Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes 2015-02-25

SENATE MEETING 2/25/15

Rutherford Room, Student Union, Metro Campus

Minutes

 

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

The minutes were approved as read.

The Handbook Committee report, which was deferred from the last meeting, was given by Senator LoPinto.

The Committee recently dealt with three items:

1. A question from the Becton CPRC: Can faculty members apply more than once for early tenure (before their seventh year)? There were divisions of opinion within both the Committee and the Executive Committee. No recommendation could be made.

2. A question from the Becton Creative Writing faculty: Is it prohibited to teach for low-residency institutions at times when FDU classes are not in session? The Handbook Committee said that non-competitive activities at other institutions are acceptable. The Executive Committee agreed.

3. The nomination and election of new Senators for next year. The Committee has requested that the Campus Provosts distribute nomination forms.

Sen. Schiemann: In regard to item 1, according to Provost Capuano, the Handbook says that one can apply as often as one wants. Sen. Rosen: I understand that under AAUP guidelines, one is allowed to apply early. But I am not sure that anyone has applied more than once. Sen. Pastorino: The Handbook says that one can apply at any time within one’s probationary period. So I don’t see the problem. Sen. Salierno: If a person applies early and is denied, can they reapply? Sen. LoPinto: Yes. Sen. Schiemann: We seem agreed that there is no problem with this issue.

A discussion about item 2 followed. Again, many Senators did not see the problem. Sen. Adrignolo: What teachers do during the summer is always their business. The January intersession period is different. VP Darden: In that period, a teacher is obliged to ask permission. But summer is one’s own time. The Handbook is clear on this. Dean Mills: The Provost is not here, but he said something different to the Deans. We are all paid benefits during the summer. The University Counsel’s opinion is that faculty are employees throughout the year; it doesn’t matter when the teaching takes place—the Dean’s approval is required in advance. If probationary faculty have areas in which they need to improve, it’s good to have to discuss all these issues with the Dean. At this point Sens. Rosen, Cohen, and Tuluca each rose to say that most faculty are on nine-month contracts; we get benefits for twelve months, but we pay for them in nine months. Sen. Kovacs: I agree, but we do need to have a conversation about what we do that might be conflicts of interest with FDU. Such conversations are less about permission than about perceived conflict of interest. Sen. Casti: Not every faculty member takes health benefits from FDU, so benefits are a separate and distinct issue. Sen. Harmon: There is a difference between the employment period and the extent of our obligations; the University doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Sen. Kovacs: There was a discussion in The Chronicle of Higher Education about faculty members appointed to the Boards of institutions of which they are alumni, and their possible conflicts of interest. Darden: There is a difference between disclosure and permission. Sen. Schiemann: It seems as though we are all in agreement again. Adrignolo: We don’t have legal representation as faculty. We should retain our own legal counsel. The University Counsel’s obligation is to the Board; he can’t represent both sides if differences arise. Rosen: I agree. The first principle of the American Bar Association is that counsels must zealously advocate on behalf of their client. Dean Weinman: The issue at hand, which concerns teachers in the Creative Writing MFA program, is not summer teaching, but summer teaching that flows into the fall. This is a specialized low-residency program. Sen. LoPinto: We have a sense of the will of the Senate now. Sen. Pastorino: What is the difference between reading a book at night and teaching a course at night? It’s your own personal time. Weinman: In this particular program, if someone from our faculty teaches in another low-residency program, and it flows into our semester, that becomes a conflict of interest. You have to look at the specific circumstances. When you’re dealing with specialized programs in a competitive market, you need to have some level of control. Sen. Tuluca: I think this raises a much larger point. Our Handbook and our procedures are not ready for a digital world. We don’t know how to deal with online contact hours and teaching. I think we need to modify the Handbook to deal with these issues.

The Faculty Rights and Welfare report was given by Sen. Anastosopoulos.

Currently FRW is dealing with two issues:

1. Equalization. Most of the faculty (almost 80 percent) have now received the first installment. FRW sent a detailed email about who would receive what. Our goal is to make equalization as broad as possible. (Sen. Anastosopoulos then named the members of Committee, and thanked them for their work. He also mentioned the work of previous members who worked on equalization the previous time, seven or eight years ago.)

Sen. Cohen: Was the equalization retroactive to November? Anastosopoulos: It was. Divide the additional figure by five paychecks to get the figure per paycheck. Sen. Behson: There should be someone we can contact to check on our equalization figure. Sen. Slaby: You can contact me at MSlaby@fdu.edu. Sen. Tuluca: In the past, we got a message from Human Resources telling us what we got and how much to expect. Why didn’t we get that this time?

Pres. Roberts: Provost Capuano couldn’t be here, but he told me to pass on to you that, working with President Drucker, he has found money to increase the salaries for non-tenure-track faculty (lecturers, senior lecturers, and clinical faculty). Anastosopoulos: I believe that it comes to an extra $50,000. We had no part in this, but we will find out how this money will be distributed. Sen. Salierno: Did he say anything about the merit-based pay? Anastosopoulos: Nothing official yet; his thinking now is that he wants to establish guidelines for performance-based pay increases for both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty. We look forward to seeing his proposal so that we can make our own recommendations. Also, it is not clear if the $50,000 for non-tenure-track faculty leaves $100,000 or $50,000 remaining for performance-based pay increases. Sen. Harmon: This raises a big issue in higher education—exactly who is faculty? These are people considered full-time faculty, though they are not tenure-track. This is in the Handbook. (Also in the Handbook is that the Senate is only for tenure-track faculty.) Since their employment is continuous, they are considered full-time employees by the University. They are also being compared to analogous groups in our peer group of institutions. Sen. Adrignolo: We went through a lot of effort to form a Senate for just tenured and tenure-track members. We have different objectives from the professional staff, the unionized staff, or the lecturers. We should be careful to keep ourselves distinct from them. I support getting the 12-13 credit load question resolved, but only for tenured and tenure-track faculty, not for lecturers. Harmon: Currently lecturers comprise 25% of the faculty. Adrignolo: Originally they were only 5%. Darden: The Handbook mandates no more than 20%. Sen. Kovacs: I suggest that the Handbook Committee look at this issue. Adrignolo: In the 1970s we had AAUP and AFT representation on campus. We threatened to strike, and the University threatened to bring in part-time and non-tenure-track faculty to replace us. Darden: The big issue is explicit—of full-time faculty, no more than 20% can be outside the tenure track. That’s a not-insignificant breach of the Handbook. This is a national problem, but it is also our problem. Anastosopoulos: This raises another issue. Although FRW recommended that full-time non-tenure-track faculty receive an increase in pay, we were not consulted on the formula for this increase, but informed after the fact.

2. The proposal for next year’s budget. FRW recommends a 2% increase; this is more than the .4% rise in the cost of living in the past year; but because we’ve been lagging behind the cost of living for several years, our salaries are about 1.5% below where we should have been, so we are asking for 2% to catch us up, plus another $400K for equalization. This year’s equalization covered only 10% of the gap between us and our goal.

Sen. Cohen asked about TIAA-CREF’s intention to change, within the next month, to a triple-tier fee plan, in which smaller universities such as ours would have to pay higher administrative fees. Has FRW considered any alternatives to TIAA-CREF? Sen. Slaby: I am on the University Investment Oversight Committee, and we have heard about this rise in fees. Two years ago we started offering new alternatives. We are not locked into TIAA-CREF. Cohen: Where can we find these alternatives? Slaby: All faculty have access to the portal. Sen. Rosen: But the University determines which funds are available to us. Slaby: We’re looking into this, and we don’t see an advantage to changing retirement plans.

The Academic Policy and Research Committee report was given by Sen. Harmon.

First, a referendum will go out with the ballots for the Senate elections on whether to extend the requiring of midterm progress reports beyond freshman and special populations. Sen. Singer will articulate the “pro” position, Sen. Tuluca the “con” position. Sen. Sharma: Are midterm progress reports currently required for special populations? Sen. Singer: It’s a Federal issue for special populations. We have to produce a report on them, or the University can be penalized. Otherwise it’s a Dean’s issue. Sen. Pastorino: This affects lecturers and adjuncts; we pay them $2500 gross to teach a course, and now we’re going to require them to produce these reports. It’s going to be difficult to enforce this. Sen. Kovacs: I would suggest that the statement is very clear.

Second, Sen. Behson, on behalf of the IDEA task force, gave a report to APRC about what is working with the IDEA system, and what needs improvement. APRC and FRW will work together to improve student response rates, to reduce the volume of courses evaluated, and to consider the period of time for evaluations and how the information will be used in tenure and promotion process. Sen. Behson: Academic questions are in the purview of the Senate. A full report was distributed to the entire faculty. We welcome other comments and questions. A survey will go out soon to faculty and students on their experience with IDEA. LoPinto: Can you make adjustments to the IDEA instrument? Behson: In the short term no, but IDEA is considering possible changes in the longer term.

Third, the number of credits in the University Core was reduced. A task force is working on new criteria for Core. I was under the impression that Jason Scorza and the Deans are on this task force. Deans Weinman and Mills: No, the Deans aren’t involved. Harmon: We need to help the Core task force understand that nothing can be circulated to the faculty without going through APRC. Sen. Singer: I was approached by a faculty member about a substitution course based on the old Core. They don’t understand that any substitution still has to go thru APRC. We may need to revisit extant substitutes for old Core courses, since the Core courses may have changed.

Fourth, at the last meeting, the Executive Committee shared information with the Senate about the pending General Education task force and how we felt it should be composed. Provost Capuano came to the last APRC meeting; the APRC agreed with him that this task force should deal with both B.A. and B.S. degrees; that two faculty representatives from Silberman College of Business, and its Dean, should be added to the Committee; that all faculty, and no Deans, should be voting members. And in terms of allocating how college reps be chosen, we agreed that caucuses of each college’s senators meet to choose reps. Vice-President Darden will state our motion on this issue.

VP Darden: The Senate and APRC have been dealing with this issue for three months, and are unanimous about the following motion.

1. that both B.A. and B.S. degrees be evaluated by the same Task Force;

2. that the faculty ratio of college representatives should be as follows: University College four, Becton College four, SCB two, Petrocelli College two;

3. that all faculty reps will be voting members;

4. that the four college deans will serve as non-voting advisory members;

5. that one Task Force representative from University College and one from Becton College will serve as co-chairs, elected by the voting faculty representatives, and that the Senate caucus of each college will exclusively decide whom to select as the representatives on the Task Force for their college, whether they are in the Senate, EPC, or otherwise;

6. that the Task Force will regularly report progress to the APRC and Executive Committee;

7. that we reaffirm the Handbook mandate that any Task Force models be formally submitted to the Senate for approval.

Sen. Cohen: Does this motion imply that B.A. and B.S. degree requirements will be the same? Darden: There are no foregone conclusions. Sen. Singer: We first looked at the B.A. exclusively, but we subsequently felt that the Task Force should also consider the B.S. Darden: All of the Executive Committee and the Deans are in agreement on this. Sen. Kovacs: There are a number of students who decide to change from a B.A. to B.S. and vice-versa, so this issue becomes complex. Singer: It’s currently easier to transfer from an outside institution to FDU than between FDU colleges. Sen. Pastorino: How many people transfer internally within any year? Singer: Many Petrocelli students with an associate degree, or who want to follow it with a B.I.A.S. degree, go to University College or to SCB.

Sen. Kovacs moved the question. The motion passed unanimously, 24-0-0.

VP Darden: It’s been brought to our attention that the dates to close Senate nominations were different between the two campuses. Both Sen. LoPinto and Sen. Ng will work to eliminate this gap.

The University Planning and Budget Committee report was given by Sen. Adrignolo.

After the Committee’s January “wish list” days, the University is about seven to eight million dollars in the red for next year, but this is not unusual. There are faculty vacancies, so we are running understaffed. There are also many places where new staff is being added; Federal Government requirements are partially responsible. The pressure is on. We can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing. The forthcoming campus strategic plans are under the mandate of the University Strategic Plan. It was decided that we need a Facilities planning committee. Where are we going, and what do we need? The University has retained consultants, the best in the business. I am the only faculty member on the Facilities planning Committee. They’re going to report not only on what we have, but how it’s being used. This can be broad-ranging. This can lead to academic program RICE: Rearrange, Improve, Combine, and Eliminate. When open houses are being offered, you should go.

Sen. LoPinto: Who in the University is responsible to ensure that consultants will hear and record faculty concerns? Adrignolo: The Board is responsible. If anyone has a concern, send it to me. Singer: If everyone goes to Blackboard, under My Organizations, Faculty Senate should be listed. If not, send Pres. Roberts a message.

Pres. Roberts asked if there was any new business.

Sen. Slaby first mentioned that if any faculty member had equalization questions, they could send their information to him, and he could figure out what that faculty member should get.

Then he raised the issue of the Academic Calendar. It currently includes two reading days in the fall semester, and none in the spring. He had asked Metro Campus Provost Kiernan the reason for this; Kiernan had replied that snow days come early enough in the spring in the spring so that we can make them up. Slaby: I think reading days would still be useful; even if we have no snow, I think they are useful. We should have at least one. I proposed this a year ago, but I’d like to raise it again. Sen. Cohen: I think it’s a great idea. Sen. Harmon: The APRC needs to approve any changes to the University calendar. When we get the next calendar, we should look at this. Sen. Kovacs: I suggest that Sen. Slaby send his recommendation to Sen. Harmon and the APRC, so that APRC can take a look ahead.

Sen. Salierno: Does anyone know where commencement is this year? The Izod Center is being shut down. (No one had an answer.)

Pres. Roberts adjourned the meeting at 3:55 pm.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Allen Cohen

Acting Recording Secretary