March 2, 2010
Senate Meeting Transcription

Kathryn Flynn, chair: I’d like to call the meeting to order. If you haven’t done so already please  remember to sign the roster at the back of the room, also if you come forward to make comments please go to one of the two microphones in the room and state your name and the unit you represent if you are a senator and then mention that you are not a senator if you are a guest. The rules of the Senate require that senators be allowed to make comments first, so if you are a guest we do encourage you to come to the microphone and engage, but you need to let senators have the first chance at speaking.

The first item on the agenda today is approval of the minutes for the February 9 Senate Meeting. As always Dennis DeVries, the secretary has posted these minutes online and sent a link to all senators and they are also posted on the Senate Web site. So at this time I’d like to ask if anybody has any changes or additions to minutes that they’d like to make. Hearing none the minutes will stand approved as posted. At this time I’d like to ask Dr. Gogue to come forward for his comments.

Dr. Gogue, president:
Thank you, I’m delighted to be with you today. I’ve got 4 things I want to share with you, and then be happy to respond to questions that you might have.

Number one. A couple of weeks ago we had a snow day. I don’t whether we did it right or wrong, but we declared the snow day. I sort of wanted to at least let you know that the university is working very closely with the public schools. Part of the logic behind that is that even if we could have classes on campus, we have so many employees and folks that have kids in school that it really creates an issue and so I think as we go forward you’ll probably see both the university and the local schools probably doing the same thing relative to weather related issues or snow days. I didn’t get many complaints, but I realize that those of you that came from other parts of the world, and I’ve lived in those parts of the world, you would have never closed school for a little old piddley amount of snow, but a little bit different in terms of equipment, so we tried to do it right, but let us know if you have different thoughts.

I mentioned at the last Senate meeting that the prepaid tuition discussion would likely pass the House with a cap on tuition at 2.5%. That did pass the House, I guess two weeks ago, it’s now being taken up by the Senate and I will again reiterate that if that cap stayed on your tuition the impact to Auburn between now and 2032 when that program ends is about 550 Million dollars. Guys, we at Auburn and I realize some of you in this room have PACT contracts we are going to oppose that legislation. Wanted to share that with you. The legislature is completed half of it’s time, they have a 30 day session, they have 15 days , 14 days left at this point, they have yet to take up the budget. So we are down into the final time, my guess is there going to look at revenue for February, they may end up looking at revenue for March before they actually get serious with the budget sometime in April, but we’ll keep you posted as we go through that.
Final thing that I wanted to mention to you is probably 4 or 5 years ago Auburn began to participate in a coach survey done by Harvard University that really looked at young faculty and things they liked and didn’t like about their various places of employment. They have just come out with a report that sort of summarizes their first 4 or 5 years of experience with what they call generation X faculty. I wanted to at least share with you 3 or 4 of those comments. That’s because some of them are very different from the way, certainly in the way, some of you in this room are older and would have gone through your early days in academia.

Number one, they put an extreme value on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research. So there’s encouragement for institutions to look at ways in the tenure promotion process to give either more credit or at least give credit in areas of interdisciplinary work.

Number two, a strong aversion to competition among peers. That came out second in their survey. I don’t  know if Auburn ever did it, but some schools would hire two individuals for a position, at the end of six years they’d keep one of them so it was really sort of an immense competition between colleagues within departments. That came out a very strong negative.

They are very desirous of formal mentoring programs within their department and broader.

The forth thing I found interesting, they are probably doing a better job than some of us have done in work and life balance. In fact they made statements “nothing after 5 o’clock in the evening for any reason.

And then the final thing, sense of community, those were the top 5 things that came up. On sense of community it was interesting because the plethora of activities that are on a campus, everything from athletic events to art shows to museum activities to lectures to speakers, extremely supportive of those, yet participation is quite low. But they felt good about the fact that they were available. Ill be happy to respond to questions. (pause) Thank you all for being here today. [6:27]

Kathryn Flynn, chair:
Thank you Dr. Gogue. I just going to make a couple of announcements and then well move into the action item on the agenda. The first is that you should have received yesterday in an announcement of the Provost Award for Faculty Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research in Creative Scholarship. I encourage you to look at that announcement and consider nominating yourself or someone else.

I’d also like to ask that senators make a greater effort to update your faculty on activities and actions that occur in the Senate. When we recently voted to change the academic calendar and really apparently the word didn’t get out very well until recently and there were several people who were somewhat surprised and not terribly happy about the change. So I’d like to encourage all of you to try to send your departments maybe just a bullet list or the agenda or a link to the Senate minutes so that people  that are not members of the Senate will keep themselves a little bit more aware of what’s actually going on in the Senate.

I’d like to remind you that the faculty sponsored administrator evaluations are underway and will be available online through Friday March 12 at 5 p.m. If you haven’t taken the time to evaluate the people on the list, you have almost another two weeks to do that, and I’d like you to try and remember to remind your faculty. We’ll send our reminders as well.

We’ll be voting for chair-elect and secretary-elect. The voting will begin this Thursday, March 4 at 8 a.m. and it will continue through next Monday, March 8 and it will close out at 5 p.m. you will get an e-mail link later this week and you’ll have access to the bios for the candidates and the voting. The volunteer site for committee volunteers is up and running and in fact is located on the same page on the Senate Web site as the voting it will just be split off into two different locations once you get there and log in. we have sent out a memo about the volunteer site, but we’ll also remind you about that.

There is a general faculty meeting next week, Tuesday, March 9. This is one of the two University Faculty Meetings that occur throughout the year. We’ll announce the new chair-elect and new secretary-elect at that meeting. I’d like to remind you that we had a special called faculty meeting, I think it’s been two weeks ago now, and at that meeting the terms for Senate officers were changed so the current officer terms will extend to June 30. The chair-elect and secretary-elect that are announced next week will not assume the office of chair- and secretary-elect until July 1. This puts us more closely on an academic calendar. Those are the announcements that I have. Anybody have any questions or comments? If not we’ll move on to the action item, which is election of new Rules Committee members and I’ll call Dennis DeVries forward. [10:14]

Dennis DeVries, secretary:
At the last Senate meeting last month we had nominations of two individuals, Evert Duan and Andrew McClennon for membership on the Senate Rules Committee. At this point are there any other nominations for the Rules Committee? (pause) Seeing none, at this point we need to vote.

Kathryn Flynn, chair:
We have 3 vacancies, we have two nominees so what I’ll do is call for a voice vote on Evert Duan, all in favor of Evert say aye.


Kathryn Flynn, chair:
All opposed nay. (pause) Then Andrew McClennon, all in favor say aye.


Kathryn Flynn, chair:
All opposed nay. (pause) Congratulations. Or commiseration. I will have to say that the Rules Committee is a good committee and I think they will enjoy working with the people that are there. That concludes the action item, we are going to move to information items and the first item on the list is writing in the curriculum and I’m going to call Margaret Marshall and Sharon Roberts forward.

Sharon Roberts:
[12:00] Well it’s a pleasure to come and speak to the Senate again with a further update on our progress on the Writing Initiative that we began in 2008. In the interim writing was identified, enhanced student writing was identified as part of the Auburn University Strategic Plan. The task force made a number of recommendations regarding undergraduate writing and three of those are listed here. In 2009 some funding was identified for continuing with the Writing Initiative and funding these recommendations. We had a successful national search and hired Dr. Margaret Marshall as the director of University Writing and you met her at an earlier Faculty Senate meeting and we began expansion of the Writing Center. And in fact now the Writing Center has two locations.

Tutoring is available to undergraduates in core courses both in the original space in Haley Center and as part of the new learning commons on the second floor of the Draughn Library. We have formed the Office of University Writing of which Margaret is the director and what I would like to do now then, today, is provide an update on our progress with regards to the recommendation of including writing in every major. To give you a little bit of background about what the Taskforce had in mind as we developed that recommendation, our goal was to see that we developed curriculum that included writing in every major and that as we did that we wanted it to be a form that was relevant to the discipline, and we wanted faculty engagement in this process so that students were learning to write in disciplinary genres that were relevant to their work and their careers. So this required that we take a somewhat flexible approach as we do this.

We also as the Writing Initiative Taskforce met and talked with one another and talked about our various disciplines, our colleagues, our majors, our departments, we realized that there was already a great deal of writing in the majors already taking place at Auburn and that we certainly wanted to integrate that into any sort of writing in the discipline program that we developed. So we recognize that there was existing writing and again also when we talk about writing in the disciplines that can take many forms. It can involve lab reports, memos, letters to clients, it moves beyond essays, term papers, those can be relevant, but that there are a number of different forms of writing that are of value. And also that writing takes place outside of the classroom. For many of our disciplines there are internships, there’s field work, there may even be clubs and organizations in which writing is relevant and something we need to consider. So to that end Margaret has been engaged in discussions across campus with many different stakeholders, she has met with deans, associate deans, many of our department heads student government groups, the support services, our Honors College, the Biggio Center, and we have reactivated the Writing Initiative Taskforce.

We essentially gave them about a year off to regroup and actually think about their writing. One of the things that always happened at those meetings as people would leave they would say, well you know whatever comes of this, what I’m doing in my class is changing. And so in terms of identifying a group of faculty to work with Margaret as we began to actually develop guidelines and principles for a Writing in the Disciplines Program we asked the faculty members of the Writing Initiative Taskforce if they would regroup and continue their work and nearly everyone has come back to the Taskforce.

We are in the midst of developing the guidelines for writing in the majors. We are also working with the Senate Leadership to set up a committee structure for a faculty committee that will have oversight responsibilities for writing in the majors and we are working with the existing University Curriculum Committee so the work of that campus writing committee, whatever it ultimately is called, works with the existing University Curriculum Committee. So to that end everyone is receiving today a resolution from that committee. Margaret met with the University Curriculum Committee talked about what she envisions and so we have a resolution in support of the efforts for writing in the disciplines from that committee. You should all receive a copy of that today. It’s up in the back so I guess the various handouts are there to pick up.

Finally, the last thing I want to close with is again the Writing Initiative Taskforce was a faculty committee and very much committed to enhancing writing in the disciplines and writing for our students beyond their freshman experiences. And one of the things that continued to come up as we talked was that we felt this was very important, but one critical component of that was faculty development and support for faculty efforts and Margaret has also been very much engaged in working on this and ultimately we look forward to working with faculty in the departments in the various curricula in helping them develop writing in their majors and also then providing faculty workshops as such topics as to how to respond to student writing, how to develop effective assignments, and finally how to assess writing and the curriculum.

So it’s been a pleasure to get to come before you on more than one occasion and report progress. I’m here to answer questions as is Margaret. So I’m happy to take any questions or comments.

Kathryn Flynn, chair:
Thank you. And they will be coming back with a formal resolution for approval by the Senate probably in April. At this point in time James Groccia is going to give us an update on the Biggio Center.

James Groccia, director of the Biggio Center:
good afternoon, my pleasure to be here. I realized at the beginning of this academic year that I haven’t come and given a report to this body in a number of years, so I requested the opportunity to come and just give you an update of what the Biggio Center has been involved in, in the recent past and where we might be going in the future.  Some of you know very clearly the Center was created in 2003 based upon numerous requests from the faculty for support to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at Auburn University. President Walker, at the time, redirected some endowment money to create the center and we’ve been operating ever since.

What I would like to do is give you a very broad overview and entertain any questions. I see a number of familiar faces in the group. A number of you have participated in Biggio Center activities and have supported our activities and I hope that support will continue throughout my presentation.

You may not know the folks who are currently working at the Biggio Center, you see that wonderful face there at the top, I’ve been here as I said since 2003, one of our more recent hires is our associate director Dr. Raj Chaudhury, who has his PhD in Physics from UCLA and has been very much involved in science, math, technology innovation has been a Carnegie Scholar, has brought in a lot of money in terms of science education and innovation in the past, wonderful working with technology, integrating technology into teaching and learning, he’s done a lot of workshops using clickers in that regard.

Dr Stacey Nickson came to us from San Diego. She’s got her EdD in Higher Ed Leadership from the University of Southern California. Spent over 20 years in K–12 administration as a principle of an alternative High School in San Diego, very adept at consultations working with faculty on an individual basis, going into classrooms, visiting classrooms, wonderful in that regard.

Dr. Gisela Bushle-Diller from Polymer and Fiber Engineering is a faculty fellow. We have on numerous occasions have faculty fellows. Release time come work with us this is Gisela’s second year. Bill Buskist worked in that capacity, Sharon Roberts for a number of years, Don Mulvaney, Isabelle Thompson over the years. So we’ve tried to integrate some faculty into our Center to get that refreshed faculty perspective.

Amy Vaughn is runs the shop and we also have a graduate student, Chenzi Wang, brand new, she did an internship with us over the summer. She was a PhD student at U. Mass. Amherst and liked Auburn so much she transferred here, so we hired her as a part time graduate assistant.

We have a fairly active Web site. I encourage you to check out the university Web site and go to the Biggio Center. If you do that there is a particular resource that I would like to highlight. We developed something that we call the A–Z guide to teaching. If you have a question related to policies, procedures, ideas on teaching and learning, issues, one stop shop, this would be a very good first place for you to look. If we don’t have it here, let us know and we’ll put something here. So we’ve linked to external and internal resources on teaching and learning.

Faculty development we heard the Writing Center talk about faculty development. It’s an activity that really is a three phase, a three-focused activity. What we try to do is focus on programs to enhance the individual, the professional development, success across one’s whole life span and as a faculty member we focus on instructional improvement and we also focus on organizational issues. Issues like mentoring, academic publishing, academic writing, we do things like that also even though the name of our Center is the Biggio Center for the enhancement of teaching and learning it’s a center that focuses on faculty member’s success across all of their occupational roles.

A particular focus of ours is on improving the enhancement of learning through the enhancement of teaching, so while we encourage engaged interactive teaching and learning techniques we also focus on improving the lecture, enhancing the lecture, creating engaged lectures, we do not minimize the importance of a lecture we just say we can probably do it a little bit better.

And organizational issues, we sit on various committees across campus, Core Curriculum Committee and university teaching enhancement, Teaching Effectiveness Committee. If there are ways that we can enhance the improvement of teaching and learning and faculty success by impacting the organization and the organizational structure policies and procedures, we will try to do some of that also.

We serve all instructional staff and the recipients of that instructional activity faculty we have a particular focus on new faculty, new faculty mentoring, new faculty development responding to what are obvious needs and also a focus in our strategic plan. We’ve just developed a program for post docs. Post Docs are a group that fall between the cracks typically in higher education, so we are trying to identify what post doc needs are. Many of those post docs will be teaching, need some exposure to teaching enhancement activities so we’re trying to develop those kinds of resources, graduate students, GTAs, and of course undergraduate students. We’re very receptive to undergraduate student feedback. We do some focus group kinds of activities for undergraduate students that give us some suggestions on how to improve teaching and learning.

I’ll just highlight a few of the programs, 3 or 4 pages worth. Very quickly, we have a year-long program called New Faculty Scholars which targets our new faculty. We invite them to participate in a year-long program that has a course design retreat at the front end, and academic portfolio retreat on the back end–a 2 day retreat where we focus on helping faculty identify what they do, where they do it, how they do it, to whom they do it, and what impact of doing it has on teaching research outreach and service. We’ve offered a, publish and flourish academic writing, one day workshop for these new faculty scholars. We have a similar program for advanced graduate students who are pursuing an academic career or are thinking about an academic career called Career Future Faculty. Again, a year-long program, 2 graduate credits that focuses on exactly what we do and how to forewarn them, prepare them for the professoriate.

We coordinate the Breeden Endowed Grants program. Yesterday was the deadline for that. We offer $30,000 in small grants every year for programs, either research or enhancement programs that reflect an effort to improve teaching and learning on campus. Many of you have probably received some of those funds. $3,000 doesn’t seem like a lot for and individual grant but it can be a lot over many disciplines and often that $3,000 is parlayed into a larger grant proposal.

We’re responsible for new graduate and TA student orientation. We redefined that and we call it the New Faculty Convocation at the beginning of the year. We’re in the process of planning that. The Calendar has shifted so we’re looking at either Monday or Tuesday, or Monday and Tuesday right before classes start on Wednesday, so that would be August 16 or 17.

We offer mid-semester formative evaluation. Now if I had to offer any of you, if someone asked me, “Jim what’s the best way to improve my teaching?” I would say the best, easiest, no cost, low cost way would be to do some form of mid-semester feedback process. And we offer 2 of those, one called Small Group Instructional Feedback, where someone from our office will come to your class, in 30 minutes ask 3 questions. What’s going well in the class so far, what suggestions would you have for improvement,  now our skill is to not just have grips and complaints, but offer suggestions for improvement and what other comments would you like to make. We form small groups students talk about that, we have each group report and we collect the written comments, type them up, meet with the instructor in a week and offer some suggestions, 1, or 2, or 3 suggestions for enhancing teaching and learning. Students love it. Usually or comment is “Why isn’t this required of every faculty member?” And my answer is we don’t have the ability to do that, for every faculty member.

And we offer an electronic version of the same thing that we’ve called Big Mid. You can contact us, and that stands for Biggio Mid-semester Evaluation, an we will send those same three questions in an anonymous electronic form to your class. They respond, we send you the feedback within a week. Very simple, easy, and very powerful in terms of both what you get out of it and what your student perceive about you.

We offer at least 4, or 5, or 6 professional development seminars each semester usually during the noon brown-bag hour format. Two weeks ago, we offered our annual conference. This year we called it the Auburn Symposium Cross Cultural Perspectives on University Teaching and Learning. We had 150 faculty members form not only Auburn and AUM, but from other institutions throughout the Southeast. Those other institutions actually paid to attend, we did not charge Auburn or AUM faculty a fee for that.

Another innovative program that was spearheaded by the Biggio Center and me specifically is housed in educational leadership and technology, we have just instituted a 12 credit Graduate Certificate in University Teaching that’s open to any graduate student at Auburn University. Indeed you don’t have to be a matriculating student at Auburn University you could be a community college teacher in Alabaster Alabama or someone in Saudi Arabia, you can enroll in this program. Right now we are not offering a distance version of it, but we will in the future. So if you have a student who is also considering an academic career regardless of discipline, physics, chemistry, education, psychology, and they would like to enhance their employability and their expertise, this could be a very interesting option for them. Again check out our Web site, we have the guidelines, the required courses, and all the activities are listed right there. We are the only university in the southeast offering such a program. So we also think that this could be a draw to get some graduate students to come to Auburn.

We’ve been partnering with our office of outreach on engagement and service learning. We offer individual consultations to faculty. We’ve had a number of faculty come, either referred by a department chair or come on their own volition to talk about their end of the semester student evaluations and how to get some suggestions on how to enhance their activities. We participate in international grant writing, one small grant program with the School of Nursing is this Tigermain program where we got a small grant from Johnson & Johnson to develop a writing mentoring program, a professional publication writing program which I think has been quite successful in a short period of time. And we partnered with College of Education on trying to get some stimulus money to come to Auburn to develop curriculum and a national training and dissemination center to help prepare health information technology folks. [34:08]

I think this is self-explanatory. We will offer our services in whatever way we feel competent and whatever way you think you need. Some future visions, some things we’ve talked about internally, we haven’t really vetted this across campus, but we would like to and I’ve been involved in other campuses on academic leadership, development, developing programs, mentoring, developing academic leadership training programs, we’d like to instill a broader still faculty fellows program to include more folks. What I would like to do is have a faculty fellow embedded in each of the, I shouldn’t use the word embedded, housed in each of the different colleges and schools across campus. Teaching a scholars academy where those individuals who are recipients of awards like the Leischuck Award get integrated into the Center more formally. And we’re thinking next year our annual conference will be something focusing on best practice in teaching and learning where we will highlight our own Auburn Faculty but also offer an opportunity for faculty across the southeast to talk about what they are doing in their classrooms.

And just very quickly talk to Margaret Marshall about maybe publishing the proceedings of that if we go in that direction.

We are located in an internal suite on the forth floor of the RBD Library. We have offices for all of our staff, a small conference room, which we offer to different committees across campus. We like to use our conference room, it’s very nice, it seats 14 people around the table, has 6 other chairs. Contact us, calling, e-mailing, I encourage you to check out our Web site. And that’s the end of my presentation. Do you have any questions or comments? Any testimonials? Anyone want to stand up and say how the Biggio has saved you life?

Sanjeev Baskiyar, senator Computer science and software engineering:
I have a suggestion or question. There was the writing center program and your graduate certificate program, I do not fully know what’s in the graduate certificate program, but some departments such as computer science have a very diverse group of graduate students who also need some writing help, otherwise that’s shifted onto individual professors substantially. I’m just wondering if there is a mechanism of taking the writing skills program from the undergraduate program series to your graduate certificate program and offer something similar to help the graduate students? Thank you,

Jim Groccia:
I think that’s a very good question and that’s a question more for Margaret Marshall than it is for me.

Margaret Marshall, director of the Office of University Writing:
This is actually a concern that I’ve heard in more places than just engineering.  I think eventually we definitely want our writing center support structure that can work with all students including graduate students, but in order to do that we need graduate students who are willing to serve in that role of consultants. Meanwhile I think there are other things that the Writing Program has talked about doing, for example there are some strategies for working with thesis students to help them be better writers. And that’s a kink of faculty development that can help you be more effective in working with your own graduate students. We’re certainly prepared to help facilitate writing groups for graduate students or for faculty much the same way that the Nursing faculty have been engaged in this writing group. It has actually increased the number of publications that they have in the pipeline. So I think there are ways to do targeted workshops both for faculty and for graduate students that in the end may have more of an impact than just expanding one-on-one consultations. I love the idea of some kind of certificate that graduate students or that faculty could encourage graduate students to participate that would enhance their writing. So that’s something that perhaps Jim and I can continue to talk about and we’ll work on it.

Sanjeev Baskiyar, senator Computer science and software engineering:
Thank you.

Kathryn Flynn, chair:
Thank you both. That concludes the agenda items that we have today. At this time I’d like to ask if anybody has any unfinished business? Or any new business that they’d like to bring to the Senate? If not I have one comment I would like to make, it’s sort of a personal aside. I spent last week down with the swine flu because I did not get the swine flu shot. I can tell you from going to the health center that it is all over campus and I encourage you if you did not get the swine flu shot  and have not yet had it, I spent 5 days in bed, so I’m encouraging all of you to take the opportunity to get the flu shot and try to avoid the misery that I experienced. So with that the meeting is adjourned. [40:02]