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Minutes of the Faculty Senate

September 12, 2006

Present: Chair Allen, Secretary Bruck, Chair-Elect Martin, Provost Nielson; Senators Banks-Lee, Blair, Branoff, Culbreth, Dawes, Evans, Fauntleroy, Fleisher, Genzer, Gustke, Hanley-Bowdoin, Heitmann, Hudson, Kellner, Khosla, Kinsella, Lindbo, Moore, Murty, Overton, Ozturk, Raymond, Schultheis, Scotford, Smith, Wessels, Williams

Excused: Senators Anson, Robarge, Shamey

Absent: Parliamentarian Corbin: Senators Akroyd, Jones, Muddiman, Mulvey, Yencho

Visitors: Karen Helm, Director, University Planning and Analysis; J. C. Boykin, Chair, Staff Senate; PJ Teal, Secretary of the University; Suzanne Wiener, Library Administration; Jo-Ann Cohen, Associate Dean, PAMS; Lee Fowler, Athletic Director; March Krotee, Head, Physical Education; Jose Picart, Vice Provost, Diversity & AAA; Katie Perry, Senior Vice Provost; Allen Dupont, Director of Assessment, DUAP; John Ambrose, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Program

1.  Call to Order

Secretary Robert Bruck called the second 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

Secretary Bruck welcomed Senators and guests.

Chair Allen reported from the Tuition Advisory Committee that a cap of possibly 6.5% might be put on increasing the tuition across the system.

Chair Allen reported that the Budget Advisory Committee has scheduled a budget forum on November 30 where Provost Nielsen and Vice Chancellor Leffler will disclose items pertaining to the budget.

Chair Allen reminded and encouraged the faculty to fill out the survey.

3. Approval of the Minutes Meeting No. 1, August 29, 2006

The motion passed unanimously to approved the minutes.

4. GER Task Force Report

John Ambrose, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Program presented the draft proposal from the GER Task Force.

The task force has been in operation for the past two years. They have solicited input from the faculty.

The current system was implemented in 1993 and we were still working on the courses. We have changed the way the programs are assessed. We have changed the objectives, the outcomes for GER’s. We have developed a good process for adding and deleting courses from the GER list. However we have not had an overall review of the program in that time and since we were over ten years Provost Oblinger at that time decided that it was time to review that.

Provost Oblinger appointed the task force and the charge of that task force was recommitted under now Provost Nielsen and we were asked to recommend a model for the General Education Task Force.

The Task Force Committee that was set up to work for this has broad recommendation from across the campus. The majority of the colleges are represented and there are some student members. In addition to the model we have also looked at what our peers were doing and how that compares. We were asked to develop an assessment plan for this and an implementation plan. Information was gathered from faculty, students, and administrators.


The current system is flexible.

The course based approach is well suited to NCSU, and correlates easily to the Articulation Agreement


The system is too large.

Because of that size a number of the degrees subset the GER

The consequence of the subsetting is if a student transfers from one program into another and the vast majority of our students change majors several times, this might add extra hours to their degrees for graduation

Many of the students said they didn’t understand the system. The system lacks coherence. It does satisfy a broad range of general educational goals but the students didn’t see any coherence to it.

The assessment plan, because it was set up, as a course base assessment required that all instructors teaching a general education course assess their courses. The scope, the magnitude of that was something that was called into concern and also the assessment plan looked at courses, it didn’t look at the overall GER.

We look at our sixteen peers, twelve of them have systems similar to ours and the other four have college level GERs. They still have primarily a menu approach but they have more limitations within it. Our GER is the largest among all of our peers. At 50 to 53 hours the next highest is Penn State with 45, the average is 40 credits. Generally speaking, the GER for our peers is pretty much like ours. They take 12 to 15 hours of humanities and social sciences and another 12 to 15 hours in natural sciences and math.

If we look at the UNC system, again we are the biggest GER in the system. The average again works out to 40 hours just like with our peers in all but four of the institutions in the UNC system have GER’s that are very similar to ours. They differ primarily in that more of the courses are spelled out.

Last year the GERTF developed a mission statement and rationale for general education that was presented to the campus community and was shared with the Academic Policy Committee of the Faculty Senate. The feedback was very favorable.

We wanted to develop a proposal that took into consideration what our rationale was and what the response was from the campus and that built on the strengths that we had in the current system. The most significant change is that we go from 50 hours down to 39 credits. We have reduced humanities and social sciences as well as the mathematical sciences and the cuts are fairly even. The first goes from 21-12 and the second goes from 20-13 and within that at least one of the courses in the natural sciences has to be a lab course. The writing, speaking and info literacy goes from 7 hours to four hours. We maintained the English 101. We eliminate the requirement for the advanced writing. We have already had feedback from some of the colleges. PE and healthy living stays at 2 credits. The science and technology and society go away but that shows up in what we call a capstone course. We add two new courses; a first year course to introduce students to the new GER and that is going to be a 2-credit course and we add a capstone course. This is an interdisciplinary capstone course. Also we are suggesting that each student be required to have at least three hours of free electives.

The computer literacy requirement is moved from the university GER to the colleges.

Foreign language requirement stays the same. The non-English speaking culture as a co-requisite is eliminated but we do add a co-requisite in US diversity.

The introductory course would introduce students to the General Education Program and to the themes. This would be a 2-credit course. The objectives of it are diversity, engagement, critical thinking and interdisciplinary thinking. The themes within the general education plan are twelve credits where students can specialize in a particular topic. This course is not intended to replace any of the college introductory courses. This would be a new course. It is not intended to be a study skills course.

The course would be academically rigorous.  It would earn its two credits and the intent is to develop an academy of first year faculty for this course that would meet on monthly basis, share ideas, concepts, talk about what they are doing in the class, similar to the academy of outstanding teachers.

The required capstone, if a student were doing a theme there would actually be a cap stone course specified for them. For students who were just doing the general education plan they would take in most cases one of our STS courses. The capstone course is not meant to replace the capstone course in the discipline.

A theme would actually be courses within the general education plan. It would consist of twelve credits. No themes have been developed at this point but the GERTF has considered a number of possibilities. There would be twelve credits and no more than two of them could come from any of the major areas such as the natural sciences, the social sciences or humanities. There would have to be at least one course in two of those three categories. A theme could have the capstone course as one of the courses that counts toward those twelve credits.

The diversity course is a co-requisite. If the student doesn’t use it as such it might end up being an additional course.

This proposal is smaller than the existing GER system, while we still think it addresses the critical areas that we have identified in our general education with a little more elaborations on what those areas are. It is flexible--students can transfer and because programs will not be allowed to subset, students can transfer from one major to another without losing their general education program. Hopefully this adds coherence to the program. It is anticipated that the themes will give students a reason to think about the GEP and the choices they make. This makes assessment a lot easier. The working hypothesis is that we would assess an introductory course and a capstone course and that we would sample some of the courses in between. This eliminates the need to go back and do an assessment on every course that is taught within the GER. It also gives a much better feeling for how the overall plan is working.

There are still a lot of questions. A first year course has to be developed in detail and what we are proposing is that we spend this academic year working with the committee to develop the first year introductory course. That course would then be taught in fall 2007 on a trial basis and with another group of students in the spring. Based on that trial run we would go ahead and formalize the course and in fall 2008 we are suggesting that the entire general education plan be ruled out. There are several reasons for that. We need time to develop the capstone courses. We need time to work in the themes and because this plan will change every curriculum on campus there is a tremendous amount of paper work that all of the colleges are going to have to go through. This allows us to handle it in a more reasonable manner and also develop processes for streamlining the process.

GERTF web site – http://www.ncsu.edu/uap/committees/ger_committee.html


Secretary Bruck: What is the approach going to be to get the best faculty into these critical thinking courses?

Ambrose responded that the Provost plans to support this and the resources may consist of release time or they may consist of additional funding for the colleges that participate.

Chair-Elect Martin stated that the success or failure would depend on what that capstone and what that intro course will be. “How are you going to get the students to choose a theme in a meaningful way?”

Ambrose stated that there would be a committee to actually flush the course out. There have been a lot of suggestions to what that course is going to look like though right now they don’t have a suggested model.

If a student goes into a theme and decides that it is not for him or her they can always drop back to a general education plan.

Senator Martin asked, what if the student wants to start in a GER then decide he or she wants to go into a theme?

Ambrose replied that the student would then have to take additional course work.

Senator Kellner stated that he thinks that it would be useful to bring things forward for university discussion rather than to present something for approval that is going to be done regardless, and to offer alternative plans as well.

Senator Kellner stated the goal of "coherence" is the problem, not the solution.  It contradicts the idea of the "general" in general education. For this reason he prefers the quarter system, where the student can take that random course on "War and Peace" and medieval sculpture. He noted that in the concept of themes what Dr. Ambrose has is basically a baby major, and inappropriate for a General Requirement.

Where are the fourteen missing hours going to go? Are we going to find irresponsible colleges, who have booked their students up to here (gesture) with a rigid curriculum and few or no electives, who use these

recovered hours to make their schedules even more one-sided? Are they going to take advantage of the unfortunate fact that dollars follow seats and vacuum those hours up immediately to their advantage, or are rather stringent forces going to come into play to prevent that from happening, which I think would be a very unfortunate matter?

This leads to the question of impact and what I don’t hear is any real information about impacts in two areas. What is it going to cost? If you want tenured faculty to teach in these courses they are going to be

taken from other larger courses which is going to be quite expensive. Will there be money to replace them in the courses in their fields? I have a hunch that we are talking unfunded mandates regardless of what is intended.

With all the best will in the world we don’t have serious estimates of cost.

Removing eleven hours from this leads to the impact on faculty. Clearly this is not just a reshuffling of hours and seats. Jobs will be lost and we represent, as Faculty Senators, the voting faculty, made up of the non-tenured track faculty as well as the tenure track faculty. Coming from the English Department I don’t see any real thought given here to what kind of impact this would have. Nor do I see any expression of philosophy, a statement about what an NC State graduate ought to know. A general education without literature, without history, without writing an academic paper is just too vague.It strikes me that this is more like the old NC State, where graduates could brag about never visiting the library. This may be where we are going again even if we don’t want to because of the vagueness in this plan. I think we need to hear a lot more. It's just not ready for consideration.

Ambrose stated that the “them” is only twelve credits. There are thirty-nine credits in the general education plan. There are another twenty-seven credits that students have quite a bit of flexibility to select and pick from where they are going to go. The advantage is that they don’t lose courses in the process. Some of these courses will move from one list to another. Those eleven hours for many programs are not just going to disappear. There probably will be less of a demand on some courses. At this stage we don’t know what those courses are because we haven’t define the entire list. We had a brief conversation with some of the people in CHASS and for example with the non tenure tracked faculty approximately one third of them leave every year to go other places so if there are reductions certainly attrition is one way of dealing with that.

As far as how we are going to pay for this we are going into this with good faith that it is what’s going to happen. Release time or whatever system we come up with may work this. This is going to be something that will appeal to some people. This is something that is very promising for our students.This is something that is a chance for people to step forward and grab something and work with it. With any program there is going to be changes.

Chair Allen wanted to know if enough science and math is being projected for students to have.

Ambrose stated that both sides were equally reduced as much as possible.This is general education for our students in general. We do have good advising. Our programs know what our students need to be employed. Those things will help to work the system for individuals. These are minimums that we have established with this plan. They are certainly not meant to be maximums.

Senator Moore commented that basically in some of the advanced courses we are still going to have to have the math and the science except instead of being a GER requirement it is now a departmental requirement.

Ambrose encouraged the faculty to review their website and to leave any comments they would like to make.

Senator Ozturk wanted to know how they are going from 52 to 39?

Ambrose explained that humanities go from 21 to 12, natural sciences from 20 to 13; they have dropped the STS course, which are three credits. The English and communication from seven hours to four hours and we are adding five credits of new courses and three hours of electives.

Ambrose stated, “This isn’t going to work equally with students or with programs. It makes a difference where you already are. Some programs with this new system will have the option of reducing the total credits to graduation. Others will end up pretty much where they are now except they are moving courses from the GER plan into the required plan. This is also an opportunity for all the programs to take a look at the courses they have the major and decide if this is where we should be.”

5. Remarks from Provost Nielsen

Provost Nielsen stated that this is a time of year where all the planning takes place and noted that the load sometimes get pretty heavy.

Our total headcount from the data that we have now are 31,129 students, a significant leap over where we were one year ago. We have approximately 1000 more students. The new freshmen incoming class totaled 4,559 students, which is an increase of several hundred students over last year.

Our graduate students enrollments are down significantly from our projection. We are level with master students and down about eighty with doctoral students. The way our budget comes to the university is, we make a projection of how many students we anticipate are going to come to the university. This year we missed our enrollment by a substantial amount, mostly at the graduate level. Fortunately in the second year of the biennium, which is the year that we are currently in the legislature holds us harmless for having missed our enrollment that we sent forward. We could have expected some increase in dollars for the College of Veterinary Medicine, approximately $900,000. We could have expected an increase in distance education of about $1.7M and we could have gotten a loss on our students sitting in chairs taking courses of $3.2M. We are held harmless by them not taking away any money in the lines that we are not producing enough and they don’t give us any money in the lines where we had generated some increase. The problem is that for distance education to achieve the hours that they are projecting they need the money that their growth projects that they should get and we have no money to give them because it did not come to us and we have not charged back the deficit of the $3.2M against the failure to meet on campus seats.

This is the first year that we haven’t had a budget cut from the legislature however we took one ourselves.

The tuition and fees task force works every year to think about where we are going with tuition and fees for the coming year. We have no guidance yet from the Board of Governors and the General Administration but we believe strongly that we will get guidance that will put a cap on this for four years. The significant issue is if this cap comes it is going to be 6.5% of combined tuition and fees. We have to make some judgment about how any proposed increase would be apportioned between tuition and fees.

Senator Kellner asked, “If we admit numbers beyond what is projected are we penalized? Does the money come from the legislature automatically?”

Provost Nielsen responded no to both questions and stated that we are fund based on budget and enrollment numbers that we propose and the GA approves. What we get with more is the tuition revenue but we don’t get the appropriation. If we come under we still get the appropriation that we had planned but we don’t get the tuition revenue because the students that we thought were coming don’t pay their tuition.

Every year we have been putting $3.0M into a tuition reserve, which comes directly out of the Provost’s budget that we put aside to cover the tuition money that we don’t receive.

Senator Williams wanted to know which of the two numbers are larger, the appropriation or tuition.

Karen Helm, Director of Planning and Analysis responded that the appropriation is much larger than the tuition.

Provost Nielsen stated that when we project an out of state student, the entire amount is supposed to be covered by tuition and there is no appropriation that goes along with that for direct expenses to the teaching process.

Senator Hanley-Bowdoin – The bulk of that $3.2M reflect under enrollment at the graduate level and you said that has happened for two years. I wonder what the thoughts are on why this is happening and what we can do to alleviate this problem.

Provost Nielsen responded, graduate enrollment increase because faculty members take graduate students and the other way is that we have professional programs, which take students and have a teaching program associated with that. In general the graduate enrollment is based on the faculty taking graduate students with their grants. The numbers have not grown lately. “I think there are a number of things responsible. One is fear that the graduate student support plan is not going to be able to cover students especially international students. It has to do with the increasing cost in general of a graduate student. One thing that I am going to be asking all the deans and faculty is to think about and tell me what expectations are for your participation in the graduate programs because I don’t think the question of whether you take graduate students or post docs is just your decision. I think we have admission for graduate education and we have to think about what that admission is and how we should allocate our internal and grant funds for that.”

Senator Hanley-Bowdoin stated that excessive research endeavors and the granting agencies, the impact it is going to you have to be very careful not to do something that is gong to be detrimental to that activity because then you also undermine your graduate training opportunity.

Provost Nielsen stated that the funded research program continues to grow and our graduate program is not, which is a question he asked Vice Chancellor Gilligan; If we are continuing to set new records every year in terms of research dollars why is that not translating into additional graduate students? There may be lots of good reasons for it.

Karen Helm stated that another trend that is affecting graduate enrollment on campus is the shift to distance education.

Provost Nielsen explained that distance education includes any education that is delivered beyond the campus.

When students switch from taking courses here to outside, the student credit hours go out of the on campus calculation and they go into the distance education calculation.

Senator Kellner wants to know if the Legislature has changed the number of years that one must serve in order to obtain health benefits in retirements.

Provost Nielsen stated that before this year if you were employed for the State of North Carolina for five years you were vested in the health system, the state would pay full cost of your benefits forever. That has now changed to twenty years before you are eligible to have the state continue to pay your health benefits. This is effective as of the first day of October.

Provost Nielsen stated that his hope is that we will see better benefits and cost associated with our healthcare.

Strategic Planning

The strategic plan consisted of some general statements and ten investment priorities and a series of distinctive characteristics for the university. The intention was to inform each of those investment priorities and distinctive characteristics with the reports and other things that we had been doing in recent years and maybe have going on now that can be nested under these investment priorities that define in greater detail what it is that the university is saying that it should do relative to each of these items.

The second stage is to take those reports and for colleges and other units of the university to incorporate those into the compact planning process covering the next several years. The process that we are engaged in now, Karen Helm is gathering the documents and nesting them under the appropriate investments. We are also holding some further discussion meetings with executive officers and the deans to examine the investment priorities and say from their perspectives what are the significant action steps that we should take under each of them. There will be more ideas for faculty to comment on about where we think the next level down in specificity of the strategic plan should be listed.

You and the colleges have been talking with your deans and department heads about where it is you think the college and the departments ought to be going. These ideas will fall out as the compact plan that will cover the years 2007-2010. The first compact plan that we had covered 2000-2003 where the commitment was made in agreement between the college dean and the Provost over what we were going to fund, what we had agreed on, and what we were going to mutually do during that three-year term.

We are going to vote this year to implement a compact plan again, a three year compact plan in which we make mutual commitment for where we think we are going to go over the next three years and I think that is the way to do it, to put some predictability in our lives as well as the predictability for our students.

There is always a lot of focus on where we are going to get new money. I think the strategic plan is a lot more than that. It is things that we as an institution want to do that may cost no money at all or may be a reallocation of money. It is my expectation that we will very soon make recommendations for what will get an assessment. We will make recommendations for what our campus initiated tuition increase will be for the next four years and that we will have an enrollment growth plan that will talk about where our enrollment is going to go so that for four years out we can anticipate how much new money will be available in each of those for the next three or four years so that we can begin to plan how much is going to be there across this time frame.

As I look at the new money that becomes available in thoughts about compact planning I see four things that we need to do and I am not sure yet how we will manage those.

  1. To meet the seats and sections teaching needs of all of us relative to current enrollment and also enrollment growth.
  2. Repair the losses in operating dollars and other things that we have continued to suffer over the last fourteen or fifteen years.
  3. Our new indicatives that the colleges and units want to undertake
  4. Interdisciplinary unit priorities that we have at this institution

I think we need to be thinking about all four of those things as we decide how to allocate the new funds that may be available.

You have all heard about PACE (President’s Advisory Committee on Efficiency and Effectiveness) for which he has reduced the budget for General Administration by 10.3% and we are looking at that across the system. We have expectations that we are going to do some adjustments of our budgets and I don’t know how that is going to be but I believe we need to very actively be looking at eliminating the least valuable things we do, taking the funds from those and putting them into the highest valuable things that we do. I will be somehow asking everyone to think about that as part of their strategic and compact planning process as we go forward. I don’t know what form that would take.

Another point is to require cost sharing for any new initiatives that colleges or other units would develop.

I anticipated that we would have to deal honestly and significantly with how we are using our current resources. We can’t achieve our objectives just on new resources because there is not going to be enough there.

The Chancellor has asked me to coordinate the entire compact planning process for the university so that the other Executive Officers, the Vice Provosts and the Deans planning would all come together. Karen and I have coordinated an approach to this. I am sort of looking at the things that report to the Provost’s office and making allocations there but we would look at it overall. This is important from my perspective. I’m intending to start looking at funds that are required for faculty positions to include not just the salary but salary, graduate student stipend, operating dollars and start up cost and to do that will require a coordination between me, Vice Chancellor Gilligan, Vice Chancellor Leffler and in some cases Vice Chancellor Zuiches.

Senator Fleisher: Regarding the new hiring package that you are considering you did say that you are going to include graduate student stipends in that. Would that be separate from the graduate student support plan?

Provost Nielsen responded, yes that is what he would like to do.

Our expansion budget that we have begin to put together for the next two years has a large amount of money in it for graduate stipends. We have to have more graduate student support. We can’t build this institution on enrollment growth dollars we have to have registered support so it seems to me the only way to do it is to build graduate student assistantships into those programs so I have done that everywhere that we could.

6. Issues of Concern

Chair Allen is concerned that the Faculty Senate does not have a logo. She assigned the issue of concern to Senator Scotford from the College of Design.

7. Adjournment

A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting at 4:30 p.m. The motion passed unanimously.

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