Faculty Council Minutes -- March 2016

DBCAFLS Faculty Council Meeting
Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food & Life Sciences
March 18, 2016
APC Rosen Center Conference Room


Attendees: Daniel Rainey, FC Chair; Nick Anthony, FC Chair elect; Qiuqiong Huang, AEAB; Don Edgar, AECT; Jason Apple, ANSC; Kris Brye, CSES; Ya Jane Wang, FDSC; Jacquelyn Mosley, HESC; Ioannis Tzanetakis, PLPA; Sami Dridi, POSC; Clarence Watson, Asst. Dir AES; Leslie Edgar, Honors / IP; Jeff Miller, AFLS Curriculum; Doug Karcher, Scholarships; Laurie Apple, Laura Herold, & Jennifer Henk, HESC curriculum; Kalynn Smith, Administrative Specialist


Call to Order (2:30 PM)Dr. Daniel Rainey, Chair


Approval of AgendaApproved


Approval of Minutes (February 2016)Approved


Division of Agriculture – Assoc. V.P. – Research for the Division of Agriculture – Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, Dr. Watson


(see handout)

Dr. Watson opened with a congratulatory note on the recently completed ten year review of ag communications before going into the bulk of his report, the federal budget request. The President’s budget added to several lines, one of which was AFRI, which went up by $25 million. Dr. Watson called attention to the APLU number of $700 million and noted that the President called for full funding of the AFRI line, which was done by adding $25 million of discretionary money; he also suggested $325 of mandatory money which only Congress can do; part of that is any mandatory program money would have to be offset by cuts from somewhere else (it is believed that would come from crop insurance). There have been several professional societies that have latched onto $700 million and asking for support from various institutions. Dr. Watson cautioned the FC about joining this surge, as there is already considerable pushback from Congress. Requests from the Division have been put in to Washington for federal funds, but it is likely that a budget won’t be seen until after the election, but preliminary estimates are looking at level funding and perhaps some slight increases in several places.

From a state budget standpoint, information is minimal; the fiscal session starts April 13th, and prior to that on April 6th, the Governor has called a special session to deal with his Medicaid expansion plan. It is believed that the passage (or lack of passage) of his Medicaid plan is going to affect what happens in the fiscal session. This has caused speculation about potential cuts to higher education, for which The Division is preparing just in case.

This coming year the fringe benefit rate is going up by 3% which is a reflection of the health insurance premiums that occurred last summer. The University had fixed its fringe benefits prior to this, and as a result the reserves have been bled dry. The consequence – University employees will have to start paying more for these benefits, which will cost the Division about 800k next year.

With more news on the ongoing constructions projects, Dr. Watson reported that phase one of the soils lab in Marianna is complete, and that construction is gearing up to start phase two, remodeling the old part of the building. The Foundation seed plant is expected to be complete mid-summer in time for a grand opening at the Rice Expo in August. The beginning of the site work for the Don Tyson AgriScience building is on way and is on schedule for an August 2017 completion.

In conclusion, Dr. Watson announced the annual meeting of the Arkansas Academy of Science is happening here in Fayetteville on April 1st and 2nd. Afterwards there was a brief discussion among the FC about the state legislature’s plans to cut higher education and what reasons have led to this; such as how is the Division of Agriculture viewed? Is it targeted? Dr. Watson clarified that the Division was not targeted specifically; our reputation is good and that the powers that be in government are not as concerned about us but more so with education and tuition issues instead.


Bumpers College — Dean and Associate Vice President for Agriculture, Dr. Mike Vayda


No Report


Bumpers College —Associate Dean, Dr. Lona Robertson


No report


International Programs Committee – Dr. Leslie Edgar


(see handout)

There is now a funding pool set aside for students who want to gather research internationally. Students have to be faculty recommended, so the idea is for faculty to find the correct student with whom to work abroad. Students will receive 50% support if a FAFSA was completed (regardless of need), 65% if they are Stafford Loan eligible, and 75% if they are Pell Grant eligible (these include airline, living, and program costs). The Honors College is starting a Signature Study Abroad Program, which will be announced soon.

Bumpers College gave out 28 scholarships – awards ranged from $1,000 to $1,600 and funding came from the Dean’s Office. Dr. Edgar also mentioned that the Honors committee has asked for 5-year international program plans from departments that will be due April 1st. The point of these is so that the Honors committee can help faculty promote their programs during orientation periods, taking that work off the hands faculty members.

International funding grant deadlines have moved from August 15th to July 1st due to pressure from the Study Abroad Office to identify programs. Awards will range from $5,000 for current (1 year) programs and $10,000 for new (2 year) programs. Submissions for the Outstanding International Educator award will also be July 1st. Awardee will receive $3,000 in international program support.


Honors Program Update – Dr. Leslie Edgar


(see handout)

Quite a few changes have been happening within the Honors Program; there has been both a sub-committee and larger faculty committee working for Honors to manage these changes. An accomplishment between the committees was digging out the bylaws which have been part of the Honors program for some time but have not been adhered to. Dr. Edgar renamed the bylaws to “Policies and Procedures,” and by so doing made it important to have a conversation about expectations of students and the faculty guiding students. Those discussions led to modifications for student requirements as well as modifications to help guide them more productively. These changes have not been passed yet, but will likely be coming to FC next month. See handout for details on program changes.

Dr. Edgar requested that we move Honors out of an ad-hoc committee to a standing committee as it has been around for quite some time. Furthermore, Dr. Edgar feels this would put it back in the hands of the faculty.

As for other announcements out of the Honors College, there is now a course to teach Honors College Signature Seminar which is an opportunity for faculty members to teach in “a very visible way” with small groups of students. The recommendation for a faculty member to teach these courses has to go through the Dean. As an example, Peter Unger will be teaching one of the first courses, “Teeth”; the courses need to bring out faculty member expertise. Students will be capped at 12 and be selected by application. Faculty will be able to select those students (only students who are selected may take it, and there is still discussion over whether there will eventually be more than one course per semester).

Undergrad or Graduate students can enter a poster competition created by the Student Honors Board. The boards will be up in the AFLS atrium for a few days and VISA gift cards will be available for winners ($100, $50, and $25). The Honors College has also received money for a student mentor program; this program will be embedded into the orientation class worth 3 credit hours rather than going through several different orientation courses. Sophomores and Juniors will be needed next semester for the program.

In a discussion among the FC, Dr. Edgar stated that we’re making progress in the number of Honors students from Bumpers and asked faculty who have honors eligible students to encourage involvement. She also mentioned an Honors mentor award, which is a new award; the award is selected by the student board, and must be nominated by an Honors student. Finally, a decision was made for the ad-hoc committee to format their policies and procedures before the FC would vote to make it a standing committee.


Student Networking and Curricular Enhancement – Dr. H.L. Goodwin, Director


No Report


University Faculty Senate- Dr. Don Edgar


Protocols are being changed toward chemical safety – P-Card usage will no longer be permitted, which means that obtaining materials is time insensitive now. However, a better accounting of them is now possible, which wasn’t the case with P-Cards. Dr. Edgar brought up emails about health insurance dependent verification and clarified that it is something an outside group has implemented for our system. Dr. Edgar then moved on to news about the limit on 68 credit hours to be transferred in to the University, which will no longer be in effect. There will not be a limit on transfer hours. Dr. Edgar shared his interpretation of this new policy, that is was created to prevent restrictions that might prevent students from completing a degree. However, there are ways departments could circumvent this new policy with course requirements rather than credit hour requirements.

Next, he asked for input from the FC about student course evaluation, namely a specific question which pertained to the English proficiency of instructors (the statement will now read “I can understand my instructor’s written and spoken English” and reference a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”). The FC was not pleased with this change and agreed that, if the statement is necessary for the course evaluation, it could be rephrased to be less offensive. This prompted a discussion about the efficacy of online course evaluations, which the FC agreed was lacking. There were comments about the poor quality of feedback and the low participation numbers.


Graduate Council – Dr. Kris Brye on behalf of Dr. Thad Scott


(see handout)

Referencing the handout, Dr. Brye called attention to a new proposed program that would help Honors students who want to use their undergrad time as a stepping stone into graduate work. This program is meant to facilitate getting them into Graduate school and will serve as a funding source for students who meet the criteria. The Graduate School and Honors College will be meeting to discuss the program and flesh out details. It should be taken back to departments for discussion as well. The FC asked about duration of funding and Dr. Brye shared his theory that, since the students will hold the title of “Honors Graduate Fellow,” it would hopefully fund the full program. However, this cannot be confirmed at this time. Dr. Brye also clarified that students must be eligible for Graduate school to participate in this program.


Faculty Council Report – Dr. Daniel Rainey, Chair


Nominations Committee made of Andy Proctor, Jason Apple, and Kris Brye need three candidates for Faculty Senate by early May. Mary Savin will be the incoming Chair for Faculty Senate. As a reminder, each department should be electing their representative for P&T and have them in by April. Finally, the personnel document has passed and has been signed by Dr. Rainey, Dean Vayda, and Dr. Watson and is currently moving around for more signatures.


Standing Committee Reports:


Awards Committee – Dr. Kate Shoulders, Chair


No Report


Scholarship Committee – Dr. Doug Karcher, Chair


The Scholarship Committee recently came from a significant and in-depth meeting in which they had 388 applicants to consider for scholarships. Unofficially, 257 applicants were current students, 26 were transfer students, and 105 were new Freshmen. The largest awards are land grant awards which are $4,000/year and are renewable. There were 5 new land grant awards to give, 3 of which went to incoming Freshmen and 2 to transfer students. In other awards, $85,200 in new scholarship awards. $48,500 went to 42 current students, and the average award was around $1,000. $24,700 were distributed to 24 incoming Freshmen and $12,000 in awards went to new transfer students (before summarizing the committee’s decisions, Dr. Karcher clarified that awards do not become official until students accept and write a letter of thanks). Department-level scholarships should be coming the next few weeks.

The FC discussed the asynchronous nature of scholarship application deadlines within the University and within Departments and discussed how online applications and even automatic applications that are routed to departments with Freshmen applications to the University would be more efficient and relieve stress on students and faculty alike.


AFLS Curriculum Sub-Committee – Dr. Jeff Miller, Chair


As Dr. Leslie Edgar mentioned in her presentation, the new Bumpers College Honors Program Perspectives course will be a 3 hour class replacing the 1 hour University Perspectives course and students are no longer required to take the Intro to Honors course; in essence, we are not adding hours to a student’s degree plan.

Dr. Miller spoke next about changes within Environmental Science. The Wildlife Habitat minor has been deleted and a new minor called Natural Resources has replaced it. It is hoped that this change will attract more students. A Soil Science minor has also been added, and naturally could be picked up by students in Crop/Soil. However, there is a limit to how many credits they can use to “double-dip,” so to speak (approx. 9 credits must come from courses that are not already in their degree plan).

In regards to informational items, Dr. Miller announced that Animal Breeding and Genetics added a lab to increase the amount of contact time with students in that class. Mike Thomsen was elected Secretary/Incoming Chair to replace Secretary Nick Anthony, who will serve as Faculty Council Chair next year.

A motion to approve the course changes was made and carried.


HESC Curriculum Sub-Committee –Dr. Kathy Smith


(see handout)

The HESC Committee provided an extensive handout of changes complete with explanations. Please reference the handout for details. In essence, there have been a great deal of course and program changes. Furthermore, the HDFS minor has been cleaned up; new courses were created where others were deleted. This was done to make the minor match the current courses. Another change was adding in a third minor requirement has been added to make the required list 9 hours and reducing electives for the minor down to 9. The revisions are meant to take effect during 2017-2018.

The motion to accept the changes was made and carried.


Old BusinessNone

New Business –None

General Announcements

The next Faculty Council meeting will be April 15th.


Motion made and seconded to adjourn.

Submitted by Kalynn Smith