April 21, 2004

Officers attending: Pam Chambers, President; Cindy Beckett, President Elect; Fred Thomas, Secretary

Senators attending: Jim Brooks, Susan Callender, Frank Clay, Myra Grinner, Kenneth Melendez, Jackie Myers, Nick Reeder, Shari Rethman, Ellen Rosengarten, Marsha Wamsley, Charles Williams

Senators not attending: Marti Shapiro

Others attending: Laurel Mayer, Colleen Whittington

 Pam called the meeting to order at 2:30 in Room 6142

1.      Department Review Process (Colleen Whittington)

Pam welcomed Colleen to the meeting and Colleen distributed a summary of changes proposed to the Department/Program review process (Attachment FSMA20040421-01A). Colleen explained that the Assessment Committee’s Subcommittee on Department Review Revision has been working for about three years on ways to improve the process. In addition to Colleen, members of the subcommittee are Sue Merrell, Teresa Prosser, Lori Zakel, Doug Easterling, Surrender Jain and Jennifer Barr. Helen Grove is Chair of the subcommittee.

Colleen emphasized that the goal of the subcommittee is to “ingather processes”—to make the departmental review process more efficient and effective by linking it with other processes. Key changes if the proposal is implemented will include (1) a shift from a two-year cycle of reviews to a five-year cycle, (2) better data that is more user friendly and available annually, (3) a more defined format for reviews but one that retains room for flexibility and (4) a reduction from two meetings to one. It is not yet clear what role the President will play in the process.

Shari asked if it was true that the current mission model and the division business plans would be eliminated. Colleen replied that the mission model would be eliminated. If the division business plan remains, it is likely to be modified so it is not an extra task.

Frank expressed concern about the proposed shift to a five-year interval between formal department reviews. He noted that there are many cases in which the reviews have led to important actions by the administration. Colleen replied that short-term issues need to be brought to the attention of administrators more rapidly than allowed by even the current two-year cycle. The proposed process includes an annual one-page interim report that could be used in dealing with such issues. Frank was still concerned that the new process might reduce the opportunities for faculty to interact directly with upper administration.

Colleen, Shari and Cindy said that the current process is uneven in terms of participation by administrators and attention to follow-up actions. The proposal would provide a more systematic process with written recommendations and accountability for follow-up.

Colleen said that some programs, particularly career programs, are very heavily assessed because of the requirements for external accreditation and these external reviews need to be coordinated more efficiently with the College’s internal review process. She also felt that programs which do not face these external accreditations could benefit from some of the same type of review. Ellen replied that academic departments have very important links to professional organizations and standards, even if those organizations do not require external reviews. Fred said that the College has long expected academic departments to bring in external evaluators even if this is not required by external groups.

Colleen said she was pleased to learn that external evaluation is more universal at Sinclair than she realized. She emphasized that an important benefit of the proposed changes would be an increase in cross-departmental communication; Fred asked for more details and she replied that the each review will be conducted by a review team that can include people from other departments. The review meetings should be viewed as process learning experiences with the VPI acting as facilitator.

Susan asked about the current status of the proposal and Colleen replied that the subcommittee is still collecting information as it works to refine the proposal. The group has also had discussions about the proposal with Department Chairperson’s Council and with Instructional Council. Colleen particularly encouraged Senators and faculty to contact any of the subcommittee members with their input. She said it is not yet clear how the final decision on the proposal will be made.

Jim asked about the practical issues of making a transition from the existing model to the proposed one. Colleen replied that the group has discussed the transition and is convinced that it can be implemented in a practical way.

Cindy asked if the one-page interim reports would be sent forward in their original form to the upper administration or if the deans would instead prepare a summary. She suggested that it would be easier to obtain buy-in by chairs and faculty for the new process if they knew their original report would go forward. That matter has not yet been decided.

Pam said that departments being reviewed this year are seeing changes that shift in the direction of the proposed model. She also emphasized that the President is very active and open in hearing the views of faculty, and she cited the coffee klatch on April 20th as a good example of how faculty and other Sinclair employees can raise issues that are important to them.

2.      Announcements

2.1.           Pam reported that she attended the recent meeting of Ohio Faculty Senate, which included information about state-wide efforts to make transfer easier and more accurate.

2.2.           Pam said that the Monitoring Task Force meeting scheduled for April 21st has been cancelled.

2.3.           Pam encouraged Senators to seek nominations for OATYC recognition of full-time and part-time faculty.

3.      Minutes from April 14

Shari moved to approve the minutes from April 14th incorporating corrections suggested by Jim. The motion passed.

4.      Academic Policies and 2.7.5

Cindy led a discussion of proposals from the Promotion and Tenure and Academic Policies Committees for changes to Handbook section on applications for promotion to Full Professor (attachment FSMA20040421-04A) and section 2.7.5 on applications for tenure (attachment FSMA20040421-04B). The proposed changes would require applicants to submit three sections of student evaluations per year using either a departmentally approved instrument or the Purdue Cafeteria Survey. The requirements would be phased in to require one year (three sections) of evaluations for applicants in 2004-05, two years (six sections) for applicants in 2005-06, and three years (nine sections) for applicants in 2006-07. The phase-in would continue until applicants are required to submit five years of student evaluations.

Cindy, Ellen and others expressed concern that the language of the proposals is not as clear as it may need to be. Frank and Jackie suggested that the required process for conducting student evaluations would be particularly difficult for faculty who teach off-campus, at night or through distance learning. Jim questioned whether it was necessary to require a full five years of evaluations.

Ken, Cindy, Jim and others said there are larger issues raised by the proposals. Making this change only for faculty applying for promotion to Full Professor or for tenure may be a “patch” on a system that instead needs radical change. They suggested that it may be more appropriate to incorporate student evaluations into the general faculty evaluation process (FAPR), not just into the application process for tenure and promotion to Professor.

Ellen and Fred noted that the proposal seemed to return in many ways to the system used at Sinclair over twenty years ago. The specific requirement to use Purdue or other student evaluation instruments was dropped in large part because of faculty dissatisfaction with both the instruments and their implementation.

Pam emphasized that the push for increased faculty accountability is coming primarily from faculty, not from administration. Faculty feel that there needs to be a better, more comprehensive system to measure and improve the quality of instruction and that students need to play a role in that evaluation. She agreed that the proposal to change the requirements for tenure and for promotion to Full Professor is just one aspect of a bigger issue.

There was an extensive and enthusiastic discussion about whether student evaluations should be required, with those present expressing a wide range of views. Pam encourages all Senators to seek additional input from faculty about this important question.

5.      Office hours 2.4.4

Deferred until April 28th.

6.      Class Meetings 2.11.4

Deferred until April 28th.

7.      Spring elections

Deferred until April 28th.

8.      Spring Assembly Blair Hall Wednesday, May 12, 2004 at 2:30pm

Deferred until April 28th.

9.      Open Forum

9.1.           Cindy reported that Dean Richard Jones will be participating in a future Senate meeting to discuss issues related to faculty ratios. His visit will be scheduled after more data becomes available.

9.2.           Pam reported that the Cultural Diversity group would like to talk with Senate about adding sexual diversity as an additional area in Sinclair’s nondiscrimination policies.

9.3.           Jim encouraged Senators and other faculty to submit articles for the Faculty Forum. There will be another issue published soon.

9.4.           Marsha reported that there are still concerns about the process by which faculty submit scantron forms. She is working with Donna Blankenship about alternative procedures.

The meeting adjourned at 4:15.

Submitted by Fred Thomas

Approved by Senate, April 28, 2004