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Faculty Senate Minutes Summary: 4-25-11

June 8, 2011

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Akdeniz, Carr, Morgan, and Simos.  Excused were Asbjornsen, Barber, Caramihalis, Dinapoli, Harrison-Buck, Pescosolido, Pohl, Shetty, Sparrow and Wansart.  Guests were Mark Huddleston, John Aber, Christina Bellinger, Christina Caiazza, Richard Peyser and Jessica Knapp.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the president – President Huddleston said that he has spent a lot of time recently talking with legislators and has hosted groups of legislators in his home.  He thanked the faculty for their input on how to ameliorate budget problems and asked faculty to write letters and make phone calls in this regard.  He stated that UNH has received favorable editorial comment from a number of newspapers during this budget crisis.  The president gave testimony on April 18 at the New Hampshire State Senate Finance Committee.  In response to a question at today’s Faculty Senate meeting regarding that testimony, the president said that he told the legislative committee about the UNH Strategic Plan; and he contrasted what has long characterized American higher education in general--a rigid academic calendar, traditional lecture-based pedagogy, and seat-time-based credentialing--with innovations already underway at UNH, including J-term and eUNH.  The president said that he did not say anything disparaging about UNH or its faculty and that he asked the legislators toreject the drastic and injurious cuts proposed by the House of Representatives and to let us get on with our important work of implementing the reforms in the UNH Strategic Plan. 

A faculty senator expressed concern about the importance of a liberal education and said that this part of the university’s mission was left out of the president’s New Hampshire senate testimony.  Another professor said that, when the president listed in his speech the failures of traditional higher education, he used “we” frequently; and this could be understood to mean UNH.  The president seemed to refer to UNH as a business model which had been broken and needed to be fixed; and the professor said that UNH provides quality education now and will never be a business organization.  Part of the president’s New Hampshire Senate testimony was as follows.

When I unveiled UNH’s new strategic plan just over a year ago, the first thing I said was that the business model for higher education—here in New Hampshire and across the nation—is broken….  Through our strategic plan, we have committed ourselves to fixing the business model—and to becoming, as a result, a model for the rest of America.  This will mean changing almost everything we do:  how we teach, what we teach, when and where we teach; how we organize ourselves internally and how we partner with others externally; who we think of as students and how they interact with one another and with members of the faculty; how we conduct research and what we do with the fruits of that research.  This is hard work.  Change always is, especially for institutions as steeped in tradition as American universities.  Indeed, in many ways, the structure and fundamental operating assumptions of higher education haven’t really changed a great deal in hundreds of years.  Our academic calendars are still synched to the rhythms of a predominately agricultural society, where one semester ends just in time for spring planting and the next begins only when the fall harvest is in.  We still too-frequently convey information in fifty-minute lectures delivered by a “sage on the stage” to largely passive recipients in the audience three times a week for fifteen weeks a term—as if that schedule were Biblically decreed and as if that were the way that “digital natives” actually learn today.  Worse, we remain wedded to a credentialing regimen of courses and majors and degrees that mainly reflect “seat time,” rather than what students actually learn or need to learn.  And perhaps worst of all, we still cling, occasional rhetoric aside, to a vision of higher education that is both a way-station and a world apart, where our primary mission is to take into our cloistered quadrangles a narrow band of eighteen to twenty-one year olds, educate and entertain them for four years, and then send them off, never to return, except for the occasional alumni weekend—as if we didn’t live in a world where need for education and skill renewal weren’t constant and society-wide, where students graduating this May will have multiple careers, including in fields that don’t even yet exist, and where relationships between business and non-profits and government and other institutions are defined not by walls, but by bridges.  Fortunately, we at UNH get this, and many long-overdue changes are already underway at our campuses in Durham, Manchester, Concord and beyond.

In today’s Faculty Senate meeting, the president agreed that UNH is not and never will be a business but said that we do have a business model and must be attentive to it, because we must have money to finance quality education.  A faculty senator said that it is bad for faculty morale to hear the president categorize educators as a “sage on the stage to largely passive recipients”.  The president replied that he was referring to American higher education in general and not to UNH.  Another faculty member stated that she teaches a class of seventy-seven students and that it is very difficult to give individual attention to the students who need it and thus to provide all the students with a quality education and meet the future needs of the businesses in the state.  The president agreed but said that, unless we have the resources, we cannot deliver on the mission of the university.  He added that we must preserve the best of what we do, by adapting to the circumstances that exist.  A faculty senator said that she recognizes the strategic tactic the president employed; but she said that it is hazardous to speak to the lowest common denominator, because the more one uses that kind of rhetoric the more it is validated.  She added that this problem is compounded by references to the Lombardi Principles in the report of the President’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Research, where faculty are apparently mocked for academic contemplation.  The president replied with dismay that his good intentions were so misunderstood by so many.  He added that he began his legislative testimony with an extensive listing of the many ways in which UNH contributes to the life and the economy of the state.

III. Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair thanked the senators for attending today’s extra senate meeting.  The senate chair asked senators to send to him via email any additional concerns about the president’s legislative testimony.  The senate chair announced that the AAUP has called an informational meeting for 3:00 p.m. today and that a representative will stay until after 5:00 p.m. so that faculty senators may give input.  A member of the Central Budget Committee said that a draft report on the budget crisis has been distributed to the CBC members.  The intention may be to use reserves to cover a gap in the short run and also to employ other initiatives which may perhaps include cuts in administration, cuts in athletics, a separation incentive plan, and freezing of positions which become vacant.  Such a separation plan for faculty would be part of negotiations with the faculty union.  Combining colleges might achieve savings but might also lead to unintended consequences.  Moreover, the combined savings proposed would not amount to the 31 million dollars contemplated.  Each of the Responsibility Center Management units might have to reduce their budgets by a certain percentage.  A professor said that reducing the number of faculty and cutting the academic budget could result in many classes not being available and that this could lead to less tuition income for the university.  A senator asked why UNH is borrowing 15 million dollars to break ground on a new building at a time of budget crisis.  That matter has been discussed in the CBC. The president hopes to bring in donations to pay for the construction.  Some faculty wonder if some of those donations could instead be given to help with the budget crisis.  However, if the building is not constructed, a very large donation for that purpose would be lost; and the university would also lose a large number of new classrooms which are much needed.  A professor responded that faculty are more important than buildings and are a more worthy investment.  UNH cannot grow much without making investments in both faculty and classroom space.  NAVITAS should help income, via an influx of out-of-state students.  A professor said that separation incentives get rid of good faculty and that affects the quality of education.

IV.  Minutes – The minutes of the previous Faculty Senate meeting were approved.

V.  Report on the motion for censure of a dean – The chair of the Professional Standards Committee said that the parties to the motion have reached an agreeable resolution, and so no action is needed by the Faculty Senate.  The senate chair said that the Agenda Committee had considered the motion and passed it on to the PSC, as directed in the 9/10/2007 senate motion on procedures for censure.  He confirmed that, since the PSC succeeded in mediation, the issue does not need to come before the Faculty Senate.

VI.  Motion on Latin honors – Marco Dorfsman said that the Academic Affairs Committee could not come to a consensus on how Latin honors should be calculated or on whether the matter should become a charge for next year.  Today the Faculty Senate voted first on whether or not to act on the matter this year and passed, with a vote of twenty-four ayes and ten nays, a motion to make a decision today.  Marco Dorfsman proposed a vote to choose between option A (which is that Latin honors will be granted as follows:  summa cum laude for the top 5% of the graduating class at the college level, magna cum laude for the next 10% of the graduating class at the college level, and cum laude for the next 10% of the graduating class at the college level) and option B (which is that Latin honors will be granted as follows:  summa cum laude for the students who have a 3.85 GPA or higher,  magna cum laude for students with a 3.65 GPA and above, and cum laude for the students with a 3.5 GPA or higher, on a university-wide basis and with a review of the GPA level every five years).

Richard Peyser, who is the student body president, said that the students prefer option B, agree that 25% of the students getting Latin honors is fair, and hope that faculty and students will work together to address grade inflation.  A brief discussion ensued which paralleled the discussion on this matter in recent senate meetings.  In addition, a senator said that her students with higher GPAs wanted the standards for Latin honors to be raised to a meaningful level.  Another senator said that his students thought 20% by college would be best.  The Faculty Senate voted for option A, with twenty-two ayes, ten nays, and three abstentions.  The chair of the AAC said that his committee recommends that next year’s Agenda Committee charge a group with looking into the matter of grade inflation.

VII.  Reports on Discovery Program guidelines and implementation – Barbara White, who is the chair of the senate’s Discovery Committee, presented a draft document on the Discovery Program Requirements, Academic Policy and Guidelines.  She pointed out that two of the changes will require a senate vote.  The first change is a note to faculty in item 5.31(fs) which would read as follows:  “05.31(fs) Waiver of requirements in a prescribed curriculum.  The requirement of a given course in any prescribed curriculum may be waived by the faculty of the student’s college.  The student’s petition must be approved by his or her major adviser and the dean of his or her college.  Note to Faculty:  Waiver of requirements in the Discovery Program.  Students may petition the Discovery Committee in order to waive or replace a requirement.  The student’s petition must be approved by his or her major advisor and the dean of his or her college.”  The second change requiring a senate vote is item 5.33(fs), part 3, which would read as follows:  “3.  TSAS courses may not be used for general education (1984-2009), writing intensive, or foreign language requirements.  Only TSAS courses that are at 400-600 level and Discovery approved may count for Discovery requirements.”  The senate chair suggested that the senate could vote on those changes during next week’s senate meeting.

Barbara White said that, as of 4/18/2011, the Discovery Committee has reviewed a total of 450 courses for category and/or attributes (e.g. writing intensive).  Of these, 188 are Inquiry courses, 99 of which are Discovery 444 courses.  The Discovery Committee is focusing the program review on the Inquiry requirement, in preparation for the mandated five-year NEASC review.  The university is currently meeting Inquiry seat demands.  However, if more students enter than anticipated next fall, there may be a shortage.  The Discovery Program continues to monitor the Inquiry requirement, especially in terms of the percent mix of 444 courses and Inquiry attribute courses. The Discovery Committee chair presented a graph of Inquiry courses by college for academic year 2010 and noted that the maximum number of seats per course is twenty five in 444 courses, thirty-five in Inquiry A courses, and twenty-four in DLab.  In some colleges such as WSBE, there are not enough Inquiry course seats, but in others such as COLA and COLSA, there is a surplus.  CHHS has a good balance between 444 courses and Inquiry attribute courses, but the other colleges have many more Inquiry attribute courses than 444 courses.  By fall of 2011, a fully electronic course submission process will be in place.  Discovery staff members have been meeting with college representatives to demonstrate procedures and solicit feedback which is then used to make changes to ensure ease in use.  There are currently five pilot Inquiry attribute courses being taught in COLSA and CEPS (BIOL 411/412; CIE 402; ECE 401; ME 441). The specifics of the two-year pilots can be found in the Discovery Requirements, Academic Policy and Guidelines sent in email to all senators.  The Discovery Committee will present a report in the fall on the pilot project.  There are currently five academic variances (4 in CEPS and 1 in COLA) for one category, with a suite of required courses. Those specifics are also in the Discovery Requirements, Academic Policy and Guidelines.  Requests have been made to COLA, CEPS, WSBE and COLSA for elections seeking one faculty representative each to the Discovery Committee, for a three-year term beginning in the fall of 2011.

Regarding academic advising, Discovery Program staff has met with a number of departments and professional advisors over the past year to ensure that the transition to advising in Discovery is as smooth as possible.  The Discovery Program addresses several queries each month regarding advising and so far has had few issues. When these have arisen, they have been addressed.  In addition, the catalogue was revised to reflect Discovery Program requirements.  Next year’s theme for the University Dialogue will be Finding Common Ground: A University Dialogue on Working Together to Solve Problems.  Seven faculty members are serving as dialogue authors on the Durham campus.  All are from COLA despite repeated efforts to recruit faculty from all colleges, including UNH-Manchester.  Students were asked in late November of 2010 about their involvement with the University Dialogue on Information Overload in the Residential Life survey.  Twenty-six percent of students indicated that the university dialogue had been incorporated into one or more of their classes, and nineteen percent of the students indicated that they had participated outside of class in one or more events, discussions or projects related to the university dialogue.  A call will soon go out to seek members for the University Dialogue Committee, which is a sub-committee of the Discovery Committee which reports to the Faculty Senate and to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.  Members would be a blend of faculty from all schools/colleges, would be elected/selected by college/school processes, and would be made up of at least 50% faculty members.

Marco Dorfsman, who is the chair of the senate’s Academic Affairs Committee, said that the AAC had been charged to monitor implementation of the Discovery Program, in consultation with the Discovery Committee, and to consider a recommendation by the Discovery Committee on the Discovery Program guidelines requested by the registrar.   Marco Dorfsman said that guidelines have been prepared for the registrar.  The AAC has met with the Discovery Committee; and the senate has a representative on the Discovery Committee, which is also a senate committee.  The AAC found that the Discovery Program implementation is going well and that the communication with the Discovery Committee has been good.  The AAC suggests that next year’s Agenda Committee should decide whether or not continued monitoring of the Discovery Committee is needed.

VIII.  Report on study away – Marco Dorfsman said that the issue of study away is complicated and that, because of the changes which have happened regarding internationalization, many of the questions have become moot.  Although there had been a violation of shared governance, the AAC wanted to move forward and deal with procedures for future shared governance.  Meetings were held for all the program directors and others, although no agreement was reached on a number of issues.  If a new policy is proposed for managed study away programs, the policy should be brought to the Faculty Senate for approval.  Although the Board of Trustees sets tuition rates, the UNH shared governance agreement states that “the administration has a positive duty to consult with faculty before taking action and to take into account faculty objections or concerns before, during, and after effecting decisions. “  The AAC chair said that the AAC has now completed its charge on study away.  However, changes are coming regarding internationalization; and when they do, the matter should be brought to the Faculty Senate for consideration.

IX.  Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned.

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