1. The meeting was called to order at 11:10 a.m. on Monday, February 1, 2010 in the President's Conference Room, Green Hall, Chairperson Swallow presiding. All members were present.
2. The Minutes from FSEC Meeting #22, January 19, 2010 were approved as corrected.
a. Members of the Executive Committee who were able to attend the Faculty Forum on Engaging Students in Learning on Friday, January 29, 2010 reported briefly on the event.
b. Chairperson Swallow reported that he was still in the process of scheduling a meeting with Vice President Alfonso and Mr. Saccoccio on the patent-royalties issue. He said that he hoped to meet with them shortly and had written to the faculty who raised the concerns so they were aware of the status of their requests.
c. The Executive Committee discussed a letter on difficulties with SAKAI that Professor Hughes raised on TheForum-L. Senator Izenstark reported that when the faculty committee originally recommended that URI adopt SAKAI, it was with the caveat that adequate support was necessary for the transition from WebCT to SAKAI to work.
4. The Executive Committee discussed the January 28 Faculty Senate meeting. In light of the concerns that had been raised by Senator Gordon about the process by which the Masters in Community Planning was recommended for elimination, they discussed options for the future based on the existing language of the UNIVERSITY MANUAL and Provost DeHayes' explanation of the current process for under-enrolled programs.
The Faculty Senate had acknowledged that the President has the authority to suspend admissions to an academic program, but should inform the University faculty of his reasons for doing so. After 6 years, a suspended program must go through the abolition process in accordance with 8.87.12 of the UNIVERSITY MANUAL. In the specific instance under consideration, the MCP could be eliminated by a recommendation to the current Senate or go through an abolition process in 2011. The Executive Committee reviewed the relevant sections of the UNIVERSITY MANUAL (8.87.10-12) and the background for the legislation on 8.87.12. (See http://www.uri.edu/facsen/06-07--10.pdf; http://www.uri.edu/facsen/veto_senate_bill 06-07--10.pdf; http://www.uri.edu/facsen/Ad_Hoc_Committee-Suspension.pdf)
5. Provost DeHayes and Ms. Morrissey joined the Executive Committee at 12:15. The following matters were considered:
a. The Executive Committee and the Provost discussed the process for reviewing low enrollment programs. Dr. DeHayes indicated that he expected to hear from the Deans shortly about the progress of the reviews.
The Provost reiterated what he had said to the Faculty Senate; that whether one agreed or disagreed with the Board's criteria, it did provide a number of departments with the opportunity to review programs and consider options for strengthening or modernizing them. Provost DeHayes said that it is the faculty's role and responsibility to continually evaluate their programs and that this review had provided them the opportunity to do so. It was noted that a number of departments had proceeded to propose program modifications through the established curricular procedures.
b. The Executive Committee and the Provost discussed the possibility of replacing the JSPC with a new academic planning committee comprising some members of the JSPC as well as others who had an important role in the process. They discussed the charge to the committee and how the group might function in order that the faculty and other members of the University community could develop a sense of ownership of an academic plan. Part of its function would be to ensure an academic plan was a "living document" that continued to develop as the University and society confronted new knowledge and discoveries as well as changing needs. It was agreed that such a committee might report to the Provost and the Faculty Senate on a regular basis.
Given the likelihood that the creation of the new committee would add to the work of members of the Executive Committee, there was discussion of how the Executive Committee might function in the future. The Provost said that he hoped the transitions from one Executive Committee to the next would provide for continuity as well as for fresh perspectives.
c. The Executive Committee asked Provost DeHayes how he saw the relationship between Academic Affairs and the Division of Research and Economic development. They noted that prior to the hiring of Vice President Alfonso, the position was that of Vice Provost within academic affairs.
Provost DeHayes said that dividing the responsibilities between two vice presidents was becoming more common especially at research universities. He said that other universities did not have the clear separation, as was the history at URI with its five divisions. He personally preferred when the Vice Presidents broaden their perspective toward the University as a whole. He said that he and Vice President Alfonso worked together on many issues, shared a number of concerns and consulted one another regularly.
d. In response to the Executive Committee's question about the discussion about 4-credit courses, Provost DeHayes said that although moving to a four-credit model was not a mandate, the College of Arts and Sciences chairs had agreed to investigate the possibility and the Council of Deans was considering ways individual colleges might explore issues related to 4-credit courses in a simultaneous time-frame. He and Ms. Morrissey shared the guidelines for 4-credit courses that had been developed by the College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee. They also provided copies of a guide on considering 4-credit courses that was developed within the Council of Deans to aid units in their exploration and planning. The guide raised a series of issues and questions that should be considered within colleges as part of any discussion of the 4-credit courses concept.
The Executive Committee urged the Provost to encourage deans to be as clear as possible about the fact that there isn't a mandate to move to four-credit curriculums, just to evaluate 4-credit options within their respective colleges and explore its potential value.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:20 p.m.
Sheila Black Grubman