Behrend Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
4:30 p.m. via Zoom
I. Call to Order – Lisa Jo Elliott, Faculty Senate Chair
A. Approval of minutes from January Faculty Senate Meeting
Matt Swinarski; Adam Simpson
II. College Updates (up to 5 minutes each)
A. Ralph Ford, Chancellor
- Behrend had a very successful Open House Preview Day. We received many comments from the families who conveyed that they see something different at Behrend.
- First-year class is an important indicator: We are up in numbers. One-on-one engagement makes a bit difference.
- Students may be thinking about transferring to UP: Advisers need to explain them the advantages to staying at Behrend without being too forceful.
- We are recovering from the pandemic, but we still have some way to go.
- Erie Hall has opened. This facility is for everybody, students, faculty, staff. It’s a wellness center for the campus community.
- In terms of searches: Greg Filbeck will serve as interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs starting July 1; Pam Silver and Greg Filbeck are working closely together to ensure a good transition. A search for this position was a bit ambitious at this stage. The search for the Vice Chancellor for Research is underway.
- Adam Simpson asks about parking in the Erie Hall lot; Chancellor Ford will refer the question to Randy Geering, senior director, Business and Operations.
- There is a question about parking in the Reed lot; students park there. That poses a problem. Space is already limited.
B. Pam Silver, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- The University Senate has passed legislation about pass/fail policy. Serious concerns were raised about unintended consequences of this new piece of legislation. The problem of erosion of standards was a key issue.
- Discussion at University Senate and the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education (ACUE) about grades and equity is still going on. Faculty at Behrend need to pay attention and follow this debate.
- Lisa Jo Elliott reminds everyone that Matt Swinarski has created an announcement on the Behrend Canvas page that covers updates on the debate and on the pass/fail policy as well as other important updates. Faculty members can find senators and senator assignments on a specific page on Canvas. Faculty should reach out to senators when they have concerns and questions.
C. Senator Update - Matt Swinarski
- Pass/fail policy: Implementation is on hold. The Senate is working with the administration to determine how to move forward.
- Senate meeting. February meeting:
- There was a forensic report about sabbatical leaves for non-tenure track faculty. There is a lot of interest in pushing forward this idea. The Senate will work on a set of recommendations.
- There is a legislative report on General Education recertification procedures and how that task is going to be conducted.
- March 28 meeting:
- Proposal on the floor to encourage faculty to have remote async instruction on Election Day. That proposal was put forth by the student senators.
- There is information on the implementation of the structured elements with faculty teaching assessment. Those who are interested in changes on how faculty teaching assessment framework will be implemented, teachers should follow this development. There will be a report available on Canvas.
- There is another report on non-tenure line promotion flow.
- There is an information report on the impact of the development of artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT on integrity and, in general, higher education.
- The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs’ office discussed faculty members' leave of absence; the goal is to make sure there is more consistency and equity across campuses.
- Kelly Austen, Vice President of Commonwealth Campuses, and his team are going ahead with budget planning for the fiscal year 2024-2025; They are forecasting a very conservative enrollment. They are planning ahead to help campuses understand what the budget is going to look like so that there are no surprises. They are also working to advertise Commonwealth Campuses. They want to emphasize that many campuses offer 4-year degrees; students don’t have to complete their studies at UP. The next step is to explain how some graduate degrees are also offered at Commonwealth Campuses.
- The Governor approved the Invent Penn State funding.
- The Dean of Undergraduate Education is encouraging everybody to fill out the midterm feedback. The Commonwealth Campuses do far better than UP, which helps with student retention.
- One note on obtaining Graduate Status for faculty who wish to serve on Graduate Student Committees and so forth. Once an application gets to the Graduate School, 96% of applications are accepted. Rarely does an application get rejected. The problem is with gatekeepers before an application gets to the Graduate School. The Graduate School has implemented an additional review step. If a faculty member is rejected, this faculty member can submit the rejection to the Graduate School, and the School can review this rejection. The Graduate School will review the process to make sure that faculty member are getting the opportunities at Commonwealth Campuses.
III. Jim Serafin and Updating a Classroom for New Technology
Similar to OBS 117, OBS 120, and Kochel 043 for 2024/2025. Which building do we want to propose for the application?
- Lisa Jo Elliott creates a poll to understand which building should get an updated classroom
- Question: Do we know which building has the least amount of these new classrooms?
- Pam Silver: The Nick classrooms are not in great shape, but Nick is slated for a lot of updating and reworking. We need to keep in mind that updates reduce classroom capacity.
- Qi Dunsworth is initiating a training program for faculty who want to teach in these upgraded classrooms.
- Members vote for Burke followed by OBS.
IV. Functional Data Analytics at World Campus
- The Functional Data Analytics program is now live on World Campus. It was a very challenging process to obtain approval for this program. We are looking forward to the Behrend version.
- Pam Silver: Credit goes to Diane Parente for spearheading the initiative; implementing the program; it was challenging getting the program approved, and these efforts are ongoing.
- Lisa Jo Elliott: This goal has been achieved through the contribution of all four schools; each school has played a role and will continue to play a role.
V. New Business
- Lisa Jo Elliott invites faculty members to read the Constitution carefully.
- Question: Should we announce we have a new chair for Faculty Affairs?
Lisa Jo Elliott: It will be announced on Monday
Adam Simpson; Matt Swinarski