Faculty Assembly Minutes: April 25, 2007

 

Nick Reeder, President of Faculty Assembly, called the meeting to order at 3:02 pm.

 

1. President’s Report: Nick Reeder

 

            1.1 Fire Doors

 

Nick shared that the college was working on a cost analysis of the fire door situation.  All solutions considered thus far are very expensive and still under review.  He indicated that Dr. Grove did not foresee that a decision would be made that could be included in the coming budget cycle. Hence, the fire door situation will remain status quo until further notice.

 

1.2 Reorganization of Instruction

 

Nick urged all members of the Assembly to participate in the on-line survey and discussion about the reorganization options.  Senate will be meeting with the Provost’s Council in May to share faculty feedback.

 

Nick raised the issue of how reorganization will affect the make-up of Faculty Senate and college-wide committees.  The question was raised about the usefulness of holding divisional elections before decisions are made about reorganization of the academic divisions.  After a brief discussion, during which it was noted that the Assembly was still governed by the tenets of the Faculty Handbook, the consensus was to hold elections as usual.  Any changes that would need to be made in the coming year as a result of reorganization would occur through Senate and Assembly channels.  Nick urged the Assembly to forward any thoughts on this issue to division senators.

 

1.3 Retrenchment Proposal

 

Nick disclosed that a Faculty Retrenchment Policy had been approved by Senate and sent to Dr. Grove and President Johnson.  The President requested input from Academic Policies Committee, Legal Counsel, and Human Resources before taking the policy to the Board.  Senate is awaiting a response.  Nick thanked the Retrenchment Committee, chaired by Jim Brooks, which was responsible for sending a working draft to Senate for revision and approval.

 

2. Elections Committee Report: Jackie Myers

 

Jackie Myers reminded faculty that the elections would be held on-line.  She indicated that offices for President-Elect, Secretary, and Representative to Leadership Council were open.  One candidate, Marc Smith (Biology), had declared for President-Elect.  Jackie opened the floor for nominations: Bill Boyko (Biology) and Anne McCrea (Psychology) were nominated and agreed to run along with Marc.  For secretary, Susan Callender (English) and Karl Hess (Mathematics) agreed to run.  Laurel Mayer is the only candidate for Representative to Leadership Council.  The on-line voting will remain open until midnight, Sunday, May 6.  A suggestion was made from the floor that the candidates send out an email giving a little background information about themselves, as well as highlighting their qualifications and reason(s) for running.

 

3. FIT Report

 

Ned Young reviewed the four major elements of the FIT proposal that had been distributed to Senate and to faculty. Before beginning his review, he highlighted NSF grant awards as one, among many, of the indicators that Sinclair is one of the top community colleges in the state and the nation.  He mentioned that the administration is concerned about Sinclair’s high cost of instruction per FTE, but he also mentioned that there were questions as to how our data is being reported, given that many full-time faculty teach overload, which should be reported as part-time hours.  It is not clear how those hours are reported.  Ned pointed out that our total costs per FTE rank 4th in the state and remain below the community college average. 

 

Ned followed his introductory remarks by covering the four components of the FIT proposal, components designed to be implemented during the next three years as a way for Sinclair’s faculty to make progress against the other community colleges in the state with respect to average salary: 1) a competitive adjustment of $1000 per year for all faculty; 2) an annual average base salary pay adjustment of 3% for all continuing faculty; 3) a change in the merit and merit-on-base awards, with all meritorious faculty (no cap) to receive merit, with 50% of the award to be paid out directly, and the other 50% to be applied to base salary.  The total amount of the merit pool (6% of the average salary) would remain the same; only the distribution would be different to allow more faculty to benefit.  This would replace the current system of 55% eligibility, with only professors being eligible to apply a percentage to base (according to the closure formula as outlined in the Faculty Handbook); and 4) an early retirement incentive, with the college purchasing up to three years of service credit for eligible faculty.

 

There were a number of comments and questions about the new merit plan, with some faculty expressing displeasure with the current system while others were unsure whether the new plan would be worthwhile, depending upon how many faculty earned merit and how much the awards would actually be for individual faculty. Concern over maintaining an adequate pool of merit monies was also expressed.  Ned reminded the audience that the administration sees merit as a performance incentive.  He also noted that schools with other models for compensation that do not include merit tend to have more structured step programs, based on credentials, years of service, and rank. He admitted that the proposal would affect the closure model, and he assured the audience that FIT would monitor the affect if the new plan were implemented.

Several questions were asked about the retirement incentive, which would apply for faculty approaching thirty years of service. Years beyond thirty must be earned credit. Ned explained that elements of this part of the proposal were being checked by the college attorney to assure compliance with the Ohio Revised Code.  Supplemental Retirement will not be affected by the incentive. 

 

A number of faculty expressed support of the proposal, but the following “bottom line” question was raised: “What’s the alternative if the administration does not accept the proposal?”  Ned commented that President Johnson had recently held an open forum informational meeting with Staff and Faculty Senate and that the tone of his remarks appeared “open, honest, and subdued.”  To this, another faculty member asserted, “This is a great proposal, and if we get half of it, that would be good.  But if we get nothing, then what?  The proposal is nothing if we have no plan of action.”

 

Another faculty member suggested that there are “strategies for nudging the administration,” but he added, “I think we should remain optimistic that there’s going to be a healthy and honest dialogue.”  Another question was asked of Ned and the team; “Do you feel the team is moving forward? Are we on track?  I’d like to know how the faculty feel about it and what can we stand behind as an action plan.”  One faculty member stated, “If they need help on the levy, then they need to show support of faculty.”  Another retorted, “Don’t mess with the levy.”  Yet another added, “We need to consider options, prepare for contingencies.”  Still another made the point that we as a faculty needed to consider the state budget constraints and be ready to make hard decisions about what we would be willing to give for a raise, such as positions, an increase in average class size, etc. Finally, faculty were urged to communicate with their senators if they had feedback or questions about the proposal or views about possible “recourse” if FIT discussions with the administration are not productive. 

 

4. Assembly Website Tour: Joseph Giardullo

 

Joseph Giardullo shared improvements he had made to the Faculty Assembly Website (ANGEL).  He encouraged faculty to use the site to get information, participate in discussion groups, provide feedback via polls, etc.  Joseph will continue to assist Senate in building a worthwhile, user-friendly site.

 

5. Faculty Evaluation Committee: Cindy Beckett

 

Cindy Beckett provided an update about the Faculty Evaluation Committee, a committee she is chairing.  She disclosed the charge of the committee: “Studying and recommending to the faculty and administration of the College a comprehensive faculty evaluation process,” and “Extensive input/feedback is required from the faculty, chairpersons, and deans.”  Cindy remarked that the primary purpose is to improve student learning and performance.  She shared that the committee would be looking at trying to validate an instrument/process for faculty evaluation that would be usable for formative and summative assessment. Included in this effort would be the development of an instrument for student evaluation of classroom instruction.  She indicated the committee would have the freedom to revise the FPR, to assign various weights to areas, to look at the timing of related processes, such as promotion and tenure and merit.  Faculty development, development of CIT’s, the first-year experience for new faculty—all this and more could be affected by the work of this committee.  Cindy noted that she hoped the committee could have a pilot process ready by Fall 2008. 

 

Membership of the group is still being determined.  Faculty Senate had sent names, and others had volunteered or been recommended for participation.  Cindy is in the process of contacting faculty who have the time and interest to serve, with the goal being to have a diverse group represented from all divisions and ranks, with varying years of experience.  A short discussion ensued, with some faculty skeptical, fearing change could lead to unproductive micromanagement, whereas others felt this was an opportunity for improvement that we should support.  Cindy reminded the audience that any recommendations suggested by the committee would have to go through Senate before being considered for inclusion in the Faculty Handbook.  As a parting comment, one faculty member said there would be “an issue of credibility” in that “with the college moving to a higher percentage of part-time faculty, faculty evaluation will apply to fewer faculty unless part-timers are included.” 

 

6. New Business

 

            There was no new business.

 

The meeting adjourned at 4:45. 

 

Submitted by James Brooks

 

Approved by Faculty Senate: May 2, 2007