Faculty Senate Minutes, October 11, 2019

October 13, 2019

Purdue Northwest Faculty Senate Minutes

October 11, 2019

10:00 A.M., Portage Meeting Facility Room 113


Voting members present:

L. Pelter, R. Kramer, M. Pelter, A. Sindone, H. Zhao, O. Farook, S. Rezak, V. Quinn, M. Mick, G. Schultz, N. Parashar, J. Davis, J. Rogers, M. Curia, G. Domke, C. Fewer, A. Elmendorf, A. Alavizadeh, M. Connolly, P. Stompor, R. Calix, D. Wilbur, A. Mitra, J. Dorman, K. Scipes, R. Merkovsky, R. Vega, W. He, C. Gillotti, R. Cherry, K. Kincaid, F. Vauleon, L. Taylor, C. Chen, D. Kozel, X. Yang, K. Scipes, R. Evans, M. Roller, L. Gielda, M. Mascha, W. Yu

Senators absent:

C. DeLeon, X. Wang, C. Morrow, D. Nikolovski

Non-Voting members present:

T. Keon, N. Latif, J. Colwell, A. Trekles, J. Holt, N. Marciniec (for J. Schooley)

Visitors present:

R. Rupp, L. Feldman, B. Stankowski, N. Nemeth, K. Falzone, J. Williams, J. Seidler, C. Murphy, L. Goodnight, T. Rigel Hines, J. Pula, K. Falzone, C. Arroyo


  1. Determination of quorum: 10:02am
  2. Call to order: 10:02am
  3. Approval of the agenda: After minor amendments, Schultz moved and Scipes seconded. The motion carried.
  4. Approval of the minutes from September 13, 2019: Wilbur moved and Schultz seconded. The motion carried.
  5. Remarks by the Senate Chair (T. Elmendorf).
    1. Some departments, including Math, have 100% Title IX reporter training completion. However, other departments are at a much lower completion percentage, and everyone must ensure that their mandatory reporting training has been completed. Please propagate this message to your colleagues. Kozel noted that the computerized system may not always record our completion properly, as it lists us separately as being from the legacy campuses (Calumet and North Central). This matter can be looked into further at the administrative level and is recognized as an ongoing issue.
    2. Issues related to summer salary and course assignments have been discussed with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). The pay policy for summer courses is on the PNW website, and the document asking for clarity on equity of assignments of courses to summer faculty has also been passed.
    3. Turf battles related to course offerings are being exacerbated due to the RCM budgeting model. The department claiming ownership over students may encourage departments to duplicate curriculum.
    4. Disability Access Center questions have come up, and as a result of being understaffed, there have been some issues with when and where students are taking accommodation exams. The Chancellor and Provost are looking into this issue and open positions in the DAC are posted.
    5. A detailed message regarding the SLT response to the SRA report from spring was sent out on September 13 in the afternoon, and we should all look at it in detail. The responses were largely in agreement with the recommendations from the Academic Task Force, although there were some discrepancies as well. In particular, the computer science degree programs, which are growing by about 20% per year, were downgraded from tier 1 to tier 4 (transform) even though they need additional funds to grow along with enrollment demand. The response of the SLT has been that the program does not appear to be performing optimally and a possible solution is to place it in the School of Engineering rather than the Department of Mathematics. Dean Holford has not yet been consulted on the issue, but it is concerning that the SLT report only looked at programs in tiers 1, 3, and 5, rather than at the entire list of programs. The Senate has taken the stand that while some information in the SRA is valuable, the process was flawed and the placement of programs into tiers has no merit. The SLT has agreed to look again at tiers 2 and 4 to offer additional consideration.
      1. Parashar asked as to why this recommendation had been made that Computer Science should be moved to Engineering. Kozel responded that from his conversation with the Dean of CES he was informed that the move may provide the programs with more visibility and allow them to further grow with more resources. This may also give them access to appropriate accreditation. Kozel was also concerned that, with such a small number of faculty, there may still be challenges if they were to become a separate department within the School of Engineering.
      2. Mascha commented that there appear to be many overlapping computer-based programs housed in different colleges, and students are often confused about where they should go within the field of computer science. Mick added that other colleges have Schools of Computing to place programs within the fields of computer science and programming together. We may gain a lot of strength from forming one school that would be able to draw students from a wide array of interests related to CS. However, Parashar noted that this should be investigated further to ensure that proper marketing investigations are done.
      3. Marciniec as the Student Government representative commented that high schools in our area are teaching computer science concepts. The State of Indiana is now requiring a CS credit for graduation from high school.
      4. Kozel added that Electrical and Computer Engineering is a program that may relate will with Computer Science because many of the courses have similar concepts. Mascha added that the admission standards in Engineering may discourage some students entering computer science, if they are different from the current admission standards in mathematics.
      5. Elmendorf noted that we as a faculty need to continue to be vigilant and have a strong voice in curricular matters such as this one.
      6. Farook indicated that he is researching and talking with students related to Internet of Things, fabrication, and other computer science concepts and was invited to talk further with the Executive Committee regarding his findings.
    6. Sabbaticals for administrative positions: the SLT has been consulted on the issue related to additional funds going to individuals on administrative leave who have negotiated administrative retirement. The Chancellor has been asked to respond to the source of these funds. While non-recurring funds, this would potentially pay for dozens of research releases for faculty to continue their work. Along with this, the overall retirement policy has been evaluated and the Chancellor will comment on this further.
    7. Chair Elmendorf has met with the commencement committee for the first time this year, chaired by Cheryl Arroyo. They are working very hard on structuring the best experience for commencement in the fall and spring.
  6. Remarks by the Chancellor (T. Keon)
    1. Chancellor Keon spoke to the source of funds for administrative leaves, which are from cash reserves and not recurring funds. He also emphasized that enrollments are down, and that incoming students are increasing, but retention is an issue. There is a committee working diligently on these issues, but we need to look at the problem more closely. If we look at the impact of this, it has impacted the budget with relation to international student populations, who pay more in tuition; our budget overall is 4.6 million less and we anticipated this last year. The Deans made decisions to recover additional money to make up this gap somewhat, so our current deficit is 3.6 million. There is a contingency account that has been in existence for some time that contains additional surplus funds for making up the gap further, up to 2.4 million. We will be looking at additional efforts to recover the rest of the money from the individual unit budgets and each Vice Chancellor has been consulted on this. More information is forthcoming. Early retirement plans have been used in the past to help with budget issues, but they do not always fit every individual need, and a single package offered cannot be altered legally. However, if someone is considering retiring, they should speak with their Dean regarding their individual options for retirement, so that a customized package can be developed.
    2. Mascha asked if the Voluntary Early Retirement Program will ever be brought back, as it was previously suspended indefinitely. The Chancellor responded that individuals may negotiate options that look like the previous program but a blanket version of that program is not currently available. Vega asked if salary negotiations are also part of the retirement discussions that may be had. The Chancellor reiterated that those are individualized decisions that can be negotiated with the Deans.
    3. Kozel asked the Chancellor about retirements and the nature of the cash reserves. The Chancellor responded that there are complexities in the source and amount of funds because each negotiated contract is different. In some cases, the negotiations are similar to what faculty may receive, with having them return to teach after stepping down, but at the same salary. This is however not cost-effective and it can also be negotiated as a true retirement. This may be the preferred route moving forward for higher-salary administrators.
    4. Scipes followed up on discussions of the SRA determinations from the SLT. He asked the Chancellor what he may have learned from the SRA process, and the response was that we need to continually review programs with a viable system in place.
    5. Scipes noted that FSD 18-23, adopted by the Senate in September, indicates that the SRA process was flawed and is not to be used as a primary source of data, and this was passed on the same day the memorandum from the SLT came out. He noted that the SLT report appeared to be using SRA data primarily, even though the process and results were overwhelming rejected by the faculty. He inquired as to why the data appeared to be used that way. The Chancellor responded that SRA data were not the only source of information, and that no hard decisions were made within the report. Elmendorf added that Senate leadership and SLT agreed that the additional sources of information will be released in a separate report.
    6. Schultz also noted that individual departments were met with over the summer as part of that information-gathering process. However, there still seem to be mistakes and misunderstandings in what programs we have available and they should be re-evaluated to ensure that all information coming to the leadership is accurate.
  7. Special presentation: New branding initiative (K. Falzone and J. Seidler, Marketing)
    1. Falzone and J. Seidler presented the new brand platform and website for PNW. The slides are available by request from Marketing and Communications. They are also happy to answer questions at any time.
    2. A full website redesign is part of this effort.
    3. We want to ensure that we are speaking consistently about who we are and what we do as a university. The process has been going on since summer 2018 and the new platform is slated to be released by 2020. The consulting firm BVK has been contracted to assist in this effort.
    4. The new brand is encapsulated in the phrase, “Power Onward.” This reflects our students’ individuality, persistence, grit, and determination that answers their higher calling to serve our local community.
    5. Mitra commended the Marketing staff on their work thus far. He also noted that it is important that each discipline and unit has their own ideas about how to attract students, and there are differences in how recruiting and communication to students happens through the website. He noted that centralized control over the website has made this additionally difficult in the past, and would like to see Marketing and Communications speak more with individual units to ensure that messages are able to reach students in the unique ways that may need to happen for each unit and student organization. Seidler responded that they are open to reviewing the current policies related to website governance and want to ensure that there is an efficient path to getting messages out to all stakeholders. They are looking at these efficiencies to ensure that consistency is preserved while also allowing for unique communication flow where needed. Marketing is actively working with colleges to identify what content needs to be part of the new site.
    6. Roller asked about the types of usability testing has been done so far for the website to validate that it will work for the different target audiences needed. Sometimes marketing and usability policies do not “get along” and currently the website is not as student-friendly as it could be. Seidler responded that we are currently using data from the current site and doing A/B testing as well as using Google Analytics data for usability analysis regarding how people are using the site now. We can now track what people are clicking in order to find the top places people are looking for and how they are getting there. This will help in navigational elements added into the new website. The site once launched can also be expanded upon further and will be continually evaluated for usability as needs and time changes. VC Goodnight invited Roller to meet with the website team to contribute his expertise, as well as any other faculty, students, or staff who would like to contribute further.
    7. Scipes asked how the messaging of what we have to offer will really be conveyed through the new website, including the high-quality offerings in programs and the accomplishments of faculty. Seidler responded that storytelling will be conveyed throughout the website which includes those of students, alumni, and faculty. In this way we can help prospective students see what they will experience at PNW.
    8. Kincaid noted that “Power Onward” is a good message for retention and may invite students who stopped attending to come back, as well as non-traditional students overall. We still have many non-traditional students out there and he hopes that this is part of the marketing efforts. Seidler indicated that there will be a variety of treatments of the inspirational theme to attract a variety of prospective and current students.
    9. Kramer indicated that a method of facilitating department and faculty communications to come out through the website would be very helpful. Further efficiency in day-to-day contact with a shorter and easier method to connect faculty and Marketing is needed. Falzone indicated that a form exists currently from Marketing for adding information, or individuals can email marketing@pnw.edu to ensure that events calendars and other information can be pushed out.
    10. Kozel noted that billboards and banners, as well as the website, should be sure to convey how we help students realize potential and achieve goals. Marketing messages should be concrete to help students see how and why people may want to come to PNW. Falzone noted that print ads allow for additional wording, but messaging is limited when it comes to billboards.
    11. Parashar commended the team on their work.
    12. Mascha noted that there are web editors and technology experts across colleges that may have much to contribute to the ongoing efforts related to the website, but currently have limited access.
  8. New Business
    1. Curriculum documents and updates (L. Taylor): No curriculum documents
    2. Notice of updated dates and Curriculog training
    3. Curriculog is fully implemented and the links are on the website, replacing previous Qualtrics forms. The Word document template is still available to use during this semester, but must be submitted through Curriculog moving forward. The website provides updates on this as well as the Curriculog training dates. J. Williams noted that the office of the Registrar is happy to help anyone having issues inputting information into the new system.
    4. Dates for documents to be submitted have been altered: the last date for program changes to be submitted is now January 24, 2020.
  9. New Business:
    1. Documents for action: none.
    2. Documents for Discussion
      1. FSD 19-06: Resolution on Timely Assignment of Courses to Faculty (Faculty Affairs)
        1. Quinn noted that some faculty are assigned courses very late and there is concern that they are not able to be prepared to teach their classes. The resolution allows faculty more time (six weeks) for their preparations. With the three-semester schedule in place, this appears to be a good time to implement a clear and consistent policy regarding assignments. Curia also spoke to the 6 weeks called for in the resolution, which allows for ample time particularly in consideration of the winter break when there should be allowed time for family and holidays.
        2. Schultz asked about the start of the 6-week timeframe, to which it was noted that the document can be clarified to show that the 6 weeks is counted backward from the beginning of the next semester.
        3. Schultz had further concerns that, due to the incentivized budget climate, this may be problematic in that it may conflict with the need to move faculty around based on enrollment numbers. He is also concerned about the practice of courses being listed without any faculty names listed, and then after there are students enrolled, faculty are added to meet those enrollment demands, sometimes late in the prior semester. This also can be impacted when a faculty member doesn’t have a big enough workload and 5th and 6thclasses are being assigned. Without set policies, it impacts faculty and student experiences in all courses. Vega responded that the Workload Committee will be working on these issues as well and reiterated the importance of getting the task force together to begin their work.
        4. Elmendorf commented that the University has decided that courses not cancelled within three weeks in advance of the start of the semester will definitely be run.
        5. Sindone responded that the three-semester schedule is intended to help with retention and allows students to get proper advising as well as be pre-registered several semesters out. From the faculty perspective, it should also be noted that faculty would know when and what they will be teaching. Students also want to know who will be teaching their classes and it works better when faculty are assigned to courses as soon as the schedules are put forward.
        6. Domke asked about emergencies and when rescheduling needs to occur. Quinn responded that it is not the intention of the resolution to interfere with this kind of need for flexibility.
        7. Parashar asked if this is within the purview of the faculty to make such policies; the answer was “yes.” The Chancellor commented that we have not adequately used existing data when making decisions on scheduling. DegreeWorks will provide department chairs with more information on how many students need a course, what sequence they are in, and what campus they may be on. The hope is that course scheduling will improve with this available data and chairs will learn how to do scheduling more efficiently.
        8. Mitra noted that the three-semester scheduling has been discussed for a long time despite the inability of departments to sometimes assign faculty in a timely fashion. The three-semester schedule may work better in some disciplines than in others where there is a dearth of available instructors to staff courses. Provost Latif noted that the three-semester schedule is for the students’ benefit, and we must be able to separate the faculty names from the courses to ensure we can keep our promise to students. Staffing of courses can come after the schedule so that we ensure that the best schedule possible is made available to students. In some cases, it is not possible to keep a faculty member with a course for various reasons, including unanticipated issues.
        9. Vega commented that many chairs and departments put the schedules together in a collegial way, while other units do not work well together and chairs are not always communicating with their faculty. There is a human issue related to consideration of faculty time. Pula agreed with Vega and noted that students have a greater chance of persevering when they can be enrolled several semesters out. He asked the Provost to ensure that the Deans enforce the multi-semester scheduling initiative as well as the current resolution to ensure that faculty are placed appropriately in courses when they can be properly prepared to teach them well. Provost Latif added that it can be difficult to ensure that demand for courses and additional sections of courses, which can happen at the last minute, balances with the need for faculty equity in workload assignments.
        10. Schultz asked what the communication to deans and departments has been regarding these policies addressed at the Senate level. Elmendorf noted that we as Senators can ask that the SLT address Deans regarding Senate resolutions, and that we can communicate this to Deans ourselves as well.
        11. Quinn called for a point of order to end the current discussion. The document will be reviewed by Faculty Affairs further for presentation in November.
      2. FSD 19-07: Membership in the Faculty Senate Curriculum Process: Taylor presented the resolution from Curriculum as to who can serve on curriculum committees at any level. It ensures that anyone serving on a committee should not have supervisory authority over faculty and should have at least .5 FTE teaching. This would mirror the requirements for Senate membership.
        1. A friendly amendment was added to ensure that this membership criteria is made clear, as the specific notation regarding supervisory authority was not listed.
        2. Taylor moved the document as amended to action, and L. Pelter seconded. The motion carried.
        3. Kramer moved the document for adoption. Domke seconded. The motion carried. FSD 19-07 is approved.
      3. Discussion items.
        1. Report on the current status of assessment in preparation for the HLC visit (C. Fewer)
          1. Fewer addressed the General Education component of assessment, and the committee is ready to approve submissions for Gen Ed assessment data through TaskStream. TaskStream will be used for both HLC and Senate review purposes. The assessment data requested was received by September 30 deadline by most areas, and things are proceeding on the expected timeline.
          2. Gillotti asked if the individual units will be responsible to load documents into TaskStream, or if the documents sent to the committee can be attached to avoid doubling work. Fewer responded that the intention is to reduce work whenever possible, but the process needs to be refined further.
        2. Discussion of issues relating to the Westville campus.
          1. The committee has met once and they are continuing their work. Quinn reported that they are scheduling an additional meeting for next steps within the next week.
        3. Report on the Workload Committee (R. Vega)
          1. Vega reported that the workload task force currently in place has come to the end of their task, forming the resolution for the joint committee. A new task force with administrative and faculty representatives must come together according to the resolution. The Nominating Committee will assist in populating the faculty side, and the SLT will be consulted for administrative recommendations.
        4. SLT recommendations of 9/13/19 following the SRA templates: (see above remarks under Item 5)
  1. Remarks by the Student Government representative (J. Schooley, SGA President)
    1. Marciniec represented SGA in J. Schooley’s absence. He provided an update on Student Government’s new constitution that will be voted on next week. A major concern is student life, and SGA intends to support student organizations further, so that there are clearer paths toward putting on events.
    2. SGA has also heard a number of complaints from students regarding facilities updated to have changing stations for those students with children. The campuses are currently not up to state code and this is being investigated.
    3. Student ID cards are also being worked on to ensure that expiration dates are added for voter registration needs. This should be able to be done within the next year. Sindone added to this that the current discussion is around what the expiration date actually should be. SGA was researching this to determine whether it should be 4, 5, or 6 years from issue.
  2. Report of the University Senate/IFC representative (J. Pula/V. Quinn).
    1. There has not been a WL Senate meeting, but the University Faculty Affairs committee did meet. A concern was addressed regarding online course offerings and a rumor about asking for permission from Purdue Global before offering an online class. A new online course is to be vetted by Purdue Online under new policy, regardless of the campus offering it. They do not approve or disapprove new courses, however, and Provost Latif noted that they are looking at whether new online program proposals do not overlap with existing efforts. The primary concern is over programs, not individual courses within programs.
  3. Open discussion (as time permits).
    1. Kincaid thanked Scipes and CHESS for their international efforts. Six faculty as well as Dean Carey and Director of Global Engagement George Kacenga attended a social science and humanities global conference in Vietnam, in collaboration with universities in Germany, UK, Vietnam, and Taiwan, as well as other nations. This is part of a new collaborative effort to allow Vietnamese students and faculty to exchange with PNW, and it was an excellent effort that was well-attended.
  4. Adjournment: 11:51am

Committee room assignments:

  • Nominations, Elections, and Awards – Foyer Room
  • Curriculum – PMF 104
  • Education Policy – PMF 113
  • Faculty Affairs – PMF 113General Education – PMF 113
  • Student Affairs – PMF 113