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Senate Council Minutes - October 24, 2005

The Senate Council met on Monday, October 24, 2005 at 3:00pm in room 103 Main Building and took the following actions.

1. Approval of the Minutes from October 17, 2005

The Chair asked if there were any corrections to the minutes. There being none, the minutes were approved as written.

2. Announcements

The Chair asked the Senate Council members to please submit nominees for the Humanities Area Committee by Wednesday. Jones noted that names for the Library Area Committee had been affirmed and should be sent forward. Ms. Scott will do so.

The Chair reported needing one more nominee for the Joint Provost-Senate Council Planning and Coordinating Committee and asked the Senate Council members to submit nominations by Wednesday.

The Chair read a proposed resolution for Ms. Scott, in honor of her last Senate Council meeting, and asked the Senate Council members to affirm the resolution. The resolution was unanimously affirmed. Ms. Scott thanked the Senate Council members. The Chair announced that Sheila Brothers had been hired to replace Ms. Scott and would begin work the following day.

3. Academic Offenses

Grossman provided some background on the item. He noted that one of the discussions held at the committee level was to determine a balance between local control and distant control over decisions regarding academic offenses. Grossman added that the committee had made some changes to the proposal since it was last heard by the Senate Council, such as adding language to say that the Appeals Board could overrule a minor penalty only if the penalty was grossly disproportionate to the offense. He noted that another change was to allow the Appeals Board to change suspensions, expulsions and dismissals to an XE for first or later offenses, in addition to adding language about the revocation of degrees if an academic offense is detected after the awarding of the degree. Jones noted that such an action would require Board approval. Grossman added that another change allowed the body that imposed an XE to set conditions under which the XE might be changed to an E at a later time. He said the committee felt that passage of time shouldn't be the only criterion upon which a grade should change from XE to E. He concluded by saying that the proposal was forwarded from his committee with a positive recommendation for Senate Council action.

Duke asked how many responses were received from the Big Blue Board. Grossman replied that there four, three of which were positive. He noted that the recommendation to require the Appeals Board to provide written rationale for overturned decisions was a direct result of the Big Blue Board discussion.

Tagavi presented seven different points, which are summarized in serial order below.

  1. Tagavi argued that the language regarding deadlines was convoluted and allowed too much room for error on the part of faculty, administrators and students. He asked if a student could still be prosecuted for the offense if a faculty member or administrator missed one of the deadlines. Tagavi suggested changing the word "shall" to "should" throughout the section regarding deadlines.

  2. Grossman replied that the committee had considered that suggestion and had decided that making deadlines "soft" was tantamount to not having deadlines at all. He added that due process should be a student's right and that a lack of deadlines violated due process.

    Duke asked if 7 days referred to 7 days total or 7 working days. Grossman replied that "days" was defined in another part of the proposal as "working days."

  3. Tagavi noted that in the present rule the second offense merits a suspension, whereas the new proposal could allow for the second offense to be an XE if the first offense was considered minor.
  4. Tagavi said he would rather have a suspension or expulsion than an XE since the XE is reflected on the transcript while the suspension is not. Grossman replied that suspensions for academic offenses are in fact noted on the transcripts, adding that an XE would be a better penalty since students could still stay in school and continue their studies and later petition to have the XE removed. Grossman argued that students currently receive a "phantom" XE if the calculation of the GPA clearly indicates that a student's E grade was calculated into the GPA (since E's earned for other reasons are not calculated into the GPA).

  5. Ellingsworth asked how many of the benchmarks indicate academic offenses on the transcripts that don't have penalties of XE. Grossman replied that he didn't know that information.

  6. Tagavi said that the current policy of only having one penalty of E for any offense was very simple and understandable. He thought that having a variety of penalties may create non-uniformity, adding that the University Appeals Board would be put in the awkward position of trying to determine penalties. Grossman replied that the University Appeals Board would only reduce penalties of less than an E if the penalty is found to be grossly disproportionate to the offense. He added that while the current minimum penalty of E was indeed simple it also wasn't right. He added that since some instructors feel that failing a student in the course is too harsh a penalty, they don't follow the rule and the student's penalty is never recorded anywhere as a result of an "under the table" deal with the student in which the professor awards a lesser penalty than E. Grossman argued that due to the inconsistency with which the rule is followed the current penalty provides no more uniformity than the proposed rule.

  7. Tagavi presented a situation in which a student is from a college that has an honor code but then commits an academic offense in a class housed within another college. He expressed concern that jurisdictional issues may arise, with a student receiving an XE from one college and suspension from another, only to have the student appeal to the University Appeals Board and be found not guilty in the first place. Grossman replied that he hadn't heard that concern before, but that the University Appeals Board could only overturn the penalty from the college without the honor code, but would not have jurisdiction to determine guilt in the college that did have the honor code.

  8. Tagavi expressed concern that some of the language found in the proposed rule was convoluted.

  9. Tagavi offered his suspicion that faculty would not be inclined to report minor offenses since the reporting process was lengthy and cumbersome, including a meeting with the instructor's Chair and Dean. Since the student would more than likely appeal to the University Appeals Board, in Tagavi's opinion, much of the University's time would be wasted when the student could instead just be allowed to redo a homework assignment, for instance. Grossman replied that the University Appeals Board would only be involved in minor offenses if the penalty was grossly disproportionate to the offense.

Grossman noted that his committee had been working for over a year on the proposal, that he presented it on behalf of his committee, and that the committee had worked hard to strike a balance between the needs and rights of students and those of faculty. Grossman added that faculty who award lesser penalties under the current rule were in direct violation of the rules. He added the rules were mandatory and shouldn't be ignored, but that his committee felt that the rule should be changed to reflect the current practice. Grossman said the committee was interested in making sure that academic offenses were recorded so that repeat offenders could be more harshly penalized.

Tagavi replied that he hadn't heard complaints about the current system and thought that it should not be changed.

Grabau suggested that the proposal protected the rights and privileges of faculty and was less interested in protecting student rights. He added that the University Appeals Board has done and continues to do an excellent job in conducting thorough and thoughtful deliberations, adding that the proposal was unduly restrictive of the University Appeals board.

Horst Schach requested to address the Senate Council, both as former Ombud and as a long-time member of the University Appeals Board. He argued that local control lent itself to the "good 'ole boy system" and suggested that if any change at all were needed to the policy it might be to better educate faculty on how to better prosecute academic offenses. Schach said that the majority of cases that were overturned were due to lack of defensible evidence.

Cibull made a motion to table the proposal until the subsequent Senate Council meeting, in deference to the other agenda items. Lesnaw seconded the motion to table. The motion passed with six members in favor of the motion and two against. The Chair encouraged Senate Council members to continue the discussion on the listserv.

4. College of Agriculture name change

College of Agriculture name change (PDF)

Bailey presented the item on behalf of the Academic Organization and Structure Committee. He said the committee was primarily interested in ensuring that the correct process had been followed, that interested parties were consulted, if the change was appropriate, and if it adversely affected other programs and colleges. He reported that the committee found that the proposal had been well done, adding that the impetus for the change had existed for some time. Bailey said a broad discussion, which was well-described in the proposal, had included faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders and that the name College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment had eventually emerged. He added that the College of Agriculture faculty council had voted unanimously to approve the name change on October 3, 2005, and that additional positive input had been received by various departments in Arts and Sciences as well as the College of Health Sciences. Bailey concluded by saying that his committee supported the proposal and brought it to the Senate Council for its consideration.

Carla Craycraft from the College of Agriculture added that the proposal in its current form evolved over a period of three years and incorporated input from a variety of constituents. She added that the new name more accurately reflected the breadth and depth of the programs offered within the college.

The Chair noted that the proposed names had changed considerably between the 2004 poll and the current proposal, including the omission of the name that received a plurality of the votes in 2004. He asked Craycraft to explain, and she replied that the 2004 survey was an information gathering tool, while the current proposal reflected the input of a wider array of stakeholders, including the external advisory committee, cooperative extension service agents, and other groups, all of whom were very vocal about wanting to include the word "food" as part of the name. Bailey added that this point had been discussed at the committee meeting, at which time they noted that the number of participants in the 2004 survey was too small to be seen as representative of the college's faculty and staff. He said the committee had come to see these events as describing a discussion rather than making a decision regarding the proposal. Jones suggested that perhaps if the College of Agriculture Faculty Council had been provided with more than one name the result of the vote may have been different.

Bailey added that the new name would be more inclusive of the faculty and programs that became part of the College when Human Environmental Sciences became a school within the College of Agriculture. Craycraft added that many benchmark agriculture schools had undergone similar name changes to more accurately reflect the breadth of their offerings.

Ellingsworth asked if there was documentation of student input on the proposal. Craycraft replied that the appropriate student groups within the college had been consulted, but that she hadn't been able to obtain that documentation. She added that the new students from Human Environmental Sciences were vocal about their desire for a name change to reflect the broad nature of their courses of study.

Tagavi asked if changing the name of the College would affect the names of any programs. Craycraft replied that only the name of the College would change.

Duke asked if the alumni of the College were supportive. Craycraft replied that the College's alumni committee had been consulted and provided information throughout the renaming process. She added, in response to concerns voiced by Grabau, that the subcommittee that was responsible for name changes was chaired by the Chair of the College of Agriculture Faculty Council Chair; as a result, she was confident that the College of Agriculture Faculty Council had been appropriately consulted throughout the process.

Five Senate Council members voted in favor of the motion on the floor from the committee to approve the proposal. Cibull and Thelin abstained, and the motion passed. The proposal will be forwarded to the University Senate with a positive recommendation.

5. Department of Geology name change

Department of Geology name change (PDF)

The Chair invited Frank Ettensohn from Geology to provide an update on the proposal. Ettensohn recapped the information he provided at a previous meeting, and added that the department faculty had considered a revised name suggested by Tagavi at a previous meeting, but had ultimately decided to adhere to their original proposal.

Thelin made a motion to endorse the new name of Department of Earth and Environmental Science. Grabau seconded the motion. After further brief discussion, the motion passed with one abstention.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 5:01pm.

Respectfully submitted by Ernie Yanarella
Senate Council Chair

Members present: Cibull, Duke, Ellingsworth, Grabau, Grossman, Jones, Lesnaw, Tagavi, Thelin, Yanarella.

Liaison present: Greissman.

Guests present: Bailey, Craycraft, Ettensohn, Hinson, Schach.

Prepared by Rebecca Scott on October 24, 2005.