Held on: September 7, 2011, 3:00 p.m.
Held at: John Gray Library
September 7, 2011
Call to order: 3.08 pm
Arts and Sciences: Valentin Andreev, Dianna Rivers, Carol Hammonds, Richard Harrell, Randy Yoder, Cristian Bahrim, Christopher Martin, Sheila Smith, Nancy Blume, Glynda Cochran, Jimmy Bryan, Tom Sowers, Cheng-Hsien Lin, Jeremy Shelton, Catalina Castillion, Pat Heintzelman, Sara Hillin, Ted Mahavier, Kumer Das, Joe Kruger, Quoc-Nam Tran Business: George Kenyon, Tommy Thompson, Ryan Sam Sale, Howell Lynch Education and Human Development: Nancy Adams, Dough Boatwright, Lula Henry, Elvis Arterbury, Nancy Carlson, Molly Dahm, Barbara Hernandez Engineering: John Gossage, Alberto Marquez, Kyaw “Ken” Aung, Gleb Tcheslavski Fine Arts and Communication: Xenia Fedorchecko, Prince Thomas, Nicki Michalski, Zanthia Smith, Connie Howard, Golden Wright, Scott Deppe Library: Sarah Tusa, Karen Nichols College Readiness: Joe Kemble
Arts and Sciences: James Mann, Bo Sun Business: Ashraf El-Houbi Engineering: Paul Corder Lamar State College Port Arthur: Mavis Triebel.
Quorum was met.
• President Jeremy Shelton welcomed new senators and welcomed back returning senators.
• Ted Mahavier moved to approve minutes, seconded by Nancy Blume.
• Priscilla Parsons, chief information officer, addressed the senate about the information technology plan. She has been tasked with developing a new technology plan for the university. Before she can develop a successful plan, she needs to know who is being served, what the goals are in each area, and what are the timelines required for each area. Academics is an obvious part of the university that needs its own plan. The question is what strategies are needed for improving technology in instruction, faculty development, and research. She would like the assistance of faculty in determining our actual needs and believes that now is a great time to plan for the future because we (Lamar) are focusing on our core needs.
o Comments from faculty:
• We are always interested in being able to turn grades in as late as possible.
• We would like to see a standardized program for tracking students, we need to review the business processes for working with students. The system needs to flag students who are not eligible to register for various classes. We need a computerized map of what students need to take, when to take it, etc. We need to be able to control when, where and what students register for. Ms Parsons remarks that we have a program for tracking this information (degree works) and had training for it in May and June.
• The IT office needs to work with the Academic Computing Committee, to have access to their information for better coordination. Likewise, the IT office needs to talk to all of the techs and supervisors in each college or department. It is important to talk to actual workers, not just the administrators to whom they answer.
• People who teach night classes need nighttime building support. We also need to broaden the definition of tech in classroom beyond just teaching kiosk. Computers for students are a possibility.
• We need to set up help desk access for late nights.
• We need to separate tech you want students to have vs. what you do not want them to have and when (open classrooms at night, etc) can lead to theft.
• Ms Parsons asks what we are trying to accomplish by having better wireless access on campus. Students using e-books? Or just need for common areas? We need to be aware that good students will use info well and for betterment, but others use it for distraction, “wrong” uses.
• Where are we with key-card access? Ms Parsons responds that there are a few places where it is used, but we need to determine where necessary and what are the purpose.
• Can we jam wireless signals during exams, etc? Some universities have computerized classrooms where the instructor controls whether computer is usable or not. Library was told the university does not support this, but we need it!
• We now have a strategic enrollment management plan. It should make the process more user friendly. The executive committee will meet with Sherry Benoit about where the plan is right now.
• We need to focus on retention. It is cheaper to keep students than recruit new ones. We need to try to steer the efforts because this directly affects us. I will be putting forward ideas in meetings with Drs. Simmons and Doblin.
• These are dark times in the budget situation. Things are not as bad as some would paint it. State appropriations cut 18%, less than planned. LU proposed to raise tuition for incoming students. We were only partially successful. We were only allowed to raise $28, wanted $30. This led to a shortfall, which leads to further cuts at departmental levels. Things are very close to last year. There is talk of a zero budget and rebuilding to clear out mistakes and odd accounts from past.
• Enrollment is up as of Aug 23. We are at 14000+ including ether enrollment.
• We need to improve our web presence.
o We need to improve communication. We need to communication with other faculty, beyond senators. It will help with getting them involved in initiatives.
o We have hired a web designer, but he needs to be inspired to improve pages.
o It is very hard to find things on web pages. This needs to be fixed.
• If you were on a committee, you are on the same committee as before. You can change if desired. If you are new, you need to select a committee. Distinguished Faculty Lecture really needs new members because many non-returning people were on that committee.
• Dean Nichols’ evaluation did not go well in spring. We are starting this process over again using paper surveys. Dr Doblin is concerned about access issues and anonymity issues on Survey Monkey. Please encourage people to participate.
o We know there was a low percentage of responses in college of education due to anonymity issues with Survey Monkey.
• Banner not as useful as it should be.
o We need to write in programs for number of things, like reporting graduating seniors.
o The problem is customization causes issues with support from company. It also inhibits upgrading.
There should not be a problem with customizing graphical interface. Their new versions should be backward compatible.
It would help students and faculty use system more effectively. Could even impact graduation and retention rates.
• Regarding online course evaluations: we had reservations about summer evaluations. Students can evaluate after grades are posted. Faculty are concerned that evaluations will reflect the grade rather than the teaching. There is also concern that students will not complete the evaluation after grades are posted. Dr Doblin is going to ask Tom Matthews to look at whether evaluations are done after grades are posted.
• We need to work on faculty evaluation. There was a situation in Dance based on “sketchy” comments by anonymous students. This illustrated need for an appeal process. The current process is to appeal to the dean. We would like a committee of peers. This can keep chairs more accountable. Plan to work on this process.
• Two vacancies in senate need to be filled. Ed Koehn died, so we need an engineering rep to run another election. Betty Duncan has resigned. Lula Henry has already begun the process of replacement.
o There is a possibility of term limits for committee chairs. Many officers are culled from the executive committee, so Jeremy would like to see some turn over to bring in additional people who might be interested in running for higher office. It would be an attempt to keep the senate vital.
o We would need to stagger terms so not all chairs are new at once.
o We could have co-chairs along with chairs, so they can move up when the term expires.
o What if you have a person who really enjoys it and other members don’t want to serve? Could there be a clause about that? The goal is not to force people into positions they don’t want. With 48 senators, there should be somebody willing to do it.
o How are chairs addressed in the by-laws? Are they appointed or elected? If appointed, there is no need for term limits.
o We will table this for future discussion.
o Dean evaluations:
• Many faculty don’t participate because very dissatisfied with process, particularly how results are presented to faculty.
• We need to make a resolution about how information is gathered, presented, etc. We need separation of staff and faculty results. We can put department chairs and faculty together to protect chairs’ anonymity.
• Resolution is passed out.
• Some believe having chairs separate is important. Others feel it might be too easy to single out the individual making the comment.
• As it stands, the committee assembles the information then Dr. Doblin reports the results.
• Specific comments are reported, but Dr. Doblin does not like to report those. They vary greatly in value and significance. Many are not constructive. They are much like comments on student evaluations of faculty. The Dean is told comments, but they are not presented to a general audience.
• We need to also address how information is collected. It is not functioning well.
• Could we suggest a form for results to take? Weighting of criteria, etc? We could make a more quantitative system, easier to understand. We can have both college specific criteria and some generic that apply across colleges.
o This would probably have to happen on a college by college basis.
o That is probably out of bounds for this resolution because this resolution is specifically about a university wide change.
• If you change questions on the survey, they have to be approved by the Dean.
• We could use a universal survey and allow the dean to make a comment about what they have done. Faculty would then assess that accomplishment. Weight survey at 80%, comment at 20% .
• Sample of this idea will be submitted to Jeremy for review and possible inclusion.
o There is a cell phone situation in the English department. A faculty member has a statement in their syllabus that if a student’s cell phone goes off during test, it is an automatic F. This happened, and the student complained. The issue went to committee and they decided the rule is “capricious”. The professor is appealing the decision but was told to make grade an Incomplete during the appeal.
o Do we want university policy re: cell phones? No.
o Can anybody tell the professor that their policy is unfair or wrong and force change?
o This will be referred to Academic Issues.
Jeremy Shelton leaves; Quoc-Nam Tran takes control of meeting.
o We do not have a policy in the faculty handbook for selecting representatives for committees; some chairs run elections for their own review committees. This is not an acceptable state of affairs.
o We need to know how many departments have elections run by chairs, how many by senators?
Varies widely: some run by Dean, some chairs do it, some chairs get to put one person on the committee, etc.
o We would like to have the faculty handbook amended to handle this.
o This should be referred to Faculty Issues.
o Do we need an appeal process/committee for tenure and promotion since the committees have been combined?
o The handbook needs to be changed to reflect this change. Updates should be included.
o The process is not online.
o This should be referred to Faculty Issues.
o Call for adjournment was made by Catalina Castillion and seconded by Sarah Tusa at 4.37 p.m.