Faculty Senate

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November 17, 2016 Minutes

1. The regular meeting of the Faculty Senate was called to order at 3:01 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 Adams, Akhlaghi, Betensky, Boving, Chadha, Leonard, Licht, Lloyd, Melanson, Pearson-Merkowitz, Post, Rynearson, Taylor, Verskin, and Vocino; ex officio members Vice President Collins, CIO Kubica; Deans Bonn, Boughida, Ebrahimpour, Kirby, Liguori, Wolfe, and Wright.  Associate Dean Eaton represented Dean Brownell and Associate Dean Seitsinger represented Dean Ciccomascolo.

2. Chairperson Sullivan announced that the minutes of Faculty Senate meeting #2, October 20, 2016 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 a speaker from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition was scheduled to present “Open Educational Resources and URI – They Won’t Learn If They Can’t Afford the Textbook” on November 18, in the Galanti Lounge, Library.

2. Chairperson Sullivan said that, at today’s meeting, Vice Provost Libutti would provide an update on Enrollment Management. His presentation would be followed by a recommendation from the Executive Committee to discontinue the Admissions Advisory Committee.

3. Chairperson Sullivan noted that the October 20 Faculty Senate meeting minutes contained a link to the draft of changes to the Policy for Articulation and Transfer Between Public Institutions of Higher Education proposed by Commissioner Purcell and a link to the written response to the Commissioner from the Provost and the Faculty Senate. The Chairperson commented that he considered the proposed changes an infringement on the rights of faculty and said that he encouraged input on the matter from Senators.

4. Chairperson Sullivan reported that the search committee for the Vice President for Administration and Finance had hosted open forums for three of the four candidates for the position; the fourth candidate would be visiting the campus on November 18. He urged those who had attended the forums, or would attend on the following day, to provide feedback on the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

5. Chairperson Sullivan thanked Dean Corliss 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 #12, #13, and #14 were available on the Faculty Senate website.  He asked if there were any questions.  Senator Mandel asked for an explanation of “piecemeal development of course offerings” from meeting minutes #13.  The Vice Chair indicated that individual course proposals were encouraged but that this discussion had applied to course development from non degree-granting units.  Senator Nassersharif commented on meeting minutes #14 and the concern about the assessment of “capstone” courses in the general education program.  The Vice Chair said that the Executive Committee shared the concern, as did the Department of Music, and that the concern would be forwarded to the General Education Committee.

C. Recommendations of the Executive Committee

1. Vice Chairperson Conley presented changes to the Policy for the Administration of Grants, Contracts, and Gifts proposed by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and moved approval of the changes. The motion passed.

2. Vice Chairperson Conley moved approval of changing the order of business and returning to the recommendation to discontinue the Admissions Advisory Committee after the presentation by Vice Provost Libutti. The motion was approved.


The President said that the meeting agenda accurately reflected the status of the legislation forwarded to him after the October 20 Faculty Senate meeting.  He thanked those assembled for their support of passage of Question 4 (Rhode Island Higher Education Bond Question 4 on the November 8, 2016 Rhode Island general election ballot). As a result, he said, $25.5 million would become available for the renovation of the College of Engineering’s Bliss Hall at the time it is needed (estimated to be 2019).  In addition, he said, the bond included $25 million for the development of an innovation (research) center.  The University will work with the (RI) Commerce Department to solicit interest from potential partners for the center.   The President reported that the Board of Education voted to recommend (to the Governor) a tuition increase at the three state institutions.  The proposed in-state increase is 7%; the out of state increase is 4.5% (approximately $900 per student).  The President said that the University will seek an increase in the state appropriation also.  Because the outcome of the budget is never known until June (the end of the legislative session), balancing the budget occurs after students have been admitted.  The President answered questions about potential sites of the innovation center.


A. Associate Dean Rusnock presented Curricular Report No. 2016-17-1 from the Graduate Council to the Faculty Senate. She summarized the Informational section of the report (changes to 400-level courses for graduate credit).   She moved approval of two new 400-level courses for graduate credit. The motion passed.  She moved approval of three new 500-level courses. The motion passed.  The Associate Dean presented as informational a list of 20 existing courses from the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies that were approved by the Graduate Council to be offered online.  She summarized and moved approval of program changes to the Masters of Library and Information Studies (MLIS), the Information Literacy Certificate, the name of a track in the MLIS degree, and the admissions requirements to the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies.  The changes were approved.  A course change to the D. program in Chemical Engineering was moved and approved.  A change in the number of minimum credits to the MA in Education/Reading Specialization was moved and approved.

B. Professor Izenstark presented the 535th Report of the Curricular Affairs Committee. She said that Section I was Informational and asked if there were any questions. There were none.  She reported that Section II required Senate approval.  Three new courses and 15 course changes were presented and approved.  Professor Izenstark presented and moved approval of a change to the BA in Chinese, a change to the BA in Public Relations, a proposal to create a new certificate in Energy Economics and Policy from the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, a change to the BS in Nursing (moving courses within the semester plan), and the creation of a new course code from the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. All program proposals were approved.

C. Chairperson Sullivan presented General Education Committee Report 2016-17-3. He said that the General Education Committee had met on November 3 and had approved 5 courses in the new general education program.  Three courses were existing courses and were presented as informational.  Two courses required Senate approval because they were new.  The Chair moved approval and the motion passed.

D. Professor Gindy presented Report 2016-17-1 from the Academic Calendar and Standards Committee. She said the Committee had met on November 4 and had approved the 2022 – 2023 academic year calendar. She pointed out that classes were not scheduled for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day in 2022, resulting in 13 Monday –Thursday class days and 12 Friday class days. She said that a snow emergency makeup day had been built into President’s Day in the spring 2023 semester.  Senator Euler pointed out that Martin Luther King Day 2023 was wrongly indicated on the calendar; it should be indicated as occurring in Winter J-term.  Senator Bide said that, in previous years, when there were no classes scheduled on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day, students tended to leave campus the Friday before the holiday.  Senator Williams said he would prefer that the institution not observe Columbus Day as a holiday and cancel classes on Election Day. Professor Gindy indicated that there were some years when classes do meet on Columbus Day.  Senators Derbyshire, Kincaid, and others advocated for changing the observation of Columbus Day.  A member of the Student Senate advocated for no classes on Election Day to allow students to vote.  Because of the correction regarding Martin Luther King Day, Professor Gindy was asked to return to the Faculty Senate with a corrected report.

E. In the absence of the Chair of the Council for Research, Chairperson Sullivan presented Council for Research Report No. 2016-17-1. The Report contained a proposal to change University Manual language to indicate that meetings of the Council subcommittee to review procedures and distribution of Facilities and Administrative funds be chaired by the Council for Research Chair and not by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development who would become an ex-officio, non-voting member of that subcommittee.  Changes to University Manual section 10.72.11 were moved and seconded.  Vice President Sonnenfeld said that he had initiated this change and that he participates in meetings of the subcommittee but does not vote.  The motion was approved.  Chairperson Sullivan presented a change to By-Laws section 4.56 indicating that the Council for Research would elect a chairperson at the last meeting of each academic year and not wait until the following September.  The motion was seconded.  Per the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate (12.1), because a proposed amendment to the By-Laws may not be voted upon at the meeting at which it is first moved, Chairperson Sullivan said the motion would be returned to the Senate for a vote at the next meeting.


Chairperson Sullivan introduced Vice Provost Libutti who presented the Fall 2016 Enrollment Management Update using Power Point slides.  The Vice Provost reviewed recent history of the institution’s state funding and the impact on the enrollment strategy.  Significant cuts in state appropriations in 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 prompted changes in student recruitment and retention strategies.  Enrollment goals were established: increasing the applicant pool, enhancing selectivity, diversity, and the yield of high-achieving students.  The strategy included enrollment targets by college.  The Vice Provost reported that institution has been successful in meeting its goals.  In 2016, there were 21,793 undergraduate applications, a record number, and 1330 transfer applications.  He enumerated the following information about the fall 2016 students: 3356 freshmen, 483 transfers; 47% in-state and 53% out-of-state; 56% female and 44% male; 23% from historically underrepresented groups; average SAT 1110; average high school GPA 3.49; 35 states and 15 countries; and a record number of Honors-eligible.  Success has been due in part to a community wide effort, new recruitment, yield and financial aid strategies, and a renewed focus on student success initiatives. For example, on-track credit accumulation (only 46% of students were earning 30 credits in their freshman year in 2003; this figure was 72% in 2015) has improved due to advising, marketing, Winter J-term, adjusting the drop period, and the Gateway to Completion initiative (innovative course content delivery and testing; more active learning).  The Vice Provost answered questions.


Chairperson Sullivan returned to the item that was postponed from Recommendations of the Executive Committee.  He moved that sections 5.77.10 – 5.77.12 be deleted from the University Manual, discontinuing the Admissions Advisory Committee.  He said that the Office of the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management addresses the issues in the charge of the Committee.  Chairperson Sullivan suggested that section 2.23.10 of the University Manual could be amended to require that the Vice Provost report to and receive recommendations from the Faculty Senate and the community on a biannual basis.  Senator Kirschenbaum asserted that the Admissions Advisory Committee was the appropriate body to address the changes to the Policy for Articulation and Transfer proposed by the Commissioner.  Senator Nassersharif expressed support for discontinuing the Committee but also concern for how future matters would be managed.  Senator Rice asked if the President supported the possible changes to section 2.23.10 of the University Manual, adding language that would both require reporting from the Vice Provost and permit the Senate to make recommendations to the Office of the Vice Provost.  President Dooley said that he fully supported the change.  Senator Cooper suggested that an ad hoc committee be established to address the proposed changes to the Policy for Articulation and Transfer.  Senator Kirschenbaum moved to table the motion to discontinue the Admissions Advisory Committee until the concerns about the Policy for Articulation and Transfer had been addressed.  The motion to table the main motion was seconded. The vote was called; the motion did not pass.  Chairperson Sullivan called the vote on the main motion.  The motion was approved.


Chairperson Sullivan asked if there were any Unfinished Business. There was none


Chairperson Sullivan asked if there were any New Business.  Senator Williams read the following motion:

The Faculty Senate charges the Faculty Senate Executive Committee to formulate and propose to the Senate a plan, including suggested revisions to the University Manual, for the reform of voting rights in standing committees, to wit, that members of standing committees elected or appointed by degree-granting colleges and by the University Library and student members shall have voting rights, and other members shall be ex officio and non-voting.

Chairperson Sullivan explained that this would apply to the four committees of the Senate that require college representatives to be elected by their college faculty (Curricular Affairs, General Education, Undergraduate Academic Advising; and Information Technologies, Infrastructure, Computing, Communications, and Networking).  The motion was seconded.  Senator Bide asked Senator Williams for clarification.  The motion was amended by replacing “to wit” with “to the effect”.  The motion was approved.

Senator Hume read the following:

At the April 2015 Faculty Senate meeting, the Senate approved that full-time non-tenure track faculty could be eligible for Faculty Senate membership after having served in their positions for at least one academic year, and that each college or unit represented in the Senate be allowed one senator for twelve (instead of ten) of its members.  At the October 2015 Faculty Senate meeting a resolution was passed to approve changes to the Faculty Senate Constitution’s Membership Paragraph and direct the Faculty Senate Executive Committee to conduct a referendum of the General Faculty concerning the changes.  These language changes were necessary to allow for the representation changes approved in April 2015.  The referendum regarding these language changes failed as the vote of the General Faculty did not reach the 2/3 majority required for Constitution changes.

Senator Hume moved to direct the Faculty Senate Executive Committee to review and make recommendations at the [December] meeting on revising appropriate sections of the University Manual and the accompanying Constitution [to] be modified in the following ways: that full-time non-tenure track faculty members shall be eligible for nomination and election to the Faculty Senate after they have served for a minimum of 1 academic year in their faculty position; and that full-time non-tenure track faculty members shall be eligible for nomination and election to committees and representative bodies of the faculty after they have served for a minimum of 1 academic year in their faculty position.  Senator Cooper seconded the motion.  Discussion followed.  The motion was approved.

Senator Schwegler said that he was asked to direct the Senate to study and clarify the process for the management, operation, and structure of “schools” at the University.  The motion was seconded and approved.

9. Chairperson Sullivan moved to adjourn. The motion was approved. The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Neff

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