University Senate

Meeting 543 Minutes

The University Senate
of Michigan Technological University

Minutes of Meeting 543
5 February 2014

The Senate

  • Presentation: “Guidelines for the Michigan Transfer Agreement” by Max Seel
  • Proposal 15-14: “Request for Change in Board of Control Policy 6.7 on Sabbatical Leave” passed
  • Proposal 16-14: “Procedure to Enhance Confidentiality and Anonymity in Administrators Review Surveys” passed

1. Call to order and roll call. President Brian Barkdoll called the University Senate Meeting 543 to order at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, February 5, 2014. The Senate Secretary Marty Thompson called roll. Absent were Senators DeWinter, Peng, Cadwell and Panian and representatives of Army/Air Force ROTC, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Engineering Fundamentals, Academic Services A, Academic Services B, Academic Services C, Administration, Finance, Student Affairs and Undergraduate Student Government.

2. Recognition of visitors. Guests included Max Seel (Provost’s Office), Theresa Coleman-Kaiser (Administration) and Theresa Jacques (Registrar).

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

4. Approval of minutes from Meetings 542. Scarlett motioned to approve the agenda; Wood seconded; it passed unanimously on a voice vote.

5. Presentation: “Guidelines for the Michigan Transfer Agreement” by Max Seel
Seel, Provost & Vice-President for Academic Affairs, started by reminding everyone that the Michigan Transfer Agreement is one of the conditions of being a state university. The issue goes back two years, when the state legislature sought an agreement between universities to simplify transferring credits between Michigan community colleges and universities. He presented the general education requirements to frame the discussion in terms of coursework flexibility and cooperation with other institutions. He described the composition of the 30 credit general education requirements. By having a senate approved and well-designed general education requirements, it will be easier for community colleges and other institutions to match courses for transfer. The registrars will work with community colleges so students can take general education courses that best match our requirements to simplify the credit transfer process. Signing onto the transfer agreement will come up each year when the higher education budget is discussed at the state level. Scarlett noted the exclusion of certain courses from the general education requirements. Seel said he was unable to provide a good rationale for specific courses, but noted that the committee members spent a great deal of time to determine what courses were available and would transfer. Scarlett said our students struggle in communication ability and the exclusion of a course that addresses this is not a good idea. Seel said whoever signs the transfer agreement states they will accept certain courses applicable to general education. This does not exclude courses not listed which could count for a different requirement. Scarlett asked if it was a structural disincentive to take courses outside the general education requirement. Seel said no it is being done for clarity. Scarlett asked how the general education document will be modified or if it is modifiable. Seel said it is a work in progress and may be affected by changes in assessment goals. Scarlett asked if there was a risk of surrendering control of our general education program by signing on to this. Seel said a lot of effort has been used to ensure each institution can maintain control of their programs. Waddell asked if other states have similar agreements so it can be determined if there are any revenue losses associated with students taking fewer courses at state universities because these courses are less costly at community colleges. Seel said students currently take courses elsewhere and transfer credit to Tech. Waddell said this agreement is to make this easier to do. Seel affirmed. Waddell asked if anyone would be tracking revenue losses attributable to this agreement and asked if such losses occurred if Tech would consider offering more competitive tuition rates for first-year courses. Seel said changes in tuition with program or class level are under examination. Snyder said Tech already permits the transfer of more than 30 credits. Waddell said the agreement makes the transfer process easier. This simplifies the process and probably wont impact Tech very much because we already accept transfer credits. Moran summarized by saying we will sign the agreement and it will not impact our quality. Seel affirmed. Wood asked about tuition at different institutions. Seel said it is complicated as to what is reported to the state but must report fees that impact more than 50% of the students.

6. Old Business
a. Proposal 15-14: “Request for Change in Board of Control Policy 6.7 on Sabbatical Leave”
Froese, Research Policy Committee, said the proposal changes faculty compensation from 50% to 80% while on a two-semester sabbatical to act as an incentive to take two semester sabbaticals, which might have more impact on outcomes. He said there was a suggestion the one-semester sabbatical compensation be decreased to 90%. He estimated roughly 90% of discussants were not in support of this. Nooshabadi asked how the 80% came up. Froese said it originated with discussions with the Dean of the School of Forestry. Nooshabadi asked what the national average was. Froese did not know, but surveyed peer institutions which match our current compensation fairly closely. Seel said the University of Utah also has 80% compensation for full year sabbaticals, but offers no one semester sabbaticals. Froese clarified one semester sabbaticals at Utah were given but only in exceptional cases. Beck said the argument could be better framed by whether a temporary lecturer can be hired with the remaining 20% and noted the one year sabbatical is costly and the 80% might be needed for that period of time. Scarlett asked about the response of department chairs. Barkdoll said his department chair was not supportive. Seel said that chairs claim it will put pressure on covering teaching loads. Beck said departments could pool those costs for an instructor. Caneba asked how compensation encourages or discourages one versus two semester sabbaticals. Waddell asked if the proposal to decrease one-semester sabbatical compensation to 90% would help subsidize the full year sabbatical increase to 80%. Froese said this would be more an incentive to take two semester sabbaticals while also permitting some funds to be retained by the department. He noted that the majority of sabbaticals are one semester (70%), which retains no funds for departmental use. Having 20% versus nothing is better for the department and that many times no lecturer is hired and no additional costs incurred, but instead other faculty are asked pick up the teaching load. Overall, the adverse financial impact on departments is expected to be negligible, while the benefits would be realized by the faculty and the university. Barkdoll called for a hand vote. It passed unanimously. 

b. Proposal 16-14: “Procedure to Enhance Confidentiality and Anonymity in Administrators Review Surveys
Vable, Administrative Policy Committee, said the proposal was written to address the lack of participation on administrator evaluation surveys due to the perception that confidentiality can or will be compromised. A second factor was that if someone goes on leave, their participation is limited. He discussed the organization of the survey and the mechanism by which confidentiality is ensured. He noted a minor addition clarifying that it is the senate that is coordinating the survey and ensuring confidentiality. Barkdoll clarified that this will be added to the proposal to be voted on. Oliveira asked when this would be in effect. Vable said this is a service the senate will provide and to mandate its use the administration will need to approve it. Oliveira asked if this was one survey applicable to each department or if each department could create their own. Vable said it is a service provided by the senate to replace the hand written equivalent used by departments. Barkdoll asked if units would be required to use it. Vable said if approved by the administration. Seel said there is a question about whether it is mandatory or optional. Vable said it is optional and this proposal is to have the senate provide the service. To make this process mandatory the proposal would need administrative approval as well. Brown asked about specifically naming the online company in the text of the proposal. Barkdoll said we weren’t endorsing one product over another. Vable said Survey Monkey is easy to use and confidential so they choose that service. Wood suggested using ‘such as Survey Monkey’ in case services need to change. Nooshabadi reiterated this point. Vable suggested some commitment must be made to a specific service due to the investment of time and effort. Nooshabadi said the senate does not have the understanding that IT does. Sullivan said signup for the service by individual users is only required once. Scarlett said the way surveys are structured anonymity is unlikely to be compromised. Moran asked if the senate will have a specific survey setup so each unit can simply use it without a great deal of effort. Vable said authority is in the review committee and this survey is a mechanism available to them. He added there is an upcoming proposal that provides specifications in how to create survey instruments. Seel acknowledged that is a different proposal. Nooshabadi asked for new language to separate the policy from the process. Seel said this process ensures anonymity. Scarlett proposed an amendment that the text be edited to include ‘such as Survey Monkey’. Vable said that the proposal is written with multiple features unique to the Survey Monkey service and changing it would alter many aspects of the proposal. Moran said if Survey Monkey goes out of business we can make a new proposal. Brown said it is an endorsement of the service to have the company written into the proposal. Wood suggested wording to avoid endorsing a specific company. Vable said it could be changed to reflect that. Barkdoll said the key is not the software but to have a senate supported mechanism for reviews that preserves anonymity. Seel agreed that endorsing a specific software could be avoided. Barkdoll clarified it was a friendly amendment to remove potential endorsement of Survey Monkey. Hungwe asked if the review process and the description of the mechanism could be separated into two proposals. Barkdoll said that would delay implementation of the process and asked for comment. Moran provided wording to reference Survey Monkey as an example and not exclusive use in the policy. Waddell said the motivation here is that anonymity, if guaranteed, will increase participation in the review process. He asked what Vable would consider a success for the impact of this proposal. Vable said they could monitor the participation rates. Seel said the proposal is to facilitate the process and the service being used is a secondary issue. Barkdoll concluded the discussion and asked for a vote. It passed unanimously on a voice vote.

c. Senate Motion
Vable, Administrative Policy Committee, said there were two statements that were contradictory in the senate approved chair evaluation and reappointment procedure. The search process was revised but he sought senate input regarding a specific statement addressing administration decisions that are contrary to a faculty vote. Vable said when senate approves wording it will go in the policy. Barkdoll said the issue here is wording stating that 2/3 vote by faculty to not permit reappointment must be honored by the administration. The question is whether the administration can override that. Vable affirmed. Moran asked about words stating in effect units with less than 10 members there is no weight to their votes. Lee said he circulated information about this in a recent email. Moran moved to strike the section describing units of less than 10 members have only advisory authority in voting for reappointments. Nooshabadi seconded. Barkdoll asked for a vote. The amendment to the proposal passed unanimously on a voice vote. The text was removed.

Seel said the chair serves at the pleasure of the dean and this requirement has never been placed on the dean. He added that the faculty voting results are taken very seriously. Nooshabadi commented on the benefit of clarity in the wording. Seel said if this passes it becomes policy. He is not attempting to be confrontational, but the deans will not support this wording. Barkdoll said it sounds like it will not be approved by the administration with this wording in it. Snyder acknowledged Barkdoll’s statement and said the senate should not avoid passing proposals based on the idea that it will not be approved by the administration. The senate represents the interests of our constituents. Seel said he isn’t discouraging the vote he is providing another perspective. Wood noted the minority third in such a vote would have significant power. Beck noted the wording suggests that if a chair can get 1/3 support from the faculty that he could potentially be reappointed. Kilpela said if 2/3 of faculty vote in support that they can override an administrative decision. Beck said he was noting that 1/3 support is acceptable for reappointment. Waddell said that a sense-of-the-senate resolution would allow the senate to express an opinion on the matter that did not require administrative approval. Vable said he is seeking the help of the senate to come up with the language that will be in the proposal. Snyder called the question. Barkdoll defined the vote on the retention of the 2/3 wording. Barkdoll asked for a hand vote. It passed with 11 in favor, 8 in opposition and 1 abstention.

7. Report from the Senate President
Barkdoll discussed the finance forum and mentioned upcoming presentations in the senate including, the parking policy. The dean of the graduate school is being evaluated and the senate needs to put forth some nominees to be on the evaluation committee. He asked and attained senate support for Ching-An Peng to be the senate nominee to the dean evaluation committee.

8. Reports from Senate Standing Committees
Academic Policy Committee. Scarlett said he is available to come to units to discuss Intellectual Property (IP) issues with faculty and staff and to address emerging IP concerns. The committee has been sought for input into the revised general education proposal. The committee will be discussing the proposal.

Administrative Policy Committee. Vable said they are working on the chair review proposal and the upcoming presidential review.

Curricular Policy Committee. Oliveira said the committee is reviewing proposals.

Elections Committee. None.

Finance Committee. Currently examining audited financial statements for the university.

Fringe Benefits Committee. Waddell said the administration has responded favorably to the parking proposal that was previously under review by the senate. In response to a constituent’s request about SDC membership, the committee is exploring the possibility of indexing the TechFit benefit to the annual cost of a membership in the SDC.  The committee will meet next week with SDC Membership Director Jada Gullstrand  and Director of Benefits Karen Hext to discuss the proposal. The committee is also considering a constituent’s proposal for a faculty and staff club. The administration has also expressed interest in this proposal.

Institutional Planning Committee. None.

Instructional Policy Committee. None.

Professional Staff Policy Committee. None.

Research Policy Committee. None.

9. Adjournment. Scarlett moved to adjourn; Moran seconded the motion. President Barkdoll adjourned the meeting at 6:52pm


Respectfully submitted
by Marty Thompson
Secretary of the University Senate