Feb. 6, 2002

Officers attending: Russ Marcks, President; Pam Chambers, Vice President; Fred Thomas, Secretary

Senators attending: Cindy Beckett, Frank Clay, Forrest Cope, Roxann DeLaet, George Hageman, Rick Jurus, Kenneth Melendez, Bob Reas, Ellen Rosengarten, Mike Smith

Not attending: Susan Callender

Others attending: Karen Blake, Barry Grady, Laurel Mayer, Gary Tucker

Russ called the meeting to order at 2:32 in room 6142.

1.      Minutes from Jan. 30, 2002

After making one grammatical correction, Bob moved to approve the minutes of Jan. 30. Rick seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

2.      FITs update

Russ announced that the entire FITs team, including both faculty and administration had met for the first time on Jan. 29. The meeting was devoted primarily to an exchange of information. Russ will schedule the next meeting after faculty surveys have been returned so they can be used to help guide the agenda. There will also be a Faculty Assembly meeting scheduled soon.

At the FITs meeting, much of the discussion concerned changes in the state budget. The 6% cut anticipated for next year is a continuation of the current biennial budget, not an additional cut. So far, Sinclair has used the tuition stabilization fund to offset much of the impact of the cuts. Projections indicate that if the current pattern continues through 2008, the tuition stabilization fund will be $20 million in the hole. There are additional funds that also need to be considered in the analysis. Ken Kimble, Ned Young and Bill Hoover have looked carefully at the College financial statements. A tuition increase of $2.75 is planned for summer of this year. Since this is an increase of 8.6% and the second increase of the year, there is concern about possible public relations reactions. Additional increases are expected over the next few years.

Much of the national benchmarking information for College salaries will not be available until March, although the administration is anxious to move forward with discussions before then. Also, the salary database includes only about half as many schools as before, because the Department of Education has temporarily stopped collecting the same data as before due to a computer changeover. The sample change does seem to have had an impact on the averages.

Institutional Merit checks will be distributed in July or August. Several Senators expressed concern that the payment was not being made until the 2002-2003 fiscal year. STRS will, however, count the bonus as part of the prior year in determining benefits for those retiring. The amount of the bonus was determined based upon achievement of institutional goals.

Pam listed agenda items for the next FITs meeting as including quality workplace, benchmarking, faculty ratios, continuing faculty and retirement, and parity. Additional items will be identified from the faculty survey.

There has already been some discussion of the possibility that replacing faculty who retire or leave for other reasons may tend to reduce average salaries, even though the salaries of those who remain have stayed competitive. Russ and Ken Kimble asserted to the administration this does not matter to our goal of progressing in comparison with national salary averages.

Cindy asked if the administration had raised any issues regarding ACF and part-time salaries. Russ replied that the administration had not. Pam and Russ agreed that most of the FITs meeting had been presentations of information by Joe Gorman and Steve Jonas.

Ken Melendez suggested that starting the FITs process earlier in future years might be an advantage. Russ and Pam agreed that some components of the process could be started earlier, and noted the faculty surveys as one such step. In addition, this year's discussion should include the question of whether we have a one-year agreement or another three-year agreement, which will affect the timeline for next year.

Gary asked whether the projection of a $20 million deficit in the tuition stabilization fund by 2008 was based on an assumption that current economic trends would continue. Russ, Pam and Cindy cited several other factors involved, including decreasing income from the county levy and decreasing interest income. The projection does not include any additional reductions in spending beyond those already implemented.

Russ and Pam noted that the faculty surveys are very important, both in shaping the FITs discussions and in demonstrating to the administration that the team is familiar with and supported by the faculty.

3.      KPI regarding part-time and full-time faculty ratios (continued)

Russ reported that he had talked with the Provost, who reaffirmed his commitment to the 60-40 split between full-time and part-time faculty, based on the number of sections taught. He supports the use of sections as the basic metric (rather than student FTE, payload hours, and others) because they are easier to measure and they do not appear to yield significantly different results. The Provost also noted that Sinclair's average class size has dropped from 20.6 to about 17. The administration wants to increase this rather quickly to 18. The College now has over 700 sections with fewer than 10 students, and will seek to reduce the number of small sections.

Bob, Frank and Fred commented about how the 60-40 split is related to requirements from the Regents and other accrediting bodies. It is not entirely clear at this point how those groups collect data or what their requirements are. Fred said that Board of Regents staff had told him that the 60% full-time figure is only a guideline for new programs.

Russ reported that the Provost remains firm in supporting the 60-40 target, but that he expressed more readiness to move from 80-20 to 85-15 as the ratio of tenure-track faculty to ACF. That would mean that tenure-track faculty teach 51% of Sinclair's sections.

The Provost also wants to adjust the pattern of tenure-track teaching so that experienced faculty teach at all levels, including introductory courses. Frank and Russ noted that the Handbook states that when a hierarchy is required tenure-track faculty have priority in selecting classes.

Cindy and Fred both noted that there does not seem to be adequate baseline data at this time to show where the College is now with regard to faculty ratios.

Russ also reported that he had talked with the Provost about the possibility of converting some ACF positions to tenure-track. The Provost emphasized that any conversions of positions would be based upon the ratios within each department. Some departments may gain tenure-track positions, but others may loose positions through the process of attrition. Fred contended there is a problem with the system in that chairs can manipulate the section ratios to justify more tenure-track faculty by the way they distribute teaching assignments.

Russ and Pam led a discussion on the process by which a constitutional amendment could be brought to a vote. Cindy advocated moving rapidly to seek a vote on Senate representation of ACFs to resolve the issue by the end of this year. Fred agreed with the need for a decision soon, and said he was very disturbed by the prospect of Senate and FITs discussing "job quotas" that might adversely affect ACFs without first resolving the question of whether on not Senate represents those ACFs.

Russ and Pam clarified the requirement that the constitution can only be amended by a two-thirds vote of the entire Assembly, and that the proposal must be distributed in writing at least 30 days prior to the meeting at which it is discussed. Russ also stated that (1) based on past precedent only tenure-track faculty would be allowed to vote, and (2) that Assembly does have the authority to decide whether or not it represents ACFs or another faculty group without additional approval from the administration. If Assembly votes to represent ACFs, there would also be changes needed in the Handbook and those do require administrative approval. The administration would still have the authority to influence the ways in which ACFs are represented, and that might mean the representation is very limited.

Barry expressed the opinion that if Assembly votes not to represent ACFs they are likely to form an organization of their own and perhaps a union. He felt that could lead to undesirable conflict between the two groups. He said that his experience in industry had convinced him that organizations must have reasonable majority of people who have a distinctive, long-term tie to the organization.

Fred also predicted that a "no" vote would lead very quickly to the formation of an ACF Senate and the writing of a separate ACF Handbook. "Two groups representing people who do essentially the same job are going to have a long string of conflicts."

Pam reported on her discussion with the Provost, in which he agreed to investigate the cost of converting some ACFs to the tenure-track.

Cindy and Ellen agreed to draft an amendment to the constitution, specifying that Faculty Assembly includes only tenure-track faculty. Russ agreed to draft an amendment that would include ACFs as members.

The amendments will not be presented at the next Faculty Assembly meeting. They will be presented at the following meeting, with a vote to follow at a meeting at least 30 days later.

4.      ACF Focus Groups (continued)


5.      Proposed Changes for Section 1 of the Handbook from Academic Policies Committee (Pam)

Pam described the set of grammatical changes to the Faculty Handbook that she distributed earlier. Senate voted to suspend Roberts Rules in order to act quickly on these changes. Ellen moved to approve the Handbook changes and Roxann seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

6.      Open Forum

6.1.           Russ said that the Provost has proposed an all-day retreat for Senate, probably on a Saturday or Friday. Russ asked Senators to consult their constituents about the top priorities for items to be included in the agenda for this meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 4:08.

Submitted by Fred Thomas

Approved by Senate, Feb. 13, 2002