«Minutes Faculty Senate Meeting September 2, 2009 Professor Lyn Stallings called the meeting to order at 2:15 p.m. Present: Professors Lyn Stallings, ...»
Faculty Senate Meeting
September 2, 2009
Professor Lyn Stallings called the meeting to order at 2:15 p.m.
Present: Professors Lyn Stallings, Stephen Silvia, Leigh Riddick, Fred Jacobs, Naomi Baron,
Barlow Burke, John Douglass, Brian Forst, Carole Gallaher, Nadia Harris, Robert Karch, Ira
Klein, Nanette Levinson, Brett Williams, Mary Mintz, Tony Riley, Jerzy Sapieyevski, John
Smith, Lenny Steinhorn, Steve Taylor, Anthony Wanis-St.John, Michael Wilkerson, Dean
Mussell, and Provost Scott Bass.
Welcome and Introduction, Lyn Stallings Professor Stallings welcomed everyone to the meeting.
The Faculty Senate VOTED unanimously to approve the April and May Senate minutes.
Report of the President, Neil Kerwin Incoming Freshman Class The recruiting cycle for this academic year has been successful, and all of the recruitment and enrollment goals have been met. The only exception is the Washington Semester Program, which is of some concern.
The freshman class totals about 1,540 students, which exceeds the goal set of 1,500 students.
The SAT scores have increased slightly from 1259 to 1265 and mean GPA is marginally changed from 3.78 to 3.77.
President Kerwin noted that there have been significant changes in the composition of the freshman class. Since last fall, there was a 90% increase in the number of Pell Eligible Students, advancing the socio-economic diversity of the class. With regard to diversity of the class, there are 44 states represented, 39 countries, 21% are students of color, and 8% of the student body is international students.
Finances Moody’s reaffirmed American University’s financial standing with an A rating and a stable outlook. President Kerwin is hopeful that Standard & Poor’s will also give an A rating, but with a positive outlook.
Faculty Senate • September Minutes Page 1 of 7 During this time of economic crisis in which about 75% of universities are cutting jobs and freezing salaries, President Kerwin noted that American University is not cutting jobs and is, in fact, hiring.
President Kerwin emphasized that American University has a very strong financial foundation.
Retention President Kerwin stressed that American University has a very strong retention figure, at about 91%. He added that Washington, D.C. attracts many students.
Swine Flu Preparations President Kerwin said that the number of swine flu cases may peak in October and again in February. He added that the school administration is being very proactive and aggressive both with regard to communication with the school community and with swine flu preparations. He does not expect American University to close, and stressed that faculty should prepare their courses with absenteeism in mind.
Strategic Plan This is the first semester of implementation of the Strategic Plan. The biggest single event associated with the implementation of the Strategic Plan was the passage of the two-year budget.
The budget is tightly linked with the Strategic Plan.
Board of Trustees There will be a Board of Trustees meeting at the end of September. At that meeting, the president of the American Council of Education, Dr. Molly Broad, will speak on trends in higher education that she considers important. Additionally, the president of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, will speak about the impact of philanthropy. Last, in keeping with the new tradition of having the Deans make presentations to the Board of Trustees, Dean Grossman will speak about the Washington College of Law.
Questions for President Kerwin:
Professor Sapieyevski made a statement commending President Kerwin for improving transparency and the quality of administration and to acknowledge one of the sources of this progress. Professor Sapieyevski stated: "If not for a handful of brave and principled people, this improvement in governance would not have happened and we would still have the former regime. These few courageous persons effectively questioned the previous status quo and they deserve our gratitude."
Faculty Senate • September Minutes Page 2 of 7 Professor Sapieyevski inquired about President's enrollment report, which talks about the number of students enrolled, rather than the tuition revenue goal and whether or not we should make adjustments to the size of the student body or the structure of tuition discounts. If the tuition revenues are jeopardized it forces admitting more, often-lower quality students.
President Kerwin stated that the discounts are at average of 29%, in the middle range of the competing institutions. President Kerwin assured that the targeted enrollment is 1500 students and while there are no plans for substantial increase of this number, it will be kept without reduction.
Professor Riddick asked about the availability of the H1N1 vaccine for the campus population and about campus preparations to take care of students who become ill. President Kerwin said that the vaccine would be available in October at the earliest and university officials have offered American University as an area center for administering inoculations. AU has requested enough vaccine for everyone 26 years old or younger (in comparison with current guidelines of 24 years or younger). There are already been some consideration of using some areas of the dorms as isolation locations if a substantial flu outbreak were to occur, and the university has already notified parents of students who are “local” to consider taking their children home if widespread illness were to occur, in order to help with the burden of providing adequate care for those who become ill and have families further from campus.
President Kerwin added that with regard to U.S. News & World Report rankings, sometimes the mix of faculty, scholarly work, and class work is not reflected. Many of American University’s individual colleges and schools are ranked higher, while the overall university ranking is not.
President Kerwin anecdotally added that if you consider only private universities, without medical or engineering schools, American University should be ranked number one.
Professor Wanis-St. John asked what would precipitate a complete university closure. President Kerwin indicated that there is no established threshold for the number of cases of the flu that will precipitate closing the university.
Professor Forst asked about the status of the progress on the strategic plan. President Kerwin said that the university is focused on the strategic plan and will be continuing to assess progress using measurable outcomes. A portion of the Faculty Retreat will be devoted to discussing the strategic plan.
Report of the Provost, Scott Bass Organizational Changes Provost Bass announced that the four Vice-Provosts are now in place: Vi Ettle, Vice-Provost of Finance; Kay Mussell, interim Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice-Provost; Phyllis Peres, Vice-Provost, Undergraduate Studies; and Rosemary Wander, Vice-Provost Graduate Studies Research.
Middle States Preliminary Report Provost Bass announced that this preliminary report by two external reviewers is nearly flawless and there are virtually no criticisms. It will be sent to Middle States, who will review the report, and then issue a formal report in October.
Provost Bass indicated that there is still much work to be done especially in advancing assessment of learning. He noted that a particular strength in AU’s commitment was exemplified by the establishment of a new Faculty Senate Committee on Learning Assessment.
Swine Flu Preparations There are a number of different scenarios for which advance planning have been made with regard to the possible swine flu pandemic. If students are absent from classes because of the swine flu, faculty have been instructed not to expect homework with the same time frame as usual in order to allow ill students to recuperate. The logic behind this is that it is necessary for people to stay home and away from others if they are ill. Faculty should consider how to provide students with any coursework that they have been missing while absent. Provost Bass added that he does not foresee the University closing.
Washington Semester Program
This distinguished, fifty year old program has had considerable trouble with enrollment in recent years, largely due to the weak economy and the increasing number of rival programs that have been established. The program is expensive and many universities are encouraging their students to participate in other less-expensive programs in the area. Provost Bass announced that the array of professional development and continuing education programs will be broadened, and the Washington Semester Program will fit within this broader umbrella of programs. There is a search for a new Director.
A proposal for $2 million has been submitted to the National Science Foundation to upgrade the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems in Beeghly Hall. Another proposal was submitted for $8.7 million to the National Institutes of Health to renovate the third and fourth floors of Beeghly Hall. These proposals will support scientific research and education at the University.
SAT Scores A number of universities are reconsidering the use of SAT scores in determining access to higher education. Recent data show a greater correlation between higher income and higher SAT scores, which suggest that access to SAT training programs may be skewing results.
Faculty Senate • September Minutes Page 4 of 7 As a result, there is a growing trend among universities to have SAT-optional college acceptances. Provost Bass announced that while American University is not ready to do that, there will be an experimental pilot program with early-decision applicants to determine whether or not such an option would be beneficial for American University.
Faculty Retreat The Faculty Retreat will be held on October 16th and October 17th, and there are about 263 registrants thus far. Bus transportation and day care will be provided. Dean Mussell and Dean Durand are co-chairs of the planning committee.
Priority Areas for this Academic Year · Research and grant infrastructure task force · Full review of the General Education Program · Revision of the Faculty Manual · Achieving the Strategic Plan goals · Search committee is to be established for a Dean Academic Affairs and Senior Vice Provost Questions for Provost Bass Professor Klein asked about the impact on one school – SIS – having more growth in freshman students than other schools. Provost Bass indicated that additional faculty lines have gone to SIS as a result of such a growth. There are a total of 37 lines, of which 10 are new lines, and of which 3 or 4 will be added to SIS.
Professor Jacobs asked whether the existing Washington Semester faculty would fit into the newly designed Washington Semester Program. Provost Bass said he had a conversation with the faculty, which was very well received. They are aware that there is a $1.4 million shortfall.
He noted that it is possible for existing Washington Semester faculty to fit. One possible immediate accommodation will be to have them teach classes offered on the main campus.
Report of the Dean of Academic Affairs, Kay Mussell
Dean Mussell thanked Professor Klein for all of his effort and hard work with the campus book store. Over the summer, Dean Mussell and Vi Ettle met with the new campus book store manager, Kristi Cole, who seems to be very experienced and attentive to the needs of American University faculty and students. Kristi Cole has developed some procedures that may help with book orders, such as electronic confirmation of courses being offered. Faculty should notify her of any problems with book orders.
For the first time, the faculty Senate is using internet voting. The election, currently in progress, is to fill two positions on the Committee on Faculty Relations. The election will end on September 4th.
The Emeriti Luncheons are set for October 21st with Meike Meurs of Economics as the featured speaker and March 17th with Eileen Findlay of History.
The ad hoc Faculty Senate salary equity study committee has met. Meike Meurs is chairing the committee. The committee is awaiting the data needed to conduct the study.
Two members are needed for the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. Brian Forst volunteered to be the at-large member and Tony Riley volunteered to be the general senate member. The Faculty Senate VOTED and in favor of the two new members unanimously.
The Faculty Senate VOTED to ratify the slate of faculty representatives to serve as faculty representatives on the committees of the Board of Trustees. The faculty representatives are Fred Jacobs (Academic Affairs), Nanette Levinson (Alumni Affairs), Robert Karch (Athletics), Phil Jacoby (Audit), Ira Klein (Campus Life), Lenny Steinhorn (Communication), Ron Anderson (Finance & Investment), and Leigh Riddick (Trusteeship). Lyn Stallings and Stephen Silvia continue to serve as members of the Board of Trustees.
Professor Stallings distributed to Senators lists of the Senate membership and Committee memberships. She announced that the Faculty Senate website will be updated shortly.
This year three faculty Senate meetings will be in McDowell Hall, not the Butler Board Room.
A list of dates and locations was distributed.
Executive Committee Report Ad hoc Faculty Manual Revisions Committee, Lyn Stallings Professor Stallings reminded Senators who was serving on the committee. They are: Lyn Stallings (Chair), Randall Blair, Barlow Burke, John Douglass, Mary Mintz, Leigh Riddick, Stephen Silvia, Stephen Taylor, and Dean Mussell, ex efficio. There is a blackboard site with the meeting minutes and revisions.
Faculty Development Committee, Nadia Harris Professor Harris mentioned that guest speakers at the Faculty Retreat will be President Kerwin and the president of the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus. Retreat topics will include teaching, research, and faculty development.
Student Learning and Academic Engagement Committee, Ira Klein