Minutes of the Academic Senate Meeting, August 21 2007

1. The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by Chairperson Carla Bossard on August 21, 2007. Roll was called and the following Senators were present: Chair Carla Bossard, Vice Chair Brother Charles Hilken, Past Chair Ted Tsukahara, David Alvarez, Zach Flanagin, Barbara Grant, Charles Hamaker, Lidia Luquet, Phil Perry, Martin Rokeach, David Bowen, Ed Tywoniak and Parliamentarian Valerie Burke. Absent was Deane Lamont. Also present were Michael Beseda, Vice President, Enrollment, and Mark Figueroa, Director of Institutional Research.

2. Minutes of the May 17, 2007 Senate meeting were approved as submitted.


3. Chairperson's Report – Chair Bossard reported that the Senators will be invited to a dinner and reception with the Board of Trustees in October. Invitations will be sent by the President's office in the near future.

Provost Stampp has not responded to any outstanding Senate actions over the summer.

4. Status of the Committee Restructuring - Chair Bossard, Vice Chair Brother Charles, Barbara McGraw, and Steve Miller met last spring to discuss the implementation of the restructuring plan. It was agreed to continue the EPB through 2007-2008 to ensure a smooth transition.

The Senate membership will decrease by two faculty this year for a total of 13 Senators. Next year's Senate will have a total of 10 Senators. Senator Luquet asked that the Senate be provided a copy of the current operating procedures.

5. BOS Committee Report – Past Chair Tsukahara reported that the report implies work for various folks on campus, along with specific deadlines. Administratively the document will guide the College in the near term. He urged faculty to read the document carefully.

The BOS report includes the following:

By July 1, 2007 the provost will charge the Academic Senate with providing, by May 1, 2008, an analysis of the efficiency and effectiveness of its current committee structure. The provost will provide adequate resources to enable the Senate to study faculty governance structure in other colleges and universities.

Past Chair Tsukahara said he doesn't know how that fits in with the new committee structure proposed last year by the Senate. Vice Chair Brother Charles suggested that Provost Stampp be invited to the next Senate meeting to address the two charges to the Senate. Chair Bossard stated Provost Stampp is already scheduled to be at the October Senate meeting.

Vice Chair Brother Charles announced that the following three dates have been planned for open forums for the BOS committee tasks assigned to the Senate by Provost Stamp: Thursday September 27th from 3-5 p.m. and Wednesdays during community time on October 24th and November 28th. Senator Tywoniak said the success of each event will be based on how well the Senate promotes it.
Senator Grant asked if there is a process to change anything in the report. Chair Bossard said the report is as submitted. Past Chair Tsukahara said the report is designed for recommendations to come back for further consideration in some areas.

6. Report on the rate of freshmen leaving SMC – Michael Beseda and Mark Figueroa spoke to the Senate about the increased rate of freshmen leaving SMC. Michael Beseda reported that usually 4-5% of the freshman class leave the college at the end of the fall term. During the 2005-06 term, 8-9% of freshmen left at the end of the fall term and at the end of the year it was close to 20%. In the fall of 2006, 9% of freshmen left the college. Students are interviewed when they leave, but it is not very clear as to why the rate has increased. The increased attrition numbers are very concerning.
Mark Figueroa discussed the rates of probation. Rates of probation are an indicator of the rate of attrition. Students are well aware of the fact that they have many options available to them when it comes to schools. The most frequent reasons given by students for withdrawing are: 1) academic program of interest not offered, 2) personal issues (family, medical, etc.), 3) or financial issues. Michael Beseda added that the students on probation are a cross section of the student population; there is not a simple pattern. Similarly when looking at the students that are withdrawing, it is nearly a mirror image of the class as a whole. It is not concentrated on a particular ethnic group, academic profile, or particular high schools. He noted that the students leaving give favorable feedback on the faculty at SMC. It is rare for any student to complain about a faculty member. Many of the students have commented that they had not made a connection at SMC. A good number of students leave to attend a state college or a junior college.

Michael Beseda stated that it appears to him that the current advising structure is failing students. Only one-half of the students that "walked" at graduation actually graduated in June. The Registrar's office has begun a program to follow-up on students to increase the rate of graduated students. Senator Luquet suggested that the current freshmen advising system be reviewed thoroughly.

Mark Figueroa reported that Residence Life conducted a survey of all resident students. The chief complaint was the food service and the second was the poor condition of the residence halls. Further, a Trustees' task force on male enrollment discovered three main reasons why male enrollment declines at particular institutions: lack of a recreational center, lack of a football program, and lack of a school of engineering.

Michael Beseda added that a real issue is the price of tuition. Students make a choice of how much debt they are willing to have. Also, students paying the tuition price at SMC have a certain level of expectation, one of which is a clean and maintained dorm room.


7. Faculty Handbook language re: Program or Department Closures – Past Chair Tsukahara said the Senate submitted an approved Senate Action in 2003-04 regarding Guidelines for Termination of a Department or Program. This document was drafted in response to the closure of SEED and the realization that no policy existed. The action has not been accepted by the Provost. A small committee was convened approximately one year ago to work with the Provost on Handbook language (Chris Sindt, Dave Bowen, and Frank Murray). Past Chair Tsukahara said he then asked Andy Williams and Mindy Thomas to work with him regarding the Handbook language submitted by the Provost, which resulted in the following document being submitted to the Senate: Discontinuance of an Academic Program or Department not Mandated by General Financial Exigency

(1) Decisions to discontinue an academic program or a department where there are tenured or tenure-track faculty that are not covered by a state of financial exigency (FH shall be based either on unattained program or departmental financial performance and/or educational considerations. The program or department may not be discontinued until such a recommendation is approved by the Academic Senate and accepted by the Provost according to established procedures (FH

Proposals to discontinue an academic program or department will originate from the Dean of the School where the program or department resides after consultation with the Provost. The appropriate Educational Policy sub-committee of the Academic Senate (FH 1.7.4 x in development) shall examine the evidence presented by the Dean and shall recommend action to be taken by the Academic Senate within sixty days of receipt of the proposal.

(2) If a tenured, or a non tenured, tenure-track, faculty member is displaced by the discontinuance of a program or department, the College has the obligation to appoint the individual to another position for which he/she is academically qualified and which is not occupied by another tenured faculty member. Such reappointments shall be made within sixty days of the decision date for discontinuance of a program or department and after consultation with the faculty member, the Chair of the department for the proposed reappointment, and the Provost.

(3) If the College fails to reappoint the faculty member within sixty days as stated in Section (2) above, or the faculty member objects to the reappointment, the faculty member may file a grievance as set forth in the Faculty Handbook, section 2.16, et. seq. Depending upon the basis for the grievance, such a grievance must be filed by the faculty member within sixty days of the date the College should have made the reappointment, or within sixty days of the date of appointment to which the faculty member objects.

(4) In lieu of appointment to another program or department, the displaced tenured or tenure-track faculty member may make a request to the Provost for severance from the College. Such a request for severance may be made by the faculty member at any time after the decision date for discontinuance of a program or department, but in no case may a request for severance be made more than sixty days from the date at which the College ought to have made, or actually made, a new appointment as stated in Section (2) above.

If the faculty member requests severance as stated above in this section (4), the President shall immediately appoint an Ad Hoc Severance Committee comprised of the Provost, Chief Financial Officer, Chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee, and Chair of the Academic Senate to review the request and to make a recommendation to the President for a reasonable severance package. The Ad Hoc Severance Committee shall develop its severance recommendation in consultation with the affected faculty member. The Ad Hoc Severance Committee's recommendation shall be made to the President within thirty days of the Committee's appointment.

(5) If during a three-year period, the department, program, or substantially equivalent organization is reopened, the displaced tenured or tenure-track faculty members, in order of their College employment seniority, will have the option of assuming their former positions during the first year of revived operation of the former department, program or substantially equivalent organization.

The administration is asking the Senate to consider what to do when a department or program is not meeting the financial goals. The language submitted as Section includes fair treatment of the faculty in the department or program by offering a severance option and a grievance process. The document will open up the question of severance for a faculty member who does not wish to accept the position open to them should their program or department be discontinued. There may be a need to include language regarding timely action on the part of the Senate. The Provost has suggested that a Human Resource representative sit on the ad hoc severance committee. Past Chair Tsukahara said the Chief Financial Officer should be present rather than a Human Resource representative, as the administrator with the authority to make financial decisions. Past Chair Tsukahara added that the current suspension of enrollments for the Graduate Liberal Studies Program is a convenient way for administration to phase out a program.

Senator Hamaker noted that the second paragraph under specified that "Proposals to discontinue….will originate from the Dean of the School…" He questioned how the process would work for Collegiate Seminar and Jan Term, as they report to the Vice Provost.

Senator Luquet commented on, "Proposals to discontinue an academic program or department will originate from the Dean of the School…after consultation with the Provost." Senator Luquet suggested that chairs be consulted. She would like to see consulting down to the experts, not just consulting up in the structure.

Past Chair Tsukahara stated that it is hoped that the deans are leaders of the faculty and that the deans would have open conversations with the faculty of the department or program. If a dean should disagree with the Provost, it should be known. It is not clear if the dean is part of the decision process, or just an agent for the administration.

Senator Luquet said she would not want to overload the chair of the Senate, suggesting that perhaps the vice chair or the past chair could serve on Ad Hoc Severance Committee rather than the chair.
Senator Hamaker asked what the status of faculty will be if they are not offered a reappointment?

Past Chair Tsukahara said the document presupposes the model that exists today regarding tenure. Several expressed concern that this document cannot be finalized until the tenure to a program or department versus the tenure to the college issue is resolved.

8. Tenure to Program or Department – Past Chair Tsukahara said the tenure question is linked to the Program Closure document. The tenure question originated in the BOS committee, in order to allow the College more flexibility in creating new educational initiatives, perhaps the notion of tenure to the College needs to be considered. The Provost has asked to connect the two questions of program closure and tenure to the college.

Senator Luquet said the institution takes pride in asking faculty to teach in Collegiate Seminar and Jan Term, defined in such a way that makes each faculty member extend beyond their department. The idea of tenure to the department is against that concept, which is very much at the core of SMC. Chair Bossard said that this topic will be discussed at one of the open forums scheduled. Vice Chair Brother Charles suggested that Brother Ronald and/or Provost Stampp be present at the next Senate meeting to explain their position on the tenure to the college issue.

9. Task Force on Communication – Chair Bossard reported that the President has charged the Senate with section 6.1 from the BOS report:
"…charge the provost and the chair of the Academic Senate with establishing a task force of faculty and administration representatives to develop a plan for reducing problems of communication and procedures that impair shared academic decision-making. The task force may consider the creation of a "ways and means" process, including members of the Cabinet as needed, by which proposals are audited and accurately routed before lengthy committee work begins. The task force will present its recommendations to the provost and Academic Senate by January 1, 2008."
Chair Bossard offered to serve and asked for volunteers to serve on the task force. She will also put a notice out to faculty for self-nomination. She said she is hopeful that positive change could occur as a result of the task force.

10. The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 a.m. The Senators proceeded to their academic planning session with Provost Stampp.

Respectfully submitted,
Cathe Michalosky
Faculty Governance Coordinator