Academic Council Minutes

April 19, 2002



Present: Lisa Carloye, Jeff Clark, Joyce Davis, Gerry Francis, Don Grady, Pam Kiser, Todd Lee, Yoram Lubling, Buck McGregor, Jean Schwind (chair)

Guest: Stephen Futrell



I.          The meeting of elected members was convened at 2:30. The meeting of all members began at 2:55.


II.         The minutes of the March 15, 2002, meeting were approved.


III.       New Business


a)      Jim Bissett of the Admissions Committee asked Council to consider a recent announcement made by the Dean of Admissions regarding the acceptance of faculty and staff dependents. These students must now without exception meet the same admissions standards as other applicants. In a memo to Council, Jim notes that this decision was made without discussion by the Admissions Committee and seems contrary to the principles of the Shared Governance Report, which recommends that the decision-making process be “as open and inclusive as possible.”


Admissions Committee Chair Stephen Futrell said that the minutes reporting this matter have not yet been approved and are misleading. He and Gerry Francis noted that Elon has never had an “open admissions” policy for faculty/staff dependents. In the past, exceptions have occasionally been made to admit dependents who did not meet admissions criteria. The decision to stop making these exceptions does not amount to a change in policy, they explained. The policy is unchanged: no individual will be admitted to the university without being academically eligible for admission.


Council members responded that changing the way a policy is implemented can amount to a change in policy. Furthermore, if Elon continues to make exceptions for other students (i.e., “legacy” applicants), refusing to do so for faculty and staff dependents seems inconsistent and unfair. Council returned this matter to the Admissions Committee for discussion and asked that a formal recommendation be forwarded to Council.


b)      Council considered bylaw revisions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Academic Standing and Human Participation in Research committees. The proposed changes to the membership of these committees are: 1) adding an ex-officio member appointed by and from Academic Advising to the Academic Standing Committee; 2) requiring that at least two nonscientists serve on the Human Participants in Research Committee. Council approved both proposed changes. They will be presented for discussion at the May faculty meeting.


c)      Council considered two recommendations from the Academic Standing Committee. The committee first recommends the following revision to the Faculty Handbook (II-13. P.: The Instructional Program: Policies and Procedures—Mid-Semester Progress Reports; p.119 in 2001 print version):


P. Mid-Term Progress Report


Mid-semester grades constitute formalized feedback for students prior to the drop/add date and are a vital means of communication between faculty and students. Faculty are encouraged to communicate clearly to their classes the meaning of the mid-semester grade, including how it was calculated and the portion of the final grade that it represents. The intent of the mid-semester grade is to provide early, accurate, and significant feedback regarding a student’s progress in the course, making it helpful to both students and their advisors. Therefore, mid-semester grades of S, U, NR, and I must be cleared through the appropriate dean.


The committee’s second recommendation is to discontinue the practice of sending the mid-semester progress reports of first-semester, first-year students to their permanent (i.e., parental) address. The practice involves unnecessary labor and expense, especially since all students now receive their grades via Elon On-Track. Council approved both recommendations and will forward them to the provost.


d)      Lisa Carloye and Joyce Davis presented Council’s nominees for standing committees of the faculty. The ballot of nominees was approved with minor changes due to two faculty who will not return next year.


e)      Council reviewed its Spring Report. One member asked that room and board figures for 1985 to the present be added to table III (Tuition Increase and Salary Pool Increase by Year) in future reports. Council also requested that the numbers on pages 8 (2001-02 Student Cost) be verified and corrected. Gerry Francis noted that 2001-2002 ANAC salary data was released yesterday and can be substituted for 2000-2001 data on p. 10. Several standing committee reports are missing and will be added if Council receives them soon.


f)        The Council considered a question from a faculty member regarding this year’s salary increase. The faculty member asked why the letter from the provost that accompanied new contracts didn’t explain what percentage of the increase is for merit and what is for adjustment. Gerry Francis said that he, the Salary Planning Committee, and the Deans’ Council wrestled with the matter of how much information could be included in this letter. He noted that decisions about adjustment raises and “normal annual” raises were so complex and varied so much from individual to individual that it was impossible to explain them in a single cover letter. He also noted that merit was reflected in both adjustment and “normal” raises, so it’s hard to separate out. He assured Council that the deans are fully prepared to answer questions about the “break down” of raises for every member of their faculty. Faculty with questions should speak to their dean.


IV.) Follow-up Business


a)      Upon Council’s request, the Faculty Research and Development Committee reviewed current policy regarding sabbatical eligibility. Dr. Cahill (FR&D chair) identified the following difficulties with the current policy in a memo to Council: 1) It does not require that a faculty member applying for sabbatical has served in a full-time position for the required number of years; 2) The current timeline allows a faculty member to apply for both a sabbatical and tenure or professional status in the same year. This can result in the faculty member receiving the sabbatical but being denied tenure or professional status; 3) FR&D has for some years now considered applications that are made within the faculty member’s sixth year. This practice seems contrary to the current language, which implies that the faculty member must complete the sixth year prior to application.


The FR&D Committee suggests the following revision to the Faculty Handbook (II-7. C. 1.: Professional Development for Teaching Faculty—Grants Awarded by the Faculty Research and Development Committee; p. 51) to address these matters:


c. Any full-time teaching faculty member who meets the following requirements is eligible to apply for a sabbatical leave:

                        1.) Holds the rank of assistant professor, associate professor, or professor.

2.). Has served the university for a period of five years or more in full-time status.


FR &D also recommends that the following new paragraph be inserted between current paragraphs h and i of section II-7.C.1.:


If a faculty member is applying for tenure or professional status in the same year as the sabbatical application, the awarding of the sabbatical will be contingent upon the granting of tenure or professional status.


Council noted that “Has served the university for a period of five years or more in full-time status” is ambiguous. Faculty in the middle of their fifth year may be eligible to apply. “Has completed at least five years of service to the university in full-time status” is clearer. The Council chair was asked to seek FR&D consent to this revision. With this amendment, FR&D’s recommendations were approved.


b)      Council considered bylaw changes proposed by the faculty Athletics Committee. FAC Chair Jim Drummond explained that the proposed changes are a response to the recent NCAA “Draft Peer-Review.” The changes involve Article VIII. Section 9 and corresponding changes to the “Committees of the Faculty” section of the Handbook. Council discussed and approved three friendly amendments suggested by Gerry Francis and approved the recommendation of the Athletics Committee. The Council chair will seek Athletics Committee approval for the amendments. These bylaw revisions will be presented for discussion at the May faculty meeting.


Because the NCAA has given Elon a tight deadline for responding to their concerns about the current charge of the Athletics Committee, Gerry Francis asked Council to request that faculty vote on these bylaw revisions on Saturday, May 25, at the faculty meeting before graduation. This will allow the university to submit a report to the NCAA by mid June. Council agreed to request this vote.


c)      Council examined the latest revision of the proposed new faculty track system, which was presented by Lisa Carloye on behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Status. The consensus was that the “continuing track” continues the inequity of the professional track it would replace. But some members also felt that such a track is necessary to attract new and promising candidates who might not be willing to consider lecturer and visiting positions in “tenured-up” departments. Council recommended that the committee clarify its “guiding principle” that all current contracts would be honored to allay concerns about the transition between systems.


d)      Council considered the final recommendation from the Ad Hoc Curriculum Committee Review Committee, which was presented by Joyce Davis. This committee was charged with examining how well the Curriculum Committee satisfies essential criteria identified by the Shared Governance Report with respect to size, efficiency of operations, and communication with departments. The Ad Hoc CCRC recommends that the Curriculum Committee should maintain its current size. The shift to elected representatives has greatly improved the committee’s efficiency, and it appears to be working well. The final report suggests ways of enhancing communication between the Curriculum Committee and faculty, and Council will also ask that the Curriculum Committee consider posting agenda before meetings to facilitate communication.


V. The meeting adjourned at approximately 6:00.


Respectfully submitted by Yoram Lubling