Regular Meeting of the Faculty Senate

Unapproved Minutes

March 26, 2013

Meeting called to order at 12:28 pm.

1. The motion is made to approve the minutes from the February 26, 2013 meeting.  Motion approved. Voice vote.

2. The motion was made by Stuart Charmé to propose that the ad hoc committee on general educations’s proposal for changing the general education requirements be accepted for voting.  The motion is seconded. There was further discussion of the proposal.  Dr. Charmé expressed the committee’s desire to avoid certain issues.  He announced that there was special attention paid by the committee to avoid taking the faculty by surprise with the proposed changes, and the process for arriving at the final proposal was communicated to the faculty in various ways throughout the process, including previous senate meetings, general forums, and electronic communications. He announced that the committee believed that any proposal would be doomed without administrative support and so the committee also garnered support from both Dean Lindenmeyer and Chancellor Pritchett.  Dr. Charmé felt that it was important to announce a final time that the proposed general education model would take significantly more overall work than the previous model, however, he made it clear that even if the proposal is voted down, there would still be work because the previous model will need significant upkeep.  He also announced that the committee was sure to involve the other stakeholders on campus in being advised of the proposed changes and the Business School and Nursing School presented no challenges to the proposed model.

Dean Lindenmeyer made the announcement that there will be two administrative assistants in the Dean’s office to provide support for the proposed changes.  She also announced that there is a website under development for submitting course proposals and changes so that approvals/rejections will be more easily traceable.  There will be assistance from the Dean’s office in dealing with the Middle States assessments.  Additionally she announced that there will be education and workshops provided to faculty who teach the general education courses to express the importance in educating the students as to why they need to take general education courses. Finally, there is a commitment of $60,000 to be distributed over a three year period for further faculty educational opportunities to attend workshops, conferences, and possibly departmental incentives, but the exact distribution will be determined by the committee.  She announced that the funds were coming equally from the dean’s office and the chancellor’s office budgets.

The floor returned to Dr. Charmé who began a discussion of the subcommittee model that would be necessary to ensure success of the implementation of the proposal. It will require substantial support from the faculty to determine what the definitions will involve for each requirement.  There will be volunteers needed to take temporary ownership for developing the student learning objectives in the categories.  The current general education committee would like volunteers that don’t necessarily become a part of the committee but design the objectives and proposal forms for each category.  Dr. Charmé announced that the committee believes that faculty support and “buy in” for this proposed model with be imperative to the success of the proposed plan.

The floor was opened for questions.  Katherine Epstein raised four questions.  They were as follows: Why are the competencies listed in the proposal more valuable than previous ones? Who will judge the success of the of a course’s advancement of a competency? How will advancements in writing and critical thinking be assessed? Will the increased faculty workload be worth the expected pedagogical gains? Dr. Charmé responded to these questions not in the particular order in which they were asked.  He made the statement that writing requirements were not defined prior and so this model will provide an opportunity to create a design for the writing intensive requirement.  He made the statement that general education is part of the duties of a liberal arts college and so there is some responsibility to the students to provide them with a strong foundation in general education.  He acknowledged that this model will be more work but provides the reward of accountability, quality control, and more intellectual integrity.  He stated that the existing model tends to be “turf-dividing” for the campus and believes that the proposed model provides the advantage of creating a cross-disciplinary activity.  Finally to address the questions, he stated that it is important for the subcommittees who are creating the objectives to be made of cross-departmental faculty and the requirements determined by those who have specialty expertise within the requirement.  Dean Lindenmeyer made the statement that these general education courses can also provide an opportunity to attract students to departments as double majors or minors that would not have been exposed to these departments under the current model. She also said that the assessments would provide an opportunity for departments to review their routine offerings to create a smoother experience for their majors.

Shannon Fiske, director of the writing program in the English department, took the floor.  She addressed the writing board portion of the proposal.  She stated that she believed that the writing board can function in a way to be a liaison between departments and the composition program and that it would be a way to increase the skills of composition into the courses across the curriculum.  She stated that she has many ideas for the way that a writing board can be very successful on our campus and is interested in discussing these ideas with anyone else who may be want to help in developing this. Dr. Lees announced that the writing board was discussed initially in a senate meeting during the fall 2011 semester, but it was never officially implemented.  

Wayne Glasker took the floor to discuss faculty workload and service. He believes that there is no mechanism in place to acknowledge service as it relates to the faculty workload. He believes that without incentive (in respect to workload) to participate in the service activities, it will be difficult to attract volunteers to the committees and subcommittees that will be necessary for the success of the proposed structure. Dean Lindenmeyer addressed this question.  She stated that there is a three pronged approach to being a successful faculty member:  scholarship, teaching, and service.  She stated that the dean’s office pays more attention to the idea of service when doing reviews for tenure and promotion, and that service is particularly important in a shared governance campus.  She stated that she also realized that people want incentives. So aside from the incentives in positive reviews, she stated that the dean’s office is working towards creating more incentives within the departments, starting with turning over the PTL budgets for chairs to distribute these funds as they see fit. She believes this will be a way for chairs to reward faculty members for being good citizens.

Dr. Lees interjected with a comment that he had planned to save for discussion at the end of the meeting.  He reminded the senators that it is necessary for faculty to step up and fill positions in light of Dean Lindenmeyer’s comments. There have been no nominees for the faculty senate president and very few nominations for senate offices and committees. He stressed the importance of participation in these positions for the continuance of effective shared governance.

Carol Singley raised two questions.  She was concerned because the learning center director was included on the general education committee, but the writing program director was not included.  She also asked for an update as a representative of the faculty council if there are other things that may need to be done across campus units for the success of the proposed model.  Dr. Charmé admits it was an omission that the writing program director was not included on the general education committee. The motion is made to include the writing program director and the suggestion is accepted as a friendly amendment.  Dean Lindenmeyer believes that the faculty council will be the place where information, such as changes to general education requirements be shared, and the faculty council would be the place in which these discussions take place. Prior to the formation of the faculty council, there was no place to bring these types of issues that would affect cross-campus units for discussion. 

Ira Roseman returned to the initial question regarding how the new set of competencies is better than the old set. Dr. Charmé stated that he believes that this model will be the direction of general education and has integrity than the old model. 

Robin Steven raised the question about advising.  Her department believes that advising is not currently handled well.  The advising task force is working towards streamlining the advising program, and hope to see a change in which departments become mentors, instead of advisors in the future.

Dean Lindenmeyer addressed the question of how to implement courses in departments that are already spread thin in offering the courses to their majors.  She stressed the importance of strategic thinking in what will be right for the department and reminded the senate that it would not be required to make all classes meet general education requirements.

Dr. Lees invited a motion to call to question.  The motion was made, and seconded to call the proposal to question.  The call to question was voted and not approved. Voice vote.  Discussion of the proposal will continue.

Meeting is adjourned at 1:25pm.

Present: A. Lees, L. Bernstein, S. Kotchoni, B. Saidel, A. Samokhvalov, R. Steven, D. Lun, J. Smith, C. Fitter, W. Fitzgerald, C. Singley, M. Amdur, C. Giaudrone, A. Belander, K. Esptein, J. Gerver, H. Jacobowitz, H. Li, M. Yates, G. Brannigan, M. Fortner, R. van der Wel, I. Roseman, M. Chevrier, C. Dell Clark, J. Mavelis,  W. Glasker

Absent:   A. Espiritu, L. Thomas, J. Still, J. Siegel, J. Hippolyte, K. Hohing