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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Meeting

Minutes #13

November 20, 2007

1. The meeting was called to order at 8:40 a.m. on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 in the third floor conference room in Green Hall, Chairperson Miller presiding. All members were present.

2. The Minutes of Executive Committee Meetings #10, October 30, 2007, and #12, November 13, 2007 were approved as corrected.

3. Announcements/Correspondence

a. The Executive Committee discussed the recent controversy with regard to the President and the Deans and various comments that they had received from faculty members across campus. It was agreed that they would discuss this and related matters with President Carothers when he joins them later in the meeting.

b. The Executive Committee discussed draft letters about the AIIM from Professor Rice on behalf of the APRC. The first draft was to Deans and Department Chairs and the second, to faculty. A number of suggestions were made and Vice Chairperson Martin agreed to edit the letters and come back with a revised draft.

4. The Executive Committee was brought up to date on the following matters of continuing concern:

a. Searches: The Executive Committee agreed to ask President Carothers for a progress report on the Provost Search when they meet with him later that morning. Chairperson Miller reported briefly on the progress of the search for the Dean of Engineering. It was noted that no information had been forthcoming about the Dean of Pharmacy Search and Ms. Grubman agreed to contact Professor Barbour to ask for a progress report.

b. Administrator Evaluation: Ms. Grubman reported that she and Senator Rosen, the Administrator Evaluation Coordinator, had met the previous week with the AEC for Dean Seemann and had delivered the CD's with scanned letters from the CELS faculty. She said that Senator Rosen had outlined the process and had emphasized the importance of confidentiality. She reported that Professor Paton had agreed to chair the committee, after which she and Professor Rosen left the meeting.

Ms. Grubman said that the administrator evaluation letters for Dean McKinney had arrived in the Senate Office the previous week and would be scanned in the same manner as those for Dean Seemann. She said that she and Senator Rosen would meet with Dean McKinney's AEC on November 30.

In response to a question from the FSEC, Ms. Grubman said that she believed that the next two administrators to be evaluated were Vice Provost McCray and Dean Richmond during the spring 2008 semester.

c. Student/Faculty Ratio: It was noted that additional information from Mr. Humphrey on freshmen and sophomore enrollment had been forwarded to the Executive Committee. It was suggested that although 32 faculty members were new to the university this fall, the question was how many are additions to the faculty rather than replacements.

Discussion ensued as to whether student/faculty ratio was the appropriate measure to gather the information they wanted. They asked Ms. Grubman to contact the AAUP about the number of continuing tenure-track faculty members at URI five, ten and fifteen years ago and then find out how many students were enrolled at the university during those years.

5. President Carothers met with the Executive Committee from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

President Carothers began the meeting by distributing copies of his letter to the faculty, which he had forwarded to Ms. Grubman and Ms. Acciardo that morning for distribution to their respective e-mail lists. (See attached.) Discussion ensued with regard to the letter

The Executive Committee strongly recommended that the President call a special meeting of the General Faculty-Graduate Faculty in January to give him the opportunity to speak directly about his plans over the next year and a half. President Carothers suggested that it would be more appropriate for the new Provost to outline future plans at such a meeting.

In response to the Executive Committee's questions about the status of the Provost Search, President Carothers said that he hoped to make a recommendation to the Board of Governors and an announcement shortly thereafter. President Carothers said that he expected that the Provost-appointee would be able to visit the University within a few days of the announcement. He suggested that the Executive Committee might want to schedule a meeting during that period.

The Executive Committee discussed their concerns that quality of the University and its academic programs should take precedence in any discussion of access. They emphasized the need to have programs that people would want to have access to. The Executive Committee suggested that the University work closely with CCRI to ensure that more students are prepared for work at the University. President Carothers said that CCRI was an appropriate entry into the University but only for Rhode Island students.

President Carothers said that improving student retention would have an impact on the budget. He said that although URI followed almost all of the "best practices" with regard to student retention, the graduation rate stayed about the same. He said that Mr. Boden in the Office of Institutional Research had done an historic review and found that except for wartime, the graduation rate was consistent since the University opened. The Executive Committee and the President speculated about possible reasons for the consistent graduation rate.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Sheila Black Grubman


Much as been made in the last twenty-four hours about when I will leave the office of president and why. As most of you know, my current contract runs through June 30, 2009, and I intend to fulfill that contract. It is not my intent to seek an additional three-year term. Beyond June 2009, I have looked forward to some good and productive years among the faculty of the University.

This decision is not driven by my concerns about the state budget picture, as the media would have it. We have weathered such circumstances many times in my tenure (and before), and we are much better positioned this time around to sustain the quality of the University through our own means. After what will then be eighteen years as the president of the University of Rhode Island, the second longest tenure of a president at URI, I believe that it is simply in the best interests of the University to bring in a fresh perspective and new energy.

Provost Swan's decision to leave the office of provost on December 31, 2007 has made it necessary for us to appoint a new senior leader to that most important post, a position second only to the president in authority and responsibility. We have been through an exhaustive search and screening process, under the leadership of the committee led by Psychology Professor James Prochaska. I have completed due diligence on the candidates recommended to me, and I expect to make an announcement of a new provost at the December 3 meeting of the Board of Governors.

It is very important to me and to all of us that the new provost be firmly grounded at the University before a presidential search begins. For that reason, I have held out of the possibility of serving one more year beyond June 2009 to ensure a good transition. This decision is entirely in the hands of the Board of Governors. Should they wish me to serve another year, that would mean that the search for my successor would begin in the fall of 2009 with a new president in place by July 1, 2010.

It is certainly true that these are challenging times. State budget woes, changes in the office of the provost, delays in signing new collective bargaining agreements with our several unions, our reaccreditations process, and enrollment growth--these are all reasons for the current level of stress in our community. But this is also a strong community, resilient and committed to our mission. We care about our students and their success, and our research and outreach programs serve Rhode Island, America and the world. Rhode Island's motto is simply "Hope," and that motto conveys our sense of optimism about the future of this University. In this holiday season, we have much to be thankful for. Keep the faith. RLC



Sheila Black Grubman

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