Academic Council Meeting
September 15, 2000

Present:  Larry Basirico, Joyce Davis, Gerry Francis, Don Grady, Tom Green (Chair), Bob Guffey, Laura Helvey, Mike Kingston, Pam Kiser, Leo Lambert, Todd Lee, Becky Olive-Taylor, Fred Rubeck, Jean Schwind.

The meeting was called to order at 2:50 p.m.

Minutes from the August meeting were reviewed and approved.

Council appointed Dr. Clyde Ellis and Dr. Cynthia Fair as representatives to the Honor Code Hearing Board.

Council discussed a by-law correction concerning the appointment of department chairs.  A new statement was accepted and will be put before the full faculty at the October meeting.

Council discussed a proposal from Dr. Jeff Clark which suggested that the ATACC committee provide evaluation of the campus Technology Vision.  Council members indicated concern on how the proposal would be implemented and who would implement it.  After a brief discussion of the proposal, Council agreed to refer the matter to ATACC with the expectation that that committee will follow up on the plan, recommend possible implementation, as well as consult with Mr. Fulkerson throughout the process.

Council discussed a concern raised by Dr. Jon Berry regarding the composition of the Faculty R & D committee.  Dr. Berry observed that with 10 committee members, it would be difficult to resolve potential “tie” votes.  Council noted that Robert’s Rules of Order state that a tie vote inherently indicates a lack of majority and indicates a result against the motion.  Council noted that many faculty committees like R & D have an equal number of members and agreed that if a problem arises concerning the membership of this or any standing committee, Council will revisit the situation at a future date.  Dr. Basirico will convey this back to the R & D committee.

Dr. Francis introduced a discussion of a change in the duties of the Graduate Council.  The proposed change reflects the current actual work of this body and is a result of the efforts of last year’s Graduate Mission Task Force.  The change will clarify the role of Graduate Council in the creation of potential graduate programs and curricula.  Council members agreed with the proposed by-laws changes which will be placed before the college faculty in October.

Council discussed the relatively low ranking Elon received from U. S. News and World Report  in its commitment to faculty resources.  Some key questions include:  What is included in the category “faculty resources?”  Could a closer examination of the data provide a more useful interpretation of the results?  Council agreed that more information was needed and will ask Mr. Springer to help gather and present the necessary information to Council at a future date.

Council engaged in a rather lengthy discussion of the issue of placing course syllabi on the intranet.  Council noted that several faculty have expressed their opposition to this.  Dr. Francis noted one positive aspect of intranet posting:  the reduction of file storage and maintenance of syllabi in the Provost’s office.

Questions were raised regarding who currently has access to these files and who would access if they were posted electronically?  Dr. Francis noted that they are currently available to administrators, deans, and chairs.  If posted electronically, the campus community, including academic advising, individual faculty members, and students would have access.  Council questioned the validity of the use of syllabi in advising students about classes.   Syllabi alone might not fully represent the true nature of a course because it does not include individual faculty member’s comments, their personality, drive, and presentation.  All of these issues are necessary for a true understanding of the nature of a course which might look intimidating in syllabi form alone.

Following extensive discussion, Council agreed that electronic storage of syllabi for file purposes was reasonable but also agreed that the question about security and access needed to be addressed further.  Dr. Francis agreed to consult Academic Council prior to any policy decision on this matter.  Council then tabled this discussion until a future meeting.

On a related issue, Dr. Lambert noted that there can be benefits to posting syllabi on the internet (web).  Prospective students could check the web pages for this information.  The question of faculty members’ intellectual property of their syllabi was raised.   Council agreed that department web pages are very important for public relations purposes.  However, Council also agreed that the posting of syllabi should be left to the decision of each faculty member.

Discussion then centered on the potential change in the name of the institution from “College” to “University.”  Opinions were voiced about the use of “university” and whether Elon University or University of Elon should be considered.  Concerns were noted about the potential change and the process which has surrounded the discussion.  Dr. Lambert expressed that he feels the process has been scrupulous in its outreach to various campus constituencies.  He cited the “historic” inclusion of this issue and discussion in the Elon Vision, and how the trustees tabled the issue at that time.  The Elon Vision spelled out that we should be “worthy of the university designation,” without anticipating an actual decision.  The New Century committee decided this would not be a driving issue of its work.  The Trustees recently decided that the time was right to re-visit the discussion.  A task force, broadly representative of the campus community, was formed and felt the move was appropriate.  Meetings, mailings, and faculty forums have followed this.  He further stressed that this is not a “done deal” until the Board of Trustees actually votes on the issue.

Dr. Lambert noted that numerous alumni have e-mailed his office and that both sides of the issue have support.  He further noted that this move potentially signals an update of the name of the school to reflect what we have already become and what we have evolved into.  Dr. Lambert noted that this is a decision which is emotionally charged and feels that the student forum on this issue reflected a degree of trust that the students feel for the administration and trustees in their motives and direction regarding this decision.  He noted that he is in support of the name change and feels it is in the best interest of the institution.

Council noted that the document provided by the University Designation Committee and distributed to the faculty earlier this semester seemed inappropriately titled.  The document was  actually a position paper and not a discussion paper.  Council members also noted that faculty may have felt the issue was rushed to be placed before the Trustees for an October vote.  Dr. Lambert agreed with comments about the committee paper and wishes it had been more accurately and appropriately titled.  He further likened this issue to the recent mascot change, but also noted the difference.  In the mascot issue, the Board decided to make the change and “we” helped decide which mascot to accept.  In this case, the board is reaching out for input about the change before deciding.  Council agreed that if the change is approved that they will become an integral part of the process of determining when and how to implement the transition.

Council members considered the idea of a potential “straw vote” on this issue at the next faculty meeting.  Dr. Lambert noted that the Trustees really are not seeking a vote by the faculty.  Rather, the Trustees would like to hear a discussion of what the faculty think about this issue.  Council discussed the potential merits and pitfalls of conducting such a vote in light of the relationship of the Trustees and the faculty.  Council agreed that much of the campus reaction to this issue reflected concern over the process as name change issue itself.  In light of the differing opinions concerning university status and the board of trustees’ request, Council fully encourages and supports a thoughtful discussion of this matter at the October Faculty Meeting.

Council noted concerns that have been raised over issues about the “character” of the school.  The suggestion was made that  perhaps some clear, well written document be issued expressing what we wish to preserve of the institutional character.  This, in turn, might alleviate some fear which is being expressed across campus.  Perhaps focus on how we plan to preserve what we value regardless of the name change would be important at this point.  Dr. Francis agreed and added that this is the major concern he perceives from student forums.  Dr. Lambert noted that the mission statement and the New Century plan do indeed address this issue.

Prof. Kiser provided an update on the progress of the search committee for the new Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.  Dr. Lee and Prof. Rubeck also serve on this committee.  The job announcement is nearing completion.  Review of candidates is expected to begin on November 15.  The committee has an e-mail address: <asdean>.

Council briefly discussed sub-committee business.  Each sub-committee will provide a preliminary e-mail update concerning plans for the year to council and will report to Council at the October meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 5:20 p.m.

Minutes taken and submitted by Fred Rubeck.


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