Faculty Senate Minutes

3/28/01

 

to Original Minutes of 3/28/01

 

Present:M. Hanna, P. Hajela, B. Parsons, S. Derby, K. Anderson, S. Anderson-Gold, G. Korenowski, L. Kammerer, B. Peterson,

L. Caporael, G. Belfort, M. Embrechts, R. Leifer, J. Mitchell, J. Erickson,
 

Absent: K. Fortun, A. Dyson, P. Quinn, R. Gutmann, K. Craig, C. Breneman, P. Boyce

 

Guests:R Gutmann, G. Gabriele, J. Ackerman, R. Bizios. A. Kapila

 

Agenda  

Approval of Minutes from January 31 and February 14 Meetings
Promotion and Tenure Committee Report - Ron Gutmann
Discussion on New Structure for IT Education/Research
Adjournment

 

Approval of Minute from January 31 and February 14 Meetings

President Prabhat Hajela call the meeting to order and asked for the approval of the Minutes from the January 31st and February 14th meetings. The Minutes were approved unanimously.  

Promotion and Tenure Committee Report - Ron Gutmann

Ron Gutmann's presentation was followed by a discussion. Sharon Anderson-Gold asked what he meant by poor communication in the appeal process. She asked whether he meant that cases are not fully developed or that cases were not presented properly. Ron clarified that when he mentioned poor communication, it was in terms of what the expectations are, going through the process. It includes people who appeal who feel clearly that they have been wronged. In terms of why people appeal, generally the cases rejected are due to poor communication between the candidate and their mentor, in their teaching, research and scholarly record; then poor handling by the department compounds the problem.
 

Gerald Korenowski asked that when he said there is one appeal case on average per year, how many dossiers go through the P&T Committee per year. Ron stated that it varied from year to year. In his experience it can be anywhere from 8 to 20. Appeals do not always relate to cases that have gone through the process as far as the committee. It could have been rejected at the department level or the school level. Most of the appeals are cases that have been turned down at a lower level.

Prabhat asked if he has seen any significant changes in the cases presented this year to indicate that the bar is actually being raised, or that it has remained more or less what it has been in previous years. Ron replied that when raising the bar is discussed, there are four levels: department level, school level, P&T level, and Provost/President/Board of Trustee level. In the cases presented this year, he has not seen any differences in these cases from previous year. What he believes is that more discussions are taking place between the Provost, Deans and Department heads about the cases that are coming up rather than cases just being submitted. What he has seen is both strong cases and some cases that are taking a longer time for deliberation.  

 

Senator Sharon Anderson-Gold said that the metaphor "raising of the bar" is something that is external to the P & T committee but it is the faculty who are making the judgment, so it has to occur by being incorporated into their judgment. She said that it sounds like Ron is saying that by his judgment and his colleague's judgment that they have not viewed cases any different than in previous years. She suggested that the most immediate concern about this metaphor comes at the lower level. She has heard discussion in the form of “..we have to be very critical in reviewing our cases as we will be criticized for weaker cases.” She believes this is a concern of faculty on what they might be criticized for. It needs to be incorporated because it is an individuals own view of what a weak or strong case is. Ron said he believes that department heads and Deans should always look at cases as carefully as possible. There is no other decision that they make that is more influential on the direction of the University than whom they promote and tenure.

Sharon said that she does not believe it is external, yet it is something that is either internalized or incorporated, and it becomes something new to be done. If the standards being used in the last few years are deemed appropriate standards, than the standards are not going to change. If the belief is that they need some adjustment, than eventually they will change.

Kurt Anderson asked if there is any other mechanism other then an appeal to address the fact that weight and metrics being used in various levels maybe different. If the bar is not getting raised for the faculty that are coming up for tenure right now, then they definitely feel it is getting moved. The question being asked is, "Where is the Bar"? The information they are hearing is now very different form previous years. There is a sense that the bar may not be rising but is definitely moving. This is raising some concerns. Ron said that this is not a quantum accounting where numbers of this and that can be added up to come up with a score. The question of where the bar is is relevant to that score. In evaluating the conditions that are stated in the Faculty Handbook for tenure or promotion,a certain degree of judgment is required. One looks at the individual case and tries to reach some decision based upon the external letters, and what the individual has achieved; both individual and collective judgment is involved. Naturally everyone’s internal bar will be different at some level. There would have to be differences; these are judgments; its being done for the good of the department/individual and university.
 

Rena Bizios stated that the concerns of the faculty are real and need to be addressed. She suggested that maybe the time has come for a certain section of the Faculty Handbook be revisited, reviewed and rewritten. These sections should be revisited and made sure that to the best of our understanding of where things are currently. This should be reflected in the Handbook.

Gerald Korenowski said that he thinks if a department makes a negative ruling on a case, then those tenure lines should fall back to the department. You don't want anything to jeopardize the department to send out a weak case. Provost Peterson said there is a policy in place that has been approved that describes the process of vacated faculty positions and what happens to those. The funds would automatically revert to the Provost office for any vacated faculty position. A process has now been developed that describes how this can and should be done. It is explicitly explained in the policy that we don’t want to encourage in any way departments to make decision based on a concern regarding lost faculty lines. It does not state the lines will remain in the department but that is a consideration that will be entered in as part of the process.


Prabhat Hejala asked about the legal implantations behind the appeal process. Appeals essentially go back to the same place where the case was originally denied. He asked Ron if his committee has been working with the Provost office on this matter or if it is something the Senate should undertake. Ron stated that it is something that the Provost and he have addressed in a brief conversation. Ron thinks that the process should be made as effective as possible for the faculty and departments and then hopefully get the lawyers to approve it, rather than looking at the legal implications first and trying to develop a process that can be tolerated.  

 

President Hajela commented that Ron already stated that there is a process that works well but has some weaknesses. Prabhat asked if there are any legal problems with that and that there is a process that works well but with some weakness. Ron responded that he was not sure and that it is not his area of expertise. He has not had the opportunity to get the committee involved in that. Provost Peterson said he does not think there are legal problems with the procedure. He said that normally tenure/promotion appeals are decided based on procedural matters as opposed to contents. The appeal's process here reviews the contents of the entire packages. The norm in higher education is that the appeal is based on the fact that there was some procedural error or omission. He did not mean to imply there was a legal problem; he just meant that at many other institutions the appeal process is more like the appeal process in the legal system.
 

Mike Hanna asked for clarification on the terms of the appeal. It is his understanding that if a case gets turned down at one level, the candidate has ability to appeal which guarantees going to at least the next level. Ron responded that if it is appealed, it is guaranteed to go through all levels. Mike asked that if a negative recommendation were made in an appeal at any level, would it still proceed through the whole process? Ron answered that it would be evaluated at each level and hopefully overruled. Mike asked if he was suggesting that the flaw lies within the introduction process of new evidence/material. The Provost responded that he was not suggesting that it was a flaw, he was just saying it is different.

Mike said that if the mentoring is as bad as most feel that it is, then the introduction of new evidence/material may be a useful

mechanism until a decision is made on how to accomplish a better mentoring process, especially if the person was not mentored properly and the advocate did not do their job as a mentor. Ron stated that junior faculty are still professionals and they have to take responsibilities for their own career and decision making. They may take advice from various people but they must consistently make decisions in terms of what to pursue and how to proceed in their career. Part of the communication problem is in the department and senior faculty point of view and part of the problem is in junior colleague listening. The difficulty is now trying to be separated. The issue with the appeal is not on how they've received advice, but how the case was put together.

 

Linnda Caporael asked for clarification on the relationship between the performance plan and the P&T criteria. She asked if it was possible for an individual to be a potential contributor to the performance plan for the department. and at the same time end up doing poorly in the P & T process because the performance plan covers a boarder range of activities than what is covered in the traditional P & T decision. Ron stated that to some extent, faculty are asked to do other things besides scholarship, education and an appropriate balance of service. There is a significant chance that any performance plan or a request from a department or a Dean can "overload" a faculty for the good of the university/department in the short term.That is why good mentors are needed who will be looking at the career of the individual as well as what good for the university.

 

Discussion on New Structure for IT Education/Research
Mike Hanna stated that he had two concerns regarding the memo:
· If the School of Science will now be the home of the academic program for undergraduates, would the research program for IT program come under the Vice President for Research in terms of coordination?

·On the undergraduate level, most second disciplines are in various forms of management. He was wondering how moving this program into the School of Science will impact that undergraduate program? Will it change it?

 

Provost Peterson said the changes that are transpiring are:

·To create an interdisciplinary research center in IT

·Initiate plans to identify and co locate the faculty in the IT area and determine what type of infrastructure is required.

·Begin plans to transfer the administrative oversight from the vice provost to an associate dean that reports to the Dean of Science

 

He does not think these changes are very big. The lead person in IT now reports through the Dean of Sciences in some respects but the committee will still report to the Provost office. It does provide a mechanism by which a rational decision on how to allocate resources can be made.

Bob Parsons asked if the students are going to have to follow the core in science. The Provost said he didn't believe so.

 

Mike Hanna stated that if they are considered members of the School of Science, he sees an educational issue. He thinks it raises an issue of how an interdisciplinary program which has been outside of the boundaries will comes within the boundaries of a school without creating havoc among the rules that are in place. This gives us an unruly structure where all the school administrators will have a say in how it should work, and with the School of Science making sure that everything is functioning properly. To maintain the interdisciplinary nature of the program by putting it in any school is going to cause some growing pains, particularly in trying to figure out how the rules and regulations will apply. He thinks this is going to be complex, but he was not saying it can not be done. He would really like to see the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee get involved in this along with the School of Science Curriculum Committee and try to figure out a workable structure.

 

Provost Peterson said he thinks that is why the memo talks about "begin plans to transfer". There are two other alternatives:

·Leave it as it is - which has a lot of concerns especially how to finance it

·Create a school for IT

Richard Leifer asked what happens to the career opportunities of the students if they are majoring in Management but yet they come out of the School of Science program. He asked if that will preclude them from being competitive in a certain kind of position where the position expects to have a background that is consistent with the job that they are looking at. Provost Peterson asked where the degrees came from before. Richard said a degree in IT, which is not biased by a discipline, but has the flavor of a second discipline. It would be much more manageable in the marketplace than a student who comes out with a School of Science degree and tries to get a job in industry in a management program. He would like to suggest that some data gathering be done on the output side to see what the perception is in the market place for students that come out with this kind of background.

 

Provost Peterson asked if this is a School of Science degree or if it is a degree in IT that's administrated by the School of Science. He said he does not believe there has been any decision made that states this will be a School of Science degree. If they have to comply with the science core than that moves you towards the idea it is a School of Science degree. Alternatively, it could be a degree that's just administered within the School of Science.

 

Richard Leifer said that having a manager that is a line manager is a good idea but must be careful to say it is not a School of Science degree when in fact it is in the School of Science. It is not a School of Science degree but it is managed by the dean of science; the School of Science will allow it to keep an IT identity. Provost Peterson said that all the decisions have not been determined; they will be made over a period of time and after many discussions. Richard said he was involved when the whole program was being set up. He believes what was attractive to the students was the fact that it was going to be an interdisciplinary IT degree. He thinks if it starts evolving into discipline orientation, some of the attractiveness in the marketplace will be lost.

 

Provost Peterson said the memo clearly states the purpose of the IT academic committee advisory to the Provost and comprised of an Associate Dean from each of the five schools who have the responsibility for maintaining the interdisciplinary nature of the IT program, by drawing on all of the schools. The intent is not to make it school specific but to maintain interdisciplinary nature while giving it some sort of an academic home. If the inside cover of the catalog is looked at, every single degree, even interdisciplinary degrees, are listed under an academic school except one that is IT. Prabhat asked if he was saying there will be an associate Dean for IT in addition to the associate Dean for the School of Science. The Provost responded that as the transition starts, Dr. Napolitano will function as the lead person until Dr. Engl arrives.
 

Bob Parsons agrees agree that IT needs a home and someone to take responsibility and ownership of the program, but he thinks a review needs to be done to see if most students are really taking science as a second discipline or are they taking more management type second disciplines. The Provost said the distribution of second majors was looked it. He thinks the Institute needs to be careful because it could be counter productive to think that if a vast majority of the students have a second major in the Lally School, then IT needs to go there; then it starts to become a management degree. He added that the idea is to identify the core faculty group but this will change with time. They will hopefully be located physically in an area that is close to Computer Science and Computer Engineering.

Linnda asked if that would include H&SS individuals and if this also means that core faculty will have to go to two sets of departmental meetings and all other meetings involved within this process. The Provost said yes that H&SS faculty would be included. In response to her second question, the answer in some ways is a yes. Individuals would have an academic home but the Institute would also want faculty to have a vested interest in the IT program and have some input into the curriculum. Linnda made a suggestion that the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Planning & Resources Committee carefully review the Provost's memo because there is still a lot of flexibility in what is being developed and that review may help to raise a series of question. As this plan is developed, those questions can be bought into consideration and then when more details are available, they could go through the Faculty Senate and Planning & Resources for input. The Provost thought that was a good idea. The question would be addressed to the committee of associate Deans and the IT Curriculum Committee. He added that here are many questions that still remain to be resolved.
 

 Adjournment

Meeting adjourned 4:45 p.m.