Behrend Faculty Council Meeting Minutes
Monday, September 18, 2023
I. Call to Order — Lena Surzhko-Harned, Faculty Council Chair
A. Approval of the minutes from previous Faculty Council Meeting
- Motion: Mike Rutter
- Second: Lisa Jo Elliott
II. Welcome and Comments from the Chair
- First – 10/10 campus visit with Stephen Monroe, AI specialist. Greg’s office is coordinating several presentations and meetings with representatives of college community. 8:00 a.m. that day in Reed 114 there is a Faculty Council meeting – everyone is encouraged to attend especially those with an AI focus. If chairs cannot make it, or committee themselves cannot make it, please delegate. We want as much representation as possible to allow for flowing conversation. Also, same day, formal presentation of Dr. Moore at 12:15.
- Greg Filbeck: Will be info going out to campus this week, schedule is finalized, watch for information.
- 10/11 will be a Council meeting and 10/13 will be a Senate meeting. Everyone should now have access to the Canvas page, if you don’t, please let us know. Any and all relevant information will be posted there – still working on getting council members access to Teams.
- With regard to Faculty Senate meetings, there have been conversations about thematic meetings. This would provide opportunities to discuss important issues. Some faculty have approached with topics.
- For 10/13, Sarah Whitney wants to talk about PaSS. She will likely also stop by the council meeting.
- Melissa Sulkowski, new head of Personal Counseling, is revamping personal counseling services. Easier to triage student help. Looking at closing the loop when making references to personal counseling. Would like our input, she was also invited to speak at senate meeting.
- Additional topics – recommendation that schedule of classes include notation where materials cost nothing or less than $50. Need to consider if it has any implications for us. Our library sources are better than we often think.
- Lisa Jo Elliott – PSU has the best library in the U.S. in my opinion.
III. Updates from the Leadership Team
A. Comments by the Chancellor, Ralph Ford
- Focus on enrollment, which is important to us. This year, first year class, remains over 1,000 students. Small drop, still feel good we will stay over 1,000, looking for 1,050 – 1,100. Not out of the woods yet – feel comfortable that we are going in right direction. Overall enrollment is down relative to pre-pandemic, but 2022 appears to be the bottom. Currently we are at about 3,300 residential (traditionally over 4,000) – area for growth. We are striving to get us back over. World Campus continues to grow. Last year was a good year, worked together on messaging – we have great programs, great faculty, staff, students, etc. Helps us to stand out. Meeting with prospective students and families is important.
- Started Strategic Plan Oversight Committee. Plan was put in place in the midst of the height of the pandemic. Serves as our guiding light. We want to make sure that we hear a lot of voices, communicating widely to campus the progress we are making.
- Board of Trustees meeting this summer was a phenomenal opportunity to showcase the campus. Faculty, student, staff all interacting with Board of Trustees and leaders. Will serve us well in long term.
B. Comments by the Interim Vice Chancellor and Dean of Academic Affairs, Greg Filbeck
- Strategic taskforce launched past week – ambitious agenda based on advising plan created this past summer. Coming up with structure/layout and then will break out into three subgroups. Stakeholders, benefits of academic advising vs. professional advising, and so on. Target report date of March 1, before spring break. Senate is also looking at this. Ties into retention-related strategies.
- Building recruiting strategies and relationships. Working with Ken and Andrea on India recruitment strategy. First out of the gate working with teams at UP. Follow up with Harrisburg. Hoping to piggyback on some of their efforts.
- Articulation agreements and memorandums of understandings. We want to work more closely with Western campuses. First meeting with Beaver, working out logistics. Andrea and Greg working closely to find programs where we aren’t a competitor but for 2+2 programs and opportunities to join our grad programs.
- Meeting with Ralph, Alicyn, and Greg on graduate recruitment strategies. Want existing programs to be healthy before building out portfolio. Looking at an academic plan for the grad program. Also looking at possibility of picking up 2 classes senior year of undergraduate studies to satisfy some of the grad requirements.
- Lena Surzhko-Harned – Advising plan – Lynne and Lena on committee. Charlotte will also be working on. Will be coordination.
- Charlotte de Vries – looking at survey data to compile it focusing on this in current month.
- Jason Bennett – Noticed that when students transfer here, in many cases they haven’t had same rigor. They start classes here and struggle, at least in Chemistry. Seems like other disciplines have had similar experiences.
- Greg Filbeck – Think we could do a better job with transfer students in general. They miss out on first-year experience. We need to have infrastructure in place for additional support.
- Matt Swinarski – Keep in mind that we are going to start getting students from community college, too. Through Penn State’s Raise Me Transfer program, funding and scholarships get applied to PSU while in community college based on grades.
- Greg Filbeck – We are trying to increase our relationship with the Erie Community College; we are waiting for their accreditation.
- Elisa Beshero-Bondar – There’s a pass/fail issue to credit transfers. Working on that is to try to make it so pass/fail for core courses has a clear marker. PD means pass with D so it wouldn’t count as a major requirement. Math was a big focus; transfer students seem to struggle a lot.
- Lisa Jo Elliott – Maybe Qi can address some of these concerns.
- Charlotte de Vries – Do we have a seminar for transfer students if they miss out on FYS?
- Adam Simpson – Think there is one, but it’s not offered every semester. If the student is coming in with a lot of transfer credits, we usually waive the FYS.
C. Comments by the Vice Chancellor and Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Alicyn Rhodes
- Last week we had Dr. Andrew Reed, interim VP for research, Vice Provost for grad school, Doug Wolfe VP strategic initiatives, OVPCC (Office of the Vice President of Commonwealth Campuses) – entire day to deep dive for research and grad program issue here. Those present were a good representation of the campus but couldn’t get everyone there. Overall, a great job was done. Continuing down path for step change for grad programs and research. Nothing definitive to report, but we are starting to see things on the horizon, rather than just conversations. We need 3 supporters – provost, VP Research, OVPCC. Grad programs and the dean of grad school are very supportive.
- Lisa Jo Elliott – faculty members were upset they didn’t know about this ahead of time (Psych) but they were excited and looking forward to possibilities. Consider in the future, letting people know, the pushback was pretty strong (that they didn’t know about the program).
- Alicyn Rhodes – The program isn’t real yet, so you don’t want to announce something that isn’t real. Always a chance it doesn’t come to fruition. The moment we know it’s a real thing, we will share the information. Curriculum is not being developed, no one is losing ability to share expertise.
- Ralph Ford – It’s key we get financial commitment to do this right. VP of research asked questions from UP that hadn’t been asked before.
IV. Report from University Senators, Matt Swinarski
Caucus discussing how to get information to faculty quicker, opinions back, etc. Through the website, you can email things. Improvement to process flows – a lot of time you don’t get final agenda until couple days before senate.
Matt is going to try to use the Canvas site – create discussion boards, posts, info on what is coming up for a vote, and if you want to comment you can. Currently working on the time frame to give us closer to 10-14 days to get up on Canvas for review.
- President Bendapudi still focusing on Advocate Penn State. VP of community relations and assistant VP talking about Harrisburg funding (it’s a bill not built-in) – pushing for same level of funding as peers. Little discussion about strategic goals. President Bendapudi looking at access and affordability and made a point as to how critical commonwealth campuses are. VP Schwartz focused on student disability resources. It’s difficult for students to come forward and ask for those services, when they do and provide those letters to their instructors, faculty should be as accommodating as possible.
- Best practices for search and diversity/equity/inclusion – helping students with completion, advising being looked at from many different angles.
- Scantrons – UP is developing cloud-based service. Getting rid of machines, they’d put cloud-based machines on the campuses.
- Support for arts and humanities – critical to general education. Looking for ways to make sure those faculty are appreciated.
- Many senators have been attacked recently because of a resolution passed on support of anti-racist initiatives. Senator names are on the report. Email and other attacks have occurred and involve accessing personal information about people. They are really doing their searches and making things difficult. Unknown if the culprits are inside or outside Penn State. It is being looked into; the investigation ongoing.
- One Penn State is wrapping up. Many initiatives have come from this — defining academic authority, microcredentials, noncredit bulletin (enhanced learning opportunities), free and reduced course material (marked in LionPath), and so on. Open source material is viable research publication outlet and it helps the students
- Alicyn Rhodes – Did they talk about any money reserved for open source fees.
- Matt Swinarski – Not too much detail due to how much was covered in the meeting. All initiatives are things they picked that go along with President Bendapudi’s six points.
- Lisa Jo Elliott – I have a link to library funding where you can submit a proposal, will post on Canvas.
- Lena Surzhko-Harned – Matt can also post this information on Canvas.
V. Committee Charges Discussion
A. Updated Charges
After today’s meeting, updated charges will go to Teams. Membership mishaps should be all updated. Below are the committees with chairs, updates will begin at the next meeting.
- Academic Computing, Elisa Beshero-Bondar
- Athletics, Adam Simpson
- Undergraduate Curricular Affairs, Glenn Kumhera
- Faculty Affairs, Lynne Beaty
- Graduate Affairs, Mike Rutter
- Research Committee, Babajide Osatuyi
- Scholarships and Awards, Aimee Pogson
- Student Life, Gabe Kramer
- Undergraduate Studies, Charlotte de Vries
- Institutional, Educational, and Diversity), Kyeiwaa Asare-Yeboah
- Third charge – clarifications on language
- Approval of charges
- Motion: Lisa Jo Elliott
- Second: Adam Simpson
B. Ad Hoc Committee on Constitutional Changes
- Survey for call for nominations, looking for representation for all schools.
- Business – Matt Swinarski, David Dieteman
- Science – Pam Silver, Pat Kelly
- HSS – Kristy McCoy
- Jason will reach out
- Ask others – probably not a great fit. No context. Reach out to Tim Kurzweg and Melanie for recommendations.
- Once the committee is together council will receive an email asking for approval.
- Greg Filbeck volunteers to do anything he can to help
VI. New Business
A. SRTE Changes
- Elisa Beshero-Bondar – I went to a few meetings, at only one were SRTEs discussed and then weren’t for a while. Is anything going on with them?
- Matt Swinarski – The questions are changing this fall. Those under 2-year review cycle will be using those sets. Everyone in 4- and 6-year will be able to decide which questions so it’s not disruptive for their tenure track.
- Elisa Beshero-Bondar – That’s what I read, but I heard in a meeting that we were switching from 7-point to 5-point scale.
- Matt Swinarski – There is an implementation group working on it. Senate has put through recommendations, but voting has not taken place on how things are being implemented. You’re going to see changes like more feedback to the faculty (formal) like mid-year. Goal from Senate was to make it an improvement as a way of helping faculty improve their teaching, not a way of evaluating faculty for promotion.
- Greg Filbeck – Mid-term evaluation will take place in spring, couldn’t get it implemented this semester. Only the faculty will see the mid-term evals.
- Ralph Ford – Maybe we can get a full picture from senate.
- Elisa Beshero-Bondar – Seems like a big change with little discussion.
- Greg Filbeck – The topic has been delayed for a while now. At this point nothing concrete to share.
- Motion: Jason Bennett
- Second: Elisa Beshero-Bondar