Faculty Senate Executive Committee Meeting #9 – September 20, 2010


1.   The meeting was called to order at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, September 20, 2010 in the President’s Conference Room in Green Hall, Vice Chairperson Eaton presiding. All members were present except Chairperson Swallow.


Provost DeHayes joined the meeting and the following matters were discussed:


2.   Vice Chairperson Eaton announced that Chairperson Swallow would be leaving the University in January to take a position at the University of Connecticut. the Faculty Senate By-Laws (5.5 through 5.7), she would assume the Chair in January and the Executive Committee would appoint Senator Larsen as Vice Chair and serve as a Nominating Committee for a six-month replacement on the FSEC.  She said that the FSEC intended to hold an election for the vacancy in December to allow the new member time to become acquainted with the FSEC and issues of concern before the beginning of the spring semester.


The Executive Committee and Provost DeHayes discussed plans for a smooth transition.  It was suggested that Vice Chairperson Eaton “shadow” Chairperson Swallow on relevant committees during the fall semester and Senator Larson do the same with Vice Chairperson Eaton.


3.     Provost DeHayes and the members of the FSEC discussed aspects of faculty involvement and participation in university because it is perceived as less important in the Promotion and Tenure process. The Executive Committee expressed concern that, especially for junior faculty, there may be a perceived disincentive to become part of the University community as well as become scholars who are also teachers.  They noted the perception and potential problem that the long-term effect has produced at least some senior faculty members who don’t participate in university activities.  The Executive Committee suggested that everyone is very busy and would appreciate it if there were more acknowledgement and support for faculty who work towards the University’s overall goals.  Examples of the extra efforts beyond teaching and scholarship are involvement with freshmen, teaching general education courses, and serving on University-wide committees.  The Provost agreed that it is critically important to continue to encourage active participation in faculty governance and university activities.  While the University manual, places teaching and scholarship as the highest priorities, we recognize the need for faculty active involvement of shared governance and process.


The Provost said that much of what the FSEC suggested could be worked out as management issues at the department and college level where the importance of faculty involvement can be emphasized and re-enforced by departmental and college processes.  The Executive Committee suggested that faculty members who are willing to go beyond their immediate departments and fields need to know that the time and effort it takes to develop Grand Challenges, online courses, or serve on task forces and committees is considered worthwhile.  


Provost DeHayes stated that most of these issues should be addressed at the department and college level.  He said that he is encouraging units to develop guidelines and present them to him.  The Provost invited the Executive Committee to provide him with suggestions for acknowledging and encouraging greater involvement in the University as a whole.  The FSEC said that service and working on the challenges of teaching freshmen could be encouraged through making it known that teaching freshman and university service will help a faculty member’s profile for promotion and tenure.  It was agreed that the goal should be a commitment to make URI a better place and promote a culture on campus where these things are important. 


The Provost indicated that it would be desirable to redirect some of the part-time faculty resources into full-time faculty positions where possible, while fully recognizing and applauding the important work done by per course faculty   The Provost said that we are still striving for an overall University-wide student-faculty ratio of 16-17:1, allowing for variations among departments.  Such a ratio would give us a competitive advantage among public research universities, while also reflecting programmatic efficiency.  He said that while it isn't really about the numbers, the data are a tool to help us understand how to manage better, especially at the college and university levels.  


4.      The Executive Committee suggested to the Provost that any consideration of planning for the future of the Library be conducted under the auspices of the Faculty Senate Library Committee, which was the appropriate group to pursue the matter.  The Executive Committee said that the Library Committee had representatives from a number of departments and colleges, the Dean of University Libraries, undergraduate students and graduate students.  They agreed that the committee could add to its membership if expertise was needed in an area that wasn’t represented on the committee.


Provost DeHayes asked the Executive Committee to draft a charge to the Library Committee that would include a vision and planning for the future of the Library in the following areas:  a) information literacy, b) digital libraries, c) the concept of learning commons and d) open access.


5.     The FSEC suggested that the Provost report to the Senate about the outcomes of the programs triggered by the Board of Governors for review in 2008.  He said the outcomes were shared with departments involved and that reiterating that information would not be productive.  He said that he expected the Board to continue to trigger programs that were under-enrolled by their guidelines and it was up to the administration and faculty to continue assessing, revising, and as appropriate enhancing programs.  


 The Executive Committee and Provost DeHayes agreed that if the Academic Program Review Process works effectively, it would minimize the impact of what appeared to be a reliance by the

RIBGHE on arbitrary numbers.


The meeting was adjourned at 3:20 p.m.


                                                   Respectfully submitted

                                                   Sheila Black Grubman