Faculty Senate Meeting November 18, 2015
Metro Club, Metro Campus
The meeting was called to order at 2:10 pm by President Gary Darden.
He said that, in order to conserve paper, the minutes of the previous meeting had been sent by email. The minutes were approved as read.
The next order of business was the dispute between the Executive Committee and the Faculty Handbook Committee on the procedures to replace Aixa Ritz, who has resigned from the Faculty Rights and Welfare Committee. At its October 28th meeting, the Executive Committee decided to have an immediate special election for her replacement (to last until August 2017, the end of her designated term). As explained by Pres. Darden, the Executive Committee did not want to appoint someone because they felt that the FRW seat should be decided upon by the voting faculty of the Metro campus, not appointed by the Executive Commmitee. Instead the Executive Committee voted 8-to-1 to have a special election. (Sen. LoPinto was absent from that first discussion, but later voiced his opposition.) However, the FHC refused to run a special election to fill out the term under the conditions specified by the Executive Committee, unless the Senate approved it. Given this gridlock, the Executive Committee, at its November 18 meeting earlier today, once again discussed and voted on this issue, and the vote was 8-to-2 to hold a special election for Sen. Ritz’s seat. Lastly, as further explained, the Executive Committee voted by majority that each side would be given an equal 5 minutes to present their position before the full Senate: 5 minutes combined for the Handbook Committee with Sen. Lopinto followed by 5 minutes for the opposing arguments of the Executive Committee from Sen. Harmon and Sen. Adrignolo. Rebuttal for either side was not permitted. This would be followed by open questions from the floor.
Then Pres. Darden allowed five minutes for members of the Executive Committee to present their arguments on each side of this question. The viewpoint opposing the Executive Committee decision was first given by Sen. LoPinto, deputy chair of FHC, who said his committee had reviewed the Handbook and the Bylaws. He protested that the 5-minute cap on time for each side was too little time to effectively review all the Handbook and Bylaw instructions that pertain to elections and to weigh the decision voted by the Executive Committee.
The viewpoint supporting the Executive Committee vote was given by Sen. Harmon and Sen. Adrignolo. Sen. Harmon said that the Bylaws had been written first, and that everything in the Handbook was in the Bylaws. The Bylaws allowed for exceptions that did not need to be in the Handbook. Only certain sections of the Bylaws were migrated to the Handbook. When the FHC chair mentions sections from the Bylaws, those are sections excerpted for the Handbook. They do not allow for special circumstances. The Bylaws talk about vacancies from various causes including resignations. They say “a remainder” (of the Senator’s term) rather than “the remainder,” which let in some ambiguity, but it was never meant to thwart the original intention. The Executive Committee decided to fill the remainder of Sen. Ritz’s term. Sen. Adrignolo: Sen. Harmon and I were both on the committee that wrote the original Bylaws, and I have also talked to Helen Brudner, who was on both the original Bylaw committee and the original Handbook Committee. In this case, an election is appropriate. I was chair of the Handbook Committee for five years, and you can do an election in two weeks, and I think this process should not be dragged out.
Pres. Darden called for comments and questions from the Senate.
Sen. Cohen: I understand that Senators LoPinto and Ng have a procedural issue, but we are dealing with a real world problem. Let’s have the election as the Executive Committee suggests, and stop wasting Senate time on this.
Sen. Casti: Is there a conflict between the Handbook and Bylaws? It sounds as though there is nothing on this issue in the Handbook, while there is something in the Bylaws. Sen. LoPinto: The Handbook says that if there is a conflict in language between them, the Handbook takes precedence. Sen. Tuluca: It’s very simple. the Handbook says “nomination, election, and terms of office”; we have to fill a Senator’s term of office. LoPinto: The Handbook doesn’t say that. Tuluca: It says it at the beginning of the Handbook. Harmon: how can there be a conflict between the Handbook, which is silent on replacements, and the Bylaws that discuss them? Sen. Singer: Clearly the intent of the Handbook language is “the remainder of the term of office.” It doesn’t say “a new term.” At this point Pres. Darden closed the discussion. It was thus understood that going forward a special election would be held for the remainder of Sen. Aixa’s term, run by the FHC.
Pres. Darden went on to say that the Board of Trustees had met on October 21. They had voted to exceed the amount of equalization requested by FRW ($500,000 rather than $400,000), and unanimously approved that rather than the Board Education Affairs Committee handling academics, student life, and athletics, there will now be a student and academic affairs committee. Education Affairs will exclusively deal with faculty and their concerns. Dean Weinman: In these meetings it is difficult to speak about some things in front of students, so this will make it more possible to speak frankly with the Board of Trustees. Provost Capuano: Students may still attend those meetings, but they will be asked to leave after student affairs are discussed.
Pres. Darden: The Board of Trustees Finance Committee also met, and discussed the proposed six-year $75 million capital campaign.
Next was a report on the University Provost Search Committee. Sen. Houle: We settled on a loose timeline, according to which, by the middle of March, the top three candidates will be brought to the campuses. Darden: The search firm representative met with the Executive Committee, and I was impressed with him. Sen. Behson: A survey was sent out, asking for suggestions from faculty about what they want to see in the new Provost. Houle: That survey is already closed. Vice-President Denning: Can you give us a sense of the survey results? Weinman: It was interesting. The survey was sent to students, staff, faculty, and alumni from both campuses; the largest response came from alumni (about 150). The responses were thoughtful and helpful. Even beyond the Provost search, they provided us with some insight on the future of the University. Sen. Hutton: Were there notable differences among the constituencies? Weinman: There was quite a lot of overlap. Students were more focused on student issues. Houle: I was surprised that all constituencies had, near the top of their list, the emphasis on global education. Sen. Ng: Has the committee discussed the extent of the gag order? Weinman: We are obligated to sign a confidentiality agreement, but it has been modified. We felt that the assurances that Provost Capuano gave us made us comfortable in signing it. The intent was not to hide things, but to protect the anonymity of the candidates, because some do not want their present institutions to know that they are looking. But we are free to share information about the process. Sen. Peabody: Given that alumni are involved, we should broadcast to the alumni the opportunity to meet the candidates. Sen. Harmon: Are there any alumni on the committee? Weinman: No. Provost Capuano: I considered appointing an alumnus, but that would have lowered the percentage of faculty on the committee.
Next came a report on the General Education Task Force, by co-chairs Gloria Pastorino and Miriam Singer.
Sen. Pastorino: We have met four times, discussing all the current requirements on both campuses, and there is agreement on most issues. We are trying to iron out the math and language requirements. There is nothing definite to report yet. Sen. Singer: We are working together, and having some involved discussions. We agree in theory on the distribution of courses amongst disciplines, and the number of credits per discipline, but the implementation by college is under discussion, as is the levels of competency. We are very concerned about the quality of our students, both incoming and outgoing. Sen. Sharma: Have you considered the ability of our students to get into graduate schools and pass the GRE? Pastorino: Yes, and a good number of our students are in the QUEST program, and have specific requirements to fulfill. Singer: Maybe the new “Preparing for Professional Life” Core course should advise the students on that. That’s the one place that includes students from all over the University. Advisors on all campuses should think about the students coming in and the students going out. Pres. Darden: Different campuses and colleges have different strengths. How do we take our faculty assets and deploy them effectively, to transfer their skill sets to their students? Pastorino: And one of the problems is that we need to think about what it means to be a University graduate, what knowledge one needs to have—things like ethics, and proficiency in several different fields. Sen. Salierno: So what we need is more full-time faculty, and fewer lecturers and adjuncts. Capuano: The focus should be on the competencies we expect to see in the students, rather than which competencies we have on which campus. Darden: For example, in the area of Creative and Expressive Arts, which University College doesn’t have the facilities and resources to handle on this campus. Sen. Lents: I wonder about a couple of things. The first is whether, a little down the line, you have on your to-do list to talk about the impact of Gen Ed on recruitment. I do a lot of recruitment, and when we increase certain elements of Gen Ed, we get a backlash. And that leads to the second: When you decide on the competencies you want to be standards, please make sure they work for all majors, not just a subset. Not every graduating takes the GREs, and some don’t take standardized tests. I really believe in a liberal education, I teach writing in my acting classes, but they don’t have to take standardized tests. And I worry if we are talking about a baseline that works across all the liberal arts; otherwise this will have a negative impact on recruitment. My third concern is that you look at advising, and at students’ ability to take ownership of their own Gen Ed, because there is such an enormous burden on faculty, and because part of a liberal education is teaching students to take control of their own career paths. If students don’t understand what Gen Ed categories mean, and don’t know how to negotiate WebAdvisor to deal with it, we will be spending a lot of time helping them deal with this. Harmon: Our global mission has been taken out of Gen Ed, and don’t we want to figure out how to keep it in? Dean Mills: What happened over the years, prior to my time at FDU, is that University College had an ethical and moral reasoning component of Gen Ed, and maybe Becton used to have one too. Now the majors are supplying that within their own coursework; for example, Communications will have a course on Ethics and the Media. The same thing is true in History; it’s being provided as part of the major. Even in the B.S. degrees, they have classes in ethical behavior for nurses. So it’s left Gen Ed, but appears in major course work. Darden: Historically, philosophers have been the bastions of creating an ethical dialogue. When I got here, we had three tenured philosophers; now we have one. Maybe the Strategic Plan should consider that we should have at least one philosopher on each campus. Harmon: And is “Ethics of Science” broad enough to cover the issue for preparing our students to be global citizens? It gets squeezed into these major courses, but more often than not it’s the first thing to go. Darden: If you have any questions on Gen Ed, email any of us who serve as members on the Task Force.
Pres. Darden next discussed of the Middle States review:
On November 5, Dr. O’Donnell, president of Manhattan College, came for a brief visit, including a two-hour visit with the Executive Committee. I found him very thoughtful and charming. They are not here to set us up for failure, but to make sure we get through this process in a reasonable way. There was a concern about faculty governance in our Middle States recommendations as they got squeezed from four down to three. Several changes have already been made: we now have “timely and regularly” scheduled regular lunch meetings with the Board of Trustees twice a year, in fall and spring. Another concern was that the President of the Senate be on the Board of Trustees as a non-voting member. We still recommend that both the President and the Vice-President be non-voting members, so the Vice-President learns names and procedures, for their own sake and to help coach the next Vice-President. This is not, however, a place to air our dirty laundry. Dr. O’Donnell and his team will arrive in late February or early March, and will be meeting with constituents of the University over three days. Dean Mills: I have been through many of these at previous institutions, and one of the things you have to be careful of is that when they come here, they will be meeting with various constituencies, in the form of an audit. They will be seeking input, and they are going to compare what the various groups are saying with what the institution says in its self-study, and looking for discrepancies between the two. The worst thing you can do is make claims in the self-study that, when they speak with people, they find are not well supported. That throws other claims in an unfavorable light. Darden: One of the points of these meetings is to get administration and faculty on the same page for Middle States. We can create a reasonable, fair, and balanced approach that gives us a positive Middle States assessment. Provost Capuano: Yes, anyone involved with the site visit should read the self-study, to know what and what not to say. The recommendations have to be written in a way that you can actually implement them. Sen. Olechnowski: What is their approach to choosing whom to involve? Are they pulling names out of a hat, or is everything already set up? Capuano: There will be open faculty meetings, so if you plan to make comments, you should read the report. And since anyone might be called to a meeting, I think all faculty should read the report. Darden: The Deans can urge faculty to do this at their college meetings. Lents: Do the Middle States reviewers ever go to a class? Capuano: They might. It’s not likely, but they can do pretty much anything they want. Sen. Kovacs: They will be going to our community college partners, and to Vancouver. So I would advise everyone to read the recommendations. Capuano: Although there is a recommendation to allow both the Sen President and the Vice-President to attend Board meetings, remember that at this point it’s just a recommendation; even if the chair of the Board of Trustees is in favor of it, it still has to be discussed and agreed to by the Board. No one ever comes out of Middle States with no blemishes; what you don’t want is any follow-up reports. Sen. Hutton: The Trustees are also involved in this process; we’ve already discovered that we are in violation of Middle States standards, in that search candidates should reflect the diversity of the students. Capuano: And so should the faculty.
Pres. Darden allowed five minutes for the chair and/or deputy chair of each committee to speak, and five minutes to answer questions.
The Academic Policies and Research Committee report was given by Sen. Behson:
We have had conversations with the Gen Ed task force, and requested an interim report before next APRC meeting.
In regard to the University Core, we are inviting all Core directors to talk about their progress on second layer of Core courses.
In regard to admissions issues, we have had internal conversations, to discuss what we want to focus on. Traci Banks will come soon, and our initial inquiry will be about traditional first-time undergraduate students and regular transfers. Where is our growth coming from? Are our standards appropriate to our academics?
We were asked about midterm progress reports; we were not able to meet with Provost Capuano about the faculty referendum about progress reports, but we will.
There are two new items. 1) The University has hired a head of new Center for Instructional Design, and the office has been reorganized. As chair of APRC, I would have liked to have heard about this before it was done, at least as a courtesy.
2) We received a global option initiative from Jason Scorza, the Assistant Provost, which calls on all majors to have a global option abroad, as a unique suggestion, rather than an academic policy that needs to go through APRC to be discussed. Capuano: This is not a new issue. It’s written in the Strategic Plan. Sen. Harmon: The Strategic Plan says that there will be a global option, not this particular option. Instructional Design will not only handle present online courses, but design new online courses. I agree that the APRC should be involved, but this is not a new initiative. Behson: We should be at least alerted. Harmon: Our problem is not with the goal, but with the consultation. We approved a motion that APRC must be consulted on such an option, and we invited the Provost and Assistant Provost to meet with APRC. Mills: Jason met with the Deans about two weeks ago about this, and we strongly urged him to alert APRC, and to understand that just because something is in the Strategic Plan, it doesn’t bypass University policies and procedures. Darden: We have a three-legged stool with faculty, Deans, and administrators, and nothing should be changed without all three legs being consulted.
The Handbook Committee report was given by Sen. Ng:
In addition to the special election, which has already been discussed, we have a call for nominations for spring 2016 elections for the Handbook Committee, one member to come from the Florham campus, for one semester. Nominations close today. We also consulted with Richard Dickinson of Public Mind to compare and contrast Survey Monkey and Qualtrics. It was decided that Survey Monkey works better for elections. Sen. Munoz: Why is Survey Monkey better? Ng: Quatrix has an indelible logo that can’t be deleted. If Survey Monkey works well on for the Florham campus, it will also be used for the Metro campus.
The Faculty Rights and Welfare report was given by Sen. Slaby:
One item comes from our prior report. At the September meeting the Handbook website Committee brought before us what they consider a violation of the Handbook, the ratio of lecturers to tenure-track faculty at the University, but we all agreed that the ratio of adjuncts to full-time faculty was a much bigger issue. We compared ourselves to the ratio of part-time to full-time faculty at our peer institutions—except Quinnipiac, whose website seems to say they have no part-time faculty, which is clearly not true. We look worse; the Florham campus is not so bad compared to our peers, but at Metro only 23% of the faculty are full-time. Taking both campuses together our ratio is 30% full-time: we have 314 full-time faculty, and 1033 part-time.
There followed a discussion about the accuracy of these figures. Slaby: These are from the NCES. Provost Capuano: Many adjuncts included in these counts are teaching off-campus. If you look at undergraduate courses on our campuses, the numbers are much better—last year, close to 48% of on-campus sections were taught by full-time faculty. That’s more accurate than counting heads. If you remove Petrocelli College from consideration, the other colleges are where they should be. We are very different from most of our peer institutions in this area. We used to have 104 different teaching sites; now they’re down to 40. Dean Weinman: I think the adjunct issue is serious, but in terms of Middle States, we’re not in violation with the percentage of adjuncts, but we are with the percentage of lecturers. Capuano: Again, this is largely because of Petrocelli.
Slaby: FRW met two weeks ago, and did not talk much about performance-based increases; we felt that we needed more time to think about it. We also discussed the new Interfolio system: All new tenure-track hires are required not only to put all their information into binders, but also to do it online, as a pilot project. Capuano: We can stop wasting a lot of paper and time with this. Slaby: There are a number of faculty concerns about this. It was initiated without consulting us; it involves putting personal data on an external website; it will take additional work to digitize and upload data; there are security issues; and there is the additional cost of using the external website—we already have data on our system, and maybe we can save money by running the website ourselves. Capuano: Jason Scorza is managing this; you can have a discussion with him. I agree that some of these steps you mention should have been taken, but this is an attempt to move things forward. And again, this is a pilot program. If it works, faculty on personnel committees will like it; you can review personnel files on your own time and in your own home.
Slaby: In regard to equalization, no work has been done, because we’re still waiting for compensation data, including the national CUPA report. This time they gave us the administration report, and we had to buy the faculty report, which will take another week or so. We have a general agreement, and it will be done by rank and discipline as in the past, and equalized internally as well as externally. Perhaps some of the money could be used to raise the minimum salaries above the 2% increase given the high cost-of living for this region. In the past we considered average peer salaries, years in rank, years of prior service; this time, we will not use prior service, since it’s double-counting, but years in rank, which was capped at fifteen years in last year’s equalization. We will decide on specifics once we get the data.
Finally, there is the matter of resolving the discrepancy between faculty loads of twelve and thirteen contact hours. The Senate voted, and there was a faculty referendum; Administration has to agree to change the Handbook, from requiring 13 hours to requiring 12. University President Drucker asked for data about how our peers do it. Last night I got a report on that; it may not be final, and we will send our response to Drucker. Sen. LoPinto: If we consider state institutions, whose policy is dictated by the state, is that considered one policy or many? Slaby: That’s a good question. Sen. Haspel: Is the data Pres. Drucker requested readily available? Sen. Salierno: We had to call people we knew at the other institutions, and piece the info together.
The University Planning and Budget Committee report was given by Sen. Adrignolo:
Tomorrow we start the new budget process. The COLA raise should be coming in our next paychecks. In January the Deans come in and present their wish lists. That also applies to Faculty Rights and Welfare, which presents its requests for faculty compensation.
Sen. Slaby: There is one additional FRW item. As directed by Senate Pres. Darden, the EC sent its letter to Pres. Drucker with FRW’s list of recommendations, before the Board of Trustees decided on $500K equalization. We knew about last year’s large surplus. He has responded to this email. There is no need for a quick reply, but he asked that in our next recommendation, we provide documentation for the claims we make. Sen. Hutton: His response, that the administrators have suffered financially as much as the faculty, was ridiculous. Every administrator was being paid between $20,000 and $90,000 above their peer group. The new peer group is much too small; 80% of the data cells are empty, so we can’t make much use of it for comparison of particular ranks and disciplines. This is a license to steal, because the administrators in our peer group are the most overpaid, underperforming administrators in the country. Many of our peer schools are going bankrupt; Rider is going bankrupt, and the president of Stevens is making a million dollars a year; Seton Hall had three trustees in federal prison; Rutgers has the worst athletic budget deficit in the country. Slaby: Many of these are not in our peer group. Harmon: We agreed not to rebut Pres. Drucker’s response immediately. Capuano: Our peer group was established with certain criteria in mind; nowhere there is it indicated that salaries of senior administrators were taken into account. Nor did we look at faculty salaries. If you look at any of these institutions, or any institutions, senior administrator salaries are always higher than faculty salaries. A majority of our administrator salaries are below the 50th percentile, like faculty salaries. Our pension benefits are much better than at comparable institutions; many give 8%, and some are even lower.
Pres. Darden adjourned the meeting at 3:59 pm.