FACULTY SENATE MEETING
September 25, 2007
Regular Meeting No. 3 of the 54th Session
Present: Chair Martin, Secretary Kellner, Past Chair Allen, Provost Nielsen, Parliamentarian Corbin; Senators Ambaras, Akroyd, Anson, Bernhard, Dawes, Domingue, Evans, Fauntleroy, Fleisher, Hanley-Bowdoin, Havner, Hergeth, Heitmann, Hudson, Levy, Lindsay, Murty, Ozturk, Poling, Raymond, Ristaino, Schweitzer, Shamey, Ting, Wessels, Williams
Excused: Senators Lindbo, Muddiman, Moore, Robarge, Scotford
Absent: Senators Genzer, Mulvey, Overton
Visitors: P. J. Teal, Secretary of the University; Marcia Gumpertz, Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff Diversity; Lauren Gregg, Writer, News Services; Amber Joyner, Student Senate – Chairman of Academics; Betsy Brown, Special Assistant to the Provost; José Picart, Vice Provost for Diversity and AAA; D. Marquis McCullough, Student Senate (CoEd); Catherine Freeman, Academic Standards Coordinator (DUAP); John T. Ambrose, Associate Dean, DUAP-Chair GERTF; Jacqui Hawkins-Morton, Academic Adviser, First Year College, DUAP; Jessica Jameson, Associate Head of Undergrad Studies, Communications; Jo-Ann Cohen, Associate Dean, PAMS; Laura Severin, English; Edward T. Funkhouser, CHASS Dean’s Office; Gary Weinberg, Engineering – Academic Affairs; Katie Perry, Senior Vice Provost; Cheryl Brown, ACE Fellow (Office of the Provost); Duane Larick, Senior Associate Dean (Graduate School); Mel DeJes’us, Lecturer, English; Maxine Atkinson, Professor of Sociology; Jerome Lavelle, Engineering Dean’s Office; Joni Spurlin, UPA; Karen Helm, Director of UPA; Kay Stewartnewman, UPA – Class Evaluations; Carrie Zelna, Director, Student Affairs; Sharon Setzer, English, Associate Chair
1. Call to Order
Chair James D. Martin called the third meeting of the fifty-fourth session of the North Carolina State University Faculty Senate to order at 3:00 p.m.
2. Welcome & Announcements
The State of the University by the Chancellor will be Thursday, 3p.m. in the Talley Student Center; General Faculty Meeting, October 3, 2007 at 3p.m. in the Erdahl-Cloyd Theater; October 8, 2007, Jointly Sponsored Budget Advisory Forum where Provost Nielsen and Vice Chancellor Leffler will be presenting a variety of aspects of the budget
Remarks from the Chair
Given today’s topic one of the significant issues that we want to talk about is our General Education Program. I spent a little time thinking about my own experience with general education. Thinking back through my own experience I first encountered general education requirements probably like most of you as an undergraduate. I went to a small liberal arts college where the entire college was smaller than the faculty and the students we teach in my own department. My first thinking about general education requirements like most of my fellow science majors, I was a double major in chemistry and biology, we use to complain about how we had to take 400 level English Literature and Humanity classes but it was a very rare occurrence that any Lit and Humanity majors took anything above a 100 level science course. Nevertheless I have absolutely no regrets for any of the general education classes that I took. That said, I can’t tell you any specific course, general education or otherwise, that in itself directly impacted me as an educated person or frankly, the practice of my profession. Nevertheless, having taken a variety of both disciplinary and interdisciplinary I am a much better scientist, I’m a much better scholar, I am a more educated person for having taking those classes. Probably more important than taking those classes I am a better scholar and more educated person because of the people I interacted with both the students and professors that were outside of my discipline. I think everyone should take inorganic chemistry because that’s one of the most important classes in a curriculum. I recognize there is value across all disciplines.
My second experience and directly thinking about general education requirements came in 1998. I was Assistant Professor here and had recently published a piece having to do with integrating research into the freshmen curriculum. The idea was that it is my feeling that every one of our majors should be exposed to practitioners in his or her chosen field of study. Too often, having advised many students, they get through the end of their major and they still don’t really know what a real person in the discipline of their major does, and so I put together a program where in the second semester of freshmen chemistry they would be exposed to at least what we real academic chemists do. Unfortunately that program is no longer running. After publishing the article, a half dozen CHASS faculty somehow got a hold of that paper and invited me over to have a bit of a conversation and the question that they posed was, “What about my early education made me think the way I do?” which is the worthwhile question for each of us to address in our own discipline. As a chemist I specialize in atomic and molecular structure. How do atoms and molecules fit together? How do we make them fit together and particular ways to get particular desired properties? I consider myself a molecular architect. What about my general education helps make me who I am? Help me think the way I think? It is a worthwhile question for us each to ask when we are teaching our own students because if we think about what made us who we are and what helped us think the way we think, it may just perchance help our students learn to think the way we think or think beyond the way we think. What made me think the way I do? I had to realize that I think a lot of it goes back to the fact that I wasn’t a kid that was necessarily going to college. I actually was scared when I went to college. I was as likely to be a carpenter working with my hands. While I did take the college prep classes in high school, I also took Shop and it so happens that a lot of those Shop classes were the best classes I had ever taken in terms of making me the molecular architect, the chemist that I am today. In shop we needed to translate a three dimensional object into two dimensions. Why? Because when we went into the shop we had to take something in two dimensions and translate it into three dimensions. That is what chemistry is, whether we are looking at chemistry on a computer screen, in a text book, or in a journal article. Frankly, those are all two dimension representations of three dimensional stuff and I recognize that a lot of our students today are not having to do the Shop that we had to when I was a kid and so now in every chemistry course that I teach I start drawing cubic like blocks. I have discovered that a very simple lesson in drafting actually gives a very important resource to my students to be able to visualize three dimensional structure in chemistry, to recognize that in fact that molecule is a volume that takes up space and I have to realize that much of education particularly my field of chemistry involves the 2D, 3D translation. Had I not been going to college I wouldn’t have taken those Shop courses and I would not be able to design materials that I design today because I would have learned to think in this fashion.
I don’t expect the American Chemical Society is ever going to put a drafting course to be part of the requirements for an accreditation of a chemistry major. Nevertheless I have to recognize that it is these general outside of discipline experiences that often add critical perspective to who we are and how we think and if we are not exposed to those we are not going to get a total vision in our discipline and we are not going to be the educated kinds of people that we are. I am a strong advocate of general education and I hope that in today’s discussion we can get rid of some of that he said, she said that has been flying around by email and have a constructive conversation thinking about how we truly become scholars even taking SHOP classes to become a chemist.
3. Approval of the Minutes, Meeting No. 2, September 11, 2007
The motion passed to approve the minutes as amended.
4. Remarks from Provost Nielsen
Provost Nielsen updated the Senate on three separate issues that he feels tell the story about why this institution is a great place where input matters.
Child Care Facility
The first is the childcare facility and the childcare issues that we continue to talk about. This continues to come up as a number one issue with faculty and the faculty survey and lots of places that we need childcare. You told us that this is important. We took an important step on it this week contracting with an agency to do a feasibility study for the fundraising on the center. We are looking at about a $5.0M center to build and we are going to have to build it with private money. We are required to do this before we can put forward a capital agenda item for fund raising through the Board of Trustees. My office is paying for that study so we can move forward. Barbara Carroll, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources is helping to lead this effort.
Pre College Programs
The incentive for this idea came from the community. Through the Chancellor’s African-American Community Advisory Council and discussions over about a year, that community-based group had a lot of ideas and a lot of input about how we could make our pre-college programs better. We have more than fifty pre-college programs offered to kids from the very low grades all the way up to the months before they enter college.
This is an idea that has opened many possibilities for the university and for community members in terms of getting kids engaged in science and technology, engineering, math, humanities and social sciences, and the arts designs.
The Development of an Ecological Reserve on Campus
The third item is one that was really stimulated by a student who has been gone for a couple of years. He got all excited about the woods out on Centennial Campus so he talked with several administrators about preserving the woods. When the new master plan was approved by the Board of Trustees, Lake Raleigh Woods became a reality. The previous maps that had housing in that area of Centennial Campus have been revised. The next steps here are to implement an oversight management and development plan, development in the general term for the property in terms of its use in educational facilities from an ecological preserved facility.
NC State isn’t done in that we continue to make efforts as an institution to develop the things that you care about and our surroundings care about.
The university committees that are concerned with undergraduate education, CUE, and UCCC are always looking at our general education requirements but it was some months ago that the Provost, now Chancellor, formed a task force to review this. It has been a long process that we have been engaged in that has not followed necessarily a straight path. I think we have formed a product that has been substantially improved over our current GER and that has been substantially reviewed and approved by the faculty and our discussion today is getting us to the end of the process whereby we would enact this new general education program.
5. Report on On-line Evaluation of Teaching
Karen Helm, Director of University Planning and Analysis
Karen Helm stated that they piloted the online course evaluation last December with five departments and they brought it to the entire university in the spring semester and continued to the summer. The reports are posted online and they are password protected with access given only to the instructor and the instructor’s department head. Helm stated that they would leave the reports online indefinitely so that the faculty can go back and trace their results over time.
Helm stated that of the variety of measures of effectiveness, the most important one is response rates. They are not where they would like to be so consider the following as a baseline and expect to go up from here.
For the regular semester both the pilot and spring our overall response rate for the university was 60% and for the summer it went down to 45%. It is higher for lecture classes than for labs by eleven points. It’s higher for face-to-face courses than it is for online by 13 points. Seventy-eight percent of our instructors in spring had more than a 50% response; 23 percent of our instructors had more than a 75% response rate. Fifty percent of our students complete all of the surveys that they are prompted for and college response rates range from 46 to 66 percent. We are limited in comparing paper to online because we did not have a centralized process for gathering all of the paper results into a single database, so the only comparison I can make for NC State is to compare the pilot departments who participated in 2006 and four of those department I had some of the paper responses from the previous December. So we matched the courses and based on that very limited sample I can tell you that a couple of the departments had about the same response rates; two departments had much lower response rates; response rates for labs were much lower than for lecture sections. In terms of comparing the scores, did the scores change when it went to online from paper? For the regular classes (non lab sections) the mean score was the same for paper and online but the lab sections received lower scores; the higher the response rate, the higher the mean score so it is to your advantage to get more of your students to fill out the questionnaires.
Another measure of effectiveness is how fast we can get the reports out. I can tell you that in the spring semester it took us seven weeks due to some unanticipated issues. During the summer we dropped that by half to three and a half weeks and I would expect us to do even better in the fall. We are saving the university money and we are saving about $350,000 per year and most of this is in staff time in the academic departments.
There are a number of challenges that we are still working on to make course evaluations work efficiently and effectively. The biggest problem is assembling a correct list of courses and instructors. When we go to the university’s database the parameters that we can use to identify courses and instructors do not produce a perfect list which means we have a hard time making sure that we are posting questionnaires for all the right students and the right classes with the right instructors and we haven’t forgotten any classes and we haven’t included any classes that should not be evaluated. Therefore this fall we are asking department heads to correct this list.
A high priority for development this year is to develop a unique question feature so that instructors, department heads, and deans can add unique questions about the particular section to the questionnaire. We will also continue to work on response rate and the issue of incentives is still on the table. One improvement that we are making that you can’t see is that we are moving to Oracle which will allow us to create reports and questionnaires more efficiently and is the key to developing the unique question feature.
Our experience is pretty similar to what is recorded in the literature. Response rates will increase over time. The other points, no difference in the actual ratings given between paper and online a) one article indicates a four full increase in responses to open ended questions, the comment section and often its those open ended question are comments that provide the richest source of data.
Online evaluations provide faster reporting, cleaner data, and substantive cost savings.
Senator Ting wanted to know if 600 and 800 level courses are evaluated.
Helms responded that this fall they adjusted the rule and will evaluate courses in the teens, 610 to 619 and 810 – 819 if they have a suffix.
Senator Evans wanted to know if Helm would be comfortable saying the percentage that she received back was a good representation of the evaluation of that instructor.
Helm stated that they looked at that and decided that statistically they could not answer that question for all sections. It depends on section size before you can figure out what response rate really gives you a statistically sound report. The important thing to remember is that it is not the university average that matters, it is every section. We need to get a good response rate in every section to give every faculty member a report that is usable.
6. General Education Program
Report from Academic Policy Committee – Janet Hudson
Janet Hudson, Chair of the Academic Policy Committee stated that the committee met with Drs. Ambrose, Ash, and Dupont on September 1, 2006 and the recommendations that came out of the Academic Policy Committee as a result of that meeting are:
- Students need to sincerely understand the inter-relationships between academic domain one way or another. If the first year of capstone classes were dropped this should be addressed in another way. Retention and redirection of any current resources potentially unencumbered in PAMS, CALS, and CHASS by implementation of the proposal would benefit those colleges. The logistics of implementing things should be further examined. Including international diversity seems like a reasonable idea. Logistics of the first year in capstone courses seems to be of greatest concern to people. It is clear that it would have been imprudent for this task force to plan courses especially before getting widespread feedback on proposal. In practice however, the process has contributed to unrest. The task force should examine the logistics and implementation in more detail by answering the following questions: Who realistically would teach these courses and what evidence is there to support that? What resources and incentives are assured to support these courses? How many students would be in the first year classes? Is that practical and pedagogically sound?
The Academic Policy committee encouraged the issue to go on to the Senate and it did on September 12, 2006. The proposal was revised December 7, 2006. We had a general faculty meeting for the purpose of discussing the proposal January 17, 2007. The most recent version was released June 29, 2007 and it came back to the Academic Policy Committee September 4, 2007.
Hudson stated that they talked a lot about process, which has been a big issue in the Academic Policy Committee and in the Senate. We took the opportunity to talk a little bit in our recommendation about process. We would like to see more faculty on administrative committees that affect faculty. We would also like for the Faculty Senate to have some say in who those faculty are. We also talked about implementation and our recommendations are:
1. Request a realistic initial assessment of the cost for GEP implementation, reassessing and responding as implementation progresses
2. Offer incentives (course releases, development grants, faculty lines, ongoing funds) for new courses and programs
3. Establish a stable, well-functioning structure and process for administration of interdisciplinary courses and programs
4. Increase resources to colleges that have increased demand for existing sections
5. Allow colleges to retain funds unencumbered by decreased demand
Ultimately what we decided was that we believed that the task force has acted with integrity. We believe that they have done the best that they can and we support the proposal moving forward but we have concerns about implementation.
Report on Proposed General Education Program – John Ambrose – Associate Dean of Undergraduate Affairs
Dr. Ambrose introduced members of the Task Force.
Dr.Ambrose stated that there has been some confusion about the committee. There was concern that the committee was heavily composed of administrators. The committee was appointed by then Provost Oblinger who charged it. The idea was to give it balance to have faculty members also to have people that were responsible for GER in the colleges. The distinction between administration and faculty sometimes become a very blurry one. We would like to think that faculty go on to become administrators and they carry forth those skills with them.
If we look at the people who were on the task force we did a quick summary of some of their academic credentials coming in, the kinds of things that you would normally associate with a faculty member, outstanding teacher, alumni distinguished awards, etc., etc. Most of the people that you identify superficially as administrators do have strong academic credentials.
The membership of the committee is sixteen voting members plus the chair. We did have four student members who managed to graduate while we were doing this. We had one non-voting member. We had two members from the Faculty Senate, two members from CHASS, two members from CALS, one from PAMS, one from Natural Resources, one from Engineering; one position from R&R which is enrollment management now; one from UPA; one from Diversity; one from University Assessment; and two from the Council on Undergraduate Education and those people also represented the First Year College and the College of Textiles.
If you look at how we tried to share the information with the campus, we did have a website in which we solicited input and that input was considered at our meetings. We made presentations to all of the colleges that invited us in addition to the Faculty Senate and the General Faculty and we would bring that information back. One of the things that I would like to emphasize is that there have been two General Education Plans. The initial one that we presented that we took to the General Faculty, we made some revisions to that, and the proposal that was sent to the Provost Office is really the second proposal. We have tried to draft a compromised GEP that takes some consideration; The major concerns, the major interest, the major needs of people. It is a compromise, it doesn’t satisfy everybody. If any one of the committee members were drafting this I think it would look different but as a group we thought this was the best plan that we could put forward for NC State. It’s a plan for our university. It’s not a plan in general for any of the other members of the consolidated university over there. They are very different institutions. The major changes are:
- The number of required credit hours is reduced from the current 50-53 hours to 39-40 hours.
- The proposed GEP emphasizes the strengths of NC State and its varied course offerings
- The proposed GEP provides all of the colleges and academic departments with the opportunity to review their current degree programs and make any necessary changes as a result. The type of changes may include a reduction in total hours to graduation, an adjustment in the courses currently required for graduation, and an increase or decrease in courses. Required as part of the major requirements. The GEP will also provide the opportunity to coordinate degree programs to allow students to more easily complete dual degrees, honors programs, minors, and other NC State offerings.
- The proposed GEP is portable for our students. No additional GEP courses will be required when students elect to change their major. These students may have to take additional courses tin subjects such as mathematics or the sciences to complete the requirements of their new degree program, but such changes would not be driven by the GEP. As a result, intra-campus transfers will be easier for our students.
- The proposed GEP is flexible. Opportunities will be available for faculty to develop truly interdisciplinary courses, thematic tracks to provide more coherencies, and for the University to make adjustments as a result to ongoing assessment.
- The proposed GEP broadens the scope of our general education program to include diversity, global knowledge, and interdisciplinary courses as required components of a student’s program.
- College and academic departments are encouraged to develop courses for the GEP categories.
The GERTF recommends that the implementation date of the proposed GEP be the fall 2009 semester. Students who enroll at NC State as a degree-seeking student after summer session 1, 2009 would be covered by the new GEP. Students who enrolled at NC State prior to that time would continue under the current General Education Program.
The GERTF strongly recommends this plan, if it is accepted, not be viewed as a rigid structure for general education at NC State University. Instead we recommend that the GEP be reviewed on regular cycle and assessment data collected be shared with the appropriate University committees and the campus community to continually improve our general education plan.
While this process was going on, we shared where we were with a number of working committees. It was shared with UCC. It was shared with the Council on Undergraduate Education. It was shared with the Associate Deans. This is an addition to the scheduled inviting meetings that we had. In addition, in July of this year the Council on Undergraduate Education actually put this plan to a vote, and of the voting members 22 voted in favor of it, two were opposed, there was one abstention and one person who didn’t vote. This is how we have reached the stage where we are today.
Remarks from Thomas Conway, Dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs
I want to thank members of the task force. The task force reached the consensus of what came forward, but it was not done without very significant debate. I think the task force did reach a level where they were able to take a universal perspective and maintain that as part of what drove them to the recommendations that they made.
We put a proposal before you asking you to endorse that proposal moving forward. We are at a decision point where the Senate can recommend it forward as it is. They can recommend it forward with advisement and given the recommendations that I have heard it would be with advisement. The Senate can recommend that we start all over again. Incidentally, there is a history behind this. We talk about the reality that it took us seventeen years to get the first set of GERs in place and if you look at what happened, every time we reached this point there was a recommendation to start all over again and we backed up and started again. It wasn’t until 1994 when a recommendation was made to review the implementation that faculty got serious about looking at these issues and from 1994 to 1995 when the GER was implemented there were improvements over what had been recommended and from 1995 to 1998 there were additional improvements and from 1998 until the present we have learned a lot more about the place of general education in the NC State undergraduate process. My point to you is that we learn more from moving forward than from backing up, repeating the same sets of debates. What happens if it moves forward? We get out of your way and start letting the processes that are in place to take care of these things go into play. It goes to CUE, UCCC, college and departmental curricula committees for debate, input, and revision, where appropriate in that process. The kinds of issues that have risen are issues that get handled as part of the process. The critical issues that have been raised that I am aware of are:
a. Resources, how do you realistically look at how you resource this. One thing that was in the wisdom of the task force early on was to get some associate deans in critical areas engaged in this process because the resources to do this is going to flow through the colleges and there is a level of understanding in the colleges of what that is going to mean that is different than it would have been had we not done that.
- Quality of the Courses that would be produced: That is a function of departmental and college curricula committee. If there are issues with courses out there now, all of those courses have to be reviewed for this process at some point. If there are issues about generating new courses all of those courses have to be touched by college and departmental curricular committees in order for them to move forward. The quality issue is where it belongs and that is with the faculty.
- Finally, faculty involvement. We have committed in Undergraduate Academic Programs to work with UCCC and the Curricular committees to expedite changes that would be coming out of the colleges that are driven by the GER.
Questions and Discussion
Senator Ambaras: I would like to say that CHASS faculty who think about this issue don’t only think about it in terms of one particular parish. We think about this in terms of what our vision of the university is, what kind of faculty we want to be, what the principles are behind this and we are thinking constructively about what can be done to create a GEP that everyone would be satisfied with and that most importantly would provide our students with the tools they need to be good scholars, good citizens of this country and the world. From that perspective there are numerous criticisms of this task force report that need to be aired. One issue is that of interdisciplinary perspectives. Interdisiciplinary perspectives are premised on disciplinary -- that you have to understand the disciplines in order to be able to do interdisciplinary work and that by cutting the number of hours available to the disciplines in the GEP and at the same time taking five to six hours for something called interdisciplinary, which has yet to be fully satisfactorily articulated, we are doing our students a disservice.
Another issue that comes up is the issue of resources. No one really knows what this will cost to implement and rather than endorse this, it’s the feeling of many in CHASS that I have spoken to that, this is a cart before the horse kind of approach. Rather we should get as much of discussion as possible of what the cost of this might be and then decide whether to go forward. There is also no guarantee that the new approach would save money for CHASS or any of the colleges.
Another issue that has risen is the issue of faculty representation, on the one hand, CHASS’s representation. There were two members from CHASS on the task force. Many who would argue that that is disproportionately low and there are those who might argue that they are active teachers and nonetheless their roles as administrators have put them in a different position from the roles of faculty who are not administrators in thinking about the curriculum. These are some of the concerns that come up.
Senator Ambaras read the following emails that he received from two colleagues who speak for different constituencies in CHASS.
I am the elected chair of the Literature Program Committee in the Department of English and the elected co-chair of the World Literature Committee, a joint committee of the Department of English and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. In these capacities, I write to support the extension of consideration of the current GEP plan until an opportunity for full discussion by the faculty—especially the faculty of CHASS—has been afforded. In my opinion, the current proposal suffers the defects of having been generated by a process that never directly represented the faculty. The proposal that was distributed a year ago was so egregious to most CHASS faculty that we responded vociferously and with unprecedented near-unanimity, despite our suspicion that our input was not really desired. The revision released in January was welcome, but most CHASS faculty did not register their continuing distaste because they were relieved by certain changes and because they imagined that this was the best result they could expect. Those of us in CHASS who bothered to continue offering criticism were disappointed by the next revision, released over the summer, which was so close to its predecessor as to confirm the suspicion that the discussion had in effect been terminated, and within which the persistence of some of the features most obnoxious to many CHASS faculty persuaded us that further protest would be futile. I believe that many faculty in CHASS fear that the manner in which this process has been undertaken—in haste, and without true faculty representation—implies that the GEP revision has been prompted primarily by economic rather than pedagogical motives and that the governance of curriculum on this campus has been effectively removed from oversight by the faculty. I hope that the Faculty Senate will vote to delay consideration of the proposal long enough for the faculty's true feeling to be sought and registered. I believe that I am expressing the sentiment of a majority of the literature faculty.
Professors Tom Lisk, Mary Helen Thuente, and John Wall—my fellow elected representatives on the Literature Program Committee—have endorsed this statement.
Michael Grimwood, Professor
Department of English
As chair of the Undergraduate Committee of the Department of Sociology last year, I wrote up the criticisms of what was then called the new GER, andnow called GEP. I and every one of severalfaculty in my department who emailed me on this, oppose the GEP plan (I now have the version dated June 19, 2007 but it is not fundamentally different from the earlier version we saw).Almost all of our concerns that were described in earlier memos were ignored by the Task Force.I am appalled at the lack of consideration of our efforts.The GEP proposal is without any doubt the most bizarre document that I have ever seen in my many years in a university setting.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Comments from Jessica Jameson, Communication
We would like to have the opportunity in CHASS to have another meeting among the CHASS faculty to get a better idea of what the sentiment is among all of CHASS because at the Courses and Curriculum meeting yesterday those of us who were there did not have a very good sense of what these sentiments of CHASS was as a whole. We would like the opportunity to have that sentiment and have that on record before the Faculty Senate endorses the GEP.
For myself and as the representative of my department I want to speak to the issue of interdisciplinary perspectives for a moment because I do share the concerns that have been mentioned today. The biggest question I have involves the faculty activity. In my only eight years here I haven’t seen much done to motivate faculty to do anything innovative in the classroom and that is not to suggest that there isn’t money out there that is for course development, but it is to suggest that the end of the year when I complete my annual evaluation forum, having anything in the teaching category does not do a lot for my evaluation at the end of the year. What does do a lot is if I have tons of publications there. I have been very actively involved for the past three years in service learning on this campus and its really frustrating because its like banging your head against the wall to convince the member even though its really pedagogically sound to do this because the question is, why should I spend my time on that? I see the same problem coming up with this issue of interdisciplinary perspectives. Why should I spend my time with people across campus? What is going to be in it for me at the end of the year if I’m spending my money developing new courses. That is not to say I wouldn’t love to do that and if I was going to be rewarded and thought I could be promoted to full professor for doing that, yeah I would do it, but that is not how its been working in my experience here so unless we are going to have a dramatic change of culture and I really need to hear that very strongly and just to add to that I keep hearing over and over again that all this isn’t going to fall on CHASS, that Engineering can’t wait to create courses from all the students and other places can’t wait to create courses for general education, please I would love to hear and I have previously asked for a conversation campus wide so that I could hear folks from those other colleges who I don’t get to talk to explain to me and tell me that yes this is going to happen and how you are getting your faculty to do that because I can’t even get my faculty to do service learning. Thank you.
I am from the College of Veterinary Medicine and we have already been on this task force. There seem to be a lot of discontent in CHASS and would you care to comment on some of the things that were said.
If you look at the original proposal that came from the task force and the proposal that we have now it should be fairly obvious that a lot of the concerns that were raised by CHASS were taken into consideration. Most of the changes that were made to the initial plan were because of feedback that we did receive from CHASS. Some of the feedback we accepted and some we didn’t accept but I think there was a fair hearing for all. Some of the objections that come from CHASS about some of the categories (the capstone courses, the themes), those are really philosophical questions and what the task force did do is remove those as requirements but allow the option for people who would to develop them. Faculty don’t have to develop themes unless they see a reason for doing it, but quite honestly on a campus like ours where we are talking about natural resources and some of the other programs, the opportunities not to develop themes is we do minors all the times. Minors are within disciplines. The themes would be interdisciplinary. It just seems like it is too much of an opportunity to allow it to escape, but again we have not made the requirement for anybody. It’s all an option that can be developed. If they are developed they will be evaluated to the very strong assessment portion in this plan. Things that work will be taken out to the university and things that don’t work will be dropped.
This STS (Science Technology and Society) courses were a 1994 attempt to have interdisciplinary courses on this campus. We have taken those 3 credits and added two credits to it. We have developed general objectives to meet that can be modified as time goes on. It’s not liking we are creating five or six new hours. We are actually only creating two or three.
I think its also important to add to that discussion that that is one of the options for satisfying that particular set of requirements. One is to create new courses and the other is for faculty with existing disciplinary base of courses to come together and to cross walk in existing courses. We are not talking about throwing out sets of courses and creating whole new sets of course uniquely to satisfy this requirement.
I agree with Dr. Ambrose that the initial theme is one on which there is great debate. I would disagree on the question of whether CHASS’s feedback was sufficiently accepted on other issues in particular the spot to six hours of interdisciplinary courses. There are many of us who feels that what happened between the first iteration and current iteration is that the five to six hours that were allocated for the introductory course, simply had the names introductory course and capstone course taken out and the same five to six hours were situated as interdisciplinary courses. There is a sense that there was some juggling categories but no real substance of engagement with the concerns presented to the task force.
The other issue is about interdisciplinary courses themselves, whether it be two courses or whether it be one course newly designed. The task force itself suggest that these courses must contain sustained and substantive instruction that focuses on the context and approaches of at least one discipline from the humanities and social sciences and at least one discipline from mathematics, natural sciences, engineering and technology. Now there are natural interfaces at this university that can make that possible but they are limited in terms of the overall faculty in terms of the overall demand of students that would be generated by this kind of requirement. One of the things that came up in our discussion was how do you encourage as a university this kind of interdisciplinary dialog among faculty and how do you translate that into courses and what does it cost to do it and we were not satisfied that there was a sufficient clarity about the conceptualization or the resource commitments that are required for this.
Jacqui Hawkins-Morton – First Year College
Actually the way we have rolled it down to the campus, there has been and we have met with the general faculty. There was probably as much enthusiasm for some of the interdisciplinary courses, the themes from some of the other colleges as there was disagreement with CHASS. We were trying to come up with a compromise where there are opportunities for those people who are interested in working together across campus and I agree that there are some issues around implementation but there was enough support from the other colleges and some of the constituents that we move forward with this so what you are hearing from CHASS and those are concerns and they were, we really did look at those but we also wanted to honor the interest and values that were expressed by other parts of the campus.
Carrie McLean, Director, First Year College
I’m beginning to wonder if I’m in the right job because what I come to work to do every day is prepare students to be successful citizens to change this world and I don’t want us to lose sight of that. I have heard a lot of talk about a lot of things but I didn’t hear a lot of talk about students and people changing the world. We have a lot of power and I don’t think we realize that. I do want us to stay focused on the big picture because I think sometimes this is really not about the first year college, this is really not about CHASS, this is really not about PAMS. This is about preparing people to change the world so that is what we have to stay focused on. That is a huge broad-based effort and if we stay focused on that a lot of our questions that I’ve heard today are going to be answered and practically speaking from a person who has to use the GER requirements to get students into your program there is so much variation in that requirement. I happen to sit on committees daily where we talk about retention and student success and hands-on student work and if we are going to really think about the impact that we have on any students out in the world so that they can make a difference. This is a key thing, having a GER. I would like to support that we move forward. We do have a lot of flexibility in creating courses for our colleges and there is a lot of work that you can do in your college to make this work for students. We do need to move forward because the world is not going to stop while we make this decision.
Those that I talked to in my college responded positively. I have spoken to my colleagues in CHASS and I understand that the History Department is opposed to this, but my sentiment is that CHASS faculty is not opposed to this in a major way. I very much welcome a meeting to get the feedback from CHASS faculty.
I don’t think we are at the point yet that we need to move down the chain toward implementation before we can make real accurate assessments of what its going to cost and what its going to say. I have said that my thought on this is that as the number of hours required in the GEP goes down that that should make resources available in those colleges and that the first call on those resources would be to fill out whatever might be the new cost in the General Education plan. I believe that the net would be less in the new one than it is today and that the resources that would be freed up in this process would remain with the colleges so that they could be used by the colleges to reduce teaching loads or improve other aspects of either our education experience or our faculty experience. The opportunity to move some resources particularly in CHASS from the GER to other places in the college strikes me as a very real possibility. If we go forward with this we are either going to find a way to pay for it or we are not going to implement it the way it’s written and then we are going to have to make adjustments down the road.
Ken Vickery, History
I just want to reiterate what Jessica said the position unanimously adopted by the CHASS curriculum committee yesterday was which was very simply a request that there be further discussion on this before the Senate in particular passes any sort of endorsement of it. As everyone in the room knows when the original proposal came down the road last year, I think its fair to say the CHASS faculty was overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal. Some changes were made and it may well be that the changes made are enough to convince the bulk of the CHASS faculty that they are not comfortable with the plan as it is. Given that the currently proposal was passed during the summer by CUE when it was finalized, I would think it would be appropriate that this is now considered again by the individual colleges, whatever forum they choose to take it up. I would think that if the shoe were on the other foot and last year another of our colleges had been overwhelmingly opposed to proposal that there had been changes made and that a new proposal was important I would like to know what the sentiment in that college would be. That is all that we are requesting at this stage and I would respectfully ask of the Senate to respect that.
Chair Martin noted that no vote is being taken. The purpose of this meeting was discussion and I may also note that no one has prevented any college from holding a meeting to discuss it. The information was put out in June, over the summer, is correct, lots of people weren’t around. We made sure that no action was taken over the summer when nobody was around because there is a real problem if issues go forward during the summer so no decision was made over that. What you asking for is in fact what is happening and I would simply ask from the Senate’s perspective that the sooner that meeting takes place, the better, because everything that I hear is that this is a work in progress and nobody is asking to affirm any kind of absolute plan but what I hear being requested is approval to go on and that is clearly going to require major work looking at the definition of the interdisciplinary item.
In terms of this research issue that we often do lose sight of the students and again it goes back to the system of rewards and that is a bigger problem than NC State, that’s an academic institution. If we could remember that not only is the teaching central to what we do, and as a Research I Institution the research is critical to our teaching. I think sometimes we try to keep the two separate when in fact we are supposed to be merging them and if we could remember that and create more opportunities, somehow create a reward structure that would reward it when we do get those two things together and the reason that becomes really relevant to this GEP is the nature of what it means to be interdisciplinary according to the NSF and I know they are not God but they are a pretty major thunder, I think, to a lot of people in this room. What we are talking about is not consistent with their definition of interdisciplinary so we may want to strongly consider rewording that and calling it multidisciplinary perspective or cross disciplinary perspective and I have raised this point several times and I have been hearing over and over that is not a research definition, that is not a teaching definition. Let’s not keep them separate. The more we can keep those two thinks together in our brain the better chance we are going to serve our students well and do what we want to do.
You are absolutely right, a great deal of the problem here has to do with the notion of interdisciplinary. A couple of years ago I read in the Chronicle on Higher Education that faculty were surveyed about whether they thought their own teaching was interdisciplinary and there were departments like English and History where 90% passionately said, “You bet! I teach interdisciplinary courses, all my courses are interdisciplinary.” There were other departments in the same college that said just as passionately, “Oh no! We are as disciplinary as can be.” There is not a slightest bit of evidence in my mind that a historian or sociologist are really approaching their world differently. The issue here has to do with the notion of interdisciplinarity. If you have used that word, people are going to insist quite passionately that they are or are not doing it, when there is no evidence. I think it is a term as you suggest that should be retired, rethought, or whatever.
Nina suggested that we don’t have enough of something (science) and my thought is that if we don’t have enough of “something”, where are we going to get more of something and the answer seems to be from the “non-somethings” in the plan and that would be the interdisciplinary stuff. To phrase this for people who like numbers, it’s a zero sum game.
The rationales and the objectives that we developed in 1994 for the various categories were changed by CUE since then. If you look at the GER now it is a different animal than was created in 1994 and that was done by the faculty in those committees. We are spending a whole lot of time on the term and we can argue this with good faith from now until five o’clock but the point is that once we implement this it can change. There is nothing magic about this as far as the task force is concerned. This was a compromise that we came up with again based on the best evidence that we had.
I accept that you will get better communication with faculty if you don’t say that you first implement the plan and then it gets defined. I think that is a lot of the issue. I think there is desire for definition before implementation, but I think we also need to be careful that what we are talking about today is not implementation, but we are talking about moving forward.
The concern is that we might not have sufficient number of interdisciplinary courses and resources may not be available to develop new courses. One way of dealing with these concerns is to make the
interdisciplinary category optional. If you have only ten courses right now and you feel very strongly about them, just put those courses in that category. I suggest increasing the humanities and social sciences
credit hours from 12 to 15 and math and natural sciences from 13 to 16. We may then allow the students to take up to 6 credit hours from the optional interdisciplinary category. 3 of these credit hours may count
toward the humanities and social sciences and 3 may count toward the math and natural sciences.
I’m a biochemist and I have watched the way science has changed in thirty years and it has become very interdisciplinary and not simply science and math since you have got to have strong skills in implementation. You have got to have an ethical understanding of what you are doing. You have to accept the appreciation of people because you have to interact with people and work as a team and so I think having an effort to bring these things together and expose our students to these aspects of what it will take to be a good scientist, a good citizen, a good whatever is the reality of the world that we live in today and just because it’s getting harder to do. Just because we are not clear how we are going to get there yet doesn’t mean we don’t do or else we are basically making ourselves obsolete.
I think it is the responsibility of the Senate since we have representative from all colleges for the Senators to go back to the colleges and get a feel for what that college feels like as far as this GEP and then bring it back when we move this process forward and say we agree or don’t agree. That is what we should be representing and not our own individual feelings on this. What do the colleges feel and is it a workable program for individual colleges and if it is then we move it out of the Senate to the next step. If it is not then let the Senators express that. Senators, you are representatives of your college. You are not representatives of your own individual thought process.
The charge to all of us as Senators is to go back to those who we represent and listen to what’s going on and I encourage you to provide that feedback as you get it to the academic policy committee and we will move from there.
There is no planned course from the Senate that we are going to vote at any particular time, but anyone who wants college meetings, please try to get that done within the next two or three weeks, so that we can get a sense and work at moving forward.
A motion passed to extend the meeting five minutes.
7. Bylaws Revision
You have all seen the bylaws with their proposed revisions as proposed by the governance committee. There four basic ideas on being the definition on voting faculty; being the abolishment of the Government Committee and those responsibilities being taken over by the Executive Committtee. When the bylaws were changed so that we went from having Chairs of the Faculty Senate to Chairs of the Faculty we went from it being a one-year appointment so there always was a chair and chair elect. Now every other year we do not have a Chair Elect. The change was not made so that we would have Chair Elect/ Past Chair fill that same alternative role so now we just have a vacancy when there is no Chair Elect.
The issue that has received the most attention is the issue of the voting roster. This is a topic that has been discussed a long time. The voting roster used to be maintained in the Provost’s Office and last year was moved to the Faculty Senate office and we unfortunately do not have clear definition of who is and who is not on faculty. The two issues that have come up in particular have to do with the clause except field faculty and the absence of a clause for emeritus faculty. The field faculty issue has been raised by a number of people particularly Rhonda Sherman who is President of the North Carolina Association of Extension Agents. This change is not a change to anything. Field Faculty have not ever been a part of the voting faculty roster. The reason for the change is because since the last revision of bylaws we have given this term Special Faculty instead of having a laundry list of all the categories that might include Special Faculty. In that list to my knowledge the only group in that list who was not previously on the voting roster are the field faculty. This clause Special Faculty except Field Faculty simply maintains what has been historically. The Field Faculty definition was changed some time ago and I’m still working at trying to get the history.
I am currently in conversation with Dr. Zuiches, Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement trying to address this so the issue on Field Faculty is it makes no sense to make any change in the bylaws right now. Because of this we are making no change in what we do. We are making a change in wording but the issue of who is actually on the voter roster with respect to field faculty is a subject of conversation that will be taken up in the future.
The motion passed to extend the meeting five minutes.
The second issue has to do with the emeritus faculty. This issue has had significant attention and debate over the last five years. The proposal before you is the proposal that came out of last year’s discussion and was just again affirmed by this year’s Governance Committee. There is lots of debate as to whether Emeritus Faculty should be on the voter roster. Particularly because of time and trying to capture the sentiment of a lot of conversation that has been going around, rather than having a lot of discussion at this point I would like to make the proposal that the Executive Committee draft some wording to the effect that Emeritus Faculty may apply for membership in the voting faculty that would be renewed every five years. There are many Emeritus Faculty who have served very well but then no longer are active but still have a major impact on voter roles. There is no intent not to value and encourage the active participation of Emeritus Faculty. The biggest issue is when faculty are no longer active how should they be involved in the decision making processes? How should they be involved in discussion of representation? I would like to call for a motion to the effect of having the Executive Committee come up with wording that does not make voter status automatic but the Emeritus faculty may apply and the Executive Committee would evaluate those persons based on activity just like we currently have to vote on those from the General Constituency. That approval would be for five years, can be renewed as long as the person is active, but if the person is not active and there is no reapplication then their role on the voter roster would terminate.
The motion was seconded and did not passed.
After much discussion a suggestion was made to table the document until the spring.
Chair Martin stated that tabling becomes difficult since a vote needs to take place next week. Because it doesn’t impact anyone at this stage we can go through with this with the proviso that a further recommendation on Emeritus faculty will come before the full faculty in the spring meeting.
The Executive committee will review the document to try to come up with a neutral statement that basically puts off the decision until the future. Then it will be offered as a friendly amendment on the floor at the General Faculty meeting.
The motion passed to adjourn at 5:25 p.m.