Faculty Council Minutes -- April 2008


April 11, 2008
Rosen Center Conference Room
Faculty present: Dick Oliver, (Chair) (CSES), Mike Richardson (chair-elect), William Bailey substituting for Laurie Apple (HESC), Fred Stephen (ENTO), Gene Milus (PLPA), Jean-Francois Meullenet (FDSC), Park Waldroup absent (POSC), Duane Wolf (CSES), Jeff Miller (AEED), Tom Costello (BAEG), Wayne Kellogg for Hayden Brown (ANSC), Dan Rainey (AEAB).

Others present:
Dr. Greg Weidemann, Dean
Dr. Nan Miller, University Faculty Senate

1. Call to Order – D. Oliver, chair, called meeting to order at 2:30 p.m. He thought the Recruiting and Retention Retreat had good participation, reminded the Faculty Council members that some critical decisions will have to be made by the Council in the near future, and reiterated the need for the faculty to attend the May 2 spring faculty meeting.

2. Approval of Agenda – Motion made and seconded to approve the agenda. Motion adopted by voice approval.

3. Approval of Minutes – Motion made and seconded to approve the March 7, 2008 minutes. Motion adopted by voice approval.

4. Report

A. Administration: Dean Greg Weidemann

Dean Weidemann discussed his move to the University of Connecticut to become the Dean and Director of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources effective July 1, 2008. He has recommended to Administration that Associate Dean Donna Graham to serve as interim dean. The university administration will be in charge of hiring a new dean. A question was raised as to the timeline for the interim dean and selection of the new dean. Dr. Weidemann believes Chancellor White will defer to incoming chancellor, Dave Gearhart and Provost Bob Smith will defer to the interim provost, Bob McMath. The provost has the greatest influence in selecting the dean, as all university deans report to the provost.

Funding issues – There has not been any conversation with the chancellor as of yet but the report of a 2.3 percent budget reduction is likely. It will impact salary programs this year. This campus does not budget any revenue increase from tuition until the next year. Based on enrollment growth last fall there are estimated new funding of $3 to $3.5 million. There is concern over where the national economy is headed. Dean Weidemann believes the next legislative session will be very conservative and we should prepare for limited new funding. However, on the positive side, the state of Arkansas is likely to be impacted less than many other states.

B. University Faculty Senate – Nan Miller

Nan Miller provided a handout of the March 12, 2008 Faculty Senate Report. She addressed a few key points. In the past, there was greater need for small lecture halls, now the need is for large classrooms that can accommodate 200 to 300 students. There are no plans to build more classrooms until on-campus usage rate increases. They are looking at having more classes at 7:30 am, more classes in the evening and fewer dedicated classrooms.

The Faculty Senate Executive Committee met with Dr. G. David Gearhart, Chancellor-elect for an extended period of time and they believe he "seems to be listening to faculty intently."

The Student Evaluation Task Force gave a report and anyone who would like more information may attend the Not So New Faculty Luncheon on April 24 and April 25 at the Reynolds Center. The Task Force will review it in detail at that time.

C. Agriculture Curriculum Committee – None

D. HESC Curriculum Committee – None
5. Old Business

A. Discussion with Dr. Gearhart – D. Wolf

A meeting with Chancellor-elect, G. David Gearhart was held on March 26, 2008. Attendees included D. Wolf, C. Rosenkrans, D. Oliver, B. Dixon, and D. Johnson. The discussion centered on the fact that Chancellor-elect Gearhart is concerned about some of the issues of the College and the Division. The discussion was quite candid and forthright. He listened very intently and was asking questions looking for answers and was very engaged. D. Wolf felt that Chancellor-elect Gearhart was trying to get a sense of the concerns of the faculty and find solutions to the issues. He asked if we had considered an external review of the College, the Division and the University. We had a lengthy discussion as many of us had not considered this idea.

Chancellor-elect Gearhart did mention that the word on the street is that there is not a lot of support from faculty regarding the non-tenure hires issues. He questioned if we were correct on the number of 89 percent of the faculty being in agreement with this issue because there are quite a number of faculty who did not vote at all. He would like confirmation that this percentage is an accurate representation of the faculty's preference regarding the non-tenure hire issues.

It was noted that Chancellor-elect Gearhart did ask a lot of questions which gave us a chance to respond to how the faculty feel about the issues. He did say "I will be meeting with you again."

B. Discussion of Joint Committee Meeting with Vice-President Shult – Oliver

D. Oliver gave members a copy of the Resolutions and Cornerstone Committees' February 18, 2008 meeting notes with Vice-President Shult and noted that Vice-President Shult's comments were highlighted in yellow. D. Oliver has not yet responded to Vice-President Shult's comments. These meeting notes have been forwarded to President Alan Sugg, and Chancellor-elect, Dave Gearhart. J. F. Meullenet has forwarded a copy already to the Food Science Department. D. Oliver will delete the yellow color highlighted background. Page 11 of the Committees' report suggests Associate Deans were not attending many of the campus meetings, but should be changed to Associate Vice Presidents, particularly from the Division of Agriculture.

Dean Weidemann explained that the $955,000 that has been invested this year has gone into the Experiment Station Budget, not the College.

A motion was made and passed to forward the Resolutions and Cornerstone Committees' meeting notes to the entire faculty but to include a notation to clarify which comments are attributed to Vice-President Shult. If any of the faculty have questions, they will be directed to bring it to the attention of their faculty representative.

C. Update of Departmental and Town Hall Meetings – Milus

The Department of Plant Pathology met with Vice-President Shult. They began with a luncheon; Vice-President Shult spoke and then asked for questions from the faculty. A question was asked for Vice-President Shult to confirm criteria for determining whether a faculty position should be tenure track or non-tenure track. The faculty did not feel they received a satisfactory answer. There was concern regarding the hiring of two faculty members to do essentially the same job, but then they will be evaluated by two different committees. Vice-President Shult responded that both committees were selected by the Faculty and he felt both were fair and impartial. A question was asked if there were any new initiatives in plant science that the Department of Plant Pathology could participate in to grow and expand. Vice-President Shult responded there is not at this time.

D. Clarification Statement for Plus and Minus Grading System – Richardson

M. Richardson and D. Oliver are still working on a clarification statement. D. Oliver gave the members a handout which included some comments from a respected faculty member. Dean Weidemann did confirm, after speaking with the Provost, that the college may not give an A plus to students. Dean Weidemann reminded the members that there must be consistency with what is stated in the syllabi and with the grades given to students.

It was decided to send D. Oliver's and M. Richardson's report to the faculty. At the spring faculty meeting report that because faculty are split evenly, there will be no change to the plus/minus grading system over the next two to four years.

6. New Business

A. Tutoring Students in Sciences - M. Richardson

During the Retention and Recruitment workshop meeting it was suggested that the College should tutor students in sciences and that Faculty Council should review this suggestion. The college's students perform so poorly in math and chemistry courses and how this contributes to retention issues is why this discussion came about. One suggestion was to have Northwest Arkansas Community College faculty teach math and science courses on this campus. Another suggestion was to provide assistance to those students who need it.

It was also suggested that the College should start teaching math and science courses. It was argued at the Faculty Council meeting that at some point, students must be forced to do the work and that the College should not lower the standards to accommodate the lowest common denominator for students. Students should seek out help from the available learning centers on campus. Blocked sections are provided now and a few graduate students in biological sciences have participated. Dean Weidemann pointed out that the math deficiency is an academic problem nationally.

It was suggested to contact John Kelly on how many of the College's students use available learning centers. Also, the mentoring system will be helpful. Mentors will participate in thorough training programs set up by Alice Griffin and John Kelly. The idea and hope is that a student may feel more comfortable talking with a fellow student rather than with an advisor.

Faculty Council believes the resources are already available to help students struggling with math and sciences and that no further action is necessary.

B. Department Head Evaluation Committee – Milus

In the discussion between Vice-President Shult and the joint committees concern was raised regarding a need to have a better review system for evaluating department heads. D. Oliver appointed a Department Head Evaluation Committee. Members are G. Milus-Chair, Jean Turner, Tommy Daniels, and John Clark. There already are guidelines and procedures in place, but the evaluation format needs to include specific accomplishments of the past year and future goals set by each department head. Vice-President Shult has agreed to review what is proposed by the committee. Dr. Weidemann suggested they add at least one department head to the Department Head Evaluation Committee. G. Milus will ask Robert Wiedenmann to serve as a department head representative to the committee. Early summer has been set as a target date for the Department Head Evaluation Committee to respond back to the Faculty Council.

C. Agenda for Spring All Faculty Meeting (see last year's agenda)
1. Voting on changes in policy

The faculty did not vote to accept the co-signature line to allow Vice-President Shult to sign off on Promotion and Tenure documents, the Off Campus Duty Assignments (OCDA), nor the unsatisfactory job review. It was noted that Vice-President Shult thought these issues had already been decided.

The Resolutions and Cornerstone Committees had reported, and the faculty has voted to agree with the Cornerstone Committees conclusions on October 23, 2007 on these issues. D. Oliver reminded the members that the OCDA procedures are already written into campus policy and any changes must be approved by the Provost.

The Faculty Council Committee decided no vote is needed by the faculty at the May 2 spring faculty meeting.

2. Presentations

A decision was made not to invite the Division to make a presentation to the spring faculty meeting on May 2, 2008.

3. Get faculty to meeting

Push to get everyone to attend the spring faculty meeting on May 2, 2008.
7. Announcements

D. Oliver has invited the Faculty Council Committee to a fish fry at his home in May and will provide a few dates from which everyone can choose.

The spring faculty meeting will be at 10:00 am on May 2 in Hembree Auditorium in the AFLS Building.

Meeting was adjourned at 4:23 p.m.

Submitted by Carmen Alessi
calessi @uark.edu