Tuesday, November 14, 2006
3:30-5:15 pm     
Penn State Room, 337 IMU

Present: Linda Boyle, Gloria Bulechek, Christine Catney, Michael Cohen, David Drake, Steve McGuire, Michael O’Hara, Catherine Ringen, Jarijisu Sa-Aadu, Linda Snetselaar, Brad Thompson, James Tomkovicz, and Jerold Woodhead

Excused:  Donna D’Alessandro, Virginia Dominguez, Vicki Grassian, Paul Heidger, Frank Mitros, and Downing Thomas

Officers Present: Sheldon Kurtz; President, Victoria Sharp, Vice President; Jennifer Glass, Secretary; and Richard LeBlond, Past President

Guests:   Pat Cain (Provost Office), Steve Collins (Faculty Policy and Compensation Committee), Raúl Curto (CLAS), Diane Heldt (The Gazette), Patricia Kelley (Emeritus Faculty), Marcus Mills (General Counsel), Matt Nelson (The Daily Iowan) Tom Rocklin (Office of Provost), and Mark Young (Council on Teaching)

I.  Call to order

Faculty Senate President Sheldon Kurtz called the meeting to order at 3:33 pm

II.  Approvals

  1. Meeting agenda- President Kurtz asked that the update on the presidential search be moved to the end of the meeting when the Council will go into Executive Session.  Moved by Professor O’Hara; seconded by Professor Snetselaar, carried by voice vote.
  2. The Faculty Council minutes of October 31, 2006 were approved by unanimous voice vote
  3. The draft Faculty Senate Agenda, November 28, 2006 – A discussion of the Engagement Corps will be added to the agenda, if time permits. A motion was made by Professor Ringen; seconded by Professor to Cohen, to approve the agenda. The motion carried.

III.  Reports

   A.   Faculty Senate President, Sheldon Kurtz

1.  Strategic change process

President Kurtz reported on the BOR meeting in Ames that he, Mary Greer, and Peter McElligott attended. He had gone prepared with detailed remarks. At the opening of agenda item #13, Regent Gartner presented to the Board a number of questions and issues of a visionary plan for the regents institutions.  Following his opening remarks, Regent Gartner was asked by Regent Downer what kind of timetable he envisioned. Regent Gartner publicly stated that he would be working to bring forward a more detailed idea of a plan that they will start working on to the BOR this coming February.  Between February and the end of the process, he anticipated having a number of regent meetings to discuss the ‘overarching principles’.  They will hold hearings around the state.  He did not say what role other stakeholders would have.  He thought he could get the visionary process in place by November.

Gartner add that when it filtered down, campus stakeholders would be able to participate and that there will be plenty of opportunity for our new president to participate fully in its development. Having heard that, President Kurtz said he did not ask the Board to suspend the process in line with earlier Council resolutions.  He felt the process would be elongated. He added that he did not hear what the role of stakeholders would be, although he assured Councilors that the BOR will hear from UI stakeholders.

Kurtz added that the Faculty Senate at ISU is fully on board with this. They adopted a resolution which they handed out to the Board.  UNI did not attend the meeting.  Kurtz has spoken to faculty governance representatives there and they are also concerned.

Professor O’Hara thanked President Kurtz for his efforts and praised him for a job well done.

   B.   Faculty Governance at the UI, Past& Present

Professor O’Hara reported on meetings of the Faculty Policy and Compensation Committee.  Its faculty governance subcommittee deals with a number of issues that bear on faculty primacy and functioning at the university.  The subcommittee, chaired by Professor Jeff Denburg, tabled a proposal recommending the coordination of a symposium in the Spring that would address issues of faculty governance and try to raise the profile of faculty governance as practiced at the UI.  O’Hara sought Council and Senate support   It would be very timely with respect to the strategic change process. Sometime in April would fall dead center in the regent discussion, perhaps positively influencing the process.

President Kurtz recommended adding the newly-named president to the list of featured speakers (revision of last sentence in first paragraph).

Professor O’Hara commented that the symposium is a response to the current state of the university. Its aim is to describe and reinforce the culture of faculty governance at the UI and to explore where we are going.

Professor Collins said the symposium would set the stage for discussions about where we were in the past and were we are now.  He suggested having a subsequent symposium on the future of faculty governance at the UI.

Professor O’Hara was asked about scheduling and other details.  He said for the moment, he sought sanction of the idea.  He encouraged Councilors to share their ideas with him and Professor Denburg. Suggestions were made to include emeritus faculty and Staff Council.

Professor Sharp informed Councilors that the CIC Faculty Governance annual meeting will be held at the UI next Fall.  

President Kurtz suggested there be a resolution from the Faculty Council applauding the Faculty Policy and Compensation Committee and to encourage them to move forward the planning of this event.  A motion was made by Professor Ringen; seconded by Professor Drake.  It will be moved to the next Senate agenda for immediate resolution.

   C.   Annual report of the Ombudsperson; Craig Porter, Ombudsperson

Craig Porter made a plea to update the Faculty Ethics Policy, which was begun last year.  He encouraged the Council and Senate to push it back on the agenda.

Porter addressed the changes in the overall campus climate in the past few years. He said the biggest change seemed to be the shift in staff complaints.  In the past, the vast majority of complaints related to job conflicts.  They are seeing a fall in concerns about discipline and suspension and they see a tightening up of procedures surrounding evaluations of job performance. The data is anonymous, and they do not like to predict trends, but he thought this was an emerging theme.   

On the faculty side, Porter said they are seeing fewer issues regarding tenure and promotions, probably because the Office of the Provost has given this a lot of attention to clarify those matters.

Kurtz wondered why taking complaints about Benefits to the Ombudsperson’s office.  Porter said they were not so much complaints as requests for information or clarification. These types of inquiries are referred to Richard Saunders.  He added that, though early in the process, they hope to expand their system to help people with questions as well as complaints.

Porter said that there are some concerns raised in this report.  He continues to be troubled by the fact that there are significant problems  with workplace behavior, and this is not exclusively amongst staff.  It seems to be most difficult to correct improper behavior  amongst faculty, which is why he wants the ethics policy reviewed. 

Porter said they are working on the concept of how mental health affects faculty, staff and students.  They are working with Human Resources and the “Wellness at Iowa” program to investigate how suspected or diagnosed mental illness is affecting workplace. 

Porter also mentioned that there are multiple summer programs on campus where non-enrolled students use our facilities. It has been brought to their attention that there is no real structure for these students to provide conflict resolution (unlike those who are employed or who pay tuition here).  He did not think the university was protecting them as well as it might.  These programs do not have a well defined student advocacy mechanism in case of student conflict.

    D.   Violence Policy Update, Craig Porter, Ombudsperson

Since the last time the Violence Policy was presented to the Faculty Council, it has been reviewed by Senior HR Representatives and the Council on Deans. There had been a lot of discussion with the VP for Student Services. Porter said there is no conflict between their two policies.  

Professor Cohen moved to endorse the revised draft; it was seconded by Professor Thompson.  President Kurtz called the question; there was a unanimous voice vote.

Professor Porter thanked Professor O’Hara and General Counsel Marc Mills for their work on the policy committee.

   E.   Council on Teaching amendments to the Ops Manual, Mark Young, Chair, Council on Teaching

Professor Young was welcomed to the Council.  He said there were two issues high on the agenda for the Council on Teaching (COT), which may require a revision to the Ops Manual.

1.  Expectations for office hours -  The Ops Manual does not have specific guidelines or requirements that faculty hold office hours (unlike CLAS). Section 15.2(g) addresses meeting with students, but the COT thought this referred more to mentoring students than to office hours. They also thought that teaching loads and types of student contact were so diverse, it is hard to manage. As a suggestion, the COT suggests to either modify section 15.2(g) of the Operations Manual or add a new section with language to the effect that "faculty must hold office hours and be reasonably available for appointments."

2. Electronic communications, including email, chat rooms, ICON, offer alternative forms of student contact and are more the norm than traditional office hours.  Faculty noted that with these new forms of communication, there are increased expectations, because faculty do not answer them during office hours only.  Response time is a concern.  The COT suggests the following:

  • Add a valid email address in the syllabus contents specified in section 15.2(g)(l).
  • Add a recommendation that instructors discuss expectations for electronic communications, especially the typical response times for such communications, at the beginning of the course.
  • Increase faculty awareness of the electronic communications capability of ICON (course email, chat, bulletin board).
  • Urge ITS to be accommodating for requests for separate course-related email accounts with dedicated storage space for faculty, especially for large enrollment courses.
  • Begin a discussion of the increased demand for electronic communication in teaching, the implications for traditional in-office interactions, and the consequent potential for an incremental increase in the faculty workload.

In response to Councilors’ questions, Professor Young said COT does not propose mandating answering emails.  The faculty member may choose to cite “none” next to this form of communication on the syllabus.

Professor Catney was concerned about the statement “faculty must maintain office hours,” as this is virtually impossible in the Pharmacy program that she works in.  She asked if it would be possible that individual colleges could set their own policies for how they communicate with students. Professor Young said that colleges do set their own guidelines/requirements, but that COT thought it should be in the Ops Manual.   He wants to make it clear at the very beginning so the students know what to expect.

The suggestion was made that COT should meet with ITAC to discuss ITS capabilities and course offerings. Professor Young said ITS is forming a special communications team and that COT could speak with them as well.  

Professor McGuire cited FERPA rules and said that requests from students for information about their performance must come from a valid email address. Professor Young said there is an official university email policy. 

Further Councilor questions cited “anti-email” policies, students’ expectations for immediate response, and the binding nature of the information on the syllabus which might be compromised if a professor is ill or otherwise unavailable and unable to respond in a timely manner.

President Kurtz requested that the COT work on the language of the proposal a bit more and to return to the Council to show where it is going.

   F.   President Kurtz called for an Executive Session.  Only Faculty Councilors and select faculty guests remained in the room.

IV.  Announcements –

  • The next meeting of the Faculty Senate will be Tuesday, November 28, 2006, 3:30 – 5:15 pm, Senate Chamber, Old Capitol
  • The next meeting of the Faculty Council will be Tuesday, January 23, 2007, 3:30 – 5:15 pm, Penn State Room, 337 IMU

V.  Adjournment -

The meeting adjourned at 5:08 pm.