Faculty Senate Minutes
February 19, 2010

Attendance: Bantell, Baysden, Benibo, Bhattacharya, Changchit, Davis, Etheridge, Garrett, Katangur, Katz, Keys, Loveland, Lucero, Mahdy, Mehrubeoglu, Moury, Paciotti, Pfeifer, Rogers, Sefcik

Ex Officio: Babbili, Billeaux, Meyer, Smart

Guests: Susan Wolff Murphy, Christine Shupala

1. Speaker Lucero called the meeting to order at 2:02 PM.

2. Minutes of the January 22, 2010 Senate meeting were approved as corrected (Etheridge moved to accept, Bantell).

3. Welcome and introductions

3.1. Introduced new Vice Provost, Paul Meyer (Replacing Robert Nelsen).
3.2. Introduced Matthew Baysden, president of the staff council as a new ex-officio member of the faculty senate.

4. Speaker’s Report

4.1. University budget situation

4.1.1. Lucero reported that we are working to maintain core functions related to instructional quality. The university is attempting to maintain current faculty levels and salaries but that we should expect some changes that impact faculty. She said that this was “the real thing” and that we need to be prepared.
4.1.2. Provost Babbili noted that we have two priorities during this financial crisis: (1) we don’t want to do anything to harm instructional quality, and (2) we want to uphold the mission and maintain SACS standards. He noted that some people are dismissing the crisis on the grounds that the state has a $1 billion surplus. He asked everyone to take this crisis seriously and noted that the president is committed to minimize the impact on faculty, staff, and students. The president’s council is working to find new efficiencies.

4.2. Texas Council of Faculty Senates meets next week. Katz and Benibo will be attending. If you have any issues you would like them to discuss or information you want them to obtain, please contact them. They will report at the March meeting.

4.3. Administrative Assistant search – we have 19 applications and will begin reviewing those applications soon. Applications are officially closed. Lucero anticipates beginning interviews soon. Pfeifer, Lucero and Katz will be reviewing applicants…anyone else that wants to sit in please contact Lucero.

5. QEP – Susan Wolff-Murphy

5.1. First year islanders program. SACS team will arrive on the 9th and begin interviewing/speaking with faculty on that day. Faculty should be prepared to discuss FYI program.

5.1.1. Noted that we used institutional data and had broad-based representation on the committee. A year-long process led to the decision to focus on first year students.
5.1.2. Three parts: Bridge program – reverse graduation designed to introduce students to campus resources (e.g., CASA). Field day – fun event for students. Faculty development – working with FRC, trying to form learning communities for faculty that focus on FYI and on barrier courses (see handout).

5.1.3. A senator asked if these proposals are based on established learning or if we are experimenting. She noted that the use of learning communities for faculty is tried and tested and that the convocation idea is relatively new and is, as of now, largely supported by anecdotal evidence. She also noted that the faculty learning communities have been charged with identifying best practices.
5.1.4. A senator asked if we know about the relationships between learning, grades, and retention. She noted that one of the problems is behavioral and that SACS is concerned with learning outcomes not with grades.
5.1.5. Another senator expressed concerns that increasing grades wouldn’t increase skills and may cause problems when students reach higher level courses that require math. Susan reiterated that the focus is not on grades but on learning outcomes. Yolanda noted that we can’t even use grades as a measure in the SACS assessments. Another senator noted that he is on one of the learning communities and that there has been no mention of inflating grades and that the focus is on improving learning.
5.1.6. A senator noted that time management and the demands of college are important variables. Susan noted that both issues are on the list of primary issues we plan to address as part of the FYI program.
5.1.7. A senator asked if anyone had analyzed whether or not the barrier courses were appropriate for first year students. Susan noted that most of this was done when the core was developed and there is some scholarship that suggests it is important to connect students with majors early in their college career. She also noted that most of the first-year classes are required by the state. Billeaux added that the learning communities are free to look at solutions like this as we move forward. Meyer added that state requirements did limit our options for changing course requirements.
5.1.8. A senator noted that students aren’t required or even advised to take all of the barrier courses in the first semester or year.
5.1.9. Another senator noted that advising is a way to deal with the problem of students not having enough classes to fill in schedules later in their academic careers.

6. SACS up-date – Paul Meyer and Chris Shupala

6.1. Chris noted that the SACS team will be here on the 9th.
6.2. Town meetings are scheduled on March 4 from 1 to 2 and March 8 from 2 to 3 in the UC ballrooms. Faculty are encouraged to attend.
6.3. Lucero asked if the college-wide meetings some colleges are having are a substitute for this town meeting. Chris said that the topics would be the same but encouraged everyone to attend as many opportunities as possible to make sure everyone understands SACS and our QEP.
6.4. A summary of the SACS focused report and our response to the standards with which they had issue will be made available to faculty early next week. Please review this information.
6.5. Chris noted that they are likely to focus on assessment of programs and measurement of student learning outcomes. Some programs are good, some are not. She noted that they will also look at faculty credentialing process for new hires and the way we update credentialing for faculty members teaching new courses. Third one is process for substantive change, specifically how we define and process substantive changes. Online classes and programs are a special issue.
6.6. Meyer noted that the purpose of the town meetings was to make sure everyone understands where we stand and is comfortable with answering any questions the visit team may ask of them.
6.7. Chris noted that while many departments/programs have meetings and discuss assessment and closing the loop, too many don’t provide minutes or other documentation that can be used to support SACS reporting. Lucero noted that in addition to the lack of documentation, too many departments aren’t defining learning outcomes properly.
6.8. A senator asked if the visit team will want to meet with the senate. Meyer reported that they would provide us with a list of groups/individuals they want to meet with a week to two weeks before the visit. At the moment, he knows they will want to meet with the QEP team and that other faculty groups may added to the list as more info is provided by the visit team.
6.9. A senator asked if we should involve students in our classes in this process…keeping them informed about progress and objectives. Chris said we would have a student “rally” but anything we can do to help will be appreciated. Billeaux noted that the team will expect students to know what FYI means.
6.10. Babbili commended Chris and Susan for all their work in organizing and compiling more than 20K pages of information.

7. Committees

7.1. Academic Affairs Committee – Nikki Changchit & Elizabeth Sefcik

7.1.1. Military Science Minor (Attachments) -- Changchit noted that the committee reviewed the resource requirements and the policies governing new program/minor offerings before reviewing the proposal. She noted that some changes in course titles required the assistance of Billeaux to understand but that the committee is prepared to recommend approval. A senator noted that the undergraduate council had reviewed this proposal and didn’t identify any problems. A motion to approve the minor passed (19 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions).
7.1.2. Changchit noted that they had collected about 900 responses from the student learning survey and would begin analyzing the data soon.

7.2. ABE Committee – Bilaye Benibo

7.2.1. Reminded everyone that the university excellence awards are still open.
7.2.2. He also noted that information about the CASE award had been emailed to faculty the previous week.

7.3. Budget Committee- Michael Moody (Etheridge reporting)

7.3.1. Dependent Children Scholarships (attachment) – state law provides a barrier (see document). The fund at College Station does not receive state funding. The committee is still working on alternative methods for funding such a proposal. Etheridge moved that we support the staff council and work with them to form a task force to study this issue further. Moury seconded. The motion passed (19 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions). Etheridge volunteered to work on this task force. Lucero asked the library representatives to find a volunteer.

7.4. Committee on Committees – Nancy Rogers

7.4.1. Faculty interest survey has been updated and will be sent out after spring break.
7.4.2. Update on Blackboard 8.0 and training – everyone now has a Blackboard shell. Call or email the Island Online help desk for user name and password. According to Joseph Doan, we can expect an announcement about training after spring break.

7.4.3. Faculty support for research -- Moury will meet with Knull and Doan next month to discuss writing support and writing assistance for ESLI faculty and graduate students.
7.4.4. Center for Faculty Excellence (attachment) Summary of changes -- name has changed, purpose and function remains the same, function and composition of governing committee has changed. Following a brief discussion of the committee representation, Lucero recommended tabling this proposal until the next meeting to allow the group that’s reviewing committee assignments to develop consistent language and processes for filling vacancies. Rogers also noted that in addition to the current representatives, we needed to consider whether the undergraduate and graduate council needed representation on the committee. Babbili noted that these and other groups may serve as ex-officio members. Billeaux added that he will take the proposal back to the original group with the suggestion that we distinguish between ex-officio and voting members.

7.5. Faculty Affairs Committee – Mark Pfeifer – no report.

8. Provost comments

8.1. Babbili –

8.1.1. Congratulations to Yolanda Keys for her American Organization of Nurse Executives grant.
8.1.2. SACS (March 8 – 11) is a priority. He noted that the visit team members are all volunteers and that we should consider thanking them for their time when we have the opportunity to do so.
8.1.3. Budget is another priority. The president wants to make it clear that academic quality is the number one priority and we will strive to protect it. We may see some changes in research or travel funding but that everyone will do anything possible to protect the educational mission.
8.1.4. He asked us to urge our colleagues to educate students about the SACS process to help them understand why we do this. Maintain focus on SACS and budgeting in the coming weeks.

9. Other issues?

9.1. Lucero asked if electronic packets were working…everyone said yes. Several senators offered suggestions for streamlining the process.
9.2. If you are interested in running for a faculty senate office next year, please contact Benibo.

10. The meeting was adjourned at 3:35 PM.

Respectfully Submitted,
Karen A. Loveland
Faculty Senate Secretary