Faculty Senate

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nneff@uri.edu – 401-874-2616, 401-874-5176

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December 11, 2014 Minutes

1. Immediately following a meeting of the General Faculty-Graduate Faculty, the regular meeting of the Faculty Senate was called to order at 3:11 p.m. in the Cherry Auditorium, Chester Kirk Building, Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster presiding.

All members were present except Senators Chadha, Davis, Dunn, Irvine, Kim, Kulenovic, Kusz, Lee (E.), Lee (K.W.), Licht, Martin, Matthew, Nassersharif, Reyes, Taveira, Wittwer, and Zhang; ex officio members Vice President Dougan; Vice Provosts Beauvais, Katz, Libutti; CIO Bozylinsky; Deans Bonn, Higgins, McCarthy, and Richmond; Mr. Zawatsky and Mr. Swanson. Associate Dean Smith represented Dean Corliss, and Associate Dean Veeger represented Dean Kirby.

2. Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster announced that she would preside at the meeting in the absence of the Senate Chair, Bahram Nassersharif. She announced that the Minutes of Faculty Senate Meeting #3, November 20, 2014 had been posted on the Faculty Senate website. She asked if there were any additions, corrections to or questions about these minutes. There were none. Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster ruled that in the absence of any changes or corrections, the minutes were approved.


A. Announcements

1) Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster noted that, at the November 20th meeting, the FSEC had discussed improving shared governance at URI and had proposed expanding the term length of leadership positions. She announced that, at today’s meeting, the FSEC would present an amendment to the By-Laws of the Senate on the Election of Officers, expanding term length of the Vice Chair.

2) Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster also noted that, at the November 20th meeting, the FSEC had moved approval of changes to the University College General Education Committee and the Undergraduate Academic Advising Committee. These changes, she said, as amended, would be returned today under Unfinished Business for a vote.

3) Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster reported that, in response to questions on the matter, the Senate Chair had sent a memo to faculty detailing faculty voting rights, according to the University Manual, regarding matters that require Faculty Senate approval. Subsequently, the FSEC voted to establish an ad hoc committee to study faculty voting rights and Faculty Senate membership and make recommendations. She said that the full Senate would be asked to approve this committee, its charge, and membership at the January 22, 2015 Senate meeting.

4) Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster expressed her appreciation to Dean Brownell for agreeing to sponsor the reception at the University Club after the meeting. She encouraged everyone to attend and noted that the reception gives Senators, ex officio members, and guests an opportunity to meet one another in an informal setting.

5) Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster asked everyone to remember to wait to be recognized and to identify themselves before speaking.

B. Senator Sullivan announced that the Minutes of the 2014-15 Executive Committee Meeting #19 were available on the Faculty Senate website. He asked if there were any questions. There were none.

C. Senator Sullivan moved approval of changes to the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate, Section 5.1, Election of Officers. Discussion ensued about the proposal to elect annually a Vice Chair who would commit to serving as Chair in his/her second year and as Chair Emeritus in a third year. The Provost asked about an optional model in which the Chair would serve for two consecutive years. Senator Sullivan indicated that the proposed model would offer a similar opportunity for continuity. It was noted that this change was not planned to be in place until the 2016-17 academic year. Professor Wenisch acknowledged that the proposed changes to By-Laws Section 5.1 would precipitate changes to the Constitution of the Faculty Senate. Because the process to change the Constitution requires a referendum of the General Faculty, he advised that all potential changes to the Constitution in this academic year be well-considered and combined into a single referendum. Senator Sullivan said that the recommendation would be returned at a later Senate meeting for a vote.


The President stated that the legislation forwarded to him after the November 20, 2014 Senate meeting had been approved.

The President said that he understood that there were discussions underway on campus about faculty voting rights. He said that the Senate Constitution may be inconsistent with some of points being made on this question. He cited Article III, Membership, of the Constitution of the Faculty Senate: “The Senate shall consist of … elected members of the full-time teaching, library, research and extension faculty,…”

He cited Section 4.32.11 (Chapter 4, The Faculty) “Questions of jurisdiction as to the powers of the General Faculty (or its representative body, the Faculty Senate) and the faculties of several colleges shall be referred to the President…” He reiterated that the section included the word “shall” not “may”. Consequently, the President was considering a review of the issue and possibly ruling on the matter. The President concluded by inviting others to share their thoughts on the matter.


A. Associate Dean Killingbeck presented the Curricular Report No. 2014-15-2 from the Graduate Council to the Faculty Senate. He summarized new course and course change proposals and moved approval of the course proposals. The motion passed. He presented two proposals from the College of Nursing: 1) to replace Masters Core Courses with Doctoral Core Courses and 2) to increase the PhD program by 1 credit (related to a 1-credit course change of NUR 660). He moved approval. The motion passed.

B. Professor Hensley-Owens presented Report #2014-15-2 of the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee. The committee had been asked to create an accelerated calendar for online courses and programs. The committee collaborated with the Office of Enrollment Services, the Office of Online and Distance Education, and the Office of the Provost to develop guidelines for the accelerated calendar. Professor Hensley-Owens presented the guidelines, proposed changes to Chapters 3, 7, and 8 of the University Manual, and the calendar for Summer 2015 – Spring 2017 and moved approval. Discussion ensued. Concerns were raised about faculty choice in the matter of teaching the accelerated 7-week online curricula, about the need to develop online sections of all the course requirements for newly developed online degree programs, and about faculty hiring practices to teach online programs. The motion was approved.

C. Dean Zawia presented the Curricular Report No. 2014-15-3 from the Graduate Council to the Faculty Senate. He presented three new programs. He summarized and moved approval of a Graduate Certificate in Community Planning from the College of the Environment and Life Sciences. The motion passed. The Dean summarized and moved approval of a Master of Science in Finance from the College of Business. Discussion ensued. A concern was raised about lack of economics courses in the program. Professor Lin answered questions about the program. The motion passed by a vote of 10 yeas and 1 nay. There were 18 abstentions. The Dean summarized and moved approval of an online Masters of Science in Dietetics from the College of the Environment and Life Sciences. Senator English answered questions about the differences between the MS in Nutrition and the new MS in Dietetics, the experiential learning aspect of the degree, and if current NFS faculty will teach the new program as an overload. The motion passed.

D. Professor Brand presented the Five Hundred and Nineteenth Report of the Curricular Affairs Committee. She said that Section I was informational and asked if there were any questions. There were none. Professor Brand said that Section II required confirmation by the Faculty Senate and moved approval of 3 new courses, 5 course changes, and 2 curriculum changes. Discussion ensued. The motion was divided. UCS 160 and UCS 161 (Success in HigherEd Learning Environments) proposed from University College were removed from the main motion. Concerns were raised about the fact that staff were teaching these courses and that students were receiving academic credit for what was considered non-academic work. The Senate moved to postpone indefinitely action on UCS 160 and UCS 161. The motion was approved. The motion to approve the 519th CAC Report was passed by a vote of 32 yeas and 1 nay.

E. Honors Program Director Lynne Derbyshire presented the 2013-2014 Report of the Honors Program and Visiting Scholars Committee. She summarized events and accomplishments from 2013-14: the Honors Colloquium, Great Public Schools: Everyone’s Responsibility?, the Spring Colloquium, Classroom without Borders, and the annual Honors Project Conference. She praised the students and the faulty who worked with them. Director Derbyshire reported that a recent URI Honors graduate had been named URI’s first Marshall Scholar. She lauded Assistant Director Kathleen Maher for her work in supporting student applications to fellowships and scholarships, including the Marshall Scholarship. She reported that the Committee had approved a change in eligibility requirements for both incoming and continuing students to participate in the Honors Program. Beginning with the class of 2013, incoming students must have earned a high school GPA of 3.4 or higher, and a combined SAT score of 1100 or higher. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors must have earned a 3.3 GPA to remain eligible (up from 3.2). For freshmen entering in the fall of 2015, eligibility requirements are: cumulative high school GPA of 3.80 or higher, or a cumulative high school GPA of 3.50 or higher AND a combined SAT score of 1200 or higher in Critical Reading and Mathematics (or the ACT equivalent score or 27). Director Derbyshire reported that the Pre-Health Committee continued to successfully assist students with acceptances to graduate programs and graduate scholarships. She concluded her remarks by announcing the topic of the Fall 2015 Honors Colloquium, The Power of Humor, to be co-coordinated by Associate Professor Rachel Dicioccio, Department of Communication Studies, and Associate Professor Brian Quilliam, Department of Pharmacy Practice.

F. Professor Barbour presented the Fall 2014 Report to the Senate of the Academic Program Review Committee. She thanked the Committee members along with Veronica Walsh and Gary Boden, from Institutional Research, and Ian Lester, College of Pharmacy, for assistance with the Chairs Survey. She reviewed the activities of the last year:

  • Self-Study External Reviewer criteria developed and posted on FacSen website
  • Release of 4th Annual Central Data Report to Department Chairs and Deans
  • All Chairs/ Program Directors contacted regarding 2nd Chair Survey and Self-Study status. 100% completion rate by Chairs/Program Directors
  • Data from 2nd Chair Survey reformatted and returned to Department Chairs and Deans
  • Provision of aggregated APRC data for Academic Plan metrics

Professor Barbour said that self-studies were ongoing by several departments and programs and that APRC does not make judgments about the self-study but provides assistance.


Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster stated that, at the November 20, 2014 Meeting of the Faculty Senate, the FSEC had moved approval of changes to the University College General Education Committee and the Undergraduate Academic Advising Committee. She said these changes, as amended, were returned for a vote. She placed on the floor for discussion proposed changes to Sections 4.65 – 4.69 and 4.30 – 4.33 of the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate, as amended. The motion was approved.

7. Vice Chairperson Rollo Koster asked if there were any New Business.

Senator Hicks announced that there had been a federal request for a campus climate survey on sexual assault on college campuses. She said that faculty could expect a notice if they were not already aware. She encouraged faculty to be involved in the selection, implementation, and interpretation of any survey instrument used to accomplish the President’s request.

Senator Brady asked about the review and approval process for Grand Challenge courses. She had concerns about course rigor and instructor expertise. She was told that there had been a task force that had approved Grand Challenge courses but it was no longer in place because the Grand Challenge “pilot” was considered terminated when the general education program revision was approved.

Dean Larrat commented on the faculty voting rights issue as it pertained to the health collaborative proposal and the determination by the Senate that clinical faculty may not vote on matters requiring Senate approval. He described the clinical faculty in the College of Pharmacy as full and equal colleagues who engage in teaching, research, service, undergo an annual review process, and participate in governance at the college level. He commended the Senate for planning to create an ad hoc committee on voting rights and Senate membership and advocated for the clinical faculty in the College of Pharmacy to be allowed to vote on academic matters in their units.

Professor Pearson-Merkowitz commented that the fact that Election Day is not a holiday for students is a barrier to their ability to vote. The RI Secretary of State does not consider attending class a sufficient reason for approving an absentee ballot. She asked that the Calendar Committee review the issue.

8. A motion was made to adjourn. The motion carried.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Neff


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