Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes 2015-09-30

Rutherford Room, Metro Campus

Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 2:06 pm by Gary Darden. He welcomed the Senate to his first meeting as President.

The May 6th minutes were approved as revised.

Pres. Darden introduced several members of the Senate: Karen Denning, the new Vice-President; the new chair Chee Ng and new deputy chair Richard LoPinto, and new members Xin Tan and Stacie Lents of the Handbook Committee; new chair Marek Slaby and new deputy chair Jim Hutton of Faculty Rights and Welfare, and new FRW members Caroline Munoz and Riad Nasser; Bruce Peabody, sabbatical replacement for David Rosen on Planning and Budget Committee; Scott Behson, new chair of Academic Policies and Research Committee, and Joel Harmon, deputy chair.

He added that the Board of Trustees announced during the summer that Chris Capuano will be the new FDU President starting on July 1, 2016. He congratulated Chris, but added that the Executive Committee was concerned that faculty had not been more involved in the decision.

Next he discussed the search committee for the new University Provost. Caucuses of the Senators from each College Senate caucus had voted for their college representatives for the committee: Robert Houle (Becton), Paulette Laubsch (Petrocelli), Kalyan Mondal (University College), and Sorin Tuluca (Silberman). Provost Capuano had appointed the other members of the Committee: Carol Creekmore, Hania Ferrara, and Dean Geoff Weinman. The Committee will elect a chair, decide whether search consultants will be hired, and if so, which firm should be used.

Sen. Singer: The University College faculty was upset with the procedure used; University College would have preferred a vote by the full faculty. Darden: The procedure was based on the model used to construct the Gen Ed task force in the spring; there are no specific electoral guidelines for such a committee in the Handbook. We voted on the issue twice, sent back to the Handbook Committee; a majority of the committee said that there was no violation.

Alfredo Tan, Dir. of School of Science and Engineering, spoke next: I am disturbed by the entire process. It’s bad enough that the administration took away our right to select the University President; in this case, our own faculty took away our rights to choose. I have been here for thirty years; the process has always been that each college nominates and elects its own representative. Suddenly the message was changed without consultation with the faculty. The first rationale for the change was that few faculty vote in an off-cycle election; this is invalid. The faculty will vote; senators are only a selected group of the whole faculty; if all faculty vote, the voting pool will almost inevitably be larger. The second rationale was that the entire faculty doesn’t know the candidates; this also makes no sense. I would like to know why a new method was arbitrarily adopted without consulting the full faculty. We on the last Presidential search committee went through a long process and then, at the end of the search, we were not even invited by the Board of Trustees to discuss the choices. In this case, the Executive Committee was consulted at end of last summer, so why didn’t they consult the entire faculty? Sen. Harmon: That’s not true. Tan: The issue is the process. Mark Farag: I am also concerned about the process.

Comments from other Senators on this issue followed. Harmon: In regard to the last Presidential search: After the search committee was ignored, and the Board of Trustees unilaterally chose a President without consultation, they did not even inform, much less consult, the Executive Committee or any other faculty body. The Executive Committee protested that we were unhappy with the process. In regard to Chris Capuano’s appointment as President, the Board of Trustees had conference calls with the Executive Committee, informing them that Chris had been chosen. They had no communication with the Deans. Tan: The Presidential search committee requested a meeting with the Board of Trustees and was denied.

Sen. Peabody: There are two issues involved here: political power, which the faculty is losing, and shared governance, the idea that something might be gained by faculty and administration consulting together. Darden: After that presidential search, some reform did happen: the Senate President now sits on the Board of Trustees, and the Senate Executive Committee now have lunches with Board of Trustees each semester. But the Handbook does not specify a method of voting for a Provost search. We did this analogously to the appointment of ambassadors and cabinet officers by the U.S. Senate, and used the same method as the Gen Ed task force. The Executive Committee was not acting cavalierly, but acting in the interests of the faculty. Harmon: The Administration had no influence over our method. Tan: You are choosing which previous method you followed. For 40 or 50 years we chose search committee members by one method, and now you are changing the entire process. I could say that the old method worked for 50 years. Sen. Salierno: I think the Executive Committee should have let Senators know the procedure more quickly. Tan: An e-mail was sent on September 14th, saying that the deadline was only four days later, over several Jewish holidays, and that nominations were extended; I wasn’t even aware that nominations were going on in the first place. Darden: We, the Senate, acted for the faculty. If you don’t like our decisions, vote for other senators. Singer: University College only meets once before November. Darden: I explained the process to the Becton College faculty at the first meeting of the semester. We subsequently took feedback from faculty and modified the process. Sen. Adrignolo: First, I did not support the caucus, but I do support majority rule in the Executive Committee. I resigned from the caucuses, but that doesn’t mean anything done was wrong. Second, I’ve been around when the Board said that selection of President was the prerogative of the Board of Trustees only; all the Handbook says is that they have to seek advice of the faculty, not consent or consultation. The Board of Trustees’ call was a courtesy phone call, not a consultation. Singer: There was also no advance notice of the subject of phone call. Adrignolo : But I did support their decision. Darden: I’ve had a number of calls and meetings about this.

Sen. Cohen: I agreed with the process as presented to us, and I am sure that there is no problem with this procedure in the Handbook. But that’s not what Prof. Tan was saying. I know that sometimes we have to modify procedures to act in a timely fashion; but certainly we can reconsider this for the future without having to wait for a new Senatorial election. It’s not a black-and-white choice. We can reconsider the process so that more faculty will feel that they are represented in the choice. Sen. Farrell: I agree. I was going to ask if we could have a vote on how to go forward on this. Sen. Kovacs: We knew the Provost selection process would come to us. Sen. Sharma: I don’t have a strong opinion on which process is better, but I do feel strongly that we need a strong faculty consensus. If a process has been going on for many years, faculty expects it, and if the Executive Committee decides to change it, that should be in consultation with as many faculty as possible. If you don’t consult with them, faculty lose interest and feel disenfranchised. Darden: My e-mail to all full-time faculty explained many of our reasons for this process, and Diane Wentworth praised me for my transparency and openness with faculty.

Singer: I was here during the last Presidential search, went to all the town meetings and so on. I would respectfully request transparency from the new search committee. The committee will get a gag order from Board of Trustees. We want to know the dates of the process, when can we see candidates, and when we can meet them. And I strongly recommend that the full faculty have opportunity for feedback. Harmon: The Board of Trustees cannot intrude on a Provost search. They control Presidential searches, but this search is up to the new committee. Darden: And I am charging its faculty members to speak to us as the committee’s work goes on. Based on previous practices, the three finalists will be sent unranked to the Administration, and then the full faculty will have a chance to comment.

Sen. McClary: You said that most of the Handbook committee was okay with the process; what objections did the rest have? Darden: Much what Prof. Tan said—that we should have college-wide elections. Because of the concerns, Sen. Ng went back to the Handbook Committee and discussed it again, but they decided that we did not violate the Handbook. But we are your voice.

Sen. Lents: Are we going to address the question of future searches? Because it’s come up in Handbook Committee that there are whole subjects that are not covered by the Handbook. I have concerns that there is a precedent for faculty involvement in searches, but we seem to be heading away from that. For instance, I am concerned with the process to replace Jon Wexler as head of Enrollment and Admissions. I have no problem with the person appointed, but I want to be sure that we are paying attention to such appointments, because they are so crucial to the functioning of our colleges. Sen. Cohen: I’ve been trying for four or five years to get APRC to find out what structure is needed for faculty to be more involved, at least in terms of consultation, in the processes of recruitment, admissions, and retention. Admissions does not coordinate well with the recruitment needs and initiatives of faculty. My colleagues are unhappy that they spend a great amount of time on recruiting, only to see their initiatives bring no results (or small results) because of lack of coordination and follow-up by Admissions. Perhaps faculty involvement would not change any of this, but we will never know unless we try.

Darden: It’s funny that you mention this, because APRC has now begun to take action; Scott Behson will report on this.

Sen. Harmon: It may be useful for everyone to hear about the reality of governance according to the Handbook, which came about after we lost the possibility of a faculty union, so that the administration can claim that we are co-managing the University. But the fact is that we have very little say. Every five or six years, they have to ask our opinion of administrators; but after that, they are free to ignore our opinions. The Board of Trustees has been conferred all the power to run the University, with limited exceptions. If we want to change the Handbook, we have to go to them and ask if it is all right with them to give us more power. Darden: there are definitely ambiguities in the Handbook. We’re trying to defend faculty power. But the Handbook can never fill in all the ambiguities; it’s up to us. Sen. Behson: Let’s assert our right to be consulted; then at least we will have either some response, or a list of grievances. Provost Capuano will probably decide that it’s better to have joint agreement with the faculty. Darden: It’s in his interest to have our agreement. I will put all my leadership skills forward to get more transparency and joint governance. Lents: I am not expecting that we will revise the Handbook and have a golden era. All I am saying is that first, it’s important to acknowledge that there are areas where the Handbook is silent, and we have decisions to make; and second, I’m not saying it’s black and white, either we are silent or protest; I think there’s a grey area in between. So I think it behooves us to ask if we can have a role in such decisions. Darden: I will send a letter to Provost Capuano asking what will be the faculty role in the decisions on the new chief Admissions officer and the new Provost.

There followed a brief discussion of the ongoing General Education task force.

Singer: We report to Provost Capuano, and he will report to APRC. Here are our members: Janet Boyd, Gary Darden, Ron Dumont, Mark Farag, Patricia Melloy, Caroline Munoz, Gloria Pastorino, William Roberts, Lona Whitmarsh, Wladina Antoine, plus the four Deans. We have met twice. This is the most cohesive and hardworking Committee I have ever been on at FDU. We have dialogue going between campuses and colleges, particularly in regard to mathematics and English, to be sure that Gen Ed requirements on both campuses are reasonably equivalent—not identical—and meet the same goals and standards. The area of greatest concern right now is the foreign language requirement, but that will be resolved peacefully. Darden: The future of Gen Ed is one of the biggest curricular issues to be considered since I’ve been here.

Since Campus Provost Kiernan had not yet arrived to give his report on the Middle States accreditation processes, the next item was the Committee reports.

The APRC report was given by new chair Scott Behson:

One of our main tasks is to monitor the Gen Ed task force, and the implementation of changes to University Core. One specific action item comes from our first meeting of the year: a request from Craig Morton and Provost Capuano to see if APRC would recommend that faculty add the following paragraph to all syllabi regarding students with disabilities: “Any student with documented medical, psychological or learning disabilities, who feels he/she may need in-class academic adjustments, reasonable modifications, and/or auxiliary aids and services while taking this course, should first contact the Disability Support Services (DSS) to discuss his/her specific needs. For Florham Campus including the School of Pharmacy and study abroad programs contact the Director of Disability Support Services at 973-443-8079. For Metropolitan Campus, online and off-campus programs contact the Associate Provost at 201-692-2477. Once the academic adjustments, modifications, or auxiliary aids and services are approved by DSS, make an appointment to see the professor(s).”

We don’t have a big agenda for the next couple of months, so we have an opportunity to be proactive, to assert the role of academics in leading certain issues. We have selected two:

1. University admissions. Students come from many different “doors” to FDU, but most of our students are not incoming freshmen from high school. We have all sorts of special populations and processes. We will investigate this and talk to people throughout the University.

2. Research. What is the role of research in University? What are faculty expectations? And what is the level of resources available to faculty? So far it seems that we are all over the map on this issue.

The Handbook Committee report was given by new chair Chee Ng:

In this cycle, Handbook has considered two issues.

1. in relation to the Handbook article VIII.1.3.3.e.ii: “Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Clinical Faculty shall compose no more than twenty (20) percent of the number of full-time faculty in each college,” three of our four colleges are not in compliance.

Harmon: The Executive Committee did not agree that you could report all this to the Senate. Dean Mills: We’ve been talking about the Handbook’s being silent on some issues. On some issues it’s quaint, harking back to an earlier, simpler time. With clinical faculty, according to the Strategic Plan, the University’s offerings will be ramped up. We can’t operate a large healthcare unit without a large cohort of clinical faculty – people without the time (or often the interest) in doing scholarly research in these areas. When the Handbook was written, the problem may have been year-to-year faculty; in my estimation, not that, but the adjuncts, are our problem. The problem is that 50% of courses in University College are being taught by adjuncts rather than full-time faculty, not that some percentage of full-time faculty are clinical rather than tenure-track. A large proportion of adjuncts has an impact on retention, and loads more service onto the full-time faculty. I suggest that if the Senate wants to make an impact on the quality of education here, the issue is not lecturers or clinical faculty, but part-time faculty.

2. There was a request from Sen. Adrignolo to decide whether using caucuses to choose the faculty members of the Provost Search Committee was a violation. Five members out of nine voted no.

Darden: Dean Mills has raised an important issue, and we will look into it further.

The Faculty Rights and Welfare Committee report was given by new chair Marek Slaby:

FRW met last week. There were six items on the agenda: guidelines for the interpretation of results of IDEA evaluations of faculty by students; the proposed performance-based teaching compensastion; the new options for healthcare; the question of lecturers and clinical faculty, as mentioned by the Handbook Commmittee; our annual recommendation on faculty compensation; and the resolving the issue of 12 versus 13 weekly contact hours for faculty loads.

In regard to IDEA, we invited Sen. Behson to our meeting, and he was very helpful. We are working on a document, which is not final yet.

In regard to the performance-based compensation, a year ago at the Florham convocation, Pres. Drucker promised $400,000 for faculty equalization, and $100,000 to be put aside for performance-based increases. In the end, equalization was only $300,000. We met Pres. Drucker & Provost Capuano on April 1st. We discussed their concept and guidelines, mostly in opposition to the way they had been presented; we brought the issue to the Senate at the May meeting, and Senate voted against their proposed guidelines; we felt that any performance-based increases should focus on full professors, because tenure-track faculty are rewarded by promotion and tenure, and associate professors by promotion to full professor, while there are no further steps beyond that for full professors. A letter summarizing our position went to Provost Capuano. There was no response, so we have drafted a new letter, suggesting more specific ways to offer awards, which will be sent today.

In regard to healthcare, the University has been very concerned because as of 2018, according to the current version of the Affordable Healthcare Act, institutions healthcare benefits beyond a certain threshold will have to pay the so-called “Cadillac penalty.” A cheaper option was suggested in 2013 by the healthcare task force. Last week we got a letter from Rose d’Ambrosio, which made clear that the division of healthcare costs between employees and the University, the intent of which has always been 25% by employees and 75% by the University, is getting worse for us. We will forward her letter to Senate, and will invite Rose to the next FRW meeting. [see Appendix at end]

In regard to compensation, last year FRW asked for a 2% cost-of-living (COLA) raise. We have repeated that request in a new letter, and we also want $2,000,000 from last year’s surplus for a one-time bonus.

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

The IPEDS figures will come in a week. Last year’s budget had a $15.6 million surplus. It comes from the money we faculty don’t get. Contractual obligations are always first priority in the budget; our salaries are not contractual, so we don’t come first. We are asking for a piece of the surplus. We are asking for a 4% bonus from that surplus. The administration says that there is currently about $150 million of deferred maintenance that needs to be done; they use the surplus to keep up our buildings. Where it should come from is fundraising, but our institutional fundraising has in recent years been flat. We get about $6 million a year, which is not enough. Buildings should be named after people who donate the full cost of the building, not $1 million. Every year the budget prognosis starts out grim, and then by a miracle, there’s a surplus.

By this point Provost Kiernan had arrived, so he gave a report on the current status of the Middle States accreditation:

On November 5th and 6th, the chair of the accreditation review team will be on campus. He is the President of Manhattan College, and he will probably spend one day on each campus, to set up the team’s site visit for spring 2016. It is up to him whether he meets with faculty or not.

On February 28th, the review team will arrive, will spend 2½ days all over the Metro campus, and will meet with various groups, including probably some faculty. By March 1 they will be writing their report; on March 2nd they will read us their report, followed by a period of back-and-forth discussion about it.

The process began in fall 2014. We have four working groups evaluating fourteen accreditation standards. Patty Durso (the principal editor) and Indira Govindan are working on a report about compliance with Federal regulations. We are in the community review phase of this process.

When you read through section and come to a link, sometimes you hit a box that requires a user name and password. Some documents are not available on the website; send me an email and I’ll get any such documents to you. We can only do it person by person. The whole document is over 160 pages; we don’t expect anyone to print or read the entire thing.

We were asked to create research questions about each standard. This whole process is about making us better, by taking a look at ourselves every ten years or so. We were up to about thirty-five of our own recommendations, which is too many, because they will hold us to every one. Every recommendation we make, they will want us to follow up on. We have reduced them to 27 or 28, and will probably reduce more. Comment boxes on the website ask you to provide your name and email; the comments will go to a central spreadsheet, and the committee will look at all comments.

On October 21st, we make our final report and comments. These go off to Middle States in December.

There will be an assessment person. A lot of schools get into trouble on assessment (especially in regard to standards #7 and 14). If you are in a meeting with the review team, you’re likely to get questions like: Was this an open process? Did you have a chance to read the report and comment? In your program, how do you develop your program objectives, assess student learning, and learn how to “close the loop” by getting closer to your objectives? That is not the time to say that you don’t believe in the assessment process. Be careful how you answer those questions. If you want to hear more, come to the open meetings. It’s been a lot of work, and I’ll be happy to see it end.

Sen. Harmon: You talked about getting the initial recommendations whittled down. At what point will faculty be able to see which ones survive the whittling process? Kiernan: All recommendations will survive the process. Some that sound the same will be combined. Also, I use a system: I took the recommendations and asked everyone on the Committee to rank them from 1 (most important) to 4 (least). Anything that averages out over 3 can be gotten rid of. Anything that averages under 2 will be important. There is no censoring, unless we as a steering Committee agree that there is overlap. This is a community process. Harmon: I am thinking of the recommendations in the governance section, which we thought quite good. Will the Board of Trustees leave them in? Kiernan: The Board of Trustees doesn’t get to take anything out. If the steering committee doesn’t change it, it stays in. Sen. Olechnowski: Will the review team visit specific classes? Kiernan: I doubt it. Sen. Houle: Can the report be put on WebCampus? Kiernan: It has to be secure. Sen. Kovacs: Each standard had subcommittees working on them. Problems with Middle States accreditation are almost always about outcomes and programmatic assessments.

Kiernan: I have no doubt we will pass. But will we pass with commentary from the review team and follow-up necessary? This is public knowledge, and gets into newspapers. We would prefer that not to happen.

Pres. Darden adjourned the meeting at 3:59 pm.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Allen Cohen

Recording Secretary

 

APPENDIX

 

To:    Gary Darden, President of the Faculty Senate

From:Rose D’Ambrosio, AVP of Human Resources

Date: September 22, 2015

Re:    Additional Medical Plan Option

The University is currently in the process of considering an additional medical plan option for our full time employees that would go into effect on January 1, 2015.

In response to the continuous increases to our health care costs, coupled with the external requirements imposed by the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA), President Drucker convened a Health Task Force in 2013. The Task Force was charged with reviewing the University’s health plan to explore ways we can manage plan-related costs while maintaining access to quality medical services. According to the ACA, the University’s current plan is considered a “Cadillac” plan. Our current plan costs exceed the ACA thresholds, thus our plan will be subjected to a minimum 40% excise tax for costs that exceed the ACA threshold. This excise tax is expected to exceed $1 million in 2018 and increase to over $2 million within 5 years.

The Task Force convened on several occasions and submitted formal recommendations to President Drucker for consideration. One of the recommendations was to add a plan option for employees that prefer a lower premium contribution in exchange for paying more out of pocket when using the plan. In addition, it will also provide the University an opportunity to reduce our overall plan costs, thus limiting our exposure to the excise tax, scheduled to go into effect in 2018.

The Task Force specifically recommended that the University implement a “Consumer Driven Health Plan” (CDHP).   A CDHP is a plan with a high deductible, out of pocket maximum, and prescription drug co-insurance (vs. co-pays).   The CDHP engages employees to be active participants in their  healthcare consumption. Preventive care benefits are still covered at 100% and not subject to the deductible.

The key differences between our current PPO plan and a CDHP are as follows:

  • Tax-advantaged account for health uses;
  • Higher deductibles and out of pocket maximums;
  • For employees covering dependents, deductibles are “per family” and not “per individual”
  • Prescription drugs are typically subjected to deductibles and co-insurance

As stated above, there is a tax-advantage associated with the CDHP. The IRS stipulates this plan design qualifies enrollees to establish a Health Savings Account (HSA) that allows pre-tax dollars to help offset out of pocket medical expenses.   This maximum allowable amount is determined by the IRS each year. For 2016, the maximum is $1300 (single) and $2600 (family). There is an additional catch up provision for employees that may enroll who are age 55 or older. Any unused funds will continuously roll-over year after year. The HSA’s are interest bearing accounts and individually owned and controlled. If an employee has an HSA and leaves the University’s employment, their HSA follows them to their new employer or into retirement. The rules associated with making medical-related withdrawals are governed by the IRS.

Due to the fact that this plan option is associated with an HSA, we need to offer this plan on a calendar year basis to comply with IRS requirements. Therefore, the effective date of this option would be January 1, 2015. The University will work with UnitedHealthcare to deliver educational forums on both campuses to inform our participants with regard to how this plan operates so that they can make an informed decision.

Please contact me if you have further questions.