Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes 2016-09-28
SENATE MEETING 9/28/16
Metro Club, Metro Campus
The meeting was called to order at 2:07 pm by President Karen Denning.
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
The first item was to welcome the new University Provost, Dr. Gillian Small. She was introduced and invited to speak.
She said that this was her ninth week at FDU, and she felt that she was on a listening and learning tour. She had been to three of the four campuses so far (not Vancouver). She mentioned that she had had a two-year postdoc at Rockefeller University, a few years at the University of Florida, ten years at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, then fifteen years at CUNY, so she has lived in the US for more than half her life. She mentioned some things that had attracted her to FDU: the fact that there are a number of different campuses, with different types of campus experiences, the fact that we are at an exciting point with a new president with ambitious plans for University, and a new strategic plan with exciting initiatives that is not just a formality. With new centers of excellence, the words “FDU” and “Excellence” will begin to be associated in people’s minds, and that’s how a University gains prestige, status, and desirability. We have to consider: What is the right size for FDU? What are the programs that should be strengthened or eliminated? We also need to look at our policies and procedures, and see how well they match with those of prestigious institutions—for example, the first year faculty review (if you’ve done a search well, to review them on a month’s work makes no sense), or the lack of external input into the processes of promotion and tenure.
Dr. Small asked for questions. Sen. Slaby: What are the figures of the current enrollment shortfall? Small: I don’t know all the numbers; I know Nursing fell short, and in general graduate students short. The reasons? Perhaps in part from the University trying to reduce financial aid when competing institutions increased theirs. This is a challenging time in higher education, with a glut of institutions, and New Jersey is one of the more competitive areas. There is a slight tailing-off of high school students looking for college. We have to look at which kinds of students we want, not just to hit an arbitrary number. What is the right number of students for each program?
Pres. Denning: What is your perspective on online education? Small: It’s the wave of the future, but you have to be careful. Five years ago, all everyone talked about was MOOCs. Now no one talks about them. Online courses have to be excellent. That makes sense for Petrocelli, and other programs that we can offer to students across the country. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have faculty contact with students. There’s a role for it, but you have to have quality.
Sen. Kovacs: Institutional Research and Assessment will now report to you. Why did you make that change? Small: Without that data, you can’t project the future and move forward. I’m used to using IR data; if we don’t have that info, we’re talking out of ignorance. It has to be ongoing. I’m used to IR working tightly with Academic Affairs.
Next Pres. Denning introduced the new Metro Campus Provost, Robert Vodde. He said that he has been at the University full-time for eighteen years. He started out with David Rosen and Ron Calissi, teaching criminal law. He had gone to Florida State and John Jay College for doctoral work. He started at a police department in Bergen County; after fifteen years he was appointed Chief of Police, while he completed two masters and a Ph.D. At FDU he served on his CEPC and started the Criminal Justice program, which he envisioned as a substantive program with academic integrity. Before being asked to serve as campus provost, he had been planning to step down as chair and do full-time research in learning theory and practice in police training and education. He appreciates the interdependency of all units at the University, including athletics, Public Safety, student services, libraries, and so on. He wants to raise the level of appreciation of all the various university departments and institutions that make us what we are.
Dr. Braverman, the new Petrocelli College dean, was supposed to speak next, but she had not shown up.
Next Pres. Denning introduced Karin Hamilton and David Berkner from University Advancement. Hamilton said she had been at FDU for about thirty years, and knew and respected many of the faculty. She introduced Berkner, who worked with the Fund for FDU. They said that last May the Executive Committee had expressed the wish to support the upcoming capital campaign in some way. Since then, an anonymous faculty donor has provided a matching gift of $10 for every tenured and tenure-track faculty member at the University. They explained the importance, in terms of raising additional money and of our rankings in publications such as U.S. News and World Reports, of being able to say that FDU faculty believe in FDU and demonstrate their commitment. IRS regulations require that each gift comes directly from each donor. For every faculty member who gives $10 (or more), the donor will contribute $10. Advancement will set up a web page where faculty can set the amount of a gift and designate its destination. Participation counts, because as Advancement people go to raise money from external donors, it is very helpful to say that all or most faculty support the school. This issue also comes up in applying for external grants, and it is a factor in the college rankings of U.S. News and World Reports. Hamilton said that faculty will soon be getting a letter from President Capuano, explaining that the campaign will run from October to the end of the year, and Berkner had brought forms so that faculty can make a contribution today.
Alfredo Tan: Does the gift mean $10 for every faculty, or for every ten dollars donated? Hamilton: For every tenure or tenure-track faculty. Tan: Can we ask trustees to do a matching grant for all donations from employees? Hamilton: That’s an interesting idea. Most of the trustees are already generous donors. And we need to respect the wishes of this particular faculty donor for a faculty commitment. Rick Reiss: I agree with Karin. We are responding to a particular request to get more faculty to become donors. The Board is very generous, making about thirty percent of recent donations. Sometimes things come up, and we don’t want to ask the Board for too many small gifts when we want them to focus on big gifts. Tan: I understand, but you might find one donor who might want to do similar matching grants. Sen. Cohen: May we earmark funds for a University institution not yet in existence, like the School of the Arts? Reiss: We’ve started a fund already, so that’s fine. Unidentified faculty member: Haven’t faculty already donated to this campaign? Hamilton: Yes, but only beginning on July 1st of this year. Denning: How long will the new capital campaign be going on? Hamilton: Six years. Berkner: With payroll deductions, you can also spread them out to make a larger gift; and if you have a spouse who wants to match also, you can do that as well.
The next topic was the General Education guidelines for a B.S. in Natural Sciences. Sen. Darden handed out a paper summarizing these guidelines, which he emphasized would only affect Becton and University Colleges. [See Attachment A.] He said that the Gen Ed Task Force has put in twenty-seven contact hours on this issue. He asked Provost Small to speak on the initiative. Small: I know change is always hard. I understand that we are trying to get to as uniform a Gen Ed policy across University as makes sense. As an example, I would argue that any undergraduate should take at least one course in ethics. Darden: This process started with the Strategic Plan, and the Task Force was created and authorized by the Senate. In May 2015 the Task Force started with the B.A., and has now started working on the B.S. degrees. This is supposed to be completed and approved so that it’s up and running in Degree Audit by fall 2017. Denning: The impetus is to make transfers between colleges easier. Small: The Board of Trustees is also asking for this; if potential students can see a standard gen Ed requirement, that is a good thing. Darden: No one is trying to create an exact carbon copy, but “humanities” or “social and behavioral sciences” needs to mean the same thing from one college to another. Sen. Singer: When this committee started, we asked an overarching question: What do we want an FDU graduate to have with them when they leave—what is essential for them to have learned? That set the tone for the B.A., and we’re moving forward from there. Sen. Salierno: What is “quantitative analysis”? Why not just say “math”? Darden: That title was approved for the B.A. Singer: It includes math, statistics, and so on. Darden: CEPCs will have the ability to decide what specific courses are appropriate in each category for their college. Sen. Sharma: Becton College has already set objectives and outcomes for each such course. Denning: Sen. Kovacs had to leave, but if he were here, he would say we got a “pass” from the Middle States accreditation team on Gen Ed because they saw we were in transition. But we have to accomplish this, so that on their next visit they can see we accomplished our objectives. Also, curricular learning goals should be matched to University learning goals. Tan: Dr. Gutman and I believe the way to develop a program is based on competencies or “learning outcomes.” Every accreditation agency is moving in that direction; they are moving away form a prescriptive approach to counting courses, and instead asking what learning outcomes or competencies we expect from our students. I think we are moving correctly, but we should be very careful about going back and prescribing courses. People are thinking about protecting or expanding their turf. For years in University College our Gen Ed requirements for the B.A. were 72 credits. People kept adding courses from their own programs to the requirements. Small: I understand these issues. But I find it hard to believe that there aren’t some general “buckets” that courses of yours can fill. I just used Ethics as an example of something I feel we need to include. Tan: We do have an ethics course. But you don’t need to have a particular ethics course; the content could be spread out over four or five courses. Small: We can certainly have a discussion about that. Minerva Guthman: It’s important that when we graduate a nurse from FDU, they know how to help a patient live. Small: I understand.
Dean Rosman: The concern, though, is that we are now talking about courses rather than competencies. We will be assessing learning at the competency level rather than the course level. I’m not sure it’s an issue of flexibility, so much as a disagreement about whether to focus on competency or courses. Small: I think it’s a bit of a mixture. You have courses you need to offer for accreditation. But there are courses that you can offer to suit a competency. Rosman: But if there were an accounting course that included ethics, that should be considered as filling the competency requirement. Dean Weinman: We could argue that almost every skill or value is incorporated in some way in any major course: oral communication, writing skills, and so on. But there is a difference between incorporating aspects of those skills into a major course, and teaching a specific subject like ethics. There is a qualitative difference. Rosman: But if you want to specify that, you have to say that at the end of your time of FDU, we expect the following, not that you took certain courses. Small: But if a student is taking a Gen Ed course, even if they change majors, they have still covered the requirements. Sen. Melloy: There is a middle ground; the category or “bucket” approach is the best way to satisfy Middle States. We can say that any number of things fit the bucket, but the bucket is at least there.
Darden: The Strategic Plan mentioned the possibility of merging colleges, but that was not a specific blueprint. Since the Task Force started, the Board of Trustees and Pres. Capuano have adjusted their position. It doesn’t mean that anything specific will be done. Rosman: It seems that when you don’t want to follow the letter of the Strategic Plan, you can say you’re not going to follow it; but when you want us to follow it, you hold us to it. You have to respect the process. Small: I believe there is flexibility in the buckets. Rosman: If you add an ethics course, it makes it harder for Business transfers. The articulation agreements will have to be rewritten. I feel as though some of our problems have been short-changed. Darden: We hit a wall, and invited Provost Small to attend our next meeting. Rosman: No, we had a vote. Weinman: We met for over a year. We just signed an articulation agreement with County College of Morris, and all of their 64 credits will transfer. If we add Oral Communications and Ethics, courses will be added, but there will be no lost credits. We’re seeing significant increases in the transfer population, and I’m not worried that these new transfer requirements will upset the applecart. Rosman: Transfer in a B.S. program is different from that in a B.A.
Darden: Right now we have this in front of University and Becton Colleges, and further discussion remains to be had. Small: The Board of Trustees committees have changed; now there is an Academic Affairs committee, and a separate Student & Athletic Affairs committee.
At this point Provost Small had to leave.
Rosman: We had a vote at the Task Force meeting last Friday. Melloy: It was the first vote not to change anything in a course of study. You took it to your faculty and they voted not to have any changes. Darden: We have conflicting ideas as to what the mission of the Task Force was. Rosman: But Provost Small was primed without the whole picture.
Singer: I am one of the co-chairs of the committee. As I understood it, Silberman College’s program is identical on both campuses, and is not comparable to either the B.A. or the B.S. in Natural Science. We agreed on everything except the following wording. The Task Force and APRC agreed on: one ethics course (three credits); two social/behavioral sciences (six credits); and two humanities courses (six credits; one must be either language or literature; the other any humanities or language). SBC wants their students to have the option of taking two language courses instead of humanities; and if they do not take two languages, then their other humanities course must be literature. As for the Ethics requirement, they would like the option of distributing it as part of various business courses, but the Provost wants a specific course. One member from SBC was absent, which might have led to a tie, but the vote was 5 to keep this distribution, 4 against, 1 abstention, and 1 absence. Denning: This is not for us to vote on today, just to discuss. We’ve heard some issues that need to be addressed. Here is one of mine: The University’s plan does not include technology.
The discussion then returned to the issue of Gen Ed requirements. Darden: Ethics and Oral Communications are hard skills, not soft skills, needed for all graduates. For science majors, double-dipping allows other science courses to cover science requirements. Bioethics would count as social science as well as ethics. Language and Creative & Expressive Arts are part of Becton’s mission, but we understood that they should not be required for University College, given their lack of studio facilities and faculty. For University, cross-cultural and global core courses would cover the Global & Comparative category. Similarly, six credits from students’ major and minor can now count toward Gen Ed. These were approved both by the School of Natural Sciences at University College and the Departments of Biology and Chemistry at Becton. You can discuss this with your faculty, then we will bring it back and have a final vote. So we can have this in place for fall 2017. Denning: We have not voted on this issue. This discussion is just for you to take it back to your colleagues for further discussion. This is not necessarily a model for Engineering, Nursing, or Business. We will discuss that at a subsequent time.
There was no time for committee reports, but Sen. Ng was asked to discuss the Handbook Committee’s proposal to change the Senate Bylaws regarding voting by paper mail. This change will make digital voting via email permanent. [See Attachment B.]
Sen. Singer requested moment of silence for Ron Calissi.
Pres. Denning adjourned the meeting at 3:58 pm.