The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – November 12, 2007 – 3:30 p.m. – Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206   phone: 325-6789
e-mail:   web site:


The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Steve Bradford, Chair.


PRESENT:       Albert, Apanasov, Basic, Bass, D. Bemben, M. Bemben, Benson, Bradford, Brown, Brule, Clark, Conlon, Croft, Edy, Forman, Franklin, Ge, Halterman, Horn, Kent, Kershen, Livesey, Magnusson, Morrissey, Moses, Radhakrishnan, Rambo, Reeder, Riggs, Roche, Rogers, Schmidt, Skeeters, Striz, Trafalis, Trytten, Vitt, Warnken

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
ISA representatives:  Cook

ABSENT:         Callard, Eodice, Grasse, Greene, James, Knapp, Marcus-Mendoza, McDonald, Miranda, Nelson, Russell, Sadler, Tan, Verma, Weaver





Senate Chair's Report:

Tuberculosis testing policy

Classroom disruptions

Senate discussions

Election, Campus Tenure Committee

Focus the Nation/UOSA Resolution on Climate Commitment

Faculty Handbook section 3.5.6 – faculty resignation

Student retention






The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of October 8, 2007 was approved.



SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Steve Bradford


The Senate Executive Committee met with Joe Harroz, Chief Legal Counsel, on November 5.  Mr. Harroz said the new tuberculosis testing policy applies to new international faculty and to faculty who travel.  The testing for TB is self reported, and no penalties are included in the policy; however, this is a public health issue to the university. 


Mr. Harroz also discussed faculty rights and obligations in the classroom with the Executive Committee.  He pointed out that instructors are in charge of the classroom.  If a student is disrupting learning, the instructor can report the student, get him/her into counseling, or recommend discipline. 


Prof. Bradford said he had learned from a senator during a discussion on plagiarism last year about a method of having students write their term papers in class.  Prof. Bradford said he had his students write their book reports in class, and the students seemed to like it.  He said he hoped to have more discussions in the Faculty Senate on the role of faculty in areas such as retention. 





The Faculty Senate approved the Committee on Committees’ nomination of Priscilla Griffith (Instructional Leadership & Academic Curriculum) to complete the 2007-10 term of Leonard Rubin (Mathematics) on the Campus Tenure Committee.





Prof. Bradford reported that the student resolution on climate commitment (attached) was introduced at the last meeting (see 10/07 Senate Journal).  Further information will be presented at this meeting by Prof. Deborah Dalton (Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment), Chair of the Environmental Concerns Committee, and three students, Eric Pollard, Whitney Pearson, and Danny Terlip.  The PowerPoint slides shown at the meeting are available at 


Prof. Dalton explained that Focus the Nation was a nationwide project, with over 1000 college and universities participating.  She said the biggest hurdle had to do with cultural values.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change.  IPCC and science experts have come to the conclusion, with 95 percent confidence, that global warming is happening.  For about the last 20,000 years, the average temperature has been around 15ºC, but we now have moved out of that climatic "sweet spot."  The forecast for the next 100 years is that we will be 2-3 degrees warmer than average.  Things are happening faster than we expected.  Non-scientists do not understand that CO2 persists in the atmosphere for decades.  Because of the growth in places like China and India, as well as in the developed nations, greenhouse gas emissions are increasing.  The U.S. is still the highest greenhouse gas emitter.


Ms. Whitney Pearson said a national teach-in called Focus the Nation was being held on January 31, 2008.  At OU, the week of January 28-February 1, 2008 will be devoted to talking about global warming solutions.  The mission of Focus the Nation is we are in a race against time.  U.S. emissions must peek by 2015 to stabilize the climate.  Goals include a national conversation about clean energy solutions to global warming and a unified national voice.  At OU, the focus is on building awareness.  President Boren has signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, and UOSA passed a resolution regarding climate commitment at OU.  The major goal for this year is broad participation in Focus the Nation. 


Mr. Danny Turlip, president of Our Earth, said these efforts were an opportunity for change, not to scare people.  Some recent actions that address global warming have taken place in Oklahoma.  OG&E is quadrupling its wind power capacity in Oklahoma, Oklahoma recently rejected the Red Rock coal-fired power plant, and Oklahoma Secretary of Energy David Fleischaker is promoting energy conservation strategies.  Mr. Terlip said the group was asking the Faculty Senate members to endorse the student resolution and address global warming solutions as they relate to their disciplines in class during Focus the Nation week.  He distributed a handout of events proposed for the week of January 28, which includes a round table discussion with members of the community.  The Focus the Nation web site ( contains a sample agenda and sample class ideas, as well as a national map that shows who has signed on.


Prof. Dalton noted that she had handed out information last time about the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which President Boren signed in April 2007.  The ACUPCC commits the University to making a plan for becoming carbon neutral by 2050.  The Environmental Concerns Committee and Our Earth are the core groups working on that effort.  For more information on the Climate Commitment, go to


Mr. Eric Pollard, a member of Our Earth and Student Congress, thanked the Faculty Senate for inviting them to speak.  He said he would like to get the Faculty Senate’s blessing on the student bill and would be glad to answer questions.  This is one of the most important things happening on college campuses.  The UOSA bill was the first attempt at campus sustainability and addressing some of the requirements of the ACUPCC.  There is a provision that the bill will be reconsidered every two years.  The legislation, which President Boren signed, is a commitment for change.  OU was first in Oklahoma and second in the Big 12 to sign the ACUPCC.


Referring to the student bill, Prof. Brown asked how an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions was done.  Prof. Dalton replied that the IPPC had developed a number of protocols; Clean Air Cool Planet developed a calculator based on IPCC protocols that is being used by many colleges and universities to develop an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.  Mr. Pollard said Student Congress thinks prospective students will be interested in schools that are making efforts to reduce global warming.  Prof. Dalton added that it was gratifying to see that the IT labs are set for double-sided printing. 


Prof. Moses pointed out that some of the proposed goals and solutions would cost money.  Mr. Pollard commented that most of the initiatives would save us money in time.  He acknowledged that a cost-benefit analysis would help.  Prof. Moses said we should have a plan for how to pay for becoming carbon neutral.  We should not miss the opportunity with new buildings to incorporate green features.  Prof. Dalton said some funding initiatives exist, such as the Clinton Climate Initiative.  Ms. Pearson added that another possibility was a fee on parking permits.  Prof. Moses said he would like to see a focus on what students could do now.  Students could start taking the stairs.  Biking and walking could be accomplished in two to three months.  Mr. Pollard said the green week would focus on those areas.


[The previous paragraph was amended 1/14/08 to read:

Prof. Moses pointed out that as many as 5 of the 7 long-term goals and 2 of the 4 short-term goals will have cost implications, which could be significant amounts.  There is no consideration given to what the extra costs might be or a plan for how to pay for them.  Are students willing to endorse tuition hikes to fund these changes?  Mr. Pollard commented that most of the initiatives would save us money in time.  He acknowledged that a cost-benefit analysis would help.  Prof. Moses said we should have a plan for how to pay for becoming carbon neutral.  A comment was made that we should not miss the opportunity with new buildings to incorporate green features.  Prof. Dalton said some funding initiatives exist, such as the Clinton Climate Initiative.  Ms. Pearson added that another possibility was a fee on parking permits.  Prof. Moses noted that three of the four short-term goals are what others should do. He thinks the UOSA should focus mainly on what students should do.  He gave two examples.  First, he noted that the elevator in his five-story building operated all day long, and able-bodied students could take the stairs rather than the elevator.  Second, he noted that in previous years, a much greater percentage of students lived near campus and walked/biked.  Now, many of them drive.  He thought the UOSA could develop policies that encourage reduction in student commuting.  He noted they mention this as a long-term goal, but students move often and it could be more short term if they are really serious.  Mr. Pollard said the green week would focus on those areas.]


Prof. Edy said the bill called for a portion of the purchased paper to be recycled paper, but there was no provision to encourage everyone to recycle.  Prof. Dalton explained that OU has a recycling program that is struggling with educating the community.  We have doubled or tripled the recycling here.  Individuals can request recycling bins.  Prof. Vitt remarked that all of the discussions on global warming focused on carbon production and did not address other issues such as human population growth.  If we cut carbon use per capita by 50 percent, in 35 years our net carbon production would not have changed because of the growth in population.  Ms. Pearson suggested that faculty could discuss something like that in class as part of Focus the Nation the last week in January.  Prof. Clark said the cost and potential benefit should be considered.  Even a small decrease in emissions will be costly.  He commented that OG&E’s increase in wind power has to do with making a profit.  When asked how much renewable energy we use, Prof. Dalton said OU currently is purchasing as much wind power as possible from OG&E, which is roughly 3.5 percent of our purchased electricity.  Institutional pressure is one of the reasons OG&E is quadrupling its production.  One senator suggested that we could ban cars for freshmen to reduce fuel emissions. 


Prof. Forman said he applauded the students’ energy and desire.  He asked what the Senate was supposed to do with the student proposal.  Prof. Bradford said the Senate could endorse the proposal, which he interpreted as supporting the students, or the Senate could have its own policy.  Prof. Apanasov said there were different views regarding global warming.  If the Senate supports the proposal, it is saying it agrees with those views.  Still, this may be a step in the right direction.  Prof. Bradford pointed out that the resolution did not say that climate change was human generated.  Prof. Striz noted that a discussion of climate change could get complicated.  Prof. Skeeters recommended a more general statement.  Prof. Moses said the Senate could say it supported the students’ efforts.


Prof. Rambo said he thought it seemed appropriate for the Faculty Senate to promote the students’ request for the faculty to incorporate climate change discussions in classes and consider participating in the movement.  Prof. Bradford said the student presenters had asked the faculty to do that, but that was not part of the resolution.  Prof. Warnken added that the point about the teach-in related to Focus the Nation.  He asked about supporting the student objectives without taking a faculty stance.  Prof. Bradford said that would come down to the definition of endorse.  Prof. Moses said the Faculty Senate could have its own statement.  Prof. Skeeters said the students had asked the Faculty Senate to endorse the resolution.  Prof. Bradford commented that the Environmental Concerns Committee strongly supported an endorsement from the Faculty Senate.  At the last meeting, a motion was made to endorse the resolution.  The Senate might not agree with everything, and there probably were areas where there should be more faculty input, but endorsing the student resolution would not preclude the Faculty Senate from doing something further.  Prof. Radhakrishnan remarked that the bill would be considered again in two years.  He asked whether the Faculty Senate would be able to revisit the subject.  Prof. Bradford said the students would reconsider the bill every two years, but the Faculty Senate could always revisit an issue.  Prof. Skeeters asked if it would it be possible to table the bill, as a permanent postponement.  Prof. Edy asked about the effect on the administration if the Senate endorsed the bill in total.  Prof. Forman said he did not think the Senate should endorse a student proposal, and he did not want to tie the administration’s hands.  He said he would be willing to offer an alternative.  Prof. Morrissey noted that the president had already endorsed the bill.


Prof. Clark asked if the Senate could endorse the bill with suggested modifications.  Prof. Vitt proposed that the Senate vote on the bill and if it was voted down, the body could have a more general statement that did not tie the Faculty Senate to any specifics.  Prof. Benson said it was worth considering the effort that went into this.  If the Senate did not endorse the bill and was not willing to do something like this on its own, which will take a lot of work, then the students will think the faculty does not care about this issue.  Prof. Striz reminded the group that the Environmental Concerns Committee supported the bill.  Prof. Bradford said he agreed with Prof. Benson.  An endorsement means something, but the group should not over think what it is doing by supporting a student resolution.  The motion to endorse the bill was approved, with 27 in favor, 4 opposed, and 5 abstentions.





Prof. Bradford explained that section 3.5.6 of the Faculty Handbook states that a faculty member who resigns must give notice no later than May 15 or 30 days after receiving his or her appointment letter.  The language was fitting when the appointment letters came in the spring; now they come in September or October, after regent approval of the salary increases.  In effect, the recommended revision would strike the 30-day requirement.  The primary purpose of the policy is to encourage early notice of resignation to aid planning.  Faculty may request a waiver.  The proposed paragraphs would read (additions in bold, deletions struck through):


A regular faculty member who elects to resign his or her appointment is obligated to give notice in writing at the earliest possible opportunity, but not later than May 15 or thirty days after receiving notification of the terms of his or her appointment for the coming year, whichever date is later.   It is a professional expectation that a regular faculty member who elects to resign his or her appointment give written notice at the earliest possible opportunity to the chair or director of the academic unit.  Timely notice of resignation is needed to allow sufficient time for the academic unit to seek appropriate personnel to cover the teaching assignments of the resigning faculty person and provide a smooth transition for students.  Written resignations for the subsequent academic year should be submitted early in the spring semester, but not later than May 15.  A faculty member may request a waiver of this requirement.

For faculty and staff with 12-month appointments, resignations shall be effective on the last day of service of the employee, and an employee shall not be paid for a holiday if the last day of service was prior to the holiday period.


Prof. Kershen suggested that the sentence beginning with “Written resignations” should be in the active voice instead of passive voice.  He moved that the sentence read, “A regular faculty member who elects to resign his or her appointment is obligated to give notice in writing at the earliest possible opportunity, but not later than May 15.”  Prof. Benson said the revision could be introduced as a friendly amendment, and it would not require a vote.  Prof. Bradford said he would accept the revised language as a friendly amendment.  The Senate will vote on the revisions next time. 





Prof. Bradford said the Senate Executive Committee had had a wide-ranging discussion on the issue of student retention.  The University seems to do a pretty good job with freshmen and sophomores but has some retention problems with juniors and seniors.  He said he would like the Senate to consider whether we should think of students as adults or not, what obligation the faculty has to get in touch with students, and to what extent retention is partly a faculty problem.  This semester Prof. Bradford contacted students who were not attending class.  Some, because he got in touch with them, started coming to class.  He asked the Senate, “How much of a role should faculty have?”


Prof. Striz suggested that faculty could have the people involved with retention contact the students who were not doing well.  Prof. Bradford said that was already being done with the early grade reports, but he thought the students did not connect the reports with the faculty.  The administration follows up with the students, and some students respond because of that.  Prof. Edy asked if Prof. Bradford meant class attendance or dropping out of college.  Prof. Bradford said his thought was that faculty could try to keep students from failing classes.  The faculty cares about students and wants them to graduate.  He said he would welcome other insights.  Prof. Edy said she has a clear attendance policy.  When students get to the point where they will be penalized, she sends them an e-mail.  She tells them there are consequences for not attending class, and she gets pretty good results. 


Noting the two kinds of retention -- program and university -- Prof. Radhakrishnan suggested that we should have guidelines to tell students what their forte is.  Prof. Rambo asked if there were some best practices or succinct suggestions on what has worked elsewhere.  Prof. Bradford explained that that was exactly what he was asking for.  Prof. Trytten mentioned that the Instructional Innovation Program could provide some suggestions.  Prof. Striz remarked that the Athletics Department was doing a good job with retention.  Prof. Schmidt pointed out that the national rankings of the University were tied to retention of students.  He sends his students their grades and suggestions for improvements by email.  They and their parents respond, and the students try to do better.


Prof. Benson said he understood the importance of retention.  His position is students should show up to class and find out how they are doing.  His grades reflect that.  He said he did not want somebody else to tell him how to manage his class.  College students need to attend class without being prompted by their faculty member.  Prof. Bradford said he agreed with him until he started tracking his students down.  Some students have problems that need counseling; some think they have dropped the course.  Prof. Edy said she too had agreed for a long time not to intervene, but then decided to be the boss.  Prof. Benson commented that he is not his students’ boss and they are not his customer.  Prof. Edy said she has trouble keeping students motivated when they feel overmatched and they do not understand what is going on.  In some cases they are unprepared. 


Prof. Riggs pointed out that without a sense of what the target retention rate should be, we cannot tell whether there is a problem, much less when we have overcome it.  Prof. Bradford answered that the goal currently is 60 percent.  Prof. Forman said he thought departments should give a little more guidance to students on what courses to take.  Students sometimes take courses in the wrong order.  Prof. Moses remarked that what worked ten years ago does not work today.  The Millennials have a different view of work.  Prof. Bradford said he personally would reject changing his methods for them.  Prof. Moses said that generation of students drop out if they do not like something.  Prof. Rogers said another way to increase retention is take a better motivated, prepared group in the first place.  Prof. Vitt said sometimes students think they can do the work without coming to class or lab.  There are ways to improve attendance in individual classes.  Faculty can find out what is causing students not to come to class.  Prof. Bradford summarized the discussion by saying there is not one answer.  Prof. Trytten noted that chairs and directors need to find out, though early progress reports, about the student who is failing more than one class.  Departments could do more proactive advising.  Prof. Magnusson said advisors had met with an outside speaker a couple of years ago.  The speaker’s research showed that selectivity of the university was the best predictor.  Compared with our peers, we are a little better at retaining our students.  





The meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, December 10, 2007, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


Roberta Magnusson, Secretary