05-09-2012 Faculty Senate Minutes


Faculty Senate meeting

May 9, 2012

Meeting begins at 2:00pm

Present: David Duquette, Gina O’Connor, Lois Peters, Prabhat Hajela, Paul Keblinski, Atsushi Akera, Lester Gerhardt, Isom Herron, Jose Holgiun Veras, Mark Shephard, Chip Kilduff, Wayne Bequette, Mary Simoni, Robert Parsons, Michael century, Frank Wright, Vincent Meunier, Jeanne Keefe, Antoinette Maniatty, Robert Albright, John Gowdy.

  1. I. Herron calls for motion to accept minutes. Motion is seconded. All approved. Motion is accepted.
  2. Statement from the President of the Senate

    I. Herron congratulates Lester Gerhardt on recent award from American Society for Chemical Engineering. I. Herron recollects that it has been 5 months since meeting to approve the Constitution (December 6). Encouraged by progress and input, but reminds Senate that they must keep in mind what they have been charged to do by the Constitution.

  3. Report from the Committees
    1. Curriculum Committee – Wayne Bequette provides report and states that they have been meeting every 2 weeks. Have not had time to have a full discussion about whether they can fully review the curriculum. Some things might be a natural progression from ongoing efforts in other schools (example is ABET evaluation in Engineering). Provost Hajela says that curriculum and curriculum outcome should be a larger effort by a larger faculty committee that works in collaboration with Curriculum Committee. A. Akera states that the Faculty Senate does have certain things that they want to relay to the Committee, in particular the fact that the large scale curriculum reform is one of the top 4 issues of the faculty Senate. The issue was whether an ad hoc committee is convened or the Curriculum Committee takes it on. W. Bequette states that if it is the wish of the Senate to move quickly, then an ad hoc committee should be formed with representatives from the Curriculum Committee. J. Holguin Veras agrees that it should be a collaborative effort. L. Peters states that the Lally School will also be taking on a curriculum review.
    2. Planning and Resources Committee – David Duquette chair of the Committee and gives report. 4 members of the administration are: Provost, Vice President for Research, VP for Administration, and Dr. Stan Dunn. At the initial meeting, Provost stated that the Committee has strong support from the Administration. There was an announcement in weekly research newsletter about the Committee and its role and are hoping to have another full meeting before Commencement. G. O’Connor adds that the Committee role is more about planning and less about resources. Especially for cross-school initiatives, which could be curricular in nature as well as research based. A. Akera adds that the Executive Committee has been discussing finding a way to communicate to faculty and would like to discuss options with the Provost.
    3. Promotion and Tenure Committee – Mark Shephard provides report. Review 16 cases for P&T of existing faculty. 1 case for senior faculty hire. Gave data regarding breakdown of cases by School. Met with Provost and Joint Committee and has finished their work for the semester at this point. I. Herron asks for information regarding diversity. M. Shephard states that there have always been at least 1 female member on the Committee and suggests that there always be at least 1 in the future as it has been very beneficial. M. Shephard states that the Committee also does a thorough re-review, ensuring  a fair review regarding diversity. L. Gerhardt asks for M. Shephard’s opinion about diversity hiring success versus promotion success. M. Shephard states that he feels they are doing well.
    4. Honors Committee – no member of the Committee present. Joyce McLaughlin is chair.
    5. Faculty Development and Retention Committee – J. Holguin Veras states that members are Kim Fortun, Linda McGown, Bill Francis, and J. Holguin Veras (chair). They have been trying to find a time to meet. Mid-June appears to be the timeframe. I. Herron states that this was the top priority as voted on at the last meeting.
    6. Graduate Education Committee – A. Maniatty is chair and gives report, Nancy Campbell, Jeff Durgee, Ted Krueger, Bob Parson, John Schroeder, Stan Dunn. The first meeting was May 8. She reviews charge of the Committee. Committee found that there was a previous graduate education report. They will get and review a copy of the report. Stan Dunn will brief committee on some policy changes and policies that he is working on. Committee would also like to get data and statistics regarding diversity and the rate of PhD dropouts. Committee is trying to prioritize issues and collect data. A. Akera adds that the Committee was formed with intent to work directly with the administration. L. Peters asks if there were any surprises. A. Maniatty responds that there weren’t a lot of surprises per se, but rather just information that some weren’t aware of (i.e, Middle States report, rate of PhD dropouts, recruitment of quality students, and process of graduate admissions). A. Maniarry adds that new regulations such as export control are additional items the Committee needs to be aware of.

      A. Akera moves to acknowledge appreciation for work of all Committees.

  4. Report of Senate procedure – A. Akera states that a lot of Institutional memory was lost during the time when the Faculty Senate was not active. Faculty Senate Executive Committee is trying to replace some of that information. Also states that the Senate can email any items that they wish to be added to the agenda. I. Herron adds that the Executive Committee is working very hard. Feels that progress is being made.
  5. Voting by proxy – A. Akera states that quorum is 10 out 14 voting members. Faculty Governance Recommendation Committee recommended that a policy of recommendation by proxy, if a Senator cannot make a meeting, they can designate a proxy to attend a meeting, participate in discussion and vote as they wish. The recommendation is open for discussion. A. Akera suggest that this be made a formal resolution to be voted on today, J. Holguin Veras asks for one round of discussion and then voting.

    Motion: (by  A. Akera) Allow representation by proxy whereas a voting member of the Senate may designate someone else to attend in their place and is allowed and expected to participate in discussion and can vote as they wish without the consent of the member. It is understood that electronic participation is welcomed (as amended by J. Holguin-Veras).

    Discussion: L. Peters adds that some criteria would need to be added. A. Akera adds that it would have to be a T/TT faculty member, for the body that the Senator represents. L. Peters states that it would have to be someone who is not also attending the meeting. R. Albright states that it would be of special interest to him, coming from Hartford. P. Hajela states his concern is voting without consent of elected member. John Gowdy states that it is difficult. P. Keblinski echoes concern by Provost, but believes that benefit outweighs concern. L. Gerhardt expresses concern that Senate needs to prevent it from evolving to the point that it reduces the obligation from a Senator. J. Holguin Veras sees no major issues, as the missing representative should be providing their opinions on the issues. He doesn’t feel that it has to be the same body that the Senator represents. Chip Kilduff asks if the motion is limiting it to one person. I. Herron answers that it would have to be one at a time. M. Simoni states that some serious thought should be giving and if voting by proxy is going to be done, it should be incorporated into by-laws. R. Parsons states that his experience form the old Senate indicates that some method of proxy system be instituted. M. Century asks if videoconferencing/Skype would be permissible. I. Herron answers that it would be an option. F. Wright states that trying to solve one problem with 2 solutions and that the Senate should be very cautious. V. Meunier states that we should avoid 2 votes for with 1 person. J. Keefe states that she also has experienced challenge achieving quorum , so agrees with finding a solution. A. Akera reiterates his desire to vote on this issue today.

    J. Holguin-Veras would like to amend motion to allow electronic participation.

    P. Keblinski suggest that something be drafted, as there are many concerns, and be presented at the next Senate meeting, which would take place sometime before the beginning of next semester.

    Motion: (P.Keblinksi) Motion to table discussion. L. Peters seconds. 6 in favor, 3 opposed, 1 abstention. Motion passed. First motion is now voided.

  6. Senate meeting time – P. Keblinski states that Executive Committee is trying to identify if there is any better time to meet. One suggestion was to move meeting to Wednesday morning. F. Wright states that there should be a meeting time that it is possible for all members to be present.

    Motion: (J. Holguin-Veras) motions to table this discussion and refer it to electronic polling. A. Akera seconds. All in favor. A. Akera asks who cannot make Wednesday morning. Architecture is the question.

  7. New business – I. Herron states that there has been email traffic by Bill Puka criticizing Faculty Senate for not doing due diligence regarding what Dr. Puka deems to be retaliation of faculty member and student. Faculty Senate Executive Committee believes it to be a Student Senate issue, that there are grievance procedures in place, but also there is a faculty aspect in the an allegation of retaliation. I. Herron states that they have responded to every email they received, but they have not been privy to all details. Faculty Senate expresses the sentiment that they are aware and  concerned. F. Wright suggests that perhaps there be an ombudsman or an investigating general. This would allow both the Student Senate and Faculty Senate to investigate within the confines of administration. L. Peters adds that one of the things the Faculty Senate is trying to do is gain the respect of the faculty. One of the worst things to do is not respond quickly. She suggests that the Senate make a statement in a well-constructed way and to find a way to engage everyone. L. Gerhardt states that his presumption is that the minutes of the meeting are distributed and it becomes a matter of record. J. Holguin Veras adds that the feeling of the Executive Committee is likely more complecy than they are aware of. He adds that the Senate needs to be very sensitive, as this is primarily a Student Senate issue. Based on limited understanding of issue, Executive Committee does not see any need for intervention of Faculty Senate. A. Akera adds that the Executive Committee is following the issue and has spoken with Committee of Standing and plans to talk to Provost. The Senate needs to be very careful about response. F. Wright states that the Senate should take a look the issue, at a minimum and he would like neutral review. J. Gowdy states that there appears to be a process in place. A. Akera states that there is no current investigation, but that there is plan to add to the Committee of Academic Standing, by adding 3 faculty members. Acting Provost P. Hajela states that it is not the administration or Provost who reviews student records to determine their academic standing. There is an Academic Standing Committee that reviews records brought forward by the ALAC. Committee can put a student on probation, continue them on probation, or recommend dismissal. Provost is concerned about dismissals – we recruit outstanding students and every one of them has the potential to succeed. Nevertheless, standards of academic performance must be maintained and each year 40-70 students may be dismissed for academic reasons. It is to be noted that the Academic Standing Committee consists of Associate Deans, and sometimes other school representatives. The appeals process is also referred back to Academic Standing Committee. The Provost stated that statements made in emails sent that he chased a student out is inaccurate – this process is handled by the Academic Standing Committee. He also addressed the second point regarding faculty retaliation. When there is a suggestion of academic misconduct brought to Provost, the Provost has the obligation to look into the matter determine if there is a case to initiate an inquiry (first stage as outlined in Faculty handbook). If there is sufficient cause, an inquiry will be pursued by a 3-member faculty committee. Only if this faculty committee finds cause, does the matter refer to another faculty investigation panel. Provost also stated that there is an obligation on the part of all faculty members to uphold the academic standards of the university. We will continue to look at existing documented standards and will continue to refine these but maintaining academic integrity is the obligation of all faculty members. Provost stated that he will not discuss the details of any specific situation except to state that everything has been looked into and addressed based on Institute policies and procedures. I. Herron states that recruitment is underway for 3 faculty members to be added to Academic Standing Committee. A. Akera states that there is a procedure in Handbook for faculty grievance. That is the point that the faculty Senate formally gets involved. Currently feels that the weight of the issues rests with other entities. He also states that some concern about communication and that there is a perception that the Senate should respond. F. Wright states that apparently under the policies, the Senate is doing just what they should be, and perhaps stating that is enough. Acting Provost Hajela states that we should be mindful of privacy laws and be careful to not name or identify individuals.

    I. Herron asks if there is any other new business. P. Keblinski asks if there will be discussion regarding provost search. F. Wright asks if there is a formal process for charge and procedures for ad hoc committees. A. Akera adds that charge to all committees should be circulated to all Senators.

    L. Gerhardt reports on the Provost search. Faculty Senate Executive Committee has been invited to each of the interviews. There will be 4 candidates by the end of the week. Each representative is asked to report back via confidential survey. 2 internal and 2 external candidates so far. There may be more candidates.

    I. Herron makes motion to adjourn, motion seconded. All in favor. Meeting adjourned at 3:35.