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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Meeting

Minutes   #28

May 12, 2009

1. The meeting was called to order at 3: 06 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 in the President's Conference Room in Green Hall, Chairperson Martin presiding. All members were present.

2. Draft Minutes from FSEC Meetings #21, #22 and #27 were distributed. It was agreed to review the Minutes and make suggestions for changes but not to approve them at that time.

Ms. Grubman said that she would share all of the outstanding Minutes with the FSEC for additions and suggestions and would bring them to the 2009-10 FSEC for approval.

The Executive Committee discussed Senator Nassersharif's suggestion in his candidate's statement that the Senate Office promulgate the FSEC Agenda as well as Minutes. The committee agreed that it would be possible to do this in conjunction with the preview agenda that Ms. Grubman sends to the Executive Committee approximately a day before the meeting. The committee also noted, however, that the list of Executive Committee members and how to contact them is always available on the Faculty Senate web site. Any faculty member who wishes has always been able to bring a concern to the Executive Committee to be discussed.

3. Chairperson Martin reported on the May 11, 2009 Meeting of the Board of Governors for Higher Education. The main item of business was the announcement of Dr. David Dooley's appointment as President of URI after the Board came out of Executive Session. She also noted that members of the Board each thanked and complimented President Carothers for his 18 years as President of URI. The one additional item of specific interest to RI was the approval of the Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

4. The Executive Committee reviewed the Agenda for Meeting #8 of the Faculty Senate scheduled for the following Thursday, May 14. They agreed that they should present a resolution in honor of President Carothers after the Report of the President.

It was further agreed that Senator Swallow would move that the Faculty Senate accept the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Site of the Research Park and endorse the committee's conclusions.

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

a. JSPC: The FSEC noted that the JSPC had reverted to receiving reports at the May 7 meeting. It was agreed to encourage the 2009-10 Executive Committee to continue submitting 'Matters of Concern to the Faculty' for the Agenda for each JSPC meeting.

b. Ad Hoc Committees: It was agreed to defer to the 2009-10 FSEC the appointment of the second Ad Hoc Faculty Senate Committee to review priorities for the character and facilities of the Research Park.

6. The Executive Committee met with Provost DeHayes from 4:10 to 5:40 p.m. The following matters were considered:

a. Chairperson Martin welcomed Provost DeHayes and began the meeting asking what the Provost's Office was planning to do to support the work of the Faculty Senate Office. Provost DeHayes said that he was aware of the situation and that his team was working on a plan for the next academic year. Ms. Grubman noted that in order for her to complete the sections of the catalog delegated to her office she would need assistance for the Faculty Senate Office in May and June.

b. The Provost and FSEC discussed the importance to the University for improving its retention of out-of-state students and ways in which that might be accomplished. A significant amount of effort and expense is devoted to recruiting out of state students, whose retention rate averaged about 73% compared to 87% of instate students. Provost DeHayes suggested that the University gather data on the characteristics of the out of state student who is successful and remains for four years and to focus admissions efforts on students with similar characteristics. Also, special emphasis on retention of first-year students and enhancing the first-year experience would pay big dividends if successful.

The Provost said that the reason students give most often for leaving is the cost. He suggested that if students see the value of a URI education they would be less likely to leave because of cost.

Provost DeHayes said that he hoped some exciting ideas for freshmen students would emerge from the call for the interdisciplinary general education proposals. He said that about 30 proposals had been submitted, but since Vice Provost Beauvais was coordinating a small faculty group to review the proposals, he wasn't ready to say which would be recommended for funding.

He said that he hoped that all involved would agree with the selection of a common book for all freshmen to read over the summer and suggested that a blog for discussion of the reading might be a possibility.

c. Provost DeHayes and the Executive Committee discussed the Graduate School and graduate programs. With regard to the Graduate School, Provost DeHayes said that he hoped Interim Dean Zawia would be able to move the focus from technical matters to a broader focus.

The Provost said that he hoped the review of small graduate programs initiated by the Board of Governors might lead to decisions to combine programs under one degree and to more creative ways to move together graduate students from several disciplines for interdisciplinary programs.

Provost DeHayes noted that graduate programs in the arts and humanities had not lost graduate teaching assistants to the extent science departments had. He distributed a chart titled " Graduate Teaching Assistantships: Distribution and University Investment" which shows that 147 of the 322.5 teaching assistantships were located in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Provost DeHayes said that while graduate students benefit from teaching experiences, it might be more appropriate to hire lecturers for some departments than to overload teaching assistants with too many responsibilities. He suggested that the lecturers might be given greater acknowledgement of their contributions, including the possibility of some type of promotional ladder.

d. Provost DeHayes and the FSEC discussed the Faculty Forums sponsored by his office and the Faculty Senate during the 2008-09 academic year. There was general agreement that three forums were too many and that that the seminar format appeared to have worked best. After discussion, all parties decided to limit the forums to two during the 2009-10 academic year and to plan for a more interactive experience. The committee recommended scheduling and publicizing the Forums well in advance. Chairperson Martin urged that the Committee and the Provost work together during the summer to select the broad issues to be addressed as well as the faculty participants.

e. The Executive Committee expressed concern that faculty scholarly endeavors, especially in the arts and humanities, are not showcased to the same extent that funded research projects are. Provost DeHayes said he would consider ways to highlight some of the faculty's outstanding scholarship and creative activities accomplished without outside funding. He noted that even funded research has a financial cost to the University and that scholarly work in the arts and humanities is highly valued on campus and more broadly throughout the state.

f. Provost DeHayes reported to the FSEC on the results of the Wabash and NSSE studies of URI Students. He said that it was clear that the University could take definite steps towards enhancing the value of a URI education. He noted that university practices and conditions including "good teaching and high quality interaction with faculty, academic challenge and high expectations, diversity experiences, and deep learning," are areas that should be focused upon. He suggested that the IDP might devote some of their programs and workshops for faculty along the best practices in these areas.

g. Provost DeHayes reported to the FSEC on the results of the Wabash and NSSE studies of URI Students. He said that it was clear that the University could take definite steps towards enhancing the value of a URI education. He noted that university practices and conditions including "good teaching and high quality interaction with faculty, academic challenge and high expectations, diversity experiences and deep learning," are areas that should be focused upon. He suggested that the IDP might devote some of their programs and workshops for faculty along the best practices in these areas.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Sheila Black Grubman