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Minutes of October 4, 2006
1:00 P.M. , Faculty Center
East Annex


Present: Cyrus Bina (Chair), Bert Ahern, Edith Borchardt, Carol Marxen, and Engin Sungur (Ex-officio)
Absent: Jacob Croonenberghs

The meeting began at 1:05 P.M.

FDC Minutes 9/20/06
Bina asked for any corrections, revisions, and/or approval of the FDC minutes dated 9/20/06 . Motion (Marxen/Ahern) to approve the minutes; the motion carried.

Pederson informed the committee that Jessica Anderson has been reassigned to a different committee and she no longer will be a member of FDC. MSA is planning to appoint a new student representative soon.

Reflection on the UMM Strategic Positioning and the Role of Faculty Research
Bina pointed out that the Strategic Positioning Task Force, appointed by Chancellor Sam Schuman, began its work nearly 1 ½ years ago. The Task Force produced a preliminary plan last March and has since been working rather diligently toward its further articulation and refinement. However, despite our concerns, we do not know whether the issue of faculty research (and creative activity)--as a full-fledged category--has ever been addressed. Bina remarked: "To be sure, the 'new' identity given to Faculty Research as if it must be identified (and indeed written in every instance, and indeed sentence, in the preliminary draft!) with undergraduate (student) research is not only strategically false but also discouragingly compromises our positioning both campus-wide and within the University as a whole." One member asked how the issues arose last year. Bina replied: last year, during our FDC Focus Forum with Anne Carroll we raised a number of issues in which faculty research was a significant item. The FDC discussed the role of research at UMM, noting research is a significant component for tenure and promotion and agreed that (as of October 4 th , i.e., the time of this meeting) none of us are informed (and many of us are kept in the dark) whether there will be adequate recognition for faculty research in the UMM strategic positioning plan. (NB: See the October 12, 2006 memo from Bina, via Pareena Lawrence , to the Strategic Positioning Committee concerning this issue--appended, for the record, to these minutes.)

  • Sungur briefly discussed the Quality of Life Survey - level of satisfaction on support and encouragement for institutional, division, discipline and peer research.
  • The Executive Committee will hold a campus-wide Forum concerning the Strategic Positioning Plan on Monday, October 9, 2006 at 4:30 P.M. (in the Science Auditorium); FDC members are encouraged to attend in order to question and provide feedback to the Strategic Positioning Committee.
  • In the light of manifold discussions on the issues raised above, members discussed the necessity of single semester leave, an adequate balance between teaching research, and the issues surrounding faculty promotion and tenure. One member remarked: it may be useful to evaluate faculty teaching (perhaps in addition to student evaluation) through (external) collegial evaluation in the same vein as research (and creative activity).

Teaching of Strategic Languages is tabled until the next meeting.


Green Campus
Sungur informed the committee of his conversation with Troy Goodnough, the newly appointed UMM campus sustainability coordinator. Sungur pointed out that Goodnough is planning to organize an informal meeting at the LaFave House to commence his duties and is asking for support from the Faculty Center . He revealed that Goodnough wishes to add to the materials, such as books/magazines on green curriculum, at the FCLT library. Sungur conveyed that Goodnough would like to see topics on Green Curriculum as one part of the Fall Retreat 2007. A brief discussion followed before a motion (Ahern/Marxen) to support the Green Campus initiative by purchasing materials and co-sponsoring events; motion was carried--with 4 yes and 1 abstention.

Distinguished Research Award
Members unanimously approved sending the announcement of UMM Distinguished Research Award; it shall be mailed to faculty by late October.

The FDC will meet November 1, 2006 at 1:00 P.M. in the Faculty Center .

Meeting adjourned at 2:00 P.M.

Submitted by:
Linda Pederson



(Appended (with slight editing) to the FDC Minutes of October 4, 2006 )


TO: Pareena Lawrence, Member of UMM Strategic Positioning Committee

FROM: Cyrus Bina, Chair of the Faculty Development Committee


RE: Reflections on the Faculty Research & Creative Activity at UMM

DATE: October 12, 2006

Given the suggestions and extensive discussions at the Faculty Development Committee's 2005-06 Forum and the collection of pertinent information from us, particularly concerning faculty research at UMM; and given the concerns expressed by several faculty members in the Strategic Positioning Forum of October 9, 2006; and also given the fact that faculty may not have an opportunity to propose amendments concerning the Strategic Positioning Plan within in the Campus Assembly for final approval--given the proposed up-or-down vote, I wish to raise the following four points with the Committee in advance:

  1. Faculty research is central to the University's mission, and as a primary strategic goal has been an integral part of the institution's position from its very inception beginning with its charter in Minnesota . The Charter puts faculty research in the forefront of the institution's mission and defines it as an enterprise striving to benefit the public at large. And in this original vision the goal is much larger--and certainly more inclusive--than the important task of pedagogic activity that benefits a selected group of people in class-room settings. In other words, teaching activity is envisioned to be a significant subset of this universal enterprise.
  2. In genuine liberal arts institutions of higher learning, teaching is not a mere 'performance' but a broad-based substantive activity aiming to prepare students for lifelong challenges. This substantive (intellectual) activity demands for active scholar-teachers who are distinct in character and who possess the ability and talent to traverse between demand to be a generalist and desire to be a specialist dialectically. Therefore, faculty research (and creative activity) is not only an independent (and at large) component but also plays as an indirect part of daily pedagogy and instruction.
  3. Faculty research has always been an inclusive scholarly and creative activity. It has always been consisted of working individually, working collaboratively with colleagues, and/or working in collaboration with students. Therefore, it would be misleading to identify the faculty research (and creative activity) as a collaborative activity with undergraduate students or, worse, to add them additively as if the sub-category of the same deserves an exclusive mention (see, for instance, the Draft Recommendation dated March 31, 2006 , p. 11). Faculty research (and creative activity) is itself a sui generis category deserves genuine material and intellectual support, without campus distinction, from the University of Minnesota central administration.
  4. As recent Quality of Life Surveys by the Faculty Center clearly demonstrate, UMM faculty satisfaction with regard to Formal Research and Creative work is at the lowest relative to other categories (see Faculty Quality of Life Survey , UMM, September 2006, p. 13, emphasis added). While there is some support for collaborative research with students, there is negligible support for faculty research and creative activity at UMM. This stems from two crucial neglects, among others, (1) the lack of adequate provision of time, such as granting frequent semester leaves, etc. to faculty, particularly mid-level faculties, and (2) the lack of adequate research facility (e.g., technical support, genuine leave policy, laptop computers, data bases, etc.) along with insufficient support for travel expenses to scholarly meetings and conferences, and/or insufficient funds for organizing conferences, symposia, etc. here at home. These kinds of support are indeed essential for an institution that is planning to be among the top three public research institutions in the world (!); and by the same token, for its constituent liberal-arts campus, UMM, that is striving to move up to the first top- tier liberal arts colleges nationwide. It's imperative that this kind of scholarly support be given to faculty at large regardless of their campus, college, school, division, department, or their discipline across the University of Minnesota . Why? Because such neglect, which has already led to a sizeable underclass among faculty at the University of Minnesota would not only be an obstacle to the dream of being among the top three public research institutions in the world, but also, in the face of the fast-paced, hypercompetitive, globalized world of today will no doubt diminish our ranks further down the line, both individually (i.e., campus wide) and collectively (i.e., university wide). Moreover, UMM is currently among the top five national public liberal arts colleges; and--at least according to an active member of the Strategic Positioning Committee--is striving to position itself from the third-tier standing toward the top-tier of national liberal arts colleges in the near future. Many faculty members in the top-tier colleges, such as Williams College , are already at the forefront of research and creative activity with ample support from their respective institutions; some even compete rather successfully with faculty at the so-called top-ranked national research institutions. In other words, the apparent distinction between the (graduate and undergraduate) levels of instruction may have to do with quantity but certainly not the quality of faculty research and creative activity. I urge the UMM Strategic Positioning Committee to discuss and reflect this in the UMM strategic positioning final draft primarily for the long-term interest of faculty at UMM and also for the sake of our credibility, cohesiveness, and long-term strategic interests within the University at large.