Faculty Senate Minutes, October 13, 2023

January 12, 2024

Faculty Senate Minutes, October 13, 2023

10:00 AM-12:00 PM: Hammond  – Alumni Hall

Voting Members Present:
Ali Alavizadeh, Gokarna Aryal, Geoffrey Barrow, Shreya Bhandari, Karen Bishop Morris, Janet Davis, Mary Didelot, Joan Dorman, Masoud Fathizadeh, Rob Hallock, Wei He, Shontrai Irving , Meden Isaac-Lam, Tae-Hoon Kim, Dave Kozel, Roger Kraft, Bob Kramer, Yun Liu, Robert Merkovsky, David Nalbone, Laurie Parpart, Sheila Rezak, Pam Saylor, Michelle Spaulding, Diane Spoljoric, Pitparnee Stompor, George Stefanek, Kathy Tobin, Donna Whitten, Cheng Zhang

Voting Members Absent:
Lee Artz, Scott Bates, Karen Covington, Janet Davis, Meghan McGonigal-Kenney, Kelly Vaughan, Wubeshet Woldemariam,  Sam Zinaich

Non-Voting Members Present:
Tony Elmendorf, Alan McCafferty

Others Present:
Mike Biel, Jose Castro-Urioste, Joy Colwell, Debra Grant, Chris Holford, Michael Lynn,


  1. Determination of quorum.
    • Quorum determined at 10:03am
  2. Call to order.
    • Meeting called to order at
  3. Approval of the agenda.
    • Motion for approval by Dave Kozel
    • Seconded by Seconded by Michelle Spaulding
    • Approved by voice vote
  4. Approval of the minutes from September 8, 2023
    • Motion for approval by Rob Merkovsky
    • Seconded by Ali Alavizadeh
    • Approved by voice vote
  5. Remarks by the Senate Chair
    • The Executive Committee has approved the expense of $10 for the Faculty/Staff Satisfaction Survey which will be further explained in the Faculty Affairs Committee report.
    • The Chair said the Chancellor search committee is continuing their work with today being the deadline for submission for full consideration. Applications may come in afterwards, but today is the deadline to guarantee full consideration. There are 50 applicants per the Chair’s last count. Airport interviews have been scheduled for November 2 and November 3. On-campus interviews will be taking place in three locations: Hammond and Westville campuses as well as a meeting in West Lafayette with President Chiang. Those will take place in mid or late November. The committee is aiming for 10 airport interviews.
    • The Chair said he has been distributing emails to faculty in order to fill seats on the following committees:
      1. Academic Program Review
      2. Senate Budget Committee
        1. The Vice Chair clarified that committee members need not be Senators.
      3. The Senator At-Large seat also need to be filled. The Chair added that this is a good opportunity to get greater representation within your unit.
    • Mistakes
      1. The Chair said he sent meeting dates that were incorrect at the beginning of the academic year and clarified.
      2. The Chair said he was serving as acting Chair when the previous Chair was out on bereavement leave. The Chair said he led at that time a discussion on university budget issues with incorrect data.
      3. The Provost implemented a committee on the administrative side in order to address restructuring. A report was generated but not immediately shared by the Chair with a member of the Executive Committee.
      4. The Chair said his reason for sharing all of this is to create an example of how we should be leading. When mistakes are made they should be addressed and learned from. The Chair reminded Senators of a mistake made by the Chancellor last December for which his apology was deemed by some to be rather inadequate. Since that time the Chancellor has not returned to the Senate. This does not indicate that we have an acceptance of responsibility.
    • Faculty Annual Review Process
      1. A discussion was had last spring about ending the use of Interfolio which will continue later in today’s meeting.
    • Text Adoption Process
      1. Faculty were unable to submit by the provided deadline materials for the text adoption process due to lack of permissions.
  1. Remarks by the Chancellor
    • The Chancellor was not in attendance.
  2. Remarks by the Provost/VCAA
    • The Provost thanked the Executive Committee and welcomed Senators to today’s meeting. He said the last four weeks have been very good for PNW. He said we have had faculty members in every college recognized at that the state or national level. Announcements have been coming out and will continue to come out about the faculty that are really doing things outside of our university environment that are adding to the quality and value of the institution.
    • National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Designation
      1. At the university level, we applied to become a first-scholars institution for which we were recognized over the summer. We move to phase two of that recognition which is known as First-Gen Forward. This recognizes institutions with a demonstrated commitment to the success of first-generation students. We are in the cohort for this stage three recognition which is referred to as the First Scholars Designation, which requires an institution to demonstrate that it has a commitment to first generation students.
    • We were also designated as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) University from the American Association of Public Land Grant Institutions(APLU). We are only the third institution in the state to receive this designation, along with Purdue West Lafayette and IU Bloomington. This designation is an acknowledgement for public research universities with strong evidence of collaboration with public and private sectors in support of economic development, innovation, entrepreneurship and technology transfer, amongst other things. This important designation puts us in a different category as we are looked at across the state.
    • President Chiang was the keynote speaker for the One Region event.
    • Representatives from the Department of Energy attended that meeting before visiting our campuses.
    • We have received another massive research grant relative to improvements in the steel making process. Leaders from the Department of Energy were on campus for that reception.
    • We have been selected as a participant in the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2) concept that was rolled out by the Biden-Harris Administration. We are the only Indiana-named institution in that award. The White House has made this information publicly available on their website and will be making their public announcement this afternoon.
    • Hispanic Heritage festival will start at 4:00pm today in the Hammond Campus parking garage. The Provost encouraged attendance adding it is a great community event that we host on campus every year and will have more than 1000 people attending.
    • The Vice Chair asked for an estimate of how many people attended the fireworks event in Westville.
      1. The Provost said over 1,000 participants were at the event which will hopefully become an annual Westville campus event. That event took place in conjunction with the Westville Pumpkin Festival. There was also a wedding taking place in the Dworkin center at the same time.
      2. The Vice Chair asked about bussing students to Westville for events. Transportation is a reason many students, faculty, and staff have trouble attending events. The Provost said this was explored in the past and was not well utilized.
      3. Meden Isaac-Lam said she noticed that the Provost was featured on the radio speaking about what is being said on social media and asked for elaboration. The Provost said they were invited to the LaPorte County Council as a result of speculation that the Westville campus is closing which is not true. He said his radio spots were meant to dispel those rumors. We are currently one of the only providers of higher education in LaPorte County and are an important and valued partner.
  1. Unfinished Business
    • None
  2. New Business:
    • Curriculum Documents Approval
      1. No documents for approval
    • FSD 23-05 2023 Faculty Annual Review
      1. The Chair said discussions on the use of Interfolio have been taking place since spring, indicating that the process is cumbersome and unnecessary. The Provost said he heard those discussions taking place and subsequently overhauled how the system is being used. The Provost encouraged the Executive Committee and Faculty Affairs to invite Raida Abuizam so that she can explain changes made to simplify submission through the Interfolio process. The Provost said he has directed his staff to attend Senate meetings upon request to answer questions.
      2. The Chair said an email announcing the early release of the FAR as a result of these overhauls indicated a significant revision that did not occur, per faculty input. The Chair said Senate’s request for consideration of faculty input in the overhaul process did not occur. The Chair said sessions required to explain the process would take up time for both staff and faculty in lieu of the previous process which was much more efficient. The Provost said changes have been made to simplify the submission process and align it with college expectations for the annual report and again urged the faculty to look at the overhaul that was done before bringing this resolution to a vote.
      3. Robert Kramer said the response rate of Interfolio is based on usage. The page has crashed due to user traffic. The response rate has been problematic. With so many faculty using the system at one time there may be a major problem with having the system lock up, not being available, slow response rates, and so forth. This is separate from the user interface issues. Earlier this year questions posed to Interfolio regarding UI went unanswered.
      4. Kathy Tobin said after training session offerings from the Provost Office were announced, they received in CHESS an announcement from their dean that additional training sessions will be required because their department is implementing differently. Establishing a priority of which sessions to attend has been problematic.
      5. The Chair asked why the transition to Interfolio took place when previous methods were more efficient. The Provost said the previous method was on paper, we have since moved away from paper forms. The Provost acknowledged Bob Kramer’s observation if there are problems with the provider. College-specific training is a result of eliminating 27 fields that were in many cases inapplicable to the colleges. The new system aligns with what the colleges are specifically asking for in an annual report so that there is clarity on what each college is asking for. The system was designed by Interfolio to integrate with the promotion and tenure process. We were responding to one of the challenges where faculty did not keep records of their student evaluations. Data can be input directly from the Interfolio system.
      6. Dave Kozel said prior to Interfolio faculty could submit electronic forms such as .pdf or spreadsheet files. The Provost said the system was intentionally launched two months earlier because of the crunch experienced last year. The Provost said he is open to recommendations and advice on changes to the system. D. Kozel asked if a system that requires advanced training is an efficient use of faculty time. A show of hands indicated that Senators are unhappy with the current process within Interfolio. The Chair said we paid for the service for use with P&T, which we should still do, but instead of spending several hours on this form of FAR, methods in the past consumed significantly less time.
      7. The Vice Chair asked on what basis are licensing fees. The Provost said typically a single contract is signed based on the size of the faculty body and are in some cases reduced-rate multi-year contracts. It can be refined and made an efficient tool for the institution beyond just annual faculty reviews.
      8. Dave Kozel suggested looking into the system used by PU and other universities.
      9. Cheng Zhang said, in his experience over four years, inputting information to Interfolio is fine now, but there was no Interfolio his first year of teaching. The current system seems redundant and repetitive. Additionally, there are often requests for submissions of summary documents outside of Interfolio by those in the department who are equally unfamiliar with the system.
      10. Meden Isaac-Lam said, in her experience, she was apprehensive about using Interfolio so near to the due date. The beginning of the learning process was overwhelming but after repeated use became more familiar. The main issue is how repetitive the process is. Meden said that using Interfolio for P&T makes sense but for FAR its use seems cumbersome.
      11. The Provost acknowledged issues with Interfolio the first year it was implemented. The Chair said after the recent revisions it’s a very efficient system.
      12. The Chair urged Senators to return to their departments and solicit feedback from colleagues on Interfolio. How does it compare to the previous system? Does it make a difference to you as a faculty member going through the FAR process?
      13. Robert Kramer said questions arose about when a faculty member leaves the university. Is the information contained within Interfolio exportable for use in the transition to another institution?
      14. Kathy Tobin said there was some discussion about the ability for administration to collect data on our productivity and research topics and asked the Provost to elaborate. The Provost said information can be drawn out of the annual system for accreditation. Disarticulated data can be extracted based on the number of publications recorded or grants reported.
  1. For Action:
    • FSD 23-04 Faculty Satisfaction Survey
      1. Rob Hallock said FAC wanted a resolution allowing them to conduct a faculty satisfaction survey. We have not administered a such a survey in more than a decade, we propose to regularly administer such a survey and to present the results to the Faculty Senate.
      2. The Chair said the last survey conducted was in 2012. The Provost has noted that faculty do not have the power to compel staff to engage in a satisfaction survey, so instead we will reach out to them and request a partnership. It will be an anonymous survey and provide some useful information to them.
      3. Motion to approve by Rob Merkovsky
      4. Seconded by Dave Kozel
      5. Approved by voice vote
    • 23-01 Final Exam Policy
      1. Motion to approve by Dave Kozel
      2. Seconded by Ali Alavizadeh
      3. Approve by voice vote
  1. Discussion Items:
    • None
  2. Reports from Senate Standing Committee Chairs
    • Curriculum (Lee Artz)
      1. No report
    • Ed Policy (Dave Kozel)
      1. Dave Kozel said he requested from the Provost a meeting with the head of advising due to changes in first-year advisors. Will be meeting with C. Olson later today.
      2. Committee is also working on Artificial Intelligence policy.
    • Faculty Affairs (Rob Hallock)
      1. Rob Hallock said the committee last discussed FSD 23-04. Nothing else to report.
    • Gen Ed & Assessment (Ali Alavizadeh)
      1. Ali Alavizadeh said the committee contacted the former chair to determine their tasks.
      2. Subordinated committees were formed and we now have one liaison for each committee.
      3. EXL is third subordinate committee.
      4. Looking into Social Learning course.
      5. Rob Kramer asked if the pace of EXL will be maintained as it was under Chancellor Cohen? There is some confusion as to the pace of implementation of experimental learning, will it be maintainable? How much of our planning should target development of experiential education courses? The Provost said in the past the Hammond campus had requirements for two courses but he is not sure of the current requirements.
      6. The Parliamentarian said this issue was taken up by the Senate after unification. It was compromised that there would only be one ExL requirement because Westville had none while Hammond had two. The Chair said we haven’t looked into this in some time and it should be investigated further.
    • Nominations, Elections, & Awards (Meden Isaac-Lam)
      1. Meden Isaac-Lam said most empty seats have been filled. Replacement for D. Spoljoric still needed.
      2. Faculty awards in engagement, outreach, discovery.
      3. DEIJB committee has been populated and needs to elect their chair. Still missing a student rep. David Bolton said SGA has two nominees and will be discussing.
    • Student Affairs (Michelle Spaulding)
      1. Michelle Spaulding said the Student of the Month Award has been rolled out, designated their first SoM last month. Currently accepting nominees.
        1. Rob Merkovsky said he is accepting all nominations. Nominee merits do not need to be purely academic. It could be social service, it could be athletic, at cetera, et cetera.
      2. Looking into AI policy.
      3. Looking into Academic Integrity in relation to AI.
  1. West Lafayette Report (Lee Artz)
    • No report
  2. IFC Report (Geoffrey Barrow)
    • Geoffrey Barrow said nothing to report
  3. SGA Report (David Bolton)
    • David Bolton said SGA has passed several resolutions, two of which will be discussed today.
    • Project Pink
      1. Increasing availability of feminine products in Hammond and
      2. Chancellor search is going well.
      3. SGA President passed the floor to his representative
      4. Sustainability
        1. Survey of students to better understand environmental commitment of the university.
          1. Dave Kozel said there are not many recycling bins near the café and should be considered as an initiative of the group.
        2. Resolution to audit current SI system. Lack of student instructors needs examining.
      5. Open discussion (as time permits).
        • SGA rep Bugs said their research into AI verification systems indicates considerably high false positive rates. Rates are too high for any single system to be independently relied upon as a metric for academic integrity. Experiential learning is strong defense against the use of AI.
          1. Dave Kozel said the university has software with the ability to block certain programs and web pages.
        • The Vice Chair asked the Provost about enrollment data. The Provost said we are over 6,100 students overall. We are over 500 international students. Indiana resident enrollments were down at our institution. However, graduate enrollments are way up at our institution. We have those numbers and yes, they are available.
        • The Chair provided a reminder that it is time to enter midterm grades.
        • SGA rep said five faculty members across departments have implemented AI understanding in their courses.
        • Barrow suggested the Executive Committee to invite a brief report from the Dean of Students who definitely affects all of us in our classes, and perhaps also the library and athletics – both recreational and competitive – as they used to be a regular contributor to the Senate.
      6. Adjournment
        • Meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.