1. The regular meeting of the Faculty Senate was called to order at 3:35 p.m. in the Cherry Auditorium, Chester Kirk Building, Chairperson Nassersharif presiding.
All members were present except Senators Anderson, Cerbo, Chadha, Cohen, Davis, Dunn, Erickson-Owens, Hutchison, Kaufman, Kim, Krieger, Licht, Mandel (L.), Matthew, Maynard, Meagher, Menden-Deuer, Rynearson, Sullivan, Trubiano, Tsiatas, Wittwer, Ye, and Zhang; ex officio members President Dooley, Vice Presidents Dougan, Sonnenfeld, Valentino; Vice Provost Libutti, CIO Bozylinsky; Deans Bonn, Corliss, Jervis, Larrat, McCarthy, and Sullivan. Associate Dean Veeger represented Dean Kirby.
2. Chairperson Nassersharif announced that the Minutes of Faculty Senate Meeting #6, February 19, 2015 had been posted on the Faculty Senate website. He asked if there were any additions, corrections to or questions about these minutes. There were none. Chairperson Nassersharif ruled that in the absence of any changes or corrections, the minutes were approved.
3. REPORTS OF OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
1) Chairperson Nassersharif said that, in the interest of continuity on the Executive Committee in order to improve shared governance, the FSEC has been working all year to develop an expanded leadership position. In December, he said, the FSEC proposed a change to the By-Laws creating a two-year leadership position, Vice Chair/Chair-Elect. He reported that the referendum of the General Faculty to change the Constitution to enable this new position passed with 92% approval. At today’s meeting, he will call the vote on the proposed changes to complete the process to create the new position.
2) Chairperson Nassersharif reported on the progress of the Administrator Evaluation Committees at work to carry out surveys of President Dooley, Vice Provost Katz, and Deans Wright and Corliss. He said that the survey for Vice Provost Katz was closed. He urged faculty to participate in the survey process for the remaining administrators (as applicable) stating that faculty opinions matter.
3) Chairperson Nassersharif announced that the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Senate were again jointly sponsoring the Sheila Black Grubman Faculty Outstanding Service Award to recognize a member of the URI faculty who has made important contributions to the University through service. He urged faculty to nominate their peers for this award adding that the award recipient receives a plaque at the May meeting of the Faculty Senate and a financial award of $2000.
4) Chairperson Nassersharif thanked Dean Kirby for graciously agreeing to sponsor the reception at the University Club after the meeting. He encouraged all Senators and others to attend.
5) Chairperson Nassersharif reminded non-Senators to sign the Permission to Speak form and asked everyone to remember to wait to be recognized and to identify themselves before speaking.
6) Chairperson Nassersharif announced that, in the absence of the Vice Chair, the Vice Chair-Elect, Senator Welters, would conduct the next portion of the meeting.
B. Senator Welters announced that the Minutes of the 2014-15 Executive Committee Meetings #30, #31, and #32 were available on the Faculty Senate website. She asked if there were any questions. There were none.
C. Senator Welters recommended that the Faculty Senate adopt the proposed schedule of Senate meetings for the 2015-2016 academic year:
Sept. 17, 2015
Oct. 15, 2015
Nov. 19, 2015
Dec. 10, 2015
Jan. 28, 2016
Feb. 18, 2016
Mar. 17, 2016
April 14, 2016
May 5, 2016
The motion was approved. Chairperson Nassersharif indicated that an amendment to the proposed 2016 Spring dates would be made at the April Faculty Senate meeting (after checking dates with the Scheduling Officer) in order to set the March meeting after spring break, not prior to spring break.
4. REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT
The Provost said that the President was out of town and that he would make some brief remarks. Legislation forwarded to the President after the February meeting had been approved as indicated on the agenda.
The Provost reported that Governor Raimondo was scheduled to present the 2016 state budget that evening. Because of the reported $200 million shortfall in the state, the Provost said that he is not expecting an increase in the state appropriation in FY16, but is hoping for approval of a modest tuition increase for URI for FY 16.
The Provost reported that, for the fourth year in a row, undergraduate applications have increased (total > 21,000) and have broken our previous record for undergraduate applications. He stated that demographic reports from 43 of 50 states indicate declining numbers of high school graduates throughout most of the country. URI continues to attract a greater percentage of a shrinking pool of applicants and also a greater percentage of Rhode Island high school graduates. Of about 9000 or so RI high school graduates, URI received applications from about 4500. The Provost credited the work of Admissions and the faculty for these successes. He noted that the quality of applicants continues to increase, too, as demonstrated by the SAT scores of applicants. He thanked faculty in advance of their efforts in support of “Welcome Days” and other yield activities during April.
The Provost reported that Winter J-Term experienced a 50% increase in enrollment in 2015, from ~400 to ~600 total number of students enrolled in one of 29 on-campus courses or 17 travel courses. Students have expressed high praise for the structure of the classes and the faculty delivery and faculty have also enjoyed teaching in the compressed format.
The Provost said that 40 of 50 states have performance-based budgeting in place and that it was gaining traction in the RI General Assembly. He reiterated that because URI has been able to develop its own framework for this mechanism for funding Rhode Island’s post-secondary state schools, and because URI has been advancing student achievement and retention for some years, the institution is well-positioned in this regard.
5. REPORTS OF STANDING AND SPECIAL COMMITTEES
A. Associate Dean Killingbeck presented the Curricular Report No. 2014-15-7 from the Graduate Council to the Faculty Senate. He presented one course change (informational) and one new course and moved approval. The motion passed.
B. Dean Zawia presented the Curricular Report No. 2014-15-8 from the Graduate Council to the Faculty Senate. He presented a proposal from the College of Arts and Sciences to create a fully online Professional Science Masters Degree (PSM) in Cyber Security. He moved approval and answered questions. The motion passed. Dean Zawia presented another proposal, from the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, to create a Graduate Certificate in Hydrology. He described the program, noting that it was an offering from the URI Water Cluster initiative, and moved approval. The Dean and associate Dean Veeger, from the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, answered questions. The motion passed.
C. Professor Brand presented the Five Hundred and Twenty-Second Report of the Curricular Affairs Committee. She said that Section I was informational and asked if there were any questions. She answered questions about the deletion of WRT 333 (it is being replaced by WRT 332). Professor Brand said that Section II required confirmation by the Faculty Senate and moved approval of 6 new courses. The motion passed. She moved approval of 10 course change proposals. Questions were raised about the pre-requisite statements in NUR 253, NUR 443, and NUR 444. Professor Martins from the College of Nursing explained that these courses are currently offered in the face-to-face RN to BS degree program and are planned to be offered in an online format for students in the online RN to BS program [not yet approved]. Discussion continued. NUR 253, NUR 443, and NUR 444 were removed from the motion and sent back to committee for clarification of the different pre-requisites for the two different student populations. Professor Brand moved approval of the deletion of an option, Organizational Analysis, in the BS degree in Sociology. The motion passed. She moved approval of the creation the Online RN to BS program. Questions were asked about accommodating students with disabilities in the online version of this degree program, the need for online general education courses from other colleges to be developed to support the program, the role of the consultant, Academic Partnerships, and the viability of supporting both face-to-face and online programs. Dr. Goldsmith, Director of Online Education, and Professor Martins answered questions. It was noted that the online program will operate on a special 7-week calendar. It was noted that students will not be permitted to be simultaneously enrolled in programs in the traditional semester calendar and the 7-week accelerated calendar. The vote was called. The motion passed. Professor Brand presented the following curricular proposals from the College of Environment and Life Sciences: creation of degree, major, and subplans for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, the transfer of the Department of Landscape Architecture from the College of the Environment and Life Sciences to the College of Arts and Sciences and the transfer the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) degree to the College of Arts Sciences. She moved approval. There were no questions. The motion passed.
6. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
Chairperson Nassersharif said that at the December Faculty Senate meeting, changes to Section 5.1 of the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate were first moved, seconded and discussed. Returning the motion to the Faculty Senate for a vote was postponed to allow a referendum on the necessary changes to Articles III, IV, V, and VI of the Constitution of the Faculty Senate. At the February Faculty Senate meeting, the Senate authorized a referendum of the General Faculty on changes to the Constitution. Also, at the February meeting, amendments to By-Laws Sections 5.2, 5.6, and 5.7 of the By-Laws were moved for approval, and seconded. An electronic ballot was distributed to the General Faculty on March 2, 2015 and voting was closed on March 6, 2015. Results of the question to approve proposed changes to the Faculty Senate Constitution, Articles III, IV, V, and VI were: 143 approve, 13 disapprove, 3 abstain. The referendum passed. He returned to the floor Sections 5.1, 5.2, 5.6, 5.7 of the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate, as amended, and asked if there were discussion. There was none. He called the vote. The motion passed.
7. NEW BUSINESS
Chairperson Nassersharif asked if there were any New Business. There was none.
8. A motion was made to adjourn. The motion carried. The meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m.