FacEx-Faculty Senate Meeting 3/31/15
(This meeting may be electronically recorded.)
II. Approval of Minutes from March 24, 2015
III. Report of Faculty Senate President Jim Carothers
IV. Recommendation from the Faculty Senate Research Committee, Larry Hoyle, chair
V. Student Senate Proposal for Optional Online Professor Evaluations, Zach George, Morgan Said
VI. Old Business
VII. New Business
MEMBERS PRESENT: Jim Carothers, Jonathan Mayhew, Mike Williams, Katherine Clark, Jeremy Martin, Lisa Friis
EXCUSED: Tom Beisecker
ALSO PRESENT: Amy Smith, Policy Office; Mohamed El-Hodiri, AAUP representative; Molly Mulloy and Kathy Reed, University Governance.
FacEx chair Jim Carothers called the meeting to order.
MINUTES for 3/24/2015 were approved.
RECOMMENDATION FROM THE FACULTY SENATE RESEARCH COMMITTEE
Jim Carothers welcomed Prof. Larry Hoyle, chair of the Research Committee,
Prof. Hoyle explained that the Research Committee (FSRC) was charged last year to monitor the administration of the General Research Fund (GRF). The Committee has made two recommendations in anticipation of its scheduled 3-year review of GRF in FY-2016: (1) That the decrease cap remain at 10%, but that the increase cap be removed and constrained only by the amount of funds generated from decreases. Hoyle noted that this change will allow for larger percentage increases for schools with very small historical allocations, such as Journalism. (2) That the Research Committee be allowed to recommend a special adjustment in the case of administration reorganization of units, such as in Fine Arts several years ago, where many faculty were moved from one unit to another.
In the discussion that followed, Hoyle commented that the total amount of GRF funds provided by the legislature to the University has remained static at $620,000 since 2003. Several members suggested that there be a charge to the Research Committee next year to try to find alternative methods of distribution and/or more funding within the University for the GRF. Mayhew suggested that perhaps there could be proportionality of the allocations based on the number of faculty in each school. Lisa Friis pointed out that the GRF isn’t the only source for internal research funds and mentioned such things as Changing for Excellence, Level One Funding, the Strategic Initiative and so forth.
Mike Williams/Jeremy Martin moved to accept the report of the Research Committee with thanks, to approve the recommendation to lift the 10% cap on increases, to allow the FSRC to make special adjustments in cases of administrative reorganization, and to charge the FY16 committee to explore alternative methods of distribution and increased funding. Passed.
STUDENT SENATE PROPOSAL FOR OPTIONAL ONLINE PROFESSOR EVALUATIONS
Jim Carothers welcomed Zach George, Policy Director for Student Senate, and SenEx member Miranda Wagner to the meeting. A revised handout entitled “Optional Online Professor Evaluation” was distributed and referenced by them in the discussion that followed. George stated that there is a national trend to publicize course evaluations, and this is already being done at Big XII schools such as OU and Texas Tech. George acknowledged that the course evaluation forms currently completed by students at KU are considered confidential personnel documents to be used for promotion and tenure purposes. Therefore, his proposal is to develop a new standardized online form with 4-6 questions that students could complete on Blackboard; other students could then access that information when selecting classes. In the discussion that followed, George clarified that the questions would relate to the general classroom experience and not to the instructor, with questions such as, “Was it the level of difficulty you expected?” There would be a limited time period for evaluations to be submitted, a minimum threshold, such as 50%, for responses, and aggregate scores.
In the discussion that followed, Mike Williams noted that the School of Journalism’s transition to its own online course evaluation form was helped by Andrea Greenhoot at the CTE (Center for Teaching Excellence). Both he and Lisa Friis strongly suggested that George and Wagner visit with Andrea Greenhoot or Doug Ward at CTE about educational research on course evaluation questions most useful for students. Jeremy Martin said the numerical data on KU’s course evaluation form wasn’t very useful to his department (Math) so they developed their own form. The Math Department’s first year graduate students teach 50-60 sections of Math 101 with little prior teacher training, so the department uses its course evaluation form to help GTAs improve their teaching skills. Both Martin and Friis said they would not want a bad evaluation on a new student course evaluation form to harm these first year graduate teachers.
Clark said she thinks it is important for students to be proactive and suggested they talk to the professor one-on-one about a course before enrolling in it. Miranda Wagner responded that students who can’t visit with a professor before enrolling, especially international students, would benefit from the online student course evaluations.
FacEx members reiterated that George and Wagner visit with staff at the Center for Teaching Excellence first, and then research similar student-developed surveys at our peer institutions. Carothers thanked Zach George and Miranda Wagner for their presentation today.
REPORT OF THE FACEX CHAIR
Jim Carothers stated that the Faculty Code has been improved by everybody who’s looked at it in the last couple of years, including FacEx, FRPR, and the administration. Guest Mohamed El-Hodiri said it seems inappropriate to him for proposed amendments to be vetted by the administration prior to discussion by the Faculty Senate. Carothers explained that the changes to add “just cause,” to clarify the limits of the destruction of University property clause, and the removal of “Administrative Leave with Pay” from “Sanctions” were all suggested by the Provost in a regularly-scheduled meeting with Carothers and Williams on Friday, March 27, following the Faculty Senate meeting of Thursday, March 26. The Provost took the sense of the meeting to be that the Senate wanted “just cause” back in the document, and a clarification of the passage on damage to University property. He further volunteered that he didn’t see much sense in having “Administrative Leave with Pay” as a “sanction,” since it wasn’t really a sanction.
Katherine Clark said two statements made at the Senate meeting struck her: (1) Jan Sheldon’s comment that faculty codes at other schools don’t usually begin with describing the power of the administration, and (2) Ron Barrett-Gonzalez’ statement that the tone of our document relates more to going to court than to being a code for faculty conduct. Jeremy Martin observed that there seems to be a disparity between how different faculty see the Faculty Code; some see it as a code of rights and responsibilities but not of conduct. He said we can’t give ourselves rights; the university has to agree we have those rights.
Clark said that as FacEx and FRPR have been working on the Faculty Code, they’ve been having different conversations and not working together. She suggested that it might be good to have an FRPR representative attend FacEx meetings when the Code is discussed. Referring to last week’s Faculty Senate meeting, Carothers asked if we’ve ever had a Faculty Senate motion in the past to send an issue directly to a committee while bypassing FacEx. El-Hodiri said the correct motion would have been to ask FacEx to refer the Code back to FRPR. Williams said sometimes senate members forget that there is a hierarchy to the governance structure, with the committees appointed by and reporting to FacEx. FacEx is elected by its peers to negotiate and discuss reports from its committees and then bring its (FacEx) recommendation to the Faculty Senate. Clark said she expects that the FRPR Committee will bring its recommendations back to FacEx.
Mike Williams said he is working on new text for the section regarding administrative leave and the section where “fair” is replaced by “non-discriminatory” and will bring his recommendations to FacEx next week. Jeremy Martin added that he would recommend that the entire restitution clause be removed from the list of sanctions.
No further business.
The meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m.