The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – April 11, 2011 – 3:30 p.m. – Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789
e-mail: email@example.com web site: http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/
The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor LeRoy Blank, Chair.
PRESENT: Adams, Asojo, Atiquzzaman, Ayres, Bergey, Blank, Bradshaw, Chang, Chapple, Chiodo, Deacon, Gramoll, Hahn, Kimball, Kosmopoulou, Lauer-Flores, Leseney, Marsh-Matthews, McPherson, Morrissey, Morvant, Moses, Muraleetharan, Natale, Palmer, Park, Ransom, Remling, Sadler, Sandel, Stock, Strauss, Tabb, Taylor, Vehik, Verma, Weaver, Williams, Wydra, Xiao, Zhu
Provost's office representative: Mergler, Heiser
ISA representatives: Hough
ABSENT: Baer, Cox-Fuenzalida, Devegowda, Jean-Marie, Minter, Moxley, Wyckoff, Yi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I/N grades for international students
Wireless Internet, oZone
Resolution, Regent Larry Wade
Benefits, FY12 health plan
Online course evaluation system
Conflict of Interest Policy, National Research Council study
Preliminary nominations for councils, committees, boards
Senate Chair's Report:
Benefits: retirement plan management committee
Faculty award recipients
Meeting with OSU and HSC
Healthy food options
Faculty Senate Executive Committee meeting with council chairs
High school standards, uniform testing
The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of March 21, 2011 was approved.
The International Student Services office would like to remind the faculty that international students’ immigration status, in most cases, prohibits them from taking I or N grades. Doing so may result in their failure to maintain a full course of study, which is a requirement of their visa status in the U.S. This results in a loss of their immigration status. The ISS office routinely communicates this information to faculty members after they have assigned an I or an N grade to an international student, but thought it would be helpful to share this information with the faculty prior to the end of a semester. For more information, contact Monica Sharp, Director of ISS, 325-3337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chair of the Information Technology Council, Prof. Chung Kao (Physics & Astronomy), suggested that faculty members should contact him if they are aware of any locations on campus that do not have wireless Internet (Wifi) connectivity. Faculty members should also contact him if they have any oZONE-related concerns/problems as Information Technology is moving from the repair phase into a maintenance phase. Prof. Kao’s email is email@example.com.
A 40- to 63-mile “Two Wheeled Schooner Ride” is being considered in September for faculty (as well as staff, students, and friends) who are bicyclists. Search on Facebook for a “two wheeled schooner” event and click if you are interested and want to be informed.
The Faculty Senate’s Faculty Welfare Committee is seeking faculty input regarding a phased retirement and/or early retirement plan. You may send your comments to Scott Moses, Chair of the committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President Boren’s response to the Faculty Senate’s resolution last month expressing sympathy for the loss of Regent Larry Wade was “Thank you for this heartfelt remembrance of the great contribution of Regent Wade to our University.”
The Faculty Senate is sad to report the death on March 22 of retired faculty member Sean Daniel (Music).
Human Resources (HR) Director Julius Hilburn provided an update concerning the health plan renewal for FY12. Our current contract agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is through 2011. After consulting with our consultants and Employment Benefits Committee, HR decided to focus on renewing with BCBS through 2012 rather than going back to the marketplace. One motivation was we have not had any particular service issues or problems with BCBS. Feedback from employees is that BCBS is as good or better than other companies. Unless we can get a substantially better financial deal, it is not worth the disruption to employees to change vendors and networks. In the last 10 years we have had four different vendors. HR believes it will be possible to negotiate aggressively with BCBS. The main factor that determines changes in premiums is utilization. We can vary the nature of the benefits, such as what is covered and deductibles, to manage any increase. Generally, health care has gone up 10 percent a year nationally. OU’s experience has been better. Last year, OU’s premiums went up about seven percent. Based on our utilization so far, we are encouraged that next year’s increase will be less than five percent. HR will explore all options to get better rates. The process over the next several months will be to work with the Faculty Welfare Committee, Employment Benefits Committee, and our consultant, the Segal Company, to find ways to make our program more cost effective for both participants and the university. Possible options are to tweak certain aspects of the benefit, alter deductibles, and/or change networks to generate savings. The timeline is to make recommendations to the OU regents in September for benefit changes that will start in January 2012. Mr. Hilburn will report back to the Faculty Senate as he gets more details. Prof. Hofford asked whether we were looking into offering some of the wellness incentives that BCBS has with other companies. Mr. Hilburn replied that we are looking at how to incorporate wellness incentives more directly into our program.
Mr. Aaron Biggs, developer and coordinator for eValuate, reported on the online course evaluation system (see http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/eValuate.pdf). A total of 17 colleges and programs are now using the online evaluation system. To get students to complete the evaluations, the university has been giving away iPads as incentives. For spring 2011 the iPad 2 will be the incentive. Various methods of communication are utilized to notify students and faculty about evaluations. Direct email is the most effective means of communicating with everyone. Other methods include Facebook, Twitter, the OU homepage, Desire2Learn (D2L), course announcements posted by faculty, oZone, computer labs, table tents in the dining areas, and sidewalk chalking in high-traffic area. Comparing the effectiveness of the communication efforts, Mr. Biggs said direct communication went down about 9 percent from spring to fall, but that means students are utilizing other communication avenues such as D2L, oZone and the OU homepage. Overall, there were more visits to the site for fall 2010 than spring 2010 and more evaluations completed in the fall than the spring. There were about 9,000 more visits to the site in the fall compared to the spring, and we almost doubled the number of countries and cities where students access the site. The most popular time to evaluate courses is 10:00 a.m. The average time to complete each page is about three minutes. The percentage of students who completed all their evaluations was 73.83 percent in fall 2010. Mr. Biggs showed a breakdown of the response rates by college and program. Overall, the response rate for fall 2010 was 55.62 percent. Generally, the average response rate from fall 2005 to fall 2008, when we used paper evaluations, was 66 percent. For the last two semesters, when everyone was online, it was 54.56 percent. According to the research, other institutions that transitioned from paper to online had a decline in response rates. However, over time the rates increase. Given that our response rate increased by 2.12 percent, we are moving in the right direction. We now have evaluation reports that are accessible online. Instructors and unit staff can log in and view live response rates during the evaluation window. Reports can be provided two days after grades are posted. The documents are easy to read and can be exported in PDF format. The statistical and comment reports are now combined. College and department staff can search for and retrieve all reports for a specific instructor to use in faculty evaluations or tenure review. Cross and slash-listed course are now easy to identify and view. The site is a repository for all evaluation reports since fall 2010. Mr. Biggs showed an example of the screen when someone logs in. He said he thought one of the major benefits to online evaluations was the short turnaround time. Instructors can view the reports before the upcoming semester and no longer have to wait 4-6 weeks to get the data.
Prof. Stock asked if any thought had been given to increasing the response rates by making students wait an extra 3 or 4 days to see their grades if they do not complete their evaluations. Mr. Biggs said other universities are using a number of incentives, and a couple of universities have delayed grades. Provost Mergler said it was important that individual faculty members should not give extra credit. She has allowed the random drawing for iPads and is discussing with deans whether they would want to do some college-wide incentives. Another possibility is to make college computer labs available. An advantage to the online version is students can evaluate all their courses at one time. She said delaying students’ grades between fall and spring could negatively impact things like financial aid eligibility and enrollment. Withholding of grades from students is not something she is comfortable with. She thinks the right way to get a higher response is to make students aware of the importance of evaluations. She hesitates to use a negative tactic. Prof. Bradshaw asked whether the eValuate team had looked specifically at the open-ended comments. Mr. Biggs said that anecdotally, he thought the students were providing more comments, but a comparison between the old and new systems would be hard to measure as they do not have the old data and cannot compare on a course-by-course basis. He also mentioned that, after receiving complaints from students that they had lost everything they had written, the system’s timeout period was lengthened from 15 minutes to about five hours.
Prof. Chapple said her faculty colleagues believe they are getting a bimodal distribution, or much more of the extremes, with the online version. They would like to increase the participation of the students in the middle. Mr. Biggs commented that the students in the middle do not have as much incentive to fill out an evaluation. That is why it is important to get students to think of doing evaluations as a professional duty. Provost Mergler said even when they were in paper format, there was discussion of the polarizing effect of course evaluations. Any format can lend itself to a skewed result. With paper, the student had to be present in class the day the evaluation was done. With online, every student can be heard. Course evaluations are important for instructional factors. Prof. Hofford pointed out that course evaluations are being used for performance evaluations and merit pay increases, so their validity is a good question. Provost Mergler said the OU regents have a policy that we will evaluate our courses. Being evaluated by anyone is a sensitive moment. The comments lead to other data points that can include peer evaluation, a review of course materials, syllabi, exams, and so on. Course evaluations are not the sole way to determine how effective someone is as an instructor. Prof. Hofford said his point was we need to progress toward getting more evaluations. He asked whether we gather any information about the students, such as what grade they expect to get. Mr. Biggs said some forms ask that question, and those answers are captured, but eValuate does not directly capture any demographic data. Prof. Blank said faculty should tell their students that instructors really do care about evaluations and respond to them.
The proposal to dissolve the Honors Council (attached), which came as a recommendation from the Honors Council (see 3/11 Faculty Senate Journal), was approved on a voice vote.
The proposed changes in policies governing student enrollment changes (attached), which were discussed last month (see 3/11 Faculty Senate Journal), were approved on a voice vote.
Prof. Blank explained that Vice President for Research (VPR) Kelvin Droegemeier wanted to give a brief report on a proposed Conflict of Interest Policy (see http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/COIpolicy.htm and attached overview). He noted that it was just the beginning of the conversation and was not something that would be solved overnight. The purpose of the discussion was to get faculty input. He said he understood the complexity of the issue but would like to simplify the proposed policy.
Prof. Droegemeier said he first wanted to make the senate aware of the new VPR annual report called Aspire. It highlights several faculty members and their scholarship, includes a page of faculty honors, and contains a section called Dashboard, which has facts, figures, and statistics on such things as funding. The section, Where OU Stands, presents various rankings. It turns out that much of the information was not maintained in a central location, so the Research office will now be the repository for the rankings. The report is available on the VPR web site: http://vpr-norman.ou.edu/ (VPR Publications). Prof. Droegemeier said he wanted the report to highlight the faculty and provide a sense of who we are and where we are going. He said he would like to have feedback on the report from the faculty.
Prof. Droegemeier discussed the proposed Conflict of Interest (COI) policy with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee on April 4. OU already has a financial COI policy. The proposal is much broader and covers such issues as conflict of commitment, use of resources, use of official position, and relationships with organizations. When the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) did a site visit here last year, one recommendation was that the Norman Campus needed a more comprehensive conflict of interest policy. The Health Sciences Center had passed such a policy, so our campus used theirs as a starting point. An ad hoc task force was put together and delivered a draft report in February. The two faculty members who serve on the COI Advisory Committee were on the task force. An important question to be addressed is whether we should have one overarching policy that includes the OU-wide institutional COI policy and the one proposed here. Prof. Aimee Franklin brought up the point that the Institutional Review Board policies might also need to be folded in. In addition, we need an implementation plan to make sure the policy gets enacted. Another issue is we rely on self-disclosure of potential conflicts currently. We need to do better at protecting faculty and managing those potential conflicts. The Faculty Senate Executive Committee provided some thoughtful input. For example, members pointed out that the policy addresses the responsibilities of faculty but not the University, it needs to be more readable and less like a legal contract, and all of the COI policies should be brought together. Also, there is the question whether operating policies of the Research Council and other entities should be included. The University-wide Compliance Advisory Committee will discuss the policy, but significant work needs to be done on it. The policy will probably take another year of work. His expectation is to seek OU regents’ approval in spring 2012. He wants the faculty to have an opportunity to comment on the drafts.
Last July, the National Research Council established a committee charged by Congress to look at the future of America’s public research universities and provide the top ten actions that would ensure the health and prosperity of our nation’s universities. A seminar that Prof. Droegemeier gave recently is on the VPR web site: http://vpr-norman.ou.edu/ (VPR Presentations). A consensus draft report is due next month. Two principal issues that the committee began with were compliance mandates, which have been increasing dramatically, and the under-recovery of indirect costs. For OU, $30 million was un-recovered from FY07 through FY09. The indirect cost rate for Norman campus research is 50 percent, yet we actually recover just 30 percent. Some of the initial suggestions are to fully enforce recovery of allowable indirect costs, allow administrative and secretarial support to be charged to grants, harmonize the compliance regulations that come out of the various federal agencies, and eliminate regulations that add no value but create a huge burden. There is a push in this country now, even at the federal level, to reduce the compliance regulations. If we can reduce many of the regulations, faculty would have more time to spend on their teaching and scholarship, and fewer staff would have to be hired. There is a catch, however. Greater recovery of indirect costs would eat into the direct cost budget. It would need to be phased in over a period of time and when the federal research grant budgets are growing. Prof. Droegemeier asked the senators to contact him if they had questions.
The Faculty Senate Committee on Committees’ preliminary nominations for the end-of-year vacancies on university and campus councils, committees, and boards was distributed at the meeting and will be voted on at the May meeting. A few vacancies still need to be filled.
The Retirement Plans Management Committee (RPMC) made some major progress and was approved to move forward by the OU regents. Implementation will take place in late fall. All employees were sent a letter that explained the actions taken. The Faculty Senate Executive Committee suggested the addition of two faculty members to the RPMC, for a total of three faculty members with three-year staggered terms; that recommendation was approved. Current member K.K. Muraleetharan will serve one more year, Scott Moses will have a two-year term, and Terry Crain will have a three-year term.
The faculty awards ceremony was held on April 7. Prof. Blank said he had served on the faculty awards and honors council on two occasions, and it was a great personal reward to be able to recognize faculty members for what they do. Senator Pramode Verma received an award for a patent and Senator Mark Morrissey was recognized for 20 years of service.
At a recent deans’ council meeting, Matt Hamilton, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Financial Services and Registrar, said he is planning to make available direct upload of grades from Desire2Learn, hopefully by the end of the fall semester.
A question was raised about reimbursements for trips, etc. Currently, reimbursements are automatically deposited into the bank account in which the individual’s paycheck is deposited. Some people would like to deposit reimbursements in a separate account. In about 3-6 months, the state system will have the capability to issue a check that could be deposited in another account.
The Integrity Council has been approved by the OU regents, is moving forward, and already has a number of faculty representatives. The council currently is soliciting student members.
The Faculty Senate Executive Committee will be meeting with the executive committees of the Oklahoma State University Faculty Council and OU Health Sciences Center Faculty Senate on April 25. Prof. Blank asked the senators to send him any issues that they would like the group to discuss.
Some members of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee met with Dave Annis, Housing and Food Services director, concerning the interest in increasing the healthy food options available on campus. Food Services already has a lot of initiatives in that area, but improvements could be made in special events, such as the Associates’ dinners.
OU has been concerned about a number of legislative issues. So far, bills that would allow guns on campus have been diffused. Tuition authority will likely remain with the regents and not be taken back by the legislature. Funding from the state is still in a fluid state. OTRS funding remains a problem and is something we need to watch.
At a recent meeting of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee with the chairs of councils, several items came up of interest to the faculty. The Continuing Education Council is looking into non-traditional doctoral programs as well as competency and accreditation standards. The Academic Programs Council is processing an incredible number of courses and programs. The council is using Desire2Learn to process program proposals. The Information Technology Council is addressing wireless connections and oZone issues (see announcements). The former course management system, enroll.ou.edu, has been replaced with The Book in the oZone system. As a cost-saving measure, IT is encouraging people to use centralized equipment instead of desktop printers and copiers. The Budget Council is talking to a large number of people about budget issues and is looking into medical and dental costs. HMO costs are likely to exceed PPO costs next year. Compression is still a concern and is being discussed with the President. The Research Council is doing an incredible amount of work, in part because the VPR has provided additional funding. A number of councils mentioned that student representatives do not attend the council meetings. Prof. Blank encouraged the faculty to solicit students to be involved with the various councils and committees so students will have input. The OU-Tulsa campus is moving forward rapidly. A new library building will open in May; the library’s previous space will become the student union. The Faculty Welfare Committee has been working on the retirement plans management, health care renewal, and incentives for wellness. The Faculty Compensation Committee produced some language concerning contributions to OTRS during full-year sabbaticals, which was incorporated into the Faculty Handbook, and also is working on alternative ways to increase faculty compensation.
Prof. Blank is the OU-Norman campus representative to the Faculty Advisory Council to the state regents; Prof. Kosmopoulou will be the representative next year. The council heard a report about the initiative to have across-the-board core standards and uniform testing for high school students. Universities would then know if a student is prepared to come to a higher education institution.
The project to remodel Jacobson 102 is going forward and is expected to be finished by the fall semester.
The meeting adjourned at 4:53 p.m. The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 9, 2011, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.
Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator
Amy Bradshaw, Faculty Secretary