THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
T H E S E N A T E R E C O R D
Volume 37-----December 9, 2003-----Number 3
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, 2003-2004.
The publication is issued by the Senate Office, 101 Kern Graduate Building, University Park, PA 16802 (Telephone 814-863-0221). The Record is distributed to all libraries across the Penn State system, and is posted on the Web at http://www.psu.edu/ufs 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 forensic body to the Chair for possible inclusion in The Senate Record.
Reports that have appeared in the Agenda for the meeting are not included in The 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
A. Summary of Agenda Actions
B. Minutes and Summaries of Remarks
II. Enumeration of Documents
Minutes of the October 28, 2003, Meeting in The Senate Record 37:2
Senate Curriculum Report (Blue Sheets) of November 25, 2003
C. REPORT OF SENATE COUNCIL - Meeting of November 25, 2003
F. FORENSIC BUSINESS
Senate Self-Study Committee
|Follow Up Of Senate Self-Study from October 28, 2003, Senate Meeting|
J. INFORMATIONAL REPORTS
SUMMARY OF AGENDA ACTIONS
The Senate heard one informational report and held one forensic session.
University Park Construction Report. This photo report gave an update on the status of several construction projects. A spring report will focus on campus construction projects. (Informational Report) (See Senate Record, Page 6 and Agenda Appendix C.)
Special Forensic Session. This forum for the exchange of ideas followed the self-study discussion at the October 28 Senate meeting. Senate members discussed four questions that focused on committee structure and function; the Senate nominations process; and strengthening internal and external Senate communication. (Forensic Report) (See Senate Record, Page 6-14 and Agenda Appendix B.)
The University Faculty Senate met on Tuesday, December 9, 2003, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 112 Kern Graduate Building with Christopher J. Bise, Chair, presiding. There were 204 senators who signed the roster.
Chair Bise: Welcome to the third meeting of this academic year of the University Faculty Senate.
Chair Bise:We will begin our meeting today with Agenda Item A, minutes of the preceding meeting. The October 28, 2003, Senate Record, providing a full transcription of the proceedings, was sent to all University Libraries and is posted on the Faculty Senate web page. Are there any corrections or additions to this document? May I hear a motion to accept?
Senators: So moved.
Chair Bise: Second?
Chair Bise: All in favor of accepting the minutes of October 28, 2003, please signify by saying, “Aye.”
Chair Bise: Opposed, say, “Nay.” (Silence)
Chair Bise: The ayes have it and the motion carries. The minutes of the October 28, 2003, meeting have been approved.
Chair Bise: Agenda Item C, Report of Senate Council. There was a meeting on November 25, 2003. The minutes of the Senate Council meeting held on November 25 appear as an attachment for today’s meeting.
Chair Bise: Agenda item D, Announcements by the Chair. Out of courtesy to our presenters, please turn off your cell phones and pagers at this time; thank you.
I refer you to the minutes of Senate Council at the end of your agenda. Included in the minutes are topics that were discussed by the Faculty Advisory Committee to the President at its meeting on November 25. The Senate Officers have completed their fall campus visits. As secretary of the Senate, Jamie Myers will give a report on those visits at the February 3 meeting. Visits to University Park colleges will be scheduled for Spring 2004, and the dates will be posted on the Senate's web page as soon as they have been confirmed.
This morning, the Admissions, Records, Scheduling and Student Aid Committee presented Geoffrey Harford with a certificate acknowledging his 11 years of service to the committee and his 35 years of service to Enrollment Management and Admissions. Geoffrey will retire at the end of this month. Geoff, if you are here, will you please stand? Is Geoff Harford here? If not, the Senate really appreciates his many years of service to the Senate.
After the first of the year, I will be charging a conference committee to review the current draft of revisions to the Intercultural and International Competence requirement of General Education Report. The concept of a conference committee comes from the U.S. Congress and other state legislatures and is considered as a temporary ad hoc panel, which is formed for the purpose of seeking compromise and reconciling differences in legislation. I feel that we have gone this route so that we can have strong support from both Senate committees when we bring the revisions to the GI requirements to the Senate floor next semester. The following members of the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs and Undergraduate Education will serve on this special committee, which will be chaired by John Moore, immediate past chair of the Senate. Representing Curricular Affairs will be Committee Chair Shelley Stoffels and members Barton Browning and Douglas Brown. Representing Undergraduate Education will be Caroline Eckhardt, Beverly Vandiver, and Janis Jacobs. It is my expectation that this conference committee will complete its work in February.
Chair Bise: Agenda item E, Comments by the President of the University. President Spanier is with us today, and I am pleased to invite him to come forward and address the Senate.
President Spanier: Thank you. I had been reminded along the way that the mere mention of John Moore’s name could bring on great things. (Laughter) I am pleased to be here with you again. I will be on the road the rest of the week working on various projects, some fundraising and meeting with government officials on important issues.
At almost half of the way through our fiscal year, we do not yet have an appropriation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This has cost us several hundred thousand dollars already. We do, however, anticipate that we might be able to see the House, the Senate, and the Governor spring loose the appropriation by the end of this month. I will certainly be trying to encourage that to happen. We are also going to continue to push very hard on the capital construction side on a budget for next year, which really has not been part of the discussion yet, because we have been so worried about the current year. We will also be engaged in some discussions concerning the issue of Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law and its facility’s needs and the location issues.
On a completely different topic, in following up on something that Chris mentioned, the recent bias incident involving the College Republicans underscores the continuing need to educate our students about multi-cultural issues. The Faculty Senate has previously committed to developing a revised curricular requirement that better reflects the domestic multi-cultural experience. The Provost and I have both previously indicated that we believe the current Intercultural and International Competence Requirement is too broadly defined, and the focus of the requirement (inaudible) the Conference Committee to work through differences between the relevant sub-committees, and I urge the Senate to complete its work on this important item before the end of the academic year.
In the last few days, some of you may have seen a report in the news that was done for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by the Brookings Institution, and financially supported by a couple of the major foundations in Pennsylvania. The report focuses on the lack of a strategic economic development plan for the Commonwealth. I must say that in my visits around the state and in my discussions with elected officials, I have come to the same conclusions as reflected in that report.
One of the things that I do is speak often with state officials about ways in which Penn State can be part of the solution with the right kind of support from the Commonwealth. The Brookings Report basically concluded that there are many indicators of Pennsylvania being in a dismal economic condition. Many communities are floundering without any visible means to recover. When I visit communities around the state and talk to the Chamber of Commerce, I hear grandiose plans and much energy and interest in rejuvenating the economy of their area, but when you ask them how they are going to get from here to there, you do not often hear persuasive explanations of what they think will happen. Pennsylvania has lost many manufacturing jobs. I talked to you earlier in this semester about the aging population in Pennsylvania and some of the demographic forces facing the state. We talked about the brain drain of young talent.
We are already seeing an impact of the poor economic conditions in many parts of our state. There are declines in the number of adult learners at many of our campuses. Ultimately, this will impact our financial status. In addition, I anticipate that we will ultimately see a decline in traditional resident instruction students at some of our campuses due to a lack of employment opportunities near those campuses. So, Penn State really needs to step up and support solutions to the problems identified in the Brookings Report. Our Vice President for Outreach, Craig Weidemann, who is here, is very mindful of these challenges and is working on this with officials from around the state. I hope the state can recognize Penn State’s role in being part of the solution.
In February, I will be addressing the Senate again on a substantive topic similar to what I did earlier in this semester. Among other things, I am going to focus on something that is still evolving as we speak, so it is not actually written yet, but I am assembling the data for it. (inaudible) I am going to talk about some of the broad issues effecting Penn State, Pennsylvania, and the higher education community. I will also talk about this interesting phenomenon of public universities becoming more private out of necessity, and private universities becoming more public. There are some changes in the landscape of higher education, nationally, that have been occurring over a long period of time, and some of the traditional assumptions by which we all operate may not apply so much, and should give us some food for thought here at Penn State. Those are a few things that I wanted to put on the table. Let me open it up for your questions and comments now.
Chair Bise: Are there any questions for President Spanier? I will remind you to stand and wait for the microphone before you give your name and unit.
Billie Willits, Associate Vice President for Human Resources: Would you like to comment on the upcoming faculty/staff survey?
President Spanier: Why don’t you, since you are overseeing it.
Billie Willits: (inaudible)
President Spanier: Thank you for mentioning that. If on January 12, any of you find that your email is downloading just a little more slowly than usual, it may be because we are offering this wonderful new service to our students of free, unlimited access to music. There are 500,000 songs out there that they can now download onto their hard drives, and we are just hoping that they do not each need to do 10,000 and on the first day. That will be unfolded early in the spring to students in residence halls on all of our campuses that have residence halls. Once we get through the pilot phase, work out the bugs, and get it up and running, we will make it available in the fall to all of our tens of thousands of students. Faculty and staff will have access to it at a reduced rate. For those of you who are in music, or other areas of the University where, for professional purposes, you actually need this kind of thing for your college department, through the University Libraries we have made very nice arrangements with Napster for them to extend that service there for the University community. So it should be very positive.
Winston Richards, Harrisburg: (inaudible)
President Spanier: Yes, the initial study has been very broad and has looked at issues of rebuilding the Law School and looking at locations on the Carlisle Campus, and elsewhere in Carlisle. Alternative locations we looked at were Hershey, Harrisburg, and State College. I think the Dean’s, the Provost’s, and my conclusion is that the two most logical things to look at are staying at the current site in Carlisle or moving to the University Park Campus, for a number of reasons. To relocate from Carlisle to a location other than University Park would be traumatic enough for some people, so there needs to be a very compelling set of reasons and much support in order to do that. Given many issues concerning utilities infrastructure; academic synergies; joint programs; and the changing nature of legal education and libraries; those are probably the two most likely alternatives at this point, but we did look at other options as well.
Lourdes Diaz Soto, Education: (inaudible)
President Spanier: Thank you for mentioning that. The incident was very disturbing to me and everyone else in the administration who learned about it early on. We immediately issued a general statement to the University spokesperson, and then I issued
a statement shortly afterwards as well. In reference to the article by a faculty member to which you are referring, I am not sure which article you are thinking about. Was it Michael Bérubé; who had an essay in the Chronicle?
Lourdes Diaz Soto: Yes.
President Spanier: Yes, I am familiar with that; he and I have corresponded about it. It is really a very interesting discussion. I am aware of that; thank you for mentioning it. Of course, we continue to be very concerned, not just about this one incident. We have 83,000 students and I assure you that on any given day there is more than one of them who does something really stupid. I probably learn about more of them than anyone else in this room, but (inaudible). There might be an open space in the end where you can introduce those topics. Those are all topics that people are talking about in various forums.
Have any of you noticed a decrease in your spam lately? Well, some who have been paying attention have noticed because, at the most general level, the University has put some spam filtering in there. The reason most of the spam gets through is because people know how to trick the system.
How many of you use Eudora? I am astounded that more people do not know that the new version of Eudora has a spam filter built in. I think I may have been the first adopter of this, so I have the longest experience with it. I have been using it for a couple of months and it is quite remarkable. You just set it up, and every incoming email is graded. You set the value as to what level you want it to go into your junk mailbox. I get about 30 spams a day, and after you train it, you go in each day and things that it called junk in the beginning, you say they are not junk. Something that came into your regular email that is junk, but it did not catch it, you say it is junk. After a couple of weeks, the system is trained. Now, I very rarely have to go back and forth. For example, in the last month, I have received several hundred spams, and it has gotten almost every one of those right. It takes a little longer to download because it goes through a quick analysis and it sorts it out. This is available in the 6.0 version of Eudora, which I think we have all paid for and is a part of our licensing fee. You might want to ask the IT person in your department about it. It is really a great step forward; it has been for me.
Are there any other topics? I can give you advice on many things. (Laughter) Let me just say good luck on getting through final exams. I hope you do not have too many student complaints. I hope you get your grades in on time and that you then have a wonderful holiday season. I will see you all back here in January. Thank you.
Chair Bise: Thank you, President Spanier. Without objection, and as a courtesy to our presenters, I recommend a change in the agenda to move section J, Informational Reports, to this point in the meeting. Are there any objections? Hearing none, we have one informational report today, and it comes to us from the Senate Committee on University Planning. It appears on today’s agenda as Appendix C and is entitled: Status of Construction. Committee Chair, Daniel Hagen, will introduce this report.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON UNIVERSITY PLANNING
Status of Construction. Bill Anderson, Associate Vice President for the Office of Physical Plant and Steve Maruszewski, Director of Design and Construction for the Office of Physical Plant, presented this report. Construction updates that were discussed in this report can be viewed at the following web site: http://www.opp.psu.edu/divisions/dc/FacSenate/frame.htm
Chair Bise: Agenda Item F, Forensic Business. Senate Council is sponsoring a special forensic session as a follow-up to the Senate Self-Study. Appendix B of your Senate Agenda lists four questions that we would like you to address today. Immediate Past Chair, John Moore, will facilitate the discussions, and we hope that this discussion today will generate some ideas for the Committee on Committees and Rules to consider.
John Moore: I just want to make a few opening remarks. What we are going to do today is to talk for a while about how we can make the Senate a better institution than it now is. Last month, we reformed our membership structure. Today, let us direct our attention to how we can make the best use of the time and talents of our members. I have several preliminary observations. Last year, the Senate officers met with the folks who will be conducting the Middle States Accreditation, for which we are now preparing. After listening to the Senate Officers describe what our Senate does, that is, our role in Curricular Affairs; how Faculty Affairs sets terms and procedures for promotion and tenure; how Undergraduate Education sets educational objectives; how ARSSA fine-tunes rules for admission; the process of going through degree programs and graduating; how Faculty Benefits keeps track of the benefits that we faculty and staff receive; and how each of the other Senate committees has a special zone of supervision and involvement. Hearing that, the Middle States accreditation representative said in astonishment, “The Penn State Senate has real authority. You folks really do things.”
Last month, the passionate eloquence unleashed in this room in regard to the Senate underscored the high value that we, ourselves, see in this body and in its commitment to its representation and to its representatives. Today, let us proceed by saying that however good we may be, we can do it even better. As we talk today, members of CC&R will be listening, and will be very alert to the possibilities of drafting particular recommendations based on what you have to say. Senate Council has suggested that we focus on four specific questions. However, we are open to any suggestions you may have for making this institution work better. Let me also give you my email. My email address is "jwm2." I am assuming that some of you may not have a suggestion to make today, but as you are driving home, it will suddenly occur to you that “I ought to have said such and such.” When that happens, what I want you to do tonight is to flood my computer with messages directed to “jwm2,” and I will immediately send them on to Pam Hufnagel, Chair of CC&R. She will then do something wonderful and magical.
Let us then say to ourselves, we have the opportunity here today to stand back and say, “How can we make this a better institution than it already is?” Any suggestions that you may have will be fine. If you want a particular spur to get going, Number 1 that Council has suggested we review is that we may want to start by giving some thought to our committee structure. We are either satisfied with our committee structure; we want to add committees that we do not have; or we want to subtract committees that we do have. Whatever you want to say, that or any allied topic we will be pleased to hear.
Anthony Atchley, Engineering: I am on the Senate Committee on Research, and I have to admit that I do not have much knowledge of what the Graduate Council Committee on Research does, but it seems like they must have common interests. Perhaps we
could explore what the overlap is, and perhaps combine the two committees, or at least have joint meetings.
John Moore: I want to comment on this. There are historical reasons for there being two committees. What I can tell you is what Chair Bise is doing is establishing a committee made up of Kim Steiner, myself, and Chris who try to meet with the dean of the Graduate School and her colleagues to explore opportunities for greater cooperation. While respecting the independence of each organization, we ask ourselves, “Are we duplicating any efforts, and can we make more efficient time of these two groups?”
Gary Catchen, Engineering: I would like to comment on that issue briefly, because I served as chair of the Graduate Council Committee on Research a number of years ago. I also served as a liaison between these two committees. My impression is that their agendas are significantly different, and that it would not be in our best interest to consolidate the effort. For one thing, the Graduate Council Committee on Research carries out the Graduate Research Exhibit. That is a great deal of work, and we certainly would not object to receiving any help from our colleagues in the Senate. The other thing is that this committee focuses on research issues as it pertains to graduate education, and I think that is a little bit different than the perspective of the Senate committee. So, I would really suggest doing other things, like finding a better room to meet where one could sneak out. (Laughter) That is what I have to offer.
Christine Clark-Evans, Liberal Arts: This is much more a comment on the whole set of questions, but it focuses a little bit on Number 1. I had heard in a discussion of the Liberal Arts Caucus and in discussion with other people, and especially in respect to my own personal experience, that the Senate, while it is probably commendable compared to other universities, the Senate had a much more powerful voice. When I first came here, I actually did read the Senate Minutes and was surprised at some of the largest, more substantive questions that the Faculty Senate took up on the floor in a situation similar to this. What I was hoping is that whatever is done in regard to committee structure, that it would not be in the trend toward less democracy, less voice, or less structure, whether it is to the agenda or to the source of informational reports, or even in terms of the advisory capacity that it has at this point. In addition, for those of us who are very interested in the Faculty Senate’s business and the information that it should share, is there some way that we could pass on the information that we have in a way that is much more effective so that people feel invested?
John Moore: May I ask you a question in regards to your first point? You mentioned that, in your point of view, at one point the Senate had a louder voice. How do you account for that? Could you give an example?
Christine Clark-Evans: Well, one of the reasons that I was interested in the Senate to begin with, was that when I first arrived, there were these printed reports, probably minutes, that reflected the exchange of ideas on the floor. The minutes had the people identified; they had the comments that they made, closer to verbatim, and I am not insisting that be returned so much as for anyone who has contact with the minutes, you do have a much more detailed account of what were the substantive issues and the lines of debate. For someone like myself, at the time, this was very informative, and it was less of a location for information that was available elsewhere. That is, the actual deliberations were reflected in the minutes so that you did have a way of following it, whether you are a member of the Senate or not. That is one way that I thought it was much more effective, because it did show what was the thinking of the faculty pro and con, on some of the more vital issues. I remember more specifically, when issues of diversity came up, in terms of what should be the response of the Faculty Senate, the lines of debate, while sometimes quite animated, were at least very clear in terms of that. What I was interested in was that the impact of that debate and discussion take a more effective form, that it be reflected in a more shared knowledge of what those lines of debate were, in terms of communication, even down to the articulation of what I think a senator should do in response to this new information.
Tramble Turner, Abington: In regard to Number 2, the nominations process, having served on CC&R in a nomination capacity, and once on the other nominating group, I would suggest that the concerns about representation, whether it is gender or geographic diversity, might be addressed in part by simply having a fully articulated charge to the nomination committee. I am not sure if that has existed in the past, and perhaps the discussion of such a charge might then focus everyone’s attention on the concerns.
Peter Rebane, Abington: Since we are on point Number 2 and since the original
Self-Study Proposal suggested that we might perhaps get a stronger, better slate by going to a separate nominating committee, if I may, I would like to take a minute on that issue. Currently, it is basically the elective members of the Senate Council who meet in January and February of every year and come up with a slate of officers and other people for joint responsibility on committees and so on. I do not think that the issue is so much one of process. I like to think that the Senate Council and selected members present are probably currently the best diverse opinion of senators statewide. I think there is gender equity there and so on. I think the Senate Council members probably know better than most members of the Faculty Senate who the chairs of the committees are, who the up and coming stars are, who the ones who do the hard work are, and so on.
To me, the question is how do we get people to stand for election for these very important jobs? How do we get the best people to commit a year, or in case of a chair, really three years to this particular thing? Perhaps the answer is not in coming up with a different nominating committee, but having people already from the beginning of the Senate year begin to recognize and seek out people who are interested in these jobs. Also, I think that people often are nominated for these positions, but decline. The reason is frequently because they feel that perhaps the amount of time and work they spend on this is not amply rewarded. In recognition, in the cost of holding this, and in perhaps taking away from their research and other things for which they feel they are rewarded. Perhaps one of the things that we ought to do in order to secure the best slate of candidates is for both the Senate and the administration to publicly recognize the work that these particular officials do. So I would suggest that the problem is not in coming up with a separate nominating committee, which is also an elected body, than to keep the nomination in the hands of the elected Senate Councilors, but to begin early to search for good candidates, to impress upon them that faculty governance is an important part of their service, their dossier, and to lay aside any fears that doing this kind of job will impact negatively on their status as a faculty member. I think this is really the key to getting a good slate of candidates. Thank you.
Jean Landa Pytel, Engineering: I think the purpose of nominating good candidates, and what my colleague, Peter Rebane, said is true. However, I think the process needs to be fixed. I think that we need a neutral body dedicated to finding and encouraging viable nominees for the various positions. It seems that the history of the Senate Council has been to nominate from within, and it seems that there is much internal looking for candidates, rather than having a group of people that are charged with finding viable nominees from within Senate Council as well, but are not themselves eligible or interested in running for any of these types of positions. I think we need to get it out in the open and objectify the process more than it has been in the past.
Travis DeCastro, Arts and Architecture: I agree with Peter; I agree that the perception of the service that we do is not necessarily the best. In the College of Arts and Architecture, we have done a few things to change our image within the College that have helped us, as senators, and have helped us perhaps gain a little higher positioning for having Senate service inside our own unit. A couple of the things we do are that we have made it a point to add ourselves to all of our faculty meetings. When the College meets as a whole, the Senate has a voice there; it has a presence. We have gone from the perception that it is largely a person entering the tenure track’s position to serve on the Senate to people who are already tenured, and who are associate and full professors. We have gone to the dean; we have gone to the unit heads; and we have discussed that Senate service needs to be recognized and merit pay increases. We feel like we have attacked the situation and raised the bar for the College of Arts and Architecture. We meet regularly as a caucus; we talk amongst ourselves; we look at the agendas; and when things come up that we feel we need to have a voice on, whether it is Libraries with Brian Curran, or Faculty Affairs with Sallie McCorkle, we sit and talk about it. I had kind of backed into the Senate many years ago, but what kept me going was the passionate leadership that was provided by certain individuals, such as Lou Milakofsky on Faculty Affairs, which was the first committee that I ever sat on. We have a lot of leadership. I think that if we have those voices out there, and you are willing to stand up, and you are willing to get yourself involved in your own units, the kind of lethargy that I have seen grow into the Senate in the last couple of years might be eliminated. We do not really need reorganization. We really need a rededication.
Chair Bise: Is there anybody else?
Judd Arnold, Retired Faculty: I am going to write you a letter. We raised questions in the Faculty Affairs Committee that relate to the larger issues on how you go about gathering and sharing information with other senators, with other committees, and organizing that data, and so forth. I do think that information is the chief thing we need to get better control of. What I wanted to say, and plan to say is complex, and I thought it would be ridiculous to take time in a meeting of this sort to try to cover a large issue. So, my question is very simple. What time frame would you give those of us who would like to communicate with you?
Chair Bise: We will give you a lot of time. We will not be meeting again until early February, so you have a month or so.
Judd Arnold: I would like to encourage anyone, rather than to simply ask the question, “What do I understand about how the Senate works?”, which is a dead end, I think, to simply say, “What would I like to see the Senate do to help me and my College or my department?” If they would simply forward those suggestions and you begin to compile a listing of those issues that people feel are neglected, or where we have gone in the wrong direction, that would be very useful.
John Moore: May I comment on that? This morning I had the opportunity to speak at Commonwealth Caucus, and I said that I had a question I wanted to ask at that Caucus, with the idea that I would drop the question and people could think about it as the afternoon wore on. So let me now share that question with all of you. The question is this: what mechanism do we have inside the Senate to insure that the Senate looks ahead and thinks about the issues that the Senate ought to be thinking about? At the current moment, we have a committee structure, and each committee is charged to think about issues inside a particular zone. Sometime we may say, “This is outside my portfolio; I ought not to be concerned about that.” At the same time, people are thinking about the University and their roles in the University. They are thinking about any number of issues that transcend any particular Senate committee, or may not even be charged to a particular Senate committee. The question is, how can we tap the voices in this room on those concerns in such a way that the Senate is seen by us to be dealing with the issues that are really concerning us. Some folks have suggested to me that we are structured in such a way that we silence those voices. I do not know if that is true, but I just wanted to raise that question. Are we tapping the thoughts and energies of all of you talented people who have dedicated time to this enterprise? We all want to feel that our time is being well spent. Some people feel that it is not being well spent because we are dealing with either minor issues, or we are dealing with peripheral issues, and we are not dealing with issues that people think are central. I just want to pass that on; it seems to relate to the last comment. If anyone wants to respond to that, I would be a very happy person.
Gordon De Jong, Liberal Arts: I would be happy to respond to that. The University Planning Committee spent all last year trying to do precisely that. Trying to say that the University takes a one to three-year strategic planning phase; what is the University going to be like in 10 to 15 years? There are colleagues in here that were on that exercise. We did it for the entire year. The list was as follows:
We only a committee for one of those.
John Moore: Gordon, are you going to send me an email on that, listing those things?
Gordon De Jong: No, this was all given as a report by the University Planning Committee to the Senate Office at the end of last year.
John Moore: Thanks, we will look it up.
Howard Sachs, Harrisburg: Listening to the commentary this afternoon and also to what went on at the Senate Council meeting, it seems to me that we need to be re-energized not in reconstructing the Senate, but in having the courage to take on some of the large issues that transcend a single committee. For example, most of us shy away from talking about issues of great inflation, because it either becomes an enormously global issue that is someone else’s problem, or it becomes a personal problem. For instance, “Is somebody going to tell me what the grade distribution ought to be in my class? And what is the implication for my pay raise or my life within my department?” I believe that the only group that could grapple with some of these large issues would be the Senate Officers or perhaps the Council. I would like to see someone frame a discussion, whether the discussion comes out in forensic sessions as we are having today, or some other way to cover these issues. Somehow there are large issues that we, as a Senate, do not want to touch, but ought to be touched. Grade inflation transcends undergraduate education. It is present in the Graduate School; it is a Faculty Affairs issue; it probably impacts all kinds of committees. I throw this out not as a solution, but as an observation that some group needs to say, “This is a big problem; let us structure a discussion.” Whether we can formulate a process to change things, that is a very big “if,” but we do need a mechanism to stimulate discussion. Too often, individual Senate committees are reactive and not proactive.
Chair Bise: Is there anybody else?
Jim Smith, Abington: I have one additional comment that I raised privately with a couple of people earlier. This goes down to Number 3 and 4, John, as well as the comment that you raised earlier in the Caucus for Commonwealth Senators. That is, how does the Senate collectively look around the next corner, look ahead, and look at some of the big issues that will impact all of us? I support Howard’s suggestion of a little earlier. One of the ways that I found, as a Senate officer, and I think each of the people in the front of the room found over the past experiences as their officer’s terms have unfolded, is that in addition to assuming a leadership role, an officer of the Senate has an opportunity for a wonderful education regarding Penn State. Among the ways you get that education is the sequence of college campus visits that each officer experiences, and if you are fortunate enough to be Chair-Elect and then Chair, you do this over two years. In fact, in the past, I have had the opportunity to visit every Penn State location, every Penn State College. If you are Secretary, Chair-Elect, and Chair then you get a double-dose of half of the University. If those visits go well, you find out what the hot button issues are, and if you are a responsible officer, you bring those issues along and you discuss them with one another on those long drives on the campus visits. Sooner or later, they may show up in charges to individual committees. They, in fact, do chart the course of the Senate.
So on the one hand, you have this wonderful opportunity to become aware of what Penn State thinks, what Penn State believes are its minuses, and work those into a Senate Agenda. An additional comment, however, is that I find it counter-intuitive that we are now cutting back that opportunity by 50 percent. Now we are doing campus visits every three years in the upcoming plan instead of every two years. I wonder if the Senate would be willing to reconsider that because I see this as an enormous enhancement to communication from the Senate to the constituents, and the constituents back to the Senate. I see this as a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the Senate leadership in terms of grappling with the many issues that are very serious and University wide.
Chair Bise: Jim, I just want to point out that even though we have gone to a three-year rotation rather than a two-year rotation, we have also increased the number of locations that we are visiting. So, we are trying to judge and gauge our time more effectively. Now we are going to the Medical School; we are going to the Law School; we are going up to Penn College, which never used to be in the cycle.
Are there any other questions?
Melvin Blumberg, Harrisburg: It seems to me that the approach that we are taking to this is a little bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If the front is sinking, let us move to the back. Actually, we should be more worried about plotting the course and the speed and the direction that we are going. Many people are talking about the structure of the Senate. If you would ask me what we mean by structuring, and really try to pin me down, or if I tried to pin you down, which would be even better, I would have to say, and I would hope that you would say something like, “Structure is the way we organize our behavior in some meaningful way to carry out some useful task.” If we start with the committees and try to move them around without really figuring out what task we are trying to do, I think it is not the most fruitful approach. So if we look at the Constitution of the Senate on Page 4, it talks about the functions of the Senate. That is, what we should be doing, the legislative functions, the responsibility for instructional programs of study, the advisory and consultative function, and the forensic functions. Those are the things that we ought to be doing, and it seems to me that redesigning the structure of the Senate proficiency and effectiveness means that we start by figuring out what it is we are supposed to be doing, and then develop a structure to carry out those functions and goals and the mission of the Senate. I do not quite see as we talk about the structure of the Senate that we refer back to the original goals, the things that we have said we are supposed to be doing. I also have not heard anyone directly say, “Let us go back and see if these are the things we should be doing now and for the next 20 years.” Should we, in fact, revisit these functions and then develop a structure that has organized our behavior in a way that is going to allow us to carry out those functions?
Chair Bise: Is there anyone else?
Mila Su, Altoona: In Recommendation 6, when we had talked about the Self-Study at the last meeting, I did think that there were suggestions for two committees that, I think, behooves us to at least consider whether or not they function as good committees for the Senate to staff with faculty and students, etc. The first committee that I would like to mention is the Committee on Educational Equity and Campus Environment. That was one that has been newly formed to address some of the directions Penn State has gone during the last decade. The second committee is the Committee on Outreach and International Programming. This is to address some of the changes that the institution has gone through, and I think reflects well, and would give faculty and students additional voice in the direction to which the University has already committed.
Chair Bise: Thank you. Is there anyone else?
Tramble Turner: This is the last round, I promise. With some of the concerns about either leadership or perhaps implicitly about morale when the creeping lethargy was mentioned by Travis, perhaps one of the issues over the last three to four years is a question of whether the Senate conceives itself as a body that is primarily dedicated to advocacy on behalf of the Penn State faculty, or do we conceive ourselves primarily as an administrative unit? I hope that there might be some fruitful discussion around those issues.
Elizabeth Hanley, Health and Human Development: I am not sure if I have just been lucky over the past eight or nine years that I have been on the Senate, but it seems to me that the chair of each committee has been a dynamic person. Therefore, that makes the committee a dynamic committee. We have definitely dealt with interesting and important issues over the years. You did mention, John, something about how we are looking into the future, and how we are going to be doing that. That really goes back to every committee, and the committee chair, along with its members, who are the ones who tackle those particular problems. So if we are going to reorganize, I do not care if we adopt the new suggestions that were put forth at the last meeting or throughout the year, or if we stay where we are, but I think we need to have our good committee chairs and people active on the committees. I think we then can accomplish what we really attempt to do.
Chair Bise: Is there anyone else?
Robert Heinsohn: I would like to add a postscript to what Betz just said. I would suggest that faculty chairs of the committees make better use of the summer time. In other words, the assignment of the committees that they are going to be chairing, and much of the committee membership can be done before the Senate ends. We all know that there are reports that have to be given in the fall, data to be collected, and drafts to be prepared. A clever chair can make use of the summer time with some colleagues to get some of this done and make better use of the early meetings. So I think Betz is right on the mark.
Bise: Is there anyone else? I do not see any other hands, so John thank
you very much for your time. (Applause) I would like to thank all of you for
participating. As I said, you are all citizens of the University; your prospective
is very important to us. Before the Committee on Committees and Rules starts
looking into some of these changes, we definitely seek your input. As John
mentioned, his email is “jwm2.” He has assured me that he has turned off that
spam filter that President Spanier said he could put on his email address,
and we look forward to further discussions. Thank you, John.
Harjit Singh, College of Medicine: I know everyone wants to get out of here, so I will be brief. I just wanted to touch base on something that President Spanier had mentioned in his speech, something that I think should be said in front of the Senate. I would like the Faculty Senate to join President Spanier in expressing their strong disapproval surrounding the recent unfortunate events involving the College Republicans. This type of behavior only detracts from the exceptional educational environment of Penn State University.
Chair Bise: I am sure that you speak for everyone in this room for those feelings that were expressed by the president, and we are also in support of those feelings as well.
The December 9, 2003, meeting of the University Faculty Senate was adjourned at 3:32 p.m.
The next meeting of the University
Faculty Senate will be on February 3, 2004.
Committees and Rules - Legislative Reports
Faculty Senate Constitution, Bylaws, and Standing Rules,
|Revision of Faculty Senate
Constitution, Bylaws, and Standing Rules,
Standing Rules, Article III, Section 6. c (5)
Faculty Advisory Committee to the President Membership Change
Intra-University Relations - Report on Curricular Integration Across Locations (Advisory/Consultative)
Faculty Affairs - Background Checking Procedures (Informational)
Senate Council - Informational Reports
Faculty Census Report, 2004-2005
Undergraduate Education - Informational Reports
Summary of Petitions by College, Campus, and Unit
University Planning - Sale of Circleville Farm (Informational)
Althouse, P. Richard
Bridges, K. Robert
Pugh, B. Frank
Rebane, P. Peter
De Jong, Gordon
DeCastro, W. Travis
Wager, J. James