FACULTY SENATE MEETING
December 2, 2008
Present: Chair Martin, Secretary Kellner; Chair Elect Overton, Provost Nielsen, Parliamentarian Corbin; Senators Akroyd, Ambaras, Anson, Auerbach, Bernhard, Boone, Domingue, Edmisten, Fleisher, Franke, Genereux, Havner, Headen, Hemenway, Hergeth, Hudson, Khater, Kocurek, Kotek, Levy, Lindbo, Poindexter, Poling, Ristaino, Roberts, Ting, Williams
Excused: Senators Fahmy, Honeycutt, Lindsay, Muddiman, Murty, Scotford
Absent: Senators Carver, Tu
Visitors: Betsy Brown, Provost Office; Marcia Gumpertz, AVP, Faculty & Staff Diversity; Katie Perry, Senior Vice Provost; Karen Helm, Director, University Planning and Analysis; John Ambrose, Interim Dean, Undergraduate Academic Affairs; Kristine Alpi, Director, Veterinary Medicine Library; Ernie Murphrey, Associate VC for Finance Services; Barbara Carroll, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources; Kathy Lambert, Director, Employment, HR; Greg Kraus, Instructional Technologist, DELTA
1. Call to Order
Chair James D. Martin called the eighth meeting of the fifty-fifth session of the North Carolina State University Faculty Senate to order at 3:00 p.m.
2. Welcome and Announcements
Chair Martin welcomed Senators and guests.
The Senate supported and endorsed the student leaders’ statement on hate speech. The student leadership is pleased that the Faculty Senate endorsed their action.
Chair Martin reported that the majority of the Executive Committee meeting focused on the discussion about the response to the Phase II report on faculty recruitment and retention. There was a lot of discussion on that and there were also some concerns. He encouraged the Senators to read the report carefully and noted that there may need to be some further discussion. An area of particular concern is how to deal with the numbers of how many faculty we have and how many faculty we are going to need in the future. Chair Martin requested that questions or items of concern about the report be directed to a member of the Executive Committee.
Comments from the Chair of the Faculty
A question that we are going to think about today as we hear reports from the various committees is, where are we at the half way point in the fifty-fifth session of the Faculty Senate. Early on we had brainstorming sessions to think about what were important issues and what we would want to try to address as a Senate this year. We did a very effective job of brainstorming about issues of concerns. We noted a number of different things but what we never got to in our brainstorming session was, what are we going to do about it specifically, what are the specific action items that we wanted to address?
As I look back over some of the things we have done this year, I think we have addressed or begun to address and collect information on a lot of the issues that were raised in our brainstorming issues of concern. As I tried to group the themes, I came up with three major themes: one, being cross-campus communication, two being faculty support, and the third being campus growth and budget cuts. I think those have been the topics that we have spent most of our attention thinking about this year.
With respect to cross-campus communication, the brainstorming meeting talked about the need for enhanced faculty-administrative communication particularly looking at accountability in strategic planning and policies. Have we succeeded? This is never the kind of thing that you can check off and say everything is done. Communication is something that we always need to work on -- even things like this Phase II response, on faculty recruitment and retention, which is part of strategic planning. We need to continue to be engaged in that dialog.
We have repeatedly talked about the need to break down silos that reinforce the disparities between colleges and programs. Well, we don’t have a lot of authority to break down any particular silos, but I think in this organization we can at least have conversation across colleges, because this is one of the very few bodies on campus where we get people together from different colleges. We learn of each other’s culture and learn what good practices and problematic practices. So I think we, through this body can make some headway in that issue of breaking down silos, but there is still a lot that we need to work on in that regard. It still troubles me when a couple of times this semester I have had people say, “well is the Faculty Senate even representative of the faculty?” It is continually a challenge to make sure we have our active people involved in faculty governance, but we need to build that culture across-campus. That this is a body that to the best of its ability is representative across-campus and can be an active body to work at strategic planning and vision for what the university is and can be.
We talked about faculty support. We highlighted issues of recruitment, retention and retirement. We talked about needs for better benefits. We talked about personnel matters including evaluations, expectations, and resolutions of conflict. We talked about infrastructure and programmatic support. Those were things that we listed on things that the Faculty Senate should pay attention to. Again, I think we tried to begin work at documenting some of those issues in terms of recruitment and retention, benefits issues, and infrastructure issues. Again, we don’t have the authority to, all of a sudden, write the check and create infrastructure. But these are issues that are of great concern to all of us. I don’t think there is a specific check box to say that we are done, passing any one given resolution isn’t going to solve the problem; at the same time gathering the information, trying to document the information, trying to work harder on strategic planning, may be some of the best ways we can address these issues. So again in terms of faculty support, I can’t say that we have accomplished the big check mark, but I think we are continuing to work at these matters and need to continue to do so. We need to think about, whether there are specific initiatives that we need to push forward, or is it just the broad dialog we need to be involved in.
Campus Growth and Budget Cuts
We have had a lot of discussion about making sure that personnel (both faculty and staff) and physical infrastructure are coherent and coincident with any growth; but how do we do that in time of budget cuts?
We talked about the need for a new and renovated support in terms of facilities for both research and instruction. Again, we can’t create bonds, but we can help establish the basis for which legislative and other university request can be made.
We talked about strategic planning -- creating and growing programs versus cutting and eliminating programs; trying to protect the quality of programs from budget cuts and from unsustainable growth. I think we are embarked on the task of trying to address metrics and evaluation criteria for looking at the kind of strategic decisions that need to be made and that, I think, is going to be a lot of our work in the upcoming semester, so looking through the list of things that we have talked about I think we are addressing and talking about many of the various things that we said were important. The question continues on, what are the specifics that we want to be this year and the years to come. What are the specific things that we as faculty governance want to try to tackle and try to achieve? I hope we are going to hear some of the specifics in reports today both from Senate Committees as well as liaisons to the University Standing Committees. So where are we? We are half way through the term and there are plenty more work to do.
The Emerging Issues Forum will be February 9-10 and scholarships have been made available to members of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. However not all members of the Executive Committee can attend so a waiting list has been started on a first come first serve basis. Please contact the Senate office if you would like to be included on the waiting list.
The Annual Open House at the Chancellor’s Residence is Thursday, December 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The entire campus is welcome.
The next Millennium Seminar will be jointly hosted with the Harrelson Seminar. The speaker will be former President Bill Clinton coming on January 26 at 10:30 a.m. in Reynolds Coliseum.
The first Faculty Senate meeting of the new year will be January 13th.
3. Approval of the Minutes, Meeting No. 7, November 18, 2008
A motion passed to approve the minutes.
4. Remarks from Provost Nielsen
Provost Nielsen stated that a lot of the details about the Millennium Seminar are still being worked out. The event will be held in Reynolds Coliseum. The coliseum will be set up to house up to 6,000 people and it will be a ticketed event (tickets will be free). One thousand tickets will be offered to non-university people and there will be an off site location for them to park and ride the bus onto campus.
Provost Nielsen thanked those Senators who attended the football game on Saturday.
Provost Nielsen reported that NC State is still being asked to plan for a 5% one time budget cut this year. He requested a report from all the units on how they would take the cuts. In the last week Provost Nielsen, Vice Chancellor Leffler, and others have been met with these folks to review their thoughts.
Provost Nielsen stated that everyone with budget responsibilities at the university have been extraordinarily thoughtful, cooperative and collaborative in the way that they have addressed this issue. Nobody has enough money, but they all recognize that this is not something that we are doing to anybody. It is something that is happening across the country so it is a reality that we have to live with. Everyone has worked extraordinarily hard to not directly affect our students or cost jobs. There will be just a few job losses, probably in a couple of places on campus, but very few. Basically the only real place where we have had to cut seats significantly is in CHASS. It looks like we have had to reduce the available seats overall in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences by about one thousand. The priority in not cutting seats is to reserve the capability of majors in CHASS to move forward toward graduation in the General Education Requirements, to keep those available so that students at the front end aren’t held up in their graduation. I think Jeff Braden and department heads and the faculty of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences deserve a lot of credit. Our thanks for being thoughtful and generous in their approaches to this problem.
Beyond that we have a couple of meetings to go yet, with a couple of units, the College of Textiles and the Research Division.
The library will be reducing its purchases of monographs as we go through the remainder of the year and the combination of reducing the number of books and like materials that they buy, plus the processing time that they are able to save because they are not processing as many of these books, will be able to cover a large part of their cut. So we haven’t seen from anyone the “we are going to close the Washington Monument Strategy.” In the library they are going to have to not purchase a planned 16,000 books between now and the end of the year out of a total of about 50,000 that they would normally in a year.
Beyond that, the Colleges and executive functions and the Vice Provosts have handled these cuts by doing all the things that you have heard about. A major one is to delay hiring from some units, keeping positions open, generally reducing spending, professional travel is greatly reduced, and a number of events that we had planned have been canceled. As I promised to Jim, I will get a summary to get out to the campus community as soon as I can.
The second part is planning for the permanent cut that we know will come. We have asked the folks that we have been talking to, whether they have thought about what they might do in a permanent way next year, and most people have. Further, to suggest places in the university outside your own unit where you think there are things that might be eliminated.
We have been, with Karen Helm’s leadership, working on the approach that we would use for the coming seven months or so for how we would think about this process. We now know that General Administration is going to ask us for our plans well before June 30 and we are going to have to have two tracks on our planning; 1) a comprehensive, thoughtful planning that will go between now and the end of June and 2) another, more general, approach that we will have to use to make some overall university level suggestions to General Administration about what we are going to do.
We have been focusing on thinking about the planning process that we would use to get us down the road here and the first stage of that which we hope to have done by mid January is really the stage of doing two things: one is developing criteria that we feel are most important for us to use to make judgments about what we should do, and the second is to develop a list of candidate programs or activities at the university that we think should be put through these criteria to see how it comes out and whether it is something that should be reduced, eliminated, etc., or isn’t. This set of steps which we hope to get done by mid January is where we really need the help of the Faculty Senate, so we are planning to think a little bit among the executive team about what sort of reduction targets we should put in front of people and how we should do that -- publish some planning guidelines and process that we are working hard on. We also want to put up a website about how to get input so that where we are at any time would be available to the campus community but then we also want to involve several advisory groups in this process. One is the University Council, which is the governing organization on campus. The second is the University Budget Advisory Committee and we have a meeting next week to begin to do these things and look at the budget principles that we’ve had operational until now. The third is Faculty Senate and the fourth is Staff Senate and the fifth is a group of university budget officers that get together regularly and a subgroup of that called the University Financial Officers (UFO). We will be asking for their input because they are people who deal with budgets all the time.
In January we have a scheduled retreat of the University Council and we have expanded it to a six-hour time period. At that time we should have a lot of information put together and the advice that we have received up until to that point can be reviewed by the University Council and in terms of the criteria that we would use and some ideas for options that we might look at in terms of eliminations, reductions, etc., and then we would take that idea back to the campus community for its feedback. These ideas that we want to spend some time thinking about, we would get a small team of people to get some information about it and put it in a form that could be looked at to begin to form the basis of what we might do in a big way across the university.
Later in the spring we will start talking about how to deal with enrollment increase budgets and CITI, if that is available.
Senator Edmisten wanted to know if the Provost was referring to people when he mentioned 1000 seats being cut in CHASS.
Provost Nielsen responded that he was referring to 1000 less classroom hours.
Secretary Kellner commented, if you close a section and the students are able to sit in empty seats in another section, those seats have been cut, but other sections could be filled, so I think it won’t necessarily come out to 1000 hours that way.
Senator Ambaras wanted to know what percentage of the total is that.
Provost Nielsen responded two thirds of a percent.
Senator Khater stated that he thinks it is important to work together on cutting budgets but at the same time it seems to him that we are still proceeding ahead with the notion that we are going to be up to 40,000 students by 2012 and it seems that these are two policies that are pulling in separate directions.
Provost Nielsen stated that the whole question of enrollment and where we need to go has to be put on the table for discussion at this time. He plans to meet with some people this week to discuss how to talk about that because he feels it needs to be addressed. Is it realistic to try to increase to 40,000 in this environment?
The one difference that we have that other places tend not to have: enrollment growth comes with enrollment increase dollars. If we don’t grow, we are still going to get cut. I’m not sure that the marginal cost of an additional student is covered by the marginal increase in enrollment dollars that we get.
Senator Fleisher stated that if we did increase our enrollment we should get more money, but we can only get more money if that money exists. If the state is not bringing that money in they can’t give us more money for more students. It seems that we are in a catch twenty-two.
Provost Nielsen stated that there has only been one time since the development of the twelve-cell matrix enrollment increase formula when the state did not provide one hundred percent of what the formula said and that year they gave us, I think, eighty-five percent. The other interesting thing is that part of the budget cut we may anticipate next year is because, if they build in a salary increase, they have got to get that money from somewhere, so they increase the salary and cut our budgets.
Chair Martin asked is it not a little bit unrealistic to say that even this year we got full enrollment growth funding?
Provost Nielsen stated that they were talking at one point about giving us 50% of the enrollment growth funding and the cut so we did get the money but we have to give it back. If we had not received it we would have to give back something that we didn’t get.
Senator Ristaino: You said you were going to develop criteria for determining what programs were going to be cut and I’m wondering have you talked to the deans about where there is productivity and what departments might be merged rather than let them voluntarily decide.
Provost Nielsen stated that the Deans, Executive Officers, and Vice Provosts have all been forthcoming with ideas. I think they all recognize that we are in this together and we have to figure out a way to do it. We emphasized, as we have right from the beginning, that we don’t want this to be across the board at the university, across the board at a college, etc. We want to be thoughtful about what it is we are not going to do, and when I say programs or activities I don’t really mean academic programs per say. I think of programs of various kinds across the universities.
Senator Ambaras wanted to know if Athletics gives anything in terms of money to the university?
Provost Nielsen responded that they fund scholarships for about 630 students or athletes.
Senator Ambaras: But they don’t give money to any academic or other university program that is not connected to athletics.
Provost Nielsen said he doesn’t know the answer to that. He stated that we get a royalty for sales of university logo items.
Senator Ambaras: Would there be support for the administration to want to extend the possibility of tapping into athletics some way to help support the university programs?
Provost Nielsen stated that he thinks that is a very good idea.
WOLFWIKI (online word processor that everyone gets to edit)
Moodle (Comparable to Blackboard Vista)
Greg Kraus from DELTA gave a brief tutorial on what a WIKI is and how to use it.
Chair Martin stated that he has the Faculty Senate WIKI on Wolf WIKI and the senators can access them anytime. He has also created a moodle.
Chair Martin stated that the WIKI is a place where ideas can come out, that we don’t have to worry about it being in its final form. It’s a working place and the Faculty Senate is the only ones who have access to the Faculty Senate WIKI.
Greg Kraus stated that if anyone runs into problems while using the WIKI they could send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Policies for Consideration
REG05.55.8 Background Checks
The Resources and Environment Committee met with Barbara Carroll and made some suggestions about changes to the policy. The most significant change is 5.4 where there is some ambiguity about whether or not HR has veto power over decisions. That language needs to be clarified that that is not the case. HR indicates whether someone should be recommended for employment. The language was also added in 5.5 of the policy.
Senator Williams stated that one of the issues that the deans raised is there are school teachers often employed on campus for certain things which have already undergone a background check because they are teachers, so there is no reason for the university to repeat a process that has already occurred. That additional information will be added to the policy. Senator Williams moved that the background regulation be accepted with the changes that have been made.
The motion passed unanimously to accept the amended regulation.
Senator Hudson reported that the Evaluation of Teaching Committee wanted to change the UEI to Class Evaluation because that is the new name and also to eliminate the step of having the optional question approved by Deans and Department Heads. Last February the Academic Policy Committee made some recommendations to the Evaluation of Teaching Committee so as this was moving through they asked if those could be included as well. What was included from our recommendations was a definition of “peer.” We asked in 6.1.2 that online courses be included rather than just visit the classroom, and we wanted to separate out in Section 8, changing teacher evaluations to evaluation of teaching effectiveness and confidentiality, because those are separate issues. So all of those changes that were asked for were made.
One suggestion that the committee made that is probably of interest to the Faculty Senate and was not included was “consider addressing the percentage of response and whether it should affect how and if evaluations are used. Should there be a baseline cutoff?” That has been an issue that has been brought up a lot in the Senate. The reason it wasn’t included was because Karen is doing an amazing job analyzing all the data and she wants to do a very thorough job before we start making determinations about that. At this point we could maybe say 50% but I think she just want to a good job before we make any definite decisions. On that note we are making some progress so I would like to for several the committee members to give you some information about what’s going on.
Senator Hemenway –Karen is taking the information that we have and starting to draft guidelines that would help basically for anyone to determine the extent to which results can be interpreted relative to response rates. So in terms of how they are used down the line what would be useful in terms of your assessment of the values and that is a work in progress. She is going to present to the Evaluation Of Teaching Committee at the next meeting on December 12, they are going to start to discuss those guidelines and how that process might be finalized. I will report back to the Senate once we have more information and those are approved by Evaluation of Teaching Committee.
Some other issues that may come up might be some modifications to 8.3, to clarify it a little bit, there was going to be the insertion of a link to the question bank for the optional questions that will be put probably in 4.1.2 so it is a work in progress and we will certainly be reporting back as it goes forward.
Also I want to point out that once we all come up with the regulation that we are happy with, it will also be going forward to the Deans, Heads, and the Faculty, so it will be further vetted before anything is final.
Senator Hudson stated that they have asked a lot to be brought in at the beginning of the process. So rather than this being done and we are looking at it at the end, this is actually the beginning. I don’t think the Academic Policy Committee recommendations have even gone to the Evaluation of Teaching Committee yet.
Senator Genereux pointed out that he is not a member of the Evaluation of Teaching Committee, but they were discussing the regulation in the Academic Policy Committee, which is not trying to duplicate effort going on in the EOTC. We were just discussing this regulation and somehow we got into the discussion of response rate and that lead to some discussion of other ways to think about the validity of data instead of just focusing on identifying a cut off response rate below which data are considered not reliable. A better context for thinking about that is to just do what many of us would do with the data that we have in our research is think about confidence limits, think about for each question in class evaluation -- does that mean response and that mean has a standard error and that standard error can be used to make a confidence limit for a given confidence level, say 95% and that can then be relevant to comparing an individual course section results to a department mean results. We talked about the confidence intervals and using them for comparison and evaluation and knowing enough about this to be dangerous. I know there are a lot of expertises on campus that can be drawn on.
Senator Williams noted that his Department Head does that already. He knows about this because he is pretty statistically sophisticated and that is how he presents our results. He compares our results with confidence intervals and as long as you are in that range you are no different than anybody else. It eliminates these mean comparisons when your standard deviation is 1.6; a one tenth of a point difference in a mean is not very meaningful. Frank Buckless can talk to you about that because that is what he does in our department.
Chair Martin stated that his real question is do we want to incorporate something like that into a best practice guideline or write into the policy itself and that is something I think does need to be addressed.
Secretary Kellner wonders if a resolution is needed. Many of you will remember that a mere seven months ago the Senate passed a resolution on the evaluation of teaching, yet all of the discussion I have heard now have been an absolute direct violation of what this Senate discussed and approved in resolution number five from April 22, 2008, which was that it is up to the department voting faculty to establish before the evaluations of teaching are administered, a reasonable minimum response not with means, just what they have agreed to do. That is one point from this resolution. I assume that since we have people from the Senate on the Evaluation of Teaching Committee, that the regulation that the Faculty Senate discussed voted here -- first reading March 25, second reading April 22 -- was explicitly discussed and explicitly rejected. Otherwise, our effort would be irrelevant. Maybe we should talk about reconsidering what we explicitly discussed and explicitly passed as I recalled, overwhelmingly.
Chair Martin stated that in many respects the language from our old resolution is language that would be reasonable in a policy that says that a department needs to agree upon ahead of time.
Secretary Kellner stated that this would be a good opportunity to take the Senate resolution and revise the regulation to that effect.
Senator Ting stated that he doesn’t see the resolution passed in the spring in ways of contracting what we are talking about today because I see where things have changed. New information has come in between now and then. Then we did not have the updated information or research from UPA about the new round of response rates from summer. Secondly I recall at that time we had a more fair kind of policy. Do we want to step up as a body and take a look into this same policy?
Senator Hemenway to Secretary Kellner--Without knowing the actual policy statement, it seems to her there are two issues. There is the issue of what is coming up and what Karen is working on based on all the data they have accumulated, which is amazing, to come up with some guidelines hopefully in cooperating this confidential interval. These are guideline and as you said then the departments have to make a choice how they are going to use those guidelines. I don’t think the guidelines at this point in time are intended to be an absolute directive on how they are used by each department. I think another issue of discussion is, how are the results used, based on guidelines by the departments and different bodies for promotion and tenure. To me that is another discussion. In my opinion it would be nice to have some guidelines put forth based on the information and maybe bring those back and discuss it relative to that policy statement that you are talking about.
Secretary Kellner stated that the conflict is between centralized decision-making and between local decision -making about the use of evaluation of teaching. As Senator Ting pointed out, departments do have different cultures, and we do see things differently. Questions of delivering these sorts of things to any central guideline maker is something that is suspect and something I would prefer not to do. I think that departments that I know feel perfectly competent to make these decisions and that they are going to do that regardless. I think that even general guidelines will seem constricting to people, so that is why the points in the resolution decentralize certain sorts of things. We did not call for a rejection of the entire information gathering process but rather figuring out under what circumstance and how they would be used that that should remain with the units.
Chair Martin wanted to know if Secretary Kellner would like to have the wording included in the policy.
Secretary Kellner agreed.
Senator Hemenway stated that she is guessing that the purpose the Evaluation of Teaching Committee thought the guidelines were to serve came about because they have received comments from faculty in different departments where numbers are used in discrete ways without statistical confidence intervals and choices are made about teaching effectiveness and merit raise based on numbers that are coming from the teaching evaluation document that don’t benefit from some assessment from the teaching evaluation people about the significance or at least maybe confidence intervals -- what numbers mean from course to course and section to section because you are comparing people who teach different courses, and that sort of thing, so I think the intent was to have a guideline for looking at the numbers in a general way, not specifically for each department and how each person is reviewed but so that if you had to make a comparison over different courses you would be providing that information.
Chair Martin stated that he thinks that is consistent with the resolution but the guidelines need to be there to help make that decision but the department does have a resolution state needs to think about it ahead of time.
Senator Headen asked are there consequences in having something written as a guideline and choosing not to use it?
Secretary Kellner stated that he doesn’t know the meaning of the word guideline in this context and he doesn’t find it in the regulation. I know the meaning of the word regulation and that is what we have here.
Chair Martin stated that guidelines are recommended courses of action that there are multiple in the regulation, and you have to decide what it is you are going to do.
Senator Ting stated that we have received more reports from UPA and the Academic Policy Committee about the teaching evaluations. We have achieved close to the national rate ---other university response rates around 50 to 60 percent. Many universities who use online have somewhat similar percentages. We are getting there, becoming more consistent.
Teaching Evaluation is a standard committee that is not directly under the Faculty Senate; we have Academic Policy Committee. Many things are done already in the Teaching Evaluation Committee, then we were informed. We work parallel, but we may not be fully involved in the teaching evaluation process. This is the kind of document where we make comments on top of something that is already done. Sometime it is not as a fully engaged.
Senator Hemenway stated that she hopes it is clear to everyone it not an attempt to take control of the regulation or the guidelines. She thinks the discussion of the guidelines in the EOTC was that it is not a good idea to make that to be an absolute number to answer all the questions. Obviously you can’t do that and so rather than having absolute numbers -- if you don’t have 60% your data are meaningless -- it was the purpose of the guidelines to establish information for the faculty and departments for you to interpret what the numbers could mean within a general guideline, how are they significant to other courses on the campus.
Senator Anson—I’m wonder to where the research is going, particularly on the online evaluation because you can think of twenty questions about the difference between the applications and the evaluations -- in class and out of class. One of which, for example, would be to question and answer the assumption that response rates are beneficial. At what point do high response rates get damaged through obsessive nagging. At what point do students begin to resent the nagging when they go to the evaluations. The numbers are effective, but that is not something that we have researched. There are all kinds of things -- the fact that students often do their course evaluations all at once, what is the difference between taking time to do one at a time and meshing them together. What difference does it make not to be in the class? There are many variables.
Secretary Kellner stated that 8.3 doesn’t really make any sense to him. If students’ response rate for a class is below the minimum number, which is greater than or equal to “N” of responses to produce a usable report comparisons to other classes or sections must not be made. So if the student response is below that number now that number only has relevance back in 3.5 where you have courses that are greater than or less than four. This is an entirely different thing and I just don’t understand what it means, and I don’t understand what the term “usable report” is.
Senator Hemenway stated that this is one of the portions of the regulation that still has to undergo revision. The Academic Policy Committee picked up on this last week.
Senator Hudson said the committee had had two recommendations that are associated with their support of this, and one was to either delete 8.3 or explain the reasoning behind it.
Senator Havner commented that if the Student Evaluation Committee would recommend that we go back to in-class evaluations it would solve all of these problems.
Senator Auerbach stated that we could make it mandatory for the students to fill the evaluations out. The other thing is 18.104.22.168; I take it that is going to be written because the first sentence is way not too understandable. The second sentence “Optional questions raising any legal issues will be reviewed by the Office of Legal Affairs.” Who determines whether a question raises illegal issues?
Senator Hemenway responded that as far as she knows UPA will determine that.
Karen Helm, Director of UPA stated that if there is a question that would require a student to admit to breaking the law such as relating to harassment or something that was illegal, our experience in the past with other surveys has led us to conclude that we need to call the Office of Legal Affairs to protect the student. If the students tell us that they or the faculty member did something illegal, we don’t have any choice but to provide the information to the Office of Legal Affairs.
Chair Martin stated that part of his problem with a lot of policies is that we end up putting so much verbiage that we end up doing something that we don’t need to.
Secretary Kellner asked would it be problematic to ask a question anonymously like, did you cheat in any way in this course?
Helm stated that it is not anonymous. They can tell who answered what. They keep it confidential but they know who answered what. Legal Affairs has told them if they learn something illegal has happened that they are obliged to tell the Office of Legal Affairs.
Secretary Kellner—would cheating in class fit in that category?
Helm responded that she is not sure that is illegal. She doesn’t think it’s illegal.
Chair Martin stated that his sense is that the Senate is not ready to vote on the policy so he asked for suggestions on what to do with it.
A suggestion was made to post it on the WIKI for editing.
Senator Hudson stated that one thing to keep in mind is that we are being asked at the beginning of the process so this still has to go to the Evaluation of Teaching Committee to be addressed. My understanding is that we are making recommendations to the EOTC of what we want them to look at in revising the policy.
Chair Martin agreed and stated that we just need to make sure that we are clear on what it is that we are recommending.
Senator Hudson stated that one thing interesting about this discussion that she has not heard before is that since we first started talking about online evaluations all we have talked about is response rates and now it seems that some are saying that it really doesn’t matter, that we are not really concerned about response rates, which is a very different conversation that we have had in the past.
Chair Martin stated that when you get a 60% response rate on online surveys, you are doing great, so if we are going to have online, we are going to probably have fifty to sixty percent response rate. The only way to get it higher is if we don’t put it online. The bigger issue is what are we going to do with the evaluation of teaching.
Senator Hudson stated that they are trying to address the concerns that they are hearing about response rates.
Senator Hemenway stated that she thought they were going to try to vote on approving the changes that we discussed thus far and that was that the deans would not have to sign off on the extra questions that faculty want to ask and there were the other regulation change that was to change the name to class evaluation.
Chair Martin stated that that is always the question. Do we revise a policy partially or do we work to get it to a better stage, which is always a dilemma?
Secretary Kellner stated, having discussed the evaluation of teaching much of last year, both in the Senate and in the Executive Committee, and having that long discussion culminate into a resolution, it seems to me kind of idle for the Senate this year to be, as it were, addressing this regulation piecemeal as each incremental change occurs in its history. When we did the resolution last year, the decision was made not to address the technical question of increasing response or decreasing response, whichever you prefer, because that is a technical matter. Rather, we wanted to address the larger questions, the academic questions of how decisions are made and who makes them and, shall we say, to distance those decisions from the non-academic bureaucracy.
Chair Martin stated that some people wondered why UPA has to authorize questions, as opposed to department heads. I understand if UPA wants to check to make sure that it is not just something out of left field. Do we need a department authorization or can you as an individual do it? I think there may be some language there.
Helms said it was a total practical issue. If an instructor says, I want to have this question, and the department head says okay and the dean says no then we have to somehow arrange a conversation between the instructor and the head and the dean about adding a question to one section’s evaluation. We were having a hard time figuring out how to do this in a practical sense.
Chair Martin thinks this is realistically giving the responsibility back to the faculty member that says, if you have a question you want to ask, as long as it is methodologically sound it is a go, is that the intent?
Senator Hudson responded, yes.
Senator Kocureck to Secretary Kellner-- given the discussions that occurred last year, there are edits that you would have wanted to see in this document that are not there.
Secretary Kellner responded yes.
Senator Kocurek said he thinks those edits should be put in so that the Senate can review them in the context of the present document because what you are discussing in terms of philosophy and overarching strategic issues, I think it are important, but I have a hard time making those judgments unless I see everything together.
Secretary Kellner—it doesn’t really matter what I would like to see in the document per se but I would like to have a sense that the Senate’s resolution was taken into account by the committee, that they were aware that it existed because we spent a lot of time last year yelling and screaming about this. When all of that cooled off, we did a resolution having to do with how these things should be used. The heat of last year, whether this electronic system is going to be done or not, has cooled down. We have forgotten that, but our resolution was written at the moment that we accepted that that was going to happen. We weren’t happy about it, but we were left with this idea that no form of incentive should be used, that the department of voting faculty should determine whether, and so forth.
Chair Martin suggested that he put the document on the WIKI to give chance for anyone to add comments. He doesn’t sense that the regulation is ready for the Senate to vote on. He asked, what if we put it on the WIKI to give an opportunity as something for you to take back to the EOTC with a bit of the sense of the Senate, and to take with that a copy of last year’s resolution. The real intent is that we would like to see the intent of the resolution incorporated into the policy.
Senator Hudson stated that one other thing she planned to talk about is the progress that the Academic Policy Committee is making with the standing committees. They have made amazing progress with the EOTC this year partly due to the composition of the committee and partly due to the liaison. What we are trying to do is to develop a cooperative relationship with the standing committees so what we have been told is that it came forward and we want to make these basically non-substantive changes. We asked if we could include our recommendations that we made last February so Katie included them and we were excited. The ideal as far as I understand it is that this is going to go back and forth, that this is not intended to be the end of the discussion of the regulation but I think the EOTC wanted to get their changes through and they were willing to talk ours in during the process and then for us to continue the discussion and continue working on the regulation. If the Faculty Senate is not comfortable with that, that is fine but I would like to acknowledge that we have made a lot of progress working cooperatively with this committee.
Chair Martin stated that he doesn’t think the discussion here is saying anything other than that. What I think we can do is if we massage wording just a little we can potentially more effectively communicate back to the evaluation of teaching committee.
Senator Hemenway stated that if they can have the input by Tuesday, then Academic Policy Committee can review it and when they go to EOTC, then the discussion can happen there.
Senator Fleisher stated that based on last year’s discussion it would save time not to get too involved in discussing whether we should go back to having class evaluations since that is a dead issue. The evaluations are going to be done online. The idea is how to do it best online.
Senator Anson stated that he thinks if we are going to move toward the middle -- setting decisions about how numbers are used in departments -- that people need to be informed because it could work to the advantage of faculty or it could work against them, depending on what a department decides. What I would like to have is more data. I want a synthesis of research on the difference between written and online evaluations to show whether we have an understanding that the numbers tend to decrease a little or increase. We are working in this sort of research void when it comes to this question. The anecdotal evidence suggest that people are finding that their evaluations are going down a little bit as a result of going online and if that is the case then people are using old thresholds within departments to make decisions and that is going to be a problem for promotion and tenure: I would like to have a meta-analysis or a synthesis of research (online versus written). That tells us something about whether we can expect numbers to go down, or what numbers are the right numbers, what are the best thresholds. I think we all need that.
Senator Hemenway mentioned that Karen Helm has that data in a report and suggested that she shares the information with the Senate.
Senator Hudson stated that she accepts that she may have misunderstood what happened last year, but her understanding of the purpose of the resolution was that when we brought these recommendations forward we originally for 8.3 had evaluations could not be used below 60% then there was a discussion that that was just an arbitrary number. We didn’t know what a real number would be, so we asked that EOTC consider what response rates were appropriate and my understanding was that the resolution was written to say that department heads should make that determination before using the evaluations in promotion and tenure decisions. I thought that the main purpose of that resolution was to let us know that decisions about response rate needed to be made prior to promotion and tenure decisions.
Chair Martin stated that this is not a “right or wrong” issue. This is an idea and if that was going to happen it should be in a regulation. We can’t just have one conversation and expect that is going to last for five or ten years down the road so the whole idea that when we make this departmental decision, (how you are going to use it) could be appropriated into a regulation. If we are going to revise a policy, this is an opportunity to get the resolution information into the policy. Let’s look at it in that kind of constructive sense.
Secretary Kellner encouraged everyone to read the resolution. He stated that it is the departmental voting faculty that should establish the reasonable minimum response rate and if the response rate doesn’t meet the level, the evaluation should not be included in faculty dossiers or utilized for any purpose. That is what the resolution says. The faculty sets the number in advance and then, if it meets it, fine, and if it doesn’t, that’s it -- for any purpose.
Chair Martin stated that at the first meeting in January there would be more discussions about the budget. We will take some time in the first or second meeting in the spring to hear committee reports.
Chair Martin adjourned the meeting at 5 p.m.