Faculty Senate

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February 23, 2017 Minutes

1. The regular meeting of the Faculty Senate was called to order at 3:03 p.m. in Room 105 of the Richard E. Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences, Chairperson Sullivan presiding.

All members were present except Senators Cooper, Cornillon, Djurdjevic, Guilfoos, Harris, Kincaid, Krieger, Licht, Lloyd, Mahler, Meghani, Rosenbaum, Rynearson, Sama, Wang, and Xu; ex officio members Vice Presidents Collins and Sonnenfeld, CIO Kubica; Deans Bonn, Boughida, Ciccomascolo, Ebrahimpour, Ligouri, Richmond, Wolfe, Wright, and Zawia.  Associate Deans Eaton and Morokoff represented Dean Brownell, Associate Dean Smith represented Dean Corliss, and Associate Dean Veeger represented Dean Kirby.

2. Chairperson Sullivan announced that the minutes of Faculty Senate meeting #5, January 26, 2017 had been posted with the agenda. He asked if there were any additions, corrections to or questions about the minutes. There were none.  Chairperson Sullivan ruled that, in the absence of any changes or corrections, the minutes were approved.


A. Announcements

1. Chairperson Sullivan announced that, at today’s meeting, Senators would elect the next Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of the Senate. He thanked the three candidates running for the position.

2. Chairperson Sullivan reported that the evaluation surveys for five administrators had been distributed (electronically). He called on Administrator Evaluation Coordinator Senator Nassersharif to provide an update.  Senator Nassersharif thanked the faculty who had responded to date and reported that there had been, so far, good survey participation.  He listed the administrators under review: Provost DeHayes, Vice President Sonnenfeld, Vice Provost Libutti, Dean Richmond, and Dean Zawia.  He thanked the evaluation committee members for their work:

Administrator Evaluation Committee for Donald H. DeHayes
Marilyn Barbour, PHP
Douglas Hales, CBA
Peter Larson, LIB
Joan Peckham, CSC
Jim Prochaska, PSY

Administrator Evaluation Committee for Vice President Gerald Sonnenfeld
Theodore Walls, Psychology
John King, Graduate School of Oceanography
Carol Thornber, College of the Environment and Life Sciences
Marta Gomez-Chiarri, Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science
John Burkett, Economics

Administrator Evaluation Committee for Dean Nasser Zawia
Peter August, Natural Resources Science
Laura Meyerson, Natural Resources Science
Brian Heikes, Graduate School of Oceanography
Hillary Leonard, College of Business Administration
Kathleen Davis, English

Administrator Evaluation Committee for Vice Provost Dean Libutti
Cheryl Foster
Paula McGlasson
Leslie Mahler, Communicative Disorders & Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program
Diane Martins
Adam Roth

Administrator Evaluation Committee for Dean Jayne Richmond
Leslie Mahler, Communicative Disorders & Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program
Marian Goldsmith, Biological Sciences
Carolyn Hames, Nursing
Art Mead, Economics
George Tsiatas, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Senator Nassersharif commented that he hoped to be able to start the process earlier next year.

3. Chairperson Sullivan called on Professor Bodah who provided a brief update on the status of the self-study for the decennial comprehensive evaluation of the University by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Professor Bodah said that the evaluation would culminate in a site visit to URI in October 2017.   Susan Hunter, President of the University of Maine, would chair the NEASC site visit team.  Findings of the team would be provided in a public meeting.  Professor Bodah said that President Hunter planned to make a preliminary visit to the institution on May 24, 2017.  He added that he hoped that the Senate Executive Committee would be available during her visit in May.  Professor Bodah reported that he was in the process of editing the subcommittee reports that had been submitted to him and would draft a final report, which he expected to complete in April.  He said that NEASC had agreed to review the draft and provide feedback by the end of May.  During the summer, data would be updated and final revisions would be made.

4. Chairperson Sullivan thanked and acknowledged the many years of service of Vice Provost Katz who had announced his retirement.

5. Chairperson Sullivan thanked Dean Kirby for sponsoring the day’s post-meeting reception.

B. Activities of the Executive Committee

Vice Chairperson Conley announced that the Minutes of Executive Committee meetings #23 and #24 were available on the Faculty Senate website.  He asked if there were any questions.  There were none.

C. Report of the Nominating Committee

Senator Byrd presented the Nominating Report.  He placed in nomination for Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of the Faculty Senate for the 2017-2018 academic year the following names: Senator Hillary Leonard, Senator Michael Rice, and Senator Robert Schwegler.  Senator Byrd asked if there were any additional nominations from the floor.  There were none.  He moved that the nominations be closed.  The motion passed; nominations were closed.  Ballots were distributed and Senators were directed to vote for one candidate.  While ballots were being distributed, Senator Byrd noted that if no single candidate received a majority of the first ballot votes, a run-off election between the two candidates who received the highest number of first ballot votes would take place.

Chairperson Sullivan moved to the next order of business, the Report of the President, while ballots were collected and counted.


The President commented on recent activity in the general assembly. He said that the Finance Committee would hear testimony on the Governor’s proposal to provide two years of paid college tuition at the state’s public institutions and that URI would submit testimony on behalf of the proposal. He said that he would keep the URI community apprised of the progress of the higher education budget and expected an update after spring break. The President reported that legislation to protect scholarly research by faculty from public records requests had been passed by the House but not yet considered by the Senate. Members of the URI community were encouraged to contact their state representatives regarding these issues. The President noted having been informed about the noise associated with the College of Engineering construction project. He indicated that deconstruction would get underway in the summer and the noise problem might worsen. He said that work on the Welcome Center would also commence this summer and would disrupt traffic on Upper College Road and parking in that area. Chairperson Sullivan asked the President if a resolution [from the Faculty Senate] supporting the Governor’s tuition proposal would be of value. The President said that such an action would be appreciated.


Chairperson Sullivan returned to the Report of the Nominating Committee and announced that Senator Hillary Leonard from the College of Business Administration had been elected Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of the Faculty Senate for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Senator Leonard was congratulated.


The Provost announced that the Academic Testing Center had opened today.  He thanked the many faculty and staff for their efforts in making the Center possible including Senator Verskin, Professors Mcgregor and Moss-Doyle, Directors Goldsmith, Rohland, and Sidio, and Ms. Rachel Leveillee.  The Provost reported that four candidates for the Dean of the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies would be on campus for interviews in the upcoming week.  The application deadline for the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences would be sometime in March.  Interviews would be expected with candidates for that position later in the spring.  An announcement had been distributed seeking applications for an interim Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Budget.  The current Chief Information Officer (CIO), an interim in the position, would remain in the office throughout the implementation of the IT Strategic Plan.  The Provost said that a national search would be carried out in February or March of 2018 with an expected appointment of the CIO by the fall of 2018.


A. Professor Gindy presented Report 2016-17-2 of the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee (AS&CC), which contained the academic year calendar for 2022-2023, editorial changes to the Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 calendars, and the URI Summer Sessions calendars for years 2018-2022. She reviewed the discussion about the 2022-2023 calendar that had taken place at the November 17, 2016 Faculty Senate meeting.  She reported that the AS&CC had reviewed in detail existing academic calendars from academic year 2014-2015 through academic year 2021-2022 noting precedent set by the University for each holiday and special event.  The review had revealed some errors, which, she said, were presented today as editorial changes.  In finalizing the 2022-2023 calendar and in consideration of the requirement for a minimum of 13 class days per semester, the AS&CC had discussed no-class options for Columbus Day, Election Day, Veterans Day, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and President’s Day.  Professor Gindy presented the Fall 2022 calendar proposing that classes would meet on Columbus Day and Election Day and would not meet on Veteran’s Day and November 23, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the 2022-2023 calendar.  Discussion followed.  Professor Gindy was asked to reconsider no classes on Election Day.  Student Senate representatives, Ms. Russo and Mr. Percy, asked the Faculty Senate to reconsider no classes on Election Day.  Discussion continued.  Holding classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, amending the University Manual to shorten the final examination period (creating an extra class day), and surveying students regarding options for Election Day were suggested.  Discussion ended.  Senators were asked to vote on the motion. The motion failed.  Chairperson Sullivan said that the AS&CC would return at the next meeting with an alternative recommendation and that the Student Senate would be asked to facilitate surveying student opinion.  Senior Associate Director Humphrey informed the Senate that the calendar needed to be approved by April 1. Professor Gindy presented proposed changes to section 8.70.11 of the University Manual that would change the length of the pre-prepared summer session calendar from 2 years to 6 years to better align with the 6-year academic calendar of fall, winter, and spring semesters.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the Manual changes and the summer calendar for 2018-2022.  The motion was approved.

B. Associate Dean Rusnock presented Curricular Report No. 2016-17-3 from the Graduate Council to the Faculty Senate. She summarized the informational section of the report, one new 400-level course for graduate credit and changes to 500/600 level courses.  She moved approval of eight new 500-level courses from the College of Nursing. The motion passed.  The Associate Dean noted that the Graduate Council had approved two temporary courses from the College of Nursing and one temporary course from the College of Engineering.  The following program proposals were presented and moved for approval: changes to the Masters of Science in Human Resources and Labor Relations, changes to the graduate admission requirements for Teacher Certification in the School of Education, and a change in the name of the graduate focus group in Biological and Environmental Sciences from Integrative Evolutionary Biology to Evolution and Marine Biology.  The motion passed; the program changes were approved.

Associate Dean Rusnock presented Curricular Report No. 2016-17-4 from the Graduate Council to the Faculty Senate: proposed updates to University Manual sections 3.30.10 – 3.30.17 (Graduate School) and 5.65.10 (Graduate Council).  The changes were moved and seconded; Senator Nassersharif expressed concern that a dean chaired the Graduate Council, which is a faculty committee.  The motion was approved.

C. Chairperson Sullivan presented the 538th Report of the Curricular Affairs Committee. He said that Section I was informational and asked if there were any questions. There were none.  He reported that Section II required Senate approval.  Two new courses were approved.  Chairperson Sullivan moved approval of the following proposals: changes to the Hunger Studies minor, the Bachelor of Music in Composition, the undergraduate admissions requirements for Education majors, the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, and the creation of a new track, Bioinformatics, in Cell and Molecular Biology.  The program proposals were approved.

D. Chairperson Sullivan presented General Education Committee Report 2016-17-5. He said that the General Education Committee had met on February 2 and had approved 8 courses in the new general education program.  Four courses were existing courses and were presented as informational.  Four courses required Senate approval because they were new.  The Chair moved approval and the motion passed.

E. Professor Wenisch presented Report 2016-17-2 of the Constitution, By-Laws, and University Manual (CBUM) Committee. He explained that the motion approved at the January 26, 2017 Faculty Senate meeting to provisionally approve that Senior Lecturers, Teaching Professors, and Clinical Professors after five years of service in their positions be eligible to serve on the Faculty Senate as well as on Faculty Senate committees included a directive to the CBUM Committee to draft and submit appropriate changes to the Senate Constitution, the By-Laws, and the University Manual at the next Senate meeting.   Professor Wenisch reviewed the proposed changes to the Constitution (membership paragraph) and the By-Laws (the ratio of faculty to senators and the description of those faculty eligible to be elected to the Senate and Senate committees). Professor Wenisch said that, if the changes were approved today, they would be presented to the General Faculty for a referendum; a two-thirds majority of those responding would be required for the changes to become effective.  He also noted that, if approved, the changes would become effective in the 2018-2019 academic year.  He said that CBUM recommended that the Faculty Senate approve the changes to the Faculty Senate Constitution’s Membership Paragraph as proposed and that the Faculty Senate Executive Committee be directed to conduct a referendum of the General Faculty concerning the changes.  The recommendation was moved, seconded, and approved.  Proposed changes to By-Laws sections 2.2, Professor Wenisch explained, would be automatic if the changes to the Constitution were approved.  A motion was made to approve proposed changes to By-Laws sections 6.1 and 6.2 (concerning committee membership).  Discussion followed.  A vote on the changes would take place at a subsequent meeting (per By-Laws 12.1 whereby a proposed amendment to the By-Laws may not be voted upon at the meeting at which it is first moved).  Senator Derbyshire asked if changes to By-Laws 6.1 and 6.2 could be considered even if the referendum to the General Faculty were not approved.  Professor Wenisch said yes.

Professor Wenisch presented Report 2016-17-3 of the Constitution, By-Laws, and University Manual (CBUM) Committee.  Changes to University Manual Chapters 3 and 5 that incorporated prior legislation or were editorial in nature were presented as informational.  Senator Kirschenbaum asked that the word “divisions” be deleted from section 3.21.11 describing the College of Arts and Sciences.  There were no objections and the deletion was made. Changes to University Manual Chapter 5 that incorporated prior legislation that required Senate approval were presented, moved, and approved. Changes to By-Laws sections 4.31 – 4.86 5 that incorporated prior legislation that required Senate approval were presented and moved for approval. A vote on the changes would take place at a subsequent meeting (per By-Laws 12.1 whereby a proposed amendment to the By-Laws may not be voted upon at the meeting at which it is first moved).  Professor Wenisch exhorted those assembled to understand the importance of taking responsibility to prepare and submit By-Laws and University Manual changes at the same time as a proposal that would impact these documents.  Senator Kirschenbaum thanked Professor Wenisch for his diligence.


Senate Vice Chairperson Conley presented a preliminary report on Senate Committee restructuring.  Using Power Point slides, he summarized the reasons for considering a significant restructuring of the standing committees of the Senate: membership too large, decreased attendance, committee activity and work drifting from charge as stated in the University Manual, difficulty soliciting faculty members to serve, and difficulty soliciting faculty to chair committees.  The need to clarify the role of administrative members who serve on faculty committees also prompted consideration of the proposed large-scale changes.  Vice Chairperson Conley noted that Senator Williams’ motion (approved at the November 17 Faculty Senate meeting) directing the Executive Committee to reform the status and voting rights of non-faculty committee members contributed to the effort to reorganize.   He described the process of re-aggregating committee duties into new groupings and cited the basic senate committee structure as outlined in By-Laws section 4.13.  He proposed 4 newly configured committees: Curriculum and Standards, with General Education and Academic Calendar subcommittees; Teaching, Advising and Assessment; Research and Creative Activities; and Technology.  He proposed one new committee, Service and Community Life, and indicated that the Constitution, By-Laws and University Manual would remain unchanged.  Senator Betensky asked about the role of administrators in the new structure. Vice Chairperson Conley said that, in one model under consideration, administrators would act as committee consultants.  Senator Williams suggested that the Executive Committee clearly define what is intended by the term “faculty” in the context of committee membership.  Vice Chairperson Conley projected a slide of the following motion: I make a motion to direct the FSEN Executive Committee to review and make recommendations at the next FSEN meeting on revising appropriate sections of the University Manual and the accompanying Constitution be modified in the following ways:

  1. That the Academic Standards and Calendar, Curricular Affairs and General Education Committees be reformulated into the Curriculum and Standards Committees; and
  2. The Undergraduate Academic Advising, Honors and Visiting Scholars and Teaching Effectiveness Committees be reformulated into the Teaching, Advising and Assessment Committee; and
  3. The Council for Research, Library Committees be reformulated into the Research and Creative Activities Committee; and
  4. The Committee on Information Technology, [CITICCN] etc. and Library Committees be reformulated into the Technology Committee;
  5. Furthermore these committees shall comply in number and format to UM 4.13
  6. And the Chair and faculty members of each committee shall be recognized for service time with appropriate release and budgetary support
  7. Shall be implemented for AY 2018

Senator Theim moved approval. Discussion followed.  The motion was approved.

8. Chairperson Sullivan moved to adjourn. The motion was approved. The meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Neff

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