FACULTY SENATE MEETING
September 23, 2008
Present: Chair Martin, Secretary Kellner, Chair Elect Overton, Provost Nielsen; Senators Ambaras, Anson, Auerbach, Bernhard, Boone, Carver, Domingue, Edmisten, Franke, Genereux, Havner, Headen, Hemenway, Honeycutt, Hudson, Kocurek, Kotek, Levy, Lindsay, Poindexter, Ristaino, Roberts, Williams
Excused: Provost Nielsen; Senators Khater, Lindbo, Muddiman, Scotford
Absent: Senators Fahmy, Fleisher, Hergeth, Murty, Poling, Ting, Tu
Visitors: Betsy Brown, Provost Office; P. J. Teal, Secretary of the University; Suzanne Weiner, Library Administration; Marcia Gumpertz, AVP, Faculty & Staff Diversity; Lee Fowler, Athletics Director; Katie Perry, Senior Vice Provost; Terri Lomax, Interim VC Research & Graduate Studies; Kevin Howell, Assistant to the Chancellor, External Affairs; Nina Allen, Past Chair of the Faculty; John Fountain, Chair of the Department Heads Council
1. Call to Order
Chair James D. Martin called the third meeting of the fifty-fifth session of the North Carolina State University Faculty Senate to order at 3:00 p.m.
2. Welcome and Announcements
Chair Martin welcomed Senators and Guests.
Chair Martin stated that it was called to his attention that he should not have read the resolution pertaining to Mary Easley at the last meeting, so he apologized for not appropriately handling Robert’s Rules of Orders.
Chair Martin explained that the resolution was sent back to the Executive Committee. After talking with the Parliamentarian, and considering the discussion that has taken place so far, the Executive Committee concluded that the specific resolution discussed is moot, based on the actions of the Board of Governors. So the resolution as discussed and drafted is considered dead at this point. Chair Martin noted that there were a variety of issues that did come up that need to be discussed. He feels the Senate needs to think seriously about the issues to figure out which ones are important to bring forward and decide how to address them.
Chair Martin announced that the General Faculty Meeting would be Wednesday, October 15 at 3 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Talley Student Center. The current likelihood is that a component of Phase II of the UNC Tomorrow response will be discussed, specifically the section looking at faculty and staff recruitment and retention issues.
The next Millennium Seminar will be on October 13. Myles Brand, former President of Indiana University, and most recently, former President of the NCAA, will be the speaker.
The Budget 101 Plus (University Budget Forum) will be Wednesday, October 22 at 2 p.m. and another session on Thursday, October 23 at 10:30 a.m.
3. Approval of the Minutes, Meeting No. 2, September 9, 2008
A motion passed to approve the minutes.
4. Remarks from John Fountain, Chair of the Department Heads Council
John Fountain gave an overview of the Department Heads Council.
The Department Heads Councils was organized approximately four years ago, largely through the efforts of Jonathan Ocko from the History Department. The council was organized because the department heads believed that there was not enough communication between them and the administration about policies and regulation changes that were going to occur. They usually found out about changes after the policies or regulations were implemented. Being reactive, instead of having input in the beginning, was really not considered the best way to do business. Dr. Fountain explained that the problem came from two major structural aspects of the university. Supposedly, policies come down from the Provost to the Deans and then to the department heads, and the deans meet to discuss them at the Deans Council, but what happens is that higher level issues usually come up at the Deans Council, so the things that really drive the departments crazy very seldom come up for discussion.
Dr. Fountain stated that they formed an organization, talked with the Provost and the Chancellor, and explained what they wanted and why they wanted it. Both of them were extremely receptive. They have both been willing to recognize and work with the council, although Provost Nielsen made it clear that having another group to screen his decisions before he made them is the last thing that he needed, but he recognized the importance of the department’s buying into things.
The Department Heads Council has a very loose structure. Every department head and chairman is automatically a member. It is left up to the individual colleges to define exactly who they are. Each college elects a representative to a Steering Committee. The Steering Committee leaves it to the individual colleges as to how those elections will be held and how the representatives will be appointed.
The Council meets with the Provost every semester, both as a steering committee and as a whole. They have input through three different channels. First, they ask to be included in all major university committees that are considering things that would be of direct interest to the departments. Secondly, they have a list-serve to communicate. They also in their meetings solicit input from all heads prior to any Steering Committee meetings or general department heads meetings, to see if there is enough interest in any subject.
The Department Heads Council has academic interests, things like promotion and tenure that they share very closely with the Faculty Senate. There are a lot of other areas, like Facilities and Human Resources, that occupy an enormous amount of department heads’ time that really don’t fit into the normal academic structure. So they have established a direct relationship between the Heads and the Senate.
The Department Heads Council has one rule that was imposed by the Provost, which is not to conflict with the existing dean structure, so it doesn’t advocate things like resource division among the colleges, nor advocate things that are college specific. Its concerns are still passed up through the deans, as well as directly to the administration. It has no formal status, no written charter, and no rules. It only meets when there is a concern.
The Department Heads Council meets for one hour. They try to get things done efficiently by appointing people to follow-up on a given project, those people being the ones who have direct interest in the project.
Dr. Fountain noted that they are still interested in ongoing issues such as promotion and tenure, statements of mutual expectation and, everything to do with sponsored programs and research allocations.
Senator Boone wanted to know if the group has discussed the grievance policy.
Fountain stated that they have not talked about the grievance policy in any detail. They are working with one of the Faculty Senate Committees on periodic review of tenured faculty, which is going to involve grievance, but he doesn’t think the major issue of grievances has come up in the four years they have been an organization.
Senator Boone stated that the faculty has been presented with some disturbing statistics and data suggesting problems in this area, so he would be curious to see if there is a way to encourage the group to get into that conversation.
Fountain noted that they are always willing to participate. He stated that the colleges are very different in the way things run and the council members don’t generally get involved in anything that is relatively college-centric, but if it is general policy they would certainly participate without a doubt.
Senator Honeycutt noted that in the 1980’s there use to be a training course for new department heads. Does that still exist?
Fountain stated that, in fact, that had a lot to do with the formation of his group. There have always been formal presentations and meetings presented by the administration to help departments out and give them information on the administration. It was the feeling of the department heads four years ago that they were ineffective and inefficient (which is close to being the greatest crime for a department head because time is probably the principal limitation). That was one of the reasons why the Department Heads Council was formed. There was a group called the LEADS organization, which was built to deliver information to us, and we wanted a two- way exchange, not a one-way exchange. That is part of the new organization. The group is working continually with the administration in developing material for department heads. There have been some training sessions and we are working with Betsy Brown and Katie Perry both on trying to get that information and develop it in the future.
Senator Honeycutt wanted to know if the department heads are aware of the upcoming requirement for reporting faculty productivity for the Delaware Study. He stated that it has been in the works now for at least five years. How do you feel about it?
Fountain responded, it’s mandated and that is the way it is. What we are interested in is how can it be done the most efficiently.
Senator Honeycutt said he is talking about significant reporting. He asked, “Is the Senate aware of it?”
Fountain responded that it is, for example, being studied in his college. They are developing an automatic system that retrieves all of the data possible for that study, from existing databases. That study is going to be developed in one department and distributed to the others; and they are trying to see how effective it can be, how much of that information can be pulled out automatically rather than asking the faculty to do it. They are also redesigning the required annual activity reports to more nearly mimic the data that is required and that is ongoing.
5. Issues of Concern and Strategic Planning Session
Chair Martin stated that members of the Faculty Senate need to do some strategic planning to think about which items to address this year. In the orientation session they reviewed the bylaws and learned things about faculty governance in the process of writing resolutions. We have to decide what it is that we want to focus our attention on and try to accomplish.
Chair Martin asked the Senators to break into four groups and to randomly populate each group. A scribe was chosen from each group. The groups met for one hour and ten minutes before reporting back to the entire Senate.
Group One (Boone):
The first group started with brainstorming and then sorted the issues by scales (small, medium, and large issues). The group then sorted the issues by categories to mirror some of the Faculty Senate standing committees.
Resources and Environment: Concern about the timing of the lights on Hillsborough Street, and the ability to cross the street safely; Campus image and accessibility; Continuing with issues to make campus more sustainable; Interest in pursuing parking, how parking really works on campus;
Governance: Recommendation for an archive for the Faculty Senate.
Academic Policy: Relationships with Study Abroad; Discrepancies between curriculum requirements; Service Learning, which is a growing concern on our campus; relationship to First Year College; a number of admissions issues including whether or not the SAT was an appropriate tool for predicting success of future NC State students.
Faculty Senate: Our relationship to Wake Tech; Our understanding and participation in UNC Tomorrow; Relationship between Associate and Assistant Deans and Department Heads; lack of clarity in some colleges about who was really in charge; financing inequalities, conversations about differences. How do we fund travel expenses for people who have to present at conferences, for people to do their day to day work, a lack of equity in funding for those things; the issue of criminal background checks for new hires; the role of lawyers in setting NC State policies, and follow-up on the faculty well-being survey.
This group echoed a number of items that the first group presented.
(Faculty, faculty support, personnel issues). Most of what was discussed revolved around money. Priority-wise, they narrowed their list down to three items, and at the top of the list was retention and recruitment of faculty; issue of salary compression, that being an issue that the Senate can hopefully tackle; faculty benefits ranging from healthcare to tuition for dependents and faculty members, parking, faculty and administration communication, the hiring ratio of faculty to administrator (middle management heavy).
Group Three: (Paul Williams) Simple to complicated.
Senator Williams stated that some of the simple issues could be done fairly easily.
Executive Committee should report to the Faculty Senate; Resurrect the ceremony/luncheon for outgoing chairs; Faculty reviewing policies, rules and regulations; Grievance process which is already in the Personnel Policy Committee. Another issue that has been resurrected in a big way by the latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education is diversity. The latest issue of the Chronicle was devoted to a report on diversity that breaks down statistics at various universities about minority faculty, which has been an ongoing issue here. In the past, the Office of Institutional Research did a salary survey every year, for the purpose of flagging or identifying individuals with minority status (whether gender, race, etc.), to investigate whether there was a more targeted way to do these equity studies. This was based on Jack Wilson’s original salary survey and that seems again to have disappeared.
Marcia Gumpertz reported that the last study was done in 2006 and it doesn’t flag individuals. The department is the lowest level that it goes to.
Senator Williams stated that Provost Stiles would flag individuals and that is something that his group would like to see resurrected particularly given this issue of salary compression.
Senator Williams stated that another item mentioned is that it is almost inevitable that state budget cuts will be coming. When those budget cuts come, how do we respond? How do we target those cuts? Do we do it across the board? Do we target them for specific places? What is the faculty participation going to be in that?
Senator Williams stated, as NC State moves to 40,000 students it will create real issues for the faculty, in terms of assessing if we are able to accommodate these and when we can get there.
It was mentioned that the UNC Tomorrow was a one-sided response; in particular CHASS did not seem to be valued that greatly by the General Administration’s response.
This group felt that they discussed a number of high-level items. The first thing was the issue of communication and decision making, which the Academic Policy Committee is talking about quite a bit now.
There has been some discussion in the past of an ombudsman position at the university as a resource for addressing workplace concerns or problems among faculty members.
Chair Elect Overton stated that the discussions should continue, possibly in the Personnel Policy Committee and the Ombudsman Committee. She thinks it’s very important for faculty, and it plays into a lot of things that have been talked about -- to grievances, to morale, etc. -- so she wanted to make sure that the Senate stays on top of that issue.
The third item is knowing more about the Delaware Study and maybe having someone who is knowledgeable about the details make a presentation to the Faculty Senate.
Chair Martin stated that there are a number of common themes, which doesn’t surprise him. We will try to bring pieces of these back. He asked how helpful are these breakout discussions as opposed to breaking out in your committees? He encouraged faculty to bring items to the Senate. Committees can take charge of the entire meeting on a specific item. Do we want presentations? We are going to need some element of presentations but we need some element of discussion; and then we will probably go back and forth to committee. Historically, the Senate has been a place where there have been a lot of presentations. I’m not convinced that that always get a lot done. In these meetings we get at least a lot on paper but what we get done is a real question. We are at a formative time right now in faculty governance, so we need to decide how is it we want to work to accomplish what we want to do. That is not my decision; that is our decision.
Suzanne Weiner, Library Administration stated that she thinks if people could have this type of interaction with the Senators there might be more involvement from the faculty at large.
Chair Martin agreed that getting people engaged with talking to each other has some value.
Past Chair Allen suggested that the information be put on a WIKI.
Senator Hudson stated that she thinks it would be helpful to determine where the energy is in the Faculty Senate -- which issues do people want to work on. Those will probably be the best ones to prioritize.
Chair Martin stated that the next step has to be a compilation and distillation of the whole thing. Then we have to find out where the energy is, because we will not be able to tackle everything.
Senior Vice Provost Perry stated that there is often a lack of knowledge (among the faculty) about a given topic of concern. She thinks that presentations work to some extent, but she thinks it’s going to take some time for some senators to get to know where we are, and then where can we go.
Chair Martin stated that when such things come up he would take the position that it is an issue of concern, precisely because someone didn’t know about it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t places in the university where it is known. What we have to do is figure out ways to find out where it’s known, and bring things together. He said, “What I have tried to do and will continue to try to do is again go back to our post-tenure review idea as a model. My philosophy is, let’s bring the parties to the table that are interested in the issue and work on the problem. Let us not have faculty work on it or have administrators work on it, but let’s bring everyone who’s involved to the table. If we don’t have critiques, we are not going to get the best policy. If we just bring friends, who are going to endorse the way we think, you can guarantee we are going to get bad policy. So my commitment is to bring everybody that we can to the table when an issue comes up. We want to try to get information so that we can move forward in a constructive and productive fashion.”
Chair Martin reminded the faculty that hard copies of all the minutes are kept in the Faculty Senate office.
The meeting adjourned at 5 p.m.