Faculty Senate Meeting

November 2, 1999


Present: S. Derby, R. Leifer, S. Anderson-Gold, A. Desrochers, J. Norsworthy, P. Hajela, M. Hanna, R. Parsons, A. Van Epps, P. Quinn, R. Diwan, N. Rolnick, K. Fortun, K. Jansen


Absent: P. Boyce, J. Haddock, A. Kapila, J. Napolitano, M. Rea


Guests: P. Kung, G. Gabriele [attending for D. Daves]



Class Evaluations/PollsGary Gabriele, Vice Provost

Resignation of Planning and Resources Committee


M. Hanna:  I’d like to call the meeting to order.  And ask that we approve the agenda, minus approval of the minutes, which aren’t yet ready.  Agenda approved.  Unanimously.


Class Evaluations/Polls – Gary Gabriele, Vice Provost

First, Gary [Gabriele] will talk to us about course evaluations – the new mechanism, developed by IDEA [Individual Development and Educational Assessment].


[see http://www.IDEA.ksu.edu for details]


G. Gabriele: This is meant as an update, since the new evaluations are a consequence of a recommendation by the P&T Committee that we develop a more standardized way of evaluating teaching, to facilitate comparisons between schools.


Last year was the first year the new evaluations were used.  So we need to remember that we are just developing this mechanism and that there is a lot that faculty and students need to learn to make best use of it.  We need to keep this in mind in passing judgments on it.


Now I’ll briefly review the kind of information we received using the evaluation.  There is a lot of diagnostic information that comes back to faculty, especially if the long form is used.  The short form gives less.  The short form is useful for many things, but the long form for others.


R. Leifer: This applies to both graduate and undergraduate teaching?


G. Gabriele: This data is not broken down by level.  We did break it down by level in the School of Engineering and it was useful.  There is some interesting data mining that could be done here, so to speak.


We can, for example, observe outcomes vs. learning objectives set by the faculty member.


There is raw data, and data adjusted for class size and student motivation to take a course.  The information about motivation does not merely ask whether the course was required or not, it’s more nuanced.  Look at page two of the handout.  As you go from left to right across the bars, you go from courses that were rated high on achieving objectives, to low.


There are three other measures of particular interest: improved student attitude toward the material; the rating for the “excellence of the teacher”; and the rating for the “excellence of the course.” The information is in the handout.  From these ratings, we get some information at the Institute level about what is going on.


P. Hajela: What does it mean that a course is adjusted for student motivation?


J. Norsworthy:  It’s an ambiguous question.


G. Gabriele:  They’ve done research on how to ask this question- there’s details on this on their webpage.  They are trying to discern the important factors affecting a student’s response to the course.  How you measure motivation is, of occurs, a question.  But they seem to have done research on how to ask the question.


P. Hajela:  There is something interesting here.  It doesn’t add up to 100%.


G. Gabriele:  There is an error in the spreadsheet.  It needs to be fixed.


J. Norsworthy:  Almost a hundred years ago [metaphorical: 15 years ago], people did research on worker attitudes and how it could be measured with a standardized instrument.  The data they got was orthogonal [not related] to performance.  When behavior rather than attitude is measured to predict worker performance it works like a charm.  Attitude measurement often results in non-reproducible results.


G. Gabriele:  There is additional information in the handout: how many courses were rated; how many faculty chose certain kinds of objectives; on different instructional approached across the Institute.  Also, there’s some global information on what was emphasized in courses – how many emphasized writing or oral communication, for example.


P. Quinn: Are we to understand that faculty rating of course objectives is not for comparison with a national data base, while student rating of outcomes IS ranked against a national database?


G. Gabriele:  It is just the students rating that are compared nationally.  You’re making an important point- there really isn’t information gathered in the national data base that correlated to s specific area.


P. Quinn: So the student responses are not judging according to the particularities of Rensselaer?


G. Gabriele: They did a study to compare the ratings of different academic areas.  Their data supports that entire academic areas rate differently –it breaks down by quantitative vs. qualitative course.  The quantitative rate lower.  Traditionally, engineering was rated near the bottom.  So we might be doing better than the national average, if the data were adjusted for the Engineering courses.


A. Desrochers:  Looking back to the rating of “excellence of teacher” suggests that this mechanism accomplishes what it was supposed to.  Now you can make comparison.  This initiative was started when I was on the P&T Committee a few years ago.  We had no way to compare someone from the School of Science with someone from the School of Engineering, for example.  There were different mechanisms used in different school.  H&SS used mechanism that put most everyone above average.  The School of Engineering used Tau Beta Phi.


G. Gabriele: Before leaving the School of Engineering, I went through the data department by department and compared it to the Tau Beta Phi data and it matched fairly well.  Known good teachers continued to rate high and vice versa.


We will be using this mechanism again.  Faculty will have the option of using a short form or a long form.  The long form may be important for faculty going through a tenure or promotion decision soon.


A. Desrochers: There may be a rebellion from students if they’re asked to use the long form.


G. Gabriele: We need to better educate students about the purpose of the forms, and how they work.  We hoped the article in the Poly would do this, but we still need to do more.  More education is important.


R. Parsons:  Maybe there could be something between the long and short form – the short form doesn’t include any diagnostic information at all.


G. Gabriele:  The short form can be used with a separate comment form.  That’s the only advice I can give on an intermediary approach.


J. Norsworthy:  Can we come back to the question of how objectives are set by faculty are matched with student ratings of outcome?  The objective regarding “factual information,” for example.  If I’m teaching a course on methods, I would say “no” to this objective.  Students, however, commonly understand methods as “factual information.”  I don’t know who should adapt – but we need to draw things into congruity.  I do think this mechanism is an improvement, but there are things that need to be refined.


G. Gabriele: I would suggest letting this take its course for a while.  There is a section from the IDEA people that I included called “values and limitations of student evaluations.”  They explicitly say that student evaluation should not be the one way teaching is evaluated – the student evaluations show us some things, but not others.


K. Fortun:  Is it clear how this information will be included in tenure and promotion files?


G. Gabriele:  My recommendation would be to use all fours pieces of data in summary form: progress on objectives; improvement of student attitude; excellence of teacher; excellence of course.  It was discussed at a meeting for new faculty, but there should be clarification from the P&T committee.


There is still a lot of refining to do, on many fronts.  Data on the School of Architecture, for example, is missing entirely.  Because of processing problems.


R. Leifer: Who has seen this data?


G. Gabriele:  The Deans.


P. Hajela:  I think that student frustration with the process is often reflected in an average bell curve – and I think that is what is being seen here.  When they are frustrated with the process, they ten to fill in the middle.


Resignation of Planning and Resources Committee

M. Hanna:  We need to move on to our next agenda item:  the resignation of the Planning and Resources Committee.


All but one member of this committee has resigned.  Louis Peters did not resign.  I’ve included in the handout the sections from the Handbook that describes this committee.  I’ve also included a copy of Joyce’s letter [of resignation, with signatures from Bob Degeneff, Bruce Nauman, Randolph Franklin and Curtis Breneman], and a note from Bruce Nauman.


We have to decide what to do.  We’ve talked about this extensively in the Executive Committee meeting last week.  We discussed dissolving the committee, and reappointing its members.  But I wanted to hold off on reappointments until we decided what to do about the resignations.  We now have a committee of one.


N. Rolnick:  At the last meeting, Joyce hinted that this was going to come up.  Did anyone take this back to President Jackson.  Has there been a response?


S. Anderson-Gold:  Doyle [Daves] was at that meeting.


M. Hanna:  This is the second letter from Joyce.  In the first letter, Joyce resigned, but the Executive Committee convinced her to wait while we tried to work with the administration.


S. Anderson-Gold: Did the Executive Committee show support for Joyce, and suggest that there would be consequences if the administration didn’t respond to her?


A. Desrochers:  The Executive Committee talked about this last week and agreed that there is a lot of work to come for the committee – organizing town meetings in response to the plan.  Earlier, it was suggested: that the P&R Committee could write their own plan, in a parallel process.  The Committee declined to do this.


R. Norsworthy: It was suggested that the Planning and Resources Committee could go to REALCOM meetings, and take their own notes.  They said it was too much work.


P. Quinn: The description of the charge of the committee is both incredibly vague and incredibly specific.  It says that the committee shall “participate”, yet it also says that their recommendations are “binding.”


M. Hanna:  Doyle [Daves] has emphasized that the purpose of REALCOM is to take out people with vested interest.  Deans, for example.  This doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a role for faculty or for the Faculty Senate.  The “horizontal” input process – through the town meetings – is more extensive than we’ve ever seen here.  And it’s clear that the Planning and Resources Committee has an important role in evaluating the drafts of the Plan, and in organizing faculty input.


S. Anderson-Gold:  I think the stakeholders are defined differently in the President’s process.  But he danger is that the P&R is seen as low status or as a low priority.  People aren’t’ going to be willing to run for these committees if this is how they are perceived.


R. Parsons: I think this committee can serve a very important function.  They did last year, on laptops.  The problem is that their role isn’t clearly spelled out, as Patrick spoke of.  But this time it is, so we [the Executive Committee] didn’t even argue against where the P&R Committee was put in the process.


J. Norsworthy: Well one thing is for sure: if the committee resigns, we’re out of it.


M. Hanna: We do have a representative on REALCOM – Prabhat [Hajela].  The President has come up with a process that is different than what we’ve done before.  We are asked to submit names.  WE are not the only ones who submitted names, but we are part of the selection process.


R. Leifer: I would expect us to be more involved in the process.  Input was solicited from each academic unit.  But nothing was solicited from this body.  It gets back to basic questions about the role of the Faculty Senate at this Institute.


P. Hajela: To be fair, there was a General Faculty Senate Meeting dedicated to the discussion of the plan.


R. Diwan: There were no faculty there, only students and staff.


[Note: the lack of faculty at the meeting was not due to lack of faculty interest: the room was filled to capacity and faculty could not get in.]


There are two issues here.  The planning process is already underway.  It’s done, so there is no use bothering with it.  I like the process, but the Faculty Senate does have to find a way to be represented.  What I suggest is that this resignation provides the opportunity to redefine our role.


R. Norsworthy: These individuals took themselves and us out of the process.  WE requested to meet with the committee.  We asked them to hold off on their resignation until there could be more interchange.  They choose not to meet with the Executive Committee, and not to be here today.


M. Hanna:  Some couldn’t be here today due to other obligations.


N. Rolnick: Having been through many presidents, I haven’t seen any other who has taken so much care to encourage participation in the decision making process.  There are places where I wish I could have more say.  But I also think we now have a process as good as I’ve seen.  And, as I understand it, what we’re working toward now is a first draft.  So I’m not compelled to support the committee’s resignation, or to make a big issue out of it.


P. Hajela: The role for the P&R Committee was laid out at the beginning. Realtor’s role is data collection.  The P&R Committee comes in later, in the evaluation stage – once the data has been sifted through and presented in a first draft of the Plan.  I couldn’t have thought of a stronger role for the P&R committee.


I do think the charter for the P&R is unclear, which has caused some misunderstandings.  WE had a meeting with Joyce to try to talk to her about it and with the rest of the committee.


M. Hanna: Around the same time we extended the invitation to the committee to talk further with us, we were told that the committee had already decided to resign.


R. Diwan: What do we do now?


P. Quinn: I think that the President’s vision provides the opportunity for the Faculty Senate to redefine its role within an academic model, rather than within a corporate model – which we’ve had to work within before.  Second, we are hearing a lot of things about the worth of this planning process – that could be built on to revitalize the role of the Senate in the long term.


S. Derby: Can we just appoint an ad hoc committee?


K. Fortun: I think it would be irresponsible for us to simply dissolve an elected committee.


R. Parsons: We do have a process for replacing people who resign – because they go on leave, for example.


R. Leifer: There is another option: to not accept the resignation and recharge the committee.  To use this as an opportunity to give the committee the sense that we think this committee is important, and that we support it.


R. Norsworthy: We tried that.


R. Leifer: The process we are involved in is different- because everything is happening so fast.  We can’t wait for a meeting every two weeks to react.  Maybe we need to rethink how we interact with ourselves.


M. Hanna: Part of the chronology of this is that there are no suggestions that the committee would resign until after the last Senate meeting.  A committee can resign at any point – but I do think there should be appropriate communication beforehand.


R. Leifer: Why not go back to them and say “you’ve got our attention, please reconsider.”


R. Diwan:  I think we should go back to them.  Plus, we need to redefine the role of this committee, in a way that accepts their criticism.


K. Fortun: I don’t think its appropriate for the Executive Committee to define this committee’s role.  Its members should know best what needs to be done, where they fit within the structure of the Institute, etc.


N. Rolnick: It could, however, be specified that the Planning and Resources Committee should coordinate the faculty response to the Rensselaer Plan.  Then, I think we should ask them to reconsider.  We’ve got to keep the timetable in mind.  We’ll do the entire faculty a disservice if we don’t have an organized way to respond to the Rensselaer Plan.


R. Diwan: Do you think the role of the P&R Committee is broken beyond repair?


J. Norsworthy:  We could a) ask the committee not to resign; b) lay out the committee’s role in organizing faculty response to the Rensselaer Plan.


R. Leifer: I think the resignations suggest that these people feel strongly about their role.  They resigned; they aren’t here.  They must feel strongly about the issues.


S. Anderson-Gold: They are looking for a way to redefine the role of the faculty at the Institute.


K. Fortun: There is another way to think about this – that it is not appropriate for any Faculty Senate committee to resign simply because they have not been given the role they want.  They were elected to establish a role for faculty – a role for faculty in planning processes – and thus are responsible for carrying through with the necessary negotiations.  After all, the Faculty Senate exists because the role of faculty is never straightforward.  It always has to be worked out.  The Executive Committee, for example, is still working out its relationship to the Administration – and will continue to have to do so, as new things come up.


S. Anderson-Gold: A statement is made here, that must be responded to.


R. Parsons: I would like to make a motion: that we decline the resignations, and recharge the committee to assume responsibility for organizing faculty response to the first draft of the Rensselaer Plan.


R. Leifer: There are two parts: 1) We have to have a committee to respond to the Rensselaer Plan – either this committee or some other; 2) We have to work out the role of the P&R for the long term.  We have to let them know that we will work with them on this.


M. Hanna: This is what the Executive Committee tried to do before getting the resignations.


R. Leifer: If they don’t accept, we’ll find a way to organize a response to the Plan without them.


N. Rolnick: This should be put in the motion – a definition of what the committee’s participation should be in the short term.


M. Hanna: Let’s do this one piece at a time.  First, we need a motion to refuse the resignations before us now.


S. Anderson-Gold: I make a motion that resignations be refused.  Second: R. Parson. Passed. 2 abstentions.


R. Leifer:  I make a motion to appoint a committee to deal with the existing P&R committee.  Passed. Unanimously.


M. Hanna: The third motion is that the Faculty Senate appoint a committee to respond to the Rensselaer Plan, if the existing committee chooses not to assume this responsibility.  Seconded. Passed. Unanimously.


P. Quinn: We do have to respond to Joyce’s last paragraph regarding the need for greater clarification on the committee’s role.


N. Rolnick: We’ve given them a short term mandate, which we need action on fairly quickly.  The longer term role can be worked out in process.


M. Hanna: We have to decide on the ad hoc committee to deal with the resignations.


J. Norsworthy:  I suggest Bob Parsons.


P. Hajela: I nominate Richard [Leifer].


M. Hanna:  I suggest Neil [Rolnick].


N. Rolnick: I’ll have to do my part by telephone, since I’ll be off campus – out of the country – in the coming few weeks.


S. Anderson-Gold: I’ll volunteer, if it’s just a matter of interacting with the committee members who have resigned.  I don’t want to write a Plan.  I just feel very strongly about responding to resignations.


M. Hanna: so the committee is Bob Parson, Richard Leifer, and Sharon Anderson-Gold.


J. Norsworthy: Do we need a motion to empower the Executive Committee to appoint a Committee that can act in the short term if the existing Committee goes through with the resignation?


M. Hanna:  A motion isn’t required.  The Constitution includes mechanisms for replacements.


Motion to adjourn. 4:00


Prepared by K. Fortun, Recording Secretary