THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
THE SENATE RECORD
Volume 40 ----- September 12, 2006 -----Number 1
The Senate Record is the official publication of the University Faculty Senate of The Pennsylvania State University, as provided for in Article I, Section 9 of the Standing Rules of the Senate, and contained in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Standing Rules of the University Faculty Senate, The Pennsylvania State University, 2006-2007.
The publication is issued by the Senate Office, 101 Kern Graduate Building, University Park, PA 16802 (telephone 814-863-0221). The Senate Record is distributed to all University Libraries and is posted on the Web at http://senate.psu.edu under “Publications.” Copies are made available to faculty and other University personnel on request.
Except for items specified in the applicable Standing Rules, decisions on the responsibility for inclusion of matters in the publication are those of the Chair of the University Faculty Senate.
When existing communication channels seem inappropriate, Senators are encouraged to submit brief letters relevant to the Senate's function as a legislative, advisory and consultative, and forensic body for possible inclusion in The Senate Record.
Reports that have appeared in the Agenda for the meeting are not included in The Senate Record unless they have been changed substantially during the meeting, or are considered to be of major importance. Remarks and discussions are abbreviated in most instances. A complete transcript and tape of the meeting is on file. Individuals with questions may contact Dr. Susan C. Youtz, Executive Secretary, University Faculty Senate.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Final Agenda for September 12, 2006
II. Minutes and Summary of Remarks
b. Corrected report: Senate Committee on Computing and Information Systems, Student Purchase of Computers
FINAL AGENDA FOR SEPTEMBER 12, 2006
A. MINUTES OF THE PRECEDING MEETING
Minutes of the April 26, 2006, Meeting in the Senate Record http://senate.psu.edu/record/index.htm
B. COMMUNICATIONS TO THE SENATE
C. REPORT OF SENATE COUNCIL
D. ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE CHAIR
E. COMMENTS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY
F. FORENSIC BUSINESS
G. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
H. LEGISLATIVE REPORTS
I. ADVISORY/CONSULTATIVE REPORTS
Computing and Information Systems Student Purchase of Computers
J. INFORMATIONAL REPORTS
Joint Committee on Insurance and Benefits Annual Report 2005-2006
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities
Annual Report for 2005-2006
Penn State Cooperative Extension Report
Penn State’s Plan for the Assessment of Student Learning
K. NEW LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS
L. COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE GOOD OF THE UNIVERSITY
The University Faculty Senate
Tuesday, September 12, 2006, at 1:30 PM
The University Faculty Senate met on Tuesday, September 12, 2006, at 1:30 p.m. in room 112 Kern Graduate Building
with Joanna Floros, Chair, presiding. There were 197 Senators who signed the roster.
MINUTES OF THE PRECEDING MEETING
Chair Floros: I will delay calling for a motion and vote to approve the April 25, 2006 minutes of the Senate meeting, until we resolve an attribution concern that was recently brought to our attention.
COMMUNICATIONS TO THE SENATE
The Senate Curriculum Report of August 29, 2006 is posted on the Faculty Senate Web site. Included in the Communication to the Senate, Appendix A, is an update of the implementation of the Uniform Course Abbreviation legislation that the Senate passed in April 2005. Lee Kump is chair of this subcommittee. More than 200 faculty and 45 disciplinary teams are working on this initiative. On page two of Appendix A is a summary of course changes. In the last week the Senate Officer received course abbreviation proposals for Biology, French, and Materials. The deadline for submitting these expedited proposals is December 15, 2006.
REPORT OF SENATE COUNCIL
Enclosed in today’s agenda are the minutes from the August 29, 2006, meeting of Senate Council. I refer you to the minutes of Senate Council at the end of your agenda. Included in the minutes are topics that have been discussed by the Faculty Advisory Committee to the President as well as reports from the April 25, 2006, Senate meeting that were approved for implementation by the President.
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE CHAIR
Chair Floros: Out of courtesy to our presenters, please turn off your cell phones and pagers; Thank you. Constitution Day is September 18, 2006. The Web site is http://www.publicscholarship.psu.edu. I want to welcome new and returning faculty, students, ex-officio, and appointed senators to the new Senate year. I anticipate a productive year and want to introduce the other officers of the Senate:
Chair-Elect Dawn Blasko, Behrend;
Secretary Mark Casteel, York;
Immediate Past Chair Jamie Myers, College of Education.
I also want to acknowledge the chairs and vice-chairs of the fifteen Senate committees; would you all please stand. Thank you. You can find information on the Senate committees including committee priorities on the Senate Web site. http//:senate.psu.edu.
On a sad note, Worthington Scranton faculty member, Richard Barshinger, passed away on July 16, 2006. He served as a University Faculty Senator for seven years and was on the Senate Committee on Libraries for six years. Richard was also an elected member and chair designate of the 2006-2007 University Promotion and Tenure Committee. In his memory, let us pause for a moment of silence.
The Senate Officers will visit the following campuses during the fall semester: Abington, Delaware County, DuBois, Great Valley, Harrisburg, McKeesport, and New Kensington.
During the month of August, Curricular Affairs Chair, Chris Falzone, ANGEL team members, and Senate Office staff conducted training on the new automated Curriculum Submission and Consultation System. Hands-on training was completed with more than 125 faculty, staff, and administrators from the colleges of Education, Engineering, Science, and Penn State Altoona, Behrend, and Harrisburg, as well as representatives from the Graduate School and Commonwealth Campus. We strongly encourage those units and individuals who have gone through training to begin using the system to submit your course proposals online.
I would like to invite you to join the Senate Officers and me immediately following today’s meeting for a dessert reception in the lobby of Kern Building.
It is an honor and a privilege to stand in front of this dedicated group of faculty, administrators, staff, and students. Although I am humbled by all this, at the same time I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with all of you, to learn from you, and walk with you during the 2006-2007 University Faculty Senate path of governance. My plans as of about a year and a half ago did not include standing up here today, nor did they include sitting anywhere in this room. I thought I had served my University as a senator for a number of years and it was time for me to move on to other activities. This was until the “Kims” in the world engaged me in a discussion and the rest just happened. Of course, the “Susans, Ernies, Michaels, Johns,” and others through earlier discussions had subconsciously prepared me for this 180-degree turn. In April and May of 2005, as the Chair-Elect of the Senate, I found myself in the midst of a maelstrom of activity with the most popular spoken word being “reorganization.” I found myself in numerous meetings, in telephone conferences, and in various gatherings where I thought people spoke in tongues.
At that point, I left. I went up to the summit of Mount Nittany. It was a quiet and a peaceful place, but lonely at times. From that vantage point I could look down at the valley and try to figure out the lay of the land through careful listening, observation, and reflection. As a result, I believe that I have a better understanding of the issues at hand and am better prepared to work with you to serve our University.
There is, however, something from my ascetic get-away that I would like to share with you because it does pertain to the style and philosophy of my leadership.
First the vignettes, I heard phrases such as “I am now on the dark side” leaving one to assume that there is a light side, and somehow these descriptors appeared to be for administrators and faculty, respectively. On the summit of Mount Nittany, it seemed that actually on very rare occasions, each group felt that it could do the job better and faster if the others offered less input or interference. As I was trying to understand the underlying rationale from a distance, it became clear that both groups were in the wrong when they engaged in this type of thinking. You see, when it is dark, we turn the light on just enough, if we were to accurately see the depth and detail of a given object, and when it is a blindingly sunny day, we put shades on, if we were to see the details of a given object accurately. So, the right mix, not too bright, not too dark, can provide clarity and accuracy. I would like to invite all of us to think of this metaphor when those very rare occasions arise when we think we have the answer and need no input.
Well, the new year has begun, and I am pleased to say that about two weeks ago we had the first ever Curriculum Workshop co-sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Education and the University Faculty Senate. The workshop addressed both administrative and academic review and approval processes. We, the Office of Undergraduate Education and the Faculty Senate, are about to co-charge a committee consisting of ACUE and Senate members to identify academic issues that may need to be addressed regarding the placement of Penn State courses and/or programs on line.
The University Faculty Senate committees will be working on a variety of issues this year. These will include the two topics for which we had forensic sessions in our last Senate meeting. Namely, the First-Year Seminar and Fixed-Term Faculty titles, appointments, and responsibilities. Other topics that will keep our senators busy include a report on Access and Affordability at Penn State, issues pertaining to digital data archiving and data storage, review and update of student rating teaching evaluations or SRTEs, the Senate’s role on assessment of academics, retention and transfer issues, on-line instruction, the new student organization, a number of legislative changes, continuation of the Uniform Course Abbreviations, and many others.
The deadline for the completion of the Uniform Course Abbreviation project, as I noted earlier, is December 15, 2006. To meet this deadline I would like to remind and encourage those of you who are involved in this task, and have been busy with other responsibilities to try to attend to this in the near future. To those who diligently have completed their assignment, thank you.
The new Senate Committee on Educational Equity and Campus Environment will have its inaugural year and the leadership, along with the members of the committee, are working hard to shape their priorities. We are looking forward to hearing from them on the Senate floor.
I personally look forward to this year because of all of you. Collectively, through your unique experiences and challenges, you bring a tremendous diversity in thought and problem solving, which are essential to ably address the multiple issues facing our University. My gratitude to all of you for your willingness to serve.
The outstanding support provided by the Senate Executive Secretary, the administrative assistant, and the Senate Office staff enable the Senate to function competently and this makes my job enjoyable. Thank you.
Finally, I look forward to this year because I believe we have a fantastic Senate leadership team, with complimentary skill sets, and a strong commitment to a common purpose of serving the University, and I am very pleased to be part of this.
In closing, as I was driving up to University Park yesterday morning, given the significance of the date I could not help but think of the beautiful sunny day five years ago when one of the most horrific and barbaric acts on humanity was carried out.
I thought to myself, how fortunate and privileged we are to be in a place where we can enjoy the kind of freedom we do in all aspects of our lives.
In our University microcosm, the University Faculty Senate is a body that provides the opportunity for the diverse voices of the faculty to be heard, be considered and acted upon by providing a balanced view and the upholding of our academic freedom, values, and ideals. As such, I am very pleased to be a member of this body. Thank you for your attention as we will now continue with the Senate Agenda.
COMMENTS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY
President Spanier is with us today. It is my pleasure to invite him to come forward to make some remarks.
President Spanier: Thank you Joanna; good afternoon everyone. I want to welcome you to “the dark side.” I’ve been there in the dark side for a number of years, and I have to tell you It is not quite as mysterious as people think it is.
Here we are at the beginning of the new year, and I am going to begin by thanking all of you and your many colleagues for what an incredible job you have collectively done in accommodating the largest enrollment in Penn State’s history. I am not sure people are fully aware that we have the largest number of new incoming students that we have had on this campus, and the same is true collectively on our other campuses. This is really good news for us in many ways, but it has also posed some challenges for us. We had an unexpectedly high yield rate this past year, which is the number of people who accepted our offer of admission over other offers of admission they were considering. With that unexpected and dramatic increase in our yield rate, we simply had more students that we needed to accommodate, and people really rose to the challenges. Professors in charge of undergraduate programs, department heads, deans, and faculty members were able to come forward and add new sections of classes, and we asked some of you to take more students into existing classes.
We were about ready to renovate one of our residence halls here on this campus when we sent the construction workers home. We are going to have to wait to renovate it because we needed those additional rooms this year. We found a room for everybody, and every student in the University has a full schedule. We ended the year with 94,000 applications for admission. We are the most popular University in the country, which is a wonderful position to be in.
At the same time, I do not hesitate to remind you that virtually all of the students we admitted this fall are going to be here again in the spring, and they will need a schedule in the spring as well. For those who are freshman, there will be a little bit of a bulge next year and so on as that cohort moves through the system. So, we do ask everyone to kind of step up to the plate. When asked, let those extra students into your classes. If you have to change to a different classroom to accommodate additional students as we plan ahead, we hope you are cooperative with that. If somebody asks you to move your class from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. because it works out better for the scheduling, that is just a part of what we all need to do to make this work. It is, in the long run, very good for Penn State.
Now we are beginning another admissions cycle and already applications are coming in for this following year. We hope to be in a similar situation where we have this level of interest in the University. It does not come about by accident. People are not interested in Penn State just because they drew a name out of a hat at random. They are coming here because they like what they are seeing. They like our educational offerings; they hear good things about the quality of instruction; they like the way our campuses look and feel to them. There are a many different reasons why people want to come to Penn State and we do want to keep that going. So again, thanks to all of you for what is happening. I know many of you who are at campuses other than University Park are pleased with the fact that we have more new freshman on every single campus in the Penn State system this year, and we hope that will continue because we have some campuses with excess capacity and it will be good for them from a number of different standpoints if that can be maintained.
You all received my annual letter and my annual pitch about retention, and after the students are here we really have to focus our attention on keeping the students here. Most students who drop out of the University show signs of doing so within the first few weeks of their freshman year. Students who do not end up persisting within the University usually begin to show evidence of it when the first exams do not look good. They are not showing up for class. They really didn’t make the transition well. They are attending far too many parties. Whatever the reason might be, they show signs of it early on. In my experience, the most modest of interventions of faculty members to take a student aside and say, “Look, I noticed you have not been making the adjustment too well; you’ve missed a few classes; what’s the deal with that first exam or your paper?” Showing them that you are interested, making that intervention, offering a little bit of help, reaching out to them, even if you are teaching a huge course, take the 5, 10, or 12 students who are in that zone and just take one minute to talk to them and you would be surprised what a difference that might make. I know many of you have written me on this topic over the years, and you are among those who do pay attention to this issue. So if you can, please spread the word on that.
This week we have our first Board of Trustees meeting of the academic year. On Friday, we will officially present to the Board of Trustees our budget proposal for the fiscal year that will begin July 1, 2007. That is the beginning of the year long process where what we propose goes to Harrisburg and the Governor and his staff looks at our budget.
The Governor will incorporate something for us in his budget message to the Commonwealth. The first Tuesday of February we will go to the legislative session and negotiate that and come out the other end of that with a budget. We are very pleased with how things turned out for this year, and while things are tight at the University, we are in a bit of a state of equilibrium that we are very pleased to be in. I talk to the Governor from time to time and have done so a couple of times recently. We talk about the upcoming requests that I have and what areas he might be interested in funding. He has been very supportive and is certainly listening to us, and we hope that this process that we will begin officially this week with our presentation to the Board of Trustees will result in another good year ahead.
Our priorities have not changed; there is not particularly anything new on the horizon in terms of what we are trying to emphasize. We are hoping to have a modest but fair pay increase for our faculty and staff. Keeping up with employee benefIt is is a major challenge for the University right now. You’ve heard me talking about this before, it is at the top of the list. Even more than salaries is the single largest cost-driver in the increases in our budget that we have to face every year. Keeping up with the cost of health care is a challenge for all of us. We’re doing only a modest number of things new in the programmatic area. We are honoring and delivering on all prior commitments and trying to follow through on programs that are in motion with a couple of new things here and there, but not a lot that is very dramatic.
This year we are going to make it really easy for everyone to attend my State of the University Address. For the first time, we are not assembling everyone in rooms around the state or in Eisenhower Auditorium here on campus. This year we have produced a DVD version of State of the University Address, and all of you will be sent a link to it and we hope that you will view it. It is shorter than a State of the University Address that we normally give in the auditorium, because when you are doing it all on camera, you choose every word and image very carefully and try to stick to the key points. You will all get an email message with a link that you can access, or starting this Friday at some point during the day it will be posted on Penn State Live. If you go to Penn State’s homepage there will be a link to it and you can view it that way. Also my TV and radio show that we do live on WPSU television and radio will be next Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. It will be shown on that television show, and we will have some discussion around it on that program, so that is another way of viewing it. Send me an email; I will be very interested in your feedback as to whether you think that is a good way of doing it. It was certainly very efficient; it was easy for us to do it in this particular way. The only thing we cannot do when we do it this way is serve ice cream outside of Eisenhower Auditorium ahead of time. If you want, bring home some ice cream from the Creamery to eat while you are watching. Those are the key things that I wanted to say at the first meeting, and I would now like to open it up and take your questions.
Chair Floros: If there are questions for President Spanier please stand and wait for the microphone before you give your name and unit.
President Spanier: Here is one right here; I do not think in 11 or 12 years that you haven’t asked me a question at a Senate meeting, so I know you want to keep that record going.
Winston Richards, Penn State Harrisburg: I hope you do not think or consider what I am going to do inappropriate, but you do not know what I am going to do.
President Spanier: I cannot wait.
Winston Richards: Professor Shortling and Gerhardt Casper, the former president of Stanford asked me to deliver this book on the architecture of Stanford University to you. He remembers very fondly serving with you on the AAU, so I am going to give it to you.
President Spanier: Thank you very much. Gerhardt Casper was President of Stanford University for a number of years and has gone on to other distinguished positions in academe and he asked you to deliver this to me here. This is very nice. It is Stanford University’s Architecture. I appreciate that. Thank you so much. Where did you bump into him?
Winston Richards: (Inaudible)
President Spanier: They have beautiful architecture at Stanford. I know that without even opening the book. I’ve been there. The thing is they seem to have more money to put into their buildings there but I’ll be eager to look at it, and by the way the architect for one of the finest new buildings on the Stanford campus was done by the same architectural firm that is designing the new Law School building at the University Park campus which will be taken to the Trustees for approval on Friday. They are also overseeing the additions and renovations on the Carlisle campus. I do not know how much they spent on that building in Stanford, but ours will be pretty spectacular as well. Thank you for that.
Chair Floros: Any other questions for President Spanier?
Michael Chorney, College of Medicine: I do not have a question, just a comment. I was taking my son and his friends to their rooms on freshman move-in day and I was standing in the HUB, mesmerized by your performance which was full of brio and gusto, and the kids came over and said, “Who is that guy and what is he doing?” I said, “That is your president.” Your maracas were very good.
President Spanier: Thank you. My band played in front of the HUB on move-in day. We had a lot of fun doing that. Actually, after doing that I treated myself to new maracas. I have 24 instruments attached to a washboard. How many of you have heard me play the washboard? For the rest of you, you have really missed something.
Chair Floros: Maybe you can perform at the next meeting. President Spanier: I’m going to bring a magic trick next time.
Chair Floros: Ok.
President Spanier: Now you’ve set me up for it. I did magic in the HUB that night too.
Dwight Davis, College of Medicine: Would you care to provide your perspective on the transition of the law school in this early phase to two campuses?
President Spanier: I’d say two things. One, law schools are very complicated, even more than colleges of medicine. You thought the college of medicine was complicated; law schools are very complicated as well. The ABA is kind hovering over you, and what we’re doing here is unique. Phil McConnaughay and I met with the ABA to help them understand that we’re trying to do something very unique, which is to have one law school, but on two campuses. There have been many of challenges involved. But given that, it has just gone extremely well. We now have here on campus 100 first-year law students; on the Carlisle campus about 150 first year law students. We hired several new faculty, I think maybe eight new faculty are here as campus resident as well as the faculty that are already here. We have faculty on this campus and faculty in Carlisle. The Law School’s temporary headquarters are in the Beam Building, which was one of the buildings vacated by the College of Business when they went into their new building. The Law School is here and the Law School is there; there is transportation that moves back and forth. Students have classes here or there or in both places.
We are using everything we know about distance education to get students together in the same classroom electronically, maybe originating there in some cases or maybe originating here. The quality of the entering class is phenomenal. It is the highest quality in terms of credentials in terms of any Law School class we’ve had in recent history. Clearly students are voting with their feet. We had a 31 percent increase in applications to the Law School this year. This is unbelievable; unprecedented in a year nationally when Law School applications were flat. We were the exception among the nearly 200 law schools in the US. So I think we are off to a very good start. We have good students and good faculty. As I said, on Friday we will be bringing to the Board of Trustees plans for a new building, which we will begin to move along pretty quickly.
The Law School faculty we have hired are all faculty that have very strong multi-disciplinary inclinations. One of the reasons you may recall that we wanted to have a campus of the Law School here, is that legal education is changing. You do not just go to law school for three years, hang up your certificate somewhere and start dispensing law within the community. It is so much more complicated than that now. It is like all the fields we are in, there is a so much higher degree of specialization. So law students in the future, the best lawyers in the future will be the ones who have additional course work or additional interaction. It may be an additional master’s degree in areas like intellectual property law, or science or engineering, agriculture, if they wanted to practice something in agricultural law, or do environmental law. For many of them, they will want to have a joint MBA/law degree. Those opportunities are here in very large numbers on this campus.
We also have more faculty on the University Park campus with law degrees than we have in the entire Law School. I’m not sure people are aware of that. Maybe a few of you in this room, in addition to what we think you are, are also lawyers. Maybe you just haven’t wanted to admit it to your colleagues, but we have many faculty members with PhDs and JDs, and for many of them this is a great opportunity to connect with the Law School in communications, first amendment law, and many other things that we could mention.
Jim Strauss, Eberly College of Science: A number of us across University Park met very big challenges to provide enough sections of high demand freshman enrollment classes. The College of Science is certainly no exception. A number of us are sitting down now to try to prepare for next year’s freshman class and trying to figure out how many sections, particularly lab sections, we need to offer and maybe even split them across both semesters. Realizing you do not have a crystal ball, and you do not know how the football season is going to pan out either, should we anticipate a larger than normal freshman class next year? Thank you.
President Spanier: When the folks who oversee enrollment management, all of whom are in this room right now, let me know, I’ll tell you. But here is the general philosophy. On this campus, we have set the boundaries of 40,000 on the low end and 42,000 on the upper end as the enrollment window, our overall enrollment window of this campus. We always knew that there were so many variables that there might be a year where we dipped down below, but more likely a year occasionally that we pop up above. When we do pop up above our objective an orderly way is to bring it back down within the right zone. I expect when we have our official count day and everything settles down, about a month from now, we will find that we are up above 42,000. I’m not sure by how many, maybe by a few hundred. It is our goal to bring that back down under 42,000, but it won’t happen in one fell swoop. We cannot bring in as many students as we did this year. If we just wanted to have one instantaneous correction, we would have to admit so small a number of new freshman next year that things would get really skewed. We would have a huge sophomore class and then all the normal freshman sections wouldn’t be filled. So we have to do that in as orderly a way as we can.
Next year we will most certainly not see the number of new freshman as we brought in this year, but we will not be able to compensate for all of it at once. Next year should be more of a normal year, let’s just put it that way. That would be our goal to have it be more of a normal kind of year, but we are still going to have those extra sophomores to deal with. At the campuses it is all different, depending on the campus. We have some campuses now that are at capacity. At Abington, Berks, Altoona, and Erie, they have their full complement of students, and maybe could take a few extras here and there, but cannot go up to a whole other level. Some of our other campuses are very much below capacity; they are still only at some fraction of what they once were. They may be in areas of the state where the demographics are of such where they may never get back up to that level. But we might try to encourage more students to go to those campuses where there are openings. So how we cope with their enrollment situation is we wouldn’t be discouraging students to go to those campuses, but we would be encouraging them to do that.
Remember, there is another trend going on at the same time, which is the reason in the first place that we had planned to admit more freshman this year, not as many as we admitted and enrolled, but more. There is a huge trend in more and more students graduating in precisely four years. So students that used to take five years are taking four and one half years and students that used to take four and one half years are taking four years. This is probably, in part, because tuition is high and their parents are saying, “You want to stay another semester at Penn State? I do not think so, finish now.” Also, the job market is pretty good in many of the fields where we have lots of students, so there is no reason to hang around and pay tuition for another semester when you can go out and make $40,000-$50,000 per year. Many of these things need to be factored together; it is a science, but not an exact science. Randy or Rob, do you have anything to add to that answer?
Randy Deike, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management: As we think about next year, the 40,000-42,000 is critically important, but there are factors like yield rates we saw a five percentage point increase in yield rates last April. When we see how things settle out, when we come to the census date, that, as President Spanier mentioned, will determine the class next year to a large degree.
Bonj Szczygiel, Arts and Architecture: I wonder if you could share your thoughts with us on the Spellings Commission recommendation report that just came out.
President Spanier: Are all of you familiar with that? It is not called the Spellings Commission, but I know what you mean. Margaret Spellings, the Secretary of Education, appointed a commission to look at the future of higher education. Put simply, that report is now out. I have not yet read the report; I have only read the report of the report. It is in my reading pile and I have not been compelled to get to it real fast. I’ve gotten at least one hundred emails as the report has been evolving from our higher education associations and leaders in Washington about the evolving controversy about some of the recommendations around the report. All I can say about it right now is that there are very mixed sentiments about it from the higher education community. I think if you look at what is coming out of the commission at the 10,000 foot level, you would have to say it is right. We are charging students a lot of money, so they deserve a quality education. There needs to be accountability in the system. We want American higher education to be the leader in the world in what we do. There are a lot of reasons to continue to pay attention to what makes higher education so great in this county. At the same time, I think there is a little bit of hyperbole about this report; about how bad things are; about the hand wringing about how bad things are; how things are going down the tubes; how there is no accountability, and so on.
I do not believe that. I think anyone who would come to a place like Penn State would see we have lots of checks and balances would see that we are assessing our students all the time. We are very accountable with the funds that come in here and what we do with them. We are turning out well educated students. There are many indicators of that. Look at the success of our alumni. Look at how many employers are coming to our Career Development Center to hire our graduates; who want to hire our graduates over graduates of other institutions because they like the way they’re trained, prepared, educated, like their work ethic, and so on. I could talk for about an hour on this. I have to get the right balance between reacting in terms of Penn State.
I do not think we need the stuff out there that people want to lay on us versus higher education in general where there might not be the level of attention to some things that we give it here. So I think, overall, some good will come out of the report, but I do worry a little bit about the intensity of the reactions. I think the intentions have been good, and I have attended the session recently with the chair of that commission and Secretary Spellings. Again, I think their heart is in the right place, but I am just a little cautious about where it might go and certainly want to keep an eye on it.
Chair Floros: Any other questions?
President Spanier: Have a good year. See you at the next meeting if not sooner.
Chair Floros: Thank you. Chair Floros: As we begin our discussion of reports, I remind you to please stand, wait for a microphone, and identify yourself and the unit you represent before addressing the Senate.
FORENSIC BUSINESS – NONE
UNFINISHED BUSINESS – NONE
LEGISLATIVE REPORTS – NONE
ADVISORY AND CONSULTATIVE REPORTS
The first report is Advisory and Consultative and comes from the Senate Committee on Computing and Information Systems. It appears on today’s agenda as Appendix B entitled Student Purchase of Computers. Committee Chair Russell C. Scaduto and Vice Chair Jo Anne Carrick will present this report.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMPUTING AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Student Purchase of Computers, Appendix B.
Russell C. Scaduto, Chair
Jo Anne Carrick, Vice-Chair
Russell Scaduto, College of Medicine: Good afternoon. We had a little bit of turnover in our committee this morning, which is a good team, and we amended the first recommendation that we would like to bring to your attention. I thank the Senate Office for making the PowerPoint so quickly available. We would like to add that last sentence to our first recommendation which reads, “Programs should provide public access to computers and software that meet program-specific needs.” We realize there are instances where there are a lot of specialty software and students may not be able to afford the means to those tools. We recommend that programs and departments make those workstations available too. Are there any other questions?
Larry Backer, Dickinson School of Law: The addition is programs should provide public access. Do you mean public access or student access?
Russell Scaduto: Student access, not open to the general public, but student access.
Larry Backer: Maybe we should replace the word public with student access?
Chair Floros: Is this a friendly amendment?
Jamie Myers, College of Education: I’d like to ask a question for clarification so it is in the record. If a program faculty group wishes to require ownership of a computer-specific configuration with students having to buy the computer, do any of your recommendations preclude that?
Russell Scaduto: No. We would not recommend that would be precluded. We did not make that a recommendation that programs or colleges should force students to buy computers, but these recommendations do not preclude that. There is actually one instance of that that we know of. The Department of Architecture in the College of Arts and Architecture currently requires students to purchase specific computers, but that is not a specific recommendation.
Chair Floros: Are there any other questions? This report has been brought to the floor by the committee and it needs no second. Are we ready to vote? All those in favor of this report, please say Aye.
Chair Floros: Opposed say Nay. The Ayes have it. The motion passes. The Senate has approved this advisory and consultative report. The report will be sent to President Spanier for approval and implementation. Thank you Russ and Jo Anne.
FACULTY BENEFITS Joint Committee on Insurance and Benefits Annual Report, 2005-2006. Appendix C. The Joint Committee on Insurance and Benefits presented its annual report focusing on the following topics: health care rates; health plan issues and changes; Medicare prescription drug coverage; retiree dental coverage; wellness initiatives; Partners for Quality Health; and TIAACREF changes. Chair George Franz stood for questions.
FACULTY RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, Annual Report for 2005-2006 Appendix D. This annual report provided a summary of the seven cases considered in the last academic year. Chair Paul Cohen stood for questions.
The Senate Committee on Outreach sponsored an informational report on Cooperative Extension, Appendix E, at Penn State and its role across the Commonwealth. Daney Jackson, Director of Cooperative Extension, gave examples of programs, funding sources, program impact, and implications for faculty involvement in Extension programs and services.
Penn State’s Plan for the Assessment of Student Learning, Appendix F. Penn State's Plan for the Assessment of Student Learning. Renata Engel, chair of the Coordinating Committee on University Assessment, provided an overview of the development and implementation of the plan. This report will focus on 2006-2007 assessment projects, including a pilot study to explore select General Education goals. Discussion will take place on the role of the Senate in the assessment of student learning and curriculum evaluation.
NEW LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS – NONE
COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE GOOD OF THE UNIVERSITY
Chair Floros: Are there any comments?
Chair Floros: May I have a motion to adjourn? All in favor please say aye.
Chair Floros: The ayes have it and the motion carries. The Senate is adjourned until October 24, 2006. Don't forget to stop by the dessert reception in the lobby before you leave.