1. The meeting was called to order at 2: 00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 in the third floor conference room in Green Hall, Chairperson Martin presiding. All members were present. Ms. Grubman did not attend the meeting.
a. Report on September 29 Meeting of the Board of Governors.
Chairperson Martin provided the committee with a copy of her notes from the meeting. The Presidential Search Committee will hold an organizational meeting on November 3. Commissioner Warner and Judge Caprio encourage questions about the search process, to be addressed to Mr. Ryan, Dr. Rockett, and Ms. Dan-Messier.
The Board also discussed the budget problems and expressed fear that we would be facing the privatization of higher education in Rhode Island if things continue as they are.
b. The FSEC will meet with Vice President Tom Dougan on October 7 at 3:00 p.m. The committee discussed questions for him regarding the Talent Development program's expense and success rate.
c. The FSEC will continue to try to schedule a meeting with the Deans although it has been difficult to find a time during which everyone can meet.
3. Update on matters of continuing concern:
a. The Presidential Search
Commissioner Warner sent an email to the University community asking for input and participation in the Presidential search process.
b. The Blue Ribbon Study Commission on the future of URI
Chairperson Martin noted that she, Professor Rice, and Provost DeHayes will meet on October 1 to finalize the list of names for the Blue Ribbon Commission.
c. October 16 Faculty Forum on Learning and Discovery for the New Global Century The participants in the Forum include Professors Tom Mather, David Byrd, Jody Lisberger, and Art Mead.
d. FSEC's items for the JSPC Meeting of October 9, 2008
It was agreed that the FSEC would prepare a report on threats to the continued quality of education at URI given our recent budget cuts.
4. The committee noted that some senators were upset that they did not get printed hard copies of the senate agenda for Faculty Senate Meeting #1, September 25, 2008. Due to Ms. Grubman's lack of support staff, the senators will have to continue to print their own copies of the agenda and supplemental materials.
5. Meeting with Provost DeHayes at 3:00 p.m.
a. The discussion with Provost DeHayes centered on issues of efficiency in delivering the curriculum. Provost DeHayes noted that many of our students do not take a full load of 15 credits each semester, leading to "rework" when those students need to retake courses they've dropped. It was suggested that the drop deadline could be moved to earlier in the semester encouraging students to remain enrolled in more courses.
The Provost also noted that the faculty-student ratio at URI is 15.4:1, which is lower than at other New England institutions. If the faculty-student ratio were closer to 17.5:1, that could mean millions of dollars saved by the University. Provost DeHayes also noted that it may be possible to increase the faculty-student ratio and at the same time reduce faculty teaching loads to 4 or 5 courses per year instead of the 6 per year many teach now. In addition, with dwindling resources departments feel they can barely deliver the curriculum that they already have and are not inclined to take on more.
b. The committee noted that the lack of support staff currently is negatively affecting faculty's ability to work efficiently, as many of us are spending time doing clerical tasks that could be performed by staff.
c. Provost DeHayes noted that there are some barriers to increased interdisciplinary work at URI centering on "bean counting" approaches. One suggestion would be for credit hours to follow faculty members rather than courses. Senator Swallow noted that some interdisciplinary approaches can lead to "jack of all trade" graduates, which we should work to avoid.
6. There was no unfinished business.
7. One item of new business is that the Executive Committee should appoint a representative to the ASAC, Academic and Student Affairs Committee, which is a Board of Governors committee. Senator Meagher noted that she could attend the meetings, which are generally at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:15 p.m.