Meeting of the Faculty Affairs Committee
24 November 2009, 8:00am, Sci 2555
Present: Katie Barron, Mary Elizabeth Bezanson, Pam Solvie, James Wojtaszek, Timna Wyckoff
Guest: Cheryl Contant
I. office hours
We reported to Dean Contant that at the request of Executive Committee and some individual faculty, we looked into office hour practices across campus and found that a vast majority of faculty hold around three official office hours and then are available by appointment several more hours each week. Bezanson expressed concern that Faculty Affairs Committee might be perceived as working against faculty interests by mandating an office hour policy. Several members clarified that we are not proposing a policy, but are rather sharing information about “best practices” that seem to be shared by most faculty across divisions at UMM.
II. faculty diversity
We reported to Dean Contant that we looked into how UMM goes about recruiting diverse pools of faculty during searches. Across divisions, ads are placed in the Chronicle of Higher Education and other discipline-specific publications, ads are sent via direct mail to a variety of institutions, and some committees (especially, it seems, in Social Science) post ads to specific listserves that serve traditionally underserved groups in particular disciplines. We did not find any glaring holes in how UMM goes about recruiting faculty and staff of color, but agreed that committees need to remain diligent in their efforts.
The next step is to look at how search committees evaluate candidates. Contant asked whether search committees talk about implicit biases. Bezanson pointed out that diversity of communication styles and diversity of socio-economic status are valuable to pay attention to as well. Contant suggested that perhaps we need to have more conversations as a campus about this part of the process.
Finally, we spoke briefly about retention of diversity faculty and staff. Some issues related to this are outside our control, but others deserve some discussion. Is the climate on our campus welcoming to all? How do other institutions hire and retain faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds? Contant mentioned cluster hires and the use of bridge funds. Faculty Affairs will continue to address this issue next semester.
III. online instruction
Contant updated us on some developments surrounding online instruction at UMM. She stressed that it should not supplant our residential face-to-face instruction, but rather be an additional service we provide.
GenEdWeb was developed through Continuing Education a decade ago to meet the needs of PSEO students and some UMM students. Over time it became clear that those courses were sometimes directly competing with our on campus courses. Recently, GenEdWeb courses were moved into the division structure, and now division chairs are in charge of scheduling courses and hiring faculty to teach those courses. The goals of GenEdWeb, in Contant's mind, are to serve almost exclusively non-UMM students, in order to raise revenue, help with student recruitment, and increase our reputation.
In addition to GenEdWeb, the U of MN is taking part in the “Achieve Program”, which will serve PSEO students, degree-seeking MNSCU students, and students from other U of MN campuses. We will update and refresh many of our GenEdWeb courses with the “Achieve Program” in mind. These courses would be taught as part of a regular teaching load by current faculty (who are mostly part-time instructors at this time), and possibly by some new hires.
Finally, we will be taking many of our online courses through “Quality Matters”, a program involving over 400 institutions that seeks to be a “seal of approval” for online instruction. Engin Sungur and Chrissy Kolaya from UMM are being trained through this program.
Time did not permit more discussion of this issue and we suggested that we might come back to this at our next meeting with Dean Contant.
Minutes submitted by Timna Wyckoff, 5 January 2010