Regular session – February 9, 2009 – 3:30 p.m. – Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/
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
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Employment Benefits Committee membership
The Big Event
Final Exam Preparation Period/Pre-finals week
Senate Chair's Report:
Announcements of special offers for athletic events
Open access fees
Concealed weapons bills
Submitting grades online
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 “
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
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
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 bigevent.ou.edu 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.
Gibson (Provost Office) said the campus had signed up to participate in
RecycleMania, which came about because we are a signatory to the
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
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
When individuals are bringing
their own equipment back into the
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
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 (http://www.ou.edu/provost/ouncfhb.pdf) and is available on the Senate web page at http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/prefin01.htm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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