Faculty Senate Reports - November 2021

Behrend Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes

Friday, November 12, 2021
1:30 p.m. via ZOOM

  1. Call to Order – Edward Evans, Faculty Senate Chair @ 1:32 p.m.
  2. Approval of minutes from August 19, 2021, Faculty Senate Meeting
    1. Motion to accept – Lisa Jo Elliott
    2. Second – Jay Amicangelo
  3. Ralph Ford, Chancellor
    1. Nominations for Faculty Senate and Council are open. Please reach out until January to interested parties and help our committee move forward.
    2. Update on the vaccine mandate. Mandate has been extended to all locations. The date of compliance has been moved to January 4. We are up to 87.7%. Students are at 76.5%
    3. Strategic Plan includes Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Ralph developed a Chancellor’s Council on DEI and shared the draft with Faculty Council earlier and here with Senate. Ed reviewed the feedback from Council. The goal is to get this up and running in January 2022. Send additional comments to Ralph.
    4. Construction updates
      1. Erie Hall is gone, and the good weather helped keep construction on track. Be careful when driving in the Reed Union lot area. Still optimistic for an SP2023 opening.
      2. Federal House is coming along nicely and looks beautiful. Opening SP2022.
    5. Speakers: last night, we had guest speaker Dr. Scott Gottleib with very good attendance. The prior speaker, NASA’s Moogega Cooper, was also well attended. The plan is for fewer but bigger speakers, and that seems to be working. In the spring, the speakers are eSports broadcaster Ovilee May and NFL referee Sarah Thomas. If you have an idea or want to recommend a speaker, please let Ralph know.
    6. Q: Are the public and new students invited to these events?
      A: Yes, we have lists.
    7. Q: Could we create a parent list (of local students) to distribute information to schools, parents, PTOs?
      A: Ralph will take the suggestion to the committee.
  4. Pam Silver, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
    1. Commencement will be in-person with Dr. Dipo Onipede as the speaker. Please RSVP.
    2. The active but not registered students list is long, please remind your advisees to register earlier.
    3. The recently announced two-week break in December is affecting the timing of some end-of-semester processes. Grading is a hang-up. You have 48 hours after a final to enter grades; please be on time.
  5. Ivor Knight, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies (not present, but sent the following report:
    1. Last week, the University announced the FY2020-21 Research Expenditure numbers, and Behrend’s results were exceptionally strong. (Research Expenditures is a key metric used by universities and national reporting agencies for reporting research activity and is better than grant dollars awarded for comparing year-on-year changes.)
    2. Behrend’s total of $8 M in research expenditures was more than double the previous year and reflects a strong trend upward in our research activity.
    3. I would like to thank the faculty, who have worked hard to obtain external funding for research to support students, provide funds for supplies and equipment, and the many other expenses that are essential to the research enterprise at Behrend.
    4. I would especially like to recognize the extraordinary hard work and perseverance of the college and school staff members to prepare and submit the proposals, hire the students, and purchase the supplies and equipment. Two of those people are retiring in the next few months after long and productive careers at Penn State, and it is appropriate to give them a special shout-out. Patty Lanich in the Grants and Contracts office will be retiring in early 2022, and Denise Brooks in the School of Engineering office will be retiring at the end of this month. We thank them for their good and faithful service, for a job well done, and wish them all the best in their well-deserved retirement.
  6. Comments from the Chair – Ed Evans
    1. Tree-cutting issue in the gorge was on the schedule, but the presenters asked to postpone that until the first meeting next year.
    2. Goals for the coming semester include a more timely approach to these meetings and more notice leading up to the meetings. This semester has been hard, but I will do better with this. To this, I am hoping for three meetings in the spring and a forensic session at each one.
    3. Sarah Whitney is heading up an ad hoc team restructuring the Academic Integrity adjudication process. There is a large backlog. Expect that report early next year.
    4. Last year’s report from the ad hoc committee on First Year Experience had a lot of recommendations, and we will be revisiting that for curriculum action items and reporting back to Faculty Council.
    5. Other areas I expect to see reports from: Faculty Affairs is looking at promotion rates comparisons. Student life and undergraduate studies are looking at retention issues. We are looking at the Strategic Plan and doing some work on the fifth item, faculty and staff engagement. There is a lot going on.
    6. Are there any concerns about coming back after Thanksgiving or after break?
      1. C: We are dealing with it now as students have been leaving campus all semester. Students are prioritizing socialization over academic progress and falling behind.
      2. C: In Erie county, the amount of people wearing masks off campus is much lower than mask wearing on campus. We have created a little bubble, so not as much worry about the after-break return. Plus, our on-campus numbers are lower than the county.
      3. Q: Ralph, any news about the mask requirement going away?
        A: No. It is hard to predict the future, but I would be surprised if it happens early. If you are eligible for a booster, get it.
      4. Q: Last year, we started January with four weeks remote. The Covid numbers are similar; would Penn State go remote again for the start of SP22?
        A: We are in a different place with the vaccines right now. I have heard nothing of a remote period, and I would be surprised.
      5. C: PA school mask mandate needs to be re-issued properly, so schools might have waves at the K-12 level. Schools might have a lot to do with the level of vaccination.
      6. Q re: last year’s remote time: When someone takes FMLA, what are the rules? Can a memo be issued?
        A: A conversation with the school director or program chair should discuss how to cover the responsibilities. If your colleagues bother you while on FMLA, then you remind them or don’t respond. Pam can follow up on the memo.
      7. C: More comments were sent regarding topics, but there was not enough notice to get it onto more people’s schedules. Thank you to Ed for identifying the short notice responsibility. These will be brought up at following meeting/s.
    7. Today’s forensic session. Ed presented a poll of topics for future discussion.
      1. Results of choices:
        1. Compensation and workload: 57
        2. Enrollment and retention: 24
        3. Support needed to do your job effectively: 5
        4. Childcare: 0
        5. Unprepared students and meeting them where they are: 10
        6. Promotion issues: 5
      2. Looking at the results, we will discuss compensation and workload at the next meeting.
      3. C: Pam Silver is actively working on Unprepared Students – this is the problem we will be dealing with for the next 10 years.
      4. C: Help the students to have realistic expectations – can we add that to Unprepared Students discussion
      5. C: Pam is worried about... will students come back, can they come back. Ed is concerned about three semesters of alternative grades and whether it reflects their progress.
      6. Q: What is the status of the disability support position?
        A: Andy Herrera is filling in until we replace that critical position.
      7. C: An advising idea regarding Starfish flags – a proposed Advising Day with no classes, and all students instead must meet with their adviser before they can schedule.
      8. C: Or just put a hold on students until they meet with their adviser. Pam will follow up on feasibility for this and report back. Maybe we will charge undergraduate or faculty affairs with this.
  7. Closing Comments – Ed Evans
    1. Thank you all for your comments. Have a nice holiday.
    2. Our next meeting is in January, when we will start addressing the topics from the polls.
    3. Send me an email if there is anything else you would like to see added to the forensics discussion list.
  8. Adjournment @ 2:31 p.m.
    1. Motion to adjourn – Ed Evans
    2. Second – Lucy Lenhardt