Report on Actions of the RWU Faculty Senate
For Academic Year 2010-2011
SUSAN BOSCO, 2010-2011 President
As per Article IV, Section 1 of the Roger Williams University Faculty Senate Constitution, the Faculty Senate President shall ensure all actions of the Senate are communicated to the faculty as a whole. This document reports on Faculty Senate actions for the academic year 2010-2011 for the purposes of satisfying this requirement. The report presents annual actions by the Senate as a whole and by the executive committee on behalf of the Senate, followed by actions of the Senate standing committees and ad hoc committees.
Executive committee and senate actions
The Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Senate worked with Interim President Ronald Champagne during this academic year following the resignation of President Roy Nirschel in June, 2010.
At the Faculty Caucus in August, changes to the following sections of the Senate Constitution were approved: Article III, section 2; Article III, section 6; Article VII.
The Senate website was redesigned with the help of Roxanne O’Connell (Communications), Gladys Loa (IT), and Steve Perreira (IT). The new website address is: http://facsenate.rwu.edu/ and it was launched on 9/1/10.
The Executive Committee sent a letter to the Board of Trustees providing input received at the Faculty Caucus on August 31 regarding qualities/qualifications faculty felt were important in a new President. Faculty also asked for 3 representatives on the Search Committee. This letter was considered by the Chair of the Presidential Search Committee and Vice Chair of the Board, Denise Jenkins, who added one more faculty member to the Search Committee (this was the Senate President). The Board Liaison for the faculty, Bob Blackburn, had already been asked to serve. The qualifications submitted by the faculty were included in the position information developed by Academic Search, the company hired to conduct the process.
The Executive Committee, at the Senate’s request at the September meeting, sent an invitation to the Chairman of the Board to attend the next Senate meeting to discuss the relationship between the Board and the Faculty Senate, specifically, how we can work collaboratively to further the mission of the University. There was no formal reply to this letter. Trustee Jenkins did attempt to find a date for such a meeting, but she was unable to coordinate it with Chairman Rick Bready.
Stan Hales of Academic Search met with the Senate in November to obtain our input on what qualities/qualifications we as faculty wanted in our next President.
REPORTS TO SENATE FROM PRESIDENT CHAMPAGNE
The Board adopted updated by-laws that include a conflict of interest policy. There will be two faculty members added to Board Committees. There will be an additional one on the Academic Affairs Committee and one on the Advancement Committee.
The President reported that the academic reorganization proposed last year has been put on hold. The consensus by the Board is that the new President should decide how this process will come about.
REPORT BY BOB BLACKBURN, FACULTY LIAISON TO BOARD
The Academic Affairs Committee met on Sept. 23rd. The main thrust of the meeting was the General Education program, presented in detail. There were discussions about in which athletic conference we should be a member.
Vice President Alfieri and I met with Vice President Fawthrop about the website. An RFP went out to six (or so) companies. Vice President Fawthrop would like to have three faculty members serving on the website oversight committee. She is looking for one Senator and two additional faculty members. Ferd Schroth volunteered to be the Senate representative.
In order to provide a venue for continued discussion of this proposed initiative, the Senate Executive Committee attended some General Education Committee meetings and co-sponsored caucuses on this topic as well.
Details regarding Curriculum Committee actions regarding the General Education proposal are included in that committee’s section below.
In May, the Senate agreed to a structure and duties for an elected General Education Committee which would replace the existing volunteer committee. The new Committee was charged with finalizing and implementing the General Education program. It was also agreed that some of the duties of this Committee would include the following:
- Curriculum review and approval
- Academic Standards
- Faculty Development
Faculty Development activities may include:
- Hosting workshops for faculty to assist in development of new courses and revision of existing courses to populate the General Education program at its outset
- Providing developmental feedback to faculty whose proposals are not accepted
- Meeting with faculty who teach in the General Education program on a regular basis to provide continuity and to provide a forum for discussion of ongoing issues.
There was also agreement that the Faculty Senate would conduct the election to populate this General Education Committee. The committee shall have one representative from each of the professional schools, one from each division of the College of Arts and Sciences, and one from the Department of Academic Support. The term will be 3 years. In the first year, members will be randomly selected to serve 1, 2, and 3 year terms to provide continuity. One-third of members will be assigned to each term. While the chair will be the Associate Provost for University Studies, this will be a non-voting position. The election was completed in May within the schools and divisions and administered by an ad hoc committee: Dave Moskowitz, Joseph Roberts, and Jennifer Stevens.
Allison Chase Padula asked for a Senator to volunteer to serve on the committee planning the commemoration of 9/11. June Speakman agreed to serve on this committee.
In December, the Senate voted to approve the new Student Evaluation of Teaching form that was developed by the task force formed from the last RWUFA contract. Details are included in the Steering Committee section below.
The Senate approved a motion to allow students to register for up to and including 20 credits in a semester without incurring any additional course credit fees. This change was approved by the Board of Trustees, the President, and the Provost. It will be implemented this fall.
The Senate formalized its current practice of inviting Student Senators to its meetings. The Student Senate was asked to select up to four students (one freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and one senior) who would attend the monthly Senate meetings on a regular basis for the academic year. These students would be asked to leave the meeting should the Senate vote for a closed session.
The Senate asked that catalog copy approved by the Senate Curriculum Committee be reviewed by the department chair or area representative before final publication. The Provost will ensure that no changes in content be made to such copy once it is received from the Curriculum Committee and sent directly to the Registrar.
standing committee actions
Academic Standards & Policies
The approval of the policy of allowing students to take up to and including 20 credits without incurring additional credit fees initiated a discussion about the process for reviewing requests from students to add these credits to their semester load. It was moved that the question on specific language in the catalog regarding normal course load be referred to the Academic Standards and Policies Committee. This review was pending at the conclusion of the year.
The committee worked with Associate Provost Koritz to develop a comprehensive policy for addressing academic integrity violations. The new policy includes a University-level review and appeals process. At the April Senate meeting a motion was passed to replace the current Academic Integrity Policy with the revised one from this committee.
Admissions and Enrollment
The committee focused its actions on improving the presence of students from underrepresented groups. One of its actions was to find searchable databases for financial aid opportunities for these individuals.
After reviewing the compiled list of annotated scholarship websites, the committee agreed that the most useful resource is Scholarships, fellowships, and loans a guide to education-related financial aid programs for students and professionals , an electronic reference book. Contents may be browsed or searched by keyword. It is available from the library web site at http://library.rwu.edu/databases/reference.php. This information was also sent to the Financial Aid Office, the Admissions Office, and the Intercultural Center.
The committee also reached out to various individuals on campus who are responsible for recruitment from underrepresented groups to determine how faculty can better support these efforts.
They also coordinated faculty calls to prospective students in conjunction with the Admissions Office.
This committee reviewed 44 new and 41 changes in curricula during the year.
A major amount of time was devoted to reviewing and commenting on the proposal for a new General Education program. The motion to accept the Curriculum Committee Minutes of November 10, 2010 was passed by the full Senate at its December meeting (14-10-1). One particular motion from those was discussed at length, therefore it is provided here:
To approve the Petition for a New Undergraduate General Education Program pending changes from the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee in the following six areas:
1. Reduction in total credits from 48-51credits to 40-41 credits
2. Examination of double-dipping (specific recommendations forthcoming)
3. Elimination of scaffolding/levels
4. Examination of the number of houses (specific recommendations forthcoming)
5. Clarification/examination of prerequisites (specific recommendations forthcoming)
6. Recommendation of additional requirements (specific recommendations forthcoming)
The committee also approved the First Year Seminar portion of the Petition for a New Undergraduate General Education Program to begin in the fall 2012 semester. This motion was not approved by the full Senate.
The committee reviewed a report about the recruitment and support of students from underrepresented populations. There is interest in reaching out to Admissions to determine how faculty could become more involved in these efforts.
The committee co-sponsored a full day diversity workshop held on May 20. The workshop was conducted by a team from the National Coalition Building Institute and included faculty, administrators, and staff.
The committee received five (5) applications for this grant. The committee recommended to the Senate three for funding:
- Loren Byrne, “What is environmental literacy? Engaging faculty in dialogue about knowledge, behavioral and affective learning outcomes.” $1087.52
- Joseph Roberts, “What role should international relations play in general education?” $1657.40
- Becky Spritz, “Place as text: A pedagogy for multidisciplinary active learning.” $1800.00
The full Senate approved the committee’s recommendations.
The committee also moved that the Associate Provost for University Studies establish, through the Center for Teaching and Learning, a forum for the Provost Teaching Colloquium Grant recipients’ presentations to the faculty. This motion was approved by the full Senate.
The committee conducted the nomination and election process for seating the Committee for the Provost’s Foundation to Promote Teaching and Scholarship. Those elected were: (CAS) Sean Colin, Andy Rhyne; (Professional Schools) Gail Fenske, Maria Kula.
The committee was asked to research adjunct faculty hiring practices and involvement of faculty in this process. The report was presented by June Speakman at the April Senate meeting. The report concluded that faculty involvement in the process of defining qualifications and hiring adjuncts is essential from the start of the process to its finish. The committee expressed concerns about establishing written criteria that would remove the flexibility to hire faculty who are talented scholars or practitioners but who lack the stipulated degrees. The Committee recommends that such constraints that exist now should be eliminated, unless required by accreditation.
The Excellence in Teaching Award continued to be administered by this committee. The recipient was Brett McKenzie (GSB).
The committee asked that the Senate recommend adoption of the revised Student Evaluation of Teaching developed by a joint administrative/faculty committee last year. At the December meeting, The Senate approved this motion.
At the end of April, the Provost, Tom Sorger (Chair of the Steering Committee) and the Executive Committee met to discuss how to best implement the new SET. Vice President Dave Moskowitz offered a plan to pilot the new instrument. Under this plan, tenured, full professors could volunteer to use it so that they would not be harmed by any negative results. This plan was proposed to the Senate at the May meeting. The following motion was approved by the Senate: Endorse the implementation of the pilot study of the new student evaluation of teaching for next year and establish a senate committee to compare, from faculty and student perspectives, the results from the new and old SET. This committee will be established in the new academic year.
This committee began to review the Senate Constitution in order to update and clarify the document. They will continue to obtain feedback from the faculty to complete this task.
This Committee was tasked in February by the Senate to explore the feasibility of a faculty center to encourage greater interaction of faculty through dialogue, exchange, and support. A survey was developed and its administration is pending.
At the March Senate meeting, the committee presented a comprehensive report on its survey of graduate students including conclusions and recommendations. There were 5 motions, 4 of which passed. Those passed were:
- That parking bans be lifted after 4 p.m. so graduate students have access to parking in close proximity to classroom buildings.
- That space on campus be allocated for graduate student study and that this space be equipped with lockers for temporary storage of personal items.
- That graduate students receive information regarding access to the Recreation Center and Health Services, via brochure or e-mail.
- That notices regarding all campus programming, appropriate for graduate students, should be sent to the registered graduate students.
The committee met with Scott Yonan, Director of Special Projects, in December. At the April Senate meeting, the committee moved that: The University Life Committee and the Faculty Senate encourage the university to install unsecured kiosks in key locations around campus in addition to the bulletin boards already proposed and shown in the December 15, 2010 University Life Committee Minutes. The unsecured kiosks should be installed in the several locations including, but not limited to, both entrances to the University Commons and the northern entrance to FCAS. The motion was approved.
The Office of Student Affairs met with the committee in April to provide a better understanding of the complex issues surrounding alcohol use on campus and the role that faculty can play in helping to address this issue.
Ad HOC LGBTQ COMMITTEE
This committee initiated a Monday night film series on campus titled “Bridge This”. The goal of the series is to expose students to films that address a variety of diversity-related issues (including LGBTQ topics) and to have discussion about the films. Each film is introduced by a faculty member(s). The series was largely coordinated by Alejandro Leguizamo (Psychology) and ran for the entire academic year.