Senate Minutes

March 3, 2015

EB 162

President Lugo Presiding

 

Call to order:  2:03

Quorum confirmed.

 

Previous minutes will be voted on in our next regular session.

 

I:  President�s report:

A.      Update on Chancellor Search �  No information can be disclosed at this point, but candidates are visiting campus and meeting with a limited number of faculty.  Lugo will call a meeting with those faculty who met the candidates, to solicit their direct input.

B.      An important email was sent today regarding the UNC BOG, who are taking big steps that are deleterious to the University, and without listening to input from faculty.  It is time for faculty to become more audible.  A recent article in News & Observer marks the beginning of more sustained media activity to present the faculty position.  The present course of action by the BOG will cause lasting damage that cannot be sustained.  We may be looking at a vote of no confidence for the BOG.  If needed, faculty will be called on to participate .  To help keep faculty informed, Lugo sent his previous Senate statement by email, and a list of more recent assaults may be distributed soon.  Work is continuing with colleagues from other campuses.  Only a few members of the Faculty Assembly (FA) get to meet with the BOG.  A main issue at this juncture involves infringement of academic freedom by closing centers with no justification (this action is now in the Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed, AAUP, etc).  This is an egregious action that violates UNC regulations, which stipulate that institutes and centers are the purview of the individual institutions.  The BOG has also voted to insert themselves in Chancellors searches.  A BOG member will join each search.  There will now be three BOG committees involved in every Chancellor Search; the composition of each is to include three members of the BOG Steering Committee and �up to 15 others.�  The �up to� phrasing is problematic , as it could translate into no additional members, leaving the process in the hands of only three individuals.  The upcoming round of appointments to BOG will bring this administration�s appointees to 32 of 32 BOG members.  The BOG is a very homogenous group, with little diversity of any kind represented.

C.      Summary of discussion from the floor:

1.       What about our BOT?  We have some great trustees but two were appointed directly by BOG and they have caused problems.  We have some good members, but this could change, as they are all appointed from above.

2.       Has FA made any inroads with the legislature?  The FA (formed by former President Friday) is advisory only to the UNC President.  We have no other purview, and the president could choose to get rid of the FA.  FA meets at the BOG building, so there is a visible presence, and FA is often sought out for input on faculty positions.  It seems unlikely that the FA will go away, but if we bug them, that could happen.  Any power really comes from Faculty Senate at each individual University.  Still, the FA network is strong, and communication between the campuses is critical.  We must stand together as 17 campuses when we speak as faculty.  There is also a need to connect with the students, who are becoming aware of the issues.  The next FA president is likely to take a lot of heat, given current issues.  President Lugo would be happy to speak more fully in private about BOG problems.

 

II.  The main agenda for today�s meeting � completion of review of the Faculty Handbook. 

A.      We�re almost to the end.   It should be understood that our RPT and PTR policies always take precedence over the Handbook, and the Handbook must be consistent with those documents.  We�ll take a final vote on the completed Handbook at the next regular meeting.  While our other policies are being reviewed by AA and BOT, the Handbook Committee will also review the Handbook for consistencies.  It will still be good to approve all Handbook changes, subject to possible modifications next year as required to remain consistent with the final RPT and PTR policies.

B.      Beginning where we left off, the Handbook section on PTR will be replaced by our new policies.

C.      The section on Benefits was sent to HR, whose policies are in effect here.  This section will be handled with a link to HR.

D.      In Chapter 5, under �Responsibilities of Faculty,� there is need to update the section on required office hours, as many interactions take place electronically now.  The current policy states that faculty must hold office hours for 2 hours per day during the regular academic term.

1.       Discussion from the floor revealed a range of practices across departments.  A motion  to amend the requirement to state that departments can set their own policies regarding office hours was seconded. 

2.       An amendment to the motion, to state that hours should be posted, was also seconded.

3.        A further amendment, to state that office hours should be posted on or near the office door was also seconded and approved by voice vote.

4.       To be consistent with SACS requirements, it was recommended that we include a statement in this section of the Handbook to the effect that �faculty will be available to answer student questions,� even if specific policies are left up to departments.  For SACS purposes, modality is not critical, so email interactions are fine.

5.       Question from the floor � is �office hours� now just a metaphor?  Are we OK with departments saying that in-person office hours are not necessary?  Response � yes, departments could decide that.  This is the default case for some on-line courses now.

6.       Suggested wording for the motion:  to keep �each member of the faculty�available to students and advisees during office hours determined by departments and posted on office doors.� 

a. Do we need to mention email?  That will be up to the department.

b.The Handbook section on syllabi includes relevant information as well.

c. Argument against the motion � there is value in being in the physical presence of an instructor.  It would be a shame to lose that.  Also, many on-line classes include on-campus students who want to have physical office hours.

7.       Vote on the main motion (in f) � 43 in favor, 4 against.  The motion passed.

E.       The section on Graduate advising is not our charge.  A link to the Graduate Handbook will be included, to replace this section.

F.       UNCW policies on patents are also on the university site and the recent revisions on copyrights and patents, will be linked.

G.      The section on IRB policies will be linked to the University Policies site, to replace the current verbiage.

H.      The remainder of the Handbook lies outside of the realm of Senate authority.

I.        In terms of implementation, some of these changes to the Handbook will be implemented right away, while others will need to wait.  For example, we may decide to move forward with electronic submission of RPT materials right away � this step would not need to be approved by BOT.  Similarly, the items reported for IDEA do not need BOT approval.  PTR does need to be approved up the levels, but this is being expedited and may move quickly.  Once approved, the new PTR policies will go into effect immediately.  Revisions to the Policies for Academic Freedom & Tenure cannot be implemented until they are approved all the way up the line.  We don�t have a good feel for how long that process might take.

J.        Senators should take time to look over the entire Handbook.  We will vote on the entirety of the Handbook revisions at the next regular meeting, subject to approval of our other policies.  The Handbook Committee will take care of re-formatting, following from our changes, and will take care of all clean up.

III.  Announcements:

A.      The RPT document has not been approved by AA.  There were some discrepancies in wording, but not intent, on the issue of split votes.  A group is working on a rewrite to ensure that all wording is consistent, and complete document will be available after the March 27 retreat meeting.  Once in final form, the document will come back to the Senate for final approval (again). 

B.      The Senate evaluation committee will have a new report soon on IDEA.

C.      This is the last of the Senate double meetings!

 

Meeting adjourned:  2:58