1. The meeting was called to order at 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12, 2006 in the third floor conference room in Green Hall, Chairperson Rice presiding. All members were present except Senator Barbour.
2. Ms. Grubman reported that the Minutes of Meeting #27, March 22, 2006 were posted after President Carothers reviewed the accuracy of sections that pertained to his meeting with the FSEC.
The Minutes of Meeting #28, March 29, 2006 were approved. The Minutes of Meeting #29, April 5, 2006 were approved pending the Provost's review of a statement that had been attributed to her.
a. Chairperson Rice reported on the April 7, 2006 meeting of the Board of Governors Academic and Student Affairs Committee. He said that the Committee had approved the Mission Statement for Rhode Island College. He also noted that they also approved recommendations regarding two proprietary schools. Chairperson Rice said that Dean Richmond and Dean Libutti reported on the new PeopleSoft on-line modules for advising students and provided the committee with a demonstration of both the advising system and on an electronic textbook for URI 101.
Chairperson Rice said that Associate Commissioner Carriuolo presented a report on college readiness of high school students in Rhode Island, which should be available on the web at http://www.ribghe.org/pilot.htm.
b. Vice Chairperson Martin reported on the April 10 meeting of the Board of Governors, which had been held on the URI campus. She noted that the Mission Statement for Rhode Island College and recommendations regarding two proprietary schools were approved by the full Board at the meeting. The Board also approved recommendations for granting degrees at all three institutions and tenure recommendations from URI.
Also on the Agenda as part of President Carothers' announcements were curricular matters at URI: 1) a notice of change in name of the M.S. degree in Manufacturing Engineering and 2) a notice of the establishment of a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Information Literacy Instruction.
c. The Executive Committee discussed correspondence on NEASC general education requirements, which had been adopted by the Board of Governors for Higher Education. Concern was raised about the Board's decision to require the three institutions to change the number of credits required for general education based on the Office of Higher Education's interpretation of NEASC requirements.
4. The Executive Committee met with Provost Swan and Assistant Provost Katz from 1-2 p.m. The following matters were considered:
a. Update on the Budget situation: Provost Swan said that each of the divisions of the University had been asked to cut ten percent of their administrative budgets this year and that she had made a similar request to the deans. She said that some of the reductions can be made changing the source of funding for positions or by converting some positions from calendar-year to academic year. The Provost said that administrative units and positions were most likely to suffer the majority of cuts. She explained that since no immediate savings could be retrieved by the reduction or combination of academic programs or units the University would have to consider these possibilities for the longer term. She said that the President had joined the Council of Deans' meeting that morning to discuss the seriousness of the budget situation and the need to make difficult decisions.
Provost Swan reported that in addition to the possible reduction in the University's budget over the next two fiscal years, the R.I. Department of Administration said that 31.5 positions at URI must be eliminated as part of the state's personnel reform plans. The Provost explained that this would reduce URI's budget by another $2.8 million.
She said that faculty searches for the 06-07 academic year were still proceeding but that the President had frozen searches for other positions unless they were necessary for health and safety reasons. In response to questions from the Executive Committee about administrative searches, the Provost reported that while the new Vice Provost for Information Services has been hired several might have to be postponed.
Provost Swan said that she would welcome the Executive Committee's advice on these matters.
b. Use of AIIM financial data: Provost Swan expressed appreciation to Chairperson Rice for bringing to her attention, and subsequently to the Deans,' the availability of data on the web.
c. NEASC standards on General Education: The Executive Committee and the Provost discussed the Board of Governors' mandate that each of the institutions plan to increase general education requirements to meet the NEASC Standards. Provost Swan reported that she had specifically asked colleagues at NEASC about the 40-credit requirement and had been assured that the number of credits for general education at URI could be explained briefly and that there was no necessity for reconsidering the number of credits for general education based on the NEASC standard. She said that she intended to discuss this issue with Associate Commissioner Carriuolo.
Members of the Executive Committee questioned whether the Board of Governors had the authority under state law to mandate what was clearly a curricular matter under the aegis of the faculty and the President.
d. Membership of the Board of Governors: Provost Swan said that a hearing on appointments and reappointments to the Board of Governors was scheduled for the following afternoon and provided the Executive Committee with a list of members. She said that she planned to speak on behalf of the reappointment of Tom Rockett.
5. The Executive Committee reviewed the draft Agenda for Faculty Senate Meeting #8, April 20, 2006 and approved it in final form.
6. The Executive Committee discussed the following matters of continuing concern:
a. Faculty Survey: The Executive Committee agreed that the survey they received from Professor Costello needs only minor adjustments before it can be announced. Vice Chairperson Martin agreed to draft an introduction to the survey to put it into the appropriate context.
b. Academic Program Review (AIIM): Senator Kowalski reported that he had been asked about whether anyone had looked into the statistical significance of the AIIM data. Chairperson Rice said that the position of the AIIM working group was that the tool lacked the precision needed for such an analysis.
c. NEASC Accreditation Update: Senator Kowalski reported that the chairs of most of the committees have been appointed but there hasn't been an opportunity to meet with them as a group. He said that they planned to invite a representative from NEASC to meet with the chairs about what was expected as part of the self-study. Senator Kowalski noted that, although the Provost had called for volunteers for the committees, a relatively small number of faculty had expressed interest in serving on them.
7. The Executive Committee agreed to the following topics for their April 19 meeting with President Carothers:
a. URI's budget difficulties, including plans to identify areas to be cut;
b. Authority of the Board of Governors for Higher Education to impose mandates with regard to curricular matters.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:30 p.m.
Sheila Black Grubman