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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Meeting

Minutes   #3

July 1, 2009

1. The meeting was called to order at 1:35 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 in the Dorothy M. Vocino Conference Room in the Library. Chairperson Swallow presiding. All members were present.

2. The Minutes of Executive Committee Meeting #2, June 23, 2009 were approved as corrected.

3. Announcements/Correspondence:

a. Senator Eaton reported on the June 24 meeting of the Board of Governors Student and Academic Affairs Committee. She said that items of interest to URI included the approval of the proposal for the new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree; recommendations for suspension, consolidation or provisional retention of identified programs; and a report from URI on centers. The agenda for the meeting is available on the web at

Ms. Grubman said that she expected more information on the Council for Research's review of centers and would appear on the Agenda for the September 24 Faculty Senate meeting.

b. Members of the Executive Committee reported on and discussed the Board of Governors meeting of June 29, 2009. At the meeting, the Board addressed all of the recommendations of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. It was noted that much of the Board's meeting had been reported in The Providence Journal. The Agenda and enclosures are available on the web at

It was agreed that it would be unrealistic to think that final action could be taken at the University to consolidate and/or enhance all of the flagged programs by January 15, 2010. The consensus of the FSEC was that in some cases it would only be able to show progress reports to the Board of Governors by the January 15 date.

Chairperson Swallow suggested that members of the FSEC sign in at Board of Governors' meetings in the event that they wanted to speak on relevant issues.

c. The members of the FSEC thanked Senator Honhart for providing them with copies of recent admissions data that had been distributed to the Chairpersons of Arts and Sciences by Dean Brownell.

d. Chairperson Swallow announced that he and Vice Chairperson Ordoñez were scheduled to meet with Provost DeHayes on July 2 and again on July 16. Discussion ensued with regard to identifying priorities to raise in their conversation with the Provost.

e. The Executive Committee agreed that sending out their preview Agenda had resulted in valuable questions and advice. It was agreed that Chairperson Swallow would send a message to members of the Senate reporting in more detail about the events preceding, during, and after the Board of Governors June 29 meeting. (The message was subsequently mailed to all Senators on July 3 and is attached to the Minutes of this meeting.)

f. Chairperson Swallow reported that faculty members had contacted him to raise concerns about two searches that had been conducted this summer. It was agreed to mention the concerns to Provost DeHayes when the FSEC has the opportunity to meet with him later in July.

4. The Executive Committee continued the discussion begun at their previous meeting about developing an Agenda for the 2009-10 Faculty Senate and its Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee discussed the following materials, which had been forwarded to members of the FSEC since the June 23 meeting:

a. Report of the Teaching Effectiveness Committee on Advising: It was noted that after they leave University College it may be difficult for some students to make advisor appointments without adequate resources to bring all college/departments into the online advising process.

b. Library Resolutions: Senator Izenstark said that she would follow up on the resolutions for the next meeting.

c. Recipients of the Provost's General Education grants: The Executive Committee reviewed a list of faculty who had received the grants and agreed that many of the proposals were related to interdisciplinary and thematic approaches to new courses as well as to existing courses. These grants were the Provost's direct response to comments raised at the Academic Planning Summit in January ( It was noted that the UCGE Committee planned to hold their first meeting before the beginning of the fall semester in order to consider any proposals developed during the summer and to provide guidance to faculty members proposing new courses.

Chairperson Swallow said that he hoped the Senate could work with the Provost to integrate principles for evaluating academic programs and contributions with principles for budget priorities.

The Executive Committee agreed that the Senate's major focus should be on curricular issues related to student retention, such as the first year experience, outcomes assessment, and interdisciplinary teaching and research initiatives. They agreed that

the Faculty Senate should continue with initiatives related to improving general education, not looking solely at the specific details of the program, but should also include incorporating some of the best practices identified in the Wabash ( and NSSE reports (

5. The Executive Committee asked Ms. Grubman to work on scheduling meetings with Provost DeHayes and President Dooley for later in July. The Committee also agreed to set August 26 as the date of their last summer meeting and to schedule any additional meetings for July and August, as needed at times when a quorum of Executive Committee members would be available.

6. The Executive Committee agreed to schedule their regular meetings in the fall semester on Fridays from 1-3 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Sheila Black Grubman

Attachment to FSEC Minutes #3, July 1, 2009

To: FacSen-S

From: Sheila Black Grubman,
Subject: Message from Stephen Swallow Faculty Senate Chairperson
Date: July 3, 2009

To URI Faculty Senators:

The FSEC commented to me Wednesday that perhaps the Senators would like to know about a few activities recently with respect to Board of Governors (BOGs) actions on curriculum changes. A few of Senators already had inquired Monday and Tuesday, and this message is adapted from my reply to them.

After the Providence Journal article June 28, pertaining to cutting and consolidating programs, we were concerned of the negative perceptions and impacts that the article could generate. I had an exchange with Provost DeHayes, Assistant Commissioner Deborah Grossman-Garber and Commissioner Jack Warner at RI Office of Higher Ed. Certain items (many, actually) were reported in the article in a manner that was either wrong or at least generated confusion. Very few majors were actually suspended (5), and that is an action the BOG can take on its own, irrespective of whether it is the best path to do so without Senate involvement above the department-level questionnaire that was used in the process. Some suspended or terminated majors were actually just follow-up actions from 2002. The numerous programs listed for consolidation or further (provisional) review status have actually had no changes imposed by the BOG relative to their current operations; the BOG is expecting programs in these categories to be conscientiously moving toward consolidation or plans to raise the enrollment or effectiveness of the programs with regard to the BOGs concerns, and the faculty and Provost DeHayes will need to collaborate on an appropriate response. Consistent with our exchange, Commissioner Warner reminded the BOG that any programmatic changes to the non-suspended programs would necessarily go through the Faculty Senate and shared governance processes. Provost DeHayes reinforced that message to the BOG Monday night as well. In the case of certain engineering programs (on which I had a specific inquiry from a senator) several of those types of changes have already been moving through our committee system, and the Senate has already taken some actions based on proposals generated through normal channels; it appears the BOG has yet to act on some of these details. However, on Monday night (June 28) I believe the Board took no actions that required Faculty Senate approval, so that we were not "skipped over" in terms of appropriate procedures, although in the future the Senate might choose to take a more active role.

I noticed Monday night and Tuesday saw improved statements coming from the Board and Commissioner Warner's office with regard to the need to focus on the future quality of programs, and I overheard an interview by WRNI with Provost DeHayes in which he was hitting the positive constructive messages quite directly (and hopefully those quotes reached the airwaves). We all need to realize that reporters print or write or edit freely, despite the best efforts of our spokespersons. Tuesday's on-line ProJO article from Jennifer Jordan showed an improved perspective, but obviously could not fix the damage from Sunday. Through this week Linda Acciardo's office was taking steps to develop press materials and get something on-line (I have not checked how far that went; it was still in progress Thursday). I also emailed a positive statement (copied below) to Jennifer Jordan and Ms. Harrison of WNRI, but realistically this will influence (if anything) future interactions with the press.

The FSEC had an informal lunch with David Dooley (no minutes - not an actual meeting), June 2. We are talking about priorities as suggested by a number of Senators and others, and this is overlapping with the agenda items you've seen on the FSEC agenda. At Wednesday's FSEC meeting, we initiated steps to get started with regular meetings with Provost DeHayes and President Dooley. I have been in touch with Provost DeHayes several times this month, and the campus reality is that President Dooley may not be directly available until mid-August, although today the campus email system distributed his statement concerning a brief time on campus in late July.

Here is what I sent to the couple of reporters; Senators, please note that I hope to help improve the positive image of URI even as we work to improve the manner in which coming changes are developed and implemented with administration:

The URI program changes are about reorganization that updates and assures excellent programs and maintains URI's strengths for the future.

Program changes will give students opportunities to pursue futures in

  • the green economy,
  • the science- and engineering-driven economy,
  • a society that sustains quality of life in arts and aesthetics,
  • sustainable communities,
  • careers affecting human welfare
  • and more.

As final changes are developed over the coming months, we should expect strengthened programs in breadth and depth in areas for which URI already has a strong reputation.

Stephen K. Swallow
Chairperson, Faculty Senate



Sheila Black Grubman

Faculty Outstanding Award

2015 Notice and Criteria



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