University Senate

Meeting 546 Minutes

The University Senate
of Michigan Technological University 

Minutes of Meeting 546
26 March 2014

The Senate

  • Presentation: “Update on the Emergency Blue Light Phone System” presented by The Student Commission
  • Presentation: “Strategic Planning” presented by Dave Reed, VP for Research
  • Proposal 19-14: “Proposal for a New Non-Departmental Master of Science in Data Science” passed
  • Proposal 20-14: “Proposal for a New Non-Departmental Graduate Certificate in Data Science” passed
  • Proposal 21-14: “Proposal to Change Degree Title from Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication to Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture” passed
  • Proposal 22-14: “Proposal to Change Degree Title from M.S. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication to M.S. in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture” passed
  • Proposal 24-14: “Avoiding Conflicts of Interest on Senate Committees” passed
  • Administration Amendment to Proposal 15-14: “Request for Change in Board of Control Policy 6.7 on Sabbatical Leave” passed
  • Proposal 25-14: “Proposal for a Minor in Statistics” passed
  • Proposal 26-14: “Proposal for a New Bachelors of Science Degree in Statistics” passed
  • Administration Amendment to Proposal 7-14: “Proposal to Amend Senate Proposal 22-00: Recommendations on Medical and Health Insurance Benefits” was not passed

1. Call to order and roll call. President Brian Barkdoll called the University Senate Meeting 546 to order at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The Senate Secretary Marty Thompson called roll. Absent were Senators Caneba, Panian, Oliveira, Peng and Cadwell and representatives of Army/Air Force ROTC, Materials Science & Engineering, Academic Services A, Academic Services C, Auxiliaries, Advancement, Finance and Graduate Faculty Council.

2. Recognition of visitors. Guests included Max Seel (Provost’s Office), John Jasczak (College of Science and Arts), Jean Kampe (College of Engineering), Christopher Cena (Electrical Engineering), Katherine Baeckeroot (Lode) and Dan Bennett (Public Safety).

3. Approval of agenda. Barkdoll asked for approval of the agenda. It passed unanimously on a voice vote.                                                                                                                                       

4. Approval of minutes from Meeting 545. Barkdoll asked for approval of the minutes. It passed unanimously on a voice vote.

5. Presentation: “Update on the Emergency Blue Light Phone System” presented by The Student Commission
Cena discussed the variation in the emergency phones and made the case for modernizing and standardizing the emergency phone system across campus. Concerns cited in a recent report commissioned by Public Safety include, difficult usage, non- ADA compliant, inaccessible, identified incorrectly and not working properly. Costs were projected to be in the $150,000 to $200,000 range. Beck asked how the stanchion phones would be used with the snowfall amounts. Bennett said this was examined and placement would be in accessible locations. Beck asked how many campuses have these. Cena said most campuses have stanchion style emergency phones. Riehl said parking lots are dangerous and don’t have these phones.

6. Presentation: “Strategic Planning” presented by Dave Reed, VP for Research
Reed discussed the “Portrait of Michigan Tech 2035” developed a few years ago and our current progress towards realizing this portrait. He discussed the short term plan that will be revised every three years. Reed named Adrienne Minerick as the Strategic Plan Faculty Fellow who will help administration work through the short term planning. He discussed the timeline for the review and development of the next iteration of the strategic plan. Reed noted that Snyder had requested a public comment period when presented to the senate years back, which was built into the current process. Mullins asked if financial goals will be included in the strategic plan, as is done in business. Reed said yes. Seel said the details are worked out at the dean and chair levels. Mullins said financial goals are currently not in-depth which doesn’t permit coupling of finances with strategic plan. Reed said the budget is based on aspects of the strategic plan and a more comprehensive financial strategy will be developed to accompany the strategic plan. Mullins said we probably don’t want to be the low cost graduate degree provider for STEM education but that is what we have become. The connection between the strategic plan and financial goals is weak. Reed agreed with the need to align financial goals with strategic planning. Reed provided 2025 projection and discussed how related to strategic plan. Barkdoll encouraged everyone to review and take part in the development of the evolving strategic plan. Waddell asked if past strategic plans have been assessed to determine if goals have been achieved. He provided an example from 1984 when state funding was being cut and asked if the past plan has worked based on what was proposed at the time. He asked if the strategic plans of the past have had the desired effect. Reed said he is familiar with the past strategic plan and restated the goal of enhancing graduate programs and non-engineering programs, which did not happen. He also noted that $50 million of the $80 million dollars of debt Michigan Tech has acquired is due to residence halls. Barkdoll said it could be a part of the strategic plan to get out of debt. Waddell said graduate enrollments are growing faster than undergraduate enrollment. If undergraduates are supporting enhancements in graduate programs the plan may not work. Reed said that benefits flow from the graduate program to the undergraduate programs and more likely decrease undergraduate costs. Mullins disagreed. Waddell said there is data that contradicts Reed’s statement and suggested that the development of future financial strategic plans would benefit by reviewing the results of past plans. Reed agreed that would be a useful strategy. Snyder said there was no public university that had such a high ratio of graduate to undergraduate students and questioned whether proposed numbers of graduate students in the 2035 portrait were realistic. Reed said there are several research universities where comparable numbers of undergraduate and graduate students are the case. Snyder asked what the percentages of undergraduate and graduate students exist at larger universities. Reed said he didn’t have specific numbers available. Snyder asked if peer institutions have a faculty base to sustain 3000 graduate students and to provide examples of this. Reed said they think such a goal is accomplishable and said he will provide examples.

7. Old Business
a. Proposal 19-14: “Proposal for a New Non-Departmental Master of Science in Data Science” and Proposal 20-14: “Proposal for a New Non-Departmental Graduate Certificate in Data Science”
Barkdoll asked for discussion. There being none he asked for a vote on Proposals 19-14 and 20-14. Both passed unanimously by voice vote.

b. Proposal 21-14: “Proposal to Change Degree Title from Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication to Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture” and Proposal 22-14: “Proposal to Change Degree Title from M.S. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication to M.S. in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture”
Barkdoll read a question sent by a senate constituent asking if this change in name reflects a substantial change in the program. Strickland said they are not changing what comprises the programs content but rather the name is being modified to better reflect what comprises the program’s content. He noted 70% of these degrees nationally are in English departments. Barkdoll asked for a vote on Proposals 21-14 and 22-14. Both passed unanimously by voice vote.

c. Proposal 23-14: “Proposal to Establish Michigan Technological University’s Copyright Policy Regarding Scholarly, Academic, and Artistic Works”
Scarlett, Academic Policy Committee, listed some grammatical modifications, noting the content of the proposal was not altered. Mullins sought removal or clarification of some editorializing. He sought ‘despite legal default’ be removed as a friendly amendment because he disagreed that ‘the university owns all products’ is the legal default as this is up for debate. Scarlett agreed. Charlesworth asked ‘MTU’ be changed to ‘Michigan Tech’. Scarlett affirmed this would be done for the text of proposal. Mullins asked for additional time to review the document as it is very important. Scarlett said this proposals passage leads to an important document but itself is not a legal document. Seel said it is similar to the University of Michigan and meets Michigan laws. This is a first step and the details will follow. Breffle said many constituents are seeing this for the first time, but the committee has been speaking with faculty for much of the academic year. Scarlett said this is a policy that will formalize what we do. Brown said her constituents consider the legal ‘default’ an issue and they don’t like how it defines our products as administration property given back to faculty because this proposal codifies that concept. She gave an example of software accompanying a book. Scarlett said he didn’t know the details of how software accompanying books would be handled by copyright. Brown affirmed Mullins comment that additional time would be beneficial. Breffle said the default definition can be removed, but he felt this is the legal standard. He added that legal counsel may review the policy. Nooshabadi asked where the default definition comes from. Scarlett said legal counsel from Colorado State University and University of Michigan documents refer to this definition of default. Vable asked if a lawyer should review this policy and provide opinion before approval. Scarlett said the committee doesn’t have authority to do that and most likely, lawyers hired by the administration would reflect an administrative viewpoint. The lawyers’ that visited Tech gave academic views and not legal advice. Seel said this proposal is based on other institutions and is a baseline derived mainly from University of Michigan. It will change to comply with Board of Control policy and they are likely to get a legal opinion. Mullins asked Scarlett if this proposal is official under state and federal law. Seel said it is assumed because the University of Michigan probably had lawyers review it before implementation and noted aspects of software is an area where no clear policy exists. Beck noted the routine act of signing copyright forms to journals may not be legal. Scarlett said we function oppositional system which doesn’t solve problems it assigns blame. Riehl asked if the committee reviewed cases where this type of document [the proposal] has been cited. Scarlett said no. Froese asked the purpose of Clause A. Scarlett said “the default” was in the original document and provides the legal basis for implementing the document in exclusion of other areas. Froese felt this statement was strange as we cannot define this aspect of US law. Scarlett said acknowledging the legal default makes the document more appealing to administration. Mullins thanked Scarlett for being proactive on a very important issue and reiterated the concerns over defining a default. We are ceding content as default to administration for clarity so there is no confusion that faculty get it back. Mullins moved to postpone the vote until the next meeting. Riehl seconded. Barkdoll asked for a vote on the motion. The motion was approved. The senate will vote on the amended proposal at the next meeting. Scarlett asked senators to review the proposal with constituents. He also said the vote should be full senate not only academic senate.

d. Proposal 24-14: “Avoiding Conflicts of Interest on Senate Committees”
Waddell said this proposal began in the Fringe Benefits Committee and was referred to the Senate Executive Committee for further deliberation. The purpose of the proposal is to reduce the prospect of conflicts of interest on senate committees. Waddell said that the senate bylaws already address potential conflicts of interest by specifying that although they are considered senate constituents, department chairs, associate deans, and assistant deans may not serve as senators or alternates.  The bylaws also specify that any staff who have significant influence with the president, the provost, any vice provost, any vice president, or the Board of Control may not serve as senators or alternates.  Waddell asked if there was any need to say anything further about the proposal.  Nooshabadi asked Waddell to further describe the proposal. Waddell read and commented on key passages from the proposal, including the following: “Free and open discussion on Senate committees is essential to the healthy functioning of the committees, to the vitality of the University, and to meaningful shared governance.  Hence, when making committee assignments, the President of the Senate must consider potential conflicts of interest; and individuals must do the same when requesting and accepting or rejecting committee assignments.  Potential conflicts of interest should especially be considered when selecting committee chairs.”  Kallio asked if some staff members would not be allowed to serve on senate committees. Waddell said if the senate president deemed a conflict exists or a senator self-identified a conflict then the person might be assigned to a different committee or might simply recuse himself or herself from participating in specific deliberations. Barkdoll asked if there was a specific scenario Kallio had in mind. Kallio asked if she would be prevented from being on the research policy committee because she works in the research office. Waddell said that if a conflict occurred the relevant committee member might recuse himself or herself until that specific issue was resolved. Barkdoll said this should not prevent any administrator from being invited to committees to benefit from their insights. Seel said there may be complications with staff members. One would not want a staff with expertise be unable to contribute. Waddell said this should not be a problem.  Barkdoll asked for a vote on Proposal 24-14. It passed by a majority voice vote.

e. Proposal 25-14: “Proposal for a Minor in Statisticsand Proposal 26-14: “Proposal for a New Bachelors of Science Degree in Statistics”
Barkdoll asked for discussion. There being none he asked for a vote on Proposal 25-14 and 26-14. Both passed unanimously by voice vote.

f. Administration Amendment on Proposal 15-14: “Request for Change in Board of Control Policy 6.7on Sabbatical Leave”
Froese, Research Policy Committee, said sabbaticals are mutual benefit and by enhancing the pay retained by faculty the goal is to enhance the mutual benefit. Barkdoll asked for a vote on Proposal 15-14. The administration amended proposal passed unanimously by voice vote. 

g. Administrative Comments on Proposal 7-14: “Proposal to Amend Senate Proposal 22-00: Recommendations on Medical and Health Insurance Benefits”
Waddell said that this proposal comes from the Fringe Benefit Committee (FBC) and the Executive Committee. He reminded the senate of the commitment made earlier in the year to enhance shared governance which is the primary function of the senate. He cited multiple examples of the senate and the administration working together to make such improvements, including health insurance, assessment, general education, intellectual property, sabbatical leave, and financial planning. He reminded the Senate that on B-list items, such as fringe benefits, the Senate recommends but does not establish policy. Waddell said that the Benefits Liaison Group (BLG) was formed in the late 1990s and formalized in 2000 by Senate Proposal 22-00. Waddell said that the purpose of Senate Proposal 7-14 was to address issues of noncompliance with and lack of specificity in Proposal 22-00.  Proposal 7-14 was unanimously approved by the senate.  However, of the 12 items included in Proposal 7-14, the administration approved only one: to decrease the notification time for benefit changes from 90 to 30 days.  According to senate bylaws, “When the University President or designated representative suggests changes without veto in a proposal transmitted from the Senate, the proposal and the suggested changes shall be considered by the Senate in the same manner as a newly submitted proposal, using the number of the old proposal” (I.J.11.a). Waddell said that the FBC and the Executive Committee were agreed that the best course of action would be to reject the revised proposal and begin again with a new proposal.  He said that the senate should be able to ask external consultants, such as Aon Hewitt, to research healthcare insurance questions and, hence, that this and the change in notification time might be included in a new proposal.  He concluded by emphasizing that both the FBC and the Executive Committee recommend rejecting this proposal and beginning over again with a new one.  Mullins stated that the proper course of action is to vote against the amended proposal rather than reject it. Perhaps individual issues found in the original proposal can be addressed at a future time. Barkdoll asked for a vote on the administration-amended proposal. It failed to pass in a unanimous vote. Seel commended Waddell for the progress he has made with shared governance.

8. New Business:
a. Proposal 2-14: “Proposal to Modify Senate Procedures 506.1.1: Evaluation Procedures for Department Chairs and School Deans”
Vable, Administrative Policy Committee, provided an overview of the changes to the existing senate approved proposal including, address contradictory statements, two separate procedures for review of School Dean and Department Chairs and statements governing search procedures are found in the review process. The new proposal addresses the aforementioned issues and adds a survey instrument, a separate procedure (707.1.1) for conducting the survey and balloting to ensure anonymity and new language to implement ballot results. Vable discussed the steps for implementing the new procedure. Wood asked if there was a scenario where the administration would not honor the 2/3 vote of faculty. Seel said no examples exist and this scenario would have to be extreme to occur as an administrator would need good reason to overrule a 2/3 faculty vote. Mullins asked Seel if he accepts the term ‘normally’. Seel affirmed. Vable said in the event an administrator overrules the 2/3 faculty vote they would need to provide an explanation. Riehl asked what difference an explanation would make if the administrator was already deciding to overrule a faculty vote. Vable asked Riehl to suggest alternative language. Scarlett said the explanation would be from the administrator to the unit in question. Riehl questioned the value of this process. Scarlett said the unit in question will have an explanation of the action. Seel said that a meeting will follow. Mullins said this process would only occur in a rare circumstance and provide a reasoned explanation and not be on a whim. Justification is needed, but the option to overrule a faculty vote needs to be there for rare cases. Normally, this doesn’t happen. Vable read section 3 which adapts feedback delivery from the reappointment process. Mullins asked if this will be in the next draft of the proposal. Wood asked about the composition and preparation of the feedback report. Vable described the content of the feedback report. Snyder said that whatever the feedback is it must be addressing some problem and therefore should be communicated so the problem can be resolved. If the feedback doesn’t come back to the chair, then there is no means to resolve issues that arise.

b. Proposal 27-14: “Proposal to Revise the General Education Program”
Jaszczek presented the general education proposal crafted by the General Education Council. The goal is to clarify learning goals, develop rubrics, develop resources and assist in achieving goals. Mullins asked how this was tied into the assessment program. Jaszczak said it is independent of the assessment program but learning goals are discussed in the proposal. Mullins said the assessment goals must come through the senate. Charlesworth said the proposal follows the current learning goals but is not defining assessment. Mullins asked if a separate assessment proposal was forthcoming. Nooshabadi said the assessment elements described here are only applicable to the general education program. Mullins reiterated that the learning goals and university assessment are not defined here and are part of another proposal that will come through the senate. Jasczak said the assessment discussed in this proposal must be aligned with the universities assessment plan, but this proposal does not define the assessment plan. Hungwe asked if we can implement changes to requirements addressed by the Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA). Jaszczak said we are limited by the MTA and the changes discussed are to be in compliance. Mullins expressed concern that because this proposal discusses elements of assessment that it effectively is passing an assessment plan that has not separately been approved by the senate. Seel said this proposal only refers to the general education program and ensures they encompass all the learning goals. This is not the assessment program. Mullins inquired about the tables in the proposal that detail assessment elements. Jaszczak said this defines the assessment plan for the general education requirements. Mullins asked if there is a separate assessment plan. The assessment council is working with the general education council and there is confusion about when an assessment proposal will come through the senate. Charlesworth said the reference to assessment is limited to only the general education requirements. Mullins asked if there is a university assessment plan and doesn’t it need to be approved by the senate. Barkdoll said that issue needs to be discussed with Christa [Walck]. Charlesworth clarified that the assessment defined in this proposal should not be confused with university-wide assessment and it only applies to general education. Snyder suggested a rewording of a section discussing STEM course requirements. Kampe said this addresses seminar courses where there is no student work graded. Snyder requested the wording be clarified.

c. Proposal 28-14: “Academic Calendar 2015-16 and Provisional Calendar 2016-17”
Vable said that study days before finals week should be considered. He suggested adding two days to accommodate his suggestion.

9. Report from the Senate President

10. Reports from Senate Standing Committees
Academic Policy Committee. None.

Administrative Policy Committee. None

Curricular Policy Committee. None

Elections Committee. Riehl requested senators find nominees for open positions.

Finance Committee. None.

Fringe Benefits Committee. None.

Institutional Planning Committee. None.

Instructional Policy Committee. None.

Professional Staff Policy Committee. None.

Research Policy Committee. None.

11. Adjournment.  
President Barkdoll adjourned the meeting at 7:54 p.m.


Respectfully submitted
by Marty Thompson
Secretary of the University Senate