MINUTES OF ACADEMIC COUNCIL
MAY 3, 2003

The meeting was called to order at 9:30 A. M.

Members present included Jim Bissett, Mike Calhoun, Lisa Carloye, Anne Cassebaum, Jeff Clark, David Copeland, Charity Johansson, Becky Olive-Taylor, Jana Lynn Patterson, Tim Peeples, Doug Redington, and Barbara Taylor.

Mike Calhoun and Jana Lynn Patterson were welcomed as new members. The minutes of the April meeting were reviewed and approved with several suggested changes.

Assessment of 2002-2003 priorities:

Jim Bissett led a discussion of Council’s 02-03 priorities, and Council’s progress was assessed in addressing the priorities and achieving annual goals. Priorities included:


Enhancing Council’s Effectiveness

A discussion followed of ways Council can enhance its effectiveness. It was agreed that monthly meetings of elected members a few days prior to meetings had been effective and should be continued. The practice of having all voting done by secret ballot was reconsidered, and it was decided that many votes did not require a secret ballot but that any member could call for one when desired. The issue of clerical support for Council was discussed given the resignation of Linda Martindale as Academic Council’s secretary. The new chair will work with Nancy Midgette to make a decision about next year’s clerical support person. It was decided that we should continue having that person take minutes at meetings to free up all Council members for full participation. The use of the elected members email list was viewed as helpful and effective last year, and its use was encouraged for the future. Jim Bissett was commended for facilitating effective use of meeting time by doing an excellent job of keeping members on task and on track.
 

Standing Committee Nominations

The process of standing committee nominations was the next item of discussion. Given the large number of faculty requesting committee nominations compared to the number of available slots, it was acknowledged that there will always be faculty who are disappointed and unhappy at not being nominated in a given year. The elections subcommittee reported that due to improved record keeping, it will be able to more easily track and try to place next year those volunteers who were not nominated this year and also to provide more detailed information to administrators responsible for appointed committee nominations about faculty who requested and did not receive elected committee nominations. Council felt it was important that the message be more clearly communicated to faculty that other work besides committee work is valued as service to the university. This led to a discussion of how the PP&T committee is given its charge annually – how new PP&T members are prepared and whether Academic Council needed to have a role in that. It was suggested that one of next year’s priorities address a definition of service, much as was done this year for scholarship and that a closer relationship be considered between Council and PP&T. It was suggested that faculty be reminded of the guidelines and principles Council uses when making nominations. In order to address the problem of not enough faculty volunteers for committees from some areas, it was also suggested that Council examine the need for representation from schools/divisions/disciplines on all committees where this is specified. Concern was also expressed that faculty members who had questions about their not being nominated went to administrators with their concerns instead of directly to Council.
 

Priorities for 2003-2004

A discussion followed about the process of developing 2003-2004 Council priorities, and it was agreed this would take place over email in upcoming weeks. A tentative list emerged from unfinished business for the year and the morning’s discussions. These included statement of professional standards, diversity, defining university service, relationship between Council and PP&T, faculty advocacy, work/family, adjunct faculty, and faculty work load. Concern was expressed over the low response rate from the faculty survey requesting input on priorities. It was suggested that Council should consider ways to make faculty more familiar with and aware of Council’s work. It was suggested that Council might want to request being included in new faculty orientation. It was also suggested that faculty be reminded of Council’s accomplishments for 2002-2003 including completing the process of approving the Teacher-Scholar document and the new faculty track system, creating an elected Study Abroad Committee, articulating the admissions policy for faculty and staff dependents more clearly, including aggregate data on administrative salaries in the fall report, clarifying the criteria for tenure and promotion, and establishing a clearer student grade appeal procedure. It was suggested that these accomplishments might be communicated to faculty via email prior to the end of spring semester and that at the first faculty meeting in the fall, the new chair take time to remind faculty of the role of Council, its accomplishments for the past year, its priorities for the coming year, and the importance of their input and feedback.
 

Advisor Feedback Form

Becky Olive Taylor reported on the status of the academic advisor feedback form. A web-based survey was piloted this year with 358 education and biology majors. There were only 89 responses, indicating that a continuing issue in this area is the need to increase the response rate in order for meaningful data to be collected so that it can be shared with advisors and summary data shared with department chairs.
 

Election of chair and vice chair for 2003-2004

Jeff Clark was elected chair of Council for 2003-2004, and Doug Redington was elected vice-chair.
 

The morning meeting was adjourned at noon followed by lunch in the Octagon Café.  The Council reconvened following lunch, with Dr. Lambert and Dr. Francis in attendance.
 

Report from the Ad Hoc Committee on the Evaluation of Teaching

Gene Gooch (chemistry), chair of the committee, presented the committee's report. Gooch reported the committee took a pro-active approach and consulted with department chairs and a consultant, Dr. Bob Froh, from the New England Association of Colleges and Schools. Council questioned Gooch on two specifics of the report–student evaluations of all courses each semester and peer review. Council suggested that evaluations should be based on a percentage of courses taught by faculty (two-thirds of courses, for example) and that over time all courses taught by faculty should be evaluated. It also suggested that peer review should be focused on observations before midterm review for those on tenure track. The Handbook should also be amended to include required observations if the new plan of teaching evaluation is adopted by the faculty in the fall 2003 semester.  Council asked the committee to be prepared to share their proposals with the faculty early in the fall semester.
 

Discussion on the Proposed Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Diversity

Council agreed that it would be inappropriate to ignore the work on campus wholeness already done by the SACS committee, which has begun studying the issue of diversity on campus. President Lambert reported that diversity is a priority but that it will take 2-4 years to make significant impact on faculty diversity. He reported that as of May 1, 7 percent of the first-year class was made up of African American students. That number may decrease, however, as students finalize college plans. The president also said that the University would continue to add money for minority scholarships. Council noted that diversity should be broad based in relation to racial and ethnic composition.

As a means of putting the work of the SACS committee on wholeness into action, council suggested the following:
 1) make increasing diversity an important priority from the president's office.

 2) create an academic council ad hoc committee addressing faculty diversity.

 3) create an academic council ad hoc committee on student diversity composed of members from faculty, students, admissions.

Because council considers diversity to be of utmost importance to the University, the committee on faculty diversity will be organized before the end of the current academic year. The committee will draw up guidelines to help in faculty searches and look at other institutions that have had success in recruiting minority faculty members. Work on the student committee will also begin and will seek to make contacts with various student groups across campus already working to address diversity.
 

Administrative Priorities for 2003-2004

Dr. Lambert reported that institutional priorities for next year are not yet in final form. They will be discussed at length at the senior staff summer retreat, to which academic council chair is invited.
 

Request from Dr. Pranab Das

As discussed at the April Academic Council meeting, Dr. Das proposed that faculty members who spent more than six years as assistant professors because of Elon’s system should be able to stand for promotion to full professor once they had 12 years’ combined service at the assistant and associate levels.  The provost explained that the issue has merit but that it still warrants additional exploration before a final decision is rendered.
 

Inclement Weather Policy

Council suggested that inclement weather plans be formulated and announced far enough in advance to ensure that faculty, staff, and students have ample time to respond.  Dr. Lambert and Dr. Francis agreed.
 

Changes in the Faculty Handbook to Reflect Same-Sex Partner Benefits

Council noted it would prefer inserting the phrase “qualifying same-sex partner” where appropriate in the Handbook rather than simply redefining “spouse” once at the beginning.  Mary Wise, who updates the Handbook, will work with council to create the necessary changes.
 

Means of Disseminating Faculty Meeting Packets

Council discussed whether having each faculty member print the faculty meeting packet on his or her printer is the best use of institutional resources.  Following that discussion, Council agreed to use the first faculty meeting of fall 2003 to determine how many people print the packet in full or selectively, and to explore whether to pursue an alternate means of distribution. The provost said no changes will be made until directed by Academic Council.
 

Request for Set Department Meeting Times

Academic Council discussed a request by Dr. Mike Kingston that the second Friday of each month, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., be set aside solely for departmental meetings. Council suggested gathering information from department chairs on the feasibility of this plan. This will take place next academic year.
 

Cost of Course Packs

In response to concerns expressed by some faculty members, Academic Council discussed the seemingly high cost of course packs at the Campus Shop.  Dr. Francis agreed to investigate the current policy and report back to Academic Council.
 

The meeting was adjourned at 3:00 p.m.
 


Return to 2002-2003 Minutes