Academic Council Meeting Minutes

May 4, 2002

 

 

Members Present: Lisa Carloye, Jeff Clark, Gerry Francis (afternoon), Don Grady, Pam Kiser, Leo Lambert (afternoon), Todd Lee, Buck McGregor, Becky Olive-Taylor, Tim Peeples, Jean Schwind (chair)

 

New Members Present: Jim Bissett, Anne Cassebaum, Dave Copeland, Charity Johansson, Barbara Taylor

 

 

I.      The meeting was convened at 9:30 AM. New members were welcomed.

 

II.      Minutes of the April 19, 2002, meeting were approved.

 

III.      New Business

 

a)      Review of Council's 2001-2002 priorities

 

Salary and Benefits

Major progress was made in increasing the competitiveness of faculty salaries. Progress was also made in two areas identified for exploration this year: offering a retirement health plan and establishing a "distinguished professor" designation. Of the remaining 2001-2002 salary and benefits goals, discussion focused on pursuing disclosure of salary information for all three faculty types. Without this information, we cannot compare percentage of salary increase for each faculty type over time.

 

Workload and Teaching Load

Council acknowledged that this priority received the least attention and strongly supported working on this next year. It was suggested that a sub-committee should be formed to address this priority and that Council should examine the possibility of developing a transition plan for reducing the teaching load of all faculty.

 

Faculty Development, Sabbaticals, Travel Funds

An unprecedented number of sabbaticals were awarded this year, travel funds were increased for 2002-2003, and anecdotal information suggests that there was a significant increase in funding for faculty development projects related to research, technology use, pedagogical experimentation, and personal/professional growth. Council agreed to pursue ways to enhance the coordination between various funding sources and encourage the publication of one comprehensive list of external and internal funding sources.

 

 

Academic Climate and Community

Council completed its work on defining the teacher/scholar ideal and developing a professional conduct statement. There was also an increase in funds set aside for academic scholarships. In February 2002, Council sponsored a discussion about the impact of online courses on academic climate and will continue to examine this issue. Council also agreed to ensure that the recommendations of the “Maintaining Community at Elon” report are seriously considered and implemented. Issues of class size were discussed at length. Members argued that average class size is not an effective measure, especially when large numbers of small classes like Elon 101 are included in the data set. Many Council members responded positively to the suggestion that Elon consider another Academic Summit.

 

Professionalization, Promotion, and Tenure

In collaboration with two members from the Promotion, Tenure, and Professional Status Committee, Council studied issues related to the professional track in the fall. This study led Council to develop recommendations for addressing significant problems related to the professional track. This work is ongoing and should be completed in the fall of 2002.

 

Faculty Governance

Council either completed or made good progress toward each of its goals related to faculty governance. We will continue investigating the need for a faculty advocate.

 

b)      Council priorities for 2002-2003

After careful discussion and examination of faculty responses to Council’s priorities survey, these goals were established for the next academic year:

 

Workload and Teaching Load

1.      Address issues related to the impact of academic reorganization on faculty workload, especially that of department chairs.

2.      Review policies defining appropriate class size in both traditional and online classes.

3.      Seek recognition of the need for course-load reduction as a result of increasing demands being placed on faculty.

4.      Investigate inconsistencies between course-load credit and the number of hours taught in a course.

 

Faculty Governance

1.      Continue to review the format and conduct of faculty meetings.

2.      Examine how standing committees can most adequately represent the whole faculty.

3.      Investigate the need for a faculty advocate.

4.      Increase familiarity with the Sturgis Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure and follow these rules more deliberately in the conduct of Council meetings.

5.      Pursue disclosure of salary information for all three faculty types in Council's fall and spring reports.

 

Work/Family Policies

1.      Explore ways the University could help faculty and staff with child and elder care.

2.      Develop policies for family (e.g., maternity, paternity, adoption, and bereavement) leave-time.

3.      Examine reciprocal tuition exchange plans with other colleges and universities (i.e., members of ANAC).

4.      Continue to examine issues related to tuition remission for Elon employees.

5.      Explore ways faculty benefits can be individualized according to needs.

 

Academic Climate and Community

1.      Ensure that the recommendations of the “Maintaining Community at Elon” report and SACS focus report on academic community are seriously considered and an implementation plan developed.

2.      Coordinate and facilitate discussion between committees discussing the definition of scholarship and professional activity.

3.      Increase the diversity of both faculty and the student body.

4.      Encourage more aggressive planning and creation of a faculty center.

5.      Facilitate campus discussion about strengthening academic community.

 

Adjunct Faculty Issues

1.      Assess the feasibility of consolidating part-time positions into full-time positions.

2.      Examine the impact increased numbers of part-time faculty have on full-time faculty workloads.

 

c)      Council’s effectiveness

These suggestions were made to enhance Council's effectiveness in 2002-2003:

1.      Continue to hold a pre-meeting for elected members of Council, possibly increasing the time set aside for this.

2.      Increase use of Council's two email lists.

3.      Distribute information relevant to meetings to Council members earlier, so members have more time to study and prepare for meeting.

4.      Follow up on committee reports and on requests for information made by Council.

 

d)      Council officers for 2002-2003

Dr. Jim Bissett was nominated and elected unanimously as Chair of Academic Council for 2002-2003. Dr. Jeff Clark was nominated and elected unanimously as Vice-Chair of Academic Council for 2002-2003.

 

IV. Luncheon

 

III. New Business, continued

 

   e)  External evaluation of the general studies program

Council discussed a memo from Joyce Davis concerning the spring 2002 evaluation of the general studies program. Dr. Davis noted that the evaluator’s report contains many serious factual errors. She also questioned the process by which the evaluation was conducted. While assessing the freshman core was a focus of the review, the evaluator did not meet with the coordinators of two core courses: College Writing and Wellness.

 

After examining numerous examples of mistakes and oversights in the evaluation report, Council recommended that copies of the report distributed internally should be accompanied by a memo from the General Studies Council outlining the flaws that limit its usefulness as a planning tool. Council further recommended that the next general studies program review should take place within two or three years, not the usual five years. Given the complexity and scope of this program, a thorough review may require an evaluation team (on the model of SACS) rather than a single evaluator (the norm for external evaluation of departments). Dr. Francis suggested that Council write a letter to him requesting that he work with the General Studies Council to plan the next general studies review. President Lambert commented that reviewers generally provide a draft report of their findings and wait for the institution’s responses before issuing a formal report. Council concurred that the response process should be part of any future review.

 

f) Standing committee minutes and reports to Council

Council discussed a request from Joyce Davis that standing committees be required to keep minutes and submit reports to Council prior to the end of every semester. Council agreed that the extreme brevity and lack of detail in many of the summaries of committee activity published in the spring report indicate that a more formal and thorough reporting system is needed. Council will ask that standing committees keep minutes of every meeting and submit a minimum of two activity reports each year.

 

g) Administrative priorities for 2002-2003

President Lambert announced that the senior staff retreat will be held June 3-5 at Seven Lakes and that next year’s administrative priorities are currently being drafted. They will include:

1.Continue the Leadership Elon program to increase knowledge of NewCentury@Elon strategic goals among all institutional stakeholders.

2.Begin silent campaign for the new Love School of Business building.

3.Plan the next two components of the Academic Village.

4.Continue progress in establishing a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Elon.

5.Work toward AACSB accreditation for the business school.

6.Complete work on reconfiguring the professional track and defining the Elon teacher-scholar.

7.Define the next phases of the NewCentury@Elon.

 

Dr. Francis presented the tentative priorities for Academic Affairs:

1.Continue work on accreditation issues, including responses to SACS, NCAA, and NCATE reports.

2.Continue working to achieve accreditation for LSB and the School of Communications.

3.Begin reapplication process for Phi Beta Kappa.

4.Complete revision of the honors program and establish the Elon College Fellows program.

5.Discuss the SACS internal focus reports.

6.Refine our understanding of the changing yield rate in admissions.

 

h) 2002-2003 budget information

In response to questions from Council, Dr. Francis also presented this budget information related to Council’s current priorities:

 

1.Faculty travel allowance has been increased to $400/year per faculty member.

2.Institutional research is currently analyzing how far we have come in relation to faculty salary goals (in comparison with other NC privates and ANAC).

3.Student scholarships have been increased, especially NC, presidential, and fellows scholarships. Multicultural scholarships and recruiting also increased; need-based scholarships increased in proportion to the total increase.

4.Next year’s departmental budgets should be available to chairs in mid-May.

5.Class size and teaching load issues continue to be important to faculty. Next year we need to review how class size caps are established. Dr. Francis noted that selective reductions are more feasible than across-the-board reductions.  Pam Kiser asked if the Academic Council could work with the administrative group that is examining these questions. Dr. Francis responded that Council should nominate a faculty representative to be included in these discussions.

6.      A new technical support staff member has been hired to run the foreign languages media lab; the university is committed to hiring additional technology liaisons.

7.      Six more classrooms will have data projectors by fall 2002 at a cost of $12,000 per classroom.

 

        IV.      Follow-up business

 

a) Elon Teacher-Scholar

Council examined the latest draft of this statement and noted that revisions have fully addressed concerns expressed about earlier drafts. The statement was unanimously approved, and Council will take it to the faculty for a vote in the fall. These points were raised during discussion:

1.Further study is needed to determine how the institution can make this teacher-scholar model a reality.

2.A new committee (see item IV.b., below) will address the relationship between PTP criteria and this teacher-scholar ideal.

3.Once it is approved by the faculty, the definition of the Elon teacher-scholar ideal should be published on the Elon web site and the Faculty Handbook.

4.An “umbrella” committee may be needed to coordinate the recommendations of the ad hoc committees chaired by Tim Peeples, Doug Redington, and Mike Kingston.

 

b) Ad Hoc Committee to Review PTP criteria

Jean Schwind presented the proposal for an ad hoc committee to address concerns raised by faculty that the Handbook may not accurately reflect current criteria for promotion, tenure, and professionalization at Elon. Dr. Schwind discussed a draft of this proposal with the PTP Committee, and they assisted her in refining the ad hoc committee’s charge. This committee will investigate a number of questions, including:

1.Do the criteria for tenure and professional status need to be consistent with those for promotion? In particular, do “split decisions”—i.e., a candidate is tenured or professionalized but not promoted to the associate level—make sense?

2.Does the list of “Professional Activities” (Handbook, p. 61) need to be prioritized or ranked?

3.What are the implications of “The Elon Teacher-Scholar” for PTP criteria and policies?

4.Should we explicitly state that candidates’ adherence to the Statement of Professional Standards and other institutional policies outlined in the Handbook will be considered in PTP decisions?

 

President Lambert suggested that the committee also be charged with examining whether the evaluation of teaching in the PTP process relies too heavily on data from student evaluations of instruction.

 

c) Cultural and Intellectual Programs Committee

Council discussed a proposal from the Cultural and Intellectual Programs Committee requesting that this standing committee be dissolved because it is redundant and purposeless. Council agreed that this committee’s current duties as stipulated in the bylaws are dated and that the committee as it is presently constituted is superfluous. Council members expressed reluctance to dissolve a potentially valuable committee, however. The Council chair was asked to charge the 2002-2003 Cultural and Intellectual Programs Committee with redefining itself and its mission. In particular, Council sees the need for a standing committee focused on community life (to implement and build upon the recommendations of the “Maintaining Community at Elon” report) and fostering a rich and invigorating academic climate. Council’s Academic Climate and Diversity subcommittee is overwhelmed with work and has long needed the assistance of a standing committee.

 

d) Student evaluation of academic advisers

Becky Olive-Taylor offered an update of her committee’s work in devising an instrument to evaluate advising and mentoring of students. This work will continue next fall.

 

e) Campus Shop

Council agreed upon the need for a permanent liaison to represent faculty concerns regarding textbook orders and related issues to the manager of the Campus Shop. Jim Bissett will pursue this.

 

V. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 3:30 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Tim Peeples (morning session) and Buck McGregor (afternoon session)