The Budget

May 29, 2008

The Budget

As you have doubtless read, the governor is proposing large budget cuts that would have far reaching effects if implemented as proposed.  The senate leadership has been in discussions with the administration regarding the budget cuts.  The budget figures are a moving target with a variety of ideas coming and going across the state.  You will be receiving a draft of the principles the senate leadership is proposing to help guide our input as the discussions unfold.  Those principles need your input.  I hadn’t intended to raise this issue until the June Senate meeting where the Interim Provost, Jannet Vreeland will give a brief overview of the budget issues.  However, today the Chancellor released a statement that will surely get your attention along with everyone at the university.  The statement is available to the public at http://system.nevada.edu/05.29.08-Regents-RE-Budget-Cuts-FINA.pdf   You should read it but understand that the solutions proposed are only examples to make clear the possible magnitude of a proposed 14% if it were not strategically considered.  That said, if cuts were implemented as described at this point it would be disastrous.

It is time to takes these issues very seriously.  However, many scenarios could significantly change the landscape.  Among the things not known are whether there will be a special session of the legislature or whether any events in the fall state election will lead to any reforms in the tax structure. Of course, no one knows when the business cycle will improve.  However, at this point there is little doubt that we are facing difficult times.

I have two points I want to make.  First, so far the administration has been open and collaborative in discussing the budget.  This is a gratifying affirmation of our earlier experiences during budget talks.  I expect that to continue.  Second, this is a time for the senate itself to represent our constituents.  All kinds of budget information and misinformation will be in the press.  Some will be accurate and much will be premature or out of context.  The senate is a representative body.  Senators should establish and maintain open communications with constituents so that they will turn to you for accurate information when it would be easy to become strident or stressed.  From time to time I will send announcements and information to the entire faculty.
Let me say as Chair, the new Executive Board has been providing thoughtful counsel.  As the discussions continue, some conversations will be confidential as unedited ideas are floated for discussion.  These include conversations with administrators, the Executive Board, and Regents.  Others will be open and widely shared.  These are trying, threatening times.  I appreciate advice and value your support.  More will follow.


Welcome to the 2008-09 Faculty Senate

May 16, 2008

To the new senators, welcome to what I hope will be an interesting and engaging experience at shared faculty governance. To our continuing senators, I hope that you will have found your “sea legs” and will become even more involved in enhancing the functioning of the senate at UNR. Our president, interim provost and incoming provost have all been active members of faculty senates during their careers, and each demonstrates a notable willingness to collaborate with the senate. As chair, I sit on the President’s Council, while the chair-elect, Elliott Parker, sits on the Academic Leadership Council. More than at any other time in my memory, the faculty, though its senate, has access to the administration as the university grows and evolves. As you know, the senate is advisory to the administration. The degree to which that advice is influential is dependent on how thoughtful it is, not necessarily whether our advice is consistent with preexisting ideas the administration may have. I genuinely believe we can influence many important decisions about how our campus functions and matures.

A wide variety of issues will present themselves to the senate this year. Some we can anticipate while others will manifest themselves with little notice. Before you now are the recommendations from the Academic Standards Committee. These recommendations were outlined at the May senate meeting, but action on the recommendations were tabled until the June meeting. These recommendations are crucially important to the academic functioning of the campus. You must thoughtfully consider your position on each of the recommendations. You may accept them in part or whole, reject them in part or whole, or modify them as the senate deems appropriate. Regardless of the senate’s decisions, I want to thank the members of the ASC and the chair, Louis Marvick. The Faculty Senate blog is a reasonable place to “think out loud” with the other senators about these recommendations.

Speaking of the blog, it is in its infancy. It will be up to the senate as to how to best utilize this tool. As chair I have no special interest in keeping the blog closed to only senators or necessarily make it open to all faculty. That is a discussion for the whole senate. Senators can start their own blogs as well. My interest is in helping the senate succeed in its mission. It remains to be seen as to how a blog can best facilitates that goal.
In order to keep this post brief, I will raise only one last issue. As you are probably already hearing, additional budget cuts to higher education are likely. At this point, I believe UNR is already running as leanly as it can. That means that if additional cuts must occur, it is likely they will have serious consequences for the university. The senate will keep as involved in any budget discussions as we can. Last year we participated in a plan that was intended to preserve positions and classes. The administration actively sought our input, and we agreed on strategies the Board of Regents ultimately accepted. We will again be involved in those discussions. By the time we next meet, the Board of Regents will have met, and I will give you an update. In the meantime, you might want to begin discussing this issue with your constituents.


Hello UNR Faculty

May 9, 2008

The purpose for this blog is to elicit ideas and suggestions between Faculty, enhancing the work of the Faculty Senate, while increasing communication among faculty regarding pressing issues at the university and beyond.

Here is a brief information and “HOW TO” lesson.  If there is something else you want to know, just ask:

You can come to the Faculty Senate Blog without logging in.   Simply come to http://facultysenate.blogs.unr.edu  If you would like to post, you need to obtain a profile, by clicking on http://blogs.unr.edu
Click on “Get a Blog”.
enter a username (preferably your netid)
enter your unr email address
Click on “Only a profile”
Click on “Submit”
You will receive an email at your UNR email address to validate your profile.
Set up your user profile (Include your personal website link if you have one).
You now have the ability to post responses to the blog’s posts.

If a blog post has comments, you will see a number next to comments at the bottom of the page.  Click on the link to read any comments or to post any comments you would like to leave.  If you are not logged in, you will see a link below the comments, saying, “You must log in to leave comments.”
Please NOTE: Your first post will be moderated.  You will not see them hit the board immediately.  Don’t panic…they exist!  Once approved…all your posts thereafter will show up immediately.

Each Senator has “author” capability, enabling them to write a new discussion topic.   If you log in, using  the www.blogs.unr.edu site, you are able to start a discussion topic by clicking on the “write” header and then click on “posts”.   A nice feature is that you can write and save a draft to come back to finish later.  At that point, you will find it in the “manage” tab by clicking “edit” on the appropriate entry. 

If you are having trouble navigating this site, feel free to email me with questions you may have.  mhritz@unr.edu  I want to make your blog a positive experience!  I am here to help.

Thanks and happy blogging!

Michelle Hritz
Faculty Senate Manager


Academic Standards Year End Report discussion

May 9, 2008

LINKS:
2007-2008 Academic Standards Committee Year End Report
Kathy Boardman Memo re:Year End Report

The links above lead you to the End of Year Report (including the committee charges) and a memo from Kathy Boardman regarding the year end report.  

There were three charges with specific committee recommendations, so they have been placed in three seperate posts for individual discussion.  For the June meeting, the intent is to have these items on the consent agenda in the same manner so individual or similar recommendations can be discussed or approved without impacting the whole.

Please only comment on this post if you have something general to say.  If it is specific to particular charges or their recommendations, please use the other topics to post.


Academic Standards, Charge #1 Recommendations (Discussion)

May 9, 2008

Please limit the discussion to the recommendations for charge #1 listed below.  It would be helpful if you note which recommendation you are commenting on by number prior to making your comments.

Pertaining to Charge 1:

1.  The existing catalog language regarding the policy for dropping a course should be changed to state that students who wish to withdraw from individual classes must obtain their instructor’s signature on a form stating that they have discussed their intention to withdraw with the instructor. 

2.  The existing catalog language regarding the grade replacement policy should be changed as follows: 
           2a.  Students may repeat a course anytime before graduation, instead of only during the next semester a course is offered.
            2b.  Students may not repeat a course for which a grade of C or better is earned (except where specific degree programs require higher grades)
            2c.  Repeating a course withdrawn from does not count as a grade replacement attempt.
            2d.  The number of allowable grade replacement attempts should be increased to 4 courses.
            2e.  Only one grade replacement attempt should be allowed per course, although more are permissible with approval from the Dean/Chair and academic advisor. Repeating a course more than once requires a plan for improvement, drafted and signed by both student and advisor, which may include tutoring and other forms of academic support. 

3.  Regarding probation, disqualification, suspension and dismissal, the committee recommends as follows:

            3a.  Students under academic warning and probation should avail themselves of progressively more advisement and assistance as a condition of continued enrollment.  This should take the form of a written agreement specifying the assistance the student will obtain (e.g., help with study skills, tutoring in specific subjects). The contract would be developed and signed by the student and his/her academic advisor, then signed by the student’s department chair and the dean.  UNR Admissions and Records would receive a copy of the contract. Course registration would be blocked until approval of the contract.

            3b.  Students not raising their GPA above the threshold for disqualification after two semesters should be suspended from UNR and not readmitted until they can present a record of 15 semester credits of transferable credit at a community college or other accredited institution, with a minimum GPA of 2.5. 

4.  Regarding midterm progress reporting, the committee recommended that faculty teaching lower-division courses be strongly encouraged to use the midterm grade reporting functionality in CAIS, or some other means, to report grades of C-, D and F to students prior to the drop date.  A general e-mail should be sent to alert faculty to the existence of this tool.


Academic Standards, Charge #2 Recommendations (Discussion)

May 9, 2008

Please limit the discussion to the recommendations for charge # 2 listed below.  It would be helpful if you note which recommendations you are commenting on by number prior to making your comments.Pertaining to Charge 2:

5.  The Nevada Faculty Alliance should be involved in future discussions with the Faculty Senate about the formulation of a code of ethical conduct for faculty at UNR.

6.  The “faculty-wide discussion” should not begin with a campus-wide survey of all faculty, but be conducted within the Colleges.  As a first step towards this, the matter should be brought before the Academic Leadership Council.


Academic Standards Charge #3 Recommendations (Discussion)

May 9, 2008

Please limit the discussion to the recommendations for charge #3 listed below.  It would be helpful if you note which recommendations you are commenting on by number prior to making your comments.

Pertaining to Charge 3:

7.  Regarding methods of addressing academic dishonesty by students (reporting and sanctions):

            7a.  The OSC web site should put online the standard format of the letter to be sent to students, or several different sample letters; and should include a link for faculty which would include all the information faculty need to report, verify, and learn about penalties for academic dishonesty.

            7b.  The curriculum of the voluntary course in ethical decision-making for students currently being offered through the Office of Student Conduct (see pp. 31-32 below) should be evaluated by the committee.  The committee should work with Sally Morgan, bearing in mind our specific curricular recommendations of several years ago, to design a course that fits both her and our needs.

            7c.  The committee should propose specific language to be added to the conduct code related to retaking of courses.  The Graduate School should be made aware of and take steps to implement our committee’s earlier recommendations regarding the Q course and implement this policy as soon as the grade has been approved for use.  The committee should discuss whether, with these changes, the current policy is adequate.  If there are other issues not addressed by the current policy or by our other recommendations, the committee should identify them and make specific recommendations for Graduate Council consideration.

            7d.  A mechanism should be developed for noting on the student’s transcript actions taken regarding academic dishonesty that does not involve a specific course (e.g., research projects, TA work, etc.).  The permanence of this notation should be treated in the same way as the Q grade for in-class dishonesty.  The Graduate Council should look into this issue and make sure that a consistent policy is in place.

            7e.  The Office of Student Conduct should put in place a mechanism for notifying the home department of students involved in incidents of academic dishonesty.

            7f.  Sally Morgan should be asked to follow up with the Provost to ensure that changes recommended by the committee in the past (regarding the development of sanctioning guidelines to guide faculty in the academic sanction area) are in fact implemented into the Code.

8.  Regarding ways of discouraging academic dishonesty among students:

            8a.  The committee should discuss the importance of having the Provost’s or President’s office address publicly the issue of academic dishonesty, and of establishing how the administration will promote the importance of the issue.

            8b.  As regards the modality of conducting faculty workshops, face-to-face workshops should be scheduled regularly and online options be made available.

            8c.  As regards faculty and student websites on academic dishonesty issues and resources, UNR’s webpage should be revised to include links to other web pages (as indicated in Appendix A, p. 35 below).

9.  Regarding policy clarity and future directions:

            9a.  Based on the help and facilities available to Sally Morgan, a definite timetable should be set up to ensure the implementation of the committee’s earlier recommendation that the University Code of Conduct and Policies should, in separate sections, lay out explicitly the nature of possible academic and administrative sanctions, and distinguish these two types of sanctions clearly.

            9b.  Policy language should include the instruction that the committee should revisit the policy three years after it was enacted to  determine how well or ill it has functioned.