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Senate Council Minutes - July 11, 2008

The Senate Council met for its annual retreat on Friday, July 11, 2008 at the Hilary J. Boone Center. Provost Kumble Subbaswamy and Vice President for Research James Tracy were present for about an hour to enjoy a breakfast with Senate Council members prior to the beginning of business. Below is a record of what transpired during the meeting.

Chair David C. Randall called the Senate Council (SC) meeting to order around 10:45 am. He offered a brief introduction regarding the first item on the agenda. Those present introduced themselves.

1. Student Retention and the Faculty's Role

Graduate School Dean (and Guest) Jeannine Blackwell offered a lengthy presentation on student retention. During and after her presentation SC members asked a variety of questions. Dean Blackwell concluded by listing ways in which faculty can help with student retention - she emphasized that students have repeatedly reported that an academic personal touch offered the most positive effect:

  1. Give feedback [on class performance] early and multiple times.
  2. Notice students showing at-risk behaviors and
  3. Advise them to get help using department, college or University resources and services.
  4. Use Academic Alert to get the student's advisor directly involved with interventions and follow-up.
  5. Always use official UK email for students.
  6. Mentor new faculty members on teaching resources and student support services.
  7. Organize development of web-based tutoring tips for courses.
  8. Add information about key student resources to your syllabus and get feedback on them.
  9. Use the Absent Professor program if out.
  10. Submit midterm grades promptly.
  11. Help TAs and PTIs know about Academic Alert.
  12. Check back with students who've hit hurdles.

Minutes from April 28 and May 23 and Announcements

The Chair requested a motion for approval of the minutes. Due to their not having read either set of minutes, SC members chose to postpone approval until a subsequent meeting.

Moving to announcements, the Chair suggested a motion and vote on requesting the continued service of the Provost's Liaison to the Senate Council. Anderson moved that the SC request the continued service of the current Provost's Liaison for the period July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2009. Piascik seconded. A vote was taken and the motion passed unanimously with seven in favor.

The Chair then asked Mrs. Brothers to delineate the various requests for waivers of Senate Rules (SR) that he had approved on behalf of the SC and University Senate (Senate). Below is a list of the waivers:

The Chair then turned discussion toward the first SC meeting of the fall semester. SC members decided the first meeting will be held on August 18. There was also discussion regarding various committee nominees requested by the Provost and President.

Those present broke for lunch with Vice President for Institutional Diversity Dr. Judy Jackson and General Education Reform Steering Committee Convener Dr. Susan Carvalho, around 12:15. (Agenda items number four and five.) Subsequent to lunch and the departure of Jackson, the meeting reconvened around 2:15.

Those present introduced themselves, including General Education Reform Steering Committee Convener Susan Carvalho.

6. Update on General Education Reform

Guest Carvalho stated that her primary focus for the day was working with SC members to determine a tentative timeline for timely and extensive consultations with faculty and the Senate. She said that the four learning outcomes sent out in May needed approval by the Senate prior to any additional action. There was a plan to solicit extensive faculty input in the fall. Because faculty had expressed reservations about the usefulness of forums for gathering input, the General Education Reform Steering Committee (GERSC) was planning on sending different groups of GERSC members to colleges and departments to hear comments and concerns. Such interactions could occur during regular or specially-called unit meetings. Depending on the size and/or diversity of a college, one college-level meeting could suffice or it might be more effective to hold a series of meetings on topics such as sciences, foreign languages, etc. Carvalho made it clear that any and all faculty members will be welcome to attend any information-gathering general education (gen ed) meeting. She noted that there must also be discussions with the deans' council and, of course, the Senate. She asked for input as to the appropriate time for Senate input.

The Chair opined that it would be most effective to consider Senate input before, during and after the college/departmental and deans' council meetings. Carvalho then suggested that there be time on the Senate's September agenda for an overview of activities and plans thus far, even though there will not be a curriculum to propose. She noted that there would be several different models available to illustrate multiple ways of satisfying each core learning outcome. An important aspect of a new gen ed program will be utilizing colleges who previously had little experience in offering USP (University Studies Program) courses. For example, the College of Nursing could offer a course on minority cultures and their effect on nursing care.

The Chair suggested that Carvalho attend the SC meeting on August 25 to help determine what should be included on the Senate's September agenda. SC members agreed with the idea of sending GERSC members out to colleges/departments, and also stated their desire for an open discussion in the Senate.

In response to Aken, Carvalho stated that all aspects of the day's discussion could be shared with other faculty members. Piascik asked about the GERSC's time frame. Carvalho replied that there was a desire to have the learning outcomes ratified by the Senate by the end of September, with a draft curriculum available for debate no later than January 2009.

Carvalho also emphasized that design parameters for every gen ed course would need to be developed prior to the development of a curriculum. For example, with respect to "demonstrate an understanding of an ability to employ the processes of intellectual inquiry," a decision would need to be made regarding what types of arts and humanities courses would satisfy the requirement. Carvalho added that a department could: suggest an existing course that seemed to fit the design parameters; modify an existing course that did not quite fit the parameters; or create a new course altogether. A course would not, however, be approved forever and always as a part of the gen ed program - it would have to be reviewed at least yearly to ensure adherence to as-yet-unapproved parameters.

Aken wondered who would be responsible for reviewing courses for possible inclusion in the new gen ed program. Carvalho said that particular question had not yet been answered, but that it should be done while the process of creating a curriculum was taking place. It would be important for the process to be transparent and workable. Another decision yet to be made relates to who would ultimately be responsible for the vetting of courses, perhaps the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Carvalho said that one suggestion was to have one review committee look at courses for each learning outcome, with committee members being from broad intercollegiate and diverse groups. The vetting process would have to be timely and easy enough to encourage participation. Carvalho explained that currently, if a faculty member wanted to design a course to meet USP requirements, the standard practice was to just look at the final course design and determine if the course met USP requirements - Carvalho said it was imperative that there be some type of guidelines faculty can follow to design or redesign a gen ed course.

The Chair opined that showing a draft final curriculum early in the fall would not be productive and Aken agreed. Carvalho suggested an announcement prior to the Senate's September discussion alerting senators to the fact that vetting of courses would be discussed during a subsequent meeting, perhaps the November Senate meeting, but that the current discussion (in September) would be confined to comments on learning outcomes and curricular models.

Carvalho said that if all went according plan with regard to the current timeline, there would be official Senate approval of learning outcomes and a possible curriculum approved by early in the spring 2009 semester. This would allow faculty to begin work on specific courses to be approved during the 2009/2010 year. That would effectively translate into a new curriculum being in place for fall 2010. If any part of the timeline were changed, it would mean that the effective date would have to be pushed back another academic year.

Aken asked about the models to illustrate satisfaction of learning outcomes. Carvalho replied that senators not only will be able to see a few different models for each learning outcome, but will also be able to propose new models. She said that faculty would have an opportunity to see various models online prior to the Senate meeting.

The Chair noted that the Kentucky Kernel could be very helpful in helping to get the word out to students about gen ed reform. Carvalho said that the lack of students on the GERSC was not by design, but due to the fact that meetings were occurring over the summer. Anderson and other SC members supported the idea of including at least one student. Carvalho said it would be very beneficial to talk to undergraduates who were enrolled under the current USP - such students could offer quite a bit of information on a student's perspective in the gaps in USP, what should have been there but was not, what should be kept, etc.

The Chair thanked Carvalho for attending and said that she would be invited to both the August 18 and August 25 SC meetings to discuss how the September Senate discussion should be arranged.

7. (PDF) Background Information (PDF) Brochure (PDF)

The Chair drew SC members' attention to a request from Academic Ombud Joel Lee regarding plagiarism and his assertion that Turnitin software would be a valuable asset for faculty. Those present engaged in a lively discussion regarding plagiarism and the Ombud's request that the Senate officially request a one-semester trial of the plagiarism prevention software, Turnitin.

SC members discussed the recommended motion:
The SC should move that UK should purchase a campus-wide pilot site license for the use of Turnitin plagiarism prevention software for fall semester 2008. The software should be made available for appropriate optional use by faculty and students; if used by a faculty member, it should be noted in the course syllabus along with all other course and university policies addressing academic dishonesty. Based upon the fall 2008 pilot experience, continued use of Turnitin or another similar product should be assessed by an appropriate individual/body.

After discussion, it was determined that a quorum was not present and no vote could be taken. The Chair stated that based on the agreement among those present regarding the usefulness of a trial use of Turnitin, he would query the entire SC via the listserv and follow up with the Ombud. If there were no strong objections, the Chair said he would approve and request a pilot period, according to the recommended motion.

Piascik expressed some concern about a tangential issue, that of the annual process of identifying an academic ombud. She said that her recent experience on ombud search committees was that the search committee was put together so late that deliberations were routinely rushed. She said that very good ombuds have been identified in the past despite the hurry, but she was still concerned about the speed at which an ombud search committee was expected to move. For example, interviews were taking place in June for a position that began July 1. In addition, by the time the call for the half-time ombud's position is announced, it can create a problem for faculty who wish to be considered - an interested faculty member is put in the position of asking his/her chair about serving in a half-time position when the coming academic year's college schedule has already been determined.

8. Closing Remarks by Chair Randall

The Chair took a few moments to outline his plans for the coming academic year. He started with drawing SC members' attention to the organization of Southeastern Conference (SEC) faculty senate chairs - he said he attended an early-summer meeting of that group. The SEC chair thought it appropriate to harvest a little academia from the sports mania and engage in cross-talk with other faculty in the SEC. The third meeting of the group will be in the fall in Alabama, which he planned to attend if his schedule permitted. He added that President Todd would be rotating in as chair of the group of SEC presidents; as a result, Provost Subbaswamy would be chair of the academic portion of the group's meeting. The Chair said he would like to carry an invitation for the group of SEC faculty senate chairs to meet at UK for their meeting in fall 2009. He said he had the support of the President and Provost, but would also need the SC's approval for such an offer.

The Chair then turned to the issue of meeting minutes. He shared his intent to request that the minutes documenting the proceedings of SC meetings be shortened to include less discussion. He said it would be appropriate to request that a certain issue or statement be "included in the minutes" to ensure that specific concerns and comments would be entered into the minutes. Any SC member strenuously objecting should communicate such concerns to him for consideration.

Another comment pertained to officer terms and offices. The Chair offered a tentative suggestion that it might be beneficial for the chair as well as the SC as a whole if the SC's officer arrangement were changed from a vice chair and chair (with no inherent succession) to a system of chair-elect, chair and past-chair. This would mean that the term of office for chair would essentially be three years. Those present did not object, but the Chair noted that any such effort should be taken up by someone not in the Chair's position; he added that if such a change were made, he would be willing to decline the opportunity to run for reelection to avoid any perception of impropriety.

The last issue the Chair brought up pertained to using approximately 15 minutes of every Senate meeting to help educate and inform senators about current UK events. He said that part of his "to do" list involved encouraging senators to take information gleaned from Senate meetings back to constituents in their respective colleges. For example, the Chair stated his desire to invite the chair of the University Press Committee to share information - such a presentation and information learned should be shared with colleagues after the Senate meeting. He also said he was interested in learning more about IRB procedures and that such information would be extremely beneficial to senators.

In response to a request from the Chair, Aken (vice-chair) explained that her project for the year involved reviewing the committee structure of the Senate and reconstituting the SC's ad hoc committee on Senate Committee Structure. That group would be asked to make recommendations on which committees should continue to be composed, which could be done away with, which committees' charges should be revised, etc.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:25 pm.

Respectfully submitted by David Randall,
Senate Council Chair

SC members present: Aken, Anderson, Ford, Michael, Montell, Piascik, Randall.

Invited guests present for the meeting: Jeannine Blackwell, Susan Carvalho, Scott Diamond, Randolph Hollingsworth, and Joe Quinn.

Invited guests present for only meals: Judy Jackson, Kumble Subbaswamy, and James Tracy.

Prepared by Sheila Brothers on Tuesday, August 5, 2008.