The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session – February 9, 2009 – 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 Cecelia Brown, Chair.


PRESENT:       Ahmed, Apanasov, Asojo, Atiquzzaman, Bass, M. Bemben, Blank, Bradshaw, Brown, Brule, Buckley, Conlon, Eodice, Forman, Franklin, Graham, Grasse, Greene, Hahn, Hawthorne, Kent, Kershen, Lifschitz, Livesey, McDonald, Miller, Milton, Moses, Muraleetharan, Rambo, Reeder, Rogers, Russell, Striz, Tan, Trafalis, Vehik, Verma, Vitt, Weaver, Wyckoff, Yi

Provost's office representative:  Mergler
ISA representatives:  Bondy, Cook

ABSENT:         Basic, D. Bemben, Clark, Horn, Morrissey, Riggs, Sadler, Schmidt, Strauss






Darwin 2009

Employment Benefits Committee membership

New senators

Committee nominations

The Big Event


Export Controls

Final Exam Preparation Period/Pre-finals week

Senate Chair's Report:

Announcements of special offers for athletic events

Open access fees

Stimulus package

Canceled classes

Concealed weapons bills

Submitting grades online

Graduate applications

Student evaluations of teaching







The Faculty Senate Journal for the regular session of December 8, 2008 was approved.





Several OU departments are sponsoring a series of events throughout 2009, called “Darwin 2009,” to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.  Other departments and faculty are invited to participate.  For further information, see  Prof. Weaver announced that the celebration would kick off on February 12, Darwin’s birthday, with a talk at the museum.  On February 13, a symposium, “Darwin Across the Disciplines,” will feature a number of faculty from diverse departments giving brief talks about the impact of Darwinism on their disciplines.


President Boren approved the change in the charge of the Employment Benefits Committee, approved by the Senate at its December 8 meeting, which broadens the Tulsa faculty membership on the committee to include the non-medical faculty.  The Norman and HSC faculty senates will recommend names. 


The following faculty members were elected to the Faculty Senate as of February 2009:

Susan Hahn (University Libraries), completing the 2008-11 term of Janet Croft (University Libraries), representing the Library.

Han Yi (Accounting), completing the 2006-09 term of M. Chris Knapp (Accounting), representing the College of Business.


The call for volunteers for councils, committees and boards was sent to faculty, chairs/directors and deans on February 9.  Nominations are due to the Faculty Senate office by March 11.





Mr. Shane Hampton, a member of the Big Event Executive Staff, explained that the Big Event is student-run community service effort.  Volunteer applications are available at and are due February 20.  The tenth annual Big Event will be held on March 28.  Mr. Hampton encouraged faculty to volunteer as individuals or in groups.  He said the faculty could also suggest potential job sites.  A fundraiser will be held on February 12 at Panera Bread; 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the Big Event. 





Ms. Mechelle Gibson (Provost Office) said the campus had signed up to participate in RecycleMania, which came about because we are a signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.  A Sustainability Committee was formed, and one of its subcommittees is the waste minimization committee, which she chairs.  The committee’s two initiatives are to educate the community about recycling and the impact it has on the environment and to create a sense of ownership.  Recyclemania is a national program that runs from January 18 to March 28.  The first two weeks are the promotional period.  The web site,, includes an educational component, an interactive quiz, a conversionator, as well as information about the Physical Plant and what OU is currently doing about recycling.  Those who take a short quiz are entered into a sweepstakes and could win a scooter or $500 in Sooner Sense.  We are participating in the benchmarking division and hope to compete in the national program next year.  Ms. Gibson is encouraging the faculty, staff and students to increase their recycling over the next few weeks and then to continue on. 





Ms. Gretta Rowold, Export Control Officer & Facility Security Officer, discussed some of the responsibilities of her office.  One concern is international travel to countries that are subject to very comprehensive sanctions.  The list changes, but currently the five countries are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.  Academic collaborations with individuals or institutions in those countries can be subject to regulation.  Cuba is the only country on the list that requires a license for travel.  Generally, academic exchanges are covered under a general license, or faculty can apply specifically for an individual license.  A good resource for people who travel internationally is  The International Travel tab has information on where embassies are located, English-speaking hospitals, current security concerns, and where laptops are likely to be stolen.  If international travel is funded by the University through Research Services, the faculty member is asked to complete an interactive set of questions to determine if there is a license requirement.  It can be done once a year or for each trip.


Another concern is dual use research, which is research in any subject matter that has a primary civilian or commercial application but could be used in weapons or military development as well.  Basically any hard science or technology could fit in that category.  Even fundamental research could be targeted for collection in other countries.  She asked the faculty to report to her office if they notice anything amiss in a request at an international conference.  That kind of information is submitted to a central data base, which will help to tailor specific information for researchers in a particular field or for a particular destination.


The Export Controls office can provide clean laptops with basic operating systems for faculty to check out when they travel overseas.  Laptops are portable deposits of information that can be targeted for theft or compromised, or they can be lost.  The clean laptops have no sensitive information, no protective FERPA records, and no prohibited information.  MACs also are available.  There is no legal process required, even as a U.S. citizen, when coming across the U.S. borders with a laptop.  No subpoena or search warrant is required.  Customs can detain a laptop indefinitely.  Faculty may want to back up information on laptops and take some additional steps.  Online activity, as well as the laptop with the information on it, has no legal protection in any other country.  External devices such as flash drives may have viruses on them.  She advises faculty members to get free thumb drives from her office so they can download their presentation on those devices and hand them out to those who request a copy. 


When individuals are bringing their own equipment back into the U.S., there are import requirements.  Purchasing has a contract with a customs broker who can help.  The Export Controls office gets involved if an import is a defense article or it is an item that has been specifically designed, developed or configured for military or intelligence operations, which includes satellites.  For further information, faculty may go to or contact Ms. Rowold (325-5053, or Jessa Bush (5-5726,  She told the group that she appreciates ideas or suggestions with regard to what is helpful or not helpful.


Prof. Muraleetharan asked how students who come to OU from the five countries are treated.  Ms. Rowold said those situations are handled through the Visa office and are monitored twice a year.  Prof. Muraleetharan asked what responsibility he had for what a student is doing.  Ms. Rowold said OU regularly checks with the federal agencies to make sure there are no policy shifts and also contacts the students periodically to see that they are studying what they said they would.  It all hinges on the Visa. 


Prof. Apanasov inquired about customs problems when faculty members return to the U.S. with laptops and the help this institution can provide to protect property and intellectual property.  Ms. Rowold said faculty members could contact her office to discuss the type of information they have on their laptops.  If there is nothing that will be an issue when traveling outside the country, the Export Controls office can issue a laptop letter that says an individual is authorized to travel internationally with that property.  Soon faculty will be able to go online to answer some questions and get a letter automatically.  Ms. Rowold is not aware that anyone at OU has had to produce a letter, but it is useful to have some documentation that the property was screened.  Prof. Apanasov asked what should be done if property is taken.  Ms. Rowold said she believed it should be reported to Property Control and the department chair.  It is useful for her office to know if there is a problem with people coming back from a particular country so she can make other travelers aware.  Seizures can happen even coming back into the U.S.  Prof. Apanasov said institutions should complain about unreasonable search and seizure when returning to the U.S.  Ms. Rowold said there was pending legislation to require some process.  She encouraged the senators to tell their Congress members their concerns.  [Note: Ms. Rowold provided information about the proposed legislation and contact information for Oklahoma’s Congress members, which was forwarded to the senators.]


Prof. Kent suggested that faculty who travel internationally should get a pocket-sized hard drive to back up information.  Seizures are not uncommon.  Individuals should take prescription drugs in their original bottles, because some drugs are illegal in other countries.  Prof. Vitt said he has been taking large amounts of equipment back and forth to Brazil for several years.  It is totally unpredictable what will happen to it going into Brazil and back into the U.S.  What has eliminated most problems is having a list of the equipment with serial numbers.  If people take large amounts of cash, they should fill out a form when leaving or entering a country so they can account for the cash and not be arrested or subject to penalties.  Ms. Rowold agreed that documentation is key; then individuals can prove that they went in and came out with particular property.  A few months ago, she heard reports that European countries were requiring people to pay a duty or tax if they could not prove where they had purchased their laptops.  Prof. Vitt noted that there is a U.S. customs form that people can fill out that lists those kinds of items.  Ms. Rowold said documentation helps tremendously and is well worth the time to protect the equipment and information stored on it. 





Prof. Brown explained that the student association had proposed some revisions in the pre-finals week policy to the Faculty Senate last September.  The Senate Executive Committee worked with the students to develop a new proposal (attached).  The current policy is in section 4.10 of the Faculty Handbook ( and is available on the Senate web page at 


Prof. Kent pointed out that it is very common in capstone classes that the final week is used for presentations or the last exam.  The proposed policy would require teachers to give a test a week earlier, which means less material could be covered.  Prof. Brown noted that 4.10.2(a) would allow faculty members to put that in their syllabus.  Prof. McDonald said they would have to get the department chair’s approval.  Prof. Brown said that was correct, but the requirement is in the current policy as well.


Prof. Apanasov said the big change was going from 10 percent to 5 percent in the last week.  Prof. Brown said that was the main change, but the policy also was revised to make it easier to read and to extend the date it can be revisited.  Prof. Vitt said it was the responsibility of faculty to have a syllabus that outlined what went on in a course.  He said he did not see how we would gain anything by passing a new set of restrictive rules.  Students can decide whether they want to take a course based on the syllabus, and students should not dictate to faculty the design or grading structure of a course.  Prof. Brown replied that one of the students’ complaints is that some instructors do not provide a syllabus.  Prof. Bradshaw said it would make more sense to require faculty to have clearer syllabi.  Provost Mergler commented that a policy on course syllabi is contained in the Faculty Handbook.  Prof. Kent said he states in his syllabus that 25 percent of the course grade will be done in the last two weeks of class because of the structure of the class.  He said he did not understand the point of the policy except that students have complained that certain faculty members spring assignments on them at the last minute.  Occasionally it is worth making a change to the schedule to deal with some new issue.  He said he was unclear how this could do anything for pedagogy.  Prof. Brown explained that a pre-finals week policy has already been in place in the handbook.  It simply was re-written to make it clearer and to make the change to 5 percent. 


Prof. Muraleetharan asked about the logic behind the change to 5 percent.  Prof. Brown said it was modeled after OSU’s policy.  Responding to other questions, Prof. Brown said the basic difference between the current and proposed policies was the change from 10 to 5 percent; that is to say, 5 percent or less of the course grade could be given in the last week.  Other changes were to make it read better and change the date it can be revisited.  As a pedagogical activity, Prof. Kent had his Public Relations class discuss how this issue should have been framed if students wanted to get the approval of the Faculty Senate.  He had offered to meet with student leaders to discuss some of the concerns that faculty members had, but he did not get a response from them.  He asked, “What is the agenda here and … how do we know this represents the students at all?” 


Addressing the purpose of the drop from 10 to 5 percent, Mr. Frank Wood, chair of the Student Congress Academic Affairs Committee, said a lot of tests, labs and homework go on during the last week.  What the students were trying to do was lower the worth of assignments in that week to allow students to focus on studying for finals in the next week and in that very week.  Prof. Miller said he thought this would encourage students to procrastinate.  Prof. Kent asked how the policy would prevent teachers from having on their syllabus a quiz scheduled for the last week.  Mr. Wood said the policy would not entirely prevent teachers from having a quiz worth more than 5 percent if they decide it is necessary.  The drop to 5 percent is not to do away with everything but to minimize the impact. 


Prof. Rambo asked why the 30-day notification had been removed from the proposal.  Prof. Brown and Mr. Wood answered that the old document was hard to understand.  It was an attempt to simplify the language.  Prof. Livesey commented that some of the problems may be with adjunct faculty.  He asked how the policy is communicated to those faculty members and whether department chairs would need to look at every faculty member’s syllabus.  Provost Mergler said she sends an email at the beginning of the academic year to all new instructional faculty and graduate teaching assistants with all the policies from the Faculty Handbook that deal with faculty-to-student instructional issues.  Each campus has somewhat different instructional policies that have evolved over time.  Prof. Vitt noted that if faculty members have a syllabus and it lays out the structure of the course, students do not have to take the course if they do not want an exam in the last week.  That is a lot easier than having more and more policies that restrict what everybody can do.  Provost Mergler said she was aware that we cannot deal with all the information coming our way.  There has been a transition in the past 10 years in where to go for accurate information.  She pointed out that there are some classes that students must take in order to make progress towards their degree.  From the students’ point of view, some boundaries set at the University level are reassuring.  We are no heavier in policies than other public research universities.  Prof. Vitt said he still did not see the advantage of having another policy if the faculty is required to have a syllabus.


Prof. Buckley said he did not understand yet why the proposal was important to students.  Mr. Wood said the limit was intended to help students do better on finals.  The more times students can go over the material, the more they will retain and carry into the next class.  Prof. Brown reminded the senators that a pre-finals week policy currently is in the Faculty Handbook. 


Prof. Blank suggested that a phrase be added at the end of procedure a), which says, “stated in the initial course syllabus or at least 30 days before activation.”  That would allow somebody to make a change in the middle of the semester that they thought was appropriate, but they would have to do it 30 days ahead.  As it currently reads, any exception would have to be done in the syllabus on the very first day of class.  The exception still would have to have prior approval of the chair of the department.  Mr. Wood said he thought it would be acceptable to change the syllabus mid-stride, but the students would want to limit the assignment to 5 percent. 


Prof. Vitt said he wondered what percent of courses on this campus had 5 percent of the work due in the last week.  Prof. Vehik said she has 20 percent due at the end of the semester in the form of a term paper, but the students know about it.  Prof. Vitt said that is true in most capstone courses because they have some sort of term paper due in the last week.  Prof. Blank said he was just trying to put in an exception that would allow people some adjustment in the middle of the semester if they needed it.  Prof. Brown said she could accept that as a friendly amendment.  Prof. Blank asked whether procedural point a), which says must “have prior approval by the chair of the department,” meant prior approval before the issuance of the syllabus or before the event.  Prof. Brown said it meant the syllabus.  Mr. Wood added that the language was the same as the current policy.  Prof. Traflis said he has a final project due on the last day in his graduate course, which meets once a week.  Prof. Brown said that would be allowed.  Prof. Bradshaw remarked that there were many exemptions.  Prof. Brown said the Senate would vote on the proposal at the next meeting.



SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Cecelia Brown


“This semester we have been sending emails to the faculty senate members about special offers for faculty for athletic events and asking you to get the word out to your constituents.  This is in response to a request made by several senators to know more about such special offers because there is no one good centralized way to get the word out to faculty.  Any ideas about other easy and cost effective ways and means to do this would be most appreciated.


“The Vice President for Research has a fund to cover the costs of reprints and page charges for scholarly publications up to $250 for faculty members once a year.  He has agreed to expand the use of the funds to pay for open access fees.  It is the same application process and same dollar amount and is limited to one request per fiscal year.


“In the Senate Executive Committee’s monthly meeting with President Boren, he suggested that we write Senator Tom Coburn, encouraging him, as individuals, to support the stimulus package that is being considered by the U.S. Senate.  The package will be beneficial to higher education and OU, particularly our operating budget.


“The campus closures two weeks ago in response to the ice storm caused disruptions across campus in lost classes, labs, and rehearsals.  The Faculty Senate Executive Committee spoke with Provost Mergler and the President, and the decision to close is made based on many factors, with safety of students, staff, and faculty being the primary concern.  However, realizing that several courses experienced substantial losses in time and content and that it is likely to happen again in the future, the Executive Committee is seeking suggestions and guidance about how to make up for the lost time now and in the future.  Currently we are looking to see what other Big 12 campuses do in these circumstances.  If anyone in the Senate would like to volunteer to help us in this endeavor, please contact the Senate office.”


Prof. Kershen said the issue was more than how to make up classes.  The whole decision about the circumstances under which classes should be canceled should be considered.  He said he thought the decision to cancel was done too quickly.  It is difficult to lose three days.  We seem to be having more cancellations in recent years.  Prof. Forman said he echoed that thinking.  Prof. Kent said he leaves a day in his schedule to be announced to allow for unforeseen circumstances.  Prof. Buckley said some people thought it was a wise decision to err on the side of caution to make it safer for everyone.  He said he supported the University’s decision.  Prof. Vehik commented that falling on the ice is dangerous.  She said she did not think the closing was a bad decision.  Prof. Muraleetharan said it was better to be cautious than have a lot of accidents.  Prof. McDonald pointed out that instructors could use the resources of D2L, our course management system.  Prof. Brown said that was the kind of guidance the Executive Committee is looking at, for example, putting an extra lecture online and building in an extra day.  Thoughts or ideas may be sent to the Senate office. 





Prof. Brown reported that both the Oklahoma House and Senate have bills, HB 1083 and SB 1101, that have been introduced to authorize certain persons, including faculty, to carry handguns on college property.  President Boren hopes the bills will not get out of committee.  However, Prof. Brown wanted the Faculty Senate to be aware.  Last year, the Faculty Senate voted by email during Spring Break on a resolution opposing the legislation.  Faculty may contact their legislators as private citizens and encourage them to vote against the legislation.  Prof. Rambo asked if the Senate should start working on another resolution.  Prof. Brown the Senate could dust off the one from last year.  Prof. Apanasov urged the Senate leadership to provide information from both sides, not just the negatives.  Prof. Miller said the Faculty Senate could suggest so many restrictions that it would be nearly impossible for anyone to qualify to carry concealed weapons. 





Prof. Milton asked about the status of entering grades online.  Provost Mergler explained that the new Banner software eventually will allow faculty to submit grades through the web.  The new system will make the student records system web based.  Currently, applications are double-processed through new and old systems.  The financial aid system will go live soon.  In the fall, the rest of the system will come online.  Brad Burnett, who is coordinating the project, could provide an update.  It is a massive project, and a lot of people are doing double jobs.  Prof. Milton asked whether the system also would allow submission of student evaluations of faculty.  Provost Mergler said that was a different system.  New scanning hardware was purchased, but it still needs to be fine tuned.  She said the faculty should consider that an online evaluation system would reduce substantially the number of students who would respond. 





Prof. Muraleetharan said he had heard there was a backlog in processing graduate applications.  Provost Mergler said we are about 7 applications less than last year.  The admissions staff is trying to recover from the flood when the pipes burst, and they are double-processing applications in both systems.  Prof. Muraleetharan said the concern was that a student could not be hired because his application had not been processed yet.  Provost Mergler said the best strategy would be to minimize the special requests.  The staff is working on Saturdays, and an additional person has been hired to assist with the volume.





Prof. Rogers said she and some of her colleagues had received more student evaluation responses than the number of students enrolled in the classes.  Provost Mergler said the new system is better in many ways because each form has a code for the course number.  Any forms with a question are re-scanned.  The colleges are trying to verify the accuracy of the data.  Sending the written comments to faculty has been delayed, but the more important component of the annual faculty evaluation process is the comparative data.  Prof. Bradshaw said she had not received enough forms for her cross-listed course and had to make copies.  Provost Mergler said in theory, one is printed for every student enrolled in a course, and it has a bar code that attributes the information to the correct course and instructor.  Questions may be directed to Robert Kelly in the provost office. 





Prof. Livesey said there was a lot of anxiety about the budget, particularly among junior faculty.  He asked if the administration could alleviate some anxiety by being more forthcoming about potential cuts.  Provost Mergler replied that a memo was sent to the deans, and they should be communicating with departments soon about reductions.  Prof. Livesey noted that most of the budget in his unit is salaries.  Provost Mergler said the circumstances are different from college to college.  Prof. M. Bemben said the faculty and staff in his unit are concerned about the possibility of furloughs.  Provost Mergler agreed that it is a time of high anxiety for everyone.  She hopes the stimulus package will jump start the economy.  Our circumstances at OU and in Oklahoma are not as severe as at other universities.  People are so nervous about the fiscal realities that this may not be the time to layer on too many new initiatives.  Each unit needs to make the tough decision that best meets the intent of the President’s memo, which is to buffer students from any negative consequences, try to preserve jobs, do the least damage possible, and sustain morale and momentum.  Prof. M. Bemben asked if there was a chance that faculty would be denied a promotion raise.  Provost Mergler said funds were set aside to give a 7 percent raise; otherwise, we would get further behind.  Prof. Brown asked whether the new hires currently in the mill were safe.  Provost Mergler said she did not know what the deans were going to do.  We need to make it possible for the students to move through the system and earn their degrees.  The students did not create this financial crisis.  The administration is trying to think of every possible strategy, while doing the least damage to the academic side.  We should not do anything that would undermine our faculty resources.  Each college has different circumstances and must be given the wherewithal to make decisions that best serve the needs of the particular units.  Prof. Vitt remarked that the state is much better off than most states. 





The meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m.  The next regular session of the Faculty Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, March 9, 2009, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator


Paula Conlon, Faculty Secretary