Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes 2014-02-26

SENATE MEETING 2/26/14

Minutes

[attachment: draft of Strategic Planning Calendar]

 

The meeting was called to order at 2:08 pm by President Middleton.

There was a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting, which was unanimously approved.

 

The President asked for the agenda for the current meeting to be approved.

It was moved and approved.

 

First item was a special order of the day: the question of the two faculty representatives to be added to the new Strategic Planning Committee. Becton College had passed a resolution asking that the Senate vote on the members, and in addition that there be an equity of representation among the four colleges.

 

Senator Adrignolo spoke briefly about the purpose of the committee, and the distinction between it and the UPBC. He said that it was President Drucker’s decisions to add Jon Wexler and Rick Reiss; that Provost Capuano decided to add the chair and deputy chair of the APRC; and that there was currently concern among the faculty about whether all faculty constituencies were represented, since the chair and deputy chair of APRC are both from Silberman College, which would give Silberman four members on the committee, compared to one from Becton, one or two from University, and one from Petrocelli. He urged the faculty not to take sides against each other.

Senator Harmon added that the SPC will lay out broad strokes, not fine tuning, and that all decisions on implementation will be discussed and vetted in detail by all parties concerned.

Pres. Middleton commented that the SPC was not an ad hoc committee, but something added to an existing body, namely the UPBC. There had been no prior consultation with Senate when the chair and deputy chair of the APRC were invited to join. After consultation, the Provost agreed that the decision about the two new faculty members would be made by the Senate and voted on today. There were also concerns by Becton faculty about the lack of an equitable representation of the four colleges on the committee, as well as a confusion about what the SPC will do.

Senator Whitmarsh spoke as a Becton senator on the APRC. After the Becton College meeting the week before, there had been online conversations and further conversations with President Drucker and the Provost. Becton feels that the SPC should be more representative of the four colleges. Senator Singer asked what is the present college representation on the SPC; the answer was two from Silberman, one from Becton, one and a half from University and one half from Petrocelli (since Sen. Adrignolo works in both University and Petrocelli). Senator Harmon commented that the UPBC, upon which the new committee was based, had never been set up to have equal representation for each college, but for each campus.

Asked for a comment, the Provost added that there had never been any intention to create an imbalance on committee; college representation had simply not been considered.

 

Pres. Middleton called for nominations for the two additional faculty members for SPC. Senator Fask nominated Lona Whitmarsh. Senator A. Cohen nominated David Rosen. Senator Ng nominated Joel Harmon.

Senator Cohen moved that it be specified that one representative should be from Becton and one from Petrocelli. This motion was seconded. During the discussion Senator Tuluca said that he did not understand why we need equal representation, and that all colleges do have some representation. Senator Fask suggested that the nominations be closed. Senator Singer said that everyone has different perspectives on the problem, and that having a Finance background is not necessarily important. Senator Cohen said that equity had not been mentioned in his motion, but that if the situation were reversed, Silberman faculty would be as upset as Becton faculty now are.

Sen. Anastosopoulos said that Sen. Tuluca had raised some good points; we should go through elected individuals instead of bypassing the Senate, as administration has in past. Sen. Sinha said that globalization, or national diversity, should also be a criterion for membership.

Prof. Gary Darden of Becton said that this was not a Becton issue, but an issue for all four colleges and all programs, which take different expertise. If the faculty members of the committee were four Silberman faculty and only three from the other three colleges, there was a danger that the committee would lose a diversity of perspectives on the programs. Prof. Peter Benson of Becton added that Becton’s request was not meant disrespectfully toward the Provost’s original choices.

Senator Harmon said that it was dangerous to make assumptions about other people and what they do or don’t know, or to assume that all Silberman faculty have the same perspective.

The question arose of whether it was acceptable for a faculty representative not to be a Senator. Prof. John Schiemann of Becton said that even if the Senate were to nominate and vote for someone who was not a Senator, it would not be the same as when the administration used to do appoint non-Senators to key positions.

 

The vote on Sen. Cohen’s motion was then taken. The vote was:

yes – 10

no – 10

abstain - 4

Pres. Middleton voting to break the tie, voted No.

 

There was now a call for further nominations. Sen. Singer nominated Dennis Scotti. Then the nominations were closed.

Sen. Whitmarsh withdrew. So did Sen. Scotti. This left David Rosen and Joel Harmon, so the membership was decided without a vote.

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS

 

The Handbook Committee report was given by chairman Richard LoPinto:

A call for nominations for this year’s elections will go forward by this weekend. In anticipation of the possibility of “blended” departments, the committee is considering whether to modify the tenure procedures for such departments that combine different disciplines. Another question was where  in the Handbook to place the following sentence, which had been approved by the Senate: “The President of the Senate shall be an ex officio non-voting member of the Board of Trustees.” He suggested article V 4.2, which was approved unanimously. There were also questions of to which campus two faculty should be assigned, Leon Kurland and Kathryn Ado. The Committee decided that Ado should be assigned to the Metro Campus, and that since Kurland’s budget split equally between the two campuses, the decision would be left up to him.

 

The APRC report was given by chairman Joel Harmon. He said that next month APRC would be entertaining a proposal by Scott Behson on the new IDEA teacher-evaluation system.

 

The FRW report was given by chairman Petros Anastasopoulos. FRW is primarily responsible for proposing raises in faculty compensation, which also become raises in compensation for staff. Before making the proposal, they meet with the President. This year FRW had been unable to meet with the Provost and the President until that night; the chair and deputy chair would be at the meeting, but other FRW members were invited to participate. Last year, FRW proposed a cost-of-living adjustment of 3.5%; this year the rise in cost of living was almost 1.5%, so to avoid decline, this year’s COLA needs to be almost 5%. Last year, salary equalization was asked for in the amount of $500,000, along with increases for adjunct and overload pay. Last item: FRW feels that signs for parking lots for faculty and staff should say “Faculty and Staff,” not just “Staff.” FRW expects to have more concrete proposals at the next meeting.

 

The UPBC report was given by deputy chair Sorin Tuluca: UPBC is not yet able to balance the budget, nor to increase faculty salaries; but the University will have a surplus for 2013-14 that he estimates will be about $5 million, which should lead to a bonus for faculty and staff. This year’s budget already predicted a lower revenue than last year’s, and so FRW’s demands of a 5% increase are not realistic, since there will likely be no room for COLA in the July budget. As a member of the Strategic Plan Committee he further commented that there had been a great deal of confusion between strategy and tactics. The faculty on SPC had asked to have a lot of data before developing any plan. The University is all right for this year and maybe for the next, but if we do nothing, in five years we might be in big trouble.  The annual surpluses are not enough of  a cushion if unexpected drops in enrollment occur.

 

PROVOST’S REPORT

 

University Provost Capuano began by handing out a draft of the Strategic Planning calendar for the next three years. [See attachment.] The draft of the Strategic Plan, following strategic initiatives approved by the Board of Trustees, will be brought to all key constituencies, including alumni and student government, and feedback from all will be considered. Approval by Board is expected by June. There is currently no goal to close any academic units, or to merge any colleges. Pres. Drucker had merely said that it should be considered. Anything that makes the University stronger should be considered—but not during the strategic planning process.

 

Sen. Scotti suggested that the deadline for third year progress reports on the previous Strategic Plan should be earlier than May 14 in order to be of use to the SPC. The Provost said this was a good point, and perhaps it could be done. Prof. Rosen asked: when in this process does the input of the SPC end? Provost: in May. In the past, the University Strategic Plan developed from the campus plans; this year it is the other way around, so campus plans will reflect the University plan. The Board is no longer interested in campus plans, only in the University plan.

Sen. Slaby quoted from the calendar that on April 14 a draft of the plan would be provided to the University community, and asked how that will work. Provost: A written version will be sent around and discussed in various fora, perhaps with the entire SPC present. The primary focus of the committee is: which new investments do we need to make, and how do we support what we have already established? He said it would be better to focus on a few major initiatives, rather than trying to do a lot of new ones with little money.

Pres. Middleton said that younger faculty are concerned about their future; we need to reassure new faculty of their place in the University’s future, so we don’t lose them, as faculty were lost in the 1980s. The Provost agreed: much work needs to be done. The committee will divide into segments for each strategic objective. The process will be as transparent as possible; the new plan won’t be successful unless everyone agrees to it.

Sen. Caldiero asked: since the present business model is not sustainable, and we can’t keep increasing tuition, what can we do? Provost: the key is to reduce tuition increases so we are no longer relatively expensive, and to increase non-tuition revenue to $10-12 million a year. The Board had been resistant to this latter goal, but he had convinced them that it is extremely strategic. Sen. Caldiero asked if there will be actionable steps in the July plan. Provost: yes, there will. The Board needs to provide more money themselves, and to provide more conduits for gifts, and this is starting to happen. People with money want to give it to things that are going to be successful. We have to do better job of providing opportunities for effective fundraising.

Senator Adrignolo said that he was concerned about the synthesis of various designs. How can we ensure continuity among the various units of the University? Provost: all programming changes in the plan will have to be carried out at campus levels.

Sen. Singer was concerned with student retention and attraction, and especially attracting better students. How FDU is perceived by the outside world has to be addressed in the new plan. The Provost agreed that this was critically important and will be included in plan. We have to cultivate alumni better, especially while they’re here. He added that the faculty is key in this, and that he has ideas on how to use faculty to develop better alumni relations. We need more programs like Vancouver and the Pharmacy School.

Sen. Mayans suggested that we approach any new strategies very carefully. Change is big and can be costly; we can’t afford to make mistakes. The Provost agreed.

Sen. Sinha said, following Sen. Singer’s suggestions, that many Indian and Chinese students have parents with money, but don’t want four-year degrees; they want three-year degrees with accelerated programs. The Provost agreed and added that one strategic objective in the new plan is new educational models, as have already been used in Vancouver. Sen. Whitmarsh said that she had proposed a three-year accelerated degree and the Becton CEPC had approved it, but she didn’t know how to advance it from there. The Provost said we need to pilot a few such programs with interested departments, since this would require faculty to teach during the summer, and so on. We would also have to determine whether there is a market for such a degree. Dean Weinman said that a major obstacle now is that students in three-year degree programs with summer courses don’t get financial aid during the summer. Provost: there is a way around it; if students are full-time during summer, there can be federal financial aid, as in Petrocelli.

Sen. Fask asked about rumors of plans to open another campus. Provost: this is in the planning stage; the Board had asked about a Latin American site, and he had been in Latin America last week to look. Such a campus would probably be similar to Vancouver in that it would be our own institution, rather than a partnership. The financial model would be different, and would use no resources from the New Jersey campuses. This might occur in about three years.

The Provost said that the date for the spring IPEDS was approaching, and it looks as though spring will be about $1 million over budget, mostly full-time undergraduate students. He added that we are at a critical point in the search for the next Silberman Dean; the initial search phase had been concluded. Dean Mills, chair of the search committee, added that the committee had recommended a number of candidates to be brought to campus for interviews, hopefully in the first two weeks of March. There had been an excellent pool of candidates. The search firm, Korn Ferry, had so far done an excellent job, and she would use them again. Sen. Fask agreed that this had so far been his best experience with a search firm.

 

There was no unfinished business.

 

For new business, Sen. Cohen raised the issue of faculty input on admissions, recruitment, and retention, in regard to a number of concerns by faculty and administrators about Admissions: that admissions standards were dropping (despite assurances to the contrary), that Admissions was doing an inadequate job and failing to support faculty recruitment efforts, and that since graduation rates had a major effect on the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, this was a vital issue for the entire University. He had brought the issue to the Senate several years ago, and had spoken to the APRC about it, but APRC had done nothing about it since then.

Sen. Harmon said that APRC had had two long meetings with the Deans, and had invited Jon Wexler. There were many difficulties. Sen. Singer said that a Middle States midterm task force will have a report for the Senate at the end of the academic year; recruitment hasn’t come up in two years. Retention and advisement have been addressed at APRC meetings. Sen. Harmon added that admissions processes were different at each campuses; everyone agreed that faculty should become more involved. But APRC has not done anything about it, at least this year, and it could do more. He promised to send Sen. Cohen notes on this issue from the APRC meetings. Sen. Fask added that many parents put great stock in U.S. News & World Report rankings; that if we could improve our ranking, it would increase enrollment; that retention relates to the entire University community, and improvement could also improve alumni donations. Sen. Singer said that as part of the Quest programs she is often out at extra recruitment events; many departments tend to send the same person each time, so other faculty don’t learn what’s needed to bring in new students.

 

Finally, Pres. Middleton commented that all members of the Executive Committee have assigned tasks, except the Vice-President. The Vice-President gets three hours of release time for the position. In previous years, the Vice-President also served as recording secretary, and the question is whether to make this duty official. It would require a change to the Handbook bylaws.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 3:49 pm.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Allen Cohen

Acting Recording Secretary