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Senate Council Minutes - May 8, 2006

The Senate Council met on Monday, May 8, 2006 at 3:00 pm in 103 Main Building. Below is a record of what transpired.

The meeting was called to order at 3:04 pm.

Guests: Kyle Dippery, Tammy Howard-Richardson, Suzanne McGurk, Scott McIntosh, Sarah Nikirk, Bill Rayens, Brenda Stamper, Pat Terrell, Jim Wims and Don Witt and Senate Council members introduced themselves.

1. Minutes from May 1 and Announcements

The minutes from May 1 were approved as amended. The Chair announced that the Senate Council Office had begun implementation work on an electronic system, PCATS, to process the curricular forms that have been in use. The process began approximately two years ago. The programmer, Bob McFarland, indicated that the phased implementation timeline was feasible. Beginning in August 2006, no electronic forms would be available. Individuals would be required to enter the information into PCATS, although the information still would be printed out and signed in ink.

In Phase II, scheduled for February 2007, user ids would be utilized to approve curricular proposals. Phase II, in August 2007, would involve an automatically-generated email to the proposal's contact person with the status and location of the proposal. There is a hope that Phase IV can utilize a relationship with SAP so that a user in an office such as the Registrar's will be able to push information to SAP and a user will be able to pull information from SAP to automatically populate fields in the system, e.g. entering the course prefix and number would automatically populate the Course Name, Credits, Course Description, etc. fields.

The Chair announced that Dave Watt was stepping down from his position as Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and was returning to Biochemistry. The Chair wished Watt all the best and encouraged others on the Senate Council to do so, too.

Upon request of the Chair, Jones, in his capacity as chair of the Senate's Nominating Committee (SNC), shared that additional individuals had been suggested for service on the Biological Sciences Area Advisory Committee and Extension Title Series Area Committee. Jones moved the Senate Council approve the list of persons proposed for submission to President Todd, with the understanding that the SNC pair up nominees appropriately regarding discipline. Tagavi seconded. In response to a question from Grabau, Jones amended the motion to include a caveat that the SNC would first confirm eligibility before sending the names forward. The motion passed unanimously.

The Chair thanked Jones for the hard work put into finding nominees, and asked Jones to explain the need for an expanded charge for the SNC. Jones explained that last year, as part of revising the process for granting an honorary degree, the Senate Council was charged with identifying five individuals for service on the Honorary Degree Committee. The regulation that codified that practice would be written over the summer. Jones moved Senate Council preemptively charge the Senate's Nominating Committee with providing nominees upon which the Senate Council would vote, in the Fall. Lesnaw seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Jones said that he would bring back soon to a Senate Council meeting the pertinent wording changed at the April 17 meeting regarding Senate Rule 6.1.1. The Chair said he would be meeting with President Todd the following morning to discuss the change to the Administrative Regulations regarding the retirement age of executives. He would apprise the Senate Council afterwards.

2. External Review Committee Final Report

External Review Committee Final Report (PDF)

The Chair said that Bill Rayens took over Chair duties of the External Review Committee (ERC) when Alan DeSantis opted to return to his status as a regular committee member. Rayens spent a number of months productively steering the ERC to the final report, which built upon and went beyond the preliminary report that came out in September 2005.

Rayens added that the final report offered four learning outcomes (as opposed to the five in the preliminary report) and tried to reflect the attitudes and voices in the many college forums conducted around campus. The report had grown due to a large appendix and the incorporation of suggestions. The Chair expressed his hope that the ERC's Final Report could be brought to and received by the SC, as an important part of UK's curriculum. He said the report had also been submitted to Connie Ray and Phil Kraemer, in their positions as Vice President of Institutional Resource, Planning and Effectiveness and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, respectively. He hoped the SC would be able to offer a blessing for preliminary summer exploration for implementation planning. The Chair noted that a team from UK would be attending the American Association of Colleges & Universities' Summer Institute on General Education. There had been discussion in the General Education Reform and Assessment committee regarding a summer workshop at UK to sketch out some options and alternatives in a preliminary fashion that would be brought to faculty for discussion in the Fall. He also asked the SC discuss his (Yanarella's) role in the general education reform initiate after stepping down as SC Chair. He added he had developed an important intellectual and vested interest in the success of the initiative and, as a non-voting member of the SC after June 1, would like to continue to play a role in UK's gen ed initiative. He asked if SC members had questions.

Due to SC members not having read the report, the External Review Committee Final Report agenda item was postponed until May 15.

The Chair used his prerogative to reorder the agenda to address agenda item number five, next.

5. Calendar Committee Proposal

Calendar Committee Proposal (PDF)

The Chair shared that the Calendar Committee (CC) met twice during the semester and agreed upon a set of proposals that were either compatible with the Student Government Association (SGA) proposal or were such that two of the SGA sponsors agreed to a compromise. The proposal intended to:

Grossman stated that while he was uncomfortable with the elimination of two or three instruction days, he supported the proposal. He also pointed out that language was changed at a recent SC meeting regarding Dead Week in the Senate Rules, and that if the CC proposal passed, the Dead Week changes would also need to be revised.

The Chair stated his recollection that there was one or two fewer days in the Fall semester than in the Spring, but that while the CC recognized some diminishment in instructional days, the overall net outcome was the loss of one day. Liaison Greissman stated for the record that the comments in the CC proposal by Scott McIntosh regarding Kentucky Welcome and UK Fusion did not adequately reflect the magnitude of planning involved in putting on that event. Guest McIntosh clarified that he agreed that the events were great experiences for students, but thought they could be rescheduled to a Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Saturday / Sunday. His intent was not to undermine the planning for the events; he recognized that there were more issues at play than what was discussed in CC meetings.

Guest Pat Terrell expressed her appreciation for being invited to share in the CC proposal discussion. She distributed two handouts for SC members, one illustrating the current schedule for Kentucky Welcome (KW) and the other a brochure for the event. She discussed a number of concerns with the proposed changes to the calendar:

Guest Tammy Howard-Richardson reported polling parents and being told that the proposed changes would amount to big inconveniences for parents in terms of rearranging work schedules. Howard-Richardson said that UK does a lot of front-loading of information to students while parents are present and was concerned that momentum could be lost. She said much effort is put forth to educate parents on when they need to allow their son and daughter students a little more freedom to grow. She said much of KW offers an opportunity to parents to be appropriately involved and establish appropriate boundaries with their children. She added that Student Affairs personnel put forth an unbelievable amount of effort to plan KW and UK Fusion events.

Tagavi asked about the rationale behind the supposition by Terrell that the proposed changes would involve the need for parents to request more time off. Terrell replied that instead of a parent leaving late Thursday to drive to Lexington, and request off work for Friday, the proposed change would require a parent to leave late Wednesday to drive to Lexington, and be off work Thursday and Friday. An additional concern was that parents would not request the Thursday/Friday time off at all, but return home Wednesday, thus missing the majority of sessions designed for students and parents. She noted she was speaking from a "worst-case-scenario" point of view.

Tagavi asked about the numbers of students who took part in UK Fusion. Terrell replied that of 900 students who took part in UK Fusion this past year, approximately 800 were first year students; the entering class was approximately 4,300 students. Tagavi asked about the number of benchmarks starting classes on a Monday, but Terrell was unsure. Thelin asked about what other programs, in addition to Honors, were introduced at KW. Howard-Richardson said that events were coordinated with various colleges/programs to accommodate a specific time/date desired. She said that all incoming students must attend KW, but that only the opening convocation was required for all students; students pick and choose the sessions they want to attend. Howard-Richardson said that all colleges participated in KW last year and added that many colleges also want to talk with parents.

Randall asked how practical it would be to make the required adjustments to hold KW and KY Fusion on the proposed schedule. Terrell stated that the Office of Student Affairs would work with any approved schedule but expressed concern with how a revised start date would affect the level of participation in KW, and also what the impact of non-participation would on students during the Fall semester. She could not gauge the extent to which the pre-first day of classes would be negatively impacted by a revised calendar. She reiterated her willingness to work around any schedule.

Grabau offered kudos to Howard-Richardson for creating a rearranged KW schedule to accommodate a Monday start. Grabau stated that he was a parent with two children attending UK and expressed his belief that the proposed calendar was preferable to the current one. He noted that he was not traveling from out of state, but suggested that in-state parents and students' needs be considered as well. He said it might inconvenience some parents but noted other considerations should be included. A week-long Thanksgiving Break was a benefit students were lined up to support; he thought faculty and parents would appreciate it, too. He said the extra study time was important, as well as a Monday start to classes. He expressed concern that the current Wednesday start lulled students into a social adjustment mode that caused students to not truly appreciate the academic rigors of college work.

Baxter noted that giving parents an obvious time by which they needed to leave UK (and their children) was a good thing, and spoke positively about a full break at Thanksgiving, voicing concern about safety concerns for students leaving Wednesday night to get home in time for the holiday on Thursday. Grossman stated that the beginning of the semester needed to be balanced against the semester's end; he said he had felt for some time that students were being done a disservice by finishing classes on Friday and beginning finals on Monday, especially if an instructor was introducing new material as late as Thursday and Friday before finals week. He stated that that problem was one the committee was attempting address through a revised calendar.

Guest Don Witt added that in addition to the events offered by the Office of Student Affairs, the days for advising sessions (for 300 students this year) offered to students would need to be considered, as well as the advising sessions for readmission students and for international students.

The Chair stated that he welcomed the comments from guests in helping to determine the feasibility of a revised Fall calendar. He suggested that the historical impetus for a Wednesday start was to utilize Monday and Tuesday for the previously cumbersome task of creating and modifying schedules, which was done on paper. He opined that those two days could be better used for beginning coursework first thing in the week. He also discussed the difficulty with the current end-of-semester timelines between the last day of instruction and finals week. He said many students had complained about new material being introduced immediately before the final. The Chair noted that as chair of the CC, he could report that CC members were concerned with trying to accommodate reasonable problems and issues but emphasized that SC members should not lose sight of the significant benefits of a modified calendar.

Guest Jim Wims reiterated Terrell's assertions that any calendar could be accommodated. He noted that residence halls open up the last weekend of July to begin training RAs, hall directors, night desk staff, etc. He emphasized the financial impact on the Office of Residence Life if all residence halls were to be opened three days earlier to accommodate the proposed calendar, adding that trainees, who are fed during training days, would have to be fed for an additional three days. He stated that the extra days open would have an impact on the residence halls that stay open 24 hours per day. He also expressed concern with how high traffic patterns during move-in would be affected if the schedule were revised. He said his office routinely asks employees to shift their parking habits during move-in.

There was discussion about the net loss or gain of days in regard to the days open of residence halls as SC members asked about the impact of residence halls being open sooner in the year, being open longer during the proposed Thanksgiving break, yet closing earlier at the end of the semester. The sticking point was that for those residence halls kept open, they would be open longer than they currently are.

Witt asked about the anticipated date at which the proposed revision to the calendar would go into affect. The Chair noted that the CC did not make a suggestion on that point, primarily because the SC and University Senate had recently approved some academic calendars and there was a lack of clarity as to which ones were tentatively approved. Grossman asked if Fall 2007 would be too early. Witt indicated it would not be too soon to start planning for that date. Howard-Richardson added that all the departments and offices involved in pre-semester event planning talk to each other to effectively plan, and that as much time as possible would be best. In light of Grossman and Tagavi's comments about a possible approval by the Senate in the Fall, Howard-Richardson noted that it currently takes 12 months of planning to pull off the event; a change to the calendar would require more planning time.

Witt also mentioned the need to interact with SAP, accommodate growing enrollments and ensure the proposal was in line with the Top 20 Business Plan. He stated that changing the academic calendar might be necessary to accommodate current and planned growth. Grabau suggested utilizing split move-ins and multiple UK Fusion events. Terrell said that moving toward a model that offered multiples of the programs would inherently require more staff employees. She said that currently, during KW and UK Fusion, Student Affairs personnel worked 18-hour days.

In response to a question from Michael, the Chair stated that the CC ensured the deleted instruction day(s) did not adversely affect one (or more) days of the week over others. Michael expressed concern that instructional integrity would be sacrificed due to a too-long holiday break. Randall noted that the proposal would create a lengthy holiday very close to the Winter Break in December. Lesnaw expressed concern that the elimination of Thursday and Friday as instruction days would keep her from offering her regular major review sessions and stop instructors from using those two days for make-up exams. McIntosh expressed admiration and respect for Lesnaw's concern with retaining days for review, but stated that the majority of students were being taught new material those days. Lesnaw suggested mandating those days be used for review, or at least that no new material be introduced.

There was a lengthy discussion regarding the possibility that if the proposed calendar were approved, students might leave the week before Thanksgiving or return after the Monday following Thanksgiving to increase their break. There was discussion regarding a student's responsibility to attend class; making just the Wednesday before Thanksgiving a holiday and the affect of that on instruction; and discussion on number of instruction days lost. The Chair noted that the CC's charge was to look into a weeklong break during the Thanksgiving break - that was why no shortened break was suggested.

Other concerns noted by SC members included Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) requirements for instruction days and the affect of the proposed calendar on professional colleges, which have different academic calendars than other colleges. Dembo asked SC members what their thoughts were regarding the academic effect the calendar revision would have on students. Grabau believed it would carve out days for studying for finals and that beginning classes on a Monday instead of mid-week would be a positive academic signal. Lesnaw stated that her primary concern was the safety of students traveling late on Wednesday to be home for Thanksgiving.

The Chair thanked those present for a valuable discussion, acknowledging that while those present would accommodate a revised calendar, he understood that the accommodation would be difficult, time-consuming and carry a financial impact. He added his hope that guests recognized the academic benefits to a revised calendar. The Chair then asked the Senate Council for direction. He opined that the CC could reconvene, and bring back not just one proposal, but perhaps two or three that offer alternatives.

Grossman moved that the Calendar Committee review the minutes outlining the concerns involved with changing the academic calendar discussed at the May 8 Senate Council meeting and bring back one or more proposals for review by the Senate Council, including input from the Registrar, Student Affairs, etc. Tagavi seconded. After brief discussion about student membership on the CC, the Chair suggested the CC meet in late August to prepare something for a subsequent Senate Council meeting. Greissman noted the difficulty in successfully recreating an average campus weekday on a Saturday or Sunday. Dembo suggested that there be consultation with the Police Department, Physical Plant Division and UK Athletics. Guest Stamper also suggested involving Parking & Transportation Services. The motion passed unanimously. The Chair thanked the guests for attending.

4. Proposed Rule Change Request

Proposed Rule Change Request (PDF)

The Chair clarified for Tagavi that the proposal was being reviewed to ascertain whether or not it should go to a committee for formal review. Tagavi opined that the department and instructors involved in the pertinent issue were relatively accommodating. He said that unpleasant events do sometimes occur, but that he did not see any transgression rising to the level of needing a Senate Rule to address it.

Discussion followed regarding procedural questions of whether or not the person submitting the proposal was currently a student or was a student when the proposal was first submitted and the ability of a non-student to propose a rule change.

Grossman stated that the question was if the proposal had sufficient merit and probable cause to be considered by a committee. If a student took a class and the instructor changed and, consequently, all the rules changed, Grossman agreed that the new instructor should have the obligation to follow the original syllabus. Although the proposal might solve a problem that did not exist, Grossman believed a committee should make that determination. Dembo stated that as a former Ombud, he was aware of any number of unexpected situations. No specific phrasing could cover all possible new situations. He expressed concern that an effort to pin down one instance would still leave open a galaxy of things that could occur.

Jones wondered about the extent to which the University would be required to adhere to the syllabus in the event of a change in instructors, since many times the syllabus was referred to as a contract; he indicated a desire to hear the thoughts of a reviewing committee. Baxter thought a replacement instructor should have the responsibility to conduct a course approximately the way it was presented to the student. Grabau opined that there were probably more instructors not adhering to their own syllabus than instances where a replacement instructor did not adhere to the original syllabus. He stated the current rule was as robust as necessary, since a student could still go to the Ombud for help. Tagavi reported a recent case in which an adjunct instructor of a 600-student class required weekly papers, and no exams. When that instructor had to leave for medical reasons, the replacement instructor had to change the syllabus to stop the weekly papers and replace them with three exams. Although the students did not agree with the decision, it would have been nearly impossible to grade 600 papers every week.

Tagavi moved that the proposed rule not be sent to committee. Grabau seconded. In response to a question from Lesnaw, Tagavi stated that in the past when unforeseen events happened and a syllabus was changed drastically, students have been allowed to drop the course after the add/drop date to accommodate them, just as was the situation in the case under consideration. Michael agreed with Dembo, saying the issue did not rise to a level of commonality requiring a specific rule. He said the Ombud would be the appropriate venue for resolving this type of issue.

The Chair stated that if the motion passed, he would communicate the outcome with the individual making the proposal, incorporating the language and basic rationale of the meeting minutes. The motion passed in a show of hands with eight in favor and one abstention.

7. T. E. Reinstatement

After brief discussion, Grossman moved to delegate the T.E. reinstatement case to an ad hoc committee of the Senate Council, to be named by the Senate Council Chair. Tagavi seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

The Chair confirmed that there would be a Senate Council meeting on May 15.

The Chair offered comments regarding departures of various SC members. He thanked Grossman for his willingness to take on leadership roles in standing and ad hoc committees. He opined that the spelling and structure of SC documents and communications would suffer by Grossman's departure, and offered best wishes on behalf of the SC in Grossman's coming dual roles as Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Chair in the Department of Chemistry. He noted that Dembo would be leaving his "past chair" status, but remaining on as faculty trustee. The Chair spoke of Moore's departure to Georgia College and State University, acknowledging the loss of one of the more exemplary Senate Council chairs. He stated Moore would leave a legacy and profile in courage for his tenure as SC chair during the Wethington administration; his service offered important cues for future SC chairs serving during a future time of crisis. The Chair also acknowledged Tagavi's movement from the Office of Ombud to the Senate Council Office, saying Tagavi was uniquely well placed for leading a community of scholars. He wished him the best and pledged dedication and good will for Tagavi's stewardship of the SC Office. Finally, the Chair noted Grabau's coming service as vice-chair, and hoped that Grabau would have a good tenure in that position.

The Chair ended with offering congratulations to those materially and symbolically going on to bigger and better things. The meeting was adjourned at 5:07 pm, with a brief reception following.

Respectfully submitted by Ernie Yanarella,
Senate Council Chair

Members present: Baxter, Dembo, Grabau, Grossman, Jones, Lesnaw, Michael, Randall, Tagavi, Thelin, Yanarella.

Liaison present: Greissman.

Guests present: Kyle Dippery, Tammy Howard-Richardson, Suzanne McGurk, Scott McIntosh, Sarah Nikirk, Bill Rayens, Brenda Stamper, Pat Terrell, Jim Wims, Don Witt.

Prepared by Sheila Brothers on May 9, 2006.