary Nov. 1, 2010
November 17, 2010
I. Roll – The following senators were absent: Baldwin, Kaen, Kilcrease and Simos. Chavda, Foxall and Salvio were excused. A guest was John Aber.
II. Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost said that the university has taken two important steps toward international diversity. Recently twelve administrators as well as artists and musicians from the Confucius Institute have visited the UNH campus and presented a very interesting series of events. UNH has developed a cooperative agreement with Cheng Du University in China, and three faculty members will teach Chinese language and culture at UNH. Also, the university system office has just signed the NAVITAS partnership agreement, and the first NAVITAS students will arrive on the UNH campus in June. Thus the UNH goal to internationalize the campus is moving forward. A senator said that, while he is personally pleased with the visit from the Confucius Institute, it is better if such initiatives come to the Faculty Senate before they are finalized. The senate vice chair said that it is good practice to consider that faculty consultation should be institutional and that policies should come to the Faculty Senate rather than to individuals. The provost asked what rises to the level of needing involvement by the Faculty Senate and stated that the visit by the Confucius Institute is similar to many of the university’s international engagement efforts. He added that this effort included the addition of three faculty to the UNH Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures without financial commitment from UNH. At what level does the Faculty Senate want to become engaged in such things? A former senate chair said that administrators should not decide beforehand what rises to the level of needing action by the Faculty Senate but rather should discuss each issue with the senate’s Agenda Committee in advance. The provost replied that he would be happy to do that.
The provost said that he had discussed with the senate’s Agenda Committee and Academic Affairs Committee the faculty proposal for a marine school. The senate’s Academic Affairs Committee will review the proposal for a policy on schools and then will consider the proposal for a marine school. In addition, the provost said that a proposal for an environmental school will soon be presented. The search for a dean of the law school is continuing at the present time, and Jan Nisbet and John Aber will be on the board of the law school. The provost said that, after he left the previous senate meeting, discussion on budget issues continued with some pointed comments. He suggested that faculty feel free to address him directly with such input. Today a senator said that, in spite of the idea that the ability to use part of a unit’s reserve funds will give incentive to the units to improve their budgetary status, in reality the reserves may be redirected to balance out a unit that has a deficit; and this means that the incentives for generating new revenue are dead. The provost said that, if the new RCM rules had been used for FY 2010, there would have been no academic units with deficits. He added that there has been a 1.8 million dollar transfer from the non-academic units.
The provost said that COLSA had always run a deficit under the old RCM formula but that COLSA has demonstrated that the old formula was unfair; and COLSA would have a surplus if the new rules had been followed in fiscal year 2010. A senator said that changing the formula to be fairer to COLSA in the future is good but that this will not remove the crushing debt that this college will have to bear from the years before the formula had been modified; and thus there is no way that even strong programs in that college can move forward. The provost replied that a very slow repayment plan should be used and that the university cannot change the past budget arrangements, because some surpluses have already been used.
The Delaware data, which compares cost per credit hour, by discipline and college at UNH, with national averages by discipline, was sent to the faculty senators [by email on 10/20/2010]. A senator asked if the letters to NAVITAS students are moving forward, and the provost replied that he would ask. Marco Dorfsman said that the brochures are not yet ready and that departments which are characterized in the brochures will be asked for input on them. A former senate chair said that the letters on the conditions under which NAVITAS students will come to campus need to be reviewed, in English, by the departments involved. There is a lecture today, by the president of the American Historical Society, on defending liberal arts and the danger that this area of study is not getting enough respect and funding. The lecture, entitled “Life on the Burning Deck: Defending the Humanities in the Twenty-First Century”, is at 4:30 p.m. in Murkland Hall. The provost said that the university’s commitment to liberal arts is central to its mission. The NAVITAS students will pay full out-of-state tuition plus a fee to NAVITAS, in order to obtain an education here. UNH educates foreign students, but often the graduating students cannot obtain permission from the U.S. government to work in this country; and some of those students go to Canada which reaps the benefits of that education.
III. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that the NAVITAS Task Force has morphed into the NAVITAS Implementation Committee and that the Agenda Committee has told the administration that Marco Dorfsman should continue as the senate’s representative through the end of the year. Later the senate can consider the mechanism by which it will choose a representative after that term. The senate chair said that, in the senate’s summer seminar, some senators suggested that the Faculty Senate should take a more active role in highlighting interesting faculty work to the university community and beyond. Therefore Agenda Committee members are approaching the administration about publication, in the Campus Journal and the UNH website, of a column of good news from faculty. A subcommittee of the Agenda Committee intends to ask senators soon for items for this column. The Agenda Committee is forwarding two charges to the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee on (1) a loophole allowing students to earn two minors with the same five courses and (2) the high percent of the UNH graduating class receiving honors. Many universities now prescribe certain percentages of students who may qualify for cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude honors; and that might be a good policy for UNH to consider. A charge is also being forwarded to the Campus Planning Committee, about household pets in campus buildings.
In response to a question, the senate chair said that, in general, an issue which affects faculty might come to the Faculty Senate, although if the issue were deemed a working condition, the matter might go to the faculty union for negotiation. The senate chair said that he wants to thank the committee chairs and members who have been working on senate charges. Senate standing committee chairs are presenting recommendations from the committees which have gathered data, reviewed information, and formulated recommendations. Also, he said that the administration asked him to enable faculty to attend without implicit penalty both the state-of-the-art lecture which will occur on November 15 at 4:30 p.m. and the lecture on the humanities occurring at 4:30 p.m. today. However, the senate meeting schedules are made far in advance and distributed widely. Faculty should judge and balance their priorities about these matters. The senate chair calls for more care in lecture scheduling in the future. A past senate chair said that such scheduling and administration requests for meetings in conflict with Faculty Senate meetings might be interpreted by some as intended to undermine the Faculty Senate. Another professor said that the administrative office in charge of the university’s events calendar should be asked to list the Faculty Senate meetings on that calendar as a matter of standard practice.
IV. Minutes – The minutes of the last Faculty Senate meeting were approved with two abstentions, with a modification to change the list of guests in item I to include Leigh Anne Melanson instead of Lisa MacFarlane.
V. Charge two of the Campus Planning Committee, on the walking campus issue – The chair of the senate’s Campus Planning Committee said that the “walking campus” is indicated on university maps as a ten-minute walk across the diameter of the circle centered in the core campus. However, most of the parking places are outside that space. Also the newly-planned WSBE building is almost entirely outside of that circle. A senator said that the university cannot reasonably be considered a ten-minute walking campus if most of the parking is beyond that limit. It takes much longer than ten minutes to park at an outer lot and take the shuttle bus to one’s campus building. Also, does the “walking campus” include sufficient accessibility for those with various disabilities? A senator pointed out that frequent construction jobs have destroyed quite seriously the movement ability of a number of persons with disabilities. A professor said that the university occasionally sells off lands it owns and that discussion has occurred about expansion into College Woods and Leewood Orchards. A senator said that lands contiguous to campus are watched over by two land use committees and that the Real Estate Access and Disposal Committee requires a values assessment of university-owned land. She said that there is a possibility that the university might put a permanent conservation easement on College Woods. However, another senator said that a road is planned beyond the athletic fields bordering on College Woods. Also, possible road and/or sidewalk closures would affect the ten-minute walking distance and the ability of fire and rescue vehicles to arrive quickly, as well as the access of people with disabilities. There is a plan to put a road through a major university parking lot near the core campus and thus substantially reduce the parking there.
A professor who frequently bicycles to work said that it would be good to have less traffic allowed in the central campus. Parking is even harder in some cities. However, another professor said that this is a rural campus and that many people must commute from a distance and need consideration. The senate chair said that the university is in about year twelve of a transportation management strategy that seeks to enhance non-auto transportation on campus. The west edge parking lot came into use during that period, as did shuttle buses to and from remote parking. A senator said that parking is a contract issue. Many people feel that parking is a condition of employment. Also, parking at a distance and the need to return to the car at night is a safety issue, especially for women.
VI. Charge one of the Student Affairs Committee, on field trip guidelines – The chair of the senate’s Student Affairs Committee said that information has been sent to the senators on field trip guidelines written by the administration, a field trip decision tree, and transportation options. A senator replied that this information looked very bureaucratic. The SAC chair replied that the decision tree was compiled by faculty members in the committee to provide an easy reference tool, based on the published university guidelines. Another senator said that reading the documents left her confused as to whether the university was saying that students could or could not drive their cars to field trips. The SAC chair replied that, although students may drive their cars as they wish, faculty should not orchestrate the drivers or riders, because that could cause liability concerns. A senator said that the requirement that the “faculty or staff member in charge of each academic field trip should ensure that s/he has access to communication (e.g., cell phone) throughout the event” is not always possible. The SAC chair said that input should be sent to Leigh Anne Melanson and Ron Rodgers.
VII. Interim report from the SAC about paperless advising – The SAC chair said that her committee invited the registrar to give input on this matter, which should be called electronic archiving of advising documents. This does not refer to advising students by electronic means but rather to the keeping of the records in an on-line form. The SAC chair said that there should be faculty representation in these discussions. A senator said that advising is very much in the faculty’s jurisdiction and could rise to a violation of shared governance without suitable faculty representation. The SAC chair said that the archiving would include an on-line student academic profile with a student picture, transcripts, forms and applications and that there would not be a directive for faculty to archive their advising notes on line. Regarding whether this information might be subpoenaed and what would happen to the on-line student academic profile when the student graduates, the SAC suggested that faculty will need to know how documents can/will be shared, even after graduation, and that the Student Senate should also have input into these matters. The senate chair said that, although the advising issue is not specifically on today’s agenda, he was asked in advance and agreed that a motion might be introduced today and then tabled for a vote at the next senate meeting.
On behalf of the Student Affairs Committee, Barb White moved that, “as both generators and end-users of electronically-archived advising documents, faculty should be involved in the development of systems for such documents. The Faculty Senate calls upon the administration to involve faculty in the discussions, planning, and implementation of a system for electronic archiving of student academic records and advising documents.” A senator expressed concern about this motion as written, because the costs of developing the data would be transferred to the departments without giving them funds to do that. Friendly amendments were accepted; and the motion became: “as both generators and end-users of electronically-archived advising documents, faculty must be involved in the development of systems for such documents. The faculty senate calls upon the administration (1) to involve faculty in the discussions, planning and implementation of a system for electronic archiving of student academic records and advising documents and (2) to ensure that the cost and consequences of moving to an electronically-archived system be sufficiently addressed prior to implementation.”
The issue of paperless advising had been brought to the senate over a year ago but was not acted on due to work to rule. The SAC chair said that admissions documents are already being electronically archived and that next semester faculty will be able to access the student records completely on line rather than on paper. A senator said that the following factors need to be considered: (1) the costs to the departments for training and hardware, (2) the technology needed so that faculty can look at more than one of the documents at the same time electronically, and (3) the fact that some faculty cannot or will not access documents via such technology and so the department would either have to put all advising work on the other faculty or undergo the expense of printing paper copies. A motion to table the revised motion until the next senate meeting passed with two abstentions.
VIII. Diversity motion – On behalf of the Agenda Committee, Ben Cariens introduced a motion on reaffirmation and renewal of diversity planning efforts: whereas on March 8, 2004, on the unanimous recommendation of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee, the Faculty Senate adopted a Statement on Diversity as a Compelling Interest and noted that we face special challenges diversifying at UNH (Motion on Statement on Diversity # VIII-M8), and whereas on April 18, 2005, the Faculty Senate unanimously endorsed the vision and seven strategies of the Diversity Strategic Task Force’s five year plan, noting the need to be proactive in achieving diversity at UNH given our challenges, and thereby resolved to appoint two senators as representatives to the Diversity Council (Motion on Diversity # IX-M17), and whereas the first five year plan now needs renewal, be it resolved that the Faculty Senate affirms the desirability and need for the Diversity Council to develop a new five year plan, in order to continue to realize the compelling interest the senate has recognized in diversity for the achievement of overall excellence of UNH. Paul McNamara reviewed the past senate actions on diversity and said that diversity is a significant part of the strategic plan initiatives. He added that the Diversity Council, which has about twenty-six members, should continue to include faculty representatives. The motion passed with thirty-five ayes, one nay, and no abstentions. The current representatives are Paul MacNamara and William Woodward. The senate chair said that the Agenda Committee would figure out how to continue that connection.
IX. Discussion on responsibility center management – The chair of the senate’s Finance and Administration Committee said that, by November 15, the Central Budget Committee is supposed to approve a revision of responsibility center management and send it to the president. This matter is critically important, because it will determine the funding each of the colleges will receive. The deans have been discussing the distribution formula but have not come to an agreement to date. If the proposed new formula had been in place for the 2010 fiscal year, all of the colleges would have been in the black for that year. CEPS is concerned that graduate students on grants would cost the college a lot under the new formula. COLSA says that the proposed changes are much needed. COLA is concerned that, although the new formula would not change the funding to COLA, in order to maintain the status quo it has had to freeze travel and computer replacement and use cheaper instructors instead of tenure-track faculty for many courses. COLA would like to see differential tuition to attend colleges that are more costly for the university. After a discussion of the sources of income received by the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS), the FAC chair said that the Central Budget Committee has about twelve to fifteen members including himself, the senate chair and two other faculty appointed by the Agenda Committee and that the FAC has been deeply involved in reviewing the new RCM proposal. He indicated that the administration has been responsive and open on this matter. He added that the RCM system is very complicated and that there are only a few people who have a complete understanding of the system. A senator said that differential tuition is a good idea, if it is in line with the practices of the other land grand universities in New England. She said that the university uses liberal arts as a cash cow and pays those faculty less than the faculty in any of the other colleges. Another senator said that, in order to allow more time for research, COLA has adopted a two course per semester load for its faculty and that other colleges have not done that.
X. New Business – Marco Dorfsman said that the Academic Affairs Committee continues to review the January term pilot program.
XI. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.