Faculty Senate Minutes, September 8, 2023

October 29, 2023

Faculty Senate Agenda, September 8, 2023

10:00 AM-12:00 PM: Westville – LSF 002


Voting Members Present:
Ali Alavizadeh, Lee Artz, Gokarna Aryal, Scott Bates, Shreya Bhandari, Karen Bishop Morris , Karen Covington, Mary Didelot, Joan Dorman, Masoud Fathizadeh, Rob Hallock, Wei He, Shontrai Irving , Meden Isaac-Lam, Tae-Hoon Kim, Roger Kraft, Bob Kramer, Yun Liu , Meghan McGonigal-Kenney, Robert Merkovsky, David Nalbone, Sheila Rezak, Pam Saylor, Michelle Spaulding, Diane Spoljoric, George Stefanek, Pitparnee Stompor, Kathy Tobin, Kelly Vaughan, Donna Whitten, Wubeshet Woldemariam, Sam Zinaich

Voting Members Absent:  Dave Kozel

Non-Voting Members Present:
Tony Elmendorf, Alan McCafferty

Others Present:
Chris Holford, Jen Williams

  1. Determination of quorum.
    • Quorum determined at 10:03 am
  2. Call to order.
    • Meeting called to order at 10:03 am
  3. Approval of the agenda.
    • Motioned for approval by Joan Dorman.
    • Seconded by Sheila Rezak
    • Approved by voice vote
  4. Approval of the minutes from August 18, 2023
    • The Chair provided the following amendments:
      1. Under point 6, the Chancellor’s remarks will remain on the Senate agenda but will not be provided by anyone other than the Chancellor. In the case of his absence no remarks will be given.
      2. Under the name of the individual who seconded the motion should be included.
      3. Under 10.2, it should be revised to say that the two course releases are designated for the Curriculum Committee Chair and the Senate Chair. Those two are automatically covered by the Provost’s Office.
      4. Addition of the Student Government Association report. Despite no report being given, the item should remain in the minutes with a note stating no report was given.
    • Motioned for approval by Diane Spoljoric with amendments
    • Seconded by Ali Alavizadeh
    • Approved by voice vote
  5. Remarks by the Senate Chair
    • The Chair said the Chancellor search committee will meet again on Tuesday, September 12. The committee has not yet seen the candidate pool. They are currently finalizing the plans for airport interviews. On-campus interviews will take place shortly thereafter.
    • The Chair said there seems to be an uptick in Covid amongst students and faculty and urged those in attendance to take precaution.
    • The Chair said the resolution calling for the elimination of the Chief of Staff position and return of funds was forwarded to Chancellor.
    • The Executive Committee agreed to add remarks by the Provost to the Agenda.
    • The Vice Chair asked about a standardized attendance policy.
    • The Chair said the Senate is trying to reestablish the Budget Subcommittee and will speak to those who have expressed interest after the meeting. Our budgets and new size should be discussed as we ready ourselves for the incoming chancellor.
    • The Parliamentarian said the Budget Committee is a subcommittee and should be populated by faculty at large. No background in budgets or finance are necessary.
      1. Ali asked who should be contacted by those interested in serving.
      2. The Parliamentarian said committee members should come from Nominations and submitted for approval to the Senate.
    • The Chair said there are some challenges with the new textbook system which are to be addressed by Ed Policy.
  6. Remarks by the Chancellor
    • The Chancellor was not in attendance.
  7. Remarks by the Provost/VCAA
    • The Provost thanked the Chair and Senate for his addition to the agenda.
    • The Provost said the census state was just passed. We seem to be achieving stability in enrollment. The core undergraduate population declined about 2.8%. Graduate enrollment increased by 4.8%. Most of the decline came from Indiana students, about 5.3%. The Chair said we should aspire to more than 75% retention. 500+ international students currently on campus. Sophomore, junior, and senior retention increased by 1.25%. Many of the major initiatives that will have an impact on retention are to be launched this year. We should aspire to have 75% or more retention amongst our upperclassmen. We are about 70% right now.
    • The Provost said the University College is now functioning. An email was distributed from Academic Affairs identifying the advising team. Amongst the advising team Catrina Terrell will be taking over as the Student Success and Peer Mentoring Coordinator for students who are on academic notice. Academic notice is the terminology used for students that were previously referred to as on probation. We have a specific trained advisor that will be working with these students to help them get back on track. Many times the needs fall outside of what’s going on in the classroom and she is prepared to handle those students. You have information in your email on how to get in contact with Catrina regarding struggling students.
    • The Provost encouraged broad participation in the call for undergraduate research grant proposals. One of the major changes is that we have talked to all of the college deans to provide matching funding for those grants to effectively double the size of the pool that is available for students. Historically, students in the College of Technology and the College of Engineering and Sciences are the ones that apply for the undergrad research grants, but these grants are available to all colleges and, as such, broad participation is encouraged. Research Board consists of Professor Lindsay Gielda and Professor Michael Zimmer.
    • Day of Discovery over the last few years has been really fantastic. We have had great student participation. The quality of research done by our students under the supervision of faculty has really achieved new levels.
    • Those interested in study away opportunities should consider their interest in running those types of programs. Those interested should reach out to Ramesh Neupane. Many of the workshops will take place over the next two months. Almost 80 students were able to travel abroad over the summer. Four different courses ran across the colleges, all with great feedback.
    • PNW Homecoming event at Dowling Park.
    • The Provost provided a reminder to Senate to appoint representative for University Policy Committee. That committee will meet for the first time on the 20th of this month.
    • The Parliamentarian said, with enrollment down for in-state students and up for out-of-state, that means we have more out-of-state enrollment funds, but perhaps fewer matching funds from the legislature for in-state students. He asked how that works out in terms of the funds actually accruing to the university.
      1. The Provost said the appropriation received from the state is not contingent on enrollment, it is an appropriation that we receive as a flat amount and is not based on the individual in-state residents that we have. The budget numbers have not yet been calculated but there is a high expectation we will meet our budget forecast or exceed our budget forecast again this year because of the changing nature of the student population.
      2. The Vice Chair asked if monies are available to support international travel for students. The Provost said most of the support came from individual colleges. There is some funding available, Ramesh should be consulted to determine if the funding is being reserved for scholarship. Several colleges were providing scholarships to our students to promote international travel.
    • The Vice Chair asked about in-state vs out-of-state tuition rates. The Provost said out-of-state students get a reduced tuition but still pay more than in-state residents.
    • The Provost said we also have a float in the Valpo Popcorn Fest.
    • The Chair said we seem to have pulled back from some internal grants such as catalyst grants and asked for comment. The Provost said we are rethinking how to promote internal support for faculty grant development on campus. Looking for ways to encourage participation. The performance on catalyst type grants and other grants was observed and approximately 1.1 million was spent on those types of grants over the last five years.  Our return on investment was about $900,000.
  8. Unfinished Business
    • None
  9. New Business:
    • Curriculum Documents Approval
      1. Lee Artz motioned six courses for approval
      2. Seconded by Rob Merkovsky
      3. Approved by voice vote
  1. For Action:
    • None
  2. Discussion Items:
    • FSD 23-01 Resolution on Final Exam Policy
      1. Pam Saylor spoke on behalf of Dave Kozel.
      2. Everyone should have received a copy of this resolution.
      3. Saylor read edits form the proposal.
      4. Shreya Bhandari said the main thing discussed was adding the short quiz. Pedagogically a lot of them over the course of the semester may not have a final exam. That should not be considered as a final exam.
      5. Rob Merkovsky said scheduling departments schedule finals so that there would not be any direct exam conflict. The exception might be if an individual instructor decides to move the final.
      6. Michelle Spaulding said exceptions are often made which result in overlap. It is good to cover all bases. Unreasonable travel should be considered.
      7. The Chair said a technical overlap in which students are required to take finals on both campuses concurrently should be avoided.
      8. The Parliamentarian said this was a mistake that occurred both in the original and in the proposed resolution, which says that the final exam period shall be a 16th week of the semester. The fall semester already contains 16 weeks of classes and the final exam period takes place during the 17th week, so that should be corrected.
        1. Michelle Spaulding said the resolution should also include a person or place for students to refer to when experiencing push back from instructors.
        2. The Provost said student should report to the Dean of Students with those matters.
      9. Pam Saylor said there was some confusion while reading the resolution.
      10. The Parliamentarian said the reason for the discrepancy is because spring break does not count as a week, but the week of fall break and the week of Thanksgiving do count as weeks even though they only account for one full week of instruction.
      11. Scott Bates said a lot of faculty are giving tests at the testing center and asked if equity in terms of making sure that tests and exams are available at both testing centers in Westville and Hammond.
      12. Mike Biel said their department very clearly defines a week as any single day of instructional time within a seven-day period.
      13. The Chair said to take the resolution back to
    • FSD 23-02 Resolution on Faculty & Staff Satisfaction Survey.
      1. Rob Hallock said the resolution will give FAC the ability to have a regularly administered survey of faculty and staff satisfaction. It was discussed that these surveys were historically conducted bi-annually but have not been conducted whatever since 2012. This should be a good to chance to better understand the thoughts of faculty and staff.
      2. The Chair said, because this survey includes staff, the resolution will include working with staff governance group CSSAC for distribution to their members.
      3. The Chair said the Exec Committee discussed timing and wanted to leave open for discussion what type of schedule the surveys should take place. Annually? Bi-Annually?
      4. Rob Kramer asked if it would it be appropriate to include what will be done with the data in this recommendation. Also, who will see it, how much of it will they see who will filter it, who will not filter it and those types of things?
      5. Hallock said it is a fairly straightforward, fairly short survey of general satisfaction. Current draft has something like 18 questions as the main part of it. It is anonymous.
      6. The Chair said there is a template from previous surveys. If this body would like to see that in the resolution we can simply add language to state how results are shared.
      7. The Provost clarified that we are required by HLC to regularly survey constituent groups. The last survey was conducted in fall of 2020 and did not receive broad faculty participation. We use the Great Colleges to Work For program Incoming students are surveyed through the BCSSE. Students who have completed a year of work are surveyed through NSSE. Alumni are surveyed via a Gallup poll. All surveys are conducted biannually.
      8. The Provost said clerical and professional staff have their own governance bodies. The Faculty Senate speaks for the faculty, not for the other governance groups.
      9. The Chair said that is why we will work with the other governance groups as they are willing to do so. He pointed out that the surveys mentioned are national and state-level efforts from which we have not necessarily seen feedback. One of the important points here is, let’s not just conduct a survey, but get the results out there.
      10. The Vice Chair asked what type of questions are asked the surveys mentioned by the Provost. The Provost said the BCSSE addresses student expectations from the time they register through their first week of classes. Then it is taken again in the spring with follow up questions about the degree to which expectations were met by the university.
    • FSD 23-03 DEIJB Committee Population
      1. Meden Isaac-Lam said the only remaining seat to fill is the student representative. The committee will also need to choose a faculty member as chair for the committee.
      2. The SGA President said he will put forth this resolution to his committee.
      3. The Vice Chair said she would like to move this to action.
        1. Seconded by Rob Merkovsky
        2. Moved to action by voice vote
        3. Motion to approve by Diane Spoljoric.
        4. Seconded by Ali.
        5. Approved by voice vote.
      4. Reports from Senate Standing Committee Chairs
        • Curriculum (Lee Artz)
          1. Lee Artz said the Committee is working on CHESS core revision. The college is responsible for changing their core. The committee suggests that there be a blanket submission stating that both the BS and the BA in the CHESS College will be removing their four thematic courses instituted a couple of years ago and will be replaced by a list of electives. From the perspective of the Curriculum Committee, accepting the changes for the core to have electives, rather than those four thematic courses, seems like a minor revision and so going through each of the twelve individual department cores is unnecessary. Instead, we will do this from the CHESS Council, which is proposing to change the entire core.
          2. There will be no meeting today. Will meet again in October.
          3. The deadline for submissions has been moved to September 29, for approval at the October meeting.
        • Ed Policy (Dave Kozel)
          1. Pam Saylor spoke on behalf of D. Kozel.
          2. Saylor said the committee met in August,
          3. Discussed bylaws and responsibilities.
          4. Framework for policies and procedures regarding AI. Working with the Provost to develop that framework for policy and procedure, which include providing info hosting workshops, etc.
            1. September 21 is PUWL system-wide forum.
            2. PNW Informal discussion on AI and higher ed on September 22. Deadline to register is today.
            3. The Center for Faculty Excellence has added an informal discussion on AI in higher education on September 22.
            4. Wei He asked for details on the timeline for the development of an AI policy and what should be done in the meantime.
              1. Shreya Bhandari said the timeline has not yet been discussed. The Center for Faculty Excellence has circulated some sample syllabus statements and have some standard language.
              2. The Provost said this is an educational policy. It falls squarely in the faculty making these recommendations. We are currently covered by the Academic Integrity Policy which has been in place for some years. It is clear that our current Academic Integrity Policies were designed at a different time and are insufficient for us to respond to the rapid emergence and popularity of artificial intelligence. Fair use of AI should be discussed at quickly as possible. Ideally by the end of the year there should be a policy for addition in the catalog. Our current policies are insufficient to address this. CON has already experienced some serious issues.
              3. Kathy Tobin recommended the use of wording that would allow individual faculty members to make decisions as opinions are divided on the matter. Also that there is some clarity on student responsibility, and if they do violate whatever is written in the syllabus, that there are consequences.
              4. Michelle Spaulding said there are no metrics currently available to reliably detect the use of AI.
            5. The Chair said there have been some issues with the new textbook process which the committee should take under advisement.
            6. Looking into assessment of university structure. Advising structure and first-year advisors, gathering more information regarding that structure.
            7. Selection of faculty reps on university committees. Selection of deans and department chairs, what role do faculty play in each process and the wording of who they serve.
  • Faculty Affairs (Rob Hallock)
    1. Hallock said the satisfaction and burnout survey should be ready to administer sometime next month.
    2. Administrator surveys are also being worked on. The committee hopes to administer by the end of the year.
    3. Administrative withdrawals are no longer available. R. Hallock read a note from their advisor. In the past instructors were able to administratively withdrawal students for lack of attendance. Legally, students should now receive an FN (Failing/Nonauthorized Incomplete) for lack of attendance. This is something not for just all of us to know, but also to report back to our departments that we no longer have the ability to submit the administrative withdrawals and are limited to reaching out to students encouraging them to withdraw themselves, or if not then give them a failing grade at the end of the semester.
    4. Rob Merkovsky asked if the same applies for lack of prerequisite. R. Hallock said he was unsure.
    5. The Vice Chair asked if the FN would affect student GPA.
    6. The Provost said this is a conversation for the Registrar Office.
    7. Jen Williams said the administrative withdrawal process has been removed as a result of federal financial aid regulations. If the university were to have a comprehensive attendance policy it would allow us to do administrative withdrawals, but we do not. Each faculty member can have their own attendance policy built into their syllabus and take that into consideration for their grading. Because we cannot have administrative withdrawals any longer, faculty should instead submit to the Registrar names of students who are not attending. The Registrar will reach out to these students via their PNW email and their personal email encouraging them to withdraw themselves. The FN grade will impact GPA. It is essentially an F grade indicating a nonauthorized withdrawal which means the student didn’t withdraw themselves.
    8. Mike Biel said there are financial aid implications resulting from administrative withdrawals because of the impact made on their Satisfactory Academic Progress. SAP is calculated for students by semester and it is calculated on three different components. It’s calculated on quantitative, qualitative, and pace of completion. GPA and attempted hours versus successfully completed hours. If they are ever in a position where they cannot realistically complete their program within the allowable amount of time, all of those things make them ineligible for financial aid. Specifically to the administrative withdrawal portion, institutions that are not required to take attendance really shouldn’t.
    9. Mike Biel said taking attendance would change rules for the way financial aid is handled for withdrawals and some calculations that need to be done in terms of what the students earn.
    10. The Chair reiterated the suggestions above.
    11. The Parliamentarian said administrative withdrawal has been presented to him and surely other faculty members as a retention tool because of the fact that students who are withdrawn rather than getting an F are more likely to return to campus, and its removal may negatively impact retention. He urged the Provost and other senior administrators to have a good follow up look at this in order to see what sort of effect it is going to have.
      1. The Provost said it is a federal requirement. We would need to consider a comprehensive attendance policy.
      2. The Vice Chair asked when a student could withdraw from a course without it affecting their financial aid. M. Biel said withdrawal determinations cannot be made based solely on financial aid impact. Their financial aid is fully earned once they have completed 60% of the term. All withdrawals that we are aware of get spoken to by the Office of Financial Aid, or at least reached out to so that if they have questions about how the withdrawal impacts then we can talk through that.
  • Gen Ed & Assessment (Ali Alavizadeh)
    1. Alavizadeh said the committee met last month to discuss membership and determine a chair. Two members joined and an election resulted in Ali’s appointment as Chair.
    2. Will meet today to discuss duties and confer with C. Furst.
  • Nominations, Elections, & Awards (Meden Isaac-Lam)
    1. Isaac-Lam said they have been working on the standing committees. Missing two CON reps. Two committees are even numbers. So, it is going to be even-out or odd-out when the CON reps come in.
    2. No nominations for Senator-at-large. Someone must replace C. Furst in this role.
    3. Faculty Senate rep is needed for the Annual Peer Review (APR) committee for Becky Stankowski. Must be nominated or appointed by the Chair.
    4. No nominations yet for University Policy Committee (UPC).
    5. The Parliamentarian asked if the Faculty Awards Committee has been populated. The committee will be working on this, too.
  • Student Affairs (Michelle Spaulding)
    1. Spaulding said SAC has been working on evaluation of academic advisors. There is actually a lot of evaluation done by the students of the advisors. However, most faculty members are not aware of that. SAC intended to bridge this gap.
    2. Student of the Month process is being codified, rolling out soon, looking forward to receiving submissions.
    3. Looking into evaluations of student club advisors.
  1. West Lafayette Report (Lee Artz)
    • IFC has not yet met.
  2. Inter-Campus Faculty Council (IFC) Report (Lee Artz)
    • No report. In the middle of reorganization. Lee Artz said second rep should be determined soon.
  3. Student Government Association(SGA) Report (David Bolton)
    • The SGA President said they experienced some setbacks but are now back on track. Visiting student organizations to learn of their endeavors and how SGA can assist or collaborate with them.
    • Chancellor Search Committee is going well.
    • SGA is working on improving their campus presence through advertisement and outreach.
    • Addressing complaints about student housing conditions.
    • SGA strengths are being examined. Only four vacancies in their Senate. Influx of freshman and sophomore involvement.
    • Will report back to the Senate on SGA’s upcoming meeting with the Chancellor.
    • Would like feature faculty members in different colleges.
    • The Chair asked for the size of SGA. The SGA President said they have 10 members.
  4. Open discussion (as time permits).
    • The Vice Chair said Westville is working very hard to be noticeable. Hispanic Heritage Month is taking place which includes a mini festival on September 21. Both campuses are hosting a Latinx Book Club. Popcorn Festival in Valparaiso will feature a PNW float created by Enrollment Management.
    • Artz said the Center for Global Studies is sponsoring a conference on immigration, conflict, climate and consequences on September 28.
    • The Provost said we are waiting on a military transfer credit.
    • Saylor asked about challenges with the textbook policy. Roger Kraft said students still do not have access to their textbooks.
      1. Joan Dorman said textbook delays may be a result of the transition to the new policy.
      2. Mary Didelot said many graduate students only take two classes. The cost of the new policy may not be in their best interest. Students in Professional Studies prefer hard copies of their textbooks, which are needed for their practicum and internship. Can we provide some alternative policy perhaps with cost for grad students based on the number of courses taken and for hard copies?
      3. Saylor asked if students are able to keep hard copies of their textbooks under the new policy? It was confirmed that students get to keep their hard copies.
      4. Bolton said he has heard from some students personally who have expressed complications. He said some students, himself included, paid the cost of the new policy before receiving the email providing information on how to opt out.
      5. Mary Didelot said the bookstore has handled the situation exceptionally well.
      6. Rob Hallock said he saw last semester that the fee for summer textbooks would also be $299, which would be unfair and should be reevaluated.
      7. The Provost said the opt-out is open until Sept 18. He said students should not be asked to purchase their books if they have opted in to the new policy. In most cases students will save up to $700 through the new policy. There have been some challenges with textbook availability which can be communicated to Raida Abuizam. The summer rate was not $299, that was calculated for fall and spring. The more faculty that adopt open access, that price dynamic, based on the average cost of these books in the past year. As more faculty move to their own materials or open source materials that cost for all students would come down. Conversely, if we start requesting a lot of hardcover textbooks, that cost will go up for all students. It is responsive to the market. There are book challenges every semester no matter the source.
      8. Rob Merkovsky asked if a general email could be distributed about the cancellation policy. The Provost said several emails have been distributed.
      9. The Vice Chair asked R. Kraft how the matter with their textbook is being resolved. R. Kraft said it is not being resolved. Confusion from E-Follett has compounded complications on our end.
  1. Adjournment
    • Meeting adjourned at 11:44 a.m.