Academic Council Meeting

May 8, 2004

 

The meeting was called to order at 9:03 a.m. by Council chair, Jeff Clark.

 

Members Present: Skip Allis (incoming member), Jim Bissett, Mike Calhoun, Lisa Carloye, Anne Cassebaum, Jeff Clark, David Copeland, Charity Johansson (Incoming member), Yoram Lubling, Jana Lynn Patterson, Tim Peeples, Doug Redington, Fred Rubeck (incoming member), Sharon Spray (incoming member), and Barbara Taylor.

 

I. Approval of Minutes

 

The following changes were made to the minutes of the April 16 meeting:

·        In the Guests Present portion of the minutes, removed the language that identifies Ann Cahill as the Chair of the Work and Family Policies Committee.

·        In the section of Faculty Diversity, deleted the phrase, “or rectify poverty rates.”

·        There were three changes made to the section of the minutes on the discussion of Work and Family Policies: the Committee recommended that Tuition Remission apply to spouses—but not dependents—who hold an undergraduate degree; the sentence, “A question was raised as to whether the ‘unwritten leave policies’ should be managed by a faculty committee.” was deleted; and it was clarified that Dr. Francis, not the Committee, will continue to work on these issues over the summer.

·        In the discussion of Budget Priorities, it was made clear that Dr. Peeples did not present a document to Council.  Rather, the discussion was based on Council’s budget priorities for the year.

·        There was extensive discussion on the wording of the section on the Complaint from John Duvall.  Mike Calhoun agreed to submit revised wording that captures the spirit of Council’s discussion.

The minutes were approved with those changes.

 

II. Review of Council’s 2003-2004 Priorities

 

Priority 1: Increase the diversity of the faculty and the student body.

 

The principal achievement regarding this priority was the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Diversity, which presented its findings to the Academic Council in March and to the faculty on May 7.  While the reaction to the Committee’s work was generally positive, Council noted the following issues that merit continued attention:

·        Council’s major responsibility at this point is to work to ensure that the Committee’s recommendations will be implemented.

·        The status of the dissertation/post-doctoral minority fellows program is unclear to members of Council.  Is the program in place for the 2004-05 academic year?  If so, who is administering it?

·        Council agreed that the guidelines for the faculty search process in the Faculty Handbook should be amended to incorporate the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee.  Jana Lynn Patterson agreed to review that section of the Handbook and come back to Council in the fall with recommendations for revisions.

·        Council suggested that it might be appropriate to form a new committee to oversee the implementation of the Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendations.

·        Council concluded that the most productive way it can promote student diversity is to work through the budget process to increase the resources for minority scholarships.

 

Priority 2: Reduce and/or Redefine the Teaching Load for Faculty

 

The work of the Academic Council Subcommittee on Workload and Teaching Load represented significant progress on this issue.  The subcommittee and senior administrators deserve credit for their accomplishments.  In discussion on this issue, members of Academic Council raised the following issues or concerns:

·        Council needs to recognize that the ultimate goal is to institute a permanent, across-the-board reduction in teaching load.  Therefore, this is an issue on which we need to continue to work.

·        Academic Council should play a role as the departments begin the process of allocating reassigned time.  Council could help share the criteria developed by departments, perhaps by posting them on the Council Web site.  In addition, subcommittee members will be available to meet with departments as they discuss the allocation of reassigned time.

·        The hiring of adjunct faculty—and, ultimately, additional permanent faculty members—to replace the courses vacated by reassigned time is a process that deserves continued discussion by Academic Council and senior administrators.

 

Priority 3: Make Faculty Meetings a More Effective Forum for Discussion

 

There was agreement that significant progress was made this year in making faculty meetings more conducive to discussion.  Even so, the Academic Council raised the following issues that should be addressed in 2004-05:

·        The Faculty Handbook specifies that the Academic Council should elect the secretary of the faculty to serve for a one-year term.  This person is responsible for keeping an accurate record of faculty meetings, preparing the minutes, and preserving reports and documents.  This part of the Handbook has not been followed, and the members of Academic Council resolved to do so next year.

·        Because of their responsibilities for Fellows Weekend, some faculty members were unable to participate in the March faculty meeting.  The university should take steps to ensure that faculty members are not prevented from participating in faculty meetings because of their official responsibilities.

·        Council commended the Elections Committee for their excellent job of creating the slate of nominees for elected standing committees.

 

Priority 4: Coordinate a Campus-Wide Discussion on the Definition of Service and Its Weight in faculty Evaluations

 

The Academic Council committee charged with this priority presented its recommendations to the faculty at the April faculty meeting.  In addition to these suggestions, the committee identified the following that need continued attention:

·        The definition of service in the Faculty Handbook should be expanded to include, for instance, departmental leadership and professional service and “outreach.”

·        Academic Council should address the issue of how service should be assessed.

·        Academic Council should find ways to make service expectations and levels of quality more transparent, and to explore ways to help faculty identify, represent, and argue for the significance of their service.

 

Priority 5: Work/Family Issues

 

The final report of the Academic Council Subcommittee to Study Faculty Work and Family Policies included recommended policies on phased retirement, bereavement leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, elder care leave, childcare during official Elon events, and tuition remission/exchange for spouses and dependents.  The report also recommended that the university explore staff leave policies, quality on-site day care, in-site child care during snow days and holidays, and an employee assistance program.

 

The members of the subcommittee stressed that, in order to best serve the interests of a faculty with diverse responsibilities and needs, these recommendations should be seen as a total package.

 

The subcommittee’s recommendations have been submitted to the administration, and Academic Council should work with senior administrators next year on their implementation.

 

Priority 6: Adjunct Faculty Issues

 

The major achievement toward this goal is the recent faculty vote to add an adjunct faculty member as a nonvoting member of the Academic Council.  The Subcommittee on Limited Term and Part-Time Faculty submitted a procedure for nominating and electing this representative, and Academic Council engaged in discussion about the logistics of the process.

 

It was agreed that the Council would request a list of adjunct faculty members and their email addresses from the Provost in May in order to begin the process of soliciting nominations for this position.

 

III. Report from the Faculty Governance Committee

 

The committee emphasized that elected standing committees are a crucial part of the governance process, and much of its effort has been expended on strengthening the communication between Council, the standing committees, and the faculty.  The Chair of Council meets with all standing committee chairs at the beginning of the academic year, and all standing committee chairs are part of an email list to which Council has access.  Furthermore, all of the elected standing committees provided annual reports for inclusion in the Academic Council Spring Report.  The Faculty Governance Committee has worked with the SGA President to ensure that student representatives attend standing committee meetings.

 

The Faculty Governance Committee identified the need for a closer relationship between the faculty and the Board of Trustees and offered several recommendations for improving that relationship.  This will become one of Council’s priorities next year.

 

IV. Priorities for 2004-2005

 

  (See separate attachment for the initial draft of Academic Council priorities)

 

 

V. Election of Officers

 

Doug Redington was elected Chair of Academic Council for the 2004-2005 academic year, and Charity Johansson was elected Secretary.

 

Minutes taken by Bernice Foust and Jim Bissett.


Academic Council Full Minutes

May 8, 2004

Moseley 215

 

Professor Jeff Clark, Chair, convened the session at 12:48 pm.

 

 

Present were:

Incoming Members: Skip Allis, Charity Johansson, Fred Rubeck, Sharon Spray

Returning Members: Jim Bissett,  Mike Calhoun, Ann Cassebaum, David Copeland,   Jana Lynn Patterson, Doug Redington, Barbara Taylor

Outgoing Members: Lisa Carloye, Jeff Clark, Yoram Lubling, Tim Peeples,

Ex-Officio Members:  Gerry Francis, Leo Lambert,

 

 

Professor Clark announced to full council that Professor Douglas Redington was elected chair for 2004-2005 and Professor Charity Johansson was elected secretary/Vice-Chair.

 

(a) Administrative Priorities for 2004-2005. Session Business commenced with a presentation of potential administrative priorities by President Leo Lambert.  President Lambert explained that administrative officers of the University were working with their staffs to develop their priorities and the institutional priorities will be developed at the June Senior Staff Retreat. President Lambert provided insight into areas/projects that will likely be considered for priorities for the upcoming year:

 

Admissions:  The landscape for admissions is changing and Elon will need to be attentive. The yield rate for freshmen has held relatively steady at 38% for this year.  However, Elon’s competitors for students are at a higher level than ever before and students are making choices between Elon and other top universities like Duke, Chapel Hill and UVA. As Elon competes for higher-level students, like many of our competitors, the admissions staff has gone to the wait list.  Elon must closely monitor admissions trends and make adjustments to assure that the university remains competitive for high quality, diverse students.

 

Comprehensive Campaign:  President Lambert indicated that Institutional Advancement would be planning for an upcoming campaign with heavy emphasis on increasing the endowment.

 

Law School:  The Board of Trustees will convene by phone on May 10.  President Lambert anticipates that although the entire $ 10 million dollars has not been raised by Action Greensboro, the Board will grant an extension as fund-raising is going well. However, once the required $ 10 million dollars is raised, there will be a series of cascading events that must be implemented fairly quickly for a fall 2006 opening of the law school.

 

Construction of Koury Business Center:  The President expects construction will begin on the center in February or March of 2005, with an anticipated opening date in fall 2006. The construction of the Koury Business Center will likely “shift” the center of gravity for the campus. Gerald Whittington and other staff members are developing a transportation plan to address potential changes in campus traffic patterns.

 

Academic Pavilion:  President Lambert announced the University will seek resources for the construction of the fourth academic pavilion and to help fund the Center for Teaching and Learning. Construction on the Political Science Pavilion is moving along and all indications are that it will be ready for operation and a naming ceremony in the fall.

 

The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life:  The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life will establish the Vera Richardson Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life in the current University Relations building. University Relations will move to South Campus this fall. This center will allow students to explore their faith and live lives of reconciliation.

 

Workload Adjustment:  The Provost and Deans will be working to implement the Workload Reduction Plan for faculty.

 

Foreign Language requirement:  The University will be exploring a foreign language requirement for students to receive a degree from Elon.

 

ACEJMC Accreditation:  The School of Communications will continue the process toward ACEJMC accreditation.  The University will graduate its 2nd class under the new requirements in spring 2005, which will allow the School of Communications to begin the self-study process and apply for a 2006 accreditation visit.

 

Phi Beta Kappa:  The results of the application process should be available in the next few days. The University continues to improve as we strive for standards consistent with Phi Beta Kappa.

 

Planning for Next Bond:  The University will begin the planning process for its next financial bond. This bond will be designated for the construction of a 200-bed residence hall.  The most likely site will be in the area adjacent to the Koury Business Center.

 

 

 (b) Complaint from John Duvall:  Full Council discussed the issues regarding availability of a letter of recommendation for faculty who are appealing a tenure decision. Dr. John Duvall brought this issue forth to Council this spring.  Discussion focused on whether 1) a policy exists that forbids deans and provosts from writing letters of recommendation once a tenure appeal has been initiated; and 2) whether the Faculty Handbook should be revised to include a written statement to clarify the polices and 3) the role of the dean and provost in informing the faculty member of the appeal process and answering questions.

 

After discussion, Council clarified that the option to write a letter of recommendation is always at the discretion of the person being asked to submit a recommendation.  This includes department chairs, deans or provosts.  However, Council recognizes that once a tenure appeal process is initiated it may change the nature of the relationship during the appeal process, thus creating an uncertain relationship between the dean and the faculty member.    

 

Council agreed that denials of letters of recommendation are not punitive measures for initiation of a tenure appeal, but that there may be some confusion among the faculty. Council agreed that some form of written statement may be helpful but will need to accurately reflect practice. 

 

Council also discussed the role of the dean and provost in advising faculty of the tenure appeals process.  Council discussed the issue and determined that it may be a more positive process to have a faculty advocate/ombudsperson explains the appeal process to the faculty member. This will remove the dean and the provost from the position of both administrator and advisor to the faculty member.  Council discussed that the perception may be that the roles are not compatible. 

 

Council also discussed the recommendations stated in a letter from AAUP secretary, Jonathan Knight, regarding the denial of tenure issues brought forth by Dr. Duvall.  Dr Knight recommended:

 

1) Inclusion of a statement that all who are involved in the evaluation of tenure should be familiar with the criteria and apply them and that all significant information about a candidate for tenure should be considered by those who carry out the decision; and

 

2) That the university’s policies include a statement that allows a faculty member to request the reasons the faculty member be denied tenure or reappointment be provided upon request of the faculty member, both orally and in writing. The current polices do not call for providing such reasons although the Provost has provided those reasons upon request of some faculty.

 

Council agreed that these issues bear further discussion and the chair will appoint a committee to work with Provost Francis to examine these issues and to make a report to Council next year. The potential charge of the committee shall be to:

 

  • Study and make recommendations on the language in the Faculty Handbook regarding the tenure process appeal;
  • Consider and draft a statement regarding availability of letters of recommendation if an appeal process is initiated;
  • Consider the recommendations of the AAUP regarding qualifications of those evaluating tenure and the provision of oral and written explanation for denial of tenure;
  • Consider establishment of a Senior Faculty Review Team in each department to be part of the tenure and promotion process; and
  • Study peer institutions with regard to their tenure and appeal processes and report to Council.

 

 

(c) Request from Promotions and Tenure Committee

 

Council considered request from Professor Vicky Fischer to consider several issues that were brought to her attention in her role as Chair of the Promotions and Tenure Committee. Two of the main considerations were:

 

  1. There may be a need for a more careful consideration and exploration of what it means to be qualified for promotion to full professor, for a clear definition of that rank.  There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about the qualifications for tenure and promotion to associate professor, and now it appears time to devote some energy to this level of the promotion process.

 

  1. Clarify recommendations or limitations in the bylaws as to which members of P & T are eligible to act as chair, although chairs have tended to be chosen from returning (2nd year) members of the committee, and have tended to be full professors. The Promotion and Tenure Committee encountered opinions on both sides of this issue, the one expressing a need to protect faculty still potentially facing future decisions themselves, and the other wishing to preserve flexibility in any particular committee situation.

 

The Provost and Professor Fischer suggested that Academic Council create an ad hoc committee which might include past and present chairs and past members of the P & T committee to explore these issues, and decide whether any bylaw changes need to be recommended.  After discussion, Council agreed to ask the committee which will look at the Appeals process to also consider these issues.

 

 

(d)      Faculty Handbook revisions

Professor Taylor stated that she had worked with Dr. Mary Wise in spring 2004 to streamline the Faculty Handbook and reduce duplication with the Employee Handbook distributed by Human Resources.  Professor Taylor indicated that in this work she and Dr Wise discovered many parts of the Faculty Handbook had been changed over the years by different authors.   This has created a document with inconsistent and often confusing wording.

 

Professor Taylor proposed that she and Dr. Wise work this summer to make substantial changes in the language of the Faculty Handbook to make existing polices more consistent and clear. Council acknowledged the current improvements and thanked Professor Taylor for her willingness to work in this area. Council also voted to support Professor Taylor and Dr. Wise in the revision project and asked to be kept abreast of any areas that might require changes in the Faculty By-Laws.

 

 

 (e) Response to recommendations from the Work and Family Policies Committee

 Provost Francis indicated he was already researching the work and family recommendations and thanked Professor Carloye for the work of her committee. Provost Francis indicated senior staff is aware of the proposals and will address the proposals set forth in the plan in the upcoming year. Provost Francis indicated the need for more extensive study of the proposals as he gathered more information about feasibility, impact and consistency with staff policies.  Council requested that Provost Francis provide a status report in January or February so the faculty can discuss at a spring meeting.

 

Professor Carloye emphasized that the Committee on Work and Family Policies did request the recommendations be considered as a package and that consideration and implementation of the proposals be brought forward as a package. The committee felt this was important to reflect that the proposals are more inclusive when implemented together.

 

 

(f)     Academic Standing Committee request

Council considered the proposal of the Academic Standing Committee to change the statements in their description to more accurately reflect their practices. Council supported adoption of the recommended wording changes as proposed by the Academic Standing Committee.

 

Council also discussed the topic of grade inflation given much of the press information regarding moves by other institutions to reduce grade inflation. 

Council discussed a suggestion that the Academic Standing Committee examine the issue of perceived grade inflation citing the recent move at other institutions to limit the number of higher grades distributed in a department.  Professor Clark suggested that Council take this issue up next fall for further discussion and action.

 

(g)   Other topics of discussion

 

Evaluation of Department Chairs, Deans and Provost:

Council discussed the recent surveys directed toward evaluation of deans and the provost.

Members of council reported that the timing and the method of evaluation might reduce the number of responses. Council recommended to the provost that he consider going back to paper copies of the surveys and that in the future those evaluations be distributed earlier in the semester.  Provost Francis agreed to re-send the evaluations so that faculty can print them and send them in paper form.

 

Council also requested the Provost clarify how these evaluations are used. Provost Francis noted there was not formal tabulation but that he does read the evaluations of the deans and considers them in his evaluations.

 

 

Faculty Handbook Wording Regarding Spouse and Qualifying Same Sex Partner:  Council requested that the Provost consider changing the wording in the Faculty Handbook regarding the term “spouse” to the term “spouse/qualifying same sex partner” or “spouse/qualifying partner.” The current wording requires the reader to look at the definition of spouse for clarification that it includes same sex partners.  Provost Francis will review the proposed changes with Ron Klepcyk, Director of Human Resources.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 2:28 pm. Minutes for this session taken by Bernice Foust and Jana Lynn Patterson.