1. The meeting was called to order at 2: 05 p.m. on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 in the third floor conference room in Green Hall, Chairperson Martin presiding. All members were present.
2. Minutes from Executive Committee Meetings #11, November 12, 2008 and #12, November 18, 2008 were approved. Ms. Grubman said that the Minutes from Meeting #10, October 28, 2008 would be distributed by e-mail for consideration at the next FSEC meeting.
a. Chairperson Martin announced that the next meeting of the Board of Governors was scheduled for December 8.
b. Chairperson Martin reported that the Office of the Provost and the IDP were sponsoring two workshops to help faculty prepare online course proposals. She said the faculty involved would participate in an Online fellows program with the intention of offering the online courses during the summer 2009.
4. The Executive Committee discussed Faculty Senate Meeting #3, held on November 20, 2008. They agreed President Carothers' presentation was helpful in clarifying some of the alternative funding issues. Ms. Grubman said at the request of Senator Rosen, she had posted the presentation on the web at http://www.uri.edu/facsen/FS_presentation_Alt_Funding.pdf
Senator Swallow noted it was unfortunate that the Senate hadn't had the opportunity to continue the informal discussion of alternative funding because they had run out of meeting time. Discussion ensued with regard to following up on the topic at the next Faculty Senate Meeting.
5. The Executive Committee discussed matters of continuing concern:
a. JSPC: The Executive Committee discussed the Agenda for the next meeting of the JSPC, scheduled for December 11, 2008. Since Ms. Morrissey had informed them that the Budget would be a major issue at that meeting, as well as an update from the Provost on academic planning, it was agreed to continue the topic of barriers to research as a matter of faculty concern. The committee agreed to focus on smaller, more doable items at that time.
b. The Blue Ribbon Study Commission on the Future of URI: Chairperson Martin said she had an appointment with Provost DeHayes for Monday December 8 to discuss the questions raised by the Executive Committee after reviewing the draft at their previous meeting.
6. Provost DeHayes met with the Executive Committee from 3:00 to 4:20 p.m. Senator Hicks, Chairperson of the University College and General Education Committee (UCGE), joined the meeting as well. The following matters were considered:
a. Four Credit courses: Provost DeHayes said that although he had suggested that departments/programs consider the possibility of moving to a 4-credit model, he had not asked that everyone move in that direction. He said perhaps a hybrid of both 4-credit and 3-credit courses might be the way to proceed. He noted that his goal has been to get faculty to look at more efficient ways to deliver the curriculum. He told the FSEC he would like to be able to reward innovation, but given the limitations on funds, changes had to be cost-effective as well as academically sound.
The Executive Committee agreed that traditional fifty-minute classes might not be the best model for instruction. Chairperson Martin mentioned, for example, the difficulty of squeezing upper-level writing courses, many of which require workshops as well as content new to students, into fifty-minute periods. She noted that many high schools have moved to block scheduling as a more efficient way to deliver the curriculum. Provost DeHayes, who supported what the Executive Committee said by telling them that his student advisory group found 50 -minute classes too short, suggested that if the faculty wanted to try a different scheduling model, Enrollment Services should be involved from the beginning. b. Academic Summit in January: Provost DeHayes said that he hoped the discussions at the summit would begin planning from a university-wide perspective. He hoped that the discussions would lead to the formation of several task forces that would develop steps toward reshaping the University's academic direction. Among the specific areas for task forces might be undergraduate education, including general education, graduate education, research and public engagement. He noted that each of the areas would of necessity have overlapping interests and goals.
c. General Education Curriculum: Provost DeHayes said that he wasn't looking for an overhaul of the general education program. He did hope that as a result of assessing what the University wants students to have by the time they graduate, the program might become more cohesive with its purposes more widely understood and accepted.
d. Governance Models: Provost DeHayes responded to the Executive Committee's questions about the positive and less positive aspects of governance. He compared the effects of a governing board for a system of higher education to the possibility of a Board of Trustees.
He suggested that a Board of Trustees, whose role would be to advocate for the University, would not be appointed from higher education. He said that such Boards are still likely to be comprised of members of the community, such as business leaders chosen from outside the University.
The Provost said that a major responsibility of a Board of Trustees would be in overseeing the budget. He cautioned that this could lead to micromanaging and second-guessing decisions. He suggested that before considering major structural changes in governance, the University should be aware of the possibility of unintended consequences. Provost DeHayes said whatever the governance structure, URI and its governing board needed to develop trust in order to work together on common goals.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:05 p.m.
Sheila Black Grubman