Faculty Senate Minutes
April 11, 2006
Meeting called to order at 3:35 PM
Call of roll: Senate members present: Kit Andrews, Charles Anderson, Sarah Boomer, Keller Coker, Kristina Frankenberger, Camila Gabaldón, Terry Gingrich, Scott Grim, Mary Harden, Jessica Henderson, Klay Kruzchek, Chloe Meyer, Peggy Pedersen, Mark Perlman, John Rector (president), Julia Smith
Minutes for previous meeting approved
Reports of Presidents
President of Faculty Senate, John Rector
The letter from the executive council concerning transparency in the process of deciding how to meet current budget demands was announced as an item for discussion later in the meeting.
Camila Gabaldón encouraged the divisions to start the process soon of electing new senators. New senators should be elected in time for the second May meeting.
Due to time constraints of Nancy France, reversal of the order of New and Old Business was moved and passed.
Pass-No Credit (P/NC) Grading Option Policy Proposal (presented by Nancy France)
Current stated policy does not allow P/NC courses to count towards requirements in major or minor degree programs.
In practice, however, courses such as internships, practicum, and other by-arrangement courses are often graded P/NC and included as requirements in minor or major degree programs.
The proposed policy would align policy with current practice, allowing courses taken as P/NC to fulfill major, minor, LACC, and degree requirements, but only when the course is designated a P/NC course.
Transfer GPA Policy Proposal
WOU is the only institution in the OUS system that includes transfer GPA in the determination of academic honors and/or academic standing.
In order to align WOU with the OUS system, this proposal would base academic honors and/or academic standing only on credits earned at WOU.
Keller Coker and Dean Rosselli expressed concerns that this change might give too limited a view of students’ college work and that given extended agreements with community colleges this might prevent an accurate figuring of the GPA.
In response to a question by Sarah Boomer, Nancy France confirmed that students and faculty would still have access on Banner to students’ pre-WOU grades.
Candidates for OUS State Board
John Rector explained that WOU has only one candidate, Mark Henkels, for the faculty representative position on the State Board. He suggested that we endorse his candidacy. The endorsement of Mark Henkels as OUS faculty representative for the State Board passed unanimously.
Revised Sexual Harassment and Consensual Relations Policies
Mark Perlman raised the issue of vague wordings in the policy, particularly in enumerating examples of what the proposed policy states “might be” instances of sexual harassment.
Mark Weiss responded that the policy included the qualification that it is not against free speech.
Sarah Boomer asked what happened to the issue of suggested language on the policy for course syllabi.
John Rector clarified that that issue had never matured.
Mark Weiss pointed out that the policy would be on the website and that there would be training for students, faculty, and staff concerning the policy.
Motion to approve the policy passed unanimously.
John Rector circulated a letter expressing the faculty’s concerns about the ongoing course reductions at WOU. He noted that:
All of the universities in the OUS system except University of Oregon are confronting shortfalls;
At WOU President Minahan has stressed the recruitment of 1,000 new students for the 2006-2007 academic year, and he is also working on a bill to raise WOU tuition;
WOU faculty are encouraged to take advantage of 2 opportunities to take an active role in confronting these financial challenges:
To participate at the division level if class reductions are absolutely necessary, and
To participate in the university budget process as representatives on a campus budget committee.
Finally, he stressed the need for cooperation among faculty and administrators, keeping the process as inclusive and transparent as possible.
Mark Weiss pointed to the inclusion of faculty representatives on the new financial committee as part of the ongoing effort to keep the budget transparent, then gave the following brief history of the university budget:
8 months ago WOU had $4.8 million in fund balance.
This year it will spend $2 to 3 million, leaving $1.8 to 2.8 million
Next year’s regular expenses will be about $2 million, leaving a 200,000 deficit to an 800,000 balance
OUS says the fund balance should be between 5% and 10%.
The effort now is to raise over $2 million—about $1 million from additional FTE from students, $1 from donations, and $500,000 from cutting courses.
He stressed that the goal was for all to attain the best understanding, and move through the process collectively.
Mark Perlman concurred that the creation of a joint budget committee with faculty representatives was a positive step, as long as we all know the budget facts. He added that it would help to see an overview of the cuts, and that the faculty senate was a sensible place to keep an eye on the big picture.
Peggy Pederson stressed the need to look at why certain courses remain with low enrollment over time.
Sarah Boomer described two distinct types of dramatic cuts in science courses: first, about 7 or 8 weeks ago, the loss of peer tutor program and low enrollment courses; second, more recently, raising enrollment caps on already high enrollment courses from 70 to 84 students per section. She expressed concern about freshmen coming to WOU with expectations of smaller courses.
Chloe Meyer noted that programs have differing possibilities of cutting lower enrolled courses. Some courses in education, for instance, are necessary for the program.
In this context, Mark Perlman mentioned that the Honors Program has had problems with Honors sections being cut in science. The Honors Program is specifically designed to allow honors students to take small courses together. To cut these courses thus threatens the core of the program. He expressed concern that such cuts may set a precedent for cutting low enrollment courses even when they are pedagogically sound.
Charles Anderson suggested that in order to keep the process transparent it would be helpful to have the Deans of the colleges of LAS and Education address the Faculty Senate, detailing the targets for cuts and the estimates of FTE.
Hilda Rosselli stressed the importance of understanding “enrollment management”: the ways that many factors affect enrollment, such as the number of times a course is offered, what time it is offered, etc. As an example of its effectiveness, she explained how such an analysis informed the Teacher Education Program change from 3 to 2 cohorts per year.
Mark Perlman pointed out that the call for oversight is not necessarily a criticism of the process. The more the campus as a whole understands the details of the process throughout the campus, the fewer misunderstandings will arise.
The Senate agreed to invite both Deans Rosselli and Scheck to explain the ongoing cuts in their respective colleges.
WOU Foundation Representative
Sarah Boomer was elected WOU Foundation Representative.
New Business (continued)
Minimum OTM Grades
The Oregon Transfer Module agreement states that campuses will accept grades of C- and above.
Peggy Pederson pointed out that some WOU programs require a C or better for certain courses.
IFS Report (presented by Solveig Holmquist)
The Recent IFS Meeting held at OHSU included discussions of systemic reasons why OUS campuses are in financial trouble, including 2 institutions near bankruptcy (EOU and WOU)
Last year Oregon was ranked 42nd in the nation for state support for higher education.
At this meeting Jay Kenton, the OUS Vice Chancellor, also discussed possibilities of having a separate healthcare program for the OUS system and using the savings to increase faculty salaries.
This suggestion did not meet with IFS approval. IFS members were skeptical that such a change would work to faculty benefit.