Faculty Senate Minutes, November 8, 2019

November 12, 2019

Purdue Northwest Faculty Senate Minutes

November 8, 2019

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

Voting members present:

L. Pelter, M. Pelter, A. Sindone, H. Zhao, O. Farook, S. Rezak, M. Mick, G. Schultz, N. Parashar, J. Davis, 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, C. Morrow, C. DeLeon, X. Wang, D. Nikolovski

Senators absent:

J. Rogers, V. Quinn, R. Kramer

Non-Voting members present:

T. Keon, J. Colwell, A. Trekles, J. Holt, J. Schooley

Visitors present:

R. Rupp, B. Stankowski, N. Nemeth, K. Falzone, J. Williams, C. Murphy, J. Pula, K. Falzone, C. Arroyo, C. Holford, D. Rempfer, T. Winders


  1. Determination of quorum: 10:04am
  2. Call to order.
  3. Approval of the agenda. Sindone moved to approve the agenda and Parashar seconded. The motion carried.
  4. Approval of the minutes from October 11, 2019. Schultz moved to approved the agenda and Domke seconded. The motion carried.
  5. Remarks by the Senate Chair (T. Elmendorf).
    1. Chair Elmendorf reported that the IBBM model task force adopted a motion that the distribution of funds for graduate courses should have the same percentage of undergraduate courses. The graduate courses had been determined to have a 0/100 split with no funds going to the offering department and all of the funds going to the student’s major department. It will now be the same 80/20 split as the undergraduate funding model. This has little effect on units offering graduate courses as most units house their programs mostly or exclusively within their own units.
    2. Elmendorf reported that spending time on the Area Committee for the College of Engineering and science has been a chore as the timeline has been no better this year as it was in the previous year. Even though the timeline was allegedly changed to allow for more time for the Area Committees, there were a large number of documents in CES, and they had to be discussed within a two-week period. The electronic aspect of using Interfolio and DocuSign did improve some processes, but he called on Faculty Affairs to review the timeline for next year to allow more time for the Area committees.
    3. There is a recommendation from Richard Rupp and VC Tim Winders on Electronic Communications coming forward through the Educational Policy committee. They will be considering it either during this meeting or the next month’s meeting, as there are other things on the Ed. Policy agenda.
    4. Executive Committee discussed the summer assignment policy, and there are questions regarding which colleges have documented transparent policies and put them into place. An informal show of hands was taken of the Senate membership and it was determined that College of Business, Engineering and Science, and SOEC have policies established. Other units do not appear to have a policy that Senators present are aware of.
    5. The current search for the Provost/VCAA is on a tight timeline. The committee is currently being trained to review applications through Success Factors and by November 11, they will be able to review all 22 applications. Airport interviews are scheduled for early December, with on-campus interviews in January.
  6. Remarks by the Chancellor (T. Keon)
    1. Chancellor Keon noted that Provost Latif was not able to attend due to a conflict with ABET Accreditation task force work.
    2. The Chancellor spoke on the extensive work happening in the past month in gathering and analyzing data related to the university budget. Although we have been taking cuts for two years, the salaries are currently higher than what is budgeted. The actual salary commitment is at about $73.5 million, which is slightly higher than the $69 million expected. As faculty and staff are retiring, they are being replaced with visiting instructors on cash rather than recurring funds. The Chancellor has visited with Deans and Department Chairs to work on aligning productivity with the actual budget. He is concerned that there is another projected decrease in enrollment which may lead to another decrease in income. A continued adjustment in the bottom-line results ultimately in reduced productivity and reduced quality in instruction. Workloads may have to adjust as well to compensate, resulting in higher workloads for tenure/tenure-track as well as non-tenure track faculty. Budgets need to be able to match actual expenditures, and so over the next semester, Deans and Chairs will be discussing these issues with their units. The work of the Senate Task Force on Workload is very timely and correlates well with the analysis of the budgets going on. There are positive possibilities for the university going forward in terms of programs and offerings, but we have to “right the ship before we let it sail.”
    3. Mitra thanked the Chancellor for his discussion and work on the budget. He noted that working with the Deans to come up with reasonable solutions is a good strategy.
    4. Mascha asked if the budget for the following year is adjusted to actual before or after the end of the current fiscal year. Chancellor Keon responded that historically the budget has always been decided based on what expected income would be, but expenses were not taken into account until after the fiscal year began. Currently, if the projected numbers are correct for next year, we could have a 4 million deficit next year. The appropriate thing to do would be to take the 4 million out before the fiscal year begins; however, there is already a current known deficit, and taking out that money now would result in a higher hit to the bottom line. It may be useful to wait until there is a lighter variance between actual and expected budgets to create a situation where the need to make up the budget is less difficult. Tightening up the course offerings, increasing enrollments per section, reducing electives offered by LTLs, and generally increasing efficiency in Academic Affairs is a means to help right the ship. These issues vary across departments and colleges, and some programs continue to grow well, but in areas that are not growing, there are very small classes offered that do not improve these efficiencies.
    5. Elmendorf asked about the effect that these plans for efficiency will have on Westville. Chancellor Keon responded that of the 16 majors promised in Westville as exclusive offerings, 14 of the 16 have 40 or more students in the major. In addition, there are 14 undergraduate majors overall that have 40 or less students in them, resulting in very small courses for those majors at both campuses. Kozel asked about these small majors and whether those departments might have a larger number of service classes to offset this. However, Chancellor Keon noted that this offset is not quite an even counterbalance, as facility costs are not taken into account.
    6. Scipes asked about whether the legislature has been asked for additional funding for the university. The move from 126 credit hours to 120 already has impacted the university’s bottom line, especially in certain units that offer a large number of general education courses such as social sciences. Chancellor Keon noted that the legislature has treated the university well and has increased PNW’s funding over the past few years. The amount of legislative support in Indiana is higher than the median in the nation – the Chancellor cited other states that were in much more difficult circumstances, with tuition tripled in some cases due to the withdrawal of state support. Chancellor Keon intends to approach the Board of Trustees to allow PNW to adjust our tuition to be equal with Fort Wayne. When we merged, we made mistakes in regard to tuition by freezing tuition on one campus to let the other one “catch up” to the same level. We should have increased both at the same time. If we were at the same level as Fort Wayne today, the revenue stream would increase by about 4 million.
    7. Mitra asked about hiring practices at PNW. There has been direct tenure-track replacement of tenured faculty who retire or leave in areas where enrollment has been going down, and he requested that this be investigated further. Chancellor Keon noted that a Task Force is being formed within the administration to review with each Dean very carefully what is happening in each department.
    8. Schooley asked whether the increase in tuition may exacerbate enrollment issues. However, the response was that it is a small amount that is being asked for, and would not increase our overall tuition much for each student.
    9. Vega asked about summer offerings and whether budget issues would impact them. There are discrepancies in how faculty are getting paid within their units for summer work, and there may need to be policies that get changed, but equity needs to be ensured. Chancellor Keon agreed that the Deans need to sit and rethink summer completely as far as how it is offered and budgeted for.
    10. Schultz noted that as a member of the Senate budget committee, raises in salaries are of concern among faculty. Keon responded that he would like to propose to the Board of Trustees that we would take $1 million of the additional money raised by the tuition increase as a faculty 1% raise, another $1 million would be used for student scholarships, and the remaining $2 million would be used for growing new programs that would increase enrollment. It should be noted that the exact amount of tuition would not include fixed fees, which would stay the same.
    11. Chancellor Keon also noted that retention efforts need to continue to be looked at. He would like to look at increasing admissions standards as a way to help those students who are not yet prepared for college.
    12. Kincaid noted that there is a 15:1 student-faculty ratio listed on the website, and asked what is the number that we are comfortable with in offering as marketing material. The Chancellor noted that the incentive model is one thing that will impact our evaluation of this, but we should also investigate what our peers are doing. Nearby peers such as Grand Valley State University and Governor’s State have much higher tuitions but maintain a small ratio similar to ours. This has an obvious impact on what they can do in terms of class sizes.
  7. New Business
    1. Curriculum documents and updates (L. Taylor). Taylor moved the current documents for approval and Cherry seconded. The motion carried.
  8. New Business: Documents for action.
    1. FSD 19-06, Timely assignment of faculty to courses (R. Vega)
      1. The document discusses the concern over adequate time for faculty to be assigned to classes. A six-week lead time goal is cited in the resolution. Vega moved the documents for approval, and Cherry seconded.
      2. Elmendorf asked whether the document excludes emergency situations and needs to change the schedule of course offerings within six weeks before the beginning of the semester. The document does not offer language to exclude these considerations. As the Senate does not have authority to impose sanctions on units that do not follow the policy, therefore the language was kept open to allow for flexibility as needed. This type of resolution is part of the advisory role of the Senate.
      3. Cherry asked whether this includes course cancelations as well as assignment, but the document does not expressly address that.
      4. Kozel noted that the document provides a guideline for how soon faculty should expect to have their assignments and an expectation of how they need to spend their time preparing. The document puts a plan in place but adding too much information may restrict units too much. Schultz agreed that the policy is needed, although noted that adding a specific date instead of a number of weeks to the policy may be useful to make the document more specific and clearer. Kozel and Schultz offered an amendment to change to “at least 4 weeks before the end of the preceding semester” to clarify the language in terms of breaks.
      5. Sindone responded that this issue is being visited in part because of the multisemester scheduling resolution. If that resolution is fully implemented and embraced, then we would know at least two semesters in advance what we would be teaching, therefore making this resolution and the specifics therein mostly unnecessary. Many students and faculty would like to see the multisemester schedule fully implemented so that everyone knows what to expect, has time to order textbooks, and has the ability to plan schedules around classes. The choice of the timeframe dictated in this resolution is therefore arbitrary. He argued for keeping the language of the resolution the way it is.
      6. Elmendorf asked who among the Senate, at the point of four weeks before the end of the semester, does not know their schedule. Four faculty did not know their schedules.
      7. A vote on the friendly amendment was taken, with 17 Senators are approving, and 23 are against the amendment. The amendment fails.
      8. As originally presented, the document moved forward for voting. The document passes unanimously.
  1. New Business: Documents for discussion: There are four changes to the P&T documentation and process proposed today for discussion. Vega presented them all in order before open discussion. These were developed in relation to comments received over the past year about the process.
    1. FSD 19-08 Clinical Promotion Committees (R. Vega)
      1. The Clinical policy adds a clinical faculty member at rank to the committee when evaluating clinical promotions, in congruence with the West Lafayette policy.
    2. FSD 19-09 Addition of Member at Campus Committee Level (R. Vega)
      1. Because there are two members from each college, there is an even number of voting faculty at the Campus Committee. This means that a split vote can occur and the administration must make the determination. The resolution adds an at-large member to make the voting an uneven number.
    3. FSD 19-10 Duration of Criteria for Promotion and Tenure (R. Vega)
      1. Criteria for P&T are currently a “moving target” but when faculty are hired, they are hired with specific expectations. The document ensures that the criteria remain for that person during their time going through the process.
    4. FSD 19-11 Rebuttal Option at Promotion and Tenure Campus Committee Level (R. Vega)
      1. The rebuttal process is currently not allowed at the final level and this document adds the chance for rebuttal at the campus committee.
    5. In discussion, Merkovsky noted that he is generally in favor of reducing the number of individuals on committees. DeLeon added that a split vote can also happen at the primary committee level as each committee number is different depending on the number of voting faculty. Ensuring an uneven number would have to be dictated at all levels, not just campus committee. Chancellor Keon indicated that a split vote in favor or evenly conveys the same overall message to the next reviewing committee.
    6. Mascha noted that rebuttal processes are such that the campus committee is the last level; if this vote is split, it leaves the decision to the administration rather than the faculty.
    7. Curia asked whether the policy on criteria suggested is retroactive for current faculty hired before unification. It was indicated that this would not be the case.
    8. DeLeon indicated that the criteria that individuals are hired under means that committee members must know which version of the document someone being reviewed was hired under, which can potentially be problematic and confusing for the committees. There is the potential for issues with practicality and how committees are voting when criteria are not known or clear. Vega responded that the use of Interfolio would allow for adding the criteria adopted at the time of hire to keep this electronically.
    9. Mascha noted that there are variances in criteria for promotion and tenure between the legacy campuses, and voting has reflected that knowledge of legacy processes. She indicated that there are significant differences between Hammond and Westville expectations upon hire in many units, and fairness is an issue for these individuals.
    10. Mitra argued against the policy as criteria for working at the university as it is unified should be what we all abide upon. Elmendorf noted that there is a limited pool of full professors available to review P&T documentation. He indicated that this may be a limitation in implementing some of these resolutions fully.
  2. Discussion items.
    1. Report on the current status of assessment in preparation for the HLC visit (C. Fewer)
      1. Fewer reported that there are a set of procedures for submitting data and a separate set of procedures for applying for General Education status. These have been forwarded to the Executive Committee. The collection of applications will go to the new chair of Assessment, as Fewer will be leaving the Senate to step into the role of Interim Dean of Students.
      2. A new representative from the Department of English to the Senate is forthcoming. We also need a chair of Assessment to step up, and Elmendorf asked all Senators to consider this role. All are asked to please consult with the Chair and the Nominating Committee if there is interest. This is an important role, and if leaving another Standing Committee, the Nominations Committee needs to be able to move people around.
      3. After the meeting, it is noted that Prof. Kozel was elected to be the chair of the General Education and Assessment Committee.
    2. Report from the senate budget committee (G. Schultz)
      1. Schultz shared a report from the budget committee’s work, following up on a discussion with the Chancellor. Schultz did note that pay equity issues should be discussed individually, but the overall equity study for the university showed that there is general equity across the units. It may be noted that prestige of individuals’ terminal degrees was part of the equity considerations performed by an outside consulting firm.
      2. The report shows that a certain amount of money is indicated to be given back from each college, except for Nursing which did not see a decline in enrollment. CES is giving back a larger amount (almost double) compared to Business, CHESS, and Technology, based on percentage reductions in billable hours. How much each department is individually responsible for is yet to be determined in most Colleges, although CES has already distributed this information.
      3. Schultz also noted that the budget committee is not intended for collective bargaining. If there are issues with salaries or how the department is being run, faculty should consult with their supervisors as appropriate or resort to the University grievance procedure. The budget committee is not able to perform this task.
    3. Report from the Westville committee.
      1. The Westville committee met last Wednesday for the first time and has another meeting is scheduled for next week.
    4. Report on the Joint Workload Committee (R. Vega)
      1. Vega noted that the Deans will participate as the administrative half of the committee, and the nominations committee has a slate of candidates from the faculty willing to participate.
    5. Follow-up on SLT recommendations of 9/13/19 following the SRA templates, especially regarding the status of Computer Science.
      1. Elmendorf noted that the issue of Computer Science’s housing department or unit continues to be of concern. Computer Science programs are growing, and Senior Leadership believes that this program should be moved to Engineering which is the suggestion from a proposal by Dean Holford. Dean Holford presented on this issue and noted that he supports the way the program is classified by the SRA task force. It is a growing program worthy of being placed in Tier 1. However, it is not able to achieve its full potential given the budgetary situation, and it can be placed into a better position to further grow. With only four faculty members available, it should be able to have a greater level of faculty support, which may be achieved by moving it from Mathematics into the School of Engineering. Because of overall declines, the billable hours for the department of Math, Statistics and CS has been decreasing, despite CS growing rapidly. At West Lafayette, CS is a department within the College of Sciences. The movement here at PNW as proposed is to be able to provide better resources. The initial proposal was to merge CS with ECE, but the faculty of CS expressed a preference for a standalone department. Therefore, Holford revised the proposal to create a separate department within the School of Engineering as a standalone unit.
      2. Zhao as a member of the CS faculty shared that there are only 4 faculty and this has been the case since 2005. We do not have the ability to offer labs at the lower-level courses, and there is a high DWF rate in many of these courses which can set students back an entire year or more. Classes are not offered in many cases more than once per year, and this is particularly problematic at the graduate level. Applications for the graduate program are often rejected based on capacity issues. The faculty also have issues with facilities and not having access to the necessary computer operating systems and software, as there is no support available to maintain separate labs. Faculty also work with students for senior design projects, which are individually decided and there is both limited space and time to work with each student. In order for this program to grow, increases in advising, space, and technical support is necessary. Zhao noted that it is not uncommon for computer science programs to be housed in engineering units in other colleges. While computer science was a theoretical discipline that came from mathematics, in most universities, it has grown and become independent. In a lot of universities, CS is in the school of Engineering. For our university, it is also beneficial to both CS and Engineering program. Zhao therefore supports the inclusion of computer science within engineering as existing facilities, labs, support, and shared student populations will help the program continue to grow.
      3. Yang noted a concern about the electrical and computer engineering program (ECE) and the potential for this program to continue growing as well. This program also suffers from budget concerns and a lack of faculty, so she does not see how the addition of computer science as a separate department will benefit ECE. Holford responded that the visibility of the CS program within the School of Engineering will allow for differential fees not currently possible, which allows for an opportunity for further growth in both this and all areas that can benefit from this. Yang added that ECE department faculty welcomed the idea of CS joining that department rather than as a separate unit.
      4. Parashar noted that the conversation is helpful in terms of understanding the reasons for the program to be moved to School of Engineering. She supported that idea of bringing CS to ECE rather than making it its own department. Elmendorf added that additional resources available would come from the differential fees from School of Engineering, but not outside of it. This is the source of the funds needed for additional resource for the program.
      5. Fewer indicated that especially in a time of budget constraints, it is important for faculty to understand the specifics of where funding comes from and how it is distributed. VCFA Steve Turner has been good to work with and explains the budget well, and he invites Senators to discuss with him their questions with him when considering recommendations like this one.
      6. Merkovsky asked about the comfort level of faculty in the move. Holford indicated that one faculty member is opposed to the move, but the others are comfortable or very comfortable as responses to a survey have indicated.
      7. Scipes noted that the proposal sent by Dean Holford will be discussed in Educational Policy today.
      8. Schultz asked whether the Senate has any authority in recommending structural changes like what Dean Holford has presented. Elmendorf noted that the Senate’s role is advisory and Dean Holford is asking the Senate for its recommendation.
      9. Kozel asked whether once the department gets moved to Engineering, do the faculty salary lines now come from lost lines in Computer Engineering? Holford indicated that there will be a benefit based on increased resources and there is no intention to rob other units to make the new CS unit grow. The move will allow more resources to be brought in and will reduce the need for budget cuts within the Mathematics, Statistics and CS department.
      10. Domke asked for clarification about the additional money coming into the unit and how Math is impacted. Holford indicated that programs will be evaluated individually. The question is whether we should create new opportunities for growing programs or allow those programs to support those that are seeing declines. The proposal is to work on this within the college rather than go outside the college.
  1. Remarks by the Student Government representative (J. Schooley, SGA President)
    1. Schooley noted that the Student Government constitution and bylaws are being finalized to ensure that there is more stability within the organization itself.
    2. For the spring semester, the vice president and chief of staff will be leaving. There will be a search for the chief of staff, and another member of the SGA has come forward to serve as Vice President.
  2. Report of the University Senate/IFC representative (J. Pula).
    1. In the report, Pula made note of the last two items. Health Care Plan changes are begin debated in West Lafayette as options for PPO insurance are going away. A proposal to rescind the 2020 benefit changes and allow for sufficient consultation with the faculty is being moved through the University Senate.
    2. Schultz added that there is only one more year for the PPO policy at PNW, and it is the most expensive coverage available. There is pressure to minimize how many faculty and staff participate in this plan. Pula noted that there was a survey done on PPO plans and spousal coverage at peer institutions, and a number of peers already do not provide spousal coverage, or ask for a significant surcharge. Eliminating these coverage options therefore is becoming more common. Elmendorf added that he has asked about the funding of the tuition freeze at West Lafayette and part of this is being covered by changes in healthcare costs and pushing more it onto faculty and staff. There is also concern about new faculty recruitment when we are reducing benefits.
    3. Additional lines to the copyright policy have been added. These changes were made without any consultation with the University Senate. There is now a provision to allow the university to not only use course materials developed by faculty but also to modify those materials, with the author’s only recourse being removing attribution to the author when an author leaves the university.
    4. The copyright policy does include any materials developed, including videos featuring individual faculty. Morrow asked whether these changes are being made in response to concerns about negative media coverage reflecting poorly on Purdue. The University Senate is concerned that these changes were made suddenly in the past several weeks, without any consultation.
    5. Fewer clarified that the intellectual property policy has not been updated since 2007. What is happening now is how that existing policy applies to online content. The policy is now being enforced, but has been in place for a long time.
    6. Kincaid asked about how online content is being audited, if at all. Pula responded that the addition of the change to modify is significant. Elmendorf asked the Ed Policy committee to discuss the issue as far as a response to this change as faculty should not simply accept it.
  3. Open discussion (as time permits).
    1. Vega asked for an informal affirmation for the Faculty Development subordinate committee to assess interest in bringing a speaker on campus to discuss Generation Z topics. The Senators provided overwhelming support for the initiative and authorized the Faculty Development subordinate committee to move forward with fundraising for this program.
    2. Scipes spoke on the presence of the Purdue Global nursing program in the community and how much advertising is present. The geofence does not appear to be in place to the average Internet user. Mitra commented that a free market system also has failings; while there is nothing wrong with how Purdue Global does its marketing, we have to be aware of this and respond in kind as the free market does not create fairness and equity.
  4. Adjournment: 12:17pm

Committee room assignments:

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