FACULTY SENATE MINUTES
April 28, 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
Senators not attending: Marti Shapiro, Charles Williams
Others attending: Laurel Mayer
Pam called the meeting to order at 2:32 in Room 6142
Pam reported that she had received many comments from faculty regarding possible changes to the faculty evaluation process. She had rephrased and summarized the comments to keep them anonymous and distributed them by email to Senators, and she will continue to do the same with any additional faculty comments she receives. She asked Senators to emphasize with faculty that no changes to the system have yet been made, that the current proposals originated with faculty not the administration and that there will be continuing opportunities for discussion.
2. Minutes April 21, 2004
Ellen moved to approve the minutes from April 21 as distributed. The motion passed.
3. OATYC Nomination Deadline by May 5th for a Vote on the 19th of May for Adjunct and Faculty of the Year
Pam said that she has heard from the LAS and Engineering divisions about likely nominees for the OATYC adjunct and full-time faculty of the year awards. She asked all Senators to encourage additional nominations.
4. D.L. Compensation Proposal Vote
Pam referred to the revised proposal on Distance Learning Compensation (attachment FSMA20040428-04A) distributed earlier and opened the floor for discussion.
Shari said that Department Chairpersons’ Council (DCC) discussed the proposal and had concerns. One of DCC’s concerns was that the proposal would allow some departments to run smaller sections than other departments; however, this was really a general concern about variations in average class size, not something specific to distance learning. There was also concern by some members of DCC that the proposal might not provide enough guidance to insure that reassigned hours for course development were consistent across departments; however, they noted that the leadership of distance learning could help maintain balance. Shari said that DCC has tabled the proposal for further discussion.
Ken said that the concerns raised by DCC were major issues extending well beyond the current distance learning proposal and that these concerns are unlikely to be resolved in the immediate future. He felt the concerns should not hold back what is fundamentally a much improved system for distance learning compensation.
Susan moved to approve the proposal as distributed and Ken seconded. The motion passed.
5. Spring Elections: Senate Officers, Division Representatives and Appointments
Pam reported that she was aware of faculty who were interested in serving in College-wide offices as Vice President, Secretary and Representative to President’s Council. She also noted that Ohio Faculty Senate continues to be an important state-wide organization though which Sinclair can participate in wider decisions and learn from other schools. The President of Senate generally attends Ohio Faculty Senate meetings, but our Handbook provides that the person who receives the second largest number of votes for the office of Vice President will be the Representative to Ohio Faculty Senate, attending when the President cannot do so. The Spring College-wide elections will be conducted during two days of open voting, with the time and place to be announced later.
6. President's Inauguration, May 14, 2004
Pam and Cindy briefly summarized planning for the Inauguration. Dr. Ponitz and Dr. Sifferlen will be grand marshals and several Senators volunteered to serve as marshals. More details about the inauguration will be distributed soon.
7. Faculty Assembly, May 12, 2004
Pam reported that Dr. Johnson, Dr. Jacobs and other members of Sinclair’s leadership team will participate in the Assembly meeting. We are in the second year of a two-year FITS agreement and FITS will not meet again until May 27th, so there will not be an extensive FITS report. Faculty are encouraged to provide their input on FITS issues either during the Assembly meeting or directly to Ned Young.
8. Comprehensive Faculty Evaluation Process
Pam reminded Senators of the summaries of faculty comments (attachment FSMA20040428-08A) that she distributed earlier. She also encouraged Senators to continue collecting and sharing input from faculty in their divisions. She emphasized that the current proposal originated with faculty on the Promotion and Tenure Committee.
Shari said a faculty member in her division had commented that student evaluations are likely to be more positive in classes where students see the content as “fun” or as directly related to their career goals. The same faculty member felt that the immediate supervisor is in a good position to judge the extent to which student evaluations reflect course content rather than the quality of teaching.
Myra reported that some faculty in her division had expressed support for including student evaluations in the faculty evaluation process, but these faculty did not want Purdues to be mandated. She said the faculty also want to know more about the history of faculty evaluation at Sinclair and more about the reasons other faculty are concerned.
Cindy said that department chairs are sometimes relatively new to teaching and may themselves be untenured, which can make it difficult for them to evaluate the quality of teaching. She emphasized the need for a multi-faceted system of faculty evaluation, which includes student evaluations as just one component. Pam commented that there may be a need for increased mentoring or training of both Chairs and Deans to implement a more comprehensive evaluation system.
Fred said that a good evaluation system needed to have a clear purpose and a clear audience. He was concerned that a system designed to identify outstanding faculty performance, for example, might not be appropriate if used to help administrators identify poor performance or if used to serve as a guide for faculty self-improvement. Frank agreed that faculty wanting to improve their own teaching might ask tough questions if the results were confidential, but they might be reluctant to ask those same questions if the results went first to administrators. Marsha noted that her department uses three different student evaluation instruments for different types of instruction. Frank noted that the current divisional merit process is more closely linked to the Purdues than is College-wide merit or promotion and tenure.
Ellen expressed her opinion that the Purdues may focus too much on lecture-based methods of teaching and that Sinclair needs an instrument that better matches the learning college principles. Pam said that some faculty have reported significant decreases in their Purdue scores when they shift, for example, from lecture to process learning. In many cases, the faculty are convinced that their teaching has improved despite the lower student evaluations. Several Senators also suggested that faculty can sometimes receive lower student ratings when they raise academic standards. Jim said that some faculty who receive consistently low student evaluations at the end of a course may receive very high praise from the same students when they are contacted a few years later.
Shari, Myra and Fred pointed out that teaching and teaching evaluation are sometimes cooperative efforts involving two or more faculty members working together. The evaluation process should not focus exclusively on individual faculty and their supervisors.
Susan said that the current faculty evaluation system seems to be working much more effectively in some departments than in others. Processes that work well in a small department, for example, may not be appropriate for a very large department.
Cindy and Fred said that the current system has achieved very positive overall results in that college-wide assessments show students are generally well-satisfied with the instruction they receive. There are weaknesses that need to be corrected and the College needs to consider substantial changes, but there is no widespread crisis of quality.
Cindy reported that a participant from one of the other colleges in Sinclair’s AQIP group had described a cafeteria-style faculty evaluation system. They had agreed on a set of about ten standard evaluation methods; including student evaluations, peer evaluations, and others. Each faculty member selects three of the standard methods for each annual evaluation. Several Senators expressed support for exploring this approach.
Pam and Cindy will talk further with Academic Policies Committee and with Dr. Jacobs about the need for a more comprehensive approach to faculty evaluation, including possible creation of a group to explore the cafeteria approach.
9. Office Hours
Deferred until May 5.
10. Class Meetings
Deferred until May 5.
11. Open Forum
11.1. Pam said that some faculty have asked whether Institutional Merit is still in place and she said that it is definitely continuing at least through this year.
11.2. Cindy said there will be a presentation about possible changes to Sinclair’s diversity policies at a Senate meeting later during the quarter.
11.3. Jim asked if it is possible for a full-time faculty member to work part-time for Sinclair in a staff position. He noted that full-time faculty are allowed to have additional part-time employment outside the College. Cindy added that Sinclair’s full-time staff are allowed to teach part-time at Sinclair. Pam will investigate further.
11.4. Frank shared a concern expressed by some faculty that Sinclair is moving to centralize all academic counseling. Frank and others are apprehensive that this could lead to a generic form of counseling that would be less effective than the current system. Shari said that faculty in her division had expressed the same concern.
Pam and Cindy replied that no decisions have yet been made about possible restructuring of academic counseling and that AQIP is still looking at possible alternatives. Faculty Senate could participate in the decision through a formal resolution, discussions with Karen Blake and other members of the Counselor’s Council or perhaps by inviting Hank Dunn to participate in a Faculty Senate meeting.
11.5. Ken shared a faculty member’s question about Sinclair’s policy with regard to Ohio’s new concealed carry law for firearms. Pam replied that she understood the law to forbid the carrying of guns on Sinclair’s campus except by on-duty law enforcement officers. She said the regulations for parking areas may not be as clear, particularly for overflow parking lots that Sinclair rents rather than owns. Pam will investigate the policy further and will also investigate Sinclair’s plans for signage about the regulations.
11.6. Cindy announced that she has decided to step down from her position as Chair of the Respiratory Care Department to focus on her role during the next two years as President of Faculty Senate.
The meeting adjourned at 4:15.
Submitted by Fred Thomas
Approved by Senate, May 5, 2004