The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – February 13, 2006 – 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:       Albert, Apanasov, Badhwar, Benson, Biggerstaff, Blank, Bradford, Brown, Burns, Catlin, Civan, Clark, Croft, Elisens, Fast, Fincke, Frech, Gade, Garn, Geletzke, Gutierrez, Hawamdeh, Houser, C. Knapp, R. Knapp, Kolar, Kutner, Lai, Lester, Marcus-Mendoza, Megginson, Pace, Raadschelders, Ransom, Schwarzkopf, Skeeters, Tabb, Trytten, Warnken, Weaver, Wei, Wyckoff

ISA representatives:  Hough
UOSA representatives:  Vedala


ABSENT:         Cramer, Draheim, Franklin, Hamerla, Hayes-Thumann, Liu, Magnusson, Roche, Rugeley, Scamehorn, Wood





Announcement:  New senators

Big Event

Senate Chair’s Report:

Faculty length of service recognition

Plus/minus grading

Faculty teaching load


Faculty death

National Academy of Engineering member

Election, Senate Executive Committee

Courses with numbers ending in 60, 70, 80, 90

Central campus instruction






The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of January 23, 2006 was approved.





The following faculty members were elected to the Faculty Senate as of February 2006:

William Clark (Economics), completing the 2003-06 term of Susan Sharp (Sociology), representing the College of Arts & Sciences

Karen Hayes-Thumann (Art), completing the 2003-06 term of Bob Dohrmann (Art), representing the College of Fine Arts

Barry Weaver (Geology & Geophysics), completing the 2003-06 term of Tom Dewers (Geology & Geophysics), representing the College of Earth & Energy





Mr. Chris Moody, recruitment co-chair for this year’s Big Event, and Mr. Josh Davis, vice chair for recruitment, described the Big Event.  Mr. Moody said the Big Event is the largest student-run community service event in the country.  It started at Texas A&M in 1982.  OU’s version began in spring 2000.  Nearly 5000 students, faculty, and staff participated last year.  Over 150 non-profit organizations will be assisted in Norman and Oklahoma City.  The organizers raise most of the budget for the Big Event, which is close to $100,000.  Mr. Moody said he asked to speak to the Senate in an effort to increase faculty participation in the event.  Faculty can get involved by signing up as a class or a department.  The organizers are very flexible and can pair a faculty member with students or accommodate any preferences.  This year the Big Event is on Saturday, April 8.  Participants meet on the north oval, are given a free t-shirt and lunch and furnished with supplies.  Volunteers typically spend 6-7 hours at a job site, which amounts to about 27,000 hours of community service in one day.  Applications are available at and are due March 10.  Mr. Davis added that DVDs explaining the program are available from their office.





In response to a recommendation from the Faculty Compensation Committee, the Provost has agreed to support recognition awards for faculty length-of-service.  The first such awards recognizing 30 or more years of service will be made at the spring faculty awards ceremony. 


Faculty members from the Business College decided not to propose plus/minus grading during this academic year (see 12/05 Senate Journal).  Since the student record system is being upgraded, it may be a propitious time to consider whether plus/minus grading is something the faculty wants to do.


At last month’s meeting, President Boren made some remarks about faculty teaching extra credit hours.  The Senate Executive Committee discussed the suggestion with the president, who agreed that such a program should be coordinated with the departmental administration to make sure it is in agreement with the department’s goals and long-term development goals of the involved faculty.


Three bills regarding Intelligent Design have been filed for consideration by the state legislature.  The Senate Executive Committee will start a monitoring program so the senate can consider resolutions if appropriate.


This month’s report of faculty retiree deaths includes Eugene Cates (Education), who died November 26.


Dusan Zrnic, senior scientist at the National Severe Storms Lab and adjunct in Meteorology, was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering.  This year 76 new U.S. engineers were elected.  There are only 2216 U.S. members of the National Academy, so it is an honor for Dr. Zrnic and the university. 





The Faculty Senate approved the nomination of Cecelia Brown (Library & Information Studies) to complete the 2005-06 term of Susan Sharp (Sociology) on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. 





At the December meeting, the senate considered three proposals of the Academic Regulations Committee (ARC) concerning courses with numbers ending in 60, 70, 80, 90 (  As a result of the discussion, the ARC revised the proposal (attached:  Mr. Matt Hamilton, chair of the ARC, was not able to attend this meeting and asked Rick Skeel, Academic Records Director, and Breck Turkington, Enrollment Services Director, to represent him.


Prof. Knapp reminded the senators that they had suggested that the three proposals be considered separately.  He proposed that the third proposal be discussed first. 


It is also requested that a University policy be adopted so that Directed/Honors Readings, Independent Study, Thesis/Dissertation/Honors Research and Special Topics/Seminar courses will be added to the course inventory as part of process of creating any new department.  Existing departments which do not have these courses established would also be identified, and the courses would be created in coordination with the academic department.  The Curricular Changes and Academic Publications office will coordinate creating the course forms and will send the forms to the department for departmental and dean’s office signatures in order to record the date of the action.  The requests would not require review/approval by college committees or the Academic Programs Council, which is normally required for adding a course.


Prof. Schwarzkopf asked how the proposal would affect non-degree-granting units such as ROTC.  Mr. Skeel said departments would not have to use these courses.  They would not automatically be given thesis and dissertation courses but could have directed readings.  The proposal would not force departments to use a particular number but would make it available if they were interested.  Prof. Schwarzkopf asked who would decide whether a course would be created automatically.  Mr. Skeel said the committee had not discussed that issue or the issue of non-degree-granting units, but he assumed that thesis and dissertation courses would not automatically be created for a department that did not offer degrees.  Prof. Schwarzkopf pointed out that the honors college might want to offer honors classes in such departments.  Mr. Skeel said the numbers would be available; the honors college would make that decision.  Prof. Schwarzkopf said he assumed that a vote in favor of the proposal would not preclude the administration from setting up rules to deal with special circumstances.  Prof. Knapp noted that the proposal said the courses would be created in coordination with the academic department, so he presumed academic departments could say they did not want certain courses.


Prof. Raadschelders asked whether the proposal was intended to standardize courses and facilitate program changes.  Mr. Skeel said some departments have not set up directed readings or independent studies courses, so it would facilitate the process if they chose to teach such a course.  Prof. Raadschelders said as a member of the Academic Programs Council, he thought the process of introducing a course would be easier if a department already had a number. 


Prof. Fincke proposed that the third line read, “…new degree-granting department,” to satisfy the earlier comment.  Prof. Schwarzkopf pointed out that non-degree-granting departments could want some of these classes.  Prof. Benson asked whether dissertation/research courses would be added to departments that did not have graduate programs.  Mr. Skeel said that would not be done; the intent was to facilitate the establishment of these courses.  Prof. Knapp said the fourth line could read “courses would be created, if appropriate...”  Prof. Fincke said she thought that would make the resolution ambiguous.  Mr. Skeel pointed out that some departments grant degrees but do not offer doctoral programs.  Prof. Fincke said she assumed the language she proposed implied that existing departments would also have to be degree granting and would not prohibit non-degree-granting departments from creating special topics courses.  Prof. Schwarzkopf said a solution would be to change “departmental and dean’s office signatures” to “department, dean and provost approval” in order to have an administrative structure to grant the exceptions.  Prof. Trytten said she thought the dean level was high enough to deal with most concerns.  Prof. Knapp asked whether deans had final signature on approvals.  Mr. Skeel said course approvals go to the provost.  Prof. Knapp clarified that Prof. Schwarzkopf was trying to capture the full list of approvals.  Prof. Burns suggested that every time “department” was mentioned, it should say “department or program” since many programs are not departments.  Prof. Knapp summarized the changes:  first sentence should read “…new degree-granting department,” third sentence should read “department, dean and provost approval,” and all references to “department” should be changed to “department or program.” 


It is also requested that a University policy be adopted so that Directed/Honors Readings, Independent Study, Thesis/Dissertation/Honors Research and Special Topics/Seminar courses will be added to the course inventory as part of the process of creating any new degree-granting department or program.  Existing departments or programs which do not have these courses established would also be identified, and the courses would be created in coordination with the academic department or program.  The Curricular Changes and Academic Publications office will coordinate creating the course forms and will send the forms to the department or program for departmental and dean’s office signatures department or program, dean and provost approval in order to record the date of the action.  The requests would not require review/approval by college committees or the Academic Programs Council, which is normally required for adding a course.


Prof. Schwarzkopf moved to approve the third resolution as amended.  Resolution three as amended was approved on a voice vote.


Referring to proposal one, Prof. Schwarzkopf asked whether the description of the courses was specific enough so that existing courses ending in a number like 63 would not be redefined as directed readings.  Mr. Skeel said the intent was not to affect any existing courses that have been approved.  It would be less confusing if the courses that end in 60 and 70 are consistent from this point forward.  Courses that are not seminars should be assigned a different number.  Prof. Lester asked whether proposal one would only apply to courses going forward and not retroactively.  Mr. Turkington said departments would be encouraged but not required to change.  It is much easier to do degree audits with a structure that identifies these types of courses so they do not look like regular courses. 


Prof. Marcus-Mendoza commented that grading issues should rest with the departmental faculty and not be a standard.  She asked whether the department chair would have to fill out a form for every instructor every semester if the instructor wanted to change the grading scheme.  Mr. Skeel said he agreed that the grading should be at the department and faculty discretion.  The goal is to set a base that is consistent, and any changes would have a consistent process.  If a course is set up as S/U, it can be approved as letter graded for a given semester or permanently by section or whole course, so the approval process would not have to be done every term.  Prof. Marcus-Mendoza said the process takes the decision away from the faculty because the approval must go to the dean and graduate college.  It is arbitrary since the department picks one grading scheme and then gets exceptions.  Mr. Skeel noted that there is a long-standing graduate college policy that all graduate directed readings and independent studies courses are S/U graded.  His office is required to have approval away from S/U.  The objective is to build some consistency so everyone knows how to start and how to make a change.  The easiest scheme would be for the entire campus to agree that courses could be optional grading.  Mr. Turkington said the proposal formalizes what is already in place.  Prof. Apanasov pointed out that some courses are offered as directed readings or independent studies if they do not meet the minimum enrollment.  In those cases, the class should be graded in the same way as a regular class.  He recommended that courses ending in 60 and 90 be letter graded or S/U graded at the instructor’s discretion.  Mr. Skeel said because we are obligated to uphold a graduate college policy that says the opposite, we have a process for making those kinds of exceptions.  There has been some inconsistency in the grading scheme between undergraduate and graduate independent study courses.


Prof. Gade noted that the proposal suggests that 70 courses be letter or S/U graded, yet the form says a graduate student must be graded S/U for special problems or studies.  Mr. Skeel replied that the special problems courses typically end in 90.  The form has never been intended to be used for seminar or special topics numbers.  Prof. Lester commented that there is no consistency across the university in the numbers used.  Proposal two would make it even more complicated since courses are already in place and have been approved.  Prof. Knapp responded that the hope for proposal two is to provide uniformity in numbering between departments.  The staff is prepared to fill out the paperwork to minimize the burden on individual departments.  Prof. Lester said the Graduate Council had some concerns related to proposal two.  Mr. Skeel reiterated that it was not intended to be a retroactive policy, and no change would be made to courses that have already been approved.  Prof. Benson said he understood the intention but would feel better if the first line said “all new courses.”  Otherwise, it sounds as though every department would have to fix its courses.  Prof. Raadschelders asked whether the proposals had come before the Academic Programs Council (APC) and if so, whether the members were happy with the changes.  Mr. Skeel said there was some initial conversation with the APC but not a thorough discussion.  The ARC had discussed the issues in detail on two occasions.  Prof. Raadschelders remarked that any effort to standardize current procedures would be welcome. 


Prof. Schwarzkopf said his understanding was the instructor should use a topics course for a letter-graded experimental course.  Some courses that are and ought to be letter graded end in 63 or 73.  Describing courses with only the terminal two digits applies policy to courses that should not be included.  He suggested that the courses be defined by the three terminal digits and preferably all four digits.  Prof. Marcus-Mendoza commented that adding “all new courses” would not fix her complaint that the department should decide what makes sense pedagogically in terms of grading.  It would be a logistical nightmare for department chairs to know for each section how the professor has decided to grade it.  Mr. Skeel explained that if a department decides that all undergraduate courses will be letter graded, it sends in one form and is finished, just as it is done now.  Responding to Prof. Schwarzkopf, he said the proposal was intended to apply to courses that end in 960, 970, 980, not courses that end in a number such as 663.  He thought the committee would be willing to make that change for the sake of clarity. 


Prof. Biggerstaff asked whether the grading scheme for a course could be permanently optional.  Mr. Skeel explained that his preference would be to have optional grading for all courses as long as each section was graded the same way.  However, the graduate college does not allow that as a choice on a permanent basis for graduate readings courses.  Prof. Biggerstaff noted that it would remove a lot of the confusion if the graduate college would allow faculty to have optional grading.  Prof. Hawamdeh asked whether a form would have to be filled out every time a new professor taught a graduate course.  Mr. Skeel said they would fill out the form only if they wanted to change what had last been approved for the course.  Professors can have their section of a course graded a certain way permanently or temporarily.  If a new professor came on board and had a section number that had previously been approved, s/he would have to request a change.  If the department gave the individual a different section number, s/he could assign S/U grades.  Letter grading would have to go through the approval process.  Prof. Knapp said professors would have to submit a form for each section if they wanted to make a change.  Prof. Houser said he had put in a number of requests, had never had any denied, and thought it was a pretty streamlined process.  He thought there could be some logistical issues, though, if very many instructors submitted the number of forms he had.


Prof. Knapp asked whether the proposals were clear enough to vote on, or whether they should go back to ARC and ask them to work with APC.  Prof. Lester suggested that the “9” be included when describing the courses and that “new” be inserted in both proposals as proposed earlier.  Prof. Apanasov brought up his prior suggestion to have optional grading for 60 and 90 courses.  Prof. Benson pointed out that adding the “9” would resolve a lot of difficulties.  Prof. Marcus-Mendoza moved to table proposals one and two, remand them to the ARC for clarification, and ask them to work with the APC.  The motion was approved on a voice vote.





Prof. Biggerstaff, a member of the ad hoc committee on central campus instruction, presented the proposed resolution from the committee (attached:  He said the committee met three times, received input from Student Congress representative Rachel Muchmore, and the committee chair, Prof. Hobbs, met with the provost.  The committee’s charge was to determine a recommendation for the kinds of classes that should be reserved for instruction on the central campus.  The committee had to come up with an idea of why courses should be taught on central campus.  The discussion involved both philosophical and practical issues, for instance, the logistics of having two separate main regions where students congregate.  We are very fortunate to have a problem like this in the sense that our campus is growing and we have new infrastructure in place for our students to be able to get a world-class education.  The committee wanted to acknowledge that this is a good problem to have and to encourage the administration to work with the Faculty Senate as a stakeholder in the educational enterprise in Oklahoma to facilitate future planning. 


Prof. Knapp pointed out that the usual practice was for the senators to discuss the resolution with their colleagues, and it would come off the table at the March meeting.  Prof. Benson asked whether the task force was aware that there used to be a council that was supposed to be involved in these sorts of decisions and that the council asked to be eliminated because it was never consulted.  Prof. Biggerstaff said the task force was aware of the former council but not the reasons it dissolved.  Prof. Schwarzkopf asked if he was correct that the committee approved the idea of putting smaller sized classes on the south campus and not trying to force them onto the central campus.  Prof. Biggerstaff said it was reasonable to allow courses that involve small numbers of students to be on south campus.  Some of that will happen anyway with Meteorology moving to south campus in the fall.  At the same time, the committee recognizes that the infrastructure is not in place to allow large groups of students to be moved back and forth between the campuses.  The committee encourages the administration, if that is in their future plans, to participate in two-way communications with faculty, staff, and students to facilitate involvement with the infrastructure necessary to do that.


Prof. Marcus-Mendoza asked about the intent of the word, “should,” in the resolution.  Prof. Biggerstaff said the committee discussed whether to have absolutes or to encourage an activity but not necessarily make it impossible.  The committee thought it was best to leave some wiggle room.  The recommendation is that large groups of students should not be transported at this time until scheduling is changed and transportation is there.  So “should” is the word the committee intended.  Prof. Frech suggested that “on the main campus” should come after “offer” in number one.  Prof. Biggerstaff agreed that the intent was courses should be offered on the main campus if they affect a large number of students.


Prof. Lester asked whether there was discussion of what “efficient, sound and reliable transportation” would look like and how we would know when we reach that point.  Prof. Biggerstaff said the committee had talked about a monorail and buses.  He said there should be some real evaluation of what that transportation system should look like.  Prof. Knapp said the committee was not trying to specify the measure of value.  Prof. Trytten said she was concerned that the scheduling infrastructure was mixed with the transportation infrastructure.  Since scheduling would probably take less time, she thought the two should be separated.  Scheduling could move forward even now.  Transportation is a much longer scale and more expensive problem.  Prof. Biggerstaff reported that the Meteorology chair recently worked out the schedule for courses to be taught at the national weather center, and it required a lot of manual intervention.  If we are moving a large number of students, scheduling will be a big issue and could take a couple of years to do well.  The resolution will be discussed again at the March meeting.





The meeting adjourned at 4:50 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, March 20, 2006, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


A. Steve Bradford, Secretary