Faculty Council Minutes -- May 2016
Spring Faculty Meeting
Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food & Life Sciences
May 6, 2016
Call to Order (10:00 AM) – Daniel Rainey, Chair
Approval of Agenda – Approved
Approval of Minutes (December 11, 2015) – Approved
Division of Agriculture – Dr. Clarence Watson – Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
Dr. Clarence Watson filled in for Dr. Cochran, who was ill and could not attend the Faculty Meeting. Dr. Watson opened his report with updates about the Division’s budget, announcing that the federal budget process for the Fiscal Year 2017 has begun. Early indications appear to be favorable for the Division – all formula funds are at level and $25 million has been added to the AFRI budget. The Senate is expected to follow suit with the House, but there is still uncertainty about a final budget resolution, which will not likely happen until post-election. Dr. Watson wanted to be sure faculty understood that this is a year in which the House and Senate had a lesser appropriation than the previous year, so the level funding and any new money is a positive. At the state level, the state has passed the Revenue Stabilization Act and higher education is looking at level funding. This is a relief, as there was much concern just a couple weeks before about how to handle a 3% cut.
Transitioning to the downside of his report, Dr. Watson went on to discuss some upcoming budgetary issues – there will be a 2% increase in health insurance premiums for everyone (both employer and employee portion, employer is still picking up the lion’s share of that 2%), the fringe benefit rate is going up 3% points in July, which will affect overall budget and grant writing (this represents the increase in health insurance from last year), and we may see a change in the Fair Labor Standards Act on who qualifies as exempt/non-exempt. These changes may be seen as early as the week after next, possibly to be implemented by September. These changes essentially will double the salary level at which people achieve exempt status, which means mean more people may be subject to over time, which in turn means scheduling must be done with more care, as there is no new money being added to accommodate this change (this is coming down from the federal government, not being imposed by the system or the campus).
Regarding updates within the Department; 14 positions have been filled and negotiations are in process for 3 others. The construction projects are also well underway – phase 1 for the Soils lab at Marianna is complete and the hope is to remodel the old section shortly which will double capacity. The Foundation seeds facility at Stuttgart is expected to open mid-summer for this year’s harvest, and the Don Tyson Agrisciences building will see beginning of construction soon (likely within the next month or two).
Returning to news at the national level, Dr. Watson announced that the Academic Programs section, along with others, is part of an effort to have the Congressional Gold Medal given to Justin Smith-Morrel, founder of the Morrel Act, with the hope to get that pushed through sometime this year.
In response to questions from the faculty: half of the space for the Don Tyson building is reserved, and since some labs are not finished, there is still room for expansion; there are currently no plans for Crowley-Warren at the moment due to budget concerns/issues.
Campus Administration – Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz
Chancellor Steinmetz attended the faculty meeting to answer any questions that faculty may have and opened the floor to questions. In reference to his thoughts on replacement of the Dean, Chancellor Steinmetz stated there is work at the moment on an interim appointment to be announced shortly and then to launch a national search in the Fall. There is hope to have someone identified within the academic year. When asked about changing the administrative structure, the Chancellor explained that he is incorporating a structure under which he served in previous positions at other universities where the President/Chancellor had a clearly defined “No. 2,” who was the Provost and whose title also included “Executive Vice President.” This title is meaningful in the sense that the Chancellor will rely on the Provost not only to serve as the chief academic officer, but to function as the coordinator of the other Vice-Chancellors. The effect of this change should make clear the roles of academic officers and to create a second coordinating function.
Chancellor Steinmetz next went on to state that he is in agreement with the recommendations for how promotions will be handled; he brought attention to the statistics regarding administrator positions versus faculty positions and how administrator salaries have had a steeper increases than faculty and staff. Currently we have at-odds issues to be addressed – increasing more tenure-track faculty and providing larger salaries for faculty. We have a parallel issue with Graduate students. Chancellor Steinmetz believes we can free up funds on the administrator side in a couple of ways: central budget cuts (administration has grown to a point where they must dial back by a percent every year or so, which generates dollars that we need to prioritize) and policy changes for administrative positions (anyone who has been hired after the first of the year doesn’t get a salary increment until July 1st), and putting a lock on salary increases. Another strategy to open up funding is by changing what we charge our out-of-state-students (our base rate of tuition places us at number 16 out of 20 schools – the mean is about 25.5, we are at 21.1); the addition of $1,000 to the base rate of tuition will raise the money we need to fill that gap, about $11 million a year.We should also look at the NRTA (our discount for out-of-state students) and implement less of a discount for students who score lower, which would provide $10-12 million of additional revenue which will help us raise salaries. However, Chancellor Steinmetz wants to make sure that campus thinks this is the right thing to do.Our in-state rate is important to think about as well, but we’re already in pretty good shape for in-state tuition and don’t have much room to raise it. Keeping tuition affordable for Arkansas is a priority.
Chancellor Steinmetz was asked about his opinion on growing pressure for online programs and stated that while he believes some programs work well and can generate revenue, many programs don’t work well online, so the introduction of online portions of courses are good only when applied to the right programs. To ensure this benefit, we must be able to measure the outcome of these programs as well.
The Chancellor was then asked to comment on continuing support from athletics to help fund education. Contributions from athletics totals about $20 million; $8-9 million of that goes to scholarships for athletes while the rest is distributed throughout several categories, one of which is a pledge to Champions Hall of about $2.5 million until it is paid off, $850,000 to the school of music for support of the band, and other areas like improving parking lots. With these benefits in mind, the Chancellor believes it is in our best interest to keep our relationship with athletics healthy.
In regards to where the university is headed for international education, Chancellor Steinmetz mentioned that he is not sure that we fund international education at the level that we should sometimes, but unfortunately it is one of the priorities that is mixed in with everything else. The Chancellor believes internships and study abroad opportunities are important and sees great value in attracting international students to campus for diversity growth, which means we will need to try and make investments on the recruiting side.The international discussion shifted to the future of the Rome Center, where Chancellor Steinmetz commented that the Rome Center losing money and we need to work on getting it fiscally healthy. From there we can build on it.
Of course the University of Arkansas must also be able to hold a good image within the US, specifically in-state, in order for us to continue to nurture a healthy and expanding student body. The Chancellor stated that while we do possess a good impression within northwest Arkansas, this is not the case in the rest of the state. He believes this comes from a lack of understanding about what exactly we do for the entirety of the state and that we need to focus on telling the story of the contributions that are made from our university. The Chancellor is scheduled to take a state tour after 2016 commencement for PR purposes and plans to make the same trip in subsequent years; he will meet at high schools and business/alumni groups while on tour.
The Chancellor’s final subject turned to funding for the Agriculture department. Due to a separate line of funding for Agriculture from the rest of Fayetteville campus, cooperation for funding is a tricky subject. Chancellor Steinmetz stated that while he has no current plan, he has pledged to make improvements on relations.
Bumpers College —Dean and Associate Vice President for Agriculture, Dr. Mike Vayda
For his final address to the faculty, Dean Vayda took a brief moment to announce that he was personally touched and pleased to have served as Dean for the past 6 years and that he hopes to have left the department in a better place professionally for administration and students alike.
Bumpers College —Associate Dean, Dr. Lona Robertson
Dr. Robertson took the floor to announce increases in departmental statistics, citing numbers that report Bumpers is up in majors from last year. Student credit hour production is also up, which indicates we are serving campus in a broader capacity than we have in the past. Furthermore, admissions is up this year (Dr. Robertson wanted to make sure that faculty understood that there is lag between applications and admissions, so the current numbers are not necessarily accurate). Overall, we are expecting to see a 5% increase from last year. About 323 students are scheduled to come to orientation.
As a word of warning to the faculty, Dr. Robertson reminded attendees that next spring, April 2017, the Higher Learning Commission, the body that accredits the U of A, will be on campus. The HLA requires that the university has official transcripts on file for every faculty member, so attaining transcripts for those who are currently without is key before the visit.
Please click on the Spring Faculty Meeting link above and see slides 8-12 for Dr.
International Programs Committee – Dr. Leslie Edgar
Dr. Edgar opened her report with thanks to faculty members who taught UNIV courses and gave class time to allow International Programs to come in and recruit students. Dr. Edgar will send out emails again in the Fall to schedule more class visits.
IPO held its second International Information fair this semester and will be doing it again this year. The Global Opportunities seminar is an opportunity for departments to bring in an international guest (or a guest with extensive international experience) to provide a seminar for our students, and Dr. Edgar gave her thanks to the two departments who hosted seminars this year, Horticulture and Plant Pathology. She is currently looking for others to host for the upcoming Fall and Spring. Next Dr. Edgar expressed her gratitude for the international faculty leaders who were instrumental in creating and leading the Belgium and Greece programs for this year, as well as thanks to all other faculty leaders.
In regards to courses and exchanges, Dr. Meullenet is currently moving forward with recruiting students for the La Salle program in France and Bumpers College has a group of students heading to Brazil and the Philippines. Also, Dr. Jeff Miller is expanding and promoting the Bumpers College in Scotland internship.
In relaying updates about IPO scholarships, Dr. Edgar announced that 41 applications were received and 28 scholarships were awarded this year ranging from $1,000 to $1,600. The scholarship deadline moved up this year and will continue to move up so students can make their commitments within the time frame that they must have funding (Dr. Edgar warned that it is highly likely that scholarships will become due at the end of the Fall semester). Right now IPO is working with the Study Abroad office to streamline the application process by including scholarships with the applications. The call for faculty IP funding has also been moved up (to July 1st). Appeals for funds can reach up to $5,000 for current programs or $10,000 for new programs.
Dr. Edgar asked Dean Rom to present announcements to the faculty over topics such as the Rome Center, faculty insurance and internationalizing curriculum. Dean Rom took the podium to inform faculty that the Rome Center has actually been a part of the University for over 30 years as a part of the Architecture school and an international experience in Rome is required for architecture students. However, goals for the Rome Center are expanded to make it accessible to more degree-seeking students. Starting this summer the University is transitioning the center to operate under international education. The goal is January 2017 for more programs, including one focused on humanities from Fulbright and Walton College is also scheduled for programs at the Center. There is great opportunity for about 75% of Bumpers students to have study abroad experiences in the Rome Center and it will be up to the faculty to create programs for them. When creating new programs for the Rome Center, Dean Rom advised to keep in mind our partner universities, as we currently partner with other schools that are demographically similar to our college, such as Texas Tech, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, University of Tennessee and University of Florida. By considering these alliance universities, we can attempt to accumulate a larger mass of students to our areas of study. This summer we have the largest amount of students going ever, a couple of whom are Bumpers students.
Moving on to faculty liability and insurance while abroad, Dean Rom stated that faculty leading an international experience are covered by the exact same liability coverage they have on campus, such as those in the lab, on field trips, etc. The bottom line is to follow best practices (understand University policy rules, state of Arkansas policy and rules, and local policy and rules, identify all risks and hazards, and follow a safety-first mentality). The moment a faculty member is supervising a student, faculty then possess parental-like responsibility. If acting as an agent of the state as a faculty member following all policies and rules, faculty are not liable to civil action – but this is void once negligence (“being on a frolic”) comes into play. A new faculty handbook is being put together with hopes to have it done by January 2017. This guides everything we do as a faculty member and will include policies involving students.
Internationalizing curriculum for more study abroad experiences is going through a grass-roots planning process, focusing on individual programs. When creating new programs, we must look at modernization of curriculum. As the College with the most diverse faculty on campus, Dean Rom hopes that Bumpers College will continue to foster and support study abroad programs, as we are the example that the Study Abroad Office hold up to the rest of campus.
Please click on the Spring Faculty Meeting link above and see slides 13-20 for Dr. Edgar’s report.
Honors Program Update – Dr. Leslie Edgar
The Honors Program committee has been busy this year, and special thanks go out to the sub-committee (Thad Scott, Nick Anthony, Jenny Popp, Charles ??, and Jody Davis). Together they have made recommendations to the larger committee with the Honors College to make changes, such as modifications to the policies and procedures (formerly known as the bylaws) to include three-year term limitations for faculty and modifications in terms for minimum qualifications for research and creative projects.
Including UNIV 1001 course into the Honors course is a big win for the program, as it is now the only required course. Flexibility provided to the requirements (9-12 hours of Honors Courses and 3-6 hours of Honors Thesis) was another battle won. In addition to these changes, the Honors Program was also granted a graduate student to assist with Honors students with questions and research needs, and this aid will continue through the next year.
The committee was able to leverage the Honors College for $5,000 in funding to initiate the Honors Poster Board contest and the newly-devised mentor program; those mentors will be required to keep a time frame open in which the orientation class meets so the mentors are able to meet with students at least once a week.
Yet another addition to the Honors Program is the Outstanding Honors Mentor Award. To be eligible, the mentor must be nominated by Honors students. The awardee will be recognized at the Honors Graduation Reception on May 13th. Dr. Jenny Popp will receive the award this May. In creating more opportunities for faculty within the program, Honors College Signature Seminars (HNRC 4013H to begin Spring 2017) has been developed; this is a course for faculty who have a specialized area that they would like to teach to a small group of students. The Honors College has also instated an international research grant and launched signature study abroad programs (for new programs only, will fund a faculty member and a grad student to go with faculty).
Please click on the Spring Faculty Meeting link above and see slides 21-28 for Dr. Edgar’s report.
Student Networking and Curricular Enhancement – Dr. H.L. Goodwin, Director
University Faculty Senate- Dr. Don Edgar
Graduate Council – Dr. Thad Scott
Faculty Council Report – Dr. Daniel Rainey, Chair
After giving his thanks to the faculty council members who participated this past year, Dr. Rainey updated the faculty about the ongoing battle with the personnel document; so far it has been met with 95% approval and is working its way through more approvals (there were certain areas that were left specifically vague so there was room for customization, have put together a list to address how you address/perceive this in your department, which was due in October; departments need to submit their amendments to the documents if they have not already).
In other news: Dr. Erf is meeting May 9th for the Provost search Committee; Dr. Rainey listed the COPT committee members for this upcoming year and alerted faculty to suggested changes to the bylaws (changing the minimum number of nominations for chair elect, proposing it be reduced to two), and moving the Honors Program from an ad-hoc committee to a standing committee.
Please click on the Spring Faculty Meeting link above and see slides 29-34 for Dr. Rainey’s report.
Standing Committee Reports:
Promotion and Tenure Committee – Dr. Don Johnson, Chair
Nominations Committee –Dr. Andy Proctor, Chair
Dr. Rainey took the podium on behalf of Dr. Proctor and reported that the three slots for faculty senate will be filled by the current senators, who have agreed to stay in their positions. Also, for those who might be unaware, Dr. Thad Scott will be leaving the U of A this summer, so John Rupe will take his place as the new Graduate Council Representative.
Awards Committee – Dr. Kate Shoulders, Chair
Scholarship Committee – Dr. Doug Karcher, Chair
Springtime is the heavy-lifting period for the Scholarship Committee, and this spring the committee me to evaluate nearly 400 applicants at the college level. Each departmental representative was responsible for evaluating their students, and on March 14th the committee reconvened to give out 97 awards. Dr. Karcher gave a shout out to Patti Sanders, the administrative staff member who organized the distribution of the awards. In total, $110,000 in scholarships were awarded. Dr. Karcher encouraged faculty to speak with their department representative about exactly how scholarships were distributed if they had any further questions.
Please click on the Spring Faculty Meeting link above and see slides 39-41 for Dr. Karcher’s report.
AFLS Curriculum Sub-Committee – Dr. Mary Savin, Chair
HESC Curriculum Sub-Committee –Dr. Kathy Smith
Please click on the Spring Faculty Meeting link above and see slide 42-44 for Dr. Smith’s report.
Old Business – None
New Business –Bylaw Changes: Changed bylaws have been emailed to the faculty and an online vote will be distributed; voting for the change of the Honors Program committee to be a standing committee will take place next week.
Please click on the Spring Faculty Meeting link above and see slides 47-48 for the New Business report.
Winter 2016 College Faculty Meeting will be held on December 9, 2016
Agricultural Education – None
Agricultural Economics – None
Agricultural Statistics – Recently hired a new tenure-track assistant professor who will be coming in the Fall (20% teaching, 80% research); currently in the process of hiring another non-tenure track professor, Dr. Bartlett, who will also join in the Fall.
Animal Science – Recently hired two new instructors and reported that a few individuals affiliated with the department have passed away.
Crop and Soil – Dr. Thad Scott will be leaving the university, and Dr. Roosterhouse(??) will be retiring; however, a new hire came into the department in April.
Entomology – Jeff Barnes will be retiring.
Food Science – Steve Seideman has retired as of March 31st.
Horticulture – Reported new hires and currently in the process of negotiating for a new faculty member.
Plant Pathology – New faculty member joining the department as of July 1st.
Poultry Science – Reported one retirement and one new hire who started with the department in January.
Human Enviro – Jackie ?? was promoted; currently several active searches in process for new hires.
Motion made and seconded to adjourn.
Submitted by Kalynn Smith