November 2012 Minutes

Faculty Senate Meeting

November 15, 2012


The Faculty Senate met on Thursday, November 15, at 3:40 pm in Reynolds 205.  Senators in attendance were Scott White, Christie Morgan, Tim Schroeder, Shannin Schroeder, Svetlana Paulson, Stacy Clanton, Karen Ferneding, David Sanson, Jan Duke, Denise Moseley, Chrisanne Christensen, Hong Cheng, Abdel Bachri, Jennifer Logan.

The following senators were absent with proxies: Karen Ferneding served for Neelie Dobbins, Jennifer Logan served for Vikram Bhadauria, and Linda Blake served for Mary Armwood.


Dr. Berry, Brad Stout, Dr. Allen, Roger Giles

Visitors included

Dr. G. White, Dr. Boumtje, Megan Whitehead, Dr. Davis, Judge Larry

Call to Order

Pres. S. White called the meeting to order at 3:43 p.m.  Proxies read.

Approval of Minutes

Motion to approve the minutes by J. Duke, T. Schroeder seconded.  The motion passed.

Special Orders of the Day

Faculty Senate President Report

  • Who is in charge here, anyway?  See Attachment A

Faculty Senate Liaison to Student Affairs Committee

S. Clanton volunteered to replace S. Riner as the Faculty Senate Liaison to the Student Affairs Committee.

VPAA presentation on Allusers Class Absence Policy draft

  • Dr. Berry presented a proposal detailing a suggested process for informing faculty of student absences due to University events (academic, athletic, etc.).  This process included submission of a travel itinerary/schedule to the Academic Affairs Office by faculty/staff sponsors.  Sponsors would then provide hard copies of the travel itinerary to each participating student’s instructors.

Discussion ensued.  Faculty expressed an interest to make the process electronic.  The proposal will be shared with the faculty at the meeting scheduled for Dec. 6.

Distribution of SAU Strategic Planning Council Strategic Goals and Initiatives, and Feedback Form

Dr. G. White answered questions regarding the current strategic goals of the university.  Discussion ensued.  Dr. Linda Blake recommended that diversity be included as one of the strategic goals of the university.  Feedback forms were collected to be shared with the committee.

Reports of Standing, University and Academic Committees

Report from Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Integrity

K. Ferneding provided a report on the development of the Academic Integrity workshop.  For the full report, see Attachment B.

Committee Reports from Liaisons to the Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate Committees

  • Budget Committee – T. Schroeder provided a report on the status of the committee’s request for further transparency in the salary adjustment process as well as a clarification of the state’s definition of “equity and performance adjustment”.  For the full report, see Attachment C.
  • Fringe Benefits – R. Giles distributed handouts showing the committee’s recommended changes to the SAU Post Employment Benefit Plan and SAU Health Insurance.  Giles explained that these recommendations were needed due to state regulation changes as well as rising health care costs.

The next meeting will take place on Thursday, January 17, 2013 in Reynolds 205.


The motion to adjourn was made by J. Duke and seconded by D. Schroeder.

Submitted by Jennifer Logan, Faculty Senate Secretary, November 27, 2012.

Attachment A

Comments to the Faculty Senate by Senate President Scott White

Thursday, November 15, 2012

“Who is in charge here, anyway?”

I ask the Senate to indulge me for a few minutes as I make a few observations, convey concerns, and provide some encouragement.

There are good people here at Southern Arkansas University.  The members of our Faculty and Staff work hard, accept disappointment well and strive to do their best with what they have.  The vast majority of the Faculty and Staff do their jobs as described, or prescribed, to the best of their abilities.

This University family is a small place.  Therefore when an individual faculty member dares to question written or unwritten procedures and policies they can quickly find themselves personally at odds with the staff and/or the administration.  Valued members of the University family should feel free to respectfully express their educated opinions about how the institution should operate.  My intent here is not to draw lines but to show where I stand.

The 3rd District Agricultural School at Magnolia began on January 3, 1911, when 75 students registered at Old Main and were assigned rooms in Jackson and Holt Halls.  The faculty of this residential agricultural high school were the heart and soul of its existence.

Who is in charge of Southern Arkansas University?  Is it the Faculty?  I fear that we have allowed our current written and unwritten-cultural policies to supersede our will to change policy in order to improve our effectiveness as an institution. As a faculty, we have acquiesced many of our academic responsibilities over to policies that are executed by non-academic offices.

I attended an academic affairs meeting yesterday.  One college sought the approval of a number of new courses that they desired to offer in Spring 2013 in order to meet the needs of an identified market.  ADHE approval was not required to proceed in this case but the faculty were told that they could not do so because the purpose of the Academic Affairs meeting was “to work on next year’s catalog.  And we can’t offer these courses that are not in the catalog.”   The faculty were told that they could offer the courses as a special topics in the Spring, and then offer them as submitted in the Fall semester.    The faculty were also kindly chastised about the length of their proposed course descriptions.  Shouldn’t faculty be the ones to know how a course should be described?

Our catalog has all the courses listed by category for each degree.  It also includes a state-required PACT 8 plan which is, at best, a mere suggestion to satisfy legislators who believe that all students should graduate in 4 years or less despite their level of preparation.  We are required to have a third document called a degree plan submitted with graduation applications and/or change of catalog forms.   All the while, we have the capability to complete unofficial degree audits online with Campus Connect or officially through the old DOS screen on POISE/SKYLITE.  There must be a better way to do this.

I frequently speak to my Freshman-level students about their degree plans during and outside of class.  Every fall, a student or two will respond by asking, “Is this is okay to be working with a faculty member who isn’t my advisor since I am still in the advising center?”  Now, I do not believe that any member of the Advising Center has ever or will ever tell a student not to seek out a faculty member for advice.  Yet there appears to be an implied message to students that they need to seek out advice from faculty as a last resort and only when their time in the advising center has expired.

Would it be possible and profitable for more of the faculty to be instructors for Freshman Seminar courses?  Would it be possible and profitable for each college to have two or more dedicated full-time advisors in each dean’s office?  Could we at least pose the question and pursue its answer to determine if we can be more effective.

Today, we will talk about the class absence policy with respect to how the VPAA approves class absences for official groups or activities.  I am encouraged by the prior discussions because the faculty have indicated a clear desire to have students interact with them rather than be excused from afar via a general email message.

The interaction and exchange of information between Faculty and Students is one of two pillars of intellectual commodities we possess. The second is the interaction and exchange of information among the faculty through scholarly work and shared governance.   Any policy or cultural norm that inhibits communication between Faculty and Students should be done away with and rejected.  As funding becomes more and more dependent upon degree completion, it is paramount that students be held accountable to their obligation for attending classes and speaking with their instructors in a timely fashion as special needs arise.

The AQIP activity at SAU has produced a list of Strategic Goals and Initiatives.  Upon review, you will see a number of initiatives that the Senate has expressed interest, including “Develop clear, transparent, and fair pay adjustment processes.”  We have an opportunity through AQIP to improve things that are important to us.

I humbly submit these paragraphs to the Senate and ask for rebuttal, rejoinder or questions.

Attachment B

Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Integrity Meeting

Minutes of the Meeting 

Attendees:  Sandra Smith, Jan Duke, Scott White, Stacy Clanton and Karen Ferneding (chair)

Date:  October 15, 2012   1:30-2:30pm     117 MAG

First, we watched the introductory module which introduces the “day in the life of a student” scenario.  Second, we discussed concerns related to the module’s overall organization, tone of the narrative, the content’s alignment with policy and assessment based on the feedback we had received from volunteer reviewers.

After reviewing the feedback on the five instructional modules, the committee recommended the following:

This initial set of instructional modules needs specific changes to its content which are to be addressed ASAP.

Also, this initial set of modules is to be considered a beta or “working edition” and an improved final edition will be developed during the 2012-13 academic year.

A summative or final exam will need to be developed.  In order to test for recall of factual information and higher order thinking (responsible decision-making), we decided that this exam needed to feature case studies with related multiple choice questions.  This exam would also have an open-response question designed to elicit the student’s reasoning. However, this question is for informational purposes only and would not be graded.

 We did not decide on what would be an acceptable outcome for passing ( 80 or 100 percent, for example), though this obviously needs to be determined.

 Also, we did not decide who would write the final exam, though it was mentioned that the developers of the module are most knowledgeable about the content 😉

In addition, we addressed administrative questions related to the logistics of a student accessing the modules, management of delivery, keeping records of the outcomes and student follow-up. 

Sandra referenced the use of Poise to process the results and offered her office’s services in terms of (a) initiating a student’s access to the BB course module (placing the student’s name into the BB course and advising the student of the deadline to complete the course module – 14 or 30 days??), (b) making an account of the results and (c) disseminating these results to those who need access to them.  The “interested parties” can possibly include the VPAA’s office, Dean of the College, and the instructor.  However, the “information flow” ultimately needs to be determined by the VPAA’s office.

 We also discussed the scope of this ad hoc committee’s duties and those of the Academic Integrity Council in light of the aforementioned administrative or procedural issues.

Actions related to revisions of the ”beta modules”:

  1. Karen will contact Del to see if he is willing to tweak module one of the “working edition” – the scenario featuring the student Ty and his friend – to correct for stereotypical content.
  2. Once these changes are completed, a new voice-over will need to be recorded and integrated into the visuals.
  3. Request the assistance of Clay Giltner with creating a new voice-over for the beta edition – perhaps acquiring the assistance of a student.
  4. Contact Dan May and take him up on his offer to rework the beta version and design the final edition of the modules.   Possibly Dan and Clay can coordinate their efforts.

Actions related to administrative questions:

  1. Karen will contact Dr. Berry to ascertain his decisions regarding the management of information flow and report Dr. Berry’s comments at the upcoming meeting.

Attachment C: Budget Committee Report                                                                                            11/15/12

The Budget Committee met on November 7 to examine a spreadsheet file prepared by Daniel Grimmitt.  The file contains the salaries earned by year from 2007-2008 to 2011-2012 for all faculty and staff employees of the university by general ledger (GL) account.  The file also includes race and gender information along with the salary information.  It is a daunting amount of information to process as many employees are paid out of several accounts, not all of which are based on their contact salaries.  In order to try to make some sense out of the data, some manual manipulations will be needed in order to exclude things like research grants, overload pay, summer pay, etc.  Our goal is to have some preliminary information from the file coalesced into meaningful form for the next faculty Senate meeting.

Open checkbook is on the website of the office of accounting: and click on open checkbook at the top of the page.  This is a searchable database of recent University expenditures.

The institutional fact book is online at  This is the data book for the University and contains enrollment statistics by class, by major, and by state/county of origin as well as SSCH statistics, assessment statistics, cohort retention statistics, graduation statistics, and faculty statistics as made official by the University and by the State.

The committee is also seeking clarification from the VPAA regarding the set procedures for determining salary adjustments as well as the State’s definition of “equity and performance adjustment” as listed on the information we received last year.

Tim Schroeder

Chair, Faculty Senate Budget Committee