University Senate

Meeting 535 Minutes

The University Senate
of Michigan Technological University

 Minutes of Meeting 535
11 September 2013

The Senate

  • Presentation on Current Issues at Michigan Tech by Provost Max Seel
  • Presentation on Assessment by Christa Walck     
  • Proposed Senate Meeting Dates for 2013-2014 passed
  • Senate Standing Committees for 2013-2014 passed

 1. Call to order and roll call. President Brian Barkdoll called the University Senate Meeting 535 to order at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, September 11, 2013. The Senate President Brian Barkdoll called roll. Absent were Senators Thompson and Panian and representatives of Army/Air Force ROTC, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Academic Services A, Administration and Graduate Faculty Council.

2. Recognition of visitors. Guests included Max Seel (Provost Office), Christa Walck (Provost Office), Bonnie Gorman (Dean of Students), Ellen Marks (Library), Mike Meyer (Center for Teaching and Learning) and Jackie Huntoon (Graduate School).

3. Approval of agenda. Scarlett motioned to approve the agenda; Moran seconded; it passed unanimously on a voice vote.

4. Approval of minutes from Meetings 533 and 534.  Moran motioned to approve the agenda; Scarlett seconded; it passed unanimously on a voice vote.

5. Presentation: “Current Issues at Michigan Tech” by Provost Max Seel
Seel, Provost’s Office, stated his outlook for the current academic year, mentioning current enrollment numbers and US News and World Report rankings. He then asked for a moment of silence for the passing of Tom Drummer (Mathematical Sciences). Seel announced gifts and funding for learning centers, blended learning and technology, noting this will go a long way to enhance student success, increase retention to 85% and graduation rate to 68%. He discussed the role of the Library in student learning and provided an update on current renovations. Mullins asked about the timing of the renovations. Seel described the timeline for computer access and completion of the project. He provided an update on the work of the taskforce for computing information science and engineering. He concluded by noting the push for reform of general education and assessment. Waddell asked for a comment on the budget. Seel noted Tech closed with a slight surplus and because the change in the tuition structure removes some volatility, he has confidence in the budget projection. Waddell asked for a comment on fringe benefits. Seel noted the next Benefits Liaison Group (BLG) will be meeting again in mid-October and subsequent to that they will be updating us on this years plans. Barkdoll noted that Dave Reed (Vice-President for Research) will be invited to discuss the budget in an upcoming meeting.

6. Presentation: ”Assessment Summary” by Associate Provost Christa Walck        
Walck, Provost’s Office, provided an overview of student learning goals, reporting requirements, past results and justification for assessment. She listed the members of the Assessment Council for 2013-14. Walck listed the eight University Student Learning Goals and described how these fit into the assessment program and process. She provided a detailed background on performing the annual assessment, which this year will be Communication. Walck mentioned various resources to educate and assist those performing assessments. Scarlett asked for clarification about the number of learning outcomes being evaluating. Walck said two goals are required and gave an example of extracting the evidence of having performed a learning goal from a course. She concluded by discussing the requirements for becoming a LEAP (Liberal Education & America’s Promise) state.

7. Report from the Senate President
Barkdoll asked the new senators to introduce themselves. He provided the charges to committees and asked that committees select chairs prior to the first senate executive meeting. Barkdoll noted the need for a new senate room and raised the issue of continuing to televise senate meetings. Riehl asked if it could be streamed live. Barkdoll speculated that only a few people do not have access to the internet. Vable suggested the minutes reflect the place in the video where specific discussions take place. Scarlett noted that online videos could be keyword searchable. Meyer asked if there was an issue of accessing senate meetings via cable TV versus computer. Barkdoll felt that technology makes online video access a viable alternative to cable TV. He proceeded to discuss the procedure for proposals. Vable requested the agenda be made available in a more timely fashion so senators have time to communicate with constituents. Seel commented on the timing of proposal deliberations by senators, action by committees and process for approval. Barkdoll clarified the process which proposals are directed to committees, discussed and the time permitted prior to voting to allow communication with constituents. He provided an update on the activities of the BLG and reminded all senators to report on their committee activities. Scarlett suggested the senate may need to restructure its committees to remain consistent with changes in administrative committees. Barkdoll noted the changes in the PPO and high-deductible plan being discussed. Mullins said the premiums are based on an ideology not facts, such as charging by dependents and not on major users of healthcare. Beck suggested that before a decision is made regarding benefits someone from the BLG should come to the senate to discuss it. Scarlett wondered why changes to benefits were being made when we recently heard that our budget remains stable. Barkdoll said he did not know but speculated the reason can be attributed to rising healthcare costs. Beck noted the loss of premiums in shifting to the high-deductible plan is the reason they want to charge per dependent. Barkdoll noted MTU has more dependents per employee than the national average. He concluded by stating that last years president and executive team evaluations will be discussed and made available to the senate in an upcoming meeting. Fleming expressed a concern about what happens to survey results. Mullins said the results go to the Board of Control. Barkdoll affirmed the complete set of data goes to the Board of Control but only the numerical scores will be posted on the website. Caneba said he will provide a summary of the comments to the senate. Barkdoll reminded the senate the survey results will be presented at the next senate meeting. Waddell said that libel involves a statement of fact that is verifiably false, that could damage a person’s reputation, and that is published. He added that some survey comments could be excluded on such grounds, but that if the comments are not libelous, then an alternative reason should be offered for not publishing the comments. Seel affirmed that legal counsel recommended what results could be published and noted that the convention followed for the past few years was to only post the numerical results. Vable said this issue also applies to deans and chairs, where it was determined that if the published survey results reflect universal questions there is nothing libelous. Waddell said if libel cannot be shown then professional courtesy might be an acceptable reason not to publish the comments. Barkdoll concluded by saying the agreement was to not release the comments

8. Report from Senate Standing Committees
There were no committee reports. Barkdoll asked that each committee provide a report for each senate meeting.

9. Old Business
Proposal 25-13:  “Proposal to Amend Senate Policy 701.1”
Barkdoll introduced the proposal detailing 0% appointments. Vable asked if faculty of the department had a say in who gets a 0% appointment and if there were any voting rights associated with 0% appointment. Seel said these issues could be specifically addressed in the policy, but currently are not. Moran felt it sounded misleading to have a 0% appointment. Barkdoll argued that activity and collaborations may exist but there is no financial responsibility toward the 0% appointee by the department. Seel said we can discuss the rationale at the next meeting. Mullins asked how applicable this is and if this proposal is needed. Seel said its up to the proposer to make the case. Froese said there were questions about committee service, voting rights and other roles of a 0% appointee, which might be covered by departmental charters. Seel said most charters require a 50% appointment to vote, but if this proposal becomes a university policy it needs to be defined. Froese felt the appropriate place to define this should be in charters. Barkdoll charged the Administrative Policy Committee with working out the issues constituents have raised. Moran reiterated his concern regarding the ethics of a 0% appointment.

Proposal 26-13:  “Blended Learning Policy”
Barkdoll summarized the proposal highlighting the issues of who has the rights to content produced for blended learning. He then assigned this issue to the Academic Policy Committee. Breffle requested everyones patience in working out the details of the policy due to its importance. Meyers cited a consultant with expertise in this area will be discussing this issue and the committee should wait until hearing from this person prior to finalizing a policy. Mullins requested it get sent to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) for a legal review. Scarlett said October 2nd will be the date for discussion. Froese requested a rationale for this policy as too many questions still exist. Barkdoll said this issue has come up at many universities and deferred to the scheduled meeting with an expert. Breffle said it is a question of ownership. Meyers said the issue of reuse and faculty control should be dealt with. Breffle reminded everyone the expert is not being paid as a counsel. Waddell provided an example of a scenario that this proposal needs to address. Froese said most people have a misunderstanding of copyright laws and such a document might cause us to sign away rights. He added that this policy may incentivize blended learning but this is not clear from the proposal. Barkdoll asked if anyone at Tech was an expert in copyright law. Seel noted that an author retains rights to a book, patents are an agreement between the university and inventor. The problem with blended learning is its somewhere between the rights of an author and an inventor and it needs to be clarified. Froese says that the policy should protect faculty but is written in a way that puts faculty in an awkward position. Seel said faculty develop content for existing platforms and those platforms charge other universities for use. Mullins said this is also an academic freedom issue. Vable said we should develop a policy if there is a need and not try to develop a policy anticipating a need. Scarlett said your classroom work is your intellectual property and noted he is working on a multi-faculty/inter-departmental project and they need guidelines that would be addressed by such a policy. Barkdoll referred the policy back to committee.

10. New Business
“Proposed Senate Meeting Dates for 2013-2014”
Barkdoll listed the proposed senate meeting dates and asked if there were any additional comments; there being none. Moran moved to vote, Scarlett seconded the motion. The proposal passed unanimously on a voice vote.

“Senate Standing Committees for 2013-2014”
Barkdoll asked if there were any additional comments on the proposal; there being none. Moran moved to vote, Scarlett seconded the motion. The proposal passed unanimously on a voice vote.

Change to Ombudsman Policy 210.1
Barkdoll stated the senate is responsible for electing a person for the committee to appoint an Ombudsman and charged the Elections Committee to provide a nominee. He charged the Administrative Policy Committee to amend a senate policy regarding the ombudsman to be consistent with the Board of Control (BoC) policy. Seel noted the BoC policy changed and was out of line with the senate policy.

Proposal 2-14:  “Proposal to Modify Senate Procedure 506.1.1: Evaluation Procedures for Departmental Chairs and School Deans”
Barkdoll stated the policy was confusing and this is an attempt at clarification. He charged the Administrative Policy Committee to address the issue. Vable said there were multiple problems with the existing policy.

11. Adjournment.  Moran moved to adjourn; Scarlett seconded the motion. President Barkdoll adjourned the meeting at 7:17pm

Respectfully submitted
by Marty Thompson
Secretary of the University Senate