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September 18, 2012

Present:  Chair Kellner, Chair Elect Zonderman, Secretary Sawyers, Parliamentarian Weiner, Provost Arden; Senators Aday, Borden, Bourham,  Bradley, Daley, Funkhouser,  Holden, Jasper, Knopp,  Knowles, Lubischer, Morgado, Nfah-Abbenyi, Rucker, Snyder, Sztajn, L. Williams, M. Williams, P. Williams

Excused:  Senators Argyropoulos, Aspnes, Hatcher, Lucia, Lunardi, Moore, Piedrafita,

Absent:  Senators Ade, Devetsikiotis, Fleisher, Freeman, Fuentes, Penrose, Spontak

Visitors:  Louis Hunt, Vice Provost/Registrar; Duane Larick,  Sr. Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives & Dean of the Graduate; Margery Overton, Past Chair of the Faculty; Emerson Barker, Student Government Senate President Pro Tempore; Richard Bernhard, Professor Emeritus, Industrial and System Engineering, Marielle Pocan, Assistant to the Provost for Internal Communications

1. Call to Order
Chair Kellner called the 3rd meeting of the 59th session to order at 3 p.m.

2. Remarks from the Chair
Chair Kellner commented on the “Pack Gives Back” campaign also knows as the State Employees Combined Campaign.  He encouraged everyone to look into what is happening in their respective colleges to make sure that we get the kind of participation that is possible. 

Chair Kellner reported that Chapel Hill General Faculty will be having an emergency meeting this afternoon with regards to Chancellor Thorpe’s resignation.  He noted that the faculty at NC State could not hold such a meeting on the same time frame.  Their rule states that special meetings of the General Faculty may be called by the Chancellor or in his or her absence by the  Chair of the Faculty. 

NC State’s rule states special meetings of the General Faculty may be called by the Chancellor,  by vote or petition of the General Faculty or by the Faculty Senate and that essentially points out that we could not hold a spare of the moment meeting like that under our rules.

Chair Kellner commented on the Board of Governors in regards to their Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. Chair Kellner shared a report that he received from Catherine Rigsby, Chair of the Faculty Assembly.  He stated that this Strategic Planning Advisory Committee has alarmed people, but it is part of a required five year review.  What makes it a little different from those in the past is that the Board of Governors has decided to do it over a fairly short time line.  They want something done by January, which will be prior to the new Governor and the new Legislature and they want it to be actionable right away.  There are two committees that have been set up. One is an advisory committee. It is on this committee that the Chair of the Faculty Assembly sits and she seems a little unsure of its function.  The second committee is the Strategic Directions Committee which is going to be composed of the Committee Chair, who is a member of the Board of Governors, four chancellors (Wilmington, Fayetteville State, NC State, and Charlotte) and six members of GA senior staff.  This committee will gather data and write the report, which is supposed to be data driven and their final recommendations could be immediately executable and sustainable.  This is to be a working plan on a concept document and it is not clear what the advisory committee will be doing here.

President Ross has detailed five strategic planning goals in a document entitled “UNC Our Time Our Future” and many of these are familiar and relate to things that have been discussed in the Faculty Assembly and elsewhere.  The one conclusion that Rigsby takes away from this is that this process will have less faculty input than did UNC Tomorrow five years ago.  On Friday, the new Chair of the Board of Governors will be speaking to the Faculty Assembly. 

Chair Kellner stated that in the News and Observer there was a letter regarding the University process called “Thinkers First, Workers Second.”  The author, who is a recent graduate from Chapel Hill noted how the university system seems to have a very narrow conception of its mission here, aiming entirely at things like economic development,  short term economic needs, and this sort of thing.  “I have never heard the language of economic development spoken so frequently, so heavily as here in North Carolina.”  He being Eric Johnson concludes “by all means trained doctors, teachers, engineers and researchers ponder the challenges of the green economy and keep a wary eye on whatever rising power threaten our commercial well being, but do not shy from proclaiming the broader idea that had defined this place for centuries.  Progress - social, political, scientific and yes economic - depends on an educated citizenry, not just a qualified work force.  If the public university cannot articulate for itself a greater role than that of an enormous Human Resources Department, then we are in for lean times, indeed.”

Chair Kellner announced that the General Faculty meeting will take place on October 16th  and we are open to suggestions.  The meeting will be the day before the Chancellor’s Forum, which was announced last week.  The notice of that will be going out soon.

3. Approval of the Minutes, Meeting No. 2, September 4, 2012
A motion passed to approve the minutes as edited.

4. Remarks from Provost Arden
Provost Arden commented on University rankings.

The Importance of Rankings
Provost Arden stated that rankings shape people’s perception of your institution.  They can be a tool for measuring progress in strategic direction. 

There are multiple rankings, and we love to rank things (particularly here in the US), but unfortunately each ranking has different audiences, different methodologies and results and if you hunt enough you can find something that you are top ten in somewhere. Not all universities participate and especially there is no agreement in higher education about what to measure and how to rank institutions.

The common data sources are IPEDS, the Common Data Set (CDS), and some internal institutional data.

IPEDS (Integrated Post Secondary Education System) – The system utilizes surveys conducted annually by the US Department’s Nation Center for Education Statistics and gathers info from every institution that participates in federal student financial aid programs.  It is one of the most important sources of data for ranking agencies and for those of us who are trying to compare ourselves to one another.  The way it works is that our University Office of Planning and Analysis collects all the data that IPEDS requests. It normally falls into seven categories (Institutional Characteristics, Institutional Prices, Enrollment, Student Financial Aid, Degrees and Certificates Conferred, Student Persistence and Success, Institutional Resources).   We send it up to General Administration and GA collects it from all the other campuses in the system and forwards it to the National Center. 

The CDS is a set of standards for definitions of data items.  It’s a collaborative effort among higher education providers/institutions and publishers.  Essentially it’s a standardization system, so IPEDS and the CDS are the two most important sets of data that goes into compiling objectives with respect to rankings. 

Provost Arden stated that he would focus on two rankings, which are arguably the most important, probably because they are the most widely read and they have very different objectives.  One is the US News and World Report and the other one is the Center for Measuring University Performance.

US News and World Report - It’s important to remember that this is aimed at high school students and their parents who are getting ready to enter college the following year.  It is really about undergraduate education, it’s not a ranking of the research strength of a given university.  It is to help perspective students find the right college.  The undergraduate edition comes out in the fall.  The 2013 edition is released Fall 2012.  It’s called the 2013 edition because it is targeting students who will be entering college in the fall of 2013.  The data that they are using is 2011 and occasionally 2010 data.  The 2013 graduate edition is released spring 2012. The most interesting thing to look at is the variables that go into defining the rankings and the weight given to each variable.  Of the fifteen variables, twelve are pulled from IPEDS and CDS data and the other ones are surveys that US News and World Report conduct.   

If you look at peer assessment, this is exclusively surveys filled out by the Presidents/Chancellors and Provosts of the institutions that are included in the survey.  Peer assessments account for 15%. 

Provost Arden reported that high school counselor assessment accounts for 7.5 percent.  Freshmen retention accounts for 4 percent, graduation rate performance accounts for 7.5 percent.

He explained that graduation rate performance is a calculation of predicted graduation rate based on the attributes of the class that was admitted six years earlier.   When I say predicted graduation rate performance, what that means is the differences between actual graduation rate and the predicted graduation rate, so if you exceed the prediction you get positive points and if you are lower than predicted you get negative points.   Six-year graduation rate refers to first time full time freshmen that entered and we look at the graduation rate of those individuals.  We do not get any credit for those who transfer to or graduate from another university. 

Provost Arden reported that among all universities, NC State ranks 106th and among public we rank 51st, so among our official peers we are third from the bottom.  We are definitely better than a couple of years ago, but certainly not consistently going in the right direction.  Quite frankly I don’t expect those numbers to change for a couple of years.  All the things that we are doing now and have been doing for the last two years in terms of our strategic plan, student realignment, and our student success, that data was not transmittable for two, three, or four years, so you may not see a change in the rankings until about that time.

Essentially if you look at universities that are ranked above us we are at least equal to or better  than a lot of those in many of our variables.  Peer assessments are about the same, high school counselor is about the same, we are better in all of those in freshmen retention. We are better than all of those schools in six-year graduation rates. 

Provost Arden stated that the percent of classes under 20 students is  worrisome and what really worries me is that up until last year that was 30% for us, which would have put us in the range of those other schools.  That has gone down to 21 percent.  The administration is working hard to figure out why.  Chapel Hill also fell off in the classes under twenty, but they only fell about 4 percent and NC State fell off by 9 percent, so I’m worried about the accuracy of those numbers

Student Faculty Ratio - We are at 18 to 1 and we have some institutions that are rated similarly and some that are a little worse. 

Provost Arden stated that there is some good news from the US News and World Report that was released last week.   The one that I’m happiest about is the ranking for “up and coming” schools.  These are schools ranked by Presidents and Provosts across the country.   We rank in the top 20 in “up and coming” schools and 10th among all public national universities. 

Best Value Schools:  NC State is 40th among all national universities; 5th among public national universities in the ratio between quality and cost.

Payback Picture:  NC State is 18th on the list for students graduating with the least debt.

Programs to look for:  Writing in the Disciplines. Our undergraduate engineering program was ranked 30th among all national universities and 16th among public national universities, so there is a lot for us to be proud about.

Provost Arden explained the US News graduate rankings were released in the spring. He reported that most of the rankings in engineering are about the same, but a couple of areas have made very significant gains.

As we look at other programs across the university, we can see that we have gone down a little in some rankings but it remains pretty steady.  The graduate rankings are much more subjective and I think they are worth looking at.  People definitely look at them in determining where they are going to go for graduate school. 

The Center for Measuring University Performance began some years ago to improve the performance of American research universities.  This is a very research performance oriented ranking of institutions with more than $20 million in annual federal research expenditures.   The annual report is published as the top American research universities and the 2011 report was published Fall 2012.

Provost Arden stated that the US News and World Report is the 2013 report that is published in the Fall of 2012.  The Center for Measuring University Performance 2011 report is published in Fall of 2012.

Provost Arden reported that the Center’s ranking is different. They don’t look at 15 variables but rather 9 variables that they pull from NSF data.  This is a much more research oriented ranking.  This is looking at how we are doing as a research institution and they weight each of these nine variables equally.   Our ranking among public universities is 31 and our rank among all private and public universities is 56.  One way that the Center For Measuring University Performance summarizes this is that it looks at the number of variables that you have in the top 25 and the next 25.  Among public universities, we have gone from five measures in the top 25 to one in the top 25 and within the top fifty we have gone from two to seven.

Provost Arden stated that we are doing pretty well in terms of federal research dollars.  We actually do better on total research expenditures.  We do very well in private and corporate funded research at this institution.  Endowment assets are increasing.   However, I think that when we look at our rankings with the Center there are some trends there that are concerning.  The Chancellor and I have talked about the fact that we haven’t significantly grown our tenure/tenure track faculty in fifteen years.  You can’t expect these variables to significantly improve if you are not growing your tenure/tenure-track faculty and putting processes and resources in place to enable them to be more successful.

Provost Arden explained what NC State would have to do to break into the top 25 of all institutions.  He stated that we would have to improve our annual research expenditures by $183 million. We would have to improve our federal research by $174 million.  He also named a number of other goals that would have to be reached.   What we want to see is continued positive movement of some of the key variables and my prediction is that many of these will not really begin to move very much for at least two if not three, four or five years.   With respect to our peers we are fourth from the bottom.

Provost Arden stated that other rankings you might want to hear about are Kiplinger Magazine, Princeton Review, Wall Street Journal, QS World University Rankings, National Science Foundation, NRC Doctoral Program Assessment.

Provost Arden stated that as far as he is concerned you don’t manage the rankings. I think that is the wrong thing to do.  Some institutions become so obsessed with the rankings.  I think at the end of the day if you do the right thing to retain and graduate our students, if you do the things that are the right things to do, I think that will pay off down the line in terms of the variables that are important and that there will be a payoff in the rankings.  

Provost Arden state that he thinks we are on the right track with respect to the investments that we are making, but it’s going to take two or three years until we see those variables move and until we see the major payoff in the rankings.

Questions and Comments
Senator Knopp asked the Provost which classes are included in determining classes with fewer than 20 students and specifically if labs are included?  

Provost Arden stated that if you have one major elective class and then smaller lab classes to go along with it, we are not counting those smaller lab classes, but I can tell you point blank that other institutions do.  I think other institutions are counting things differently and we need to look at what we are doing and what we feel comfortable with and we are on the very conservative side right now.

Duane Larick also noted that the University is looking at classes that have 21 or 22 students to see if we can reduce those to 20 students.

5.  Discussion with Louis Hunt, Vice Provost/University Registrar
Vice Provost Hunt compared data from 2007 and 2012. The 2007 class was the largest class in our history.  In 2007 we had approximately 16,400 applications and now we are at 20,300.  We were at 60% admits in 2007 and now we are down to 49 percent.  There are very few schools that are below 50% admission rate.  In 2007 we enrolled 4,791 freshmen students and this year we are down to 4,228 and that is by design. 

The SAT in 2007 was 1171 and this year it is 1219, and it went up 28 points this year alone.  In 2007 we had 34.4% of new students in the top 10% of the high school class and this year we have 51.2 percent. 

High school GPAs continue to rise and are at 4.37 this year.  Out of state and international students are something that we have been pushing.  In 2007 about 8.6 percent of the incoming class was out-of-state or international and this year we are at about 16 percent. 

The out-of-state and international students are going to be full-paying students, which allows us to leverage institutional resources and to allocate the aid we have available here more generously among the North Carolinian students. 

Vice Provost Hunt reported that in just two years our international applications have almost doubled to about 1400 applications from a wide variety of countries.  We have enrolled about 120 international students this year.  The demographics of that group:  56% Engineering, 22% Management, 8% PAMS, every other college is represented with the exception of the College of Natural Resources.

We obviously have a lot of Chinese students with 65% of those newly admitted international students being Chinese, 12% are Indian, we really have a wide variety and moving forward we really want to make sure that it is  a diverse group.

We have been trying to avoid some pitfalls.  There is a lot of fraud, a lot of Chinese Institutions and agents and all types of things, so we have been using a variety of methods to hopefully avoid that type of problem.  One thing that we have done is in the Office of International Affairs we have developed an Intensive English Program.  This is one way we could offer additional admissions to students that are highly qualified  academically, but need English preparation before they would be ready to study in the classroom. That has been successful and it gives us a full array of tools to better serve an international student.  We are also going to work pretty closely across the university.  CHASS has been very involved with trying to develop an AEP (Academic English Program) that would actually bridge students from the Intensive English Program to the  classroom environment as matriculated students. 

The other issue that we have mentioned is transfer students and how do they figure into this model.  In the 2020 enrollment plan we plan to grow transfer students and we don’t plan to grow freshmen numbers very much.  For starters, we know a lot about our freshmen, we know that the new retention rate is 92% and we know what the six-year graduation rates are.  We don’t know much about our transfer students.  Our transfer population is a diverse group; wider age range, wider academic background, etc., so we are trying to understand that better.  If a student completes an Associate degree in a Community College, by the time they get to NC State they don’t have anything but really hard major courses, which can make for a very tough transition to the university.  I think our processes for admitting transfer students are not especially fine tuned to promote success, so we spent the summer looking at this, looking at different models and we are trying to continue that dialog.  In my mind I think we might want to have students transfer earlier, after one year instead of two so that they will have an easier transition. That is where we are and I’m pretty optimistic.    

Questions and Comments
Senator Morgado stated that there seems to be a lot of concern about getting international students up to speed.  She wants to know if there is anything in place for African Americans/minorities?

Hunt stated that we are at the end of an educational pipeline, K-12 and higher education opportunities are not equal for all students.  The equivalent K-12 educational opportunities for internationals are quite good for the ones that are able to come to the United States to study.  There are programs in place for African American students but they are usually college specific.  It’s usually African American coordinators or minority coordinators within the colleges that direct those efforts.  The good news is if you had to say where is the fastest rise in student success, it has been in under-represented students If you look at the minority/majority gap within graduation rates, that has been closing fairly rapidly over the last ten years, but if its still there it’s there for a variety of reasons.  It can be academic preparation, financial resources available to the student, or other factors.

Senator Snyder stated that he represented NC State in recruiting students on the Outer Banks and noted that a number of them were intelligent but not very well prepared for college.

Hunt stated that they have done their third year of what is referred to as “Summer Start” where  they are bringing in a variety of students to get acclimated.  There is an alarming number of schools where of all the students that graduate and go on into the UNC system the average grade in their first science class is roughly a C- and the number of schools like that is shocking, so the ideas will be to get them up to speed in the summer and keep them on track and move them through and I think we have had some success.

Chair Kellner asked, do we attribute the rise in quality of the first year student to the control of the number?  If that’s the case it would seem that increasing the number of graduate students would lead to the reverse.  Is there any evidence of that or is that not a relevant thought?

Vice Provost Larick stated that our admit to apply ratio for graduate students is much lower.  It’s a little different situation because we have a lot more applicants than we are admitting in order to hit our enrollment target.  There is a difference in quality of graduate students that apply to graduate programs.

Chair Kellner – Is it your impression that the best value ranking is a factor in raising the interest in this university? 

Hunt stated that low in-state tuition is certainly an incentive, but there are profile issues and one of the metrics that I have been keen on is the interquartile range of our SAT, that lower number, the 25th percentile is too low.  I think if our profile improves, our ability to attract and retain better students will also improve.  

Chair Kellner – In your opinion, what are the best arguments for recruiting students from out of state?

Hunt stated that the best thing now to sell students on this institution is to get them to the property.   I think it’s the academic rigor and the facilities.

Senator Jasper – From an engineering perspective, what is the effect of admitting students under the CODA system that have not had the opportunities and are not as prepared —what is the long term effect of that? 

Hunt stated that Engineering has changed their matriculation process, everyone comes in as a first- year engineering student.  They have to take the core courses and then they have to compete to get into their majors.

Senator Daley wants to know how students go about transferring out of engineering and how the overall problem of transfers is being handled.

Hunt stated that they have developed a system that is in production now. 

Senator Zonderman – Who is the person or committee that has the institutional (University) Perspective in mind rather than a College of Departmental view?.

6. Discussion Questions for Tom Miller
1)  The MOOC ( Massive Open Online Course)

2)  Financing  - Now that the distance education premium has been eliminated for undergraduates, what is going to replace that money for the previous recipients?

3)  Are there any plans to change the funding going back to departments?

4)  How is class size being counted for people signing up for the DE classes?

5)  What is the history of DE course offerings at NC State over the last 5 to 10 years? How has the number of classes offered, percent of students taking DE courses etc. changed over that time period?  

6)  Should we consider a cap on the number of hours credit a student can receive by taking DE courses?

7. Issues of Concern
Senator Knopp is concerned about the membership of important university committees and the distribution of academic versus non academic members on these committees. 

8. Adjournment
A motion passed to adjourn the meeting at 4:52  p.m.

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