1. The meeting was called to order at 9: 10 a.m. on Monday, May 5, 2008 in the third floor conference room in Green Hall, Chairperson Miller presiding. All members were present.
2. The Minutes from Executive Committee Meetings #27, April 14, 2008 and #28, April 21, 2008 were approved pending review by President Carothers and Provost DeHayes of sections pertinent to their meetings with the FSEC.
3. The Executive Committee met with Provost DeHayes from 9:30-10:45. The following matters were considered:
a. Charge to the Blue Ribbon Commission: Professor Rice joined the Executive Committee and Provost DeHayes for a discussion of the draft charge to the Blue Ribbon Commission. During discussion members of the FSEC and the Provost suggested a number of changes. Professor Rice was asked to refine the charge based upon the discussion.
b. Overview of the Academic Affairs budget for FY'09: Provost DeHayes shared with the FSEC the organizational chart for The Vice Provosts and the Deans in Academic Affairs. He explained that given the continuing uncertainty of the FY'09 allocation, budgets had been reduced by 9% to 12.5%. He said that these cuts were allocated differentially depending on various factors. He noted that the College of Arts and Sciences, for example, had been asked to reduce by 9%, while other units were expected to be cut by larger percentages. He noted that the cuts were extremely painful in every area of Academic Affairs.
The Executive Committee asked whether the Provost would consider differential tuition for more expensive programs to help with some of the budget problems. The Provost said that while this has already been the practice in a few instances, it was a potentially dangerous move that could create problems in the future. He remarked that the course fee discussion at the Senate had brought out the issue of differential charges for courses and said that he was also concerned about over dependence on "course" or "laboratory" fees as well.
Provost DeHayes also reported that he intended to simplify several processes that currently required review by the Office of the Provost. He said that about fifty procedures would be streamlined by reducing the number of signatures required and noted the new procedures would place greater accountability on the deans as the final signatories.
c. Retention: Provost DeHayes shared with the Executive Committee information provided by Dr. Libutti about student graduation rates. He noted that while students, especially freshmen, enrolled in an adequate number of credits to progress normally, they appeared to drop courses in larger than expected numbers. For example, by the end of two years, approximately 42% of sophomores had earned less than 60 credits. 48% of current sophomores are taking less than 15 credits this semester. He reported that only 37% of students graduate from the university in 4 years and that 57.5% graduate in 6 years. He said that this slippage had a negative effect on URI's published graduation rates compared to other institutions and was expensive for the university as well.
Provost DeHayes suggested that the Faculty Senate might want to examine the university's policies on dropping courses. He suggested that the policies might contribute to the problem.
d. Research Issues: Provost DeHayes said that he hadn't had the opportunity to discuss with Vice President Alfonso the FSEC's concern that there is a need for greater support in the Research Office for social sciences and humanities research but hoped to do so.
The Provost said that he and the Vice President for Research and Economic Development had talked about the concerns related to tuition for graduate research assistants. Provost DeHayes outlined his idea that the Provost's Office, the Research Office, and the College Deans might contribute to competitive fellowships for faculty members. The faculty would write proposals to fund the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for graduate assistants on specific grants. He said that given the financial situation, it would be impossible to do anything this year, but that he hoped to begin a small-scale program next year.
e. Forum on Learning and Discovery for the New Global Century: Provost DeHayes asked the Executive Committee to co-sponsor a faculty forum in the fall. He said that he envisioned one forum in the fall and another in the spring drawing on the expertise of the URI faculty. Chairperson Miller said that he would co-sign the letter to the faculty alerting them about the Forum.
4. The Executive Committee reviewed the draft Agenda for Faculty Senate Meeting #9, May 15, 2008 and approved it pending receipt of the outstanding report from the Nominating Committee and the revised charge to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Futuring.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 a.m.
Sheila Black Grubman