Minutes of the Faculty Senate meeting November 19, 2008
The regular meeting of the 2008-2009 Faculty Senate was called to order at 3:30 p.m. by President Art Sanders. The following senators were present for all or part of the meeting. Cramer, Cravero, DeWitt, Esposito, Gilbert, Harvey, Houle, McCrickerd, Mosser, Nelson, Reincke, Sanders, VanWyke, Vitha, Walker
Absent: Alexander, Allen, Bohorquez, Chesnut, Cramer, Dore, Parsa
The October 2008 minutes were accepted.
Report from President Maxwell -
- President Maxwell asked the Senate if they felt the campus community was getting enough information concerning what the administration is doing in response to the current economic situation. (Secretary’s note: there was not any response) He noted this is the biggest concern being address by the cabinet. Currently the fact that Drake University is a tuition driven institution may be to our advantage at this time as it is the endowment driven institutions which are making the news. President Maxwell commented that “certainly the sooner there is an economic recovery then the smaller the impact, at this time, I want the campus community to be informed.”
He continued that Drake’s most critical step is to meet the net revenue and enrollment targets for retention and next year’s entering class. He appreciates what faculty are doing to assist with these efforts. As of now, he said, the predictors for the Spring 2009 semester are being also closely evaluated.
President Maxwell reiterated that he is willing to share information and is considering restarting the ‘grapevine’ method for any random questions to be submitted. He welcomed any comments to that suggested communication method.
Senator Nelson asked if the enrollment surge was understood enough to be used as a predictor for the next year’s class. President Maxwell replied that several of the factors can be identified. These include the Drake’s Admission staff’s quality work, the on campus Admission programs which include faculty, the University’s commitment to “keeping the promise” and our location in Des Moines.
Senator Espositio asked if the surge of applications from last year had peaked. The reply noted that this year’s stream of applications is still strong. This is happening even though a couple of selection factors have been altered for Fall 09 such as raising the score cutoff for the National Alumni Scholar program.
No report from Provost Troyer due to his travel on Drake business
Report from President Sanders
Senate committees are now staffed. The Campus Council is now looking for a time to meet. The Compensation Committee has their three faculty members continuing from last year. Their terms will become staggered in the future.
LouAnn Volkmer, of the Health Center, requested that faculty be reminded that the Health Center does not give notes to students for absences due to illnesses. She can be reached at 271-1920 to clarify this or any other operational procedure.
The ‘Faculty Roles’ discussion identified a number of areas of concerns and the Senate Executive Committee has decided to proceed with a small task force, with hopefully one person per college/school. The goal is to look at current practices here at Drake, what are potential changes in policy and practice, attendance at a conference in April 2009 and make a report. The report may or may not be finalized by the end of the Spring 2009 semester.
President Sanders thanked the Senators for their participation in the recent Provost candidate on campus interview. The same interview schedule is planned for both December 2nd and 9th and he encouraged continued participation.
Old Business – none presented
New Business –
With proper motion, the Senate moved into a Committee of the Whole to discuss the preliminary draft presented by the Drake Curriculum Task Force. Senators Gilbert, McCrickerd, Mosser and Sanders are members of the Task Force.
Vice Provost John Burney presented a brief overview and emphasized that no action is needed today from the Senate. He stated he looked forward to the group saying what they think on any portion of the document. His overview noted that this was an evolution of the 2002 curriculum. The Task Force started out with a discussion of what is working well and what is not. He noted that there is a national conversation concerning liberal education and liberal learning.
Mr. Burney noted only a few points before opening the discussion. His noted items were the decreased number of outcome, the integrated seminars, an expectation of student reflection and application, and the 18 credit AOI’s (areas of inquiry). Other considerations were the co-curricular learning, use of technology and a discussion of using part of January for experiential learning.
Senator Nelson asked what would be the difference between a capstone course and experiential learning. Mr. Burney replied that experiential learning is an off campus learning experience using a broad set of skills whereas the capstone is more discipline driven. Senator Vitha asked if this would be a net resource neutral curriculum. He asked if there were yet any projections as to how this would affect individual programs. Mr. Burney replied that only in a broad sense have the resources been addressed as the plan is not concise enough for extensive work yet in that area. He did not believe that it would be revenue neutral as there is staff and faculty time, especially within the experiences to be considered. He stated that we value integrated experiences then we must figure out how to do these and do them well. Senator Sanders indicated that one idea within the January Term is that is would count toward faculty load.
Senator Cravero asked about the implementation of the eportfolios. The reply was that it is an extension of the FYS program into the second semester of the first year. Mr. Burney continued that there would be professional staff and peer assistance to work on the technology side and yet keeping faculty engaged to review the final portfolio, with compensation. The second eportfolio, during the junior year, would not replace a current three credit experience.
Senator Cramer noted she would not mind the AOI’s credit reduction. She noted there was little presented in the document concerning advising. Vice Provost Wanda Everage stated that advising is being looked at within Drake and by an outside group.
Other Senators mentioned the AOI’s credit total and make up. There was a discussion of the number of labs required and what the real goals are for the AOI’s. There was concern that with only lab science course included can Drake state the curriculum engages the students towards science literacy. It was noted that when the integrated courses are well done this is achieved, yet course size remains an issue. Senator Nelson stated he would like the reduction in the AOI’s yet not lose some content.
Senator Esposito noted that as long as there are “escape hatches, then the student will avoid” a requirement. He remains concerned that Americans suffer as a whole in math and science and he would not like Drake to adopt a less rigorous curriculum. He continued his concerns by noting that three high level administrative positions are not filled. Although Senator Esposito recognized that Drake indicated to the HLC (Higher Learning Commission) that we would do this curriculum review, it is a bit more radical than he had expected, even in its draft form. He believes the current curriculum is a mosaic of courses and the proposal as striping some of the existing academic rigor.
Senator Reincke raised the question whether science literacy is achieved via just one introductory course and that critical thinking is needed to handle the mass of information which is needed to understand various scientific courses. She continued that what the curriculum is now is more of a scatter shot and the proposal seems to be a more focused approach.
President Maxwell urged that the 2025 Vision document be used to really challenge all assumptions and cautioned that merely tweaking a curriculum does not move Drake forward. He acknowledged that at the heart of this discussion is a national dilemma within higher education of asking one course to do more than one thing. Courses may be designed to fulfill a major or designed for the overall mission. He challenged the group to see the integrated seminars as a mechanism to unburden the major courses.
The concepts of multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary were mentioned by Senator Reincke as all needed definitions as this discussion progresses. Senator Vitha asked how General Chemistry would or would not fit. He likes integration but wonders why some topics are an AOI and not an integrated seminar.
Mr. Burney wanted the group to define rigor and look beyond counting courses. He asked which outcomes are we as faculty really driving towards for our students. He welcomed those who did not fully agree with him to continue the conversation and examine what curricular rigor can be defined as for Drake as it is the faculty who own the curriculum.
Senator Reincke liked the fact that the calendar will be reviewed in conjunction with curriculum. She did question whether the professional schools are serving the Arts & Sciences programs. Senator Sanders indicated there has been participation concerning the globalization of ethics across the curriculum and there has been an assumption that the integrated seminars would come from multiple units, too.
Mr. Burney indicated that once people are comfortable with the way we are going, there will be a second draft. He invited people to continue to submit their comments, especially in the areas of what has not been addressed or included in the document. He also wants to allow for serious conversations which include students. He requested serious, critical feedback and ideas.
The Committee of the Whole was closed and upon proper motion Faculty Senate ended at 5:00 p.m.
Nancy Geiger, Secretary