1. The meeting was called to order at 2: 06 p.m. on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 in the third floor conference room in Green Hall, Chairperson Martin presiding. All members were present except Senators Meagher and Rathemacher.
a. Chairperson Martin noted that she had referred the "We hope" Cigar editorial to President Carothers and Provost DeHayes. She said that she had noted that while there were some inaccuracies in the editorial, the perceptions with regard to the reduction tenure-track faculty due to retirements were similar to the facultyís observations.
Discussion ensued as to whether the FSEC should follow-up on the editorial by clarifying the inaccuracies but agreeing with the studentsí concerns.
b. Chairperson Martin noted that she had shared Professor Riceís concerns about the Flanders Report by e-mail and she hoped everyone on the Executive Committee had the opportunity to read his comments.
c. Ms. Grubman distributed copies of an article titled ìCall to Arms for AdjunctsÖFrom an Administratorî from the October 14 edition of Inside Higher Ed at the request of Professor Dorothy Donnelly. She reported that Professor Donnelly had volunteered to meet with the Executive Committee to answer questions about the article and the current AAUP efforts to improve the working conditions and wages of adjuncts at URI.
After discussion, it was agreed to invite Professor Donnelly to join the FSEC at their October 21 meeting.
3. The Executive Committee was brought up-to date on the following matters of continuing concern.
a. The Presidential Search: Chairperson Martin reported that Professor Jim Miller had attended the position description meeting at the Narragansett Bay Campus and had indicated that the major concern at the meeting had been the need for a President with an understanding and commitment to research.
b. The Blue Ribbon Study Commission on the Future of URI: The Executive Committee agreed to share their list of potential external and internal members of the Commission with the President later that afternoon.
c. October 16 Faculty Forum on Learning and Discovery for the New Global Century: Chairperson Martin reported that the plan for the Forum was that the Provost would introduce the video and each of the panelists and that she would serve as moderator. She urged everyone to attend and to encourage his/her colleagues to attend as well. Ms. Grubman said that she would send another reminder later that afternoon or on Wednesday morning.
d. JSPC Meeting of October 9, 2008: Members of the FSEC noted that, while the discussion of the JSPCís responsibilities to monitor URIís progress on the NEASC recommendations had dominated the meeting, there had been time for consideration of the FSECís concerns with regard to academic quality.
Senator Costello expressed concern that the faculty-student ratio data shared by Provost DeHayes did not reflect the actual situation. She noted that it was important to understand what was and was not included in data determining the ratio. Senator Costello indicated that she had several follow-up questions, which might help clarify the differences between the faculty and student perceptions about class size, etc, in contrast to the Provostís Office data.
4. The Executive Committee met with President Carothers from 3:00 to 4:00 p. Dr. Andrew Harris, the Presidentís ACE Fellow for the 2008-09 academic year, accompanied the President. The following matters were discussed:
a. Follow-up on the discussion at the October 9, 2008 meeting of the JSPC:
President Carothers said that he had been pleased with the discussion of how the JSPC would monitor the NEASC recommendations. He noted that Ms. Morrissey had already prepared an update to the NEASC spreadsheet based on the discussion.
President Carothers expressed concern about how we will respond to the NEASC recommendations about funding. He said that he hoped that the Faculty Senate would take a position on funding the university, which could be shared with the Board of Governors. The Executive Committee noted that they had allowed time on the October 23 Senate Agenda for an informal discussion of alternative funding models. President Carothers said that Ms. Morrissey had asked the budget office for information on the models they had gathered.
The Executive Committee said that they hoped the President would be able participate in the discussion and to answer questions at the Senate meeting. President Carothers explained that he had various fund-raising commitments, which would make it impossible for him to attend the October 23 meeting. He urged the FSEC to ask Vice President Weygand to be available for the discussion.
With regard to the Executive Committee's concerns and those expressed in the Cigar editorial, President Carothers suggested that the Provost's new data might bring new light to understanding this issue. He noted that the problem was at least partially related to the distribution of faculty rather than the number of faculty per student. He thought that the Cigar article did not give proper regard to an exciting group of new faculty members hired for this fall. He said that URI continues to be a tuition driven institution and must maintain academic quality.
It was noted that the data on faculty hiring and student numbers had to have been based on last year's figures and that this year was significantly different in light of increased enrollments and the number of unplanned faculty and staff retirements.
b. Research support for the social sciences and the humanities given the lack of attention to these areas in the Flanders Commission Report: President Carothers reminded the Executive Committee that the Flanders Commission had been primarily concerned with the creation of jobs and hadn't focused at all on areas that did not appear to result directly in an improved economy. He said that the information gathered by the Commission was essentially the same as in earlier studies, such as the Appleseed Report.
There was discussion of the possibility that outside funding would be available in the social sciences and the humanities if faculty in these areas were given adequate support for grant writing.
c. Revision to the charge to the Blue Ribbon Commission and appointment of members and a chair or co-chair now that the Flanders Commission has reported: The Executive Committee shared with President Carothers the names of persons they suggested might serve on the Blue Ribbon Commission. President Carothers said that he would have to revise the charge and perhaps the original membership in consultation with Provost DeHayes. He noted that the University might not need the same type of study originally proposed now that the Deans and the Provost were concentrating on the development of the academic plan and in the light of recent studies such as the Flanders Commission and the New Economy Report done by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. What might be needed was an analysis of ìthe literatureî rather than original research.
The Executive Committee suggested that the internal appointees might meet as a subcommittee to discuss the charge prior to the establishment of the full committee.
5. The Executive Committee reviewed the draft Agenda for the October 23 meeting and approved it in final form. Ms. Grubman said that she would contact Ms. Morrissey about the models and would contact Vice President Weygandís office to find out if he would be available at the October 23 meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:05 p.m.
Sheila Black Grubman