Faculty Senate Minutes

September 27, 2006


Officer attending: Nick Reeder, President; Jackie Meyers, Vice President; James Brooks, Secretary


Senators attending: Derek Allen, Jennifer Barr, Moez Ben-Azzouz, Mark Echtner, Luis Gonzalez, James Houdeshell, Eric Kraus, Amanda Romero, Cindy Schoonover, Thomas Singer, Charles Williams


Senators not attending: Mohamed Ali


Others attending: Mike Oaster, Shari Rethman, Dona Fletcher


Nick called the meeting to order at 2:30pm in Rm. 7342.


1. Approval of Minutes


Minutes for the Faculty Senate meeting of September 13 were approved without corrections.

2. President’s Report

     2.1 Changes to 2006-2007 Faculty Handbook

As a follow-up to his remarks about the Faculty Handbook at the September 13 meeting, Nick provided the following specifics about the 48 minor changes he had mentioned: 44 had to do with title revisions (such as “VPI” being replaced by “Senior VP and Provost”), and the other four included 1.2 History and Accreditation, with “established by the voters of Montgomery  County, Ohio” being replaced by “pursuant to O.R.C. 3354”; 1.3 Mission, adding “and Warren County” after “Montgomery County”; 1.4 Board of Trustees, indicating there are now eleven trustees instead of nine; and 5.1 Library, indicating name change from “Learning Resources Center” to “Library.”

Nick also indicated that Dr. Grove’s office plans to have the updated version of the Handbook on-line soon.

     2.2 Officers’ Meeting with Provost

Nick, Jackie, and Jim met with Dr. Grove on September 20 for their first regularly scheduled meeting.  Nick informed Senate that Dr. Grove agreed, on behalf of the administration, that Senate VP Jackie Myers would be added to the Faculty Issues Team to join Nick Reeder, Eric Kraus, Tom Singer, and Ned Young. Administrative members joining Dr. Grove are Jeff Boudouris, Mary Gaier, and Dave Collins.

Dr. Grove also indicated that the realignment/budget balancing initiative was being led by the “Operations Council,” whose members are the vice-presidents and deans. Senate’s request for representation on this group is pending. The Council is working on a draft proposal that will be shared with various constituencies across campus. A series of open forums will be held to generate feedback and foster communication. Dr. Grove mentioned that she would like to meet with both Staff Senate and Faculty Senate for input, suggesting that a joint meeting might be worthwhile. At this point in Nick’s report, several senators raised questions as to whether decisions had already been made, in spite of the opportunity for input at the open forums. Concerns were also raised as to the uncertainty surrounding realignment and reorganization and the potential negative effects this could have on the campus culture. Dona Fletcher informed Senate that Dr. Grove had met with the Chairpersons’ Council, and it was Dona’s impression that nothing had been finalized, that several models or approaches were being considered, and that more specifics would be rolled out in winter quarter after feedback had been collected this fall. Nick urged all senators to attend the open forum sessions scheduled for Monday, October 2, and Tuesday, October 3, in Smith Auditorium.

Nick reported that Dr. Grove would take Senate’s request for representation on the Operations Council to that body, but that he had not heard from her one way or the other as yet. Some senators were in favor of pressing for a response; others felt that Dr. Grove should be invited to a Senate meeting to address the issue of reorganization, faculty evaluation, and representation. Jennifer Barr made a motion that Dr. Grove be invited to the October 11 Senate meeting, and it was passed unanimously by voice vote.

Nick continued, explaining that the reorganization plan had been on hold over the summer, but that more work would be done after open forums were held (see reference above to open forums on October 2 and 3).

Dr. Grove will be reactivating the Faculty Evaluation Committee and has asked Senate for names of previous members. The committee had originally been led by former Business Division Dean Frieda Bennett, and current ELHS Senator Charles Williams was a member of that group. This group will be looking at the FPR form and processes.

Also related to faculty evaluation, Dr. Grove asked for input with respect to the implementation of on-line evaluations for part-time faculty. Given the large number of part-time faculty that teach for Sinclair, it is extremely labor intensive to conduct quarterly evaluations in all sections taught by part-timers. Therefore, Dr. Grove indicated that there would be an on-line pilot for part-time evaluation. More details will be forthcoming. Here again, a brief discussion ensued, with some senators sharing how their divisions evaluated part-time faculty. There is not consistency across divisions as to how this is done. Senator Amanda Romero noted that she sits on the Part-Time Faculty Committee, now being chaired by Nancy Thibeault; Amanda will keep Senate informed of any developments related to part-time faculty.

2.3 On-Boarding of New Tenure-Track Faculty

Jennifer Barr, Senator from Allied Health, will chair the subcommittee of the Faculty Resource Committee (made up of senators and appointees) charged with addressing the issue of on-boarding for first-year, tenure-track faculty. Jennifer, who also sits on Chairs’ Council, mentioned that the deans would be asking chairs for input on appropriate processes for helping 1-3 year faculty as well as for input on what would be needed to provide staff development opportunities for seasoned faculty.

2.4 On-line Vote to Amend Bylaws

Nick reported that 119 faculty had voted thus far, with voting having been opened on Friday, September 22.  He indicated a flurry of activity on the site the first few days, with lesser activity Tuesday and Wednesday. He urged senators to remind their colleagues to cast their votes, as a two-thirds approval is required for the amendment to pass. He reiterated that the voting was anonymous and restricted to tenure-track faculty. 

2.5 Meeting with Randy Brown

Nick shared that he and Jim Brooks had met with Randy Brown to discuss Randy’s role in helping Senate improve its website. Randy was enthusiastic about working with Senate and suggested that Senate consider using the Angel site as its main site. He felt that Angel’s communication features would allow Senate to hold discussion forums, target specific groups, such as ACF’s, and be more user-friendly as more faculty would be comfortable using Angel.  Senators were supportive of this idea, though several wanted assurance that no changes would be made until it was clear that the Angel system was working well and all the bugs had been worked out.  Nick assured senators that any transition would be handled carefully and that the current site would be maintained as the transition occurred.

2.6 Handbook Changes to 2006-2007 Faculty Handbook

Nick shared a minor change to Section 2.11.9 of the Faculty Handbook, which recommended adding “and one department chairperson appointed by the President of Chairpersons’ Council for a three-year term” to the membership of the Curriculum Review Committee. For such minor changes, Nick recommended that Senate pull together all such changes throughout the year and forward them in the spring to  Tom Huguley, Assistant to the VP and Provost, who will see that they get on Academic Policies’ agenda.

2.7 Make a Difference Day

Nick distributed a flyer about Make a Difference Day, October 28, 2006, at the request of Marilyn Rodney, chair of the committee promoting this annual event. Senators were encouraged to share this information with their colleagues and students.

   2.8 Meeting Schedule

Senators agreed to maintain their regular meeting schedule for the duration of fall quarter: October 11, 2:30 pm in 7L21 (Library); October 25, 2:30 pm in 7342, and November 8, 2:30 pm in 7342.

2.9 Faculty Salary Review

Nick asked that a link to the following Faculty Salary Review (2005-2006) handout from the Faculty Issues Team be included in the minutes FYI: http://www.sinclair.edu/organizations/fac_sen/pub/minutes/2006/FacultySalaryrecommendations0506.htm

3. New Business

3.1    Ohio Faculty Senate

         Shari Rethman, representative to the Ohio Faculty Senate, informed Senate that she would be attending her first meeting on Friday, October 6, and that at that meeting, representatives for the candidates for governor, Ken Blackwell and Ted Strickland, would be answering questions about higher education. Shari had distributed a tentative list of questions for us in advance, asking for our input, and several senators offered the following suggestions for additional questions: college preparedness, the continuation of tech prep, academic freedom, the use of gambling/slot machine proceeds to fund education, the state’s non-compliance with the constitutionality of its funding formula.

3.2    Course Scheduling Process

         A question was raised as to the effectiveness/efficiency of the scheduling process for fall quarter. Shari Rethman and Jennifer Barr, who are on the Scheduling Committee, informed Senate that the top 45 classes with highest enrollment had highest priority with respect to scheduling, with the top 100 next in line. The college is attempting to streamline the process by using a computer program that will match room requests (podium, computers, etc.) to course sections. One factor that is not currently figured in is faculty, so that faculty teaching consecutive sections might not get those sections in the same classroom, which would be advantageous to both students and faculty. Shari and Jennifer will keep Senate apprised of progress that is made on improving the process. Faculty who have concerns about scheduling issues are urged to contact their chair, senator, Shari, or Jennifer. Sally Struthers, Dean of Fine and Performing Arts, chairs the Scheduling Committee.

3.3    Office Hour Policy

         Derek Allen asked for a clarification of the Office Hours (2.4.4) policy, indicating that the Business Dean’s secretary had set an email to the division faculty interpreting the policy rigidly, expecting all faculty to have three hours on campus and two hours of virtual office hours.  Nick reminded all senators that the policy is for five hours total coverage, with a minimum of three days a week on campus. All five hours may be spread among those three days. The five hours may be distributed on four or five days, with no virtual hours. Or a faculty member could use one virtual hour and four hours on campus on three or four days. Or a faculty member could use three hours on three days and hold two hours virtual.  Senators were urged to clarify the policy for their departments so as to minimize misinterpretation.

3.4    Reorganization/Realignment Concerns

         Jim Houdeshell raised a concern about how reorganization/realignment might occur in response to the pressure to economize. He expressed the fear that changes could occur haphazardly without attention to quality controls and long-term effects. To avoid such negative results, Jim recommended that Senate promote the idea that changes should be made in an incremental way, for example, with pilot projects recommended for combining courses to test whether redundancies could be reduced without losing quality or shortchanging students. During the discussion, several senators mentioned how the Curriculum Management Tool could be used to help manage the process. While there was an awareness that the 3-year mandate from the Board of Trustees to put Sinclair’s fiscal house in order will require prompt action, there is also a strong desire to promote a transparent, orderly process, not an arbitrary one. Senate wants to support academic quality for students by raising the questions: What is the best process for making the best decisions? How do we establish priorities to reach the best solutions?  How do we avoid being steamrolled into making wholesale changes to economize? As the discussion continued, ideas were expressed such as “make  recommendations from the bottom up,” “have a divisional approach first, then go across divisions,” “keep student needs in mind as criteria are established.”  

Finally, Nick asked, “What should we do?” Responses varied, but focused on Senate’s being proactive, not being obstructionist or protectionist but promoting faculty’s interests, keying on how to prevent expedient behavior to save money without proper reflection. Specifically, several senators returned to the issue of Senate representation on the Operations Council and offered to raise the question at the open forum sessions with Dr. Grove.  Other senators felt that while representation was needed that it would not be enough, by itself, to assure the best outcome.  Others felt that we should not assume the worst but that we should be positive, make our interests and concerns known, allow the respective deans to represent the faculty, and attempt to foster trust in the people and the processes at play. Dona Fletcher mentioned that it was the position of the chairs to do what they could to avoid losing full-time faculty positions in the reorganization/realignment process. Jim Houdeshell, who began the discussion, had the final word, as he reiterated that we had to “be sure to make optimum decisions and establish criteria without being pressured by constraints.”

4. Announcements

            Next meeting: October 11, Rm. 7L21 (Library), 2:30 pm.

The meeting adjourned at 4:07 pm.

Submitted by James Brooks

Approved by Senate: October 11, 2006