JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY SENATE The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)Regular session - January 13, 1997 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789 FAX: 325-6782e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/
The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Rick Tepker, Chair.
PRESENT: Baker, Benson, Blank, Civan, Dillon, Durica, Egle, Elisens, Emery, Fiedler, Fung, Gana, Gilje, Gupta, Harris, Hillyer, Hobbs, Holmes, Horrell, Hutchison, Joyce, Kinzie, C.Knapp, Konopak, Laird, Lancaster, F. Lee, Murphy, Norwood, Palmer, Patten, Patterson, Ramsey, Reynolds, Shaughnessy, Sipes, Smith, Stoltenberg, Tepker, Thulasiraman, VanGundy, Wenk, Williams
Provost's office representative: Mergler
PSA representatives: Iselin, Spencer
UOSA representatives: Heaton, Hill, Scott, Taylor
ABSENT: Albert, Bremer, B.Greene, E.Greene, Hughes, St.John, Wahl, Wallach
Campus network rights and responsibilities guidelines 2
Conflict of Interest policy 2
Pre-finals week 2
Salary issues survey 2
Post-tenure review committee 2
Remarks by Director of Public Policy 2
Faculty evaluation scale 3
Revisions in Goddard Advisory Committee charge 4
Course syllabi 4
Mission statement on business cards 5
Senate Chair's Report: Meeting with President and Athletic Director 5
APPROVAL OF JOURNAL
The Senate Journal for the regular session of December 9, 1996, was approved.
Prof. Bruce Mason (Physics and Astronomy), Information Technology Council Chair, proposed the following revisions in the campus network guidelines in response to concerns raised at the Senate meeting (see 12/96 Senate Journal, page 6). The Senate Executive Committee concurred with his suggestions:
3rd sentence: It outlines the expectations for service basic rights and responsibilities of individual users, ...
II. Users should have the right to expect network performance...
III. Users should have the right to expect their use of the network...
III.c. Users and units may not intentionally attempt to access information or communications of another user without obtaining the necessary approval proper due process. ...
A revised version of the Conflict of Interest Policy was approved by the OU Regents December11 (available from the Senate office). This policy contains a sunset clause for September 1997.
The President approved the Faculty Senate's changes in the Provost's proposal to revise the policy on pre-finals week (see 12/96 Senate Journal, page 4).
The Faculty Senate Faculty Compensation Committee will distribute a survey to faculty in late January to determine faculty attitudes toward salary issues.
The Provost is constituting a task force on post-tenure review and has asked the Senate to nominate two faculty. Nominations should be submitted to Prof. Tepker by January17.
Remarks by Glen Johnson, Director of Public Policy
Prof. Tepker said he had invited Mr. Johnson to speak at the Faculty Senate meeting to discuss his plans and tasks in his new job with OU. Mr. Johnson said he was pleased to be back at the University. He is a graduate of OU, with degrees in Political Science and Law. He was a member of the Oklahoma legislature from 1982 to 1996 and served in several capacities including Speaker of the House.
He then explained some of the duties and responsibilities of the Director of Public Policy. Mr. Sean Burrage, who was director of federal and state relations, left the University in July to take a position with a private law firm. Mr. Johnson will take on Mr. Burrage's work with the legislature in matters affecting the University, but also other duties such as the ongoing situation with the University hospitals and Columbia HCA. During the last year and a half, negotiations have been taking place about a partnership that would preserve our teaching and research functions as well as our indigent patient care function. He hopes to resolve that issue in the next month.
The State Regents for Higher Education requested an increase of $83 million for the state higher education system. The legislature sent a strong signal last year that higher education is a priority. Whatever our state achieves in the future will be tied to a more viable education system. He wants to work with faculty to carry that message forward. His goal is to make the case that the state regents' request is a valid funding request. He is in the process of determining what the impact of that increase would be on the University. Retaining quality faculty will be a top priority. He was pleased that the legislature was able to inject about $58 million into OTRS last year to help make the system actuarially sound. Legislation has already been pre-filed to provide for a proper contribution to OTRS this year. The legislative session is from early February to late May. We need to be poised and ready to respond. Our message is that the dollars that go to OU will be well spent. He is looking forward to team-teaching a law course with Fred Gipson. He said he is honored to be back at OU.
FACULTY EVALUATION SCALE
The President approved the Senate's recommendations concerning the faculty evaluation scale (see 12/96 Senate Journal, page 2) with some changes. The second highest term of the scale was changed from "excellent" to "very good." The President said he found insufficient difference between "excellent" and the highest term "outstanding." He added to the sentence, "Each unit should define expectations for faculty according to unit standards and procedures" the phrase "in order to best meet the academic mission of the unit, college and University." He deleted the sentence, "Expectations may reflect goals defined by agreement between the unit and the professor," saying, "I do not think that this changes the meaning of the Senate's phrasing and helps place these statements in a broader context. This will help remind reviewers of University goals and standards during the evaluation process." The final change was to delete the sentence, "It is recognized that given the uniqueness of the goals set by each unit, these evaluations cannot be used for interdepartmental comparisons." His explanation was, "This seems to only further establish an accepted point regarding the subjectivity brought by the reviewer to the application of any scale of evaluation. It is likely that each reviewer will have a slightly different interpretation of each level of evaluation on the scale. For this reason, it is unlikely that any outside party would endeavor to make interdepartmental comparisons using evaluations completed by different reviewers."
Prof. Norwood said his colleagues would be upset if the Faculty Senate accepts those changes. Prof. Tepker explained that the Faculty Senate makes recommendations, which might not be accepted. If the Senate is displeased with the president's action, it can respond. Prof. Norwood said the word "excellence" is used a lot by the University, yet faculty are not given credit for excellent work. Prof. Hutchison said he did not see anything wrong with the terminology, because the group could argue forever about which term to use. More importantly, some of the sentences were struck, particularly the one about interdepartmental comparisons. That sentence was added because the missions of units are very different, and we cannot compare one department with another. The Senate ought to strongly reaffirm its position. Prof. Tepker suggested two alternatives: The Senate can say it disagrees with the change or point out that implicit in the reason the president offered for the change is that interdepartmental comparisons can never occur.
Prof. Benson said the second solution is acceptable, but the president said the evaluations are subjective. The problem is there are different objective standards from one department to another. We agree on the point that they not be used for interdepartmental, but it is not because of subjectivity. Prof. Hillyer noted that such comparisons are often made, and that is not an appropriate way to proceed. Prof. Holmes expressed concern about the change in wording having to do with the ability of individual faculty members to arrange their weights in accordance with the needs of their departments. Deleting the sentence, "Expectations may reflect goals defined by agreement between the unit and the professor" takes away the flexibility of the department and leaves it up to someone else to define. Prof. Tepker said he was troubled by the president's rationale. Prof. Hutchison said the deletion takes away the department's ability to evaluate faculty based on weights that were agreed upon. Prof. Tepker said he would have liked to have talked with the administration before the changes were made. Prof. Hutchison moved to have the Executive Committee express the Senate's concern about the deletion of the sentence concerning goals defined between the unit and the professor and the sentence referring to interdepartmental comparisons. Prof. Fiedler agreed, saying faculty know how the process works. Prof. Norwood said he thought it was important to retain the terminology the Senate approved. Following a brief discussion about interdepartmental comparisons, Prof. Hutchison's motion was approved on a voice vote with one opposed.
Revisions in the Goddard Advisory Committee/Board charge
Proposed revisions in the charge of the Goddard Health Center Advisory Committee/Board and the former charge are attached as Appendix I. The Senate Committee on Committees recommended that the committee/board chair be elected from those with a three-year term and that the student president serve as co-chair [Section VIII of proposed charge]. Prof. Dillon explained that the concern was that the chair of the committee needs some continuity. Goddard is an important part of faculty and staff health care. Because of the student health fee, it is important for the student president to serve as a co-chair. Prof. Tepker pointed out that this was a recommendation of the Committee on Committees, and the Executive Committee concurs. When asked to comment on the recommendation, Mr. Kevin Scott, a UOSA liaison, said he thought the point was well-taken. The recommendation was approved on a voice vote.
Prof. Tepker explained that in the course of the discussion about pre-finals week (see 12/96 Senate Journal, page 4), a suggestion was made to require course syllabi. One possible step is to create a small committee to make a recommendation at the next meeting. Prof. Benson said he thinks it is a good idea to require syllabi. However, some faculty may view this as an abridgment of academic freedom. Students have a right to know what is required of them in a course. Prof. Patterson said she considers a syllabus to be part of faculty accountability and would support the formation of a task force. Prof. Dillon asked why having a syllabus might abridge academic freedom since it would not tell faculty what to teach. Prof. Benson said it impinges on what you must do as a teacher, although he personally thinks it is justified. Prof. Tepker pointed out that he does not think a strong claim of academic freedom can be made in this case. This does nothing to foreclose any pedagogical option.
Prof. Durica observed that accountability is what is being strived for. The problem is when the syllabus gets put in the form of a legal contract, it can be used as a tool to evade a learning situation. Prof. Harris said she has had a syllabus in every course for eleven years and has never had a grade appeal. Prof. Durica said he thinks a syllabus is useful in avoiding that situation. Prof. Wenk said she is amazed that some faculty do not have a syllabus. If the Senate recommends a required syllabus, then it needs to think of a definition of a syllabus and what we mean by having that as a requirement. Prof. Hutchison suggested that the committee recognize the differences in courses, like graduate courses that are graded S/U, and provide for exceptions. Prof. Laird underscored the importance of defining a syllabus. A rigid plan is not always pedagogically defensible. Prof. Fiedler said the Senate should define some minimum standard and not try to fix something that is not very broken. Prof. Sipes noted that he teaches different kinds of courses but believes he can build flexibility into a syllabus. Prof. Van Gundy moved that a committee look into making basic recommendations that will not impinge upon academic freedom. He said the recommendations should not be so detailed as to restrict one's expression of educational philosophy but should incorporate such things as exams. Prof. Joyce suggested that definition of a syllabus be flexible in terms of timing. Prof. Van Gundy's motion was approved on a voice vote.
Mission statement on business cards
Prof. Tepker reported that the University has begun a new practice of printing the University mission statement on the back of business cards. He pointed out that notes cannot be written on the back. This is an implicit institutional mandate no matter what your personal opinion is of the mission statement. The statement reads: The mission of the University of Oklahoma is to provide the best possible educational experience for our students through excellence in teaching, research and creative activity, and service to the state and society. The Senate might want to recommend that it is not mandatory for people to have the mission statement on the back.
Prof. Durica asked whether the statement is a given. Prof. Tepker said some people disagree with the way it is written. Prof. Stoltenberg said some of his colleagues think this mission statement could apply just as well to a four-year college, so they would prefer not to have it on their cards. Prof. Norwood asked about the cost involved. Prof. Holmes said if the University is paying for the cards, he has a hard time objecting. He noted that cards can be printed off-campus as you wish. Prof. Wenk said many faculty pay for their own cards. Individuals can request that the statement be deleted, but it probably will not be approved. Prof. Laird pointed out that very few universities include mission statements. Prof. Durica said a blank back is useful for communicating with other individuals. Prof. Sipes commented that the whole thing seems pointless. Prof. Dillon said another option discussed was to print the statement as a watermark. Prof. Sipes said if the mission was specific to OU, he would feel differently, but it is too generic. Prof. Wenk said it is not very unifying to suggest to new faculty that they avoid the University's cards. Prof. Williams remarked that it is the mission of the University, and he has no problem putting the statement on the card. Prof. Gilje moved that the mission statement be an option. The motion was approved on a voice vote with one opposed
Senate Chair's Report, by Prof. Rick Tepker
Prof. Tepker reported that the Senate Executive Committee met with President Boren and Athletic Director Steve Owens December 18. It was an open, candid, courteous discussion of a wide range of issues. Prof. Tepker said he hoped it was effective in building a relationship between the Faculty Senate and Athletic Department. Mr. Owens was very open and forthcoming about his plans. It was an exchange of ideas and a promise for more cooperative efforts in the future. All too often in the past, there was the habit of keeping faculty representatives away from the Athletic Department.
The meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30p.m. on Monday, February 10, 1997, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.
Alexander Holmes, Secretary
Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator