The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session - March 17, 1997 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789 FAX: 325-6782e-mail: web site:

The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Rick Tepker, Chair.

PRESENT: Albert, Baker, Benson, Blank, Bremer, Civan, Durica, Emery, Fiedler, Fung, Gana, Gilje, E.Greene, Harris, Hobbs, Holmes, Horrell, Hughes, Hutchison, Joyce, Kinzie, C.Knapp, Konopak, F. Lee, Norwood, Palmer, Patten, Patterson, Ramsey, Reynolds, Sipes, St.John, Stoltenberg, Tepker, Thulasiraman, VanGundy, Wahl, Wenk

PSA representatives: Iselin

UOSA representatives: Scott

ABSENT: Carnevale, Dillon, Egle, Elisens, B.Greene, Gupta, Hillyer, Laird, Lancaster, Murphy, Shaughnessy, Smith, Wallach, Williams



Announcement: Faculty/staff picnic 1

Course syllabus 2

Graduate assistant health insurance subsidy 3

Faculty compensation survey 3

Senate Chair's Report:

Status of dean searches 4

Articles concerning web pages 4

E-mail policy 4


Approval of Journal

The Senate Journal for the regular session of February 10, 1997, was approved.


The faculty/staff picnic will be held before a home baseball game on Saturday, April 26. A flier will be distributed with further information.

Report of course syllabus committee

Based on last month's discussion of the recommendations proposed by the course syllabus committee (see 2/97 Journal, page 2 and Appendix I), the Senate Executive Committee proposed that section 3.2.2, paragraph 2, sentence 4 of the Faculty Handbook be replaced with the following language:

They [faculty members] shall publish written course syllabi the first week of class. The syllabus should define the goals of the courses, and faculty members should devote their teaching to the realization of those goals. Where appropriate, course syllabi should state, in addition to the major goals of the course, instructor's office hours; university policies regarding reasonable accommodation and codes of behavior; list of required reading materials; list of all major reading, laboratory, and/or performance assignments for the semester; approximate dates for all graded assignments and approximate percentage each contributes to the final grade. Internships/practicum, directed readings/research, dissertation and thesis hours are exempt from this requirement.

Prof. Holmes explained the changes in last month's version: "Distribute" was changed to "publish" to allow the instructor to post the syllabus on the Internet. "Publish" is a term of art that means in the physical form or the electronic form. The term, "goals," was substituted for "objectives" because "objectives" implies some type of quantifiable concept. The Executive Committee added "where appropriate" and changed "should" to "shall" to make it more generic and flexible. "Approximate" was inserted so instructors would not have to specify exact percentages that assignments contribute to the final grade. The course syllabus committee had not wanted to raise extraneous issues, but the Executive Committee decided to strike the following existing language in the Faculty Handbook: "this requires judicious use of controversial material and an avoidance of material that has no relationship to the objectives of the course." The syllabus committee is in accord with the Executive Committee revisions.

Prof. Albert reported that several members of his department were against the proposal. Their main concern was that a detailed syllabus was inappropriate for experimental or upper division courses or when teaching a course for the first time. He said some thought this would restrict academic freedom. There is no compelling reason to do something like this. Prof. Van Gundy noted that the addition of "where appropriate" and "shall" provides some flexibility. Prof. Albert claimed that new faculty would not know how to interpret the language. Prof. Fiedler said his colleagues thought this policy could prevent faculty from acting in students' best interests and that the language might need some more work. Prof. Wahl asked about the procedure for modifying a syllabus after the first week. Prof. Holmes pointed out that the syllabus could include a statement saying it could be amended. He said he thought academic freedom was a puzzling argument against a syllabus. Prof. Albert said the proposal would place unnecessary restrictions on the faculty. Prof. Tepker said he thought faculty members often invoke academic freedom whenever they are faced with something they do not agree with. Freedom to teach must be balanced against standards of professionalism. A syllabus gives students reasonable notice of the expectations of the class and is an essential tool for defining the form of the course. Prof. Albert asked whether the instructor could review certain material from earlier in the course and test over it again. Prof. Tepker said an instructor can retain her rights to flexibility. Prof. Hutchison remarked that the AAUP has a statement on academic freedom as well as academic responsibility that addresses this issue. This proposal does not tell an instructor what he can teach. What is in the Faculty Handbook now is more restrictive. Prof. Tepker noted that the current policy puts faculty at risk if they teach controversial material injudiciously.

Prof. Patten suggested that the language from "where appropriate" on be eliminated. He said the faculty members in his department were concerned about getting too detailed. Prof. Van Gundy remarked that "shall" could be changed to "might." Prof. Harris explained that one of the motivations for requiring a syllabus was the number of grade appeals against faculty who do not have syllabi. Prof. Patterson said another reason was because of assignments being made after a certain day. Prof. Fiedler said he thought he would vote for the proposal, despite the objections, and try to explain it to his colleagues. The proposal was approved on a voice vote.

Graduate Assistant health insurance subsidy

At last month's meeting Prof. Murphy asked the Faculty Senate to support the Graduate Student Senate's request for subsidized health insurance for Graduate Assistants (see 2/97 Journal, page 3 and Appendix II). Prof. Tepker read a statement from Prof. Murphy, who could not be at the meeting. She reminded the Senate that the maximum cost for a full subsidy, $525,000, is equivalent to a half percent raise for faculty and staff. She offered a possible compromise: a 50% subsidy for graduate assistants (GAs) who are at .5 FTE.

There was a lengthy discussion regarding several issues: who should pay for the insurance (the administration or individual units), the possible decrease in the number of GAs in order to fund the subsidy, whether the Faculty Senate needed to express a formal endorsement, the effect on faculty raises, and the priorities for any new money to the University. Ms. Lauren Cohen, Graduate Student Senate Secretary, pointed out that half-time staff have better benefits than GAs. Questions were asked about the current benefits package for GAs and the option of a 50% phase-in. The Faculty Senate approved, 23 to 9, the motion to endorse section one of the GSS resolution for GAs who are half-time are greater. The approved language reads, "The Faculty Senate endorses the principle that the University should subsidize the cost of student health insurance for all Graduate Assistants who are half-time or greater beginning Fall, 1997."

Faculty Compensation Committee report on faculty compensation survey

Prof. Andy Magid, Chair of the Faculty Compensation Committee (FCC), reported on the results of the faculty compensation survey (see Appendix I; the survey and statistics are available from the Senate office). "Significant agreement" is less than "strong agreement." Faculty members definitely want merit increases and cost-of-living adjustments. Concerning retirement issues, faculty want to keep current deferred compensation plans at the same strength and are not willing to see a reduction in take-home pay to obtain that. Faculty think current evaluation systems are not adequate for determining merit raises. Ninety-one respondents were aware of bias incidents in salary increases. Respondents have been here for almost 12 years on average and are represented among the senior ranks. The FCC did not try to look for interactions between the responses or do a covariance analysis. Prof. Greene asked what would be done with the survey. Prof. Tepker said the Executive Committee would bring it up with the President at an April 1 meeting. Given the earlier discussion about budget priorities, Prof. Tepker will emphasize the strong agreement that salaries for faculty are more important than salaries for administrators. Prof. Patten asked about the even results on the question about bias in the evaluation system and the message that would send to the administration. Prof. Tepker responded that, despite the division of opinion, there is significant discontent with the evaluation system. Prof. Fiedler remarked that faculty members want merit increases more than COLAs. Prof. Greene said she thought faculty want merit increases but believe they cause internal dissension. Prof. Magid observed that faculty members have expressed a preference for a mixed system. The FCC received some technical help from Prof. St. John in preparing the survey, but the interpretation was done by the FCC. Prof. Tepker said comments could be submitted to Prof. Magid or the Executive Committee.

Senate Chair's Report, by Prof. Rick Tepker

Prof. Tepker reported on the status of the dean searches: The Honors College committee is interviewing candidates this month. The College of Arts and Sciences committee met March 6 to produce a short list of candidates. The College of Engineering committee is reviewing the applications generated by an external firm.

During last month's discussion about a computerized public forum, Prof. Tepker offered to provide some articles concerning web pages from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Those articles are available from the Faculty Senate office.

Prof. Tepker announced that there probably will not be a comprehensive e-mail policy (see 11/96 Journal, page 4). However, notice will be sent out reminding individuals that e-mail is not private.


The meeting adjourned at 4:50 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30p.m. on Monday, April 14, 1997, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.

Alexander Holmes, Secretary

Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator

Appendix I

1997 Faculty Compensation Survey Results

Increase Plan Preferences

1. Merit raises should be a part of the University's compensation system (strong agreement)
2. Merit raises should be at least half of annual raises (significant agreement)
3. Cost of Living Adjustments should be part of the University's raise plans (strong agreement)

Budgeting Priorities

1. Salary increases for current faculty are more important than raises for administrators (strong agreement)
2. Salary increases for current faculty are more important than new faculty positions (significant agreement)
3. Salary increases for faculty are not more important than staff raises (significant agreement)
4. Opinion is divided on whether salary increases for faculty are more important than increases in operating budgets

Retirement Issues

1. It is important to keep the current percentage of salary going into deferred compensation (strong agreement)
2. A reduction in take-home pay to retain retirement plans is not acceptable (significant agreement)
3. Ceding some future OTRS benefits to keep the current deferred compensation plan without a reduction in take-home pay is acceptable (significant agreement)

Evaluation System Issues

1. The current evaluation systems are not adequate for determining merit raises (significant agreement)
2. The evaluation system doesn't adequately measure teaching (agreement)
3. The evaluation system adequately measures contributions in research and service (significant agreement)
4. Salary increases are generally consistent with evaluations (agreement)
5. When salary increases are not consistent with evaluations, the reason is insufficient funds (strong agreement)


Most faculty responded "I don't know" or answered incorrectly regarding rates of return, personal costs, and institutional costs of retirement systems.


91 respondents were aware of bias incidents in salary increases; 226 were not.


A total of 341 questionnaires were returned, representing 47% of the faculty. (There are 724 tenure/tenure track faculty, excluding deans.) Not all questionnaires included rank and college information For those that did, responding faculty have been at OU an average of 11.76 years. By ranks, 127 Full Professors, 89 Associate Professors and 72 Assistant Professors responded

Percentages by colleges:

Architecture: 35% (9 of 26)
Arts and Sciences: 46% (161 of 353)
Business: 49% (21 of 43)
Education: 33% (18 of 55)
Engineering 40% (34 of 85)
Fine Arts: 30% (21 of 70)
Geoscience: 20% (9 of 45)
Law: 12% (4 of 32)
Library: 40% (6 of 15)