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Faculty Affairs Committee Minutes (2-12-09)

Meeting of the Faculty Affairs Committee

12 February 2009, 4:00pm, Sci 2555


Present: Rebecca Dean, Eli Mayfield, Pam Solvie, Timna Wyckoff, James Wojtaszek

Absent: Fang Du, Argie Manolis


I. minutes

The minutes from 29 January 2009 were approved. Wojtaszek will post them.


II. old business

A. low enrollment policy - The first part of the meeting was spent discussing the affects of the “low enrollment policy” on various disciplines across campus. Wyckoff will draft a memo to Dean Contant and send it out for comment before our meeting with her on 26 February (see below).

B. spousal hiring – We discussed Wyckoff's draft email. Solvie suggested that the email start with some explanation of why this question is coming to campus at this time. We made a few small changes elsewhere in the draft. Solvie suggested that we consider using the Portal to gather responses. She will look into how this might work. Wojtaszek agreed to send out the request for input. Wyckoff will contact Carol McCannon and reconfirm that she would like us to send this to UMMUSA as well as to FACPA.


III. new business

Wojtaszek asked if others had concerns about the new Inter-library Loan policy by which everything is received electronically. In disciplines where ILL is common, a hard copy is necessary for analysis, and where budgets are stretched thin, this feels like a burdensome transfer of printing costs. Other members did not personally feel strongly about the new policy (some find it preferable), but we agreed that Wojtaszek should pursue the issue with the library staff on behalf of FAC.


Minutes submitted by Timna Wyckoff, 18 February 2009


To: Cheryl Contant, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean

From: Timna Wyckoff, chair, Faculty Affairs Committee

Date: 18 February 2009


Thank you for agreeing to meet with our committee next Thursday, 26 February. One major agenda item will be a discussion of the email faculty received late in the fall semester regarding spring courses with low enrollment (fewer than 6 students).


Each member of our committee informally surveyed several members of our constituencies. In addition, we discussed this as a committee at our last meeting. Here is a summary of issues and concerns that we would like to discuss with you next week.


• Some disciplines very rarely have low enrolling courses and were unaffected.


• Some disciplines routinely have a small number of low enrolling courses.


• Some of these disciplines tend to be doing things to avoid large numbers of low enrolling courses, such as offering upper-level electives in alternating years and surveying students to optimize offerings. Many of these disciplines also balance low enrolling electives with larger core and service courses. Many of these disciplines feel that some low enrolling courses will need to be offered to the small number of majors, in order to maintain timely graduation rates and excellence in their disciplines.


• Some of these disciplines seemed genuinely unclear as to the intent of the email.


• The timing and tone of the email perhaps unnecessarily alarmed many faculty members.


• Some specific questions arose:

• If a course is canceled, what is the affected faculty member supposed to do? Will faculty members be expected to “make up” that class in the future? Are there other creative alternatives? (Specifically, one faculty member would like to be able to apply to take a course outside his discipline to prepare for teaching an interdisciplinary course.)

• Is there a feeling that our class sizes are generally too small? Faculty with lab courses and faculty with discussion-intensive courses worry that they are going to be asked to significantly increase the sizes of their sections. A change in class size affects the pedagogical approach a professor will take, and often requires a complete restructuring of the course. Several faculty have heard that a “cutoff” of 10 students had been proposed.