The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – November 14, 2005 – 3:30 p.m. – Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206   phone: 325-6789
e-mail:   web site:


The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Roy Knapp, Chair.


PRESENT:       Apanasov, Benson, Blank, Bradford, Brown, Burns, Catlin, Civan, Cramer, Croft, Dohrmann, Draheim, Elisens, Forman, Franklin, Frech, Geletzke, Gutierrez, Hobbs, Houser, C. Knapp, R. Knapp, Kolar, Lai, Magnusson, Marcus-Mendoza, Raadschelders, Schwarzkopf, Sharp, Skeeters, Tabb, Trytten, Warnken, Wood, Wyckoff

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
ISA representatives:  Hough, Smith

ABSENT:         Albert, Badhwar, Biggerstaff, Cintrón, Dewers, Fast, Fincke, Gade, Hawamdeh, Lewis, Liu, Megginson, Pace, Ransom, Roche, Rugeley, Scamehorn, Wei





Remarks by Vice President for Executive Affairs and Administrative Affairs

Senate Chair's Report:

Young alum profiles

Student information system

Faculty deaths

Engineering facility

Central campus instruction

Course syllabus






The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of October 10, 2005 was approved.





Prof. Knapp said the Faculty Senate Executive Committee had asked Mr. Nicholas Hathaway, Vice President for Executive Affairs and Administrative Affairs, to describe the budgeting process at OU for the Senate. 


Mr. Hathaway distributed a handout on the mechanics and processes of the university budget (available from the Senate office).  The budget process starts with a survey of budget needs that the state regents request in September.  The survey asks each institution about expected mandatory costs, including compensation, utilities, insurance, and operating costs.  The state regents frequently ask what would happen in the case of a five percent reduction, no change, or a five percent increase.  The survey often asks about supplemental budget needs.  For instance, for FY06, the administration reported on the need to fund additional class sections because of enrollment pressures.  Some miscellaneous information that may be reported includes the cost of salary increases.  A one percent faculty and staff increase now costs $1.6 million; in FY95 it was about $800,000.  In November, the administration submits a report concerning special fees, that is, fees not paid by the majority of our students.  After reviewing the surveys from all the institutions, the chancellor of higher education announces the budget that higher education needs.  The governor, state senate, and state house indicate what they are willing to allocate to higher education, and typically the numbers are not the same.  There is never any certainty about the appropriation until late in the legislative process. 


As with any budget, we can cut costs or increase revenue.  Something that the administration does continuously is to examine costs and using money more efficiently.  For FY07, the administration knows fixed costs will be about $9 million and knows what discretionary spending will be, but there is uncertainty about the state appropriation and tuition and fees.  The people involved in the process include the Provost, General Counsel, Vice President for Research, Budget Director, Chief Financial Officer, and Mr. Hathaway.  The faculty is kept abreast of the budget process through Senate Executive Committee meetings with President Boren and the Budget Council.  Each spring, the Budget Council sends a letter to the president indicating its funding priorities for the coming year and commenting on how a pay program might be distributed.  President Boren’s highest priority is faculty and staff salaries.  In June, the state regents allocate funds to the institutions.  OU gets 15-17 percent of what is given to higher education, and the amount can vary greatly.  A target for all of higher education is to get the funding back up to the FY02 level.  The budget process ends when the budget office finalizes department budgets and the budget is approved in June by the Boards of Regents. 


Mr. Hathaway pointed out that the state appropriation represents 20 percent of the operating revenue budget.  Tuition and fees are 23 percent.  The other 57 percent are grants/contracts and auxiliary/agency accounts.  Agency accounts are self-supporting entities within the institution that charge fees for their cost of goods and services.  Auxiliary enterprises include areas such as the residence halls, food services, intercollegiate athletics, parking, and student health services.  Mr. Hathaway commented that we are fortunate to have an athletics department that has the financial health to add a surcharge on football tickets that goes back to the central budget.  Internal service units, for example, the physical plant, provide services on campus and charge departments for those services.  The capital budget is funded largely by section 13, revenue bonds, and private donations.  To make sure the university is operating in a sound financial way, the administration looks at eight different metrics in relation to Moody's rating service. 


An activity that goes on year round is making sure we are good stewards of our resources.  Over the last several years, we refinanced the university debt, which saved $4 million.  Other savings have been realized in the physical plant and the purchasing card program.  Sometimes, the savings have operating consequences.  Typically, the savings are used to give greater faculty and staff salary increases.  OU has achieved remarkably low administrative overhead costs.  Those costs have declined from 9.4 percent in 1995 to 4.7 percent in 2006. 


Prof. Apanasov asked about the loan from the university to the athletics department.  Mr. Hathaway said the athletics department was still paying back the loan and was ahead of schedule.  In addition to those payments, the athletics department has been giving the university the money from the ticket surcharge.


Prof. Raadschelders questioned whether the Other E&G portion of the revenue budget included all of the continuing education revenue, in particular, the overhead costs.  Mr. Hathaway said the figures included all revenue.  Each piece of the pie takes the overhead activity into account.


Prof. Schwarzkopf asked Mr. Hathaway to describe the process when a department decides it needs a new initiative.  Mr. Hathaway said the request would flow up through the academic structures to the Provost and would find its way to the discretionary spending part of the budget. 





Provost Mergler has asked for success stories of recent graduates, which could be used in several ways.  For instance, our legislative liaison would be able to give legislators examples of the value of an OU education.  Suggestions should be sent to Provost Mergler.


The student information system project has begun.  Senate chair Knapp and chair-elect Frech met with Brad Burnett, Financial Aid Director and manager of the project, and with three consultants from the Exeter group.  A recommendation on an appropriate course of action for the university to follow may be made as early as January.


This month’s report of faculty retiree deaths includes Roy Male, Jr. (English), who died in June, and Lorenzo Edward Carter (Journalism), who died in October.


The university received a $5 million gift from ExxonMobil Corporation for an engineering practice facility.  The building will be named for Lawrence Rawl, a 1952 engineering graduate.


On October 18, Student Congress passed a resolution requesting a joint task force of students with the Faculty Senate or concerned faculty members to consider implications of the new chemistry buildings.  At its October 10 meeting, the Faculty Senate formed an ad hoc committee to consider what kinds of classes should be taught in the central campus area.  The committee met on November 4 and plans to meet again on December 1 with representatives from Student Congress.  The committee intends to have another meeting later in December to write recommendations for the Faculty Senate to consider.





On October 11, Student Congress passed a resolution requesting that professors use to post the current form of their class syllabus and current grade information for each student (attached).  Prof. Knapp opened the floor for discussion of a possible Senate response to the student resolution.


Prof. Raadschelders said some parts of the resolution were interesting and useful but he did not see why putting syllabi and grades on would help students more than the help they could get already.  He said he wanted students to come to his office to give him an opportunity to tell them how far they had progressed or what was going wrong.  The class syllabus contains information vital enough to put on a website.  Prof. Knapp summarized that Prof. Raadschelders makes his syllabus accessible but does not post grades online, with the intent being to have greater interaction with the class.


Prof. Burns said he thought several of the “whereas” statements in the student legislation were misleading or possibly false.  As an example, the second statement says students are notified only when they are failing.  Students actually get notified of their grades through mid semester grade reports if they have a C, D, or F.  He said he did not know of any professor who would refuse to give students a second copy of a syllabus.  He commented that it is helpful to post syllabi online for a large class, but it might not make sense for a small class.  He suggested that the guideline should apply to classes over a particular size.  Prof. Knapp reminded the group that the only part of the resolution that the Senate should respond to was Section 1. 


Prof. Sharp said she thought that requiring was too specific.  We do not have a guarantee of how long that platform will be around.  Prof. Knapp pointed out that the course management system was one of the items that would be discussed when the new student information system is reviewed.  Prof. Sharp said she does not post grades because she waits until the end of the semester to calculate participation and attendance.  She made the following motion:  The Faculty Senate endorses a goal of having 90 percent of the undergraduate course syllabi available online within two years in order to provide students with greater access to the course materials.  Prof. Knapp noted that the Senate did not have to vote on the motion at this meeting. 


Prof. Trytten explained that is the generic website that is used for whatever course management system exists.  She said she liked the wording of Prof. Sharp’s motion.  Many faculty members have invested countless hours in building their own web pages.  Indicating the syllabus is available online is better than specifying the course management system.  If someone is already keeping information updated, we should not tell them how to do it.  Students complain, though, that when faculty members use different formats, students have trouble keeping it all managed.  If professors refuse to give out a second copy of a syllabus, perhaps the Senate could pass a resolution that says a professor is required to provide a syllabus at the beginning of a class and upon request.


Prof. Marcus-Mendoza said it can be expensive to hand out multiple paper copies time and time again.  She said she favored the “online” language because many faculty members provide the information on websites.  Grades should be accessible to students but not necessarily online.  The issue is accessibility rather than a requirement that everyone do it the same way.  Prof. Knapp pointed out that Prof. Sharp had not included “grades” in her motion.  Prof. Sharp mentioned that at a lot of universities the syllabi for a whole department is on the departmental website, and the office staff updates the information.  OU could do things like that, as long as the syllabi are available to students online in some place.  Prof. Benson agreed that the key issue was accessibility.  He said he thought syllabi and grades should be accessible to students, but to micromanage how faculty make them accessible would be a mistake.  When Prof. Knapp asked for a show of hands, the majority indicated that their syllabi were available on the network.  Prof. Burns said in his case, it would depend on the size of the class.  Prof. Gutierrez said he thought the online format was probably the best way to get the syllabi to students, and it saves on paper and copying costs.  Upper level and graduate students do not ask much about their grades because they get feedback from exams.  Freshmen, however, ask about grades, so he puts those grades online and reserves his office hours for other questions. 


Prof. Knapp said the Senate would vote in December.  He remarked that there seemed to be consensus for approval.  Prof. Forman said he did not think there was consensus and he viewed the proposal as micromanaging.  “We, as faculty, are responsible adults who are professionals.”  If professors do not do their jobs right, they will hear from their department chair.  He said he did not want faculty members to think they had to respond to the student motion.  Prof. Raadschelders said experiences with some professors could not be generalized.  He said he would vote against the motion, not because he disagrees with accessibility for students, but because he thinks most professors do not behave in the way the student resolution suggests.  Prof. Knapp said Prof. Sharp’s motion proposed a goal of 90 percent of courses, not all.  Prof. Raadschelders said he did not want a benchmark, because then someone would have to monitor the number.





The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, December 12, 2005, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


A. Steve Bradford, Secretary