Academic Council Meeting

November 21, 2003


The meeting was called to order at 2:48 pm by acting chair, Doug Redington.


Members Present: Jim Bissett, Mike Calhoun, Anne Cassebaum, David Copeland, Gerry Francis, Leo Lambert, Yoram Lubling, Jana Lynn Patterson, Doug Redington, and Barbara Taylor


Members Absent: Lisa Carloye, Jeffrey Clark, Tim Peeples


Guests Present: Jim Drummond, Associate Professor – Leisure/Sport Management and Teresa LePors, Coordinator of Library Public Services


I. Approval of Minutes: The October minutes were reviewed and approved.


II. Part-time Coaches and Benefits: In April 2003, Council referred concerns about health benefits for part-time coaches to the Faculty Athletic Committee which reported back to Council in an August 8 memo. Jim Drummond was present to address questions regarding the report. Jim echoed the committee’s position that the issue was broader than just athletics. The discrepancy in the number of part-time coaches for men’s and women’s sports was clarified. Dr. Francis stated that the university has a gender equity plan and that the NCAA has helped out tremendously.  Part-time positions in two women’s sports, volleyball and softball, were upgraded to full-time ones this year, and upgrades in women’s soccer and track are planned for next year. There were questions about whether or not part-time coaches tended to be recent graduates, if they were told that they would be at Elon less than 2 years, and whether the two-year term is typical. Dr. Francis reported that those were the current guidelines and indicated there are exceptions, for example, a part-time coach who is not a recent graduate and has been here several years, but is employed fulltime elsewhere. Anne Cassebaum asked if the university was making progress and if part-time coaches would be fired if they worked less than 30 hours per week. Jim Drummond stated that Human Resources require that all part-time coaches work an average of 29.5 hours per week during their ten-month contract period. Anne Cassebaum asked if the part-time coaches desired health benefits. Jim stated that everyone was in favor of it if it was possible. Anne stated the concern that some academic departments were being asked to hire two half-time positions instead of one full-time one to save on insurance costs. Dr. Francis stated that the university has never requested anyone to split positions to save insurance costs. Dr. Lambert reiterated that we cannot treat coaches differently from other part-time employees, and that given all the current institutional and budgetary priorities, health insurance for part-time employees was not high on the priority list. Dr. Francis indicated the high cost of insuring individuals since we are self insured and then pointed out the need to continue their coverage for 18 months after they leave. Dean Patterson stated that perhaps we need to do a better job of letting part-time employees know that they can use the health services here at Elon for acute care. A question was raised about whether part-time coaches can be enrolled in Elon graduate programs, and Dr. Francis explained that this could be part of a compensation package. David Copeland (Salary, Benefits, and Development subcommittee) and Anne Cassebaum (Adjunct Faculty subcommittee) agreed to pursue exploration of the broader issue of part-time benefits and report back at a later date.


III. Report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Climate: Teresa LePors was present to address questions about a report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Climate that was formed by Academic Council in spring 2003 following the dissolution of the Cultural and Intellectual Programs standing committee which had been charged in spring of 2002 with reinventing itself. Teresa LePors met with Academic Council in March of 2003, and at that time, Council had concerns about the size of the proposed standing committee and the lack of explicitness in its purpose. The committee’s current proposal calls for a reduction in membership from 14 to 11. Teresa began by addressing two concerns: 1) Do we need a new standing committee? and 2) Why a proposed name change from academic climate to intellectual climate? Teresa stated that all reports reviewed by the committee indicated a need for attention to areas the committee would address. The committee felt that there was a need for a group to look at the bigger picture and to bring together student life, academic affairs, and faculty to work on common goals such as repeating the Academic Summit held in 1998. They felt their goal would be to change the perception that there is more of a social orientation on campus than an intellectual one. They proposed intellectual instead of academic to emphasize a scope broader than the classroom. Dr. Redington asked Council to decide if there should be a new committee formed and if so, whether it should be a standing or advisory committee, or whether its goals were best achieved through Academic Affairs office and/or other existing committees. After more discussion about the pros and cons of forming the committee and continuing concern about the lack of specificity in duties, a motion was made and seconded to create the committee. Following additional discussion, an amendment was made that the committee be a 2-year ad hoc committee and that a decision on its permanence be delayed. The amendment and the motion passed.


IV. November Faculty Meeting Feedback: Doug Redington reported that faculty feedback indicated the discussion of the law school feasibility study was good and timely. Concern was expressed about a recent column in the Greensboro News and Record and a request by a faculty member that Council address it. There was concern that such publication of details of internal dialogue was inappropriate and unprofessional, and that the nature of the faculty meeting forum should be one where faculty can express their views without fear of being demeaned in the media. It was agreed that Jeff Clark would speak with the author of the column.


V. Statement of professional Standards: Jim Bissett distributed a revised copy of the Statement of Professional Standards. The document was reviewed and approved by Council with minor punctuation changes. The revised document will be sent out by e-mail to faculty and staff as soon as possible to be considered for adoption at the December Faculty Meeting.


VI. Progress on Priorities:

·        Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Diversity: Barbara Taylor reported that the committee continues to struggle with a definition of diversity while simultaneously exploring various strategies for increasing diversity. Dr. Lambert pointed out the need for submission of any items that would have budgetary implications.

·        Ad Hoc Committee on Student Diversity: Jana Lynn Patterson and Doug Redington reported having met with SGA. They are planning to invite back a speaker who spoke on diversity during orientation. Dean Patterson also reported progress towards establishing a SAFE Allies program with the goal of creating a supportive campus climate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people.  Also Doug Redington met with Dean Klopman to gather information regarding diversity in admissions of students.  Patterson and Redington will collate the information gathered and report back to Council with suggestions as to how to proceed.

·        Ad Hoc Committee on Institutional Service: The committee is soliciting ideas about the definition of service from academic departments. Their goal is to determine whether reality and the message communicated to faculty by administrators match what is stated in the handbook; their belief is there are disconnects and that deans do not view service as equally important as scholarship. There is much reference to the term “visibility” and thus the question arises of whether people are doing service to serve or to be seen. The perception is that new faculty are strongly urged to stay away from service and that faculty do not want to rank order different types of service.

VII. Fall Report: Jana Lynn Patterson reported on the progress of the fall report that she and Bernice Foust have put together. She explained that the information for the fall report was supplied through the Datatel system and that she hopes to add narrative sections to the report to explain the source of data and how various numbers were calculated. She said some sections of last year’s report were incorrect and that she had gone through the report and corrected mistakes. In particular there was concern about the reporting of administrative salaries obtained from Rob Springer’s office that had been calculated using formulas from AAUP to adjust for the difference between 10-month and 12-month contract periods. Those salary figures were then reduced by 2/12, meaning they were adjusted twice. This error will be corrected in this year’s report. Council recommended that the data be checked again and that a better explanation be given at the bottom of the pages for how salaries are adjusted. Anne Cassebaum requested that a new column be added to the report showing the number of hours taught by limited term faculty. Jana Lynn indicated that if these figures were easily obtainable through Datatel, they could be added. An alternative would be to include them in an addendum in December or spring to avoid delay in getting the report out.


VIII. Calendar Committee: Jim Bissett stated that the proposal from the committee to shorten the drop/add period at the start of each semester was not acceptable to several groups. They plan to gather data on late adds from spring semester and report back.


IX. Salary, Benefits, and Development Committee: David Copeland reported that a total of 57 faculty returned budget priority surveys, twice as many as last year. He presented a report from Council to the budget committee with six priorities including health insurance, teaching load reduction, class size reduction, faculty R&D, student scholarships, and clerical support staff increase. Dr. Lambert stressed the importance of not using the phrase “retirement coverage” when referring to health insurance for retirees and instead to refer to it as “gap coverage for retirees” with the goal of covering the gap between retirement age and the age at which coverage is available through federal programs. He also noted recent progress in many of the areas Council is proposing as priorities including an increase in sabbatical funding. Anne Cassebaum suggested that a note about adjunct salaries be added to the report, but Council resisted doing this since adjunct salaries were not ranked among the top items. Adding a note about adjunct salaries would be unfair relative to other priorities that were not included but were ranked higher. Council suggested that Anne raise her concern at budget hearings.


X. Background Checks for Applicants: Concerns had been expressed about a recently instituted policy that required candidates to sign a consent release form giving the university permission to conduct extensive background checks. Dr. Francis presented a revised version of the consent form that limits the range of the background check and addresses the majority of concerns about invasion of privacy. Dr. Francis emphasized the need for such checks due to questionable hires in the past. He noted that background checks are prevalent at other institutions and that the form had been developed based on forms from other schools. Council commended Dr. Francis on his quick and appropriate changes to the form, but still had concerns about requiring a driving record and whether or not this information is really needed. The general consensus was that we should not get such information just because we can, but only if it is needed and really informs a job offer decision.


X1. Departmental Scholarship Documents: Dr. Francis reported that the goal of the documents had always been to give each department a chance to explain what peer reviewed scholarship was in their area, not to quantify the number of peer reviewed products a faculty member needed. The document would let faculty members and department chairs know what is required to satisfy the “necessary but not sufficient” condition of peer reviewed scholarship required for promotion and tenure. Dr. Francis had consulted with deans to insure this was being clearly communicated as departments developed documents. There was concern expressed about whether deans might have numbers in their heads and whether that would cause problems if that were not in writing. It was suggested and agreed that all documents eventually be compiled and available.


XII. Complaints about parking on Campus: Issues related to football game day parking has been addressed, and appreciation was expressed to those involved in improved communication of policy. Additional concerns about student parking in faculty lots will be referred to Chuck Gantos and Gerald Whittington.


XIII. Faculty Handbook Process: Due to lateness of the hour, Barbara Taylor agreed to send e-mail to all members reporting on her meetings with various individuals involved in the annual updating of the Faculty Handbook.


XIV. Media Board Student Membership: Doug Redington reported a request from Rex Waters that the Faculty Handbook be updated to reflect the fact that student members serve for 2-year terms. This change was approved.


XV. Other:

On-line course transfer proposal – discussion was delayed until a later date.


The meeting adjourned at 5:10 pm.

Respectfully Submitted,

Bernice Foust

Barbara Taylor