NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
Minutes of the Faculty Senate
October 24, 2006
Present: Secretary Bruck, Chair-Elect Martin, Parliamentarian Corbin; Senators Akroyd, Banks-Lee, Blair, Branoff, Culbreth, Dawes, Evans, Fauntleroy, Fleisher, Genzer, Gustke, Hanley-Bowdoin, Heitmann, Hudson, Kellner, Khosla, Kinsella, Jones, Moore, Ozturk, Raymond, Schultheis, Scotford, Smith, Williams, Yencho
Excused: Chair Allen; Provost Nielsen; Senators Anson, Lindbo, Muddiman, Murty, Overton, Robarge, Shamey
Absent: Senators Mulvey, Wessels
Visitors: James Oblinger, Chancellor; PJ Teal, Secretary of the University; Marcia, Gumpertz; Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty & Staff Diversity; Katie Perry, Senior Vice Provost; Debbie Griffith, Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs; Jason Simon, Director of Marketing; Barbara Carroll, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources; Chip Futrell, Director, Continuing & Professional Education; Lee Fowler, Athletic Director
1. Call to Order
Chair-elect James D. Martin called the fifth meeting of the fifty-third session of the North Carolina State University Faculty Senate to order at 3:00 p.m.
2. Welcome and Announcements from the Chair
Chair-elect Martin welcomed Senators and guests.
Chair Elect Martin announced that on November 30 the second annual of the university budget meetings would be held at 3 p.m. in room 124 Dabney Hall.
Last week the Faculty Senate passed a resolution after much discussion about the graduate student support plan. Today at the University Council Meeting Dean Terri Lomax clearly heard what we had to say and is beginning the process of creating the process to evaluate our graduate programs specifically the graduate student support plan but a comprehensive review of graduate education.
The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate had a discussion on trying to make the General Faculty meeting a more useful meeting. They have decided and Provost Nielsen is going to be working with them on making the Spring Faculty meeting a little more useful by having a forum on graduate education to deal with items like the graduate student support plan and other aspects of graduate education. Anyone with ideas on making that a useful forum and people to include in that forum should contact Chair Allen or a member of the Executive Committee.
Comments from Chair-elect Martin
A research university by its very definition is inefficient. I was up late last night well because my NSF grant is due the beginning of November and you need those blocks of time and that final push to read through and make sure there are not fatal flaws and when you are running from committee meeting to committee meeting and are dealing with students and your kids, there is only one time where you have six or eight hour blocks of time to really dove into things and those times are after dinner and before you gas out for the night so that is why I was up until 1:30 a.m.
Research can be very tiring and very frustrating but it is very rewarding. It can be rewarding with that discovery and since that is what drives up we put up with these inconveniences because of that reward and that passion.
Teaching…I had to wake up early this morning to teach 8:30 classes. I do generally enjoy teaching except for the fact that we hear a lot in teaching about the problems of talking heads standing in front of classrooms and yes I am talking and yes I have a head and yes I am in front of the classroom but I tend to be fairly animated in the classroom. What I have a problem with is not the talking heads but the starring heads on the other side.
I really love teaching the kids who want to learn but unfortunately we all have some that sit and stare. We have to address that but that is not why I teach. I teach for those who want to learn and today I had the great pleasure of having a student come by during office hours who finally clicked understanding group theory and it make sense. You know when you see that light bulb go on that is exciting. That is why I teach.
I also have the great privilege of working with a new undergraduate who is joining my research project. There is plenty of reward there but faculty governance, where is the reward there? Service? After teaching I had to run up to the Alumni Building because we had the Universal Council meeting today. A few of us were at the General Faculty meeting, more administrators than faculty there so why is it exactly we get involved in faculty governance? Don’t we all have better things to do with our time? Wouldn’t it be more efficient if I would spend all my time working on research? I would be a more efficient researcher if I did that. Wouldn’t I be more efficient if I spent all my time teaching? I would be a more efficient teacher if I did that. Wouldn’t I be a more efficient administrator if all I did were administrate? Yes, I don’t have time and yes it is not efficient to try to do all these things of research, teaching, and service. There are very things that we define as the roles of a faculty member at a research extensive university so why is it we do this? Why do we do the inefficient instead of focusing? Well we do the inefficient because it is not about doing things efficiently; it is about doing things that can’t be done any other way. We have this crazy idea at a research extensive university that we want to integrate teaching and research. It is not an efficient way to do either but it does things you can’t do if all you do is teach or if all you do is research. If it were efficient I suspect all the companies out in the park would have their education program going right along side their R&D program. No it’s not efficient so why do we do that? Because we do something that we can’t do any other way. We get a different kind of education at a research extensive university than we do anywhere else. Likewise, bringing students into the research projects, bring education into research. Yeah bring some naïve student in but that is exactly the point. Naïve often brings creativity and ideas so we enrich our research, our teaching, and enrich our teaching with our research. It is not efficient but creative and I think that is why so many companies want to partner with us to get that creative edge not the efficiency edge. Well similarly with administration, faculty, staff, and student governance isn’t efficient, policies Katie would love to get through and not have to deal with sometimes the process of faculty and staff governance. It is not efficient so why then do we do it? Well it sort of reminds me of this thing we heard about as governance of, for, and by the people. We call it democracy. Democracy is probably the least efficient form of governance that you could ever hope to find. Why do we do it? Because it does things that no other governance can do and it is very core here.
Participation in university governance requires that we bring practitioners from the laboratory, from the classroom and from the boardroom or the conference room together to bring out the best and most creative ideas to insure the best governance of the university, not the most efficient. Do we have better things to do with our time than be involved in faculty governance? Well sometimes the answer needs to be yes but sometimes I hope the answer is no and it obviously is for all of us because we decided to commit a portion of our time to faculty governance. It is important. It is worth our time. It allows us to do things that can’t otherwise be done so I began this welcome for today’s session of the Senate by thanking each of you for your participation in this inefficient business of a research extensive university and the inefficient business of faculty governance. Thanks to all the Senators and thanks to all the administrators who also put up with the headaches to do something we can’t otherwise do.
3. Approval of the Minutes Meeting No. 4, October 10, 2006
The motion passed unanimously to approve the minutes.
4. Remarks from Chancellor Oblinger
The Provost sends his greetings. He should have touched down yesterday in China and I appreciate the attention that you have given to the China announcement. We received a significant amount of media attention about what we are planning to do with China in an exchange program. Dwayne Larick from the Graduate School along with Bailian Li of International Progams and Provost Nielsen are in China signing six memoranda of understanding that I think will be a real asset to this university and will be very much a two way street for our faculty and our students and will benefit us in a variety of ways.
I thought I would give you a very brief update on the last Board of Governors meeting.
Namely the tuition policy has been approved and I have not seen it published yet. I want to give you the parameters that are outlined in the new tuition policy that governs the University of North Carolina System.
It is a combined tuition and fee rate for resident undergraduates and non resident undergraduates and graduate students but the particular policy itself governs only a couple of parameters relative to undergraduate tuition; did not get into professional tuition or graduate tuition and I can give you some insight into what our task force for tuition has recommended to me.
The combined tuition and fee rates for resident undergraduates shall remain in the bottom quarter of our peer campus group. For us we have sixteen other campus peers for a total of seventeen. If nothing changed as a result of this policy we would still rank sixteenth out of seventeenth so we satisfied that criteria.
Combined rates for non-resident undergraduate students should remain below the top quarter in that same pool. This is being based on the different peer groups campus to campus in our system as opposed to one number applies to all.
The maximum annual increase for campus initiated tuition and general fees (athletics, health services, student activities, education and technology) for undergraduate resident students would be a cap of 6.5%…this is meant to be predictable over a period of four years.
Fees are required for debt service like the retirement of debt bonds outside of that 6.5% maximum. Twenty five percent of the revenues from the tuition shall go to ranked faculty salaries, which is specified in the policy.
Also specified at least 25% of the new tuition revenues shall be added to the campus pool for need based financial aid. Historically this university has put ranging between 48 and 52% of campus initiated tuition increases into need based financial aid.
The remaining revenues can go into academic excellence broadly defined as improved library services, counseling services, reduction in class size, increases in sections, enhancements of student services and the like, things that this campus has historically done with that difference. Then for any year that the general assembly provides a specific campus with an increase greater than 6% for every dimension greater than 6% that would be deducted from the 6.5% cap.
The tuition task force recommended that 54% of our campus initiated tuition increase would go into need based financial aid (undergraduate students; graduate student support plan; professional DVM Program), twenty five percent would go into salaries for faculty and the remaining 21% would fall under the categories of academic excellence support.
The fees were a 6.5% as well which would allow us to increase our fees across the spectrum of seven or eight categories by potentially $65.40; recommendations that came to me are for less than that and remember debt service fees for like Carmichael Gymnasium, Thompson Theater, etc., those debt service retirement fees are beyond the 6.5% cap.
The only two things that Mr. Bowles discussed with the Board in terms of the President’s report dealt with his aspirational goals for the next session beyond individual items for the campuses or programmatic items for the system and they dealt with need based financial aid. He had that listed as his first priority at a total of $38M. Last year was the first time in many years that the General Assembly put recurring dollars into the need based financial aid pool. He has requested thirty eight million dollars in continuing dollars to support need based financial aid.
President Bowles has also talked about bringing faculty salaries to the eightieth percentile of the peer group. He is asking the General Assembly for $44M to bring the entire ranked faculty across all of the campuses into the eightieth percentile range of salary as it relates to their peer group.
Mr. Bowles is also saying that when campuses choose to add to tuition that at least 25% of that needs to go into faculty salaries to help attain that eightieth percentile goal. He also reflected quite candidly that last year two campuses chose not to put a single dime in the need based financial aid. He said that would never happen again.
Tomorrow, Jim Zuiches, Vice Chancellor for Extension, Engagement and Economic Development will be making a presentation to the Coffman Foundation. The system has been invited to participate in a competition for some $10M in funding that would infuse the entrepreneurial spirit, the innovation spirit in both undergraduate and graduate education. Many of you in what you do and in the spirit of what Chair-elect Martin talked about in his comments speak to that dimension that we are uniquely positioned. If you take the teaching and learning dimension that Dr. Martin was talking about and add to that the research responsibility in a research extensive university like NC State and you couple that with extension, engagement, and economic development history and tradition of NC State University you can see that we have a powerful package. The President is fully supportive. We just have to see how our entrepreneurial proposal being led by Dean Blanton Godfrey and that team portrays the proposal to the Coffman Foundation.
This year the Emerging Issues Forum is going to focus on higher education. Much of this program will deal with the commission report on the Commission on the Future of Higher Education AKA the Spellings Report. We had a breakfast October 11 that I hosted with approximately 100 opinion influencers in the state and on that program was Governor Hunt, Erskin Bowles and Charles Miller who was the Chair of the Spellings Report. He was the chair of the commission and he spoke in three conceptual areas. He spoke about accountability in higher education, accessibility and very specifically thanks to the help of Governor Hunt the report also addresses the streamlining need based financial aid process. Those topics are going to be featured along with many others that I think are going to be directly impactful to what NC State has done and is doing and will do in the future.
Mary Switzer competed for and won a Packard Fellowship in science and engineering from the Packard Foundation. She was one of twenty selected out of 100 nominees; $625,000 over the next five years. A true accomplishment for her, very good for us.
We have four new deans that have hit the ground running which is going to be very good for us and for the university.
I saw several of you in the audience last week at the fiftieth anniversary of having African-American students here, 1956 five undergraduates, and 1953 two graduate students. That is part of a year-long celebration of events that I commend to you if you have the time to participate. I think you will find a variety of activities planned, all very supportive and all very important to this institution.
Last Wednesday, I met Ed Mitchell who was one of twelve astronauts that walked on the moon. He was here to honor one of our students with an astronaut scholarship award, $10,000 to Ryan Fields, a senior in electrical engineering and physics, a very talented student. He is a very delightful person to be around.
A senior in Business Management received a silver congressional award for community service for a variety of leadership roles he has played since he was in high school and he has continued here. He is going to graduate in May and plans to compete for a gold award which is 400 hours of community service and Senator Richard Burr will present that award to him this Friday on this campus.
We broke ground for the new mathematics and statistics building on Friday, October 13, 2006 in a parking lot known as Riddick Stadium. If you combine the accomplishments of our mathematics and statistics department as it relates to research and development expenditures we are fourth in the country and depending on how much importance you attach with federally supported research and development expenditures sixth in the country ahead of Stanford, MIT, and all Ivies.
I reported to you about the Africana Studies Major in Humanities and Social Sciences as they seek to broaden that portfolio in their overall contribution to the excellence of NC State. Tonight they will celebrate that major by listening to a lecture by Dr. James Stewart, Vice Provost for Education Equity and Director of the Black Studies Program at Penn State University.
Finally, I would ask that you get out and vote in November.
Does the term ranked professors eliminate Lecturers, Teaching Assistant Professor, and Teaching Associate Professors?
Chancellor Oblinger responded, yes, that is his understanding right now.
How do we currently rank? If we are going to the eightieth percentile, where are we now?
Chancellor Oblinger responded about the thirtieth.
On the Coffman Proposal how is entrepreneurialship being understood?
Chancellor Oblinger stated that it is about 80% academic. When they started to pull the proposal together it was very impressive how much of this type of activity takes place on the campus in little pockets. Twenty percent of it is going to be outreach and engagement extension type activity or working with business and industry, which we have done. It is about 80% academic infused with the undergraduate/graduate level leveraging what we already have in place and developing more in a wide spectrum and it is 20% as it relates to looking out and having others look in at us and work with us. The surprise to this group was that we had as much as we did but it was knit together academically in terms of a neat package and they have brought that altogether to where we can share with one another and capitalize on those strengths.
Will the students currently receiving tuition waivers receive larger grants to cover their tuition once the tuition has been increased?
Chancellor Oblinger stated that it depends on where they fall in the qualifying scale.
Chancellor Oblinger stated that this institution has had a very strong commitment to need based financial aid but has also done a lot to raise merit based financial aid. The sensitivity that NC State has had he doesn’t know of another institution that has taken campus initiated tuition increases and put the percentage into need based financial aid as we do because of the need base of our students compared to others. “If we didn’t believe in that transferal I think that we would not have spent that kind of money through the years. I don’t think we would have introduced the Pack Promise to help very low-income students attain a college education. I know exactly what you are saying but I think it is part of the institution that we continue to do that.”
Speaking of entrepreneurial activity there is a ranking. They talk about our College of Management as they relate to entrepreneurial activity and that kind of activity linked to the disciplines in design and the disciplines in engineering and what a facilitating role that type of a program has played for students across all three colleges.
5. Web Design
Debbie Griffith, Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs remarked on the rebuild of the NC State website.
The Web Advisory Committee is composed of approximately thirty faculty, staff, students, administrators and alumni who are all coming together to help rebuild the site. It is important because our website gets about 2.5 million hits every month on the homepage. Freshmen have grown up on the Internet so it is very important that we communicate with them through this mechanism. Ninety percent of admissions are now received on line and we have found through a survey that about 65% of all people who give to the university first visit the website before they decide to contribute.
A university wide committee has been appointed by the Chancellor to oversee the core website. That project will include rebuilding the homepage as well as the creation of new content level pages. These pages will be a great addition to our ability to tell NC State’s story from a number of different viewpoints. It will also not involve the redesigning of college or department websites. The ideal is to create some templates that you can adopt if you would like to, some webs standards to help make your web pages a little more consistent with the core web pages.
We have contracted with ripple effects interactive which is a very well known interactive marketing agency and they are ranked in the top twenty five in the nation and they have a great deal of experience in higher education with other websites.
Process To date
We did a survey early on to get some reactions about some pros and cons of our current site. Approximately eighteen hundred people responded to the survey. We have had many meetings with our web committee. Tomorrow we will be looking at what we hope are the three final designs. We hope to narrow them down to two that we will be posting on our blog, which is connected to the homepage.
Preliminary concepts have been reviewed with the web committee and our PR group. We have tested some of these designs with faculty staff alumni current students because we needed input from various audiences.
We want the web site and the homepage to embody the NC State brand. We want you to get a sense of who we are as a university. We want to create a simplified structure and a good user centric navigation so that people can get the information they want and understand how to get there.
Enhanced Visual Design
We need some variety, some engaging content to tell more about the university than just the bell tower.
We want to also focus on prospective students. That is a very important audience especially in a website design. We also want to create a sense of community and collaboration across the community and how we all work together.
The time line we are on here is beta site testing in the spring and then a public launch some time in the spring if everything goes well.
We also have issued an RFP and have contracted with a content management system. The core site would use this originally but it can be expanded to an enterprise level so that people in your colleges could take advantage of this.
We do want your input.
The portal project, which is on going, will be integrated into this architecture.
6. Peer Institution Benefits Study
Barbara Carroll, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources shared a survey that was conducted by UNC General Administration to collect information about benefits offered by the institutions of the university compared to their peers.
The survey on benefits covered some major benefits medical insurance, briefly dental and vision. It looked at two types of retirement programs, the defined contribution plans, which are the ORP as well as the defined benefit plan, which are the TSERS pension type plan. It looked at tuition benefits that are provided by universities.
One thing that the survey looked at was what kinds of medical insurance options our peer institutions offer. Until October 1, 2006 we had one health insurance option but we now have what I would consider to be two but they call four because there are three tears of the PPO plans as different options.
NC State is in the middle in terms of the number of different types of plans.
The monthly contribution for our health plan ….On average our peer institutions are contributing seven, eight and nine hundred dollars per month compared to the three hundred and change that NC State is contributing. Overall North Carolina’s health cost tends to be a little lower than national average.
Most of our peer institutions don’t offer an indemnity plan and those that do the their employer contribution is higher.
North Carolina is among the lowest in terms of state healthcare insurance total cost.
One of the questions that the university system asked itself is if we were able to do some things like subsidize the dependent care coverage what would it cost. To provide a 50% subsidy it would cost $16M per year assuming that no one else would sign up, and another five or six million for child option so to do a 50% subsidy would cost $22M which is not an insignificant cost to the university system if they were to try to find a way to do that.
If they didn’t do a fifty percent subsidy and just did one hundred dollars per month it would cost approximately $13M.
The Optional Retirement Program (ORP) as you knows it’s available to EPA employees. Regardless of which plan you participate in whether ORP or TSERS you make a 6% employee side contribution, a mandatory contribution withheld from your pay and the institution also contributes on your behalf. We contribute 11% plus change on the employer side, 6.84% of that goes into your retirement account and the remainder goes for retiree health insurance, reserve, and for the disability income plan.
One of the most challenging aspects of our optional retirement program is that it has a five year vesting and if you have been in other university systems one of the true advantages of most universities optional retirement programs is that it affords a very short vesting period, either immediate or one year vesting typically so for us that represents a competitive disadvantage because if we are trying to hire young faculty and they are coming in on a three year appointment one of the things they are going to weigh is if I don’t renew will I walk away with all my retirement in hand or will I walk away with just the part that I contributed and lose the employer side contribution. So for us five year vesting has been a very disadvantageous issue. We have had it on our legislative agenda for a couple of years and I think it is still a live issue. It is one of the things that we are hoping very much to change.
Of the people that are eligible in the optional retirement plan more people actually choose the ORP than TSERS.
Of the average contribution of each university peer group toward retirement NC State is about average.
In total contribution NC State clusters toward the average of total contribution.
All of our peers have immediate or one year vesting.
Again one possibility would be to change the mix between how much the employer contributes and how the employee contributes so one possibility would be while keeping the total the same taking 2% off what the employee has to pay and adding 2% percent on to what the employer would pay might be one model. If they did that it would redistribute the amount for the UNC system as a whole. The all peer average total contribution was 12.71% and all institutions to all peers compared to the university system 12.84%.
How much would it cost if we did that 2% flop? It would be a $14M expense to the university system.
The cap on the death benefit for TSERS has been $50, 000 I know for twenty-nine years.
Vice Chancellor Carroll agreed and stated that one of the challenges is that these programs, both the health care and the retirement program are not controlled by the university system. They are controlled by the state of North Carolina. Their quickness to change is at the state level.
One of the things that happen is that if someone does leave the university before they vest the employer side contributions are forfeited by the individual. They don’t get those and the interesting thing is we don’t get them either. The state keeps them. Last year they kept about $1.9M.
The peer average employee contribution. In the ORP our peer employees are contributing less than 4% and even in the defined benefit plans the pension plans they are contributed less than 5% where again we are contributing six.
If you retire from NC State at age 65 with twenty-five years of service you are going to receive eleven thousand plus a year and if you retire with the same number of years with seventy five thousand dollar salary you will receive thirty plus thousand dollars per year. The average of our peers is basically identical so what you receive when you retire is not that different in the pension plan than if you were at any of the other institutions.
They looked at what would happen if they reduced the contribution from 6% to 5% for TSERS participants and because it applies to every employee in the state of North Carolina a 1% reduction would be more than $100M.
They also looked at tuition waiver whether our peers provide tuition waiver for dependents, spouses and or children. Of our peer group less than half provide some tuition waiver and generally it is a partial tuition waiver but they generally charge a higher tuition than we do so it is a little hard to analyze what the real difference is.
Our peers do allow employees generally to take more courses than NC State.
Total Benefit - NC State’s salaries are lower and our fringe rate is lower. A lower percentage on top of a lower salary has an escalator effect so we are disadvantaged both on the salary side for our peers as you know but then we are contributing the employer side fringe contribution so it kind of exacerbates the total compensation.
That is what they found. I think it was very helpful information to have.
We looked at our peer institutions and as it turns out Raleigh was right in the middle.
How many of our peers are state employees or how many of them are university employees distinct from state employees?
Carroll responded, of the forty-nine other states thirty-two have university systems that are completely distinct from their state personnel system.
Chancellor Oblinger noted that Associate Vice Chancellor Carroll is the chair of the system wide HR. Do you want to mention one or two things that are under discussion because it does relate to this discussion of separate or fully participatory with everyone else in the state system?
Carroll stated that she would speak for herself and for the members of the committee and noted that she does not want to represent PACE or President Bowles. There have not been any formal reactions to the recommendations.
The committee that the Chancellor is referring to was a subcommittee of PACE that was charged to look at barriers to efficiency and effectiveness with regard to Human Resources practice. Our committee identified two major barriers and really wanted the subset of the other. We identified the fact that the major barrier to us being able to operate efficiently as a university system is the fact that we are so in twined with the State Personnel System. For thirty-five years the university system has been chipping away at the edges trying to get more flexibility to deal with that and frankly they have not been very successful and we recommend that the university system take on the challenge of trying to get authority within our legislation to manage our Human Resources.
Among our peers how many of them are part of an integrated state system.
Carroll stated that her general sense is that most of the state university systems have links to the state retirement systems rather than running their own retirement system but their mix of contributions may be different than what other state employees get so they negotiated a deal with the state retirement system. With regards to the healthcare system it is more of a mixed bag. If the university system were to find a way to give itself flexibility we could still negotiate with the state health plan and the state retirement system but not be beholding as we are now to exactly the mix of employee/employer side contribution. “I think frankly speaking from me and my committee that is something we thought we should aspire to.”
7. Remarks from Chip Futrell, Associate Director of Continuing and Professional Education
Chip Futrell, Associate Director of Continuing and Professional Education informed the faculty of services available through his office. He noted that they offer all kinds of event management services. The advantage of doing business with them is they have on line registration available. They handle the finances for your conference and then send the remainder of the funds to the organization.
All the services that they offer are ala-carte. We do not have one standard fee that fits all. We work with many difference groups both inside and outside the university. If you have staff people who would like to take computer classes the computer-training unit is another unit that I manage and they have commuter classes available. Thank you so much.
Resources and Environment Committee
Senator Paul Williams, Chair of the Resources and Environment Committee stated that there is a plan to have someone from Public Safety to attend the next Senate meeting. The committee met with David Rainer, Tom Younce, and Eddie Farmer in September to discuss the issues that were raised by Senator Robarge concerning burglaries that occurred in Gardner Hall. The committee learned that this is by comparison to a city this size a remarkably safe place. Most of the crimes committed on campus are larceny and in most cases are simply opportunities. The resources get allocated primarily to where the riskiest places are and most of the major crimes, which are larceny, occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Robberies are actually down 50% from last year and burglaries are down 12.5% from last year.
The committee also discussed the number of private security personnel on campus at that meeting. Chief Younce stated that Public Safety has a contract for private security people whose only responsibility is to check for locked doors. All of those people are vetted by Public Safety but Public Safety has no control over the hiring of security people by other units on campus so they literally do not know whose on campus, whose been hired by these people nor do they know if these people are vetted in any way. The committee thinks it would be a good idea for anyone choosing to employ private security personnel to communicate with Public Safety to at least inform them that these people are on campus.
The committee was also concerned about the keying issue. The perception that Public Safety seems to have is that it is the key problem and that problem is going to have to be dealt with by the individual units.
Senator Williams stated that as more and more undergraduate students move to Centennial Campus the character of that campus is going change dramatically in the next few years. He wants to know is there a plan to anticipate that because it has almost got to expand or increase the number of officers on duty because there is still going to be this campus and there will be that campus and the needs will be greater.
He noted that we have a police unit here that is better resourced than Raleigh Police or Wake County Police. In terms of the technology they have available with them to notify problems on campus and respond quickly to them. They have almost real time information about where the problemed places are and there is a standing invitation to anyone who wants to go out on patrol with one of the units to see how the campus security works.
Academic Policy Committee
Senator Neal Blair, Chair of the Academic Policy Committee stated that one of our senators requested some information about where the university stood on online course evaluation.
The Academic Policy Committee met with Karen Helm who gave them some history and perspective on things.
Karen reported that around 1999 or 2000 the university standing committee on evaluation of teaching when it was coming up with the university wide evaluation form made a recommendation to go online at the time but there was a concern that response rates would be very low and they didn’t know how to deal with it so the online suggestion was basically tabled for a while. Then there were discussions with other universities and colleges that we are doing things all wrong and this issue of incentives to do the online evaluations was raised and apparently other places felt that it was being successful somewhat with getting good response rates. The university at some level decided to move forward. In the spring the Faculty Senate was sent Regulation 05.20.10 Evaluation of Teaching, which had embedded in it student evaluation of teaching must be conducted every time a course is taught except as noted in section 35 the electronic evaluation instrument for a class will be made available to each student using by a unique URL during the last 10% of the class it must be released for early release of course grades. Because it came at the end of the semester we did not respond to that at the time but it is my understanding that this regulation this go up and we adopted it. A task force was created that Karen is the Chair of. There are multiple departments on campus that are already experimenting and using online surveys with various degrees of success. I have heard different stories that seemed changed. My perspective is that success is in the eye of the beholder.
Karen noted that the university looks we seek the use of these evaluations largely at the faculty level and they come into play and the greatest concern is in dealing with promotion, tenure, salary, raises and what have you but Karen also looks at these for campus wide planning and she is concerned with the present paper system because she feels that it is not uncommon not to get responses for whole courses or to get responses for course numbers that don’t exist because the faculty member decided to change one and not tell anyone. She wants the good data as much as we do and looks at us as allies to make this a very good instrument when it comes on line. I have had conversations separately with department heads and they also feel that the present system is bias, it has holes in it so when we start talking and worrying about biases in the online system we have to be aware of that. We may be trading one bias for another and we are going to just have to be intelligent about this and understand what is going on rather than having major reaction one way or the other.
The task force is worrying over this issue’s response rates. I think there seems to be an agreement that there is some sort of incentive involved to get the students to respond consistently but the taskforce seems to be very divided on the strength, the type of incentive to use. Some people would like to have a very hard incentive that would be more or less coerce the students.
Another issue that has come up is data security. How would this be dealt with? Karen is very insistent that this would be firewall and there should be adequate regulations in place so that this data can’t be misused. The latest I have heard from Karen is I don’t think there has been strong discussions with the students. One thing that will happen is when a student completes the survey their name and their identity will be linked to that survey so the students will have to buy into this.
The task force as of a week or so ago is intending on testing the mold on the university computing system this semester. They hope to be doing some pilot programs next semester maybe testing out some different incentives and they are looking for departments that might be willing to volunteer.
Karen is also looking for a volunteer from the Faculty Senate to serve on the task force.
Senator Akroyd wanted to know if they were going to still move forward with the lack of response rates.
Senator Blair stated that the wheels are in motion and noted that he thinks the best we can do is have adequate input and offer constructive ideas on how to get the response rate up.
Senator Akroyd noted that it concerns him that a huge amount of information is being left out and feels that is a real concern.
Senior Vice Provost Perry stated that the decision has been made but has not been completely implemented yet. There are other aspects to the paper that are concerns. She pointed out that the regulation came to the Faculty Senate in April and it did go on to completion over the summer but that is not to say it wasn’t vetted through departments and thereby faculty and to the deans who we were working on it at one level and it came back and they were like you are kidding we are not going on line with this. They were unanimous and noted that it was ridiculous that we are not on line. That came from the departments to the deans. The concern is like weighing the concern but the response rate with the online ones with the incentives everywhere that was checked was verified but the real concern is back to the paper and the problems with that and not only the bad data but even moreso the missed application of it and students coming in and saying the instructor stood there.
Chair-elect Martin stated that two things you have to be careful about here; there is anecdotes all over the place. I think we have to be very careful about those anecdotes because some of them are true and some are not. I think you do know the history of what happened. The policy came on April 28, which was after the last meeting of the Academic Policy Committee, and it was before the last meeting of the Faculty Senate. We have never acted on any policy that have not gone through a committee. When it did come to me, we looked at the policy raised questions and forwarded the questions to you and it was after that that the policy was implemented. I think we need to be careful about making statements about we don’t quite know how things happen because we do.
Senior Vice Provost Perry stated that Senator Robarge is going to bring this up and we need to get back to some sort of process because things need to come to the Chair and they need to come back to the Chair and committee questions to different administrators is great and having them sit with them can save a lot of time for everybody. Some official response has to come at some point and when it doesn’t especially when it comes from a standing committee like that one did. That had been very extensively vetted and the university standing committee and their body.
A motion was made and seconded to extend the meeting five minutes. The motion passed unanimously.
Secretary Bruck stated that he hasn’t heard any incentives yet. He is concerned and would like to know more about how we can coerce a student into going on line and filling out a survey.
Senator Blair stated that the way we do this pre selects certain groups of people and the point is that there is no such thing as and unbiased survey. We need to get a good system that has a good response rate.
Senator Ozturk stated that the other issue is the quality of the responses because with incentives we may get a large percentage of students responding but I think there is some benefit of giving ten minutes to students some quality time during the lecture so they can actually sit down and think about the responses because when we do this online we have no way of knowing whether the students gave A’s to all of those answers without even thinking just to satisfy the incentive.
My biggest concern is that this date is used for promotion and tenure because if you are just addressing feedback instructors are free to give their own survey to their students to get feedback but this data is on the FAR’s and we can’t just learn experiment just to see how this thing goes.
Senator Hanley-Bowdoin stated that she thinks not only do we need to discuss how to encourage students to participate we also have to discuss when they don’t.
A motion was made and seconded to extend the meeting five more minutes. The motion passed unanimously.
Senator Blair stated that one of the things that came up in their meeting with Karen is because it is going to be electronic you could have a statistic that would come back and put a big red “X” on the results if you did not get a certain percentage that would at least allow the administrators to say that we shouldn’t use this.
Senator Akroyd stated that if this is implemented and a department finds out that regardless of the incentives that we are not getting the response rate near what we want that we at least have some options.
Chair Elect Martin stated, “So we do a pilot study. Is this a pilot study that no matter what we go forward or are there some bench mark that we have to meet and if we don’t meet that we will say well this new system wasn’t any better than the old or the old one was better? Too often I am afraid that the pilot studies mean this is a way to implement it as oppose to a pilot study to evaluate. Is it going to work or isn’t it going to work? I think it is an issue where we all have a lot of questions and I think we would like some benchmarks met before we say this is what we have to do.”
Secretary Bruck volunteered to serve on the task force.
Parliamentarian Corbin thanked everyone for their service in faculty governance.
A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting.
The motion passed unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 5:10 p.m.