Faculty Council Minutes -- March 2017
March Faculty Meeting
Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food & Life Sciences
March 17, 2017
ARKU 308 SW
Call to Order (2:30 PM) – Nick Anthony, Chair
Approval of Agenda – Approved
Approval of Minutes (February, 2017) – Approved
Division of Agriculture – Dr. Clarence Watson – Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
The state budget still has not been set. The outlook for new (recurring) funds is becoming “bleak.” At the federal level, the Division is still operating under a continuing resolution through April. Congress has not started developing the FY18 budget. The President’s “skinny budget” came out this week, which is very light on detail, but several changes were announced. The Agriculture budget was recommended for a 21% cut, however, there are not line-by-line details for this budget, and Dr. Watson felt it was “honestly not that threatening,” as it supports research and extension in land grant universities, recommends $350 million to the AFRI program, and is going to refocus ARS research on high priority areas. There may be more details released later, and Dr. Watson did caution that “the devil’s in the details,” and it may be more about what is not said that what is said in the budget (thus far). The budget was developed without a Secretary of Agriculture in place, so agriculture institutions did not really “have a seat at the table.” Congress will probably begin work on FY18 budget by the end of spring.
The concealed carry bill has passed and is on the Governor’s desk for signature, and indication is that he will sign it. Faculty and students over 21 years of age will be permitted to carry. A question was raised if faculty would have the ability to prohibit guns in their classrooms via their class syllabi, and Dr. Robertson mentioned that it is her understanding that the university cannot have a registry, so not only will we not know who on campus is carrying, but that faculty also cannot prohibit concealed carry in syllabi.
A question was raised about the new administration building for the farm. Dr. Watson reported that construction is scheduled to finish around July 3rd, but whether or not the Division will be able to move into the building at the time is unclear. Construction of the building itself, however, is on schedule.
Bumpers College —Dr. Lona Robertson, Interim Dean
The Higher Learning Commission will visit campus on April 10th and 11th. There will be some town hall meetings and faculty and staff will be asked to attend. The Chancellor is going to announce a new scholarship program called Advance Arkansas. These are scholarships that will endow at the $50,000 level and the Chancellor wants to raise a separate $10 million endowment to generate funds to match the proceeds from the funds that the colleges generate. A $50,000 endowment generates approximately $2,000 per year that will be awarded and matched --- potentially a $4,000 scholarship. These scholarships will be focused on first generation college students and will be renewable. In-state Arkansans will be the focus, as well as those with lower ACT scores. Advance Arkansas scholarships should be awarded at the college level, but are meant to be “portable,” meaning that student who starts with this scholarship in one college will retain that scholarship if they change majors and move to another college.
Enrollment projections – Campus is projecting an incoming freshmen class between 5,100 to 5,150, which is up from previous years. The average GPA for admits so far is 3.75. The Bumpers College applications and admits are down slightly for the upcoming year. Campus has put out-of-state students on a wait list to ensure that 50% of our students are Arkansans.
Campus is looking at a new ERP system. It will be a new financial management system to replace BASIS, UAConnect, and People Admin, connecting elements from all of these systems together. The new ERP will also bring in other UA campuses.
A question was raised about the status of the Dean’s search, and Dr. Robertson was able to report that a memo is out signed by Dr. Cochran and Provost Coleman and Matt Waller, who is Chair of the search, is trying to organize a committee meeting for the Dean’s search. Dr. Watson added that there is talk to push the search back a few months to avoid doing it in the middle of the summer when nine month faculty are gone and others are in the field. Nothing has been released and no job announcement is out. When the search committee meets, they should start reviewing a job description.
Bumpers College — Dr. Lona Robertson on behalf of Dr. Mike Evans, Interim Associate Dean
Curriculum changes – When adding a prerequisite to a course, it is considered a minor curriculum change. However, approvers beyond the college now require a justification for the prerequisite, as it was discovered that some colleges were abusing prerequisites to filter out students from outside colleges/majors out of courses. Any new courses that are put forward must have a syllabus attached with them, and that syllabus must contain “student learning outcomes.”
Classroom scheduling – Kimpel is being taken offline for about a year and a half starting next year due to construction, and as a result classroom space on campus will be extremely tight. The Dean’s Office is still working to place Bumpers College courses during requested time slots and rooms. In situations where a Bumpers College class is placed in a classroom outside of the college, it is because the room that class is being displaced from has a certain capacity and the campus is putting a course in it that matches that capacity. This means lower capacity courses are being moved into smaller rooms. Space in classrooms is the priority, not convenience. We will, however, still have priority over our special use classrooms such as labs and seminar rooms. Dr. Robertson related that she is not concerned so much about lab space, but rather for our graduate seminar rooms, as those will likely be targets for other colleges. Lab safety became a topic of concern under the space issue, and Dr. Robertson suggested making lab safety modules mandatory to receive a satisfactory grade in the course. It was also mentioned that although a room occupancy might be generous, the equipment available does not necessarily reflect the Fire Marshall’s code, meaning labs could potentially not be as crowded as feared.
International Programs – Dr. Leslie Edgar
Graduate international applications are down 9% and undergrad applications are down 29%. There is some speculation as to the cause, but there is no certain answer. It might be due to the new executive order, as some international students are concerned about their safety in the US and on our campuses. This is a huge concern for the Graduate School and International Education.
Jim Rankin has asked that International Programs include him more fully in MOU agreements, so he is more aware of what’s expected of him. IPO typically sign general MOUs and Dr. Rankin usually just sees the generic routing form, but he wants to know a little more information. Dr. Edgar asked how specifically he would want that information, but was not able to receive an answer. Consequently, faculty are asked to try and keep him in the loop as best they can. When asked if this would include graduate students coming from overseas, Dr. Edgar clarified that if an MOU has the potential for research, Dr. Rankin wants to know about it. This is so they can plan and react for those potential collaborations.
The Study Abroad Office has been able to launch January intercession faculty-led program applications. The deadline for January intercession for all faculty is April 1st. Summer and Spring are due July 1st. Please encourage faculty to meet those deadlines.
Grant applications are also due April 1st. IPO is asking all faculty – regardless of whether or not they need funding – to submit a proposal. The reason for this is to make the faculty committee more involved in selecting these programs. These programs have grown quickly over the past few years and it is becoming necessary to do a better job at identifying which programs are likely to make and which are not. Dr. Edgar stressed that the goal is avoid having faculty waste their time. Please encourage faculty to apply for those grants. International Programs committee will select those programs for the upcoming year. There is a subcommittee in the process of developing a handbook for faculty to get ahead of these deadlines. The Study Abroad Office is altering their deadlines, and IPO is trying to keep in step.
There has been some discussion about exchanges among the IPO committee. Dr. Edgar gave a brief outline of the exchange process, which is that our university and another university has agreed to exchange between 50-60 students per year; based off that exchange, students pay tuition at their home university and can travel to one of our exchange universities to take credits there. Their money here supports them to be abroad. At the college level, we are trying to help our students to more fully understand this process. We currently have one student out this spring and five going out in the fall, and these students are frustrated because the process is unfamiliar and unclear. Want to work with the departments to identify courses at the partner university that our students can take.
The committee met and reviewed scholarship applications. Received 55 total – the best applications we have ever had – and awarded 26 scholarships with 15 alternates. Students have been notified.
Faculty Council Report – Dr. Nick Anthony, Chair
University Faculty Senate – Dr. Don Edgar
The University of Arkansas has withdrawn its affiliation with KOA. Fringe benefits is going to start a new system where individuals have more or less control over their portfolio, however you want; this will be instituted next year. A committee has gone in to look at insurance rates at the University. The insurance rates went up a few years ago, as we were negative $16 million. Then, one year later (when rates were initially raised) we were up at $11 million, then the next year up at $6 million. University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) and UALR are positive, whereas UAMS is down (they have an option called Smart Care, where .participants get lower rates on their co-pay and other items). A letter has been sent to the Chancellor about this.
Graduate Council – Dr. Ken Korth/Dr. John Rupe
In regard to background checks, nothing has been finalized, but it sounds as though it is going to happen. These background checks apply automatically to any graduate assistants. It currently seems like HR will be the ones to pay for these checks. These checks use a national database for results and might delay being able to accept students. These searches are only for a criminal record. If a red flag were to pop up, the assistantship would be denied if the results impact the duties. Offer letters will need to be updated to let applicants know that they will be subject to background searches. It is unclear how this will affect international students.
Standing Committee Reports:
Awards Committee – Dr. Kate Shoulders
Scholarship Committee – Dr. Jill Rucker
AFLS Curriculum Sub-Committee – Dr. Mike Thomsen, Chair
HESC Curriculum Sub-Committee –Dr. Laura Herold on behalf of Dr. Kathy Smith
Minor changes are informational only and all pertain to the HNHI major. The changes are mostly around adding prerequisites (and they do have justifications). For the most part, they are adding a minimum grade for prerequisite courses to ensure that these students are good enough to pass the program and be competitive in the work force. Grade must be a ‘C’ or above.
Major change in AMPD 5013, namely a change in title and description of the course; the course used to be called Advanced Apparel Pattern Design, and the proposal is to change it to Survey Design and Scale Development. The former course content has not been taught since Fall 2012 and is no longer relevant. The new proposed content is focused on designing reliable instruments and data collection and ties into research. The motion to accept this course change passed among Faculty Council.
Honors Program Update – Dr. Lisa Wood, Chair
Dr. Edgar put forth a request asking the committee to talk to individual departments about the proposal development and research methods course. This is a revamped course without a dedicated instructor to help Honors students help write their proposals, grants, etc. Kate Shoulders taught this course, AFLS 3413 H, this semester as a pilot and has gone very well. Dr. Edgar is interested in having this course to be a requirement for all Honors students. Honors committee members were asked to take it to their departments for opinion. One department was vehemently against making it a requirement, others were generally in favor of it. Dr. Anthony came up with the motion to propose a waiver if a department has a substantive reason to not require the course. The Honors committee voted on it and it passed unanimously. The course will be taught every Fall and Spring semester. In order to keep the course from overflowing with Honors students, a requirement was suggested that students must be an AFLS Honors student to take it. The course can be taken at any time, likely late sophomore/early junior year. Kate Shoulders is the dedicated instructor of record. Motion among Faculty Council to approve passed, with one vote opposed.
There has been a need identified with the number of Honors students increasing rapidly and becoming difficult for the department Honors committee representative to sit on all thesis committee meetings. One option suggested was to no longer require the department representative to serve on every thesis committee so long has the committee has three members with one member holding faculty graduate status. This would not be required of every department, as not every department is overflowing with Honors students. The Honors committee will meet again in April after committee members have canvassed their own faculty. A comment was made that one person on the committee should fully understand the rigors of the Honors program, perhaps a past mentor to be a requirement.
There has been an increase in the numbers of outside individuals serving on Honors committees. There was concern that someone completely outside the University (Walmart CEO, someone from a study abroad country, etc.) serving on the committee. The general thought was that this would be okay as long as they bring some sort of special expertise to the committee that the other faculty members don’t bring. This individual would not be able to chair a committee, but in the event that they are a research mentor, this researcher would serve as a co-mentor, but the students must have an on-campus mentor. No more than one out of three committee members could come from outside. There was some skepticism from Faculty Council about the necessity of using an outside member on a committee.
Currently, the thesis hours are under one section AFLS, under Dr. Edgar’s name. She would like to share the wealth where it belongs and would like committee members to consider switching to individual mentors, or each department could create their own code and individual sections set up for each mentor. This way, mentors will have some sort of teaching credit. This would have to go through the full curriculum review process.
Old Business – None
New Business – Need new P&T committee chair reps by April 15th. Each department must select a representative. An off-campus representative must also be acquired.
Next Faculty Council meeting will be April 21, 2017 at the Arkansas Union 503
Motion made and seconded to adjourn at 3:45 PM
Submitted by Kalynn Smith