I. Minutes of previous meetings
II. Report of the Faculty Senate Chairperson
III. Report of the Student Senate President
IV. Report of the Graduate Student Organization
V. Report of the Administrative Officers
President McNairy welcomed faculty to the spring semester and commented that the loss of Dr. Steven Centola from the English Department reminds us all of the preciousness of life. She reported that she and several students attended a recent Board of Governors meeting where approval was given for moving forward with the proposed bond financing of SMC renovations. Related costs will be added to student fees in the next couple years. Dr. McNairy also announced the appointment of Dr. Aminta Hawkins Breaux as the Vice President of Student Affairs effective March 1.
Dr. McNairy reminded Senate of the federal Spellings Plan aimed at improving the quality and availability of higher education. She highlighted the recommendation for making standardized information about universities available online to allow students to compare schools. Dr. McNairy noted that the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has initiated an effort to develop voluntary reporting of such information ahead of federal stipulations. Millersville is supporting this effort by providing data already being gathered. She pointed out that this self-evaluation process is consistent with what Middle States will be looking for as well. A question was raised about the applicability to graduate studies. The response was that this was primarily focused on the undergraduate level.
Provost Prabhu also expressed sadness at the loss of Dr. Centola. He reminded faculty to consider how each individual on campus plays an important role as we recognize the contributions Dr. Centola made to the Millersville community.
Dr. Prabhu indicated that AASCU has developed the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) website to provide quick reference information about universities and already has some schools up online. He noted that graduation rates, retention rates, a cost calculator, and school size are part of the reporting. Dr. Prabhu also noted that a critical component geared towards presenting student experiences and perceptions still needs to be fleshed out. He noted that the most important aspect will be to effectively report on student learning outcomes using external tools like the College Learning Assessment (CLA) test. He also highlighted that we will be able to present information about our own unique value-added characteristics.
Dr. Prabhu announced that the tradition of a spring convocation is being revived with a focus on an issue of national importance in academia. He encouraged the faculty to attend the January 24th talk and dinner, noting that the deadline for responding would be extended to Friday, January 18. He also highlighted that the Civic and Community Engagement and Research Project (CCERP) has scheduled a related 2-day conference following the convocation. A suggestion was made that university-wide events be scheduled on an alternating basis instead of always on Thursdays.
Associate Provost for Academic Administration
Associate Provost Burns reported that Middle States self study is underway with the steering committee and chairs for working groups in place. He reminded faculty that many participants are needed for the working groups. He also announced that the Middle States liaison is scheduled to visit on April 11.
Assistant Vice President for Institutional Assessment and Planning
Assistant Vice President Shibley noted that the mission statement revision from the University Planning Council will be coming out soon for faculty feedback.
Senator Igyor thanked the administration for acknowledging Dr. Centola’s passing and contributions to the university.
VI. Reports of the Faculty Senate Standing Committees
Senator A. Miller distributed a proposal from the Bylaws Committee to move the faculty committee election process to the spring semester. [see Attachment #1] In order to hold regular elections at the last two spring Senate meetings, it will also be necessary to change the Faculty Senate Bylaws to specify that departmental senator elections be completed by April 1 rather than May 31. A third regular election and the at-large election are proposed for the first Senate meeting in the fall.
Academic Standards Committee
Senator Sikora reported on statistics for academic appeals and approvals at the January hearings. He also commented that having alternate members for ASC worked well.
Senator Mowrey highlighted the upcoming Graduate Open House to be held January 23 in the Lyle Parlors. She encouraged faculty to inform upper-level students of this opportunity to learn about MU graduate programs.
VIII. Proposed Courses and Programs
IX. Faculty Emeritus
A question was raised about the deadline for emeritus requests for this year. Resolutions should be approved by Faculty Senate no later than the April 1 meeting to meet the Council of Trustees schedule.
X. Other/New Business
Senator Mowrey commented that a number of faculty had contacted her about the calendar for next spring. She noted that the dates for starting and ending the semester and breaks could not be changed but ideas about how to accommodate courses meeting for all instructional hours were welcome. Dr. Prabhu clarified that this is not making up a holiday but finding additional hours for classes missed because of the holiday. Concern was expressed about how common calendar restrictions were disrupting the academic environment of the campus. Dr. Prabhu noted that we were accommodated on our request that the winter break be a minimum of four weeks but that graduation will be one week earlier in spring 2009. Given the shorter overall length of the semester dictated by the common calendar, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and spring break, classes meeting on Monday will have less instructional time available next spring. Dr. McNairy responded that some PASSHE schools argued strongly for a common calendar because of collaborative programs. Discussion was held regarding whether there was hope that the calendar would become more flexible with a new chancellor coming in. It was noted that the Board of Governors is likely more focused on finding a politically savvy candidate with strong fund-raising goals than someone wanting to work with faculty on academic agendas. Dr. McNairy encouraged individual faculty to consider periodically attending the BOG meetings to express academic concerns.
Dr. Prabhu emphasized that the administration is primarily concerned about being able to provide facility accommodations for faculty needing to meet classes at alternate times. He noted that faculty members are responsible for making sure that students get the full content of every course. However, he stated that faculty may do this as they see fit. Suggestions like homework assignments and online or asynchronous input that do not require a Saturday meeting or physical classroom space could be effectively used. A question about plans at other PASSHE schools was raised.
Meeting was adjourned at 5:12 p.m.
Aimee L. Miller
Secretary of the Senate