JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY SENATE The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)Regular session - February 10, 1997 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102

office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789 FAX: 325-6782e-mail: web site:

The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Rick Tepker, Chair.

PRESENT: Albert, Benson, Blank, Bremer, Dillon, Durica, Egle, Elisens, Emery, Fiedler, Fung, Gana, Gilje, B.Greene, E.Greene, Gupta, Harris, Hillyer, Hobbs, Holmes, Horrell, Hughes, Hutchison, Joyce, Kinzie, C.Knapp, Konopak, Laird, Lancaster, F. Lee, Murphy, Norwood, Patten, Patterson, Ramsey, Shaughnessy, Sipes, St.John, Stoltenberg, Tepker, Thulasiraman, VanGundy, Wahl, Wenk

Provost's office representative: Bell

PSA representatives: Spencer

UOSA representatives: Scott, Taylor

ABSENT: Baker, Carnevale, Civan, Palmer, Reynolds, Smith, Wallach, Williams




Faculty awards ceremony 2

Post-tenure review task force 2

Purchasing office pouring committee 2

Course syllabus 2

Graduate assistant health insurance subsidy and stipend increase 3

Senate Chair's Report:

Mission statement on business cards 5

Athletic Department forum 5

Internet Review Committee 5

Faculty evaluation scale 5



The Senate Journal for the regular session of January 13, 1997, was approved.


The faculty awards ceremony currently is scheduled for Wednesday, April9, at 3:00 p.m. with a reception following. Invitations will be sent to the faculty in mid March.

Professors Roger Rideout (Music) and Susan Vehik (Anthropology) are the two faculty representatives to the post-tenure review task force (see 1/97 Journal, page 2). The task force is expected to make its report in the Fall.

Prof. Maureen Weston (Law) is the faculty representative to a Purchasing Office committee to consider a University pouring contract.

report of course syllabus committee

At the January meeting, the Senate created a committee to make recommendations concerning course syllabi (see 1/97 Journal, page 4). Members of the committee are Lex Holmes, Betty Harris and Lotsee Patterson. Prof. Tepker explained that the Senate would vote on the report next month.

Prof. Holmes commented that the discussion at the last meeting was helpful because the committee learned that one size does not fit all. The members believed a syllabus would be inappropriate for internships/practicum, directed readings/research, dissertation and thesis hours. They suggested that section 3.2.2 of the Faculty Handbook be amended to include a course syllabi requirement (see Appendix I). The proposal is broad and general enough that it does not limit the pedagogy of the individual instructor, and therefore does not infringe on academic freedom. It dovetails with the student request that faculty not "bushwhack" students in the final weeks of class, but does not create a "dead week."

Prof. Hutchison asked whether graduate level seminar courses graded S/U could be added as an exception since the students usually do the presentations. Prof. Dillon noted that students still have to meet some criteria. Prof. Holmes said the committee did not consider S/U graded courses. They talked about exempting all graduate level courses, but rejected that. Prof. Hobbs asked whether "distribute" meant the instructor would have to give each individual student a piece of paper or could post the syllabus on the web. Prof. Tepker suggested that the language be changed to "distribute or publish."

Prof. Fiedler pointed out that the proposed policy did not seem to allow a professor to make a change halfway through the semester. Prof. Benson agreed, saying a professor could not add further reading materials during the course of the semester. He noted that stipulating the first week of class made the policy less flexible. Prof. Holmes said additional readings would be appropriate unless a book is assigned the last two weeks of class. Prof. Patten remarked that it would be sufficient to say we should have a syllabus instead of defining details. Prof. Holmes said the committee thought there ought to be a definition of what is meant by a syllabus and guidance on essential elements. Prof. Gilje said he would like to reserve the right to add a quiz later if necessary. Prof. Tepker said he could include the phrase, "I reserve the right to give a pop quiz." Prof. Bremer proposed that the phrase, "judicious use of controversial material," be removed in light of what had been said about academic freedom. Prof. Holmes said that language was already in the handbook, and that issue was beyond the narrow charge of the committee. Prof. Hillyer noted that she states in her syllabus that the class will be discussing controversial subjects and that additional articles will be provided throughout the semester. Prof. Wahl commented that schedules and readings should be based on how students perform. Prof. Holmes said the proposal calls for approximate dates. Addressing the flexibility issue, Prof. Dillon suggested that the language be modified to read, "a general description of expectations of performance, to include required reading materials, ..." Prof. Gana said she liked the word "expectations" because that would solve the issue of being too flexible or too specific. She contended that the Senate should err on the side of flexibility. Prof. Fiedler commented that the Senate should not try to fix something that is not really broken. Prof. Gilje said he was not sure that course syllabi should include the major objectives of the course. What should go in the syllabus is expectations.

Prof. Tepker observed that this is not the kind of policy that a court will interpret with rigidity. This is an effort to give reasonable notice, and flexibility can be built in. A syllabus is not dangerous. Many faculty have been using a syllabus for a long time. Prof. Hutchison proposed that the second sentence be changed to read, "course syllabi should" rather than "course syllabi shall" to provide flexibility. Prof. Sipes noted that many faculty do not develop syllabi like this. The Senate could make the policy so flexible that it no longer means anything. He said a number of his colleagues would not follow the policy if it says "should." Prof. Van Gundy said the Senate could decide which items should be in the "shall" category and which should be in the "should" category. Prof. Tepker pointed out that the senators could discuss the proposal with their colleagues. He said he was getting the sense that there ought to be some balance between good professional standards and flexibility. Prof. Fiedler suggested that the Senate use the word "should" and let departments use the word "shall" for people who are not performing as they should. Prof. Patten said he took offense at the idea that a lack of a syllabus is a lack of good teaching methodology. He said he was concerned that faculty could be evaluated negatively if they do not have a syllabus. Prof. Hillyer remarked that many students in her department have taken management workshops in which they learn how to list objectives. These objectives are far beneath the level of intellectual activity that she expects. Prof. Dillon suggested the term "goals" instead of "objectives." She asserted that students have a right to know the expectations of a course. Prof. Wahl said he would support "goals" rather than "objectives." Prof. Holmes said the committee viewed objectives as a course description. If the word "goals" is more palatable, the committee would be happy to amend that.

Prof. Tepker asked the senators to submit their suggestions to Prof. Holmes. Prof. Hutchison claimed there were things listed that do not apply. He suggested that "where appropriate" be inserted in the second sentence before "course syllabi shall." Prof. Hobbs said she thought the specific nature was what was bothersome.

Graduate Assistant Health Insurance Subsidy and Stipend Increase

Prof. Tepker said this item had been raised by Prof. Murphy, who would explain the proposal.

Prof. Murphy introduced Ms. Heidi Morris, Chair of External Affairs Committee of the Graduate Student Senate (GSS), and Ms. Lauren Cohen, Secretary of GSS. Prof. Murphy explained that the resolution of the GSS (Appendix II) applied to teaching assistants (TAs) and research assistants (RAs) and requested a 5% increase in stipends and subsidized health insurance. Currently, average TA stipends are about $730 per month; RAs $800, which ranks them ninth and seventh, respectively, in the Big 12. The administration has promised graduate assistants (GAs) a 5% increase over the next seven years, and we are in the second year, so stipends may be a moot point. The real issue is health insurance. The GSS does not want a health insurance subsidy to be substituted for a stipend increase. GAs pay about $50 per semester for the Goddard health clinic fee and a $10 co-payment to see a Goddard physician. For anything major, students need to have their own insurance. Next year, OU will be self-insured. The premium per student will cost $450-475 or about $.5 million per year for the 611 TAs and 500 RAs. Most RAs are paid by grants, so their fee could come out of the grant. In the Big 12, the University of Colorado pays 50% of the premium; the University of Texas pays 100%. The GSS would like the Faculty Senate to support the health insurance subsidy.

Ms. Cohen reiterated that the GSS was more concerned about the insurance because GAs were promised a 5% increase in stipends, but there is concern about a trade-off between stipends and insurance. The GSS is asking for support in principle for subsidized health insurance and to have it viewed as a priority. Ms. Morris explained that the current student insurer made a profit last year, so the University is going to a self-insurance plan. Based on projections, the University could get approximately $86,000 back.

Prof. Tepker explained that the Senate would take final action next time. Prof. Fiedler said he would welcome a solid number to fill in on federal grant proposals. He said it was scandalous that the federal government is not paying for health insurance for its employees. The dilemma is how to give an RA a raise if the money is not available. Prof. Patten said he was willing to support the insurance, but he pointed out that he could be outbid by other universities that did not include that cost in their grants.

Prof. Holmes announced that if the state senate proposal for higher education is approved and various commitments are subtracted out, OU would get about $3 million in new money. That translates to a 3% pay raise for faculty and staff, not including any new faculty or other initiatives. The stipend increase and health insurance subsidy would be the equivalent of a 1% raise for faculty and staff. Prof. Knapp pointed out that the cost per student is very moderate. Ms. Cohen said the cost would not go up, and could go down. This proposal is the base plan out of four options and is expected to cost $478 maximum for a full year. Any profit will be used to reduce any premium increases. Prof. Durica wondered if the number of GAs might be decreased if the University has to pay for insurance. Ms. Cohen said that had never been mentioned. Prof. Fung said his department gave all TAs a 5% raise, and its stipends are higher than the average. If another 5% is mandated next year, that would be a tremendous cost. He asked who would pay for the health insurance--OU, the department, or faculty with research grants. The department M&O budget cannot pay unless it cuts something else. Ms. Cohen said the resolution suggests that the OU administration be responsible. Prof. Murphy reported that a 5% increase is built into grant proposals. Prof. Fung responded that his NSF budget is flat for three years. Prof. Dillon said it would be helpful to know the bottom line figure. It is difficult for the Senate to support the resolution without knowing how it will impact other priorities. Prof. Tepker observed that when he is asked about priorities, he has always said salaries for faculty and staff are first.

Ms. Amy Cobb, UOSA President, explained that the actuary had not finished the figures yet. Ms. Cohen said the number is likely to go down once the calculations are completed. If the 1100 GAs are fully insured, the maximum cost would be $525,000. This request should not be construed to mean this is a priority over faculty raises. It would be a matter of the Faculty Senate sending a message that it is important to increase GA benefits. Prof. Sipes said he would support anything we could do for GAs. However, Senate support would be a hollow recommendation if it costs something. It is likely we would have fewer graduate students in order to pay for this. Prof. Tepker said by endorsing the resolution, the Senate would be defining an additional academic objective, as opposed to other alternatives such as athletics. If the administration seeks a tuition increase this year, this item could go on the list of needs.

Senate Chair's Report, by Prof. Rick Tepker

Prof. Tepker reported that the President said he would approve the Senate's recommendation that the mission statement be optional on business cards (see 1/97 Journal, page 5).

On February 11 at 4:00 p.m., a public forum will be held with the NCAA Certification Peer-Review Team on the Athletic Department self-study.

Prof. Tepker announced that he is a member of a newly-established Internet Review Committee. One of the questions the committee will discuss is whether the University should create a computerized public forum for expression of personal sentiments. This would be separate domain, where people are free to say what they want, subject to legal standards. He asked for the Senate's sentiment on the question. Following a lengthy discussion on several issues such as how to tell the difference between the public forum and current web pages and the degree of institutional control over the content, Prof. Tepker asked the senators to send comments to him.

Prof. Fung asked about the status of the dean searches. Prof. Tepker said he would find out.

Prof. Hutchison asked about the president's decision on faculty evaluations (see 1/97 Journal, page 3). Prof. Tepker said President Boren agreed to add back a sentence he had deleted but change it to read, "Expectations may reflect goals defined in plans developed by the unit and the professor." Regarding the deletion of the sentence referring to interdepartmental comparisons, Prof. Tepker said he had indicated in a memo to the president that the Senate takes the president's statement as a commitment not to conduct interdepartmental comparisons. Prof. Tepker also noted Prof. Benson's point about the differences in objective standards defining the professions.


The meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30p.m. on Monday, March 17, 1997, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Alexander Holmes, Secretary


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator

2/97 (Appendix I)

Syllabus Recommendations: Rationale

A syllabus is essential to organizing a course. Not only does it articulate the goals of the instructor, it also outlines the pace at which students should complete assignments throughout the semester. This is the case whether the course format is lecture, seminar, laboratory, or performance.

Although students file grade appeals for a variety of reasons, one major reason is their misunderstanding of oral course instructions provided as the course progresses. The UOSA has repeatedly introduced resolutions in the Faculty Senate to address the problem of instructors making substantial graded assignments near the end of the semester. Better faculty-student relations are promoted in the classroom and campus wide when a syllabus is provided at the beginning of the course outlining a schedule for major requirements and the percentages each assignment will contribute to the final grade. This will assist students in coordinating course preparation with employment and other required activities.

The proposed guidelines do not dictate course content. Therefore, issues of academic freedom do not arise.


AMEND FACULTY HANDBOOK AT 3.2.2, paragraph 2, sentence 4 TO READ:

(Underline is existing recommended to be deleted; bold is recommended additions.)

They [faculty members] shall distribute course syllabi the first week of class, endeavor to define defining the objectives of their courses and to devote their teaching to the realization of those objectives; this requires judicious use of controversial material and an avoidance of material that has no relationship to the objectives of the course. Course syllabi shall state the major objectives of the course; instructor's office hours; university policies regarding Reasonable Accommodation and Codes of Behavior; list of required reading materials; list of all major reading, laboratory, and/or performance assignments for the semester; approximate dates for all graded assignments and percentage each contributes to the final grade. Internships/practicum, directed readings/research, dissertation and thesis hours are exempt from this requirement.

The currently suggested language for the Reasonable Accommodation Policy and Codes and Policies of Behavior is:

Reasonable Accommodation Policy

"Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent her or him from fully demonstrating his or her abilities should contact me personally as soon as possible so we can discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate your educational opportunities."

Codes and Policies of Behavior

"Each student should acquaint her or his self with the University's codes, policies, and procedures involving academic misconduct, grievances, sexual and ethnic harassment, and discrimination based on physical handicap."