2 February 2001
Correspondence: Christopher C. Leary, Department of Mathematics, South 324D
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 245-5383
Comments from the Chair
Faculty Affairs Committee--12 December 2000
Report from the University Faculty Senator
Last weekend SUNY New Paltz hosted the Plenary Session of the University Faculty Senate and a concurrent meeting of the Campus Governance Leaders. Ed Wallace's report from the UFS meeting is included in this issue of the Bulletin. I have brought back a couple of things to bring to your attention.
The Call for Proposals for the University's Conversations in the Disciplines Program was distributed. This program funds intercampus conferences which "bring together State University faculty and visiting scholars to examine new trends, review promising findings, and better acquaint them with professional developments in their fields and on other campuses." The deadline for proposals is Monday, 2 April. I have sent several copies around to various departments. If you would like a copy, please let me know.
In response to a resolution passed by the Stony Brook University Senate, there was a fair bit of discussion on the issue of General Education and the role of Provost Salins' office in reviewing individual courses that campuses propose to fulfill the General Education mandate that was passed by the Board of Trustees. In anticipation of a February 23 meeting of the Provost's Advisory Council on General Education (PACGE), the Governance Leaders were asked to present a resolution to their own Senates presenting a united stand from all of the campuses on two points:
The individual campuses should be the place where review of individual courses should take place. Thus the Provost's Office should only conduct review on a programmatic basis of proposals submitted by campuses in response to the mandate on General Education.
The membership of PACGE should be expanded so that full time teaching faculty form a majority of the body, and that a full time member of the teaching faculty should be a co-chair of PACGE.
I (with the assistance of the Executive Committee) will draft such a resolution to be presented at the Senate meeting of 20 February. Comments and suggestions are more than welcome. With a good tail wind, the proposal will be printed in the Bulletin next week.
Present: J. Ballard, P. Case, E. Cleeton, K. Hahn, T. Hon, J. Koch, M. Lima [chair], J. McLean, S. Muench, N. Paternosto, P. Schacht, E. Spilman.
Guest: Provost Barbara Dixon.
Chair called the meeting to order at 3:40 pm.
The Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC) met with Provost Dixon to discuss whether consideration should be given to reviewing the method employed by Geneseo for faculty evaluation, and whether an individual with professional expertise in this area should be retained to aid the college in this review. Additionally, consideration was also given to whether a task force should be assembled to address these matters.
The meeting began by the committee reviewing some of the issues involved in the continuation or modification of the Student Opinion of Faculty Instruction (SOFI) instrument. The committee noted that the SOFI is an important source of information but that it may contain some problems of reliability and validity, as well as usage. The following were offered as examples. The SOFI appears to attempt to provide summative and formative information; a body of scientific research on the topic suggests a single instrument cannot do both. Usage of information provided by the SOFI (as well as other information on teaching performance) varies across departments. SOFI scores can be influenced by teaching style and discipline area. FAC lacks the expertise to develop a reliable and valid measure instrument to evaluate teaching. Additionally, FAC supports the development of a Teaching and Learning Center to help improve teaching effectiveness.
FAC members noted that the reading on "Teaching Goals and Inventory" and the college’s current efforts to improve assessment provided guidance as to how to deal with improving the evaluation of teaching at Geneseo it confronts. Accordingly, the committee thought consideration should be given to assembling a task force to review the college’s method for evaluating faculty and hiring a consultant to aid on this matter. The committee believes that the task ahead will probably take several years, thus a task force rather than a Senate Committee would be the appropriate vehicle for reviewing this matter. Discussion followed as to how the task force should be constituted.
Provost Dixon expressed interest in the committee's work and proposals. Discussion ensued as to the faculty review process at Geneseo. The Provost believes the college would gain by a campus dialogue on the method for evaluating faculty performance. The Provost informed FAC of the AAHE "Faculty Roles and Rewards conference." The Provost's office will take chairs initially. Geneseo attendance at one or more of these conferences might improve the faculty’s knowledge on this topic and aid in identifying an appropriate consultant. Discussion ensued as to representation on a task force and when, if at all, it would begin its work.
On January 30th, at 4:00 P.M. (South 110)) the committee will meet to consider developing a charge to present to the Senate.
To: College Senate
From: Ed Wallace, University Faculty Senator
Date: 28 January, 2001
Re: Report of the 127th Plenary Meeting of the University Faculty Senate
The University Faculty Senate held its 127th Plenary Meeting at the SUNY New Paltz from 26-27 January 2001. This report outlines items that may be of interest to the members of the Geneseo College Senate.
Friday AM - The Friday morning session included two reports: a budget report from Brian Stenson from System Administration and a presentation regarding SUNY Connect by Christine Haile and Carey Hatch both of the SUNY Provost’s Office.
I won’t elaborate on the budget report since that information will be relayed in detail, I’m sure, by President Dahl at the Senate meeting in February. In summary, the Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal meets about 98% of the funds requested by the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees. There is a difference of about $40 million (2%) between the SUNY request and the Governor’s proposal. With luck, this will be restored by the legislature. Included in the proposal by the Governor was a plan to deal with the shortfalls of the hospitals. In the past part of SUNY ‘s funding has been dependent on revenue from the teaching hospitals, but a shortage there has translated into losses in funding for SUNY. While questions still exist about this proposed solution, it appears that, at least, there is progress being made in this area. It appears to me that King’s experience as State Budget Director is an advantage for the system in areas such as this. I have placed on reserve at Milne both the SUNY budget request and the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal.
SUNY Connect is a project that will, in time, link the libraries system wide in a way that should benefit the entire system. SUNY Connect is a joint initiative of the Provost Salins Office of Library & Information Services and the libraries of the 64 SUNY campuses to create a virtual library for the State University. It is currently being field tested at 6 campuses (the centers at Buffalo, Stony Brook and Binghamton, SUC’s Fredonia and Oswego, and two community colleges) with 6-10 new sites to be added by the end of the 2001 calendar year. Carey Hatch indicated that when implemented, faculty and students will have access to some 16 million volumes system wide, with 48 hour delivery time. In addition, there will be increased access to research journals, as SUNY faculty will have access to the journals in other campus libraries. A brochure describing the system is on reserve at Milne.
Flynn also distributed information about a SUNY program called Conversations in the Disciplines. This program make available to SUNY faculty funding up to $3000 to host conferences across campuses to allow faculty to share ideas involving research and other scholarly activities. The application deadline for the 2001-2002 academic year is 2 April 2001. Details are available from Senate Chair Chris Leary, and can be found on line at: http://www.sysadm.suny.edu/provost/initiatives/conver.htm
Friday PM: The afternoon session had two parts: 1. A panel discussion on learning styles, and 2. Presentations by Chancellor King and Provost Salins, with opportunities for questions from the Senators.
Panel Discussion: The panel discussion was mostly a presentation by Dr. James A. Anderson, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs at North Carolina State University. Dr. Anderson’s area of expertise is in the area of student learning styles and teaching in a setting of diverse learners. Dr. Anderson’s presentation was inspiring, and had much to say to all of us. His ideas could serve as a basis of the work we have planned for the teaching and learning center on campus. I have put his handout for the presentation on reserve at Milne.
Reports from System Administration: To begin, Chancellor King gave some personal comments concerning the "state of the university ." He is optimistic that during budget negotiations SUNY will be able to restore the $40 million that the Executive Budget cut from the system request. He explained that the Governor’s budget "executed a divorce the hospital reserve and the SUNY operating budget." This will not happen until the next budget year, still, in the long run this will be positive for the system and, one would hope, Geneseo.
King also reiterated his call for more revenue generation by the SUNY campuses. He wants the system to produce outside revenues of $5 billion over the next five years. This would be accomplished by:
1.5 Billion from Sponsored Research
1 Billion from charitable giving
2 billion from a government capital plan
.5 billion from entrepreneurial efforts on local campuses
King reported that SUNY has contracted with a leading lobbyist in Washington who can help to increase the likelihood tat grants are approved. He also promised increased effectiveness of the Research Foundation in securing grant moneys.
King reported that there has been a modification (at least modified from our last experience) in the way that presidential searches will be conducted. The current procedure is that Search Committees will report their findings to the Chancellor’s Office, one or more acceptable candidates with a preferred candidate, if the committee chooses to do so. King’s office will review the recommendation and report its decision to the Search Committee. My notes indicate that the College does not, now, review the decision of the Search Committee. This is quite different from the process we endured in 1995-6.
Chancellor King heard reports from the various sectors of SUNY (Centers, Colleges of Arts and Science etc), and responded to their concerns. A theme that was common to nearly all of the sectors was the problems that the newly implemented general education requirements will have on the system as a whole. In particular, the question of transferability of credits, especially credits in core areas, was seen as a problem by nearly all sectors. One concern that may be relevant to Geneseo involves the foreign language requirement. Students finishing a 2-year program who are looking to transfer to four year program may prefer to avoid schools that have a language requirement. How will that affect enrollment? It may be that Geneseo can live with this, but several of our counterparts are dependent on these students to meet enrollment expectations, and to lose these students to "privates" would be devastating (in their words) to their campuses. We may want to consider the effects to us as well. Overall, there is a concern that by making SUNY’s core more prescriptive we may be encouraging students from the community colleges to go elsewhere.
The last individual to address to Senate on Friday was System Provost Peter Salins. He made clear at the onset that he preferred not to address the question of general education, indicating that it had already been addressed by the Chancellor. Not much chance of that. When pressed, Salins made a statement which I will paraphrase: "The (Trustees) approval of the common core will guarantee that core courses will transfer from the community colleges to the state operated campuses (i.e. SUNY). So, this will actually improve the ‘transferability’ problem."
Salins was also questioned about the wisdom of establishing a core that was in conflict with the ideas put forth by Dr. Anderson so eloquently earlier in the day. In particular, Dr. Anderson had posited that when developing an academic program, such as a core curriculum, academics should begin with a list of learning outcomes and then determine academic program that will best support these outcomes. Salins response was somewhat remarkable. Again, I paraphrase: "That’s, essentially, what the Trustees did." I’ll leave it at that.
Saturday AM: The Saturday session is usually restricted to committee reports and the consideration of resolutions. At this meeting, Senate President Flynn chose to include a discussion of the relationship between the senate and the campus governance leader prior to the usual business.
Discussion: There is, it seems, a conflict involving the President of the Senate and the Convener of the Campus Governance Leaders. I think I have previously expressed my concern with the Senate leadership, but I suspect the problems expressed at New Paltz are different. While there has been no explicit mention of the cause of the conflict, it appears to me that the Convener of the governance leaders has stronger feelings about the role of PACGE in course approval for general education courses than President Flynn is willing to adopt. There are other issues involved, to be sure, but the common theme is that a significant faction of the faculty (the governance leaders) feels that the faculty needs to take a stronger stand on certain important issues than has been exhibited by the Senate thus far. It will be interesting to see where this conflict leads.
Resolutions: Copies of the resolutions that were passed are on file in Milne Library. I will summarize their content below:
The Senate unanimously passed a resolution that "establishes official observer status for the elected Convener of the campus governance leaders and further continues the practice of making that person an ex-officio member of the Governance Committee of the Senate."
The Senate unanimously passed a resolution to "reaffirm its tradition of not endorsing political candidates nor giving the appearance of endorsing political candidates" and called for extending this policy to the New York State Public Higher Education Conference Board by calling upon it to "adopt the policy of neither endorsing political candidates nor giving the appearance of endorsing political candidates."
The Senate passed, with one dissenting vote, a resolution that endorsed "in principle the Chancellor’s Vision Statement and the Trustees’ Budget Request" and committed the Senate to "work to support all parties in the State who demonstrate their commitment to ensure that SUNY takes its place as the premier public institution on higher learning in the United States" and finally that the leadership of the Senate "will work assiduously to resolve SUNY’s historical and continuing resource issues."
The Senate passed unanimously passed a resolution that "recommends that each local campus develop a policy on electronic communication. This policy should be developed jointly with representatives of the local campus governance organization and the information services personnel." I am not sure whether Geneseo currently has such a policy, but if we do not, we ought to consider forming a committee to formulate pollicies appropriate for our campus.
The Senate unanimously passed a resolution stating that the "University Faculty Senate recommends to the Chancellor the creation of a permanent Vice-Chancellor for Student Life position."
Besides the resolutions described above, the Senate accepted reports from the various standing committees. These reports are also on reserve at Milne Library.
One other significant report came from the Senate Nominations Committee. This committee (on which I served) was charged with assembling a slate of candidates for President of the Senate. Joe Flynn’s term as President ends after this academic year. The Senate President may serve two terms, and Joe has nominated himself for a second term . In addition, three other candidates have emerged: Gail Hagenaugh, SUC Brockport; Joe Hildreth, SUC Potsdam; and Peter Nickerson, University of Buffalo. Senate rules require a majority vote to elect a President, so a second or third ballot may be necessary at the April meeting. Given the unrest among the Governance Leaders, this may be an interesting election.
One other item that was brought before the Senate that we may want to consider concerned the status of "Alternate Senator." It appears that most campuses have a means of identifying an alternate or substitute senator if the elected senator cannot represent the campus at a meeting. Geneseo, currently has no provision for this possibility. I believe this could be easily remedied by designating, in the constitution or by-laws, an alternate senator in some way. Perhaps the Senate Chair, or Vice-Chair, or the runner-up in the election for Senator or whatever. I filled in for Jerry Reber at a Senate meeting that he could not attend, and was recognized as "Alternate Senator" during the meeting. Technically, however, that was not the case. We may want to visit this question.
University Faculty Senator