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Faculty Senate Minutes Summary April 4, 2011

April 27, 2011

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Baldwin, Carr, Charpentier, Shetty and Simos.  Excused were Barber, Cariens, Dinapoli, Dorfsman, Harrison-Buck, Kilcrease, Morgan, Sparrow and White.  Guests were John Aber, Christina Bellinger, Christina Caiazza, and Jessica Knapp.

II. Remarks by and questions to the provost – The provost said that the University of New Hampshire is pleased to welcome Vice President Joe Biden to campus today, to bring attention to the high rates of sexual assault and violence committed against young women across the country.  The provost announced the first UNH Truman scholar, Brooks Payette who is a non-traditional student.  Bob Stiefel helps students apply for such scholarships.  The provost also displayed a book on the history of UNH, by Marion James who is a professor emerita.  The provost recently had a meeting with the Board of Trustees on measuring and assessing work at UNH.  The university is always in the top five to ten percent nationally in graduation performance, according to the U.S. News and World Report, and also does very well on cost per credit hour.  He said that the university is in a particularly trying budget situation now, and he described the process which is occurring in the New Hampshire house and senate.  The Central Budget Committee at UNH is working on a response to the state about how UNH might respond to a budget cut.  The university hopes to increase revenues via new initiatives such as grants and the NAVITAS Program.  The CBC task force is accumulating suggestions for budget solutions, and those suggestions are available on line.  In answer to a question about how faculty might help, the provost suggested that faculty might review the president’s letter in the 3/28/2011 Campus Journal, on proposed cuts to the state budget and their impact on UNH.  Faculty might write letters to the editor, as a private citizen, discussing graduate education, funded research, and the economic impact of UNH on the state.

III.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair announced a memorial gathering for Professor Pedro deAlba on April 6 at 3:00 p.m. in Huddleston Hall.  The senate chair said that the Central Budget Committee at UNH is tasked with discovering efficiencies and other adjustments to help mitigate the budget problems; and John Aber, Dick Cannon and Mark Rubinstein, who are members of the Budget Task Force, met with the senate’s Agenda Committee and the Finance and Administration Committee to discuss those issues.  Members of the budget task force are meeting with contingent faculty and research faculty and other constituents.  A senator asked how the budget cuts will affect the university’s reserve funds and bond rating.  A professor said that graduate education may not bring in a lot of money but is very important for the university.  A review of graduate education should take into account how much it would cost to replace the teaching assistants; and he said that, calculated that way, the graduate education account would show a positive cash flow.  The Faculty Senate chair welcomed new senators and the observers and said that the Graduate Student Senate will send an observer regularly to the Faculty Senate.
IV.  Minutes – The minutes of the previous Faculty Senate meeting were approved.

V.  Report on the percent of the graduating class receiving honors – Brent Bell of the Academic Affairs Committee had provided information on the procedures used for awarding Latin honors at the other New England flagship universities.  Today he made a motion based on the procedure used in Duke University.  The motion from the Academic Affairs Committee follows. 

The intention of honors is to award recognition to those students who achieve academic distinction over the duration of an undergraduate career. Students receiving honors awards at the University of New Hampshire should represent an approximate rate of 30% of the graduating students. To determine the Latin honors, a GPA cutoff will be determined in August of each academic year based upon three years of GPA data of graduating UNH students. This data will be used to set a GPA minimum for each category for determining Latin honors for senior students each year. All students who met the GPA requirement at graduation receive Latin honors as follows:  (1) summa cum laude--adjusted GPA determined in August of each academic year that equals the GPA for the top 5% of the previous three graduating classes of students; (2) magna cum laude--adjusted GPA in August of each academic year for the top 15% of the previous three graduating classes of students; and (3) cum laude--adjusted GPA in August of each academic year for the top 30% of students.  The GPA calculation would be at the university level for enrolled seniors for the previous three years.  The GPA calculation refers to the criteria at the time of completion of all degree requirements.  GPA for 5%, 15%, and 30% of the graduating class for the last three years determines the GPA for these categories for the next academic year.  Once a GPA mark for Latin honors has been established, all students who meet the GPA criteria receive Latin honors independent of percentages. The percentages only help to determine the GPA criteria each year.

A senator said that her department would prefer that the students receiving Latin honors at UNH be 25% rather than 30% of the graduating class.  She also asked what could be done regarding a student who had a significant setback, such as the death of a parent, during the freshman year but who got good grades in the other academic years.  Another senator said that the honors awards should be done by department, since the average grade is much higher in some departments than in others.  Other senators wanted the awards to be done at the college level or according to a specific GPA requirement.  Some senators supported the motion presented today.  After a discussion of the problem of grade inflation, an amendment was made, seconded and passed (with twenty-seven ayes, four nays and two abstentions) that the calculation should be made at the college level.  Another amendment was made, seconded and passed (with fifteen ayes, fourteen nays and five abstentions) that the calculation should be done before the freshman year for use when the student graduates.  What about students in programs which include more than one college?  Many senators said that passing today’s motion is important, so that Latin honors at UNH will be meaningful and in line with other universities.  A former senate chair suggested that the senate should set up a group to look at the problem of grade inflation.  The amended motion was tabled until the next senate meeting.

VI.  Reports on the schools policy and on the marine group school – The chair of the senate’s University Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee said that the committee has been reviewing the issue of interdisciplinary schools but that the administration has not yet provided a final document which could be brought to the Faculty Senate.  The committee has suggested changes to a draft, and the administration is also working to put UCAPC’s suggestions into the individual school proposals.  The Faculty Senate chair should make it clear to the provost that a policy on schools must be approved by the Faculty Senate before implementation and that the Faculty Senate will require time to consider the draft.  What resources will be needed by new schools?  The memorandum of understanding establishing a new school must have a clear budget statement, and the funds would come from the college that forms the school.  If there is a donation for the school and later the school stops functioning, would any remaining funds go to the college?  The school proposal should document the parameters including goals, budget, funding, time line and other issues.  The obligation of the college to provide faculty must be addressed in the MOU.  A clear, precise appointment letter should be required stating the parameters and requirements of any joint faculty appointment.  Faculty work in schools needs clarity on many issues such as tenure and how the work in the school will affect the faculty member’s work in the department.  Any school proposal should be submitted for review to the relevant faculty body.  Credit hour ratings and their financial impact should be worked out between the colleges and stated in the MOU.  Schools will not be RCM units, and schools would be under the college or colleges.  UCAPC will bring a recommendation to the Faculty senate after the proposal on schools is received from the administration.

VII.  Motion on change in the wording of the senate constitution – Gary Weisman moved and Kent Chamberlin seconded the constitutional change motion which had been tabled in the 2/28/2011 Faculty Senate meeting as follows.  The description of the purview of the Library Committee in the Faculty Senate Constitution should be:  “The Library Committee will concern itself with matters pertaining to the university library, including information technology as it pertains to the mission of the university library.”  The wording only refers to information technology associated with library issues.  The motion passed with thirty ayes, no nays and two abstentions.

VIII.  Report on ten-year trends of tenure-track versus non-tenure track faculty positions – Gay Nardone of the Academic Affairs Committee had emailed to the senators data on the UNH tenure-track, non-tenure-track and extension faculty full-time equivalents since fiscal year 2004.  Today she said that the group will try to provide further information requested by a senator earlier today, regarding the years before RCM was implemented, back to 1990 or 1995, and also student enrollments in order to calculate the average number of students per faculty member.  Gay Nardone asked that senators send input to her.
IX.  Update on the internationalization panel and RPSC charges – Ted Howard said that the internationalization panel will meet tomorrow.  Ken Chamberlin said that he will send to the senators information on the process of the panel.  He added that the RPSC reports on its charge 7 (on faculty concerns about the proposed mandatory ethics training course), charge 6 (on concerns about the consequences of the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Research), charge 3 (on the research-related components of the Academic Plan) and charge 2 (on the role of research faculty at UNH) can be accessed on the web.

X.  New Business – A senator said that he believes that UNH faculty and staff are employed by the university and thus are not state employees.  Faculty could contact their AAUP caucus representatives to pursue issues about at-will state employees, and the Agenda Committee may pursue that as well.

XI.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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