The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – December 12, 2005 – 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 Roy Knapp, Chair.


PRESENT:       Albert, Apanasov, Badhwar, Benson, Biggerstaff, Blank, Bradford, Burns, Catlin, Civan, Cramer, Croft, Draheim, Elisens, Fast, Fincke, Forman, Franklin, Frech, Gade, Geletzke, Gutierrez, Hawamdeh, Hobbs, Houser, R. Knapp, Lewis, Liu, Magnusson, Marcus-Mendoza, Megginson, Raadschelders, Roche, Rugeley, Scamehorn, Sharp, Skeeters, Tabb, Trytten, Warnken, Wei, Wood

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
ISA representatives:  Hough, Smith

ABSENT:         Brown, Dewers, Dohrmann, C. Knapp, Kolar, Lai, Pace, Ransom, Schwarzkopf, Wyckoff






Schedule of spring 2006 Faculty Senate meetings

Faculty development award recipients

McNair Scholars Program

Remarks by Vice President for Student Affairs

Senate Chair's Report:

Central campus instruction committee

Certificates to outgoing senators

Faculty death

Information Technology support

Course syllabus

Election, Senate Executive Committee

Courses with numbers ending in 60, 70, 80, 90

Plus/minus grading






The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of November 14, 2005 was approved.





The regular meetings of the Faculty Senate for the spring 2006 semester will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102 on the following Mondays: January 23, February 13, March 20, April 10, and May 8.


The Faculty Senate is pleased to present the faculty development awards for the fall 2005 semester to Kianoosh Hatami (Civil Engineering & Environmental Science), Emily Johnson (Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics), Nancy LaGreca (Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics), Feng Lai (Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering.), Amanda Sauer (Music), and Mark Yeary (Electrical & Computer Engineering).


The McNair Scholars Program is a federal grant-funded program to prepare students for graduate study.  Students eligible for the McNair Scholars program must be Native American, African American, or Latino/Hispanic American or a first generation college student and receiving financial aid.  Students must want to earn a Ph.D, be a junior by the end of the spring semester and have a 3.0 GPA.  Faculty may refer eligible students to the program and consider serving as faculty mentors.  Further information is available at





Prof. Knapp said Mr. Clarke Stroud was invited to describe the work of the Division of Student Affairs and Dean of Students.  Mr. Stroud distributed a brochure that listed all the services and programs in Student Affairs.  The Student Affairs Division works with students outside the classroom in student support services that are co-curricular in nature.  Its main goal is to be supportive of students so they can be successful in the classroom.  Areas within Students Affairs include housing and food services, counseling and testing, health center, leadership program, disability services, student life, recreational services, and the union.  Food Services provides one million meals a year for students, does the catering for football games, and owns most of the food franchises on campus, including Chick-Fil-A and Burger King.  Student Affairs works with student organizations on issues such as alcohol and hazing but also on campus activities.  An initiative started this year limits the number of hours students can participate in activities outside the classroom so the activities do not cause problems in the classroom.  The goal is to provide services for students and be supportive of faculty. 


Prof. Sharp said she was told that the university was considering a student recovery program similar to the one at Texas Tech.  Mr. Stroud replied that Texas Tech puts significant resources toward its recovery program.  OU is focusing on the three Es of alcohol:  environment, enforcement, and education.  The administration is looking at various options and not concentrating specifically on just recovery.  A decision should be made this spring.  Prof. Sharp noted that Texas Tech is able to fund over 100 students a year because of private endowments.  Mr. Stroud said the support would depend on institutional priorities and whether the President and regents would want to direct such funds toward general scholarships instead. 


Prof. Apanasov brought up the situation that the Triangle fraternity (for scientists, architects, and engineers) lost university recognition this semester because it refused to sign a contract to comply with the new alcohol policy.  Mr. Stroud said the fraternity had ample time to comply with the university’s alcohol policy before the President withdrew its recognition as a student organization.  The decision would be reconsidered if the fraternity was willing to comply with the alcohol policy.  Prof. Apanasov said the fraternity did not want to sign away its constitutional rights.  Mr. Stroud said the members were entitled to their opinion.  The alcohol policy has been refined over the last year in an attempt to make it useful to students.  The policy does not apply to faculty or staff.  The advisory committee did not want the policy to be education based only but address alcohol on a comprehensive level.  In the area of environment, President Boren decided to make Greek houses and residence halls dry.  For enforcement, the three strikes policy was created, and it applies to on-campus and off-campus violations.  In addition, the city is taking some action on code enforcements.  Efforts in education include a mandatory online alcohol education program, interpersonal alcohol education in the residence halls, and a mandatory education program in the fraternities and sororities.  The committee is also working on developing a recovery aspect.  House checks are done.  Implementation has been a difficult task.  Addressing the impact of the new policy, Mr. Stroud said we have seen some significant changes.  Safe Ride, a program to deliver students home, is averaging close to 250 rides per week, compared to 15-20 rides before the policy went into effect.  Even if fraternities made good decisions when they had alcohol at their houses, they could not control the bars in the individual rooms.  Some of the problems have been pushed off campus, and the University is trying to address that.  It could be a couple of years before we know if we have made progress. 


Prof. Skeeters asked about expectations and enforcement.  Mr. Stroud said the University checks public areas at random times but tries not to intrude on people’s privacy.  The organization is responsible for control.  A house can be charged with an alcohol violation if an incident is traced back to that house.  Those who check the houses call on the way over to make sure someone can meet them at the door.  The expectation is they will not have alcohol in the house.  Prof. Fincke asked whether the three strikes applied to houses or individuals.  Mr. Stroud said the strikes are against organizations and individuals.  If someone gets a DUI, that individual gets a strike.  If alcohol is found in a room in a house, the organization gets a strike.  Prof. Raadschelders asked how the Safe Ride program was financed.  Mr. Stroud said the President has been funding it.  It is a difficult position because it involves behaviors that we do not condone, but on the other hand, we want to get them home safely.  If students have a function where they serve alcohol, they have to follow certain steps.  Using a third party vendor that has insurance and a license ensures there is no underage drinking. 


Prof. Hawamdeh asked whether student advisors were involved in making sure the policy was working.  Mr. Stroud said he was trying to involve the advisors of organizations in planning and attending events, especially the larger ones.  Events that are sanctioned and serve alcohol have to have an alumni advisor, faculty member or staff member attend.  Alcohol is not allowed at events on Thursday nights anymore.  Many fraternity advisors and presidents are happy with the changes.  There is less vandalism and fewer unpleasant odors.  Alumni are doing more things for the houses, and upper classmen are staying in the houses.  Prof. Rugeley asked whether DWIs in Norman have decreased since the policy began.  Mr. Stroud said there has been no significant difference in MIPs, DUIs, or public intoxication.  The city has a federal grant to catch students under 21 who try to buy alcohol.  The police caught a person who was providing fake IDs and will be filing charges against students who did not turn in the IDs.  Mr. Stroud concluded by saying Student Affairs does many good things.  He told the faculty not to hesitate to drop by his office.


Prof. Megginson asked Mr. Stroud to follow up on his comment about the number of meals served.  Mr. Stroud said a million meals a year are served in Couch cafeteria, and the cafeteria offers a variety of food.  Prof. Benson suggested that it might encourage students to stay at OU on the weekends if the cafeteria stayed open on the weekends.  He said he realized it was probably for economic reasons and that there were opportunities for students to eat elsewhere.  Mr. Stroud said economic reasons were a big part of the decision.  Most students were not eating at the cafeteria but at Cate, which is still open and has a lot of options.  We do want students to stay on campus.





The ad hoc committee on central campus instruction has met three times and has spoken with students and the Provost.  The members submitted a resolution today, and it may come to the Faculty Senate in January.


Certificates of appreciation were presented to senators whose terms were ending due to leaves.


This month’s report of faculty retiree deaths includes George Bogart (Art), who died November 23.


The Senate Executive Committee and Information Technology Council would like feedback about Information Technology (IT) support.  The groups would like to know about problems with IT services, particularly the conversion to the Desire2Learn courseware, and whether IT helps resolve the problems.  Comments may be sent to the Faculty Senate office at





At last month’s meeting, the senate considered a response to the Student Congress resolution requesting professors to post current class syllabi and grade information for each student on (see 11/05 Journal and  Prof. Sharp had proposed the following motion:  The Faculty Senate endorses a goal of having 90 percent of the undergraduate course syllabi available online within two years in order to provide students with greater access to the course materials. 


Prof. Raadschelders reiterated that there was no way to monitor the 90 percent benchmark.  He said he did not see the purpose of the motion.  Prof. Burns suggested that the wording be changed to read, “The Faculty Senate encourages professors to make a reasonable attempt to have course syllabi available.”  Prof. Knapp said it could be simplified by saying, “The Faculty Senate encourages faculty to make syllabi available online.”  Prof. Burns said he did not mean to say “online.”  Prof. Knapp pointed out that faculty members are already required to have course syllabi.  Prof. Fincke commented that the 90 percent could be deleted and then the Senate would simply be endorsing the goal.  That would respond at least to the student request.  Prof. Benson said he thought it was good that students wanted to be involved and get their syllabi, but he was concerned about why the Senate was doing this.  If we have the good faculty that we have heard we have, then why do they need to be encouraged to do something?  A faculty member might not make a syllabus available, but we should not make a policy for one person.  If professors are not making syllabi available, their chairs, deans, or Provost should hear about it.  He said he supported the policy that faculty should make syllabi available.  Some faculty may choose not to put it online for good pedagogical reasons, such as to give them a chance to see their students. 


Prof. Sharp said her concern was that not responding to the student resolution would look like a lack of interest by faculty.  She thought the faculty should address a legitimate student concern.  Students should not have to deal with the consequence of things not being handled properly.  Prof. Raadschelders wondered if there were data to support the statement that syllabi are not available to students.  Prof. Sharp noted that the statement in the student resolution was that some professors would not provide a second copy.  Prof. Megginson asked whether the motion would encourage faculty to have syllabi online generally or in a specific data base.  Prof. Knapp said Prof. Sharp did not include in her motion, with the intent that syllabi would be generally available.  Prof. Hawamdeh said he thought this was a departmental issue.  Prof. Sharp amended her motion to read, “Faculty Senate encourages faculty to make undergraduate course syllabi available online.”  Prof. Burns suggested that it read, “…online or by some other reasonable means.”  Prof. Raadschelders asked whether the motion would imply that syllabi were not accessible.  Prof. Sharp said no, the motion would just encourage faculty to do something.  Prof. Raadschelders said he agreed that the chair or dean should get involved when things were not handled properly.  Prof. Knapp pointed out that the resolution would not keep that from happening.  Prof. Sharp’s resolution was approved on a voice vote and by a show of hands. 





The Faculty Senate approved the nomination of Roberta Magnusson (History) to replace Robert Dohrmann (Art) on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee for the spring 2006 semester. 





The Academic Regulations Committee (ARC) submitted three proposals concerning courses with numbers ending in 60, 70, 80, and 90 (attached--  Prof. Knapp invited Mr. Matt Hamilton, Registrar and Associate Vice President, to provide information about the proposals.  Mr. Hamilton, Chair of the ARC, explained that the voting membership of ARC was composed of six faculty and one student.  In addition, four members serve as ex officio, non-voting.  In the spring, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee forwarded the issue of S/U versus letter grading for independent study and directed readings courses to ARC.  ARC originally recommended that 60 and 90 courses be S/U graded, 80 be S/U except by appeal, and 70 be letter or S/U.  After receiving complaints that the recommendation was too intrusive to the faculty, ARC revised proposal one to read that 60, 80 and 90 courses be S/U graded except by appeal and 70 be letter or S/U.  The rationale is it would provide a consistent standard and an appeal process.  A special form is available for making changes in course grading, and the change can be temporary or permanent.  ARC believes the proposal will eliminate confusion and ease administrative burden for departments and administrators.  Proposal two would make titles for these particular courses consistent and endorse what is the understood policy regarding variable topic and independent study courses.  If a course is to be offered regularly, there is a process through the Academic Programs Council (APC) that involves faculty peer review.  Dr. Paul Bell, Vice Provost for Instruction, sent a letter on August 26 to deans, chairs, and directors to remind individuals of the process.  Having some consistency would help in enrollment, advising, and degree audit, since there are limitations on how many attempts are allowed with some of these courses.  Proposal three, which recommends that all departments have these courses established, would ensure uniformity.  This policy would facilitate change if a department did not have such courses set up so the department would be in compliance with the consistent titles in proposal two. 


Prof. Biggerstaff thanked the committee for its work.  He commented that proposal two said a specific topic could only be offered twice under a 70 number.  He asked whether a permanent course would expire if it was not taught for a number of years.  Dr. Bell said the practice has been that if a formally-approved course has not been taught in five years, the department is asked whether it wishes to continue the course.  Prof. Sharp said she thought it would be better to change the language to “…twice within a certain time frame.”  Some special topics courses might be taught 5-7 years apart.  A department could go through the effort of getting a course approved and then not teach it for seven years, or a particular faculty member could have left.  Prof. Wood asked whether there was a limit currently on the number of times a topic could be offered.  Mr. Hamilton said the practice in Classroom Scheduling is to notify professors the second time the same title is offered and remind them to go through the APC process. 


Prof. Marcus-Mendoza said her department had other approved course numbers for seminars and special topics that did not end in 70.  She asked whether those courses would be replaced with the 70 numbers, with resulting program modifications.  Mr. Hamilton said the notion was to make the titles as consistent as possible, and his office would help with the process through proposal three.  Dr. Bell added that the four course numbers represented fairly common activities across the University.  Most departments already use those numbers.  Even if the university went to a uniform numbering system, departments could still create any other designators as long as the courses had been vetted through APC.  The four courses would become the minimum for those kinds of activities, but departments would be free to develop any other courses that seem appropriate.  Prof. Marcus-Mendoza summarized that the ones that already existed would stay in place then.  Dr. Bell said the proposal did not represent any desire to make a change in practice for other courses, but to have some uniformity in how these courses are numbered.


Prof. Marcus-Mendoza pointed out that military students have trouble getting tuition assistance for S/U graded courses, so her department had talked about creating letter graded courses to avoid that issue.  Dr. Bell responded that current policy gives faculty discretion whether the courses are S/U or letter graded.  Mr. Hamilton said the practice is dictated by the college.  For example, the Honors College has letter grading as a standard for 60 and 90 courses in particular; the Graduate College has S/U and does not permit letter grading.  The recommendation attempts to put a standard in place but allow the faculty member to be granted an exception.  Dr. Bell noted that proposal two would codify what has been University practice.  There has been abuse of variable topic courses, some being offered year after year without going through the APC process, which means there is no peer review.  Sometimes it is appropriate to repeat a topic every 5-6 years, and that would not be an abuse of the policy.  Perhaps the ARC could amend the proposal by saying a topic could not be offered more than twice unless there was an interval of at least five years.  If proposal two is approved, then proposal three, which is simply a housekeeping measure, would follow and departments would not have to do all the paperwork.  Proposal one--requiring courses to be S/U graded--is a faculty governance issue, not an administrative issue.  Currently, professors have wide discretion over how these classes are graded, depending on college policies.  It would create a hardship for graduate courses taught on military bases and would require blanket exceptions for those courses.  Mr. Hamilton said the Graduate College currently has a policy of S/U for independent study courses.  Certainly there could be exceptions with the existing process.


Prof. Gutierrez remarked that faculty would have to go through an appeal process to assign a letter grade.  Mr. Hamilton responded that independent study courses typically have less standard of comparison in any given semester.  On the other side, faculty could compare the work with a body of knowledge.  The committee thought there should be a standard but that faculty should be able to go through an exception process.  There have been issues with lack of consistency.  The proposal would leave S/U as the default but provide a process for exceptions.  Prof. Gutierrez said this would add bureaucratic steps.  Prof. Knapp said it has been done in less than 24 hours.  Prof. Blank said the ARC was not proposing to add any new bureaucratic steps to the exception process.  It would be what is already in place, which is very simple.  Prof. Forman noted that all law readings courses are letter graded.  Prof. Biggerstaff said his department sometimes uses independent studies classes for interdisciplinary studies and would prefer to give the students a letter grade.  He wondered whether the bureaucracy might stifle smaller interdisciplinary offerings.  Provost Mergler mentioned that an individual student could petition to be graded pass/no pass.  Dr. Bell explained that the faculty member does not know that a student is enrolled as pass/no pass and assigns the S/U or letter grade as usual.  The grade is not allowed for courses that count toward a major.  Provost Mergler added that everyone in a class has to be graded by one standard or another.  Dr. Bell said a letter grade could be based on a body of knowledge.  The issue is not one of a comparative standard but a faculty member’s standards.  Prof. Knapp pointed out that by filling out the form to give a letter grade, the professor takes the responsibility that there is a standard.  He said the senate would consider the proposals next time.  He asked whether the senators wanted to consider the three proposals separately or together, and the general consensus was to consider them separately.





Prof. Megginson announced that the Business school faculty had voted in November to bring a proposal for plus/minus grading to the Senate at the next meeting.





The meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, January 23, 2006, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


A. Steve Bradford, Secretary