The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session - February 14, 2000 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789 FAX: 325-6782
e-mail: web site:

The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Hugh Benson, Chair.

PRESENT: Abraham, Agrawal, Beasley, Benson, Blank, Brown, Butler, Cline, Cox, Damphousse, DeBacker, Deming, Edwards, Engel, Gilliland, Gollahalli, Greene, Harrison, Hart, Hofford, Horton, Hutchison, Karriker, Kenderdine, Kennison, Knapp, Kudrna, Kunesh, Kutner, Mau, McInerney, Murphy, Nelson, Newman, Osisanya, Pailes, Patterson, Robson, Russell, Scherman, Schwarzkopf, Sutton, Trafalis, Van Gundy, Watts

PSA representatives: Morren

UOSA representatives: Doss, Hamra

ABSENT: Bemben, Eliason, Fleener, Gross, Houser, Okediji, Robertson, Swindell



Announcement: CCF Extended Family Program
Remarks by Parking and Transit Administrator
Senate Chair's Report: Chief Information Officer
Tuition waivers for dependents
Expanded grading scale
Textbook disclaimer




The Senate Journal for the regular session of January 10, 2000, was approved.

Dr. Gerald Gurney, Associate Athletic Director for Academic Affairs, asked that the following changes be made in his remarks in the minutes of the December 13, 1999, Faculty Senate meeting for clarification purposes. In the fourth paragraph, the fourth and fifth sentences should read: "The football African-American 1992-93 graduation rate is 40%, which is higher than the national average. None of the white football student-athletes in that class graduated." The Faculty Senate had no objection to the changes.



The Center for Children and Families (formerly Juvenile Services, Inc.) needs volunteers, in particular, for the extended family program (emergency foster care). If you are interested, please call Linda Czinder at 364-1420. Ms. Sophia Morren, Professional Staff Association representative to the Faculty Senate, participates in this program and offered to answer any questions after the meeting.



Prof. Benson reported that Ms. Theta Dempsey, Parking and Transit Administrator, offered to explain the proposal for a new parking garage, which was announced in a recent newspaper article. Ms. Dempsey said she was asked to look at increasing parking in the core campus area. She said we have about 1200 more spaces than when she came here in 1983, but parking is more crowded. No option other than a multi-level facility would have any significant impact. The primary reason the site between the stadium and Asp Avenue was attractive was because the structure would be built on top of only 67 parking spaces. In terms of net gain in parking spaces, that was the most logical location. At the February 2 regents’ meeting, the regents authorized Parking and Transit to begin the process to select an architectural firm. There is no design yet. The proposal for 800 spaces was derived from the footprint of the site.

Prof. McInerney asked about the impact on parking fees. Ms. Dempsey said parking fees probably would go up, but no decision had been made yet. She pointed out that some reserved spaces were provided in the Elm Avenue garage at a premium rate. That could be done in the new garage if there is a market.

Prof. Schwarzkopf asked about using the fees from football game reserved parking to help pay for the garage. He also asked about the possible traffic congestion. Ms. Dempsey said she was looking at all possible solutions to pay for the garage other than raising parking fees. This location would provide premium parking on football game days, so there have been discussions about marketing these spaces at a premium rate. Traffic access is probably the biggest drawback. Any intersection improvements presumably would be at least partially funded by the project. The Elm Avenue garage project paid for about 10% of the cost of the intersection improvement nearby.

Prof. Deming remarked that we have a shortage of close parking, but there are spaces in the outlying lots. Ms. Dempsey said in peak times, there are only two lots with spaces: the duck pond lot and the faculty/staff lot south of Gould Hall. Because parking lots have been filling on a regular basis within the last three years, she is looking to the future. She clarified that the proposed garage would be just west of the stadium, south of the armory, and east of Asp Avenue. Prof. Beasley asked about the number of additional parking permits sold since 1983. Ms. Dempsey said she did not have those figures. Prof. Kunesh noted that several parking lots had been removed in the process of campus expansion. Ms. Dempsey said the 1200 spaces she mentioned earlier reflected the net gain.

Prof. Harrison asked whether an outlying, larger site would cause less congestion. Ms. Dempsey replied that in terms of property owned by the University, the duck pond lot was the only site large enough. However, the garage would be built on top of 540 parking spaces. The first 540 spaces of the garage would simply replace the surface spaces being lost. Anyone could drive there now and find a space any time of the day. What faculty, staff, and students have said is there is not enough close parking. Prof. Kunesh asked whether the revenue from parking in the garage on game days would go to the parking office or Athletic Department. Ms. Dempsey said the revenue would go to the parking office. In fact, the Athletic Department pays Parking and Transit for the parking spaces used by donors, and the revenue collected from the other lots on game days also goes to the parking budget.


SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Hugh Benson

Prof. Benson explained that he usually reports the results of the Executive Committee meeting with President Boren in his chair's report; however, the meeting last week had to be rescheduled. Next month, he expects to have more to report, especially on matters related to the budget.

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) position has been offered to Dennis Aebersold, one of the candidates who was strongly supported by the faculty who met with the candidates. He has not yet accepted the position. Hopefully, the position will be filled soon.



Last month, the Senate asked the Executive Committee to look into the status of tuition waivers for dependents (see 1/00 Senate Journal). Prof. Benson reported that the Staff Senate approved a proposal last summer that recommended a tuition waiver of 50% for faculty and staff dependents. A bill pending in the state legislature would provide a 25% reduction in tuition to state employees and their dependents. The Executive Committee could find no evidence that a funding source had been identified for either proposal. In the past, the Senate has been nervous about additional fee waivers because less money is then available for other things. No action has been taken by the Provost or President on this issue.



Last month, the Senate also asked the Executive Committee to look into the status of an expanded grading scale (see 1/00 Senate Journal). Prof. Benson commented that this issue had been addressed by the Faculty Senate at least twice before. The last time was in fall 1987. At that time, in a Senate survey of the faculty, 57% favored an expanded scale. The Faculty Senate approved a plus/minus scale by a close vote of 23 to 19. The recommendation was rejected by then Provost Wadlow, who thought there was insufficient justification. In spring 1994, the Graduate Council approved a plus/minus scale, presumably just for graduate level courses. According to the provost's office, this proposal is in the queue at the Department of Computing and Telecommunications Services (DCTS). Prof. Benson suggested that the appropriate response of the Senate would be to bring this issue to the attention of the new CIO. This proposal should be a fairly high priority for the new CIO, given that it has been approved by the relevant authorities and has been in the queue six years. This would not address the question of an expanded scale for all courses. Prof. Benson said his understanding was there was little resistance at the administrative level, other than a lot of technical details would have to be worked out. In talking with several faculty members, he found as many people interested in the proposal as opposed. Consequently, the Executive Committee recommendation was that the senators find out from the people they represent what kind of support there is. If there is considerable interest, then a task force or committee could be formed, and another poll of faculty could be taken. Details like transfer credit would have to be worked out with DCTS and Academic Records.

Prof. Hart commented on the length of time this proposal had been in the queue at DCTS. Prof. Benson said the Senate should recommend to the new CIO that this proposal be given a high priority. He explained that the CIO would be the new Vice President under which DCTS would operate. Prof. Kutner noted that the grading scale should not be pushed through at the expense of telephone connections. He suggested that any expansion to all courses should be considered after a new scale for graduate courses was in place and people had experience with it. Prof. Greene asked whether grade expansion meant pluses and minuses. Prof. Benson replied that many options were available. One was to add just pluses. Another was to add pluses and minuses. Prof. Van Gundy asked whether the Senate had records of the previous discussions. Prof. Benson said the Senate office had that information. A survey of the faculty in 1987 indicated that 57% favored an expanded scale, and 61% preferred a plus/minus 12-point system if an expanded scale was approved. Prof. Engel asked for more information about the proposal in the queue. Prof. Benson said it was a plus/minus system for graduate level courses. While a number of problems would be created by having an expanded scale just for graduate courses, it seems that a larger majority of faculty thought it was more necessary at the graduate level than undergraduate level. Prof. Van Gundy pointed out that the graduate student grade distribution is more skewed than undergraduate. Prof. Benson said the Faculty Senate would have to decide how to proceed. He mentioned Prof. Kutner's suggestion to wait and see how this worked with graduate level courses.

Prof. Engel asked about the projected cost to change the system. Prof. Benson said he did not have that information but that there certainly would be some costs. This would be as good a time as any to make a change in light of the changes that are being made at DCTS.



Prof. Patterson asked whether the Faculty Senate would be interested in making a statement or passing a resolution regarding the evolution disclaimer in textbooks. Prof. Hutchison commented on the experiences of other states with textbook disclaimers. He explained that a request to the state Attorney General for a ruling on the disclaimer adopted by the Oklahoma Textbook Commission was made possible through petitions. The Attorney General ruled that the disclaimer was null and void and that the textbook commission had exceeded its statutory authority and had taken action in a closed meeting. However, Representative Jim Reese has introduced a bill in the state legislature, which is almost identical to the commission's disclaimer. If it comes to a vote, it will likely pass the House and Senate. It will most certainly be killed in federal court but after a lot of expense and a black eye to Oklahoma. Resolutions against such disclaimers have been approved by the faculty legislative body at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, the Oklahoma Academy of Science, and other groups. Such a disclaimer would influence the kind of education our students get in science, harm the recruitment of science teachers, and impinge on recruiting high-tech industries. He said the disclaimer was totally inaccurate in what it states as science. A web page -- -- has been set up to provide information, including a link to the opposition's view. He asked whether the Senate, as a scholarly body, should take some action.

Prof. Deming said the meeting probably would last until midnight if the body argued about evolution. Prof. McInerney said this disclaimer would impinge on the ability of scientists to teach science. Prof. Abraham said another issue was whether the legislature should be in the position of re-writing textbooks. Prof. Hutchison said he knew of one publishing company that had said it would not sell books to the state with the disclaimer added. It is possible that the textbook commission would not approve any textbook that mentioned evolution. Prof. Greene said she thought the Senate should take a stand. It should not take a lot of discussion. Prof. Deming said he had read the disclaimer carefully and was puzzled by the objection. Prof. Hart suggested that the focus should be on the legislature's attempt to regulate textbooks. When asked whether there was any reason to act at this meeting, Prof. Hutchison said the bill had been introduced and could come out at any time. Prof. Schwarzkopf moved that the Faculty Senate go on record in opposition to the textbook disclaimer. He said his understanding was the motion would come up for discussion next month. Prof. Benson said the normal procedure was that a motion introduced this month would be voted on next month. It would take an argument for extraordinary circumstances for that not to happen. Prof. Deming said he would like to invite someone from the textbook commission to make a presentation next month. Prof. Kunesh asked Prof. Hutchison to prepare a brief document that he could hand out to colleagues to encourage them to write their legislators. Prof. Hutchison said all of the information was on the web page. Prof. Cline said the issue was about being forced to place a specific statement in a text. Prof. Deming commented that a vote taken at this meeting would not be very strong because it would be by extraordinary circumstances without an opportunity to read the disclaimer or invite anyone to defend it. Prof. Hutchison said he hoped the senators who wished to do so would sign petitions he had brought to the meeting. He noted that the petition said, "…I do not support the addition of any disclaimers to any textbooks..." He said the textbook commission could require disclaimers about anything. Almost none of the commission members have any biology background. Prof. McInerney said there was a move to say AIDS is not caused by HIV. If a textbook had such a disclaimer, that would have a drastic effect on public health. Prof. Benson clarified with Prof. Schwarzkopf that his motion referred to general textbook disclaimers as opposed to the particular evolution disclaimer. Prof. Benson said his recommendation would be to stay within normal procedure and vote on this item next month. The Executive Committee will tell the president that the Faculty Senate will take action next month. While President Boren has not had a statement about this issue, there could be reason for one now in light of this discussion. Prof. Schwarzkopf remarked that given the political reality, Faculty Senate action could make it possible for the legislature to bury this bill, but it also could cause unintended consequences. Prof. Hutchison said the legislature responds to numbers. The reason for the quick response from the Attorney General was that petitions were presented to Senator Penny Williams, who is chair of the Education Committee, and she asked the Attorney General for an opinion.



The meeting adjourned at 4:40 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, March 20, 2000, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.

Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator

William H. Sutton, Secretary