Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes 2015-05-06

Rutherford Room, Recreation Center, Florham Campus

Minutes

 

The meeting was called to order at 2:10 pm by President Roberts.

The minutes were approved with a single correction, as was the agenda.

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

He started with some data. UPBC has approved the July budget for 2015-2016, with the caveat that when the October budget is prepared, after IPEDS, if there is any surplus, the first item to be funded will be a salary increase of at least 1%. The budget only includes contractuals. Many costs are going up by 5 to 10% a year. The budget includes debt service, interest and payback of bond principal. We try to keep more contractuals out of the budget so that there is more money for faculty. Our salaries are not where they should be. Public teachers, firemen, policemen, all do better than we do. One of the great fantasies in Teaneck is to build a new Student Center on a parking lot that has flooded several times. So you need to build a building and a parking garage. If it costs us 80 million dollars to build, it will cost us another 8 million a year to maintain. Should we not build? No, we should. But how do we pay for it? Only through outside donors. Our history in this regard is poor: Someone donates a couple of million dollars, and then FDU contributes more millions to finish the building. We have asked the Chief Financial Officer for a budget report that they feel comfortable releasing, so you can see what the committee is seeing. I couldn’t get it for today, but bear with me until September. So far, deposits for the fall look good.

The Faculty Rights and Welfare Committee report was given by Sen. Anastasopoulos. He mentioned the following items.

1. It is a tradition to invite newly elected Senators to the last Senate meeting of the academic year. We congratulate the new members of FRW, Riad Nasser and Caroline Munoz.

2. The FRW motion to modify the bylaws. Presently Bylaw 3.5.6 reads: “A vacancy in a Senate office shall be filled by nomination and election according to the above procedures. If necessary, the Executive Committee may make an interim appointment.” The motion was to change the second sentence to: “If necessary, the Executive Committee may make an interim appointment upon the advice and recommendation of the committee in which the vacancy exists.” There followed discussion of whether a change to the wording was necessary, whether the motion has had enough time before the entire Senate, and whether the whole Senate rather than the relevant committee should be consulted.

A motion was made to table the FRW motion. The vote: yes, 15; no, 6; abstaining, 0.

3. Healthcare. United Health Care is raising our rates. There are two definite options to discuss. 1) The premiums would increase by 6.2% with no plan changes. 2) The premiums would increase by 5.5%, but all copays would increase by $10. Our healthcare includes both the overall carrier (UHC) and a stop-loss insurer. This year UHC refused to bid on the stop-loss; the previous company made a bid, but wanted to exclude several individuals with very high medical expenses. If you make few office visits, the higher copays are worth it; if you make more than a few, they will cost more than the higher premium. I am not covered by our health plan; but if copays increase, they will never go back down. Human Resources prefers to pay lower premiums, and pass the increased costs on to the participants (i.e., faculty and other employees), in order to forestall the penalty for “Cadillac plans” that the current Affordable Care Act has scheduled for 2017.

Sen. Slaby: In our health care plan, the guidelines are that the University pays 75% of the cost and the employees 25%; by going to higher copays, we are paying a higher percentage of costs relative to the University. A third option, to leave the choice of the plan change up to individual employees, does not exist.

The Senate voted on the two options. The vote was: For a 6.2% raise in premiums, 21; for a 5.5% in premiums plus higher copay, 0; abstaining, 3.

4. Merit or “performance-based” pay raises or awards. The University Provost has provided guidelines. FRW gave its initial reaction, but said we needed more time and more faculty feedback. The Provost gave us more time, until the fall. My inclination is for FRW to continue discussing this, and probably, in the fall, say that the plan is not feasible.

Sen Cohen: I have several problems with the guidelines for this plan. First, the teaching criteria as proposed are vague, and would not apply to many disciplines across the University. So comparisons of student evaluations to a “mean” is either not possible, or requires comparisons with other disciplines, and in that case the factors considered (especially by IDEA) may be quite incongruent. And Sen. Behson, who has been an integral member of the IDEA task force, says that in his opinion IDEA is ill-suited as a basis for performance-based increases. The notion of “good teaching practices” is also vague, and the guidelines seem to say that only new curricular paradigms and technologies will be rewarded, rather than excellence in teaching with paradigms that are already successful.

Second, we already have a system of performance-based increases; it is built into our procedures for promotion and tenure. But there is a tremendous difference between the present system and the proposed plan. With promotion and tenure, each faculty member applies individually and is confirmed or denied individually. With the proposed plan, there is a fixed amount of money for which everyone who applies will be competing. And that leads to my third problem with this plan: With everyone competing for the same finite funds, and with these vague criteria, faculty will probably make invidious comparisons with their successful competitors, and harbor suspicions of favoritism or bias on the part of their chairs and Deans. This system will almost inevitably entail discord and bad feelings.

Sen. Slaby: I support Sen. Cohen. I was at the meeting with the Board of Trustees yesterday, and they may not all be behind it. We already have merit awards for all faculty except full professors, and lecturers can be renewed at higher pay. I suggest a compromise: perhaps this should only be given to professors, on a small scale and separate from equalization. This year they are planning to allocate 25% of the equalization money for merit, but they intend to increase it to 50%. I think we should reject it.

Sen. Anastasopoulos: Even if the Board of Trustees agrees on this, we can still offer our own plan.

Sen. Bronson: I would like to read you from last October’s memo from Provost Capuano to FRW:

“Concerning equalization dollars, I remind you that only $300,000 has been approved; an additional $100,000 has been recommended by President Drucker. He has been clear that going forward, the formula for equalization distribution must include performance-based measures.” Bill Roberts told him to separate equalization from merit. Pres. Drucker did that, except for this $100,000. Originally they had said that discipline must be included as a factor in equalization, and we said we wouldn’t accept it. They agreed to drop it, as long as we worked with them to come up with some mutual agreement. We should do the same thing with merit. They can’t implement it without our approval; they got the union thrown out by telling NLRB that we jointly govern FDU. If they implement it without faculty approval, they leave it open for us to reinstate a union.

Sen. Schiemann: I would like to formalize what Sen. Bronson said: a strong statement rejecting merit. We can make a counter-offer to The Board of Trustees: higher ranks above full professor.

Sen. Tuluca: I was at The Board of Trustees meeting. It is clear to me that they are never informed about our wishes. We need more communication with them. I asked Chairman Zenner if The Executive Committee can meet twice a year with them, not once. I told them that in academia we recognize academic achievement on an individual basis, but not pitted against each other, unlike many businesses where you can directly compare productivity. Some of them seemed to understand, but they seemed as though they’d never thought about it. They mentioned IDEA, but IDEA has many problems in interpretation. In my opinion, merit in teaching performance is very difficult to judge. We should use a non-competitive system, as others have mentioned. Stacie Lents (a newly elected Senator): If the Board of Trustees is set on merit pay, then the counter-offer is an important part of the motion. Sen. Singer: We have merit pay for promotions already. There is a standing professor named in research, service, and teaching, and they have a monetary component. Many people are so busy working for the University that they don’t have time to promote themselves and fight for it. Internal politics will create animosity. I like idea of money going to equalization or to health care refunds. Sen. Kovacs: I have been at two institutions that implemented this kind of system; at the first one, the system crashed and burned. At the second one, they had to declare fiscal exigency, so a bureaucracy remained with no money to award. I’d be very cautious about going down this road. We could put out some targeted areas (for example, research grants, or funding for initiatives that might bring money to University). We should be careful about what we say we want until we are sure what we want. Sen. Behson: Perhaps the response should be that we don’t feel we can do it now, but we will explore options, such as higher ranks, targeted awards, pay for training in online instruction, or things that advance the Strategic Plan. At American University they give 10% of full pay for summer courses, so everyone wants to do it.

Sen. Adrignolo: We have about 249 tenured or tenure-track faculty. At best this will benefit about twenty percent of us. If the compensation funding is directed toward merit, this will cause most faculty to fall further and further behind. Sen. Caldiero: Does the Board of Trustees believe that merit pay helps weed out bad faculty? That’s what the tenure and promotion process is for. Sen. Salierno: The other side is that you could have longtime professors who get lazy. Sen. Anastasopoulos: I have heard a rumor that they don’t want to provide funds to professors who have stopped working.

Sen. LoPinto: This is changing the subject, but the Handbook calls for committees to gather for five minutes to decide chairs and deputies at the last meeting of the year, so we shouldn’t wait too long. Sen. Adrignolo: That is usually done at the end of the meeting.

Schiemann: I call for a strong statement against merit pay as proposed, defending equalization, and offering to consider other forms of future increases. Sen. Anastasopoulos: This is what FRW has been doing; who is going to handle this? Sen. Sinha: I would suggest decoupling the three clauses. Bronson: I would include them all.

The question was called on Sen. Schiemann’s motion. The vote: for, 27; opposed, 0; abstaining, 0.

The Academic Policies and Research Committee report was given by Prof. Singer.

1. There has been a announcement from Provost Capuano regarding two APRC items. It is official that we will allow continuing students to switch to the new 120-credit check sheets for fall. All freshmen will be on the new check sheet; continuing students will have choice of switching to the new check sheet, in which case they must meet all the new requirements. If they have taken Perspectives on the Individual and/or The American Experience, then these courses may be used to fulfill free elective credits only (not general education or major requirement or elective credits). If they are beyond their sophomore year (60 credits), then they don’t need to take UNIV 1002 (1 credit); they may substitute any other course for this. And of course Freshman Seminar would be considered a substitute for UNIV 1001, which everyone will have taken.

2. Issues related to the CORE curriculum. We have accepted UNIV 1001 (an introduction to student life) and UNIV 1002 (career development). There are still some typographical errors and unclear places in the catalog descriptions. We have asked for syllabi for UNIV 2001 and 2002. The catalog descriptions are already up on the web. The University curriculum is designed to meet overarching requirements for competency within the University. We hope to have 2000-level University courses up and running by fall 2016. Individual programs may have courses that substitute for 1002; this is an ongoing discussion.

Sen. LoPinto said that there would be no Handbook Committee report.

Sen. Adrignolo: Why? The results of the last election and referendum were released in Madison by the Campus Provost, but not by the Campus Provost in Teaneck. The results were then released for the election, but not for the referendum. The Handbook Committee owes the Senate an explanation for why these results were not released. Sen. LoPinto: Each campus releases results in a different manner. Metro has the explanation of each individual position, Florham does not. Florham decided to issue the simple results; Metro decided to have an explanation. I asked the Executive Committee to release the results with an explanation. It’s always been that way. If you want to change it, you can change the bylaws. Sen. Adrignolo: We in Metro still have not been sent the results. Vice-President Darden: The Executive Committee has no direct way to communicate with the faculty. It has to go through the Campus Provosts. Sen. Adrignolo: Provost Kiernan said he never got the referendum results. LoPinto: I gave them to him the day after the election. The delay had nothing to do with the Handbook Committee; it was caused by Provost Kiernan.

VP Darden: This is William Roberts’s last meeting as Senate President. We owe him a great thanks. And thanks to Scott Behson and Karen Denning for their behavior in the election for Vice-President.

Sen. Cohen: Getting back to what you said about the Executive Committee having no direct way to communicate with the faculty: I think this should be changed.

Singer: The entire faculty should have minutes of Senate meetings. In past years they were posted on the website. This year they were only posted on the Senate’s Blackboard, which some Senators did not know even existed. The new Senate President should talk to William Kennedy about posting these minutes properly. Sen. Anastasopoulos: It’s the responsibility of the President or Vice-President to post the minutes online. I used to do it myself.

Pres. Roberts: I will adjourn the meeting, following which each committee should caucus to elect chair and deputy of each committee.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:47 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Allen Cohen

Recording Secretary