Meeting of the University Senate November 14, 2007
Present: A. Adell, C. Bengston, G. Berk, P. Boye, H. Briston, C. Cherry, M. Chong*,L-S. Chou, A. Coles-Bjerre, R. Davies, D. Falk, A. Gladhart, N. Gulley, E. Herman, D. Hernandez, J, Hunter*, P. Lambert, D. Levin, , B. Malle, A. Mathas, C. Moore, J. Newton, D. Olson, A. Papailiou, S. Paul, E. Peterson, F. Pyle, N. Rajabzadeh, M. Redford, P. Rounds, G. Sayre, A. Schulz ,L. Stephen, T. Toadvine, N. Tublitz, P. van Donkelaar, L. Vandenburgh. *=non-voting participant
Excused: P. Gilkey, P. Lu
Absent: C.A. Bassett, C.A. Bassett, R. Bramhall, K. Kennedy, C. Martinez*, T. Minner, M. Pangburn, C. Parsons, J. Rowell, A. Taylor.
CALL TO ORDER
Senate President Gordon Sayre called the regular meeting of the University Senate to order at 3:08 p.m. in 180 Prince Lucian Campbell. Before moving the meeting forward, President Sayre spoke briefly of the unsettling series of events involving mathematics professor Daming Xu who has been missing since not returning from a Sunday afternoon hike in the Willamette Forest. President Sayre thanked the many colleagues who have participated in the search for Professor Xu and asked that we keep him in our thoughts with the hope that he might be found alive.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
Minutes of the October 10, 2007 meeting were approved as distributed.
STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY
Remarks from University President Dave Frohnmayer. President Frohnmayer spoke on several matters of current interest and importance. He shared news that in the last ten days the university had received a gift of a building for academic learning services for student athletes. The building will replace the now sub-standard facilities located in Esslinger Hall. This project was vetted by the Campus Planning Committee last spring, and will be located on the corner of Franklin Boulevard and Agate Street (currently a parking lot); it will share that space with the proposed Alumni Center, and would be part of the creation of a vibrant learning neighborhood focusing on student services and student engagement in a grand entryway to the university. As visualized, that area would consist of the new academic learning services for student athletes building, the alumni center (and possibly career services) building adjacent to it, and the new basketball arena to the east and south. Along this same line of planning, Hamilton Hall would be renovated (or replaced) according to the recent housing plan presented to the State Board of Higher Education. Taken collectively, the creation or remodeling of structures provides unparalleled opportunity to have both a functional and aesthetic gateway to campus that has never before existed. The president commented that it is exciting to have a building that will be free of debt and is a gift in kind to the university as the cornerstone of this area of campus. Crucial to the donor’s thoughts on the building is that it have a 16o seat auditorium that could be used for academic purposes and/or for community engagement, classes, greeting new students and their families as well as athletic department uses. The first floor would be accessible for university scheduling and would have three conference rooms. Plans for the arena are advanced enough to know that at least two conference rooms would be available in it for general university scheduling. A user group (including Senate President Sayre) has been meeting for faculty involvement in saying how the first floor space (auditorium, etc.) will be used for general university and academic purposes.
Turning to the basketball arena project, President Frohnmayer said that the arena had received initial approval from the State Board of Higher Education. It has been vetted internally quite extensively and is currently the subject of engagement of the Senate Budget Committee (SBC). It also has been the subject of discussion with the staff of the state’s chief financial office and Department of Administrative Services. They have looked at the financial underpinnings of the project and have approved it at this point, recognizing that a consultant’s study will be available in late December. As now scheduled, the project would go before the state Ways and Means Committee in January 2008, and thereafter go to the February meeting of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. It would then come back to the State Board of Higher Education for final approval of the issuance and sale of the bonds in order for construction to begin sometime in summer 2008, to be availabe sometime late in the season for the 2010 calendar year. Next, the president spoke to a number of realities concerning MacArthur Court, saying that it is inefficient and increasingly requires funds to renovate without providing funds in revenue, it has accessibly and safety issues, it is a beloved structure but is at the end of its usable life, and that it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. That real estate, and perhaps a slightly larger footprint that includes the one story portion of Esslinger Hall next door, might be part of a decision about reversion to a facility of more general academic and student uses. The use of that area has not yet been decided. The president noted that there would be opportunities for faculty, student and the externally community (the Fairmont neighbors) to discuss the new arena project further starting now and after the first of the new year when the consultant’s study is complete.
The last issue the president spoke about concerned his presentation of the University of Oregon portfolio to the State Board of Higher Education (see http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen078/Frohnmayer10Oct07.pdf). He identified the mission statement and the character of our university as a member of Association of American Universities and presenting to the state board how we meet that mission and the occasional shortfalls of meeting that mission by virtue of long-term, systematic underfunding of higher education in the state. The conclusion of that presentation was a statement that the status quo is not option. Given the mission statement, the president said that the state needs to step up to support it, and/or make the appropriate changes in governance structure to allow us to meet our mission. The president said that the statement was met with surprising enthusiasm. Reactions, though not formal, were that this is a single opportunity for us to think through changes within the Oregon state governance structure, or constitution, to find ways for the university to be more effective. Some of the ideas would not come as a surprise, but some are more daring, such as forming a constitutional corporation akin to the governing system used by University of Michigan and University of California systems, which are considered the main way to achieve academic excellence. This idea and others are being actively considered, and the president said he would welcome informal and formal comments about it.
During a discussion period, Senator Tres Pyle, English, asked the president what the design possibilities are for a “green” arena building that would be carbon neutral and have genuine efficiency. The president said although he could not speak directly to the architectural specifics, he has a commitment to seeking a low carbon footprint and believes it will be a design consideration. Senator Karen Kennedy, International Affairs, asked about the future parking situation and if a new parking structure was planned. Mr. Frohnmayer answered that there is no current plan for a parking structure nor is there a plan not to have one. The question is on the table. The university is working with the city to factor in mass transit consistent with current efforts to accommodate faculty and staff getting to and from campus. No specific decision has been made at this point. President Sayre added that he has met with Director of Public Safety Kevin Williams who has a number of ideas about how to be creative to answer this problem which might not necessitate a new parking structure.
Switching to a completely different topic, Senator Nate Gulley, ASUO, asked the president if the university has an official stance on the use of tasers by Department of Public Safety officers on campus. President Frohnmayer answered saying that the new public safety director, Mr. Williams, will assess conditions on campus and would make recommendations, and that to date, no report has been received. The president noted that the issue is tied up with the State Board of Higher Education, and whether there should be a unified policy for all OUS campuses rather than a campus by campus policy. Mr. Frohnmayer indicated that his personal view favors campus self-determination of its policy. He continued that because we have an open campus, others besides campus community members may not observe the norms of decency expected and could realistically pose a treat to the campus community. The issue is on the table, and we continue to wrestle with the issue and integrate our activities with the Eugene Police Department as appropriate. Vice President Frances Dyke added that should we move forward with the discussion regarding taser use, we would consult appropriate advisory groups on campus, including elected student members, for an open discussion on the matter.
Annual report on the USA Patriot Act subpoenas. General Counsel Melinda Grier noted that each year the senate has asked her to report whether the UO received subpoenas under the Patriot Act, that allows subpoenas to be issued that cannot be specifically disclosed. Ms. Grier reported that as in past years, the university received no such subpoenas.
Annual report from the Faculty Athletic Representative to the NCAA. Faculty Athletic Representative Jim O’Fallon, law, commented that last year when spoke to the senate, he mentioned that the student athlete graduation success rate had slipped relative to that of the student body overall. Traditionally, student athletes as a group graduated at a slightly higher rate than the overall student body. This year, Mr. O’Fallon reported that, based on the most recent statistics, the student athlete graduation rate is moving upward again – 66% for student athletes compared with approximately 61% for the overall student body. One explanation for the change is that this is first student athlete cohort for whom the new NCAA regulations on academic eligibility have been effective throughout their entire time as students. The new regulations tie academic eligibility to progress made in the student athletes’ degree program. The general idea of the academic progress rate (APR) is to give an idea of academic progress on a team by team basis. The NCAA standard is a 50% graduation rate which, in terms of the APR formula, equates to an APR number of 925. Although there have been some problems in the past, the UO overall APR is 956 (football is 933 and men’s track and field is 989, for two examples). Mr. O’Fallon noted that these are single year data, and they need to hold over time. He concluded his remarks pointing to several instances where student athletes have done particularly well. The men’s basketball team APR is 979, the best in the PAC-10 and in the top 10% of the country. Similarly, the football team’s quarterback, Dennis Dixon, will graduate fall term with a very good GPA, and he is a candidate for a Heisman Trophy. Overall, Mr. O’Fallon remarked that our student athletes run the gamut, academically speaking, from marginal students to quite accomplished, just as is reflected by students in the general student population; additionally, he sees no particular favor being accorded to student athletes.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Marie Vitulli, mathematics, who is the president of the Association of Oregon Faculties (AOF) spoke to the senate about some of the activities of the AOF, a group founded in 1978 to promote the interests of faculty members of the state’s seven public higher education universities. The organization is interested in most facets of higher education, but in particular to protecting and promoting faculty members’ interests in areas such as (but limited to) salaries, benefits, and retirement. Last year, for example, the AOF lobbied legislators for greater higher education funding, with some impact on the results. Currently, the AOF is tracking faculty salaries relevant to other state salaried groups. Ms. Vitulli provided a handout that reflected these comparisons. For example, classified staff expect a 12-15% raise over the 2007-2009 biennium (cost of living increase and step increases). State agency heads/managers are set to receive substantial raises of different levels depending on the agency. Of the seven public universities, many have announced their faculty raises through the biennium. For example, at WOU, faculty will receive an 11.7% raise, and at EOU full professors will receive a 14% raise over the biennium, with other ranks receiving smaller salary increases. The UO and OSU have only announced raises through the first year of biennium so far. OIT has already received a COLA and they are still negotiating with the administration on the faculty raise amount (the faculty senate approved 7.48% and 4.25% for the two biennial years, respectively). Portland State officers of administration received raises between 10-25% in September; however the faculty (represented by AAUP) has not settled negotiations yet for their salary raises. SOU also has a faculty union that is still negotiating. The AOF is keeping an eye on these negotiations and will monitor other legislation affecting faculty members as it arises.
During a question and answer period Senator Nathan Tublitz, biology, asked questions related to the COLAs provided by the state and the principles outlined in the UO’s White Paper on salaries and compensation. There seems to be a discrepancy between what the state is making available and what the UO is providing. Senator Tublitz indicated that his understanding was that COLAs would be paid first, and then merit allocated. Ms. Vitulli said that that the Senate Budget Committee (SBC) was looking into it. Vice President Dyke added that the UO pegs its COLA on the cost of living rate (approximately 2.7%). Faculty salary increases reference the White Paper’s language. It is important to know that higher education receives only a small percentage of its total budget from the state (unlike other state agencies), so the amount we receive for COLAs is only a percentage of the state’s portion of the UO budget, and may not be equal to the amount other agencies receive. Also, the legislature may not release the funds supporting the increases until the end of the legislative session (in July). Ms. Vitulli asked Ms. Dyke if faculty will see COLAs matching those of other state agencies. Ms. Dyke replied that such expectations are factored into the anticipated 5% faculty raise scheduled for January 2008. In addition, there will be consultation with a variety of groups on campus regarding the possibility of targeted salary increases.
Provost Linda Brady commented that during the past academic year the deans talked about structural problems in units, with respect to faculty salaries, that have led to large number of departures to other institutions. The provost noted, for example, that she is particularly concerned about librarians with MLS degrees who are paid $35,000 year in salary, which is well below their counterparts. Our ranking in ALR is dropping, and it is related to librarian salary deficiencies. In conversation with deans collectively, and with limited funds for this year, she would like make targeted investment in librarian salary improvement. Librarians are crucial for institutional excellence, and the library impacts all of us, regardless of school or college. Senator Tublitz remarked that he could fully appreciate the need to improve librarian salaries, but the White Paper adopted in 2000 stated that the top priority of the institution was to raise all faculty salaries, and in this sense, we have fallen backwards, not so in terms of total compensation, but in salary. Provost Brady agreed, but noted we have exceeded the White Paper goal of 95% parity with peers (in total compensation). She indicated she has had conversations that may look at how the White Paper goals were determined, and perhaps need to reconsider goals taking a closer look at salary versus total compensation issues. In addition, the fundraising campaign has emphasized creating more endowed chairs and faculty salary awards. Faculty Excellence Fund awards will be announced in late November and efforts are being made to include funds for faculty recruitment in gifts to the university, such as the recent $75 million gift for the sciences that included faculty recruitment funds. She noted that we cannot solve faculty salary issues in 1 or 2 years, but are making every effort to make and take advantage of opportunities to address the problem.
Resolution US07/08-6 -- regarding the reporting relationship of the Jordon Schnitzer Museum of Art. Mr. Sherwin Simmons, art history, introduced the following resolution:
Resolution US07/08-6 -- regarding the reporting relationship of the Jordon Schnitzer Museum of Art
Whereas, Professional Practices in Art Museums, the guiding statement of best practices published by the Association of Art Museum Directors, recommends that the director of a university art museum report to the “central academic administration” of the university:
Be it resolved that the University of Oregon University Senate,
A. Is opposed to the transfer of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s reporting relationship from the Senior Vice President and Provost to the Vice President for Advancement, and
B. Urges the University President to restore the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s reporting relationship to the Senior Vice President and Provost upon the appointment of a new Executive Director.
As Mr. Simmons had indicated in a September 9, 2007 letter to the senate, the change in reporting relationship of the JSMA director from the provost to the vice president for advancement came as a shock, particularly to the School of Architecture and Allied Arts faculty. Mr. Simmons noted that Provost Brady met with AAA faculty at the end of the academic year last May and announced that she was leading the search for the new museum director to have the new director in place by the fall. Further, there were signs that action was about to be taken regarding governance issues raised in the Pappas Report that was made public last January. It appeared there would be movement to settle issues that would have created a certain level of stability in which a search for a new director could take place. That was about the time when President Frohnmayer announced the change in the reporting structure for the art museum director from the provost to the vice president for advancement, and he also asked that discussion of the Pappas Report cease and start up again in the fall. Mr. Simmons continued that there was no meeting or discussion about what had taken place, nor any satisfactory explanation offered. It seemed the only reason for the reporting change was that the new goal was to hire a new director over the summer and that would be difficult for the provost and faculty to do. The inference was that there would be greater stability if we moved quickly to hire the new director. However, the change suggested to everyone that there was something different from our art museum than others that necessitated reporting to a vice president for advancement instead of the provost. Mr. Simmons said he believes that the reporting decision was wrong, but noted there was additional financial support received for the museum in meantime. He wondered how the changed reporting relationship might have affected how people viewed the museum, including the potential candidates. Citing a number of examples of other campus-located art museums, Mr. Simmons stated that our reporting relationship is clearly outside the norm. He urged a commitment that upon hiring a new museum director the reporting structure reverts to its previous structure of reporting to the provost. He noted that best practices in reporting structures, as understood by the various art museum associations, has the reporting relationship to the provost as standard practice. Clearly, the UO’s set up is operating outside the normal practices. A statement from the University of Georgia’s art museum mission statement says that it exists to support the mission of the university, that is, to support teaching, research, and service. Mr. Simmons concluded by saying a university’s art museum must be tied to the university’s academic mission and to the person who heads the academic mission of the university, the provost.
During a brief discussion of the resolution, Senator Andrew Schultz, art history, noted that he is a member of the search committee for the new director. In talking with the three finalists, two fundamental truths were apparent: first, the primary museum audience is students, and second, the primary mission of the art museum is to serve the educational mission of the university through formal program means, such as curriculum and campus experiences. Given these two truths, it seems inescapable that the office of the chief academic officer should be the reporting line. Senator Schultz urged passage of the resolution, saying that it is the provost who can help the museum achieve its potential in support of its educational mission. There was no further discussion. Resolution US07-08-6 regarding the reporting structure of the Jordon Schnitzer Museum of art was put to a vote and passed unanimously.
Motion US07/08-5 – Eligibility of career non-tenure track faculty to stand for election to the University Senate and/or University Committees. Senate Vice President Paul van Donkelaar brought the following motion to the floor:
Moved to amend section 4.1 of the University Senate Enabling Legislation of the Senate Charter to read as follows (amended text in bold print)
4.1 Each academic unit specified in Section 2 shall determine who is eligible for the purpose of voting for and nominating candidates to serve as officer-of-instruction senators, subject to the following limitations. All tenure-related officers of instruction holding the academic rank of instructor or higher, and employed at .50 FTE or greater, shall be eligible. No faculty person appointed at less than .50 FTE shall be eligible, nor shall any officer of administration who does not hold a tenure-related officer-of-instruction appointment in a school or college, nor shall courtesy, adjunct, or visiting faculty members, nor shall any student. Senior administrators, who are ineligible for membership on the Faculty Advisory Council, shall also be ineligible for election to the University Senate. Effective in the 2008-09 academic year, all career non-tenure track faculty (NTTF) with appointments as officers of instruction shall be eligible to stand for election, to nominate, and to vote in elections to the University Senate and University Committees, subject to the distribution and apportionment specified in Section 2. Career NTTF shall include, but is not limited to, those who have had a continuous 0.50 FTE appointment for a minimum of 3 years beginning on or before September 16, 2004 (August 15, 2004 for the Law School).
Vice President van Donkelaar, human physiology, explained that the intent of the motion is to formalize a practice concerning the membership of non-tenure related faculty (NTTF) on the voting faculty for the purpose of standing for election to the University Senate and to serve on university committees and councils. The vice president noted that the policy recently implemented by Vice Provost Tomlin concerning NTTF recommended voting faculty status for career NTTF, defined as having at least a .50 FTE appointment and at least three years of continuous university service. Some academic units previously have included NTTF as part of the voting faculty, but others have not. The motion is to standardize the practice of including career NTTF as eligible members of the voting faculty, and the mechanism to do so is to amend the governance charter language. The additional necessary clause is in bold type in the text of the motion.
During a discussion period, Senator Bertram Malle, psychology, questioned the phrase “but is not limited to” saying that it was opened-ended and thus could be open to anyone. He preferred language that specified who was included. The secretary commented that the phrase was included because some people have dual titles, such as officers of researchers who also are doing extensive teaching. Deans and their advisory groups have had the prerogative to decide who among them is considered voting faculty; so that dual titled people would not be eliminated and to provide each academic unit the opportunity to account for extraordinary circumstances, the phrase was added. Senate President Sayre remarked that it should not be a problem because all future NTTF contracts will clearly state when a person is a career NTTF. To a question wondering whether officers of research are included in this change, the president noted that officers of research have not been included as part of the voting faculty, and the enabling legislation does not include officers of research, per se. The secretary added that the new legislation does not eliminate those officers of research that have already been included by their academic unit, as is the case in the College of Education.
Senator Christian Cherry, music and dance, then moved to strike the phrase, “but not limited to” from the motion. The amendment to strike the phrase “but not limited to” was put to a vote and passed. The amended text now reads,
Effective in the 2008-09 academic year, all career non-tenure track faculty (NTTF) with appointments as officers of instruction shall be eligible to stand for election, to nominate, and to vote in elections to the University Senate and University Committees, subject to the distribution and apportionment specified in Section 2. Career NTTF shall include those who have had a continuous 0.50 FTE appointment for a minimum of 3 years beginning on or before September 16, 2004 (August 15, 2004 for the Law School).
No further discussion on the main motion, as amended, was forthcoming. Thus, motion US07/08-5 concerning the eligibility of career non-tenure track faculty to stand for election to the University Senate and/or university committees was put to a voice vote and passed as amended.
The required questions for UO course evaluation forms, as adopted by the University Senate on May 8, 1996, and amended in US 97/98-10, be replaced with the following required questions. This change shall take effect when all course evaluations are changed to an internet-based format, either in Winter, Spring, or Fall term 2008.
1. What was the quality of the instructor’s teaching?
Exceptional | Very good | Good | Fair | Poor | Unsatisfactory | Decline to answer
2. What was the quality of this course?
Exceptional | Very good | Good | Fair | Poor | Unsatisfactory | Decline to answer
3. How organized was this course (e.g., syllabus, schedule)?
Very organized | Somewhat organized | Not very organized | Not at all organized
| Decline to answer
4. How efficient was the instructor’s use of class time?
Very efficient | Somewhat efficient| Not very efficient | Not at all efficient
| Decline to answer
5. How available was the instructor for communication outside of class (e.g., during posted office hours)?
Very available | Somewhat available | Not very available | Not at all available | Decline to answer
6. How clear were the guidelines for grading students in this course?
Very clear | Fairly clear | Somewhat unclear | Unclear | Decline to answer
7. How much did you learn in this course?
A great deal | A considerable amount | A little | Not much | Decline to answer
8. How often did you attend class?
Always | Often | Sometimes | Rarely or never| Does not apply | Decline to answer [For example, if it’s an on-line course, the concept of class attendance does not apply.]
9. How many hours per week did you spend on this course, other than time in class?
____ hours per week | Decline to answer
10. What grade do you expect in this course?
A | B | C | D | F | P| NP| Decline to answer
Senator Malle provided a brief background as a reminder that the senate, in concert with the move to have all course evaluations completed on-line, charged a joint senate and academic affairs committee to look into and make recommendations regarding the required questions on all course evaluations. The committee met six times and included several different schools and survey researchers. All meetings had lively discussion about achieving evaluation goals for students and faculty members. Senator Malle commented that committee understands that although the recommended questions may not be perfect, they do represent a sincere, good-faith effort and a reasonable amount of compromise to achieve committee consensus on the 10 questions listed. He also noted that departments and schools may add their own more specific questions to these required questions – it is relatively easy to adapt questions to the particular unit’s interest. There are options for unit specific questions and at the same time there is greater uniformity for across campus evaluations that may play a role in decisions about salaries and promotion and tenure.
President Sayre interjected that this legislation is not necessarily the last legislation regarding course evaluations. He noted that existing language at the top and bottom of the evaluation forms needs to be revised. He sensed a need to wait until we have the results of the pilot on-line evaluations that will be conducted at the end of fall term 2007 in order to fix unexpected problems. Nevertheless, it is important to have the ad hoc committee’s recommended required questions on the floor for discussion and debate.
The president then recognized Mr. Brad Shelton, mathematics, who has been spearheading the move to on-line course evaluations. Mr. Shelton explained that three groups – mathematics, political science, and the business school – will pilot test the on-line evaluations at the end of the term. Approximately 8,000 students will have the opportunity to complete the course evaluations on-line, which will afford a good deal of data and information. The plan is to go-live with the entire university in winter term 2008 using the current set of four required questions. Whatever is decided regarding the motion on the floor, the new required questions will not be implemented until spring term 2008 at the earliest, but more likely the new required questions implementation will happen during the next academic year, in fall 2008. Mr. Shelton then commented about the 10 questions recommended by the ad hoc committee, saying that the committee did a lot of really good work. In particular, he liked their brevity and clarity compared with the current questions used. He noted that the new questions will need some tinkering, however, in order to mesh with the web-based product that is being used. He added that the needed changes to some questions are not the committee’s fault, but that he has learned more about the product over the past few months as it began being readied for the trial run. He suggested that the questions should go back to the committee to for some final “massaging” then come back before the senate as a whole. He urged the senate not to vote on the questions at this meeting because there would be problems implementing them as presently configured.
Senator Athan Papailiou, ASUO, remarked that the proposed required questions were brought to the Student Senate last week, and for the most part received a positive review. There were some issues raised regarding how confidentiality would be managed with on-line evaluations, whether the results would be considered in tenure track faculty decisions, and that the results would be available to students. On the whole, the Student Senate felt the question content was good. Senator Malle responded that the issues the students raised show the complexity of developing and then using the data generated. He noted that the motion on the floor does not address the issue of results availability to students; that needs to be worked out. He wondered, too, if the motion’s language could be framed in such a way as to address Mr. Shelton’s concerns about the implementation process while still preserving the spirit of the questions recommended. Mr. Shelton replied that in the past we have published the results of the four required course evaluation questions and he has been working on the assumption that all 10 of the new required questions would be published and available to the students.
Senator Carla Bengston, art, was concerned that of the 10 questions, eight were quantitative and only two were qualitative. The emphasis on the ease of use in the questions takes away from the kind of learning that takes place: the quantity of learning rather than the quality of learning. She indicated that she would like to see more questions that address the quality of learning that takes place. It sends an important message to students about what we value and that they should value it, too. Senator Malle replied that the committee wrestled with questions that would capture what Senator Bengston described. One problem in doing so is that we need to ask students questions that they can assess without having to interpret the question or disentangle multiple issues. The committee could not come up with a way to describe quality of learning. They tried some hypothetical questions, but they did not really get at the issue. Rather, the hope is that individual units would tailor their unit specific questions to such topics. What the committee tried to do with the recommended questions was to touch on the broad educational goals that all units have in common. Associate Dean Priscilla Southwell, CAS, added that these questions are only one part of the student course evaluation – the units will add their own specific questions. Senator Adell Amos, law, asked what the difference was between question 3 and 4; similarly, Senator Ted Toadvine, environmental studies, asked how the results will be interpreted when the scales (as in questions 2 and 3) are different for different questions. Mr. Shelton answered that mixed scales is a big concern; the new program can ask scale and multiple choice questions, and give back results as a distribution, not as averages. Some of the proposed questions seem halfway between scale and multiple choices, thus they need more discussion. The other point is that open ended questions are an integral part of the new program, and will be mixed in with quantitative questions to improve the quality of information retrieved.
Senator David Levin, mathematics, commented that he appreciated all of the work the committee had done, but he felt there were too many questions. Importantly, Senator Levin remarked that it was difficult for him to know if he should vote for or against the motion because he had basic questions regarding how and whether all the questions would weigh equally in tenure decisions. The motion had no indication of how the data acquired would be used. Potentially moving from four questions to 10 questions might have a big impact in changing how tenure track faculty are evaluated. Considering that the data use and its availability to students and faculty are currently not well-defined, Senator Levin moved to refer the motion to a new committee that would address the implementation issues raised by Mr. Shelton as well as how the questions would be used and weighted regarding tenure decisions. There was a second to the motion to refer the questions to a new committee. President Sayre interjected that if the motion to refer to a new committee passes, the senate would not vote on the original motion concerning the 10 required course evaluation questions at this meeting.
Vice Provost Tomlin commented on the current use of the four required questions. He noted that it is correct that the first two questions of the four (dealing with overall quality of the course and instructor’s effort) are often the first thing that review bodies look at in tenure cases, but never is it the only thing considered. Such data are useful for getting an overall sense of the person’s teaching, for example, is the course well received all of the time, or is the person having trouble on a regular basis. One might also see patterns of improvement, or of some kinds of courses being stronger or weaker. In addition, critically signed comments by students play another role in getting a sense of faculty teaching.
In anticipation of this debate, President Sayre stated that he had drawn up an initial structure for an ad hoc implementation of courses evaluations committee charged jointly by Academic Affairs and the senate. He indicated that in line with Senator Levin’s, Mr. Shelton’s, and the students’ concerns, the committee would have a broad charge of revising the 10 questions as necessary, addressing the format and implementation issues, as well as how the data would be used (for promotion and tenure decisions, for example), and how results will be distributed to students.
The motion to refer motion US07/08-7 to a new ad hoc committee that is charged to address the issues brought forward during this discussion was put to a vote and passed by vice vote.
Notice of resolution to restore the employer contribution level for Oregon Retirement Plan (ORP) Tier 3 employees. Senator Levin, mathematics, gave notice that he intends to move a resolution (US07/08-8) at the next meeting that would restore to previous levels the employer contribution rate for Tier 3 (everyone hired after 2005) employees who opted for the Oregon Retirement Plan (as opposed to PERS). Senator Levin noted that for Tier 3 ORP employees, the amount the university contributes toward retirement dropped from 8.4% to 5.2%, a 27% reduction. The rate change for employees hired before 2005 (Tiers 1 and 2) dropped from 16.4% to 16.1%. Senator Levin would like some debate at the next meeting about the large discrepancy in these figures, and plans to introduce the following resolution:
In July of 2007 the employer contribution level for the members of the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) Tier 3 dropped from 8.04% to 5.82%. By comparison, the employer contribution level for all other ORP members (Tiers 1 and 2) is 16.01% (down from 16.75%). Simply put, the faculty that joined the University of Oregon after August of 2003 receive less than 37% of the employer retirement contribution as those who were hired before this date. In view of this, the decision to significantly reduce (by more than 27%) the contribution for Tier 3 members is a cause for serious concern. As is clear from the numbers, this change has a disproportionate impact upon the Tier 3 employees, who already receive the least benefit. Moreover, in light of recent difficulties in recruitment and retention, this should worry all members of the university community, as all new hires will be classified as Tier 3. Therefore,
Be it resolved,
That the University Senate of the University of Oregon urges the university administration to work with the Oregon University System and the State Legislature to restore the benefits for Tier 3 employees to their previous level.
With no other business at hand, the meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.
Secretary of the Faculty
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