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Senate Council Minutes - February 28, 2005

The Senate Council met on Monday, February 28, 2005 from 3:00 to 5:00 in room 103 Main Building and took the following actions.

1. Approval of the Minutes from February 21, 2005

After asking the guests and Senate Council members to exchange introductions, the Chair asked if there were any corrections to the minutes in addition to Tagavi's suggestions. Jones pointed out an error on the last page of the minutes, which Ms. Scott will correct. Otherwise, the minutes were approved.

2. Announcements

The Chair said he was still considering the minor course changes that were submitted by the College of Communications. He said he would report his disposition of these courses to the Senate Council. Tagavi requested that if he decides to approve the courses that he bring them to the Senate Council again. The Chair said he would consider Tagavi's suggestion.

The Chair noted that he received a copy of the Provost's proposal regarding the Clinical Title Series. He said that while the proposal was still being discussed by the college deans and would most likely undergo revision, he would be pleased to share a copy of the draft with the Senate Council members.

The Chair said that while some additional nominations had been received for the various committee vacancies, more were needed. Ms. Scott will forward the list of nominees and information regarding the need for additional names to the Senate Council members and if there are no objections will forward the list to the Administration at the end of the day on Wednesday.

The Chair noted that there has been significant interest and concern by both faculty and staff regarding the planned closure of Computer Stores. He said that he as a faculty member had already submitted a letter of protest and was in the process of gathering additional information to help determine if this is an issue the Senate Council wishes to take up in the future. Kennedy said he had filed an open records request to obtain a copy of the Siemer report, which concluded that Computer Stores should remain open. He offered to share the report with interested Senate Council members. Ms. Scott indicated that the Staff Senate had invited Frank Butler to their next meeting to answer questions about this topic.

3. Addendum to Graduation Writing Requirement proposal

Addendum to Graduation Writing Requirement proposal (DOC)

Eldred said she had investigated the LCC transfer question raised at the last meeting. She said that for the time being LCC students would be individually assessed for competency like other transfer students. Eldred said she invited Hancher and Blandford to the meeting to address concerns about grading that were raised at the last meeting. She gave a brief overview of the various options considered by the committee regarding grading and assessment and said the committee had settled on the idea of fulfilling the requirement through integrated courses. Eldred noted that one of the concerns to be addressed when discussing integrated courses was how to avoid either offering a single course for six credit hours (3 for the subject matter and 3 for the writing component) or offering a companion zero-hour course for the standard course and allowing the zero-hour course to fulfill the requirement if the student passed the writing portion of the class. She outlined the various difficulties presented by these two options and said another option considered was to wait until students completed the course and then students who fulfilled the writing portion of the course could be transferred into the W course. She said the difficulty to be overcome with this option is that it would require that a Senate Rule be waived to allow students to add/drop after the semester deadline.

Dembo said that while he understood the need to be as fair as possible to the students in these courses he had some concerns. He suggested that separating the writing component of the course from the subject matter, both of which should be included in the course syllabus from the beginning of the semester on, was not a good idea. He suggested that having both writing students and just subject matter students in the same class may create a two-tiered educational structure and concluded that he suspected that instructors may not want the extra work at the end of the semester.

Bailey agreed, noting that in essence two different courses would be taught in the same classroom. He said that writing shouldn't be treated as a separate requirement but as an integral portion of the class. Kaalund agreed, saying that part of learning subject matter was also learning how to convey whatever information was being learned.

Eldred replied that one of the difficulties with separating the writing portion from the rest of the course was that instructors who felt the student had done well with the subject matter might be hesitant to award a failing grade for the whole course.

Lesnaw said that writing should be a part of every course taught at the University. But she expressed concern that students who are asked to do something more than what they're currently being asked will be resentful if they don't receive extra credit for the extra work. Additionally, she worried that many courses were already full of writing and other work, and that asking instructors to add more writing would cause them to either dilute the subject matter or apply an improper burden on the students. Eldred replied that the conversion of courses to satisfy the second tier of the requirement was not mandatory and could be controlled by departments to some degree. She reminded the Senate Council members that the debate was only about courses that carried the W course notation. She added that all students in the courses that satisfied the graduation writing requirements were required to attend a conference in preparation for the first paper of the semester while student who were enrolled with a W status had mandatory conferences for every paper of the semester. She said it was more of a question of faculty work, review and revision.

Moore said that separating writing from subject matter was problematic and that efforts should be made to integrate the two. He noted that separating the two sent the message that fulfilling the writing requirement was just another hurdle to be overcome on the way to graduation rather than emphasizing the importance of writing as a skill. Eldred replied that the committee agreed with Moore's statement.

The Chair asked if a motion would soon be forthcoming. Tagavi asked if a motion was necessary or if the opinion of the Senate Council was sought. Eldred said she hoped to take the proposal to the March University Senate meeting. Tagavi objected to not having the entire proposal, including the revisions from the previous week, in front of him when taking a vote. Eldred said her understanding was that the issue of governance had been settled at the last meeting and that only the issue of grading remained.

Hancher had to leave, but offered the suggestion of awarding an I grade to students who failed the writing portion of the course and allowing them to revise their work.

Jones responded to Tagavi's point, noting that it was Eldred's understanding that last week's changes to the proposal were already approved. He suggested that Ms. Scott distribute the completed document before posting to the full Senate. Tagavi asked what would happen if he saw the changes and disagreed with them. Eldred noted the changes were part of the minutes.

Bailey suggested the committee try to present a proposal that would require all writing to be an integrated part of the course without making separate differentiations. Eldred noted that the original proposal included just such a suggestion.

Bailey made a motion to forward to the proposal to the Senate with a positive recommendation, including the amendments to the section on governance from the previous meeting. Kaalund seconded the motion. Tagavi offered the friendly amendment to include a reminder that the writing requirement review committee would recommend courses to Undergraduate Council. Jones added that the final authority for disposition of funds still rested with the review committee. Bailey agreed and Kaalund's second stood. The motion passed without dissent.

Grabau suggested that the proposal be included on the Senate agenda as an action item. Eldred hoped the proposal might be received favorably as an action item at the March Senate meeting to allow planning time for the proposal's implementation in the Fall. The Chair thanked Eldred and Blandford and they departed.

4. Kennedy's Nursing motion

Jones said he was of the opinion that Kennedy's very clear motion had not been addressed by Dean Williams during the previous meeting. Dembo disagreed, saying in his recollection Williams said the impediment to educating additional nurses was a lack of Nursing faculty, which was a situation the graduate program in Nursing was in the process of trying to address. He added that in many ways Williams' answers to the question revolved around the issue of graduate education.

Kennedy said that while he was sympathetic to what Williams said about trying to train future Nursing faculty rather than training nurses he still thought that his request was reasonable and should be addressed. Bailey said the Senate Council had already requested and received information and an estimate from Williams and was unsure what else was left to be accomplished. Kennedy disagreed with Bailey's assessment of what had occurred.

Tagavi suggested Kennedy withdraw his motion in light of the presentation received from Williams. Kennedy said he would not withdraw the motion. Dembo said the Senate Council could not push a College to pursue a mission unless the College was already interested in doing so. Kennedy said he would withdraw the motion but would bring it up instead at the level of the Board of Trustees through the Academic Affairs Committee and would try to persuade the Board that producing more nurses was an area in which the University should move ahead. Kennedy said he assumed Cibull, who seconded the original motion, would accept the withdrawal of the motion, given his comment on the listserv.

5. Proposed changes to University Senate election rules

Proposed changes to University Senate election rules (DOC)

Tagavi said two primary changes were being proposed. He said the first was the inclusion of special title series faculty, who were apparently accidentally left out during previous iterations. The second addressed the way in which remainders are handled when figuring Senate apportionment. He said the current methodology assigned the fraction to the nearest whole point. He addressed the paradox that may occasionally occur under the current method. Tagavi outlined the examples provided and said he applied the proposed method to last year's Senate apportionment and found the results to be nearly identical.

Dembo asked if the example would be included in the Rules if approved. Tagavi replied that just the rule itself would appear in the Senate Rules, but added that he and the committee were not opposed to including the example either as part of the Rules or in an appendix that would be created for that purpose. Kennedy suggested that due to the complexity of the math involved it would be wise to include the example.

Jones made a motion to approve the proposal and to include the example in an appendix. Kaalund seconded the motion, which passed without dissent.

6. Proposed changes to Senate Rules regarding Academic Offenses

Dembo noted the current system allows Registrar tracking of academic offenses and wondered what sort of mark would appear on the student's record so faculty could determine if an offense had occurred in the past in cases where the penalty assigned was less than a grade of XE or XF. Tagavi replied that prior offenses could still be marked in SIS. Dembo asked what would happen if a lesser penalty of grade reduction had been decided upon in regard to notifying the Registrar. Tagavi replied that if a student is found guilty of an academic offense then that would be noted on the student's permanent record.

Tagavi said he had three concerns about the proposal. The first was that the grade of XE, a permanent mark on the student's transcript, was too harsh. He noted that under the current system suspensions and dismissals for academic offenses were not noted on the transcript and felt it was unfair to penalize a student for life for a mistake made while young. Kaalund replied that the committee felt that the vast majority of XE grades would be assigned to students who were either guilty of multiple offenses or guilty of an academic offense so egregious that it merited the awarding of XE for a single incident. He argued that perhaps habitual cheaters and serious offenders should have such a designation on their transcripts. Moore agreed that some offenders should have something on the official transcript that indicated they had committed a serious offense, but said he was uncertain as to how that determination should be made.

The Chair interjected that since time was short and two action items remained it might be useful to remember that this item will be on the March Senate agenda as a discussion item and that additional opportunities for input would exist.

Tagavi said his second concern was that under the current system students could appeal both punishments and charges, but that under the proposed system if the professor and chair agreed to a lesser penalty than XE, including a grade of E, then a student cannot appeal the punishment, only their guilt. Tagavi felt that a student should be allowed to appeal the punishment since one of the people involved in making the decision on the grade, the professor, may be biased at that point. Kaalund explained that the committee felt that the proposed system encouraged faculty buy-in and provided flexibility to faculty. Kaalund pointed out that the department chair may be more detached from the situation and more capable of objectivity, and added that students could still appeal to the Appeals Board regarding their guilt.

Bailey asked if a definition of cheating was included in the proposal and at what point in the process the student was permitted to file a written explanation. Kaalund replied that the student would explain themselves to the person or body to whom the appeal was submitted.

Jones reiterated Tagavi's concern about the student being unable to appeal the penalty, only the guilt. He said that as a faculty member if a penalty was meted out to him he would appreciate the opportunity to appeal for a lesser one.

Tagavi's third point was that in the current system students who are accused of cheating and then found not guilty are allowed to drop the class. He said that under the proposed system students who are found guilty and receive a punishment of less than E are still afforded the opportunity to drop the class. He thought this portion of the proposal made sense, but wondered why students who were receiving a penalty of E would still be allowed to drop. He suspected that all students facing either an E or W would opt for the W. He said he probably should have brought this concern to the committee, but only recently discovered this situation.

The Chair thanked the Senate Council members for their input and noted there would be future opportunities for input.

7. Proposed changes to AR on Post-Doctoral appointments

The Chair said that the Provost, Dean of the Graduate School and EVPR all supported the current iteration. Jones made a motion to forward the proposal to the Senate with a positive recommendation. Kaalund seconded the motion, which passed without dissent.

8. University Senate agenda

March 7, 2005 Agenda (DOC)

Moore expressed concern that the faculty trustee update was at the end of the meeting and worried that the update might be bumped for yet another meeting. The Chair replied that he would aspire to conduct business in an expeditious manner and would do everything he could to protect the time allotted to the faculty trustee update. Tagavi asked if the trustees had pressing narrow issues on which they would like Senate feedback or if it was purely a broad update. Moore replied that there were quite a number of upcoming issues at the Board meeting the day after the Senate meeting and it was important to update the Senate on those issues, issues like the tuition increase and faculty salaries.

Tagavi expressed concern that the trustees' address was too close to faculty trustee elections. He proposed two solutions, the first being that instead of providing an annual update the trustees seek Senate feedback on very narrow issues. His second suggestion was that the update be presented by Moore alone, since Kennedy was one of the candidates in the upcoming election. He added that on a personal note he thought that 30 minutes was too much time to allocate to an update from the trustees. Kennedy pointed out that both the President and Provost get an hour of the Senate's time, and Tagavi replied that he disagreed with that practice as well.

Moore suggested that in the future the date for the faculty trustee update should be fixed at some point in the Fall semester to avoid this problem. Kaalund suggested that asking the trustees to limit their remarks to a prescribed set of issues would unnecessarily limit them and put them in an awkward position. Kennedy said he had no intention of using the Senate meeting as an opportunity to campaign. Moore agreed with Kaalund's statement and noted that if Kennedy used the Senate meeting as an opportunity to campaign he would more than likely lose votes. Jones added that the Chair, as presiding officer of the Senate, could stop any campaign-like activities if they began.

The Chair said he felt a moral obligation to the faculty trustees to give them an opportunity to speak at this meeting since they had been understanding about having their time with the Senate repeatedly delayed. He added that he would be attentive to the concerns broached by Tagavi and will do whatever he can to make sure the faculty trustees had a reasonable amount of time for the kind of dialogue they proposed.

Kennedy said he was sensitive to the concerns raised and would keep the campaign separate from the Senate meeting.

Bailey made a motion to accept the agenda as stated, with the exception of moving the Graduation Writing Requirement proposal into the action item category. Grabau seconded the motion, which passed without dissent.

There being no further business the meeting adjourned at 5:06.

Respectfully submitted by
Ernie Yanarella, Chair

Members present: Bailey, Dembo, Grabau, Jones, Kaalund, Kennedy, Lesnaw, Moore, Tagavi, Yanarella.

Liaison present: Saunier.

Guests present: Blandford, Eldred, Hancher.

Prepared by Rebecca Scott on February 28, 2005.