Faculty Senate Reports - February 2022

Behrend Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes

Friday, February 11, 2022
3:30 p.m. via Zoom

  1. Call to Order – Ed Evans, Faculty Senate Chair @ 3:33 p.m.
  2. Approval of minutes from November 12, 2021, Faculty Senate Meeting
    1. Linda Hajec and Elisa Beshero Bondar
  3. Welcome and Comments from the Chair
    1. Reminder – Email came today regarding the Faculty and Faculty/Staff Awards. Nominations are due March 4, 2022. These are important and mean a lot to nominees; please consider nominating a co-worker.
    2. First Year Seminar Task Force Update
      1. Rod Troester provided an update last year; this will be sent with the next meeting notice.
      2. A model FYS course will be prepared for Fall 2023, based on an FYS developed by Scott Stroup and the School of Business. It includes Tech Academy, DEI, and peer mentoring, among other things, and also allows time for School-specific instruction. The four Schools' working groups will incorporate a presentation and discussion on this at the next meeting.
      3. Q: Might it also be good to consider some of these topics at Orientation?
        A: Yes, it reinforces it to see it more than once. Ed will ask the orientation crew.
  4. Procedural Changes to Academic Integrity Hearings – Ed Evans for Sarah Whitney
    1. We administer AI hearings according to policies 49-20 and G9. Right now, there are 8-10 people required for a hearing, and scheduling is hard. The system isn't working well, and there is a backlog of cases.
    2. The Academic Integrity Task Force recommended the following changes:
      1. Remove the tenured chair requirement
      2. Slimming the quorum to two faculty
      3. Best practice for school representation is not mandatory
      4. Standardize a paper-based review
      5. Preserve the process to request a live review
    3. These changes preserve the integrity of the AI process, remove the gridlock and bring us more in line with peer units.
      1. Q: Why change from a tenured faculty chair?
        A: Not sure why it was tenured in the first place.
      2. C: Tenured faculty have more security in the event of a contentious case. They might want to keep it.
      3. C: This might also feed the workload conversation.
      4. Q: The paper process – does this mean the committee meets or not?
        A: Committee could meet; the method is not prescribed. Conversation is still a good thing. Meeting with just the faculty is more manageable.
    4. Additional questions can be sent to Sarah Whitney (sew17).
  5. Faculty Survey Results – Dr. Sara Luttfring
    1. Strong responses were noted in areas of:
      1. Workload, particularly workload/support and workload equity
      2. Salary disparity and raises not reflecting pandemic workload.
    2. At what level are raises and workload determined (University/college/school)
    3. Workload was not specifically defined in the survey and could mean different things.
    4. Support/Lack of support and job duty negotiations were indicated.
    5. Retaliation is an issue to some.
    6. More people felt a five-year review was a better assessment tool than an annual review, but the meaning of this is unclear.
    7. Near-term action items are:
      1. Allow faculty to vote and more faculty input at FS meetings. C – they should show up.
      2. Separate P&T seminars for tenure track and non-tenure track
      3. More advance notice for Faculty Senate meetings
      4. FS meetings hybrid or zoom, not in-person only. At hybrid meetings, assign someone such as Vice-Chair to monitor the chat to adequately represent remote attendees.
      5. Make this survey an annual occurrence so we can analyze it over time for comparison.
        1. Q: FS meeting notice is sent as an email. Can it be a calendar invite?
          A: I think that just started; it should be working that way. If not, we will do that going forward.
        2. C: The agenda should be clear about what the topics are going to be.
        3. Q: Can FS meeting be held at a fixed time?
          A: That is hard because it will always be unavailable to someone that teaches at that time. We are trying to move to a standard of meeting within two weeks of the University Senate.
        4. Q: Can we use the Common Hour?
          A: There is no Common Hour; that did not work.
        5. Q: Is an annual review a state mandate?
          A: It is in Penn State policy AC-40 that all faculty have an annual review by appropriate officer.
        6. C: Regarding the common hour, there are 1393 class sections at Behrend this spring. A common hour is not likely; it creates serious scheduling problems.
  6. Wintergreen Gorge Forestry Project Update – Jay Amicangelo
    1. Several faculty met to discuss their concerns and provide a faculty perspective on it.
      1. December 2020 news article about the tree cutting.
      2. August 2021 cutting began with no recent notice to the Behrend community.
      3. This topic was addressed in August 2021 at a Faculty Senate meeting and was referred to the prior news article.
      4. Faculty surveyed the project with concern over the lack of signage, the number of harvested healthy trees, unharvested dead trees, and the damage to the trails and forest.
      5. August 2020 School of Science meeting with questions and little explanation.
      6. Timber contract discrepancy in number of trees cut.
      7. Specific issues raised were:
        1. An unsustainable timber harvest.
        2. Discrepancies within the forester and timber contract.
        3. Oversight/lack of oversight of the project.
        4. Late acknowledgment of damages to the Gorge and the impact on the community.
        5. Behrend's Tree Campus USA status since 2013 not properly sustained.
        6. Limited input on harvest plan from faculty, community, and students.
      8. Moving forward, it is recommended:
        1. The Campus Tree Advisory Committee be sustained. (It is now functional).
        2. A Behrend Forest Preservation Fund is proposed.
        3. Implement Phase III of the Trail Sustainability Master Plan.
        4. A faculty member be appointed as Administrative Fellow to lead the Behrend Forest and Wintergreen Gorge management.
      9. Goal was to make all faulty aware of what is going on and what steps we need to take to keep the Gorge available.
      10. Q: Are we in Phase II?
        A: The plan was written in three phases. Phase I was completed in 2020, Phase II is continuing the trail and it is intended to be ADA accessible. We are working on plans for Phase II restoration with intention to be completed Aug/Sept22 to Dec22. Phase III was initially the bridge over trout run but may be changed to work on the Devil's backbone area and is thus yet undefined. The Master plan may extend to six or seven phases.
      11. Comments from Ralph – the project was undertaken in good faith; there were mistakes made in terms of contracting and oversight. We all understand the value of the Gorge. We did halt the project when these issues were brought up; we then created the working group and will continue these discussions. The tree committee is functioning, and we know better now how to handle tree contracts. Many apologies for the way this went, we learned some lessons, and we do need to move forward working on the Gorge.
  7. Faculty Discussion on Workload and Student Absences – tabled until next meeting
    1. Motioned by Carrie Payne, seconded by Lucianna Aronne. Passed by vote.
  8. Report from the Chancellor, Ralph Ford
    1. Welcome Dr. Alicyn Rhoades as Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. A search will be held in the future.
    2. Dr. Neeli Bendapudi is the new Penn State President. She starts in March and will overlap current President Eric Barron. President Barron will retire after commencement in May. Dr. Bendapudi is expected to visit Behrend at some time.
    3. The new Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses is Dr. Kelly Austin. He is replacing Madlyn Hanes, who retired. We are planning to get him on campus for a visit. He is focusing on student affordability.
    4. H&SS Director search is ongoing. Dr. Eric Corty is retiring.
    5. February 16 is the annual state of the college address – in BC180 and also offered via Zoom.
    6. Covid is declining. 80% students are vaccinated and 93% of faculty/staff. Testing is ongoing.
  9. Report from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Pam Silver – no report
  10. Report from the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Alicyn Rhoades
    1. Faculty awards and Faculty/Staff awards have a deadline of March 4. Please nominate.
    2. Undergraduate Student Award deadline is Monday.
    3. Upcoming Summer Undergraduate Research Grants email was sent Monday. Please consider.
  11. Adjournment @ 4:44 p.m.
    1. Lucianna Aronne and Jay Amicangelo