JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY SENATE

The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session - April 14, 2003 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206†† phone: 325-6789
e-mail: facsen@ou.edu†† web site: http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/

 

The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Ed Cline, Chair.

 

PRESENT:†††††† Abraham, Baldwin, Bozorgi, Bradford, Brady, Carnevale, Cline, Davis, Ferreira, Fincke, Gensler, Gottesman, Hanson, Hart, Havlicek, Henderson, Huseman, Kauffman, Knapp, Lee, London, Madland, Magid, Maiden, McInerney, Milton, Morrissey, Newman, Pender, Rai, Ransom, Robertson, Rodriguez, Rupp-Serrano, Russell, Scherman, Sievers, Striz, Tarhule, Taylor, Thulasiraman, Vale, Watts, Wheeler, Whitely, Wieder, Willinger

Provost's office representative:Mergler
ISA representatives:Lauterbach
UOSA representatives:McFayden

 

ABSENT:†††††††† Beach, Cuccia, Devenport, Frech, Hartel, Wyckoff

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Announcement:2002-03 Campus Departmental Review Panel

Senate Chair's Report:

Senators who received awards

Health benefits

Regents' policy manual

Preliminary nominations for committee vacancies

Proposed revisions in Academic Misconduct Code

Midterm grade report

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APPROVAL OF JOURNAL

 

The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of March 10, 2003 was approved.

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENT

 

The following faculty will serve on the 2002-03 Campus Departmental Review Panel:Keith Gaddie (Political Science), Barbara Greene (Educational Psychology), Scott Gronlund (Psychology), David Gross (English), Peter Krug (Law), James Martin (Educational Psychology), Bill McManus (Construction Science), Dan O'Hair (Communication), Joyce Palomar (Law), Sandra Ragan (Communication), Larry Toothaker (Psychology), and Courtney Vaughn (Educational Leadership & Policy Studies).The five units in Business, five units in Fine Arts, Aviation, and Journalism & Mass Communication will be reviewed.

 

 

SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Ed Cline

 

Prof. Cline congratulated the senators who received awards at the faculty tribute April 10.

 

Prof. Cline announced that enrollment for the health care plan was going on and informational sessions were being held.All employees have to re-enroll in one of the new health insurance plans.

 

At its meeting with President Boren last week, the Senate Executive Committee suggested that the administration put out requests for proposals to various insurers to see if there are other health care plans that are competitive with the state plan.Many faculty members had requested that the university provide a Blue Cross/Blue Shield option.However, the state plan does not allow other insurers.The Executive Committee also discussed with the president the possibility that Human Resources would present health care proposals in the first semester of the year, which would allow more time to study the proposals before we have to decide on a plan and enroll.The president agreed that that was reasonable.

 

Prof. Cline thanked Professors Al Schwarzkopf, Mike McInerney, and Valerie Watts for going to the state Capitol last week to thank legislators for their support in general and for their support, in particular, on the tuition bill.

 

A task force chaired by Prof. David Levy (History) reported to the Senate Executive Committee on the revisions being proposed in the regents' policy manual.A number of issues need to be addressed.A task force will be appointed to recommend specific changes.These changes will be presented to the Faculty Senate next academic year.President Boren and Provost Mergler indicated that the Senate will have plenty of time to submit revisions.

 

 

NOMINATIONS FOR COMMITTEE VACANCIES

 

The Committee on Committees' nominations for end-of-the-year vacancies on university and campus councils, committees, and boards (attached) were presented at the meeting and will be voted on at the May meeting.Nominations can be made from the floor with the permission of the nominee.

 

 

PROPOSED REVISIONS IN ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT CODE

 

Revisions in the Academic Misconduct Code (attached) were proposed by Assistant Provost Greg Heiser, in consultation with student leaders and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.The Senate will vote on the proposal at the next meeting.Dr. Heiser first pointed out some of the small changes in the draft dated 4/9/03.He eliminated the steps at the beginning.They were never an official part of the code.Web sites and other user-friendly ways summarize the process.A small change was made in the definition of academic misconduct.To speed things up, the charge would go to the Campus Judicial Coordinator instead of the dean (section 2.4).The student would get 15 days rather than two days to request a hearing.A small change was made in the section on maintaining the records of sanctions (section 7.6).Students often do not realize that the misconduct record lives on after the incident is over.The main change is in section 2.3.In some cases of academic misconduct, the incident could be an instructional matter rather than a disciplinary matter.Under the current Academic Misconduct Code, it is not officially permitted for faculty to assign a grade reduction, although it has been a practice on campus.Any time a conclusion is drawn that a student's conduct constituted academic misconduct, a charge is supposed to be filed, and that has certain advantages.The student then gets due process.But it turns what could be a ďteachableĒ moment into a procedure that could take months to clear up.By instituting this additional option--the admonition-- it might be possible, in some cases, to set the student straight and move on.Whenever the instructor determines that the incident that meets the definition of misconduct might be better treated as an instructional matter rather than a disciplinary matter, s/he would let the student know what happened and what the appeal procedure is and would give the student up to a zero on an assignment.Because this step would not result in a record of academic misconduct, it would be restricted to assignments that are not the most important coursework.The student would have a right to appeal.This is a considerable change from current procedure, in which the instructor has to file a charge and the student has to meet with the campus judicial coordinator before anything official is permitted to happen.

 

Prof. Milton asked whether the process was similar to what other universities do.Dr. Heiser said he had looked mostly at Big 12 institutions, and there was quite a range.At OSU, an incident is handled by the faculty member.OU is at the other end of the spectrum, where a faculty member has to file a formal charge.Kansas State has an honor system, in which a charge has to be filed and investigated by a special committee before anything can happen.

 

Prof. Taylor said she liked the idea of having an option.However, rather than a grade change, which could be appealed, there should be a standardized agreement for the student to sign saying they accept the penalty.It is the responsibility of students to prove that they did not commit misconduct.It should not be the burden of the faculty member to prove that they did.Dr. Heiser said currently, the burden of proof is on the faculty member to show by a preponderance of evidence that the student committed academic misconduct.Dr. Heiser's concern is that students could say they were coerced if they were required to sign something.Another suggestion that was discussed was whether to have a witness, but he chose not to move in the direction of additional procedures.Prof. Taylor said her understanding was if the student challenged the grade reduction, then the incident would move into the regular academic misconduct path and later on to the grade appeal path. Dr. Heiser said that was correct.The other way that an admonition could move into the regular stream is that the matter had to be reported centrally.If a student was a repeat offender, then the admonition option would be foreclosed.Prof. Magid asked how the records of admonition would be kept.Dr. Heiser said they would be kept by the provost office.It would be possible for the provost office to review an incident to see whether a student's acts were egregious enough to merit something more than a grade reduction.Because the time frame is fairly short, the provost office will depend largely on the faculty's judgment about the appropriate penalty.Prof. Magid asked whether student government agreed that an admonition would not be appropriate in a second incident.Dr. Heiser replied that for quite some time, the UOSA General Counselís office had wanted some way that matters could be settled without moving through the entire, sometimes slow, procedure.

 

Prof. Havlicek asked whether faculty would have to indicate the grade a student would have received if s/he had not committed academic misconduct and the grade imposed because of the act.Dr. Heiser said his assumption was the faculty member would give meaningful information to the student about the penalty.Prof. Hart said he would like an explanation of the logic behind using the admonition for some parts of the coursework and not for others.He said he thought it would send a message that it was okay to negotiate on certain assignments but not others.He said, "It seems to me academic misconduct is academic misconduct."Dr. Heiser said he had left out all limitations in an earlier version, but student affairs and student government had wanted some limitations.For important assignments, it probably would not be appropriate to use an admonitionThis option suggests a face-to-face meeting, which is difficult in the case of end-of-term assignments.

 

Prof. Tarhule noted that new students might not know what they could and could not do, and he was inclined to be more forgiving of new students than senior students.He asked whether there was any provision that made that distinction.Dr. Heiser said the policy could be applied equally to freshmen through graduate students.He said he had seen one or two instances where a faculty member determined that a graduate student was genuinely unaware of certain rules.Prof. Fincke asked whether a case in which one student copied or plagiarized from another student would go through the whole process.Dr. Heiser responded that some faculty members think they should file charges on both and let the Academic Misconduct Board sort it out.Technically, the burden is on the faculty member to present enough evidence from which a reasonable board can conclude that a student committed the academic misconduct.The admonition does not go to that question one way or the other.Prof. Russell commented that the faculty member is called upon to be both the district attorney and the judge.Dr. Heiser said he had discussed the proposal with Legal Counsel and Prof. Steve Gensler (Law and a member of the Senate Executive Committee).What gets around the problem of the faculty member fulfilling two roles is that a student's admission would not be construed as an admission of guilt; it would be more in the nature of a settlement.That is the way it is done in a lot of systems.

 

Prof. London remarked that given the amount of interest the proposal had already generated, perhaps the whole faculty should be asked to provide comments.Dr. Heiser said that would be fine but that he would like to have some version of this in place by next fall.Prof. Cline said he would solicit comments from the general faculty, transmit them to the Senate Executive Committee and assemble them for the senators.

 

Prof. Taylor asked what would replace the steps that were being deleted.Dr. Heiser said the faculty member's guide to academic misconduct was on the provostís web site.Also, a flow chart is on the web site and part of the Faculty Handbook.The steps were ambiguous and really were not part of the code.Only the verbal description would be deleted.Prof. Taylor said she thought it would be helpful to faculty to have some reference of where to get information.

 

Prof. Wieder wondered whether a department could further specify the acts that would require the full process.There is tremendous variation in the way in which incidents are handled, and it can cause stress in a department.Dr. Heiser commented that there always will be the possibility for some variation campus wide.He thought a department could issue guidelines but wondered whether a department could override a faculty decision.Provost Mergler said she thought it would be useful for departments to have discussions about the parameters faculty members use for academic misconduct.There is a change in this generation of students in how they perceive knowledge and the Internet.Dr. Heiser added that another issue was courses that have many sections, possibly taught by TAs or adjuncts.

 

Prof. Fincke noted that she liked the current system because it is unambiguous.A faculty member cannot be pressured by someone else to do something less than file a complaint with the dean.The change would certainly cut down the load.It will be important, though, to discuss the issues within the department.Otherwise, there could be a lot of variation, which could send students a mixed message.Prof. Whitely said in his experience as chair of an Academic Misconduct Board, faculty never bring a case unless the preponderance of evidence was so great that there was no question that a student committed academic misconduct.He asked, "Wouldn't it be appropriate to have the same evidentiary standard for an admonition?Otherwise the student would be likely to seek the alternative process."Dr. Heiser said the evidentiary burden should be the same.He said he hoped this would not turn into a system whereby students could get an admonition based on an unfounded suspicion.The student would always have the option to challenge, and the faculty member would have to show guilt.Prof. Whitely commented that it would be wise to make it clear that the same evidentiary standards apply to the admonition alternative to reduce the probability that the student will decide to go through the regular misconduct procedure.Dr. Heiser replied that it might be good to spell that out, although he thought it was implicit.A change UOSA had suggested, which was incorporated in section 2.2, was that the faculty "shall," rather than "may," initiate a preliminary inquiry.UOSA also requested that the instructor provide the basis for the charge of academic misconduct.

 

Prof. Striz pointed out that it would not be wise to go ahead with any of this unless the instructor had proof.Because of the effort involved, it is not the worth the chance of getting shot down later on.Prof. Bradford observed that faculty members were not being given an easy way to punish a student.They were being asked to judge whether the student did something out of ignorance and to give the student a remedy.The purpose for recording the admonition is if the student continues that conduct, we know it was not ignorance.Dr. Heiser said he was right that the aim was to give the student a warning.Hopefully the warning would be given when the student needs a warning and not something stronger.Prof. Bradford asked about the situation in which a student could have been honestly trying to do his best and did not know a particular conduct was wrong.Dr. Heiser said in a case like that, the current way to proceed would be to file a charge and let the Academic Misconduct Board or dean decide the fault and intent.The proposal would give that decision, in large part, back to the faculty.

 

Prof. Vale said she liked the idea of an admonition, which she used effectively once.Her director would welcome a discussion with the faculty as to what is appropriate for an admonitionThere are degrees of misconduct, which her school can figure out and still keep the checks and balances in place.Dr. Heiser noted that the admonition would give faculty extra responsibility to decide which option was more appropriate, but he hoped this was something faculty would appreciate.Prof. Vale said when she was chair of a board, very few cases were filed.That indicated to her that the faculty was very discriminating about turning cases in and handled incidents well.

 

Prof. Baldwin said he assumed that if a student did not accept the admonition, the instructor could drop it or upgrade it to a full academic misconduct charge.Dr. Heiser said it would be upgraded simply by the student's decision to contest it.Students would have fifteen days to contest the admonition, and the only way they could contest would be by going through a hearing.The faculty member could still have some power over the procedure, in that s/he could withdraw the complaint or recommend that the case no longer deserved academic misconduct.Prof. Baldwin wanted to know whether a student who had agreed to an admonition could later contest it.Dr. Heiser answered that once the time to contest had elapsed and the time for the provost to impose an institutional penalty had elapsed, then the student had no more power to alter the decision.

 

Prof. Abraham asked if the student appealed and it went to the board, whether a record would be put in the student's file.Dr. Heiser said that once a student appeals and it goes to a hearing, the result is a judgment of guilt, and that constitutes a record.The decision could be altered based on a professorís recommendation.Prof. Abraham pointed out that there is a separate university sanction.Dr. Heiser said that in some cases, a separate university sanction is nothing more than a censure.

 

Prof. Fincke asked for clarification of "regular class days."Dr. Heiser said it meant university, working days.Ms. Beth McFayden, Graduate Student Senate liaison, asked about the Intersession classes exception.Dr. Heiser said those days were excluded because a lot of offices are shut down during those periods.

 

Prof. Havlicek asked whether faculty would be asked to enter a second opinion about a penalty if a student requested an appeal of an admonition.Dr. Heiser said he would give that some thought.He said the system should have an instructional component, and he would hate to penalize students for exercising their rights.On the other hand, there is something to be said for giving some consideration to students who accept responsibility in a timely way.Prof. Hart asked about a professor's liability if the student got legal representation.Dr. Heiser said the professor would not be liable since s/he would not be asking for any particular penalty.In a hearing, the professor is trying to establish guilt.

 

Dr. Heiser explained that the university has had an increase in the number of academic misconduct cases.He said he did not think any one approach would help with the problem.He hopes this admonition is closer to what some people might be doing already.UOSA will be considering an academic integrity pledge that would sum up the expectations of the student community.He hoped the Faculty Senate would applaud those efforts.Whether or not UOSA passes the pledge, there is nothing now that would prevent faculty from adding integrity statements to a syllabus, test, or other assignments.

 

 

MIDTERM GRADE REPORT

 

Prof. Milton said the midterm grade report now asks faculty to report students who are receiving Cs.The cover letter says students with Cs, Ds, and Fs are at risk.He said he thought this promoted grade inflation.His department is most unhappy.Prof. Hart said his department had the same discussion and was unhappy about the change.The implication is a C is a bad grade.Provost Mergler said the initiative came out of the task force on retention and reflected the desire of academic counselors to get a better sense, particularly for freshmen and sophomores, if they are headed into difficulty.The report is now called the early progress grade advisory report, and it includes Cs.The recommendation was to do reports earlier in the semester so the academic counselors would have the information in time to help students perform the best possible.All that is being asked is for faculty to give as much information as possible slightly earlier in the semester.

 

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

The meeting adjourned at 4:35 p.m.The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 5, 2003, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.

 

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Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator

 

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Valerie Watts, Secretary