2015-12-09

FACULTY SENATE MEETING 12/9/15

Hartman Lounge, Florham Campus

Minutes

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

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

The first item was a report on the Executive Committee’s lunch meeting with eight members of the Board of Trustees, including their chair and vice-chair, that had just concluded. The main topic discussed was the issue of merit pay. Sen. Behson: I gave a more polite version of what I said at the last Senate meeting. There would be many problems, and it would be counterproductive, to implement a version of merit pay such as is commonly used in corporate setting. The Trustees asked, “How do we keep moving the University forward?” and we talked about why we think broad-based merit pay is bad, and mentioned other, less-bad alternatives. Pres. Darden: I had a stronger sense than in previous years that the Board of Trustees wants this, based on their experience in corporate world. We raised the alternatives of additional faculty ranks above full professor, and adding to the base with the three current annual distinguished faculty awards for teaching, scholarship, and service. Sen. Hutton: The Board of Trustees continues to treat the University as though it’s a corporation. Behson: Yes, they want some form of variable compensation, but this time I didn’t get the feeling that it had to be broad-based as originally proposed. Vice-President Denning: I got the feeling afterward that they were considering what we had said. Sen. Harmon: The Board of Trustees are framing this in the sense that we need to become stronger, and what kind of incentives can we create—not just for faculty, but for facilities, and so on? Darden: I told them, if we are already at the bottom of our peer group, and you incentivize one group, you may disillusion the rest and actually de-incentivize them. Many senators believe that once our compensation is comparable to that of our peers, then we can discuss merit increases. Harmon: I think that they heard that. Darden: These expanded lunches are an important opportunity. In the past there has been too much of a firewall between the Board of Trustees and the faculty.

Sen. Haspel: Beyond making us more competitive, did they give any other reasons why they want merit pay? Darden: They kept saying “In my business, this is how people are incentivized.” We tried to explain that we are nonprofit. We further explained our concerns inherent in any broad merit equalization across all ranks that relies on existing personnel committees, Chairs, and Directors, to determine who gets merit equalization, because you don't want the same people making the decisions about both promotion and merit salary increases; with the latter, faculty would in effect be dictating their colleagues’ compensation. Sen. Slaby: Almost at the end of the discussion, President Drucker spoke and said there are some outstanding faculty and they should be rewarded. Harmon: This came up as “You know who the stars are and who are the slackers.” Sen. Adrignolo: I don’t think we’ve changed their opinion. Darden: No, but I think that they are more aware of how important this discussion is to us. To my understanding, once the $500,000 equalization is taken care of, FRW will turn to the matter of merit equalization. Behson: The term “merit” pay is broad-based, but “performance-based” is more specific.

Sen. Singer: I have one question. Whether merit or performance-based, how does that make us better or more competitive? The only competition will be the backstabbing among us that this system will create. Sen. Kovacs: I agree with Sen. Behson that we need to be very careful how this gets implemented. There are people who currently advance the mission of the University, and there’s no recognition of that. If you take a study abroad program all the way up to your Dean, there’s no thanks or acknowledgment. Those kinds of things advance the mission of the University. So you can create incentives for these kinds of innovations to move forward. Haspel: That sounds good, but I would suggest that we proceed carefully in how we create guidelines for these performance-based bonuses. We should look at how other universities do it. I speak from experience; I came from a university where an administrator proposed this, and instead of helping retention, it caused a mass exodus. Darden: I caution that one option raised by several senators is that we refuse to participate in distributing these performance equalization monies, toss it back to the Administration to deal with as they see fit; I don’t think the Administration and the Deans want to make these decisions alone. Dean Mills: I don’t know if other administrators in the room have had the experience of administering things like this. I have. I’m willing to be guided by the faculty, since our salaries are at the bottom of the scale. But I was charged with implementing this at two different campuses, and the faculty loved it. I don’t know if it was because of the particular circumstances. But I was able to recommend salary increases ranging from 1.5% to 7% in one year. It was an effective tool in recruiting new faculty. At those places, of course, the salaries were not so low. Dean Weinman: The pool set aside for these increases is relatively small, which is an important consideration. That pool, spread among even a third of our faculty, is not very significant. And I’ve lived thru merit pay incentives at this institution, and it was a was very problematic. Departments recommended merit increases for their faculty, chairs recommended increases for themselves, and so on. It has to be done very carefully. And is the pool of money substantial enough to go through the time and energy to start this process?

Sen. Cohen: I disagree with Sen. Kovacs if he wants to make the University’s global mission the only standard for performance-based increases; I know many faculty in my own and other departments who do valuable work that benefits and enhances the University, but has nothing to do with the global mission. Kovacs: I agree. There can be many criteria for additional compensation.

Hutton (to Dean Weinman): Have you expressed those views to the Board of Trustees? Weinman: Not yet, because I haven’t been asked. But the Deans have expressed these views in the Deans’ Council. Sen. McClary (to Dean Mills): When you handled this process, how were applications received, and to whom did they go? Mills: At one institution, everyone from the president on down was evaluated every year. Tenure-track faculty got their big tenure reviews at the second, fourth, and sixth years. Intermediate reviews were much less comprehensive. McClary: Did chairs or directors make recommendations on compensation to you? Mills: Each chair or director had to make recommendations, then I would make a tentative ranking, and we would meet and go through the case of every faculty member. Usually we agreed. Each faculty member would get a detailed letter about it. One year a whole contingent of math teachers sent a delegation to see me, they were so pleased.

Sen. Bronson: There are two aspects to this. First, the amount designated for merit pay is currently $200,000. Second, the administration want merit, and we don’t. We and they still don’t know the definition of merit. We need to have a study, to propose to them a committee to definite what merit is, and how it would be implemented. They don’t know exactly what they want. So let’s spend some time on it. Denning: This sounds like an awful lot of work, and for not a lot of money. The idea that we “escrow” it and take ten years to figure it out really appeals to me. Sen. Sharma: Is this a one-time payment, or will it happen again? Darden: It will in future years, if the budget allows. Sen. Peabody: I think for most of us the problem is the paperwork and the politics involved, which are not trivial. And I wonder how widely the Board of Trustees plans to incentivize people—will merit pay also apply to staff, administrators, Board members, and so on? Sen. Tuluca: We have systems to determine tenure and promotion, but they are not competitive. When it becomes competitive, the whole picture changes. It is already a problem that faculty don’t agree on these things. And maybe I’m not the only one, but my impression is that the Board of Trustees does not feel that strongly about this, and is willing to leave it to the administration, and might even back off. So I think if there is a fight, it is with the administration. Darden: I disagree; half a dozen Trustees pushed back when we disputed the concept. Harmon: A good way to kill an idea is to say “It’s a good idea, let’s study it.” And it wouldn’t be hard for us to come with a couple of no-brainer ideas to throw the Board of Trustees a bone.

Pres. Darden mentioned the fund begun for a memorial for the recently deceased wife of Patrick Zenner, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Provost Capuano had told Zenner about it, and he came up to me and was very moved by the gesture. I will send condolences on behalf of the Senate.”

A report on the University Provost search was given by Sen. Houle:

There has not been much work since the last Senate meeting. Most of the work will be after Christmas, when we will be going through applications. A posted advertisement for the position has come out. We also need a timeline. We will meet with an initial group of candidates at the end of February, then bring three finalists onto the campuses in early March.

A report on the General Education task force was given by Sen. Pastorino:

We have had a good meeting, comparing the guidelines of Becton and the Metro colleges in a satisfactory way. We’ll have something to vote on by January 27th, if everything goes the way we discussed. Sen. Cohen: What about the Becton College vote on Survey Monkey on whether to keep the Becton two-tier system? Pastorino: One thing discussed, as an alternative to the tier system, was that students could take classes in different disciplines, or else a more basic introductory-level course, and then a more advanced course in the same discipline above the 1000 level. We will bring it to the APRC and then bring it to the Senate. Darden: From this proposed new BA Gen Ed requirement, in order to expedite fulfillment and lessen the number of credits involved, it was discussed that six credits from a student’s major requirement as well as six credits from a minor requirement may be applied to appropriate sections on a BA student’s Gen Ed check sheet. Sen. Houle: Will you also be dealing with B.S. degrees? Singer: The B.A. first, then the B.S., because each of the B.S. programs has a body governing their accreditation and special requirements.

The next subject was the IDEA evaluation system.

Pres. Darden: There have been some concerns raised about the system. Sen. Cohen: I participated in both the pilot program and the first semester of general use of the IDEA system, and I have great concerns about not only the system itself, which I find extremely flawed, but also with IDEA’s failure to respond to faculty complaints and problems. This does not help the students, and it certainly doesn’t help faculty, especially junior faculty up for promotion and tenure, whose careers are at least partly dependent on these evaluations. Sen. Salierno: Twice I allocated time to do these evaluations in class, and just short of begging students to do it, my response rate is still at 60%. I can’t do any more. Darden: I make it clear to my class, and tell them to bring in their cell, pad or laptop devices. Salierno: I’ve done that twice, and they don’t do it. Sen. Singer: I go around the room and they all say they’ve completed it, and they are lying to my face.

Dean Avaltroni: I suggest that we also include the perspective of the students. I have a lot of interaction with Pharmacy students, and in our discussions, IDEA came up as a major challenge. The Pharmacy school is unique in that most courses are team-taught. Our response rates are terrible, so the results have no consistency. My students tell me, “We answer the same questions over and over again, questions that have nothing to do with our course. I get so tired of answering these questions that most of the time I just click buttons at random.” What we’re getting, even at 60% or even 80%, is data that isn’t any good.

Dean Weinman: As I do the faculty reviews, I am spending half my time defending their teaching scores, because some of the IDEA scores are much lower than their scores had been, such as a 3.8 even for teachers whom I know are excellent teachers, winners of awards. Their Endeavor scores are very high, so there is not a good correlation between Endeavor and IDEA scores. I find IDEA problematic. Sen. Tuluca: It’s not IDEA, it’s us. First, IDEA recommends how often we should be assessed, but we apply it every fall to everyone for every course. Also, we don’t understand it. If it’s in the 50th percentile, it’s good. What needs to be done is for everyone to sit down and understand the instrument. I know we want to make it work, or we have to rethink our strategy. Weinman: Faculty were told if they got åbelow a 4.0, they would have to write a justification. Tuluca: No, that was only if they got below the 40th percentile. Weinman: Most faculty certainly don't understand that; they are spending a good deal of time defending scores below 4.0, and that includes faculty who have been involved with IDEA from the very beginning.

Sen. Pastorino: Are we married to IDEA forever? I haven’t met anyone who is happy with it. Salierno: I have no issue with the instrument. But regardless of the instrument, if I have to beg the students to take it, how useful is the data? Sen. Adrignolo: I would like to suggest a motion of no confidence in IDEA. Cohen: I second the motion. Sen. Munoz: Change takes time, and I feel that we have not given IDEA its due. There has to be a way to address the problem of getting more students to take it. But it is premature to reject it. Pastorino: I was part of the pilot from the beginning and I know other schools where IDEA or similar instruments are used; they get students to respond by saying that students won’t get a grade until they complete the survey. Sen. Olechnowski: I’ve been fortunate in having very good response rates. One thing I do is to emphasize to students that this is not just for us, but for them, and that we take these scores and comments very seriously. Sen. Cohen: Again, I think that there are problems both with the IDEA instrument and with their failure to modify it to make it relevant for our courses. For instance, there is no way for a faculty member to omit any of the questions that have no relevance for a course. IDEA says these questions are not counted, but of course the students still have to answer them, and it makes the students confused, bored, and uninterested. Dean Avaltroni: I would like to echo what Sen. Cohen said. We owe it to the students, and to the faculty whose lives will be affected, to get this fixed or replaced. Even a 99% response rate is not valid data, if students are just hitting buttons arbitrarily to get it over with. We tell them that we are serious about these evaluations, but there is a finite number of hours in the day, and they are thinking about other things like homework, and sometimes they just click boxes and hit the send button. Dean Weinman: A good step would be to adopt the short version of IDEA. That would enable students to focus on the objectives specified by the instructor, and they wouldn’t become so bored answering the questions. Darden: IDEA is here to stay, so we have to find a way to make it work better for us.

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

We have two recent items to mention today.

1. The Core program. The directors met with us, and we had a good discussion of their progress. They’ll be coming to APRC by early March with versions of the two remaining Core courses.

2. We met with Cathy Kelley and David Lavoie, the new Director of the Center for Instructional Design, about designing online courses. This involves rethinking everything that faculty are doing to change teaching modality. The more technical aspects of online courses now report to Neal Sturm, and the assessment and development of faculty competencies in online design and use of technology has been separated into a smaller group under David. We asked Cathy Kelley what APRC could do, as stewards of educational policy and standards, to get the message across; she said she needs three or four more people. She had written in a position paper about why this needs higher priority. Sen. Munoz: I’m so pleased that we’re doing more to address online pedagogy. And as we move more programs and classes online, I would like some institutional mechanisms to ensure that we have quality control checks.

In regard to the special election to replace Sen. Ritz, Pres. Darden said that that if Survey Monkey works well for this replacement election, he asked the Handbook Committee look at the possibility of using it for regular elections as well, so that all elections in the spring could be done online. He noted that Fortune 500 companies and the entire state of Oregon rely on such online voting mechanisms.

The Handbook Commitee report was given by Sen. Ng:

In the replacement election, there were 33 responses out of 115 faculty involved.

The Committee has also asked to modify Bylaw 3.5.2, to allow for emailing votes rather than mailing paper ballots within a deadline of three weeks. (He handed out a paper copy of the proposed modification.) We are requesting one-time permission of Senate for this election. I will leave it for HBC to make this change in the spring. Sen. Harmon: You need two-thirds of the Senate to approve a Bylaws change. Sen. Singer: The proposal should say “should prepare and send ballots” rather than “prepare and mail”; and “three weeks after the ballots are sent” rather than “after the ballots are mailed.” The vote to modify the Bylaws was 16 for, 4 against, 1 abstaining.

The FRW report was given by Sen. Slaby:

We’ve been waiting for data from the administration. We had scheduled a meeting with Jason Scorza to discuss the Interfolio online system, but a majority of members couldn’t make it. Two weeks ago we received the national CUPA report. Since we have it for two years in a row, I compared this year’s CUPA factors to last year’s, and noticed some alarming discrepancies. [See Appendix.] I proposed that we average the CUPA factors; the committee agreed that this year we will average this year’s and last year’s, and next year, we will average three years, those two and next year’s. Sen. Tuluca: The maximum CUPA factor from the last three years would be a better idea. In my experience the fluctuations are at the bottom of the CUPA listings, not the top. Even better would be a ten-year average. VP Denning: Is the differentiation generated from peer groups? Slaby: No, from CUPA data. Sen. Bronson: Averaging works, so I think that this idea works. Senate agreed.

Slaby: Provost Capuano didn’t like data we got from the National Educational Statistics website on the ratio of part-time to full-time faculty. We now have new data {See Appendix.] We are currently at 42%. So we are not quite at the bottom, but tenth of eleven peer institutions.

I will make a presentation to the University Planning and Budget Committee in January on recommendations for next year’s salary increases.

The UPBC report was given by Sen. Adrignolo:

We have all gotten an increase in compensation. We will be starting a new budget cycle in January for Financial Year 2017. You can be certain that there will be more requests than there is money, and that when we ask where faculty compensation stands, the answer will be “We don’t know.” I warned the Board of Trustees of the dangers of issuing new bonds, because the bonds have to be paid back in addition to other costs. I also serve on the Strategic Facilities and Planning Comm. We will have an all-day meeting next Friday, and I will be asking how these changes will be paid for.

Pres. Darden asked if there was any new business. Sen. Hutton: I like Sen. Peabody’s suggestion that we do performance reviews of the Board of Trustees, which is common in many institutions. If they insist on performance-based pay, they should be open to it. Sen. Harmon: Who would do it? Hutton: We can do it as a Senate.

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

Respectfully submitted,

Allen Cohen

Recording Secretary

 

APPENDIX

excerpt from the FRWC Report to the Faculty Senate

by Marek Slaby, chair

On November 18 we received the 2014-2015 CUPA Faculty Salary Survey report. That’s the national survey report we needed to get discipline specific CUPA salary factors and we need those to calculate individual target salaries. The review of the salary factors revealed 6 disciplines represented at FDU with misprinted factors. Those are the same disciplines for which CUPA reports wrong factors year after year. We corrected the factors in question.

The comparison of new factors to last year’s factors revealed another problem. There are 63 disciplines represented at FDU, 12 of them had salary factors in at least one rank changed by 5% or more. In one discipline a factor changed as much as 12%. Such extreme fluctuations of salary factors are undesirable, especially when one equalization immediately follows another. The changes are most likely caused by changes in participating institutions rather than reflecting the job market. It certainly does not make sense for us to say that an individual faculty member deserves so much this year and to come up with a much different target the next year, except for the natural increase reflecting the COL changes. Using a moving average of salary factors would minimize the effects of unusual fluctuations in the CUPA survey database.

We are planning to use the average of 2014 and 2015 factors this year. Next year, if there is equalization, we are going to add 2016 factors and use a three year average.