University Committee Meeting Minutes 2016-04-25
Minutes passed May 2, 2016
UC members present: Broman, Edwards, Litovsky, Meyerand (chair), Wendt
UC member absent: Wanner
Others present: S. Smith, J. Richard, M. Czynszak-Lyne, M. Felber, N. Feinstein, D. Vanness, H. Daniels, N. Savidge, H. McFadden, G. Bump, M. Bernard-Donals, C. Hoslet, I. Goldman, M. Laning, J. Burstyn, J. O’Meara
Chair Beth Meyerand called the meeting to order at 1:01 p.m. Secretary Smith called attention to items for UC member review, including the UC annual report and a revised shared governance statement and made other housekeeping announcements. The minutes of the meeting of April 18, 2016, were approved with amendment.
Committee on Committees chair Patti Brennan (by phone) and CoC member Noah Feinstein discussed an amendment to the incorporation of the University Research Council (URC) into FPP. Brennan indicated that CoC sources talent for campus and has closely followed URC evolution. Recommendation that UC take CoC guidance on URC membership based on CoC’s broad outreach and information base on leadership/service and strong record of identifying committee members. With increasing demand on faculty, CoC well positioned to identify overlaps with other committees and to rationalize approaches to faculty members in a coherent manner. CoC not asking to control specific nominations, would like to bring forward slate from which UC could pick. Edwards asked if intent is that UC would be restricted to CoC slate or guided by it. Brennan acknowledged this would be up to the UC, but would like to see list largely respected; UC would have discretion to add to list, but hope is that this would be rare event. Feinstein emphasized that logistics/overlap issue is serious. Edwards pointed out that UC is only governance group elected by full faculty. Brennan pointed out broader issue of multiple nominating bodies that would be good for UC to study, as it remains unclear to faculty why/how certain bodies do nominations. Brennan summarized that the amendment is in no way meant to constrain the UC’s right to choose candidates, but rather to point to a process to carefully identify talent, create balance, departmental and divisional representation, those ready to serve, those that need cultivation. Ample discussion.
Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims distributed a handout showing the evolution of a draft institutional statement on diversity. Sims explained that one version is somewhat longer and resulted from work by the CDCC; another is shorter, representing other input, and aimed at being a short, understandable statement, that can be quickly and easily articulated; a third incorporates feedback from various constituencies and goes into more detail. Sims invited opinions and thoughts from the UC. Ample discussion, including pros and cons of different levels of definitional specificity and of specific measurable goals, other items that might be included, possible addition of concrete “teeth.” Consensus that UC generally likes the document and sees a need for “teeth.” UC commended the work that went into this and emphasized the need to keep moving forward. Sims said that groups are working on articulating specific goals for each area, but also pointed to the potential problem that groups are advisory and there is still need for buy-in from senior administrators, especially those with budgetary authority.
Teaching academy co-chairs David Baum and Deb Shapiro returned to discuss course evaluations resolution that will have first reading at May Senate. Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Steve Cramer and Assistant Provost Mo Bischof added context of other course/instructor evaluations activities on campus. Baum emphasized that senate resolution is part of consultative process to develop mechanism to create course evaluations based on essential learning outcomes. Agreeing that there is room for course evaluations to be improved, Cramer and Bishof outlined other campus efforts in this regard, particularly an online course evaluation tool, currently at the end of a 1.5 year piloting process, to be rolled out to campus for the coming academic year. Tool will be able to accommodate learning outcome assessment. Ample discussion, particularly focused on what we want to capture, and on what student and faculty needs are. Baum emphasized that Senate resolution is fundamentally about two things:
(1) Should systematic data be collected for all courses? Recommendation is yes, but Senate should make decision.
(2) What data should be made available and to whom? Resolution says some summary data should be made available to some users and a joint governance body should be created to determine how to do that. White paper suggested a particular mechanism, but the resolution is about process more generally.
VPTL and TA happy to work together. Some discussion about whether to postpone senate reading. Unanimous consensus that it should be discussed in May and voted on in October.
Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf followed up briefly on the foregoing course evaluations discussion, expressed her (shared) surprise about the (as yet undrafted) senate resolution making it into the national press, and shared her earlier discussion with the SOF about the academic calendar committee’s recommendations. On the latter, she greatly appreciated and liked the report and had only a couple of specific questions about procedure. The provost then segued to a discussion of the divisional committees, differing tenure rates, and varying procedures. Consensus among those present that the UC and provost’s office should work together to gather information, potentially through exit interviews, divisional chairs meetings, etc., on reasons for varying tenure rates. Overarching concern is fairness across divisions. Further discussion about diversity issues and incidents. Edwards asked if there is a way to facilitate conversations, open forums among the whole university community with leadership, perhaps a dedicated half day during welcome week. Education and other colleges are already starting similar forums and logistics would be quite difficult. Although it would be good to have administration talk to community as a whole, wouldn’t have to be everyone in one place; could be smaller groups, perhaps by topic. Ample discussion, including on need for just-in-time resources in classrooms as discussed at the leadership breakfast.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank arrived before previous conversation was finished and participated in the discussion about cross-campus diversity forums and need for class resources. Additional conversation on the topic included pros and cons of timing of such discussions and how to get the unengaged engaged. Blank said 102 proposals were received in response to call for diversity ideas. Committee looking through and prioritizing; hope is to start some in fall. Blank hears from many students unhappy about curriculum matters, e.g. ethnic studies; will likely come to UC to discuss this more and how to ask faculty to help students think through concerns, how best to implement training. Blank also spoke about entrepreneurship, reviewed the senate agenda, and stayed for the following discussion about the upcoming senate resolution on tenure actions.
With Chancellor Blank still present, Senator Chad Goldberg discussed his Faculty Senate resolution responding to modification of tenure policies. New version of resolution incorporates suggestions and aims at garnering broad support. Discussion of “no confidence” versus other approaches. Goldberg stated that other concerns are not unreasonable, but “no confidence” reflects perception that a line has been crossed; if anything is a trigger for no confidence, this is it. Important to make a strong statement; earlier would have been premature, but the time has come. Ample discussion about what resolution could accomplish as well as possible repercussions. History will show that changes were made, but faculty can make it clear that it was without faculty blessing and endorsement. Goldberg stressed the importance of defending the principle of local faculty governance. Broader contexts also important (System as a whole, state audiences, national audiences). Blank reiterated that this is a faculty matter, but she strongly believes “no confidence” is a mistake, especially recognizing legislature’s position entering a budget cycle. End game and long term must be kept in mind. Ample discussion of language/wording; decision to remove specific references to campus individuals, as well as introductory clauses that are not directly related. All agree that Wisconsin is being watched carefully and that there are pros and cons to both approaches (no confidence vs something more positive).
Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Steve Cramer, CIO Bruce Maas, ITC chair Rafi Lazimy, and ITC member and TLTMAG chair John Zumbrunnen discussed the Canvas learning management system. Cramer provided history and context, as well as benefits of Canvas compared to current systems (D2L and Moodle). (Specifics and details on Canvas available on website.) Lazimy distributed ITC resolution on Canvas and Zumbrunnen distributed TLT-MAG resolution; both support adoption strongly. Campus cannot afford three LMSes; moving to Canvas with 2-year phase-out of other two recommended. Ample discussion, focused mainly on transition and conversion. Canvas clearly superior to D2L; some gaps between Moodle and Canvas, which are being addressed. Canvas pilot over last 18-months has been favorably received. UC unanimously endorses full-campus rollout of Canvas, with 24-month phase-out of support for other two LMS. VPTL and CIO will move forward with rollout and transition will feature prominently in ITC report to Senate in October.
Acting chair Edwards adjourned the meeting at 3:50 p.m.