The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – September 10, 2007 – 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 Steve Bradford, Chair.


PRESENT:       Albert, Apanasov, Basic, Bass, D. Bemben, M. Bemben, Benson, Bradford, Brown, Brule, Callard, Clark, Conlon, Croft, Edy, Eodice, Forman, Franklin, Ge, Grasse, Greene, Halterman, Horn, Kent, Kershen, Knapp, Livesey, Magnusson, Marcus-Mendoza, McDonald, Miranda, Morrissey, Moses, Nelson, Radhakrishnan, Rambo, Reeder, Riggs, Roche, Rogers, Sadler, Schmidt, Skeeters, Striz, Tan, Trytten, Verma, Vitt, Warnken, Weaver

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
ISA representatives:  Cook

ABSENT:         James, Russell, Trafalis





State of the University Address by President Boren


Senate members for 2007-08 and schedule of meetings

Faculty Senate and Regular Faculty parliamentarian

2006-07 annual council reports

Faculty appointments to committees

Disposition by administration of Senate actions for 2006-07

Resources in Faculty Senate office

Faculty retirees

Grading scale and Faculty Senate reapportionment

Senate Chair's Report:

Senate orientation/issues

Retirement education conference

Health care report

Classroom technology

Election, Research Council

Issues for 2007-08






Prof. Bradford said, “I think all of us have profited from President Boren’s presidency.”  He provided the impetus for the bond fund, which matches the contributions for endowed positions.  He created the Sooner Heritage Scholarship, which provides scholarships for children of OU employees.  OU students are getting a quality educational experience, thanks largely to President Boren. 


President Boren distributed several charts and a list of goals (available from the Senate office).  He said he would give a brief review of where we stand and go through some questions that the Executive Committee asked him to address.  The total Norman campus operating budget is now about $1.3 billion.  In 1985, 38.6 percent of the budget came from state appropriations; for FY08 it has dropped to 21.5 percent.  Tuition and fees have gone from 9.9 percent to 22.7 percent.  Other E&G, primarily private gifts, have helped to cushion the shift in funding.  Grants and contracts have gone from 16.8 percent to 18.5 percent of the operating revenue budget.  Some of our auxiliary units earn revenue, and their fraction of the budget has been roughly flat.  We are one of only about ten athletics departments in the country that is self-supporting.  In other words, the athletics department receives no funds from the central university.  In fact, we are one of only two or three whose Athletics Department actually provides some subsidy to the academic side.  We receive $1-2 million a year.  About $1 million goes into the library.  The academic excellence fee on football tickets goes to the academic budget.  There has been a dramatic shift from state appropriations to the payers of tuition and fees.  While we are still in the bottom five percent or so of public comprehensive universities in the country in combined mandatory tuition and fees, it still puts a burden on our students.  That is why we have emphasized the drive for scholarships.  The Sooner Heritage scholarship for middle income students is a way we have been able to help our faculty and staff and to thank them for a great job.  For the last two years, 100 percent of the children of faculty and staff who have applied for the scholarships have received them.  Originally, our goal was to raise $50 million in scholarships in five years.  We reached the goal in a little over a year, so the committee doubled the goal.  With two years left, we have raised a little above $96 million.  About $82 million is endowment; the rest is annual donation.  The campaign will continue until the endowed portion is above $100 million. 


This year we had the largest freshman class ever, by about 25 or 30.  The student quality has remained high.  We had 136 national merit scholars last year and 174 this year.  Private giving has helped us substantially.  Last year, we broke all records, with $125.8 million in private giving.  The total contributor base continues to go up, having reached 112,818.  We work not only on the large gifts, but to bring in smaller gifts, particularly from recent graduates.  Last year, we became the 20th public university in the country to have a private endowment in excess of $1 billion.  President Boren said he appreciates the hard work of our development officers. 


From 1995 to 2008, the growth in faculty was over 300 FTE, which has outstripped our growth in student enrollment.  U.S. News ratings are not based on personal observations.  Twenty-five percent of the ratings is a poll of 1800 college presidents around the country.  Almost one-fourth of the ratings is the graduation rate, which we need to work on.  The student-faculty ratio is 19.  We were very close to being in the top 100 for the first time ever.  We are the only public university in Oklahoma in the top two tiers.  We were making progress on our student-faculty ratio before 9/11, and then we had to freeze hiring.  In the last two years, we have made progress in growing the faculty and improving the student-faculty ratio.  With the tough year we had at the legislature last year, we could only give a three percent across-the-board centrally-funded raise.  Once the units have contributed, the raise will average about 3.4-3.5 percent.  The legislature did not fund our uncontrollable fixed costs such as utilities and retirement.  Total enrollment has not changed much because we had a couple of years with small freshman classes.  Most of the private giving is going into endowed chairs and professorships, which have grown from 116 to 463 since 1995.  Adjusted for cost of living, average faculty salaries and benefits are second in the Big 12.  Research and sponsored programs are close to $260 million for this year and have gone up much faster than the national average.  Our graduation rate is 58 percent, but it should be at least 65 percent.  It is an improvement, though, over the 40 percent graduation rate in 1994.  A graduation task force was formed to address the issue.  President Boren said he would welcome additional thoughts on how to improve the rate.  It probably will take more intervention.  The university contacts students who are not pre-enrolled to determine the problem.  It helps if faculty can quickly turn in early grade reports or let administrators know if a student is in trouble.  The university also provides group study skill sessions and volunteer tutors.  Many students who have had early interventions have done well later on.  Our retention rates for first-time freshmen are holding steady, at about 84 percent.  We tend to lose students around the sophomore and junior years.  The president thanked the staff for taking on additional duties to hold administrative costs down.  It is a struggle to keep pace with library funding because of the escalation of costs by providers.  Improving our journals continues to be a goal.  In total volumes held, we are second in the Big 12, but “we are first per capita.”  It is going to be really crucial that we even more clearly take our needs to the legislature next year.  If we have our fixed costs met, we could have a more reasonable compensation program and tuition and fee increase.


Reviewing his five-year goals, President Boren asked the senators to suggest other things the university should be doing.  Some of his goals are to get to a student-faculty ratio of at least 18-1, stabilize freshman enrollment at 3500-3700, continue to improve the recruitment of graduate students, continue to grow research, and rank firmly in the top three in the Big 12 in faculty compensation.  We still are very able to hold our own in recruitment of students.  The president is trying to find donors to provide naming endowment gifts for all colleges not already named.  One of his goals is a Center for the Study of the American Heritage.  Recent studies have shown a lack of knowledge of American history among high school and college students. 


President Boren invited faculty to participate in the pilot textbook program this year.  He set aside $200,000 to assist students with textbook costs.  Provost Mergler formed a textbook task force, which has recommended ways to lower costs.  Suggestions include substituting electronic readings and allowing previous editions.  The university purchased additional copies of textbooks for the major courses with the largest enrollments and put them on reserve at the library.  Preliminary reports indicate that the textbooks are being used.  This is just a trial.  About $82,000 was spent this semester.  He will put together a committee, including representatives from the Senate, to see if there are ways to improve the program for the second semester.  It may be appropriate to add large upper division courses with expensive books.


Going over the university’s environmental efforts, President Boren said he had signed the Presidents Climate Commitment, and OU has joined the Chicago Climate Exchange.  What that means is we do an environmental inventory, particularly in terms of our CO2 emissions, and undertake to make progress each year.  A few of the things we are doing include asking OG&E to sell us as much wind power electricity as possible, increasing our recycling program each year, planting trees, and making improvements in lighting in various buildings.  We recycled 320 tons of paper last year, planted about 2000 trees in the last five years, and in a number of buildings, we have installed automatic lights, changed window treatments and improved insulation.  We are constructing new buildings in terms of environmental standards to try to conserve energy.  Our goal is to transform our entire fleet of vehicles to the latest technologies to conserve energy, particularly gas.  We now have 42 electric, 23 ethanol, and 24 compressed natural gas vehicles.  As we reduce our emissions, we get a credit, which will have a marketable value on the Chicago Climate Exchange.  As the federal government lowers emission standards, our credits will have actual cash value. 


On the topic of security, President Boren distributed pamphlets from the OU Police Department concerning armed subjects and disruptive individuals.  In the near future, the university will offer some open forums for faculty and staff and also try to have some online training about classroom security.  We have purchased a system, which was tried out at the end of last semester, that can send immediate phone calls and text messages in case of a threat.  At the stadium, we have 120 cameras, electronic equipment, and bomb dogs, and we seal the area off for a period of time before games.  Some time ago, we set up a system of reporting and evaluation to identify any problem people on campus.  A committee composed of general counsel, provost, student affairs, counseling, police, housing, and human resources meets on a regular basis and is on call.  We do not want to overstep individual rights, become an institution where fear is pervasive, or lose the free nature of our institution.  At the same time, we want a system to evaluate any real risks.  We have interpreted the law to say if a student is an immediate threat, we can contact parents and others who might provide intervention and care.  We have had cooperation in every situation.  The president and the provost are made aware right away of any situation.  The committee goes into immediate session and works well.  All information is confidential.  It is important that situations are reported to the Student Affairs office or the police.  The OU and Norman police have good cooperation.  Very soon, everyone on campus will receive messages providing the number to call if there is a threat and reminding them to update their contact information.  Situations will be handled in a way to minimize embarrassment.  He asked Dennis Aebersold, Vice President for Information Technology, to describe how the technology works.  Mr. Aebersold said IT would send reminders to individuals asking them to update their phone numbers at  The system calls all numbers provided until it reaches a person or voice mail.  Individuals have to opt in to text messaging since there is a cost for that service.  Prof. Rambo asked whether the classroom phones could be rung.  Mr. Aebersold said that would be implemented within a few weeks.  President Boren said the system would be a good way to keep people updated on where a potential threat is.  The administration is looking into some things we could do to make doors more secure but not violate fire regulations or impair our ability in more likely threats like fire and weather.  Another idea is to have students and faculty turn their cell phones on silent when in class so they can still get a message.  Suggestions are welcome.  We do not want to go overboard, and we do not want to create an atmosphere of fear or suggestion. 


President Boren said he appreciates the work that the faculty and staff do, the quality of students we are attracting, and the quality of peers we are attracting when we have searches.  He said, “I feel very privileged to be able to work with you as a colleague, and I appreciate the help and encouragement that I sense from you, and I always appreciate the suggestions that you bring to me and to all of our team at the university.”


Prof. Verma said he applauds the goal of continuing growth in research, which can lead to economic growth.  President Boren said the public is beginning to understand the value of intellectual property.  Ten years ago, we had 8000 good paying jobs in biosciences; now we have over 40,000.  Hopefully, our state leaders will invest in a diversified research base.  He thanked the faculty for its research success and noted that many interdisciplinary research clusters are being formed on campus. 





The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of May 7, 2007 was approved.





A list of the Faculty Senate members is attached.  The new members were introduced at the meeting.

The regular meetings of the Faculty Senate for 2007-08 will be held at 3:30 p.m. on the following Mondays in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102: September 10, October 8, November 12, December 10, January 14, February 11, March 10, April 14, and May 5.

The Senate Executive Committee elected Prof. Hugh Benson (Philosophy) as parliamentarian of the Faculty Senate and Regular Faculty.

The compilation of the 2006-07 annual reports of university councils was e-mailed July 11 to the Faculty Senate members and to chairs, directors and deans to make available to the general faculty.  The reports are available online at

The 2007-08 list of faculty appointments to committees is available on the Faculty Senate web site at  Prof. Bradford said committees were a way to serve the academic community and make a real impact. 

The summary record of the disposition by the administration of Faculty Senate actions for September 2006 to August 2007 is attached.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Academe and the Norman campus budget are available in the Senate office.

The following faculty retired during the summer and as a result, were not included in last May’s list of 2006-07 retirees (see 5/07 Senate Journal):  David Carnevale, Arts & Sciences, retired 5/16/07, came to OU in 1989; Clara Sue Kidwell, History/Native American Studies, retired 7/1/07, came to OU in 1995; Skip Porter, Electrical & Computer Engr./Tech. Transfer, retired 7/1/07, came to OU in 1998.

Last spring, the Faculty Senate voted on a plus/minus grading system and Senate reapportionment (see 2/07 and 3/07 Senate Journals), and then the matters were sent out for a vote of the regular faculty.  The results of the regular faculty vote were:  A plus/minus grading system was approved 252 to 92, with 3 abstentions.  The reapportionment of the Senate was approved 315 to 11, with 21 abstentions.



SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Steve Bradford


An orientation for new senators was held on September 5.  Senators have been asked to suggest issues that should be discussed.  Not every issue has to be an action item.  For example, last year, the Senate talked about ways to prevent plagiarism.  The Senate addresses issues of concern to all, and individuals are invited to speak to the Senate regarding those concerns.  Julius Hilburn and Nick Kelly from the Human Resources office probably will attend the next meeting to discuss the new health care proposal. 

Prof. Bradford asked senators to give their names before speaking.  He reminded them that what is said is public and on the record, and only senators and liaison may speak without getting prior permission.

The Human Resources office is sponsoring a retirement education conference on September 25 to answer questions about retirement and help anyone who is getting close to retirement.

The health care report has been distributed, and the Employment Benefits Committee voted in favor of the new proposals.  The report is available at 

The Information Technology office wants to make sure that classroom technology is working well for the faculty.  Prof. Bradford asked the senators to let him know if they are having any problems.  





The Faculty Senate approved the Committee on Committees’ nomination of Melissa Stockdale (History) to complete the 2007-10 term of Ben Keppel (History) on the Research Council.



ISSUES FOR 2006-07


Prof. Bradford said the orientation of new senators was fruitful with suggestions and issues.  A list will be compiled of the issues that senators submit.  One issue is security—how to get our names into the directory so we will be called in case of an emergency.  Task forces have been formed on health care, the library, and textbooks.  Parking is always an issue.  Another concern is the process for approving a new course.  It is worth revisiting because, particularly in the sciences, by the time a course is approved, it is obsolete.  The Senate will look at the process to see if it can be speeded up.  Prof. Radhakrishnan said he had raised the issue of athletics.  Prof. Bradford replied that it was on the list. 





The meeting adjourned at 4:50 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, October 8, 2007, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


Roberta Magnusson, Secretary