Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes 2014-04-23

SENATE MEETING 4/23/14

Minutes

 

The meeting was called to order at 2:06 pm by President Middleton.

The minutes of the 3/26 meeting were approved unanimously.

The agenda was approved unanimously.

University President Drucker was a guest at this meeting and spoke first. In discussing the fiscal health of the University, he said that FY 14 should end with a balanced or surplus budget. The University has refinanced a significant portion of its longterm debt, reducing its interest rate from 5.5% to 3.65%. There was an initial period of ten years during which we were not allowed to refinance, but as soon as we could, we did, which will make for significant savings.

The President mentioned his recent memo on a forthcoming Special Payment for all employees. He said he knew that the faculty would prefer raises, but said that the administration is doing all it can under the present circumstances. He added that the next planning cycle will include attempts to bring faculty salaries more in line with peer institutions.

In regard to capital projects, he said that state bonds were approved in 2012, of which we are supposed to get ten million dollars. So far we have not gotten any, although the state keeps promising.

In regard to health care, he said that all employees should have received a partial rebate on their premiums earlier this year, and that the University is trying to keep the 75/25% balance of paying for premiums with employees. So far health care costs are running close to budget, and the renewal process is just beginning; we should know more in about a month. Costs have been rising, and probably will continue to do so with the Affordable Care Act, which will raise premiums. The University has a Wellness Task Force in place, looking for new ways to be healthier, and looking at different plan options (for example, in which employees willing to take more risk would pay lower premiums, and so on).

The President went on to mention recent FDU successes. The spring and winter tuition revenue was better than budgeted, which helped to counter the tuition shortfall in the fall semester. The Vancouver campus is doing well. The Pharmacy School continues to excel, and retained 100% of its new freshman class from fall to spring. At Florham he mentioned the recent production of Oklahoma!, which set attendance records for FDU theater productions, and the fact that the Florham women’s basketball team were the NCAA champions. At Metro he mentioned the women’s bowling team, which had entered the NCAA tournament and, although they lost, was the only team to beat the two finalists. The Metro women’s tennis team will also be in the NCAA tournament, and the men’s and women’s golf teams may be as well. All of this has helped to give FDU greater visibility in the media. There were record numbers of prospective students at the Admitted Students Days on both campuses.

In regard to the 2015 budget, Pres. Drucker said that he had received the July budget recommendation from the University Planning and Budget Committee. Tuition affordability remains our greatest challenge. Even with higher tuition, he expects net tuition to be no higher than last year’s, and $5 million less than two years ago. He attributed this to a number of factors, including the economy; parents had not saved enough for college, their net worth was less, their home equity was less (or they were less willing to use it to finance college education), and many outside entities were paying less for reimbursement. Public universities and community colleges are cheaper. This year will see our lowest tuition increase coupled with more financial aid ($76 million for next year, which is $15 million more than three years ago). We are in a race with other colleges, which are offering large amounts of financial aid, even for mediocre students. He has sent 88 letters to prospective students of high caliber offering them free tuition. We are raising funds for scholarships—$5 million last year—but we need more. We need to become more efficient inside and outside the classroom, and to further reduce tuition increases, on top of all our other cost-cutting measures. The huge growth in the numbers of college administrators across country has not happened here.

The President said that the new Strategic Plan is now available to be read by the entire University community, and that we are looking for feedback. It is scheduled to be looked at by the leadership of the Board of Trustees in May, and to be voted on by the full Board in June. He added that we need to look at consolidation and reorganization. After consultation with academic officers, he may consider merging departments and schools; there may be no merger, but we need to study the possibility.

The President said that 2008 was a game-changer for all institutions of higher education. He asked, “If you were starting a new two-campus university, would you have two different colleges of arts and sciences?” He said he did not know if he would or not. This is a difficult time, although we have been through worse.

 

At this point the President asked for questions.

Sen. Slaby: Faculty Rights and Welfare was not consulted about how the special payment was to be made, this year or last year; do you have any plans to include FRW in these deliberations? Pres. Drucker: This was probably our biggest one-time payment ever. I met with FRW on several occasions and told them that, if conditions allow, we would make a special payment to faculty and staff toward the end of the year. When the opportunity arose, I just did it.

Sen. Adrignolo: Several years ago UPBC asked if there were any more special compensation plans for administrators still in effect, and were told no. Now we understand that there are still some in existence. We are appreciative of the bonus, but it is difficult for us, having told our constituents that there is neither a COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) nor special compensation plans, and then to be told that there still are. Pres. Drucker: There have been no new contributions to 457 plans since 2007. Often these plans begin at a certain time, but are not paid out until afterward. This year showed the last payment to someone who was given special compensation by the University until 2007. We have no current plans for new 457 plans. The old ones have been included in the 990 forms to the IRS and reported twice: once when awarded, once when paid.

Sen. Caldiero: What about the possibility of having Trustees increase their financial contribution? Pres. Drucker: Trustee contributions have increased in recent years. The new Strategic Plan doesn’t mention Trustees but does discuss outside giving. The University is currently formulating new guidelines for Trustees. Caldiero: Should junior faculty worry about faculty and staff cuts in next few years? Pres. Drucker: There are no plans to lay off faculty, although I can’t speak about possible future outcomes. In recent years, we have had no layoffs; other colleges in similar situations have, but we have no plans to do so.

Sen. Sinha: Do you have any academic successes to report? Pres. Drucker: We had some students in in a national mathematics contest; FDU finished 5th overall and had the #1 student. Sen. Singer: Ian Haskins from Metro won the individual competition. Pres. Drucker: I can’t tell you all the academic success stories. There are some on our website, but we should probably present more.

 

Senate President Middleton mentioned that Middle States working group D has the objective to strengthen our sense of community as a global university. Ethne Swartz and David Langford (athletic dir. at Metro) are co-chairs. They are examining mission, leadership and governance, administration, and integrity. The Senate Executive Committee has recommended to Provost Kiernan that a Senate representative should sit on the working group. Sen. Denning said that working groups are currently being formed.

 

Pres. Middleton raised the issue of the proposed addition to bylaw 4.1.2 about the duties of the Vice-President:

The Vice President shall serve as the recording secretary of the Senate.

She added that members of the Executive Committee can be granted release time or overload pay for their duties; last year five members took release time, two took overload pay, and one did not know they were entitled to either.

Sen. Rosen: might this have an inhibiting role on the Vice-President’s ability to participate in discussions? Middleton: Yes; but it is even worse for me when I take the minutes of the Executive Committee. Sen. Cohen: Are there any other alternatives? Middleton: the alternative is volunteers, but they are difficult to get and to get consistently. Provost Capuano: if the VP isn’t the recording secretary, what else is he doing for his release time? Sen. Olechnowski suggested that the VP could record the meeting, then transcribe it later. Middleton: The Senate has already approved this possibility. Sen. Rosen: when I was VP, I took an active role. Another suggestion is that the role of secretary rotate among the Senate committee heads. Sen. Adrignolo mentioned the history of this issue. When there were Faculty Speakers, neither one took minutes; it was difficult to both participate and keep track of everything said. When Pres. Adams created the Faculty Senate, pay for a secretary was in the University budget. An unidentified attendee suggested separating the two roles. VP Roberts: As the current VP, I take minutes of the Executive Committee meetings and various other duties. Sen. Cohen: Isn’t the VP’s primary function to be ready to stand in for President, not to be secretary? If the VP has to be secretary, I would suggest that the recording idea is the best option. Sen. Harmon: Transcription after the fact can be quite difficult, sometimes harder than taking notes live. But it must be done by a Senator.

Pres. Middleton said the bylaws require that two-thirds of the total Senate membership must vote yes in order to make a change to the bylaws. Of the 28 present, including the University Provost, 15 voted yes. So the change was not made.

 

Deputy chair Scotti gave the APRC report. In regard to the motion for changing the University Core, he said that he had been impressed by the process and by Joel Harmon’s performance as chair. He applauded the rigorous vetting process.

Sen. Cohen: As long as I’ve been here, I’ve been told that the present Core curriculum has been ineffective at accomplishing its stated goals. But in regard to the new proposal, will it still allow for substitutions? And what is the required number of Core courses?

Sen. Singer: In the new proposal, there are different kinds of Core courses. The first consists of Freshman Seminar (Core I) and another course (Core II) that is more career-oriented. The other will be the traditional kind of Core course. Substitutions have not been discussed yet. Sen. Rosen: Back when Core was new, everyone teaching Core was regular full-time faculty. That has gradually changed until now the entire Core is taught by adjuncts. Substitutions allowed us to replace these with Core-like courses taught by full-time faculty. Any proposal should include the prescription that Core be taught by full-time faculty. Provost Capuano: The new Core includes a reduction, not in the number of courses, but in the number credits. Combining Fresh Seminar with Core, instead of 13 credits, will be only 8 credits. It is important to getting our degrees down to 120 credits; since many students take remedial courses, they end up taking more than 130 credits and thus need more than four years to finish. Prospective students look at this issue when considering FDU. The reworked Freshman Seminar aligns much better with the University mission, and is significantly better aligned with General Education learning outcomes goals. The current Core is misaligned. There will be substitutions, which have to be examined and approved. This has already been agreed for the second Core course. For example, career planning-oriented courses can be proposed. Flexibility is built into the new proposal.

Sen. Harmon: substitutions and exemptions will be included (for students who come in with life experience, and so forth). Regardless of what is taught, the central Core courses will all align with common Core objectives, while allowing customization. Provost Capuano, answering Sen. Rosen, added that this was also intended to reduce the burden on full-time faculty. Freshman Seminar could be taught by adjuncts, and the second course by either full-time or qualified adjuncts; last two courses must be taught by full-time faculty. Sen. Harmon: There will be guidelines as to how it affects faculty load. Core directors will be tenured full-time faculty.

Sen. Lehr: Having the Freshman Seminar taught by adjuncts seems at odds with the goal of putting students into contact with full-time faculty earlier, to aid retention. Sen. Singer: This was discussed. Freshman Seminar is more general, concerned with the ability to succeed in college in general; the second course will be more oriented toward disciplines and career goals. In Education, students have three seminars in professional practice where they make connections with full-time faculty. Sen. Lehr: This doesn’t address my concern about the first semester.

Sen. Salierno: In terms of skills and competencies, the current Core is lacking in mathematics, science, computer technology, and so on. What about the new one? Asst. Provost Scorza: Up to now, the teaching of skills has fallen mostly to individual colleges. The revised Core includes values such as knowledge of global, inter- and cross-cultural issues; critical thinking; information literacy; and learning with technology. Sen. Cohen: I’m concerned about the placement of the career-oriented course in the sequence; many students in the spring of their freshman year are undecided about a major or career goal, and even those who have chosen are not ready to deal with such issues. Scorza: National research shows that students want this in freshman year. It will deal with general issues—self-confidence, how one presents oneself, and so on—things not linked to a specific career, but generic guidance as the beginning of a process. Freshman year is the best time to get students thinking about experiential learning: internships, co-ops, study abroad, and so on. This would draw their attention to the wide range of things they can do, both within the University and outside. Faculty member Kathleen Haspel: This sounds like professional development, including skills like oral communication and so on, not career development; but the proposal says “career planning.” I think that the proposal should address professional rather than career planning. Sen. Whitmarsh: the FDU Career Service has a four-year career planning program, and this will help students understand that they are going thru stages.

Sen. Harmon: The new Core I and II are new for us, so we need to get busy piloting several different versions of them to learn from them and tweak them as we go forward. Sen. Caldiero: What are the contact hours? Provost Capuano: fifty minutes a week. Caldiero: If the second course is to be taught by both adjunct and full-time faculty, these people need to have a good understanding of professional development, without making use of their specific area. Sen. Harmon: They would teach students in a general areas with things in common.

Sen. Sharma: Would the faculty contact hours be the same as at present? Provost Capuano: Yes. Sen. Denning: Would there be a variety of approaches for each college? Capuano: There would be both generic and thematically-oriented sections of Core II; students can elect which one they want. Adjunct faculty in the profession can teach relevant skills better than some full-time faculty. We want to engage students and improve retention. Sen. Sinha: Who would teach Core II for the students who have not decided on a major? Scorza: If all goes as hoped, there will be a variety of thematic sections out of which each student will find a choice for which they have an affinity: health and well-being, business, science and nature, arts and culture, technology and nature, and so on; this will help undecided students not feel as though they were in a ghetto. Sen. Kovacs: The discussion in the past two years was about bringing full-time faculty’s talents and passions to students earlier in their academic career, so they don’t start to drift away, a definite element in retention.

Sen. Harmon called for a vote on the motion. It passed with a vote of 22 yes, 3 no.

 

The UPBC report was given by chair Adrignolo:

The 2014-15 Budget passed with the understanding that if there is a surplus, COLA will get considered before any other new items. Currently the budget includes $300,000 for equalization for faculty (and $200K for staff) salaries. Enrollments are looking better, which looks better for COLA; bonuses are only one-time items. About the Strategic Plan, he commented that it will be vetted by a process. If you have questions, there will be opportunity to present your concerns.

Pres. Middleton: Will FRW be consulted about equalization? Provost Capuano: They will be, probably with me and not President Drucker.

 

The Handbook Committee report was given by deputy chair Ng:

Faculty member Chris Rasmussen had recommended making several clarifications in the Handbook regarding Faculty Status Review procedures. The majority of the FHC felt that the Handbook already deals appropriately with these matters, but is willing to revisit the issue if additional relevant information is provided.

In regard  to the Senate Election results: the Florham ballots will be counted on April 23, the Metro ballots on April 25. Election results will be distributed on April 25 via campus list-servs.

 

The FRW report was given by deputy chair Slaby:

There has been no FRW meeting since the last Senate meeting; they had expected to meet with Rose d’Ambrosio about the new costs for health care, but it hasn’t happened yet. Human Resources is waiting for more data about claims before negotiating with United Health Care. FRW had expected to be consulted about the special bonus payment, but was not. A new peer group for comparison of faculty and administrator salaries has been agreed upon, but we can not compare new salaries yet. FDU did not participate in CUPA faculty salary survey this year. The new peer group is much smaller, so for some disciplines data are not provided. Our goal was to for salaries to be in 60th percentile of our previous peer group, but that was far below mean of the new group, so the 60th percentile may no longer be appropriate goal. Sen. Cohen: Why did we not participate in CUPA this year? Provost. Capuano: It wasn’t done this year, but from now on it will be. Sen. Ng: Is the $300,000 in equalization for this year? Capuano: Next year (2014-15).

Pres. Middleton suggested that everyone look at the table comparing faculty salaries that recently been distributed; the average salary for full professors in the peer group is $117,000, while the FDU average is $98,000; the average for associate professors is $91,000, while ours is $77,000; and the average for assistant professors is $74,000, while ours is $69,000.

 

Provost Capuano gave his report.

Regarding equalization: We have to do a lot of analysis. I was the one who insisted on a new peer group; the old one was larger and broader; it allows us to draw some conclusions that the smaller new one cannot. But the new one is regional; it was not chosen with salaries as a criterion, which would have affected the choice; I knew we would be on the bottom. This shows how much work we have to do. Next year’s equalization needs to be continued for four or five years to be effective. COLA would not be as effective in a short period of time as equalization. If things are better than we anticipate in fall, equalization may even be higher. CUPA data shows that we’re not far out of alignment in certain disciplines like Pharmacy, but in others like History we are doing much worse; so we have more work to do in some areas than in others, and we have to decide which disciplines we need to bring up quicker than others.

A faculty buyout for this year has been announced to all full-time faculty. The goals are: 1) financial assistance to faculty thinking about retiring or needing to retire; 2) to give the University an opportunity to refresh the faculty, perhaps with different lines; 3) to provide savings, if a retiree is in a line that doesn’t need to be replaced. For participation one must be full-time faculty for thirty years or more. Applications have to be approved by the various academic units. Pres. Middleton: Is the amount of the buyout one year’s salary? Capuano: The terms are different if you have been on the list for more than a year. But it is approximately one year’s salary.

He continued:

The Silberman College Dean search has been successfully concluded. We got the best person for us. He is confident that we can move SCB to a level of distinction. He applauded Jim Almeida’s job as Interim Dean, and thanked the search committee as well.

The Strategic Plan draft is now available online for the entire University community—not to all alumni, but to the alumni board of governors—to view and comment upon. All comments should be in before the next Strategic Plan Committee meeting on May 1. This will result in a second draft, to be followed by a third and final draft which he hopes all groups will endorse.

Sen. Harmon: The Executive Committee felt that it would be useful for the Provost to come before meetings of each college to present the plan and get comments. Capuano: I am willing to come to any meeting, but I am not sure if I can be available for every one. I am already going to Becton; if others invite me, I will try. Sen. Denning: Would it be appropriate for the new SCB Dean to have input on the pla? Capuano: He has seen it already.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:04 pm.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Allen Cohen

Acting Recording Secretary