The meeting was called to order at 2:03.
Members Present: S. Meyer, S. Parker, D. Bagga, M. Hardig, A. Powers, J. Murphy, S. Simone, B. Jones, L. Kurtz, R. Truss, R. Scott, and N. McMinn.
The minutes of the September 27th meeting were approved with corrections.
It was determined that senators would review the University Planning Committee report and prepare to vote on a resolution supporting the report at the next meeting.
President Meyer commented on the recent faculty assembly. Attendance was twice that of the spring, 2002 assembly. The dominant topic was the establishment of a “sick day pool/bank”. Faculty interest in this was wide-spread and passionate. A related concern centered on the application of the existing university sick leave policy. There is a perception that university policy is inconsistently applied. Concern regarding adjunct salaries and general policies concerning adjuncts was expressed. It was noted that the council of chairs is taking up this issue. It was suggested that President Meyer explore the possibility of becoming a voting member of the University board of trustees.
President Meyer updated the senate with information concerning the sick-day pool policy. Based on talks with President McChesney, Meyer stated that the personnel committee of the board of trustees had rejected a sick-day pool proposal last spring. The proposal was brought forward by an individual faculty member. Meyer impressed upon President McChesney how strongly faculty felt regarding this issue and McChesney assured President Meyer that he would cooperated with the faculty senate in developing a plan to present to the board. He suggested considering university staff when constructing the plan. President Meyer stated he had received Emails from 4 or 5 faculty members interested in working on a proposal in this area. Senator Powers agreed to meet with these individuals and serve as a senate coordinator.
President Meyer provided an update concerning the rotation of senate terms. He has devised a plan whereby a balanced rotation may be achieved by shifting the terms of 2 CAS senators.
President Meyer suggested the senate consider addressing the substantive rewards received by the university staff member of the year. Currently awardees are provided with travel money to a professional development workshop. The senate will look into appointing a liaison to the OSP.
SGA Liaison: Senator Powers reported that she had received permission to update the SGA web page. Senator Parker forwarded Powers information on the “Manchester College Peace Initiative Graduation Pledge” initiative.
Montevallo Chamber of Commerce Liaison: Senator Murphy informed the senate of a recent rezoning of property on Island Street for the purpose of constructing apartments. A discussion of the causes and consequences of the decline in dormitory occupancy followed.
Academic Policies Committee: President Meyer provided the senate with some background information on this committee obtained in discussion with President McChesney. The committee originally functioned to coordinate academic policies and requirements between the colleges. This function has been largely overtaken by the council of deans. A discussion of the usefulness of the committee ensued. It was decided to maintain this as an active committee so that faculty may be assured of having an independent voice should such a necessity arise.
Student Grievances Review Committee: This committee has received a copy of the university policy as well as the policies of 2 or 3 other universities. They also have a report detailing a specific case in which questions and concerns have been raised. The committee hopes to be able to present some sort of analysis to the senate at the next meeting.
Faculty Salary Administration Review Committee: Senator H. Hamilton has requested comments from the faculty regarding the administration of salaries and has received a number of responses. He has also requested data from members of COPLAC and other Alabama public universities. A number of issues concerning the use of CUPA data were noted during discussion. They include: limited size of sample, the age of the data, the construction of comparable categories, and the notion of “comparable institutions. During this discussion additional issues were mentioned: a) the degree (if any) of gender discrimination in salaries; b) alternatives to the 70/30 split; and, c) policies concerning departmental chair stipends and the inconsistency of policy application concerning former chairs. The next step will be collecting and organizing comments offered by members of the faculty.
Budget Committee: Senator Hamilton has received all the necessary data for fulfilling the charge to the budget committee. Senator McMinn volunteered to assist in the analysis of this data.
Faculty Morale and Retention Committee: President Meyer began by addressing issues related to hiring, tenure, and promotion. University policies are available through personnel services. It was noted that better and more complete feedback during annual evaluations should function to minimize surprises when other employment decisions (tenure and promotion) are made. It was noted that a great deal of informal mentoring currently takes place and is effective in sustaining morale. It was suggested that a more formal and organized effort in this area may be worthwhile. A discussion concerning the number of junior faculty leaving the university ensued. It is not clear what % of faculty leave, the reasons they leave or if there has been a change in the % leaving in recent years. A call for a more formal and explicit criteria for tenure was made. Senator Parker a status report on issues of morale and retention initiated by last year’s senate. These issues were grouped into 3 areas: a) items for immediate action; b) items which may be addressed over the full academic year; and, c) thematic concerns which impact faculty morale.
Technology Committee: Senators Powers and Hardig reported on a recent IITC meeting. It was noted that the UPC report calls for a “strategic plan for technology”. It is imperative that faculty have a voice in developing this plan.
Finals Week Review: President Meyer reported that the finals week schedule was developed by the Records Office. It is an informal process. Problems which arise seem to center around individual faculty deviating from the official schedule. It was suggested that greater accountability may be key to eliminating these problems. It may be appropriate to call on Deans to act as more active enforcers of finals scheduling. It was noted that finals for night classes were not explicitly scheduled. Senators also asked for clarification on the meaning of dead days and reading days as these designations are currently murky.
President Meyer announced the Board of Trustees will be meeting the morning of November 1st. He hopes to extend a formal invitation to meet with the senate and university faculty at that time.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:10