Behrend Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
4:30 p.m. via Zoom
- Call to Order – Lisa Jo Elliott, Faculty Senate Chair
- Approval of minutes from September Faculty Senate Meeting
Sherri Mason; Ed Evans
- Approval of minutes from September Faculty Senate Meeting
- College Updates
- Ralph Ford, Chancellor
Larger issues: A budget model is currently being developed
President Bendapudi is bringing energy and new thinking. The message President Bendapudi is bringing focuses on three areas:
- Building a sense of belonging for students;
- Controlling cost.
Economic development: How we spend money. How we help our communities in social and economic development. Business attraction and creation are important to revitalize the local economy and produce prosperity.
We are a research university; that is built in the DNA of all that we do as a land grant R1 university. What Behrend is doing with the open lab philosophy fits well with the University’s mission.
The University hired vice president of enrollment management, Matt Melvin.
The largest changes that Chancellor Ford sees happening:
- What we know is that there is no need for student growth at the University Park campus; the focus now is going to be on growth in the other campuses.
- We need to address bureaucracy problems. Recruiting students takes too long; speed is a strategy. We need to get to good students earlier.
- Penn State needs to rethink and modify the 2+2 message. A Campus like Behrend has been offering four-year degrees for 40 years; we are not a two-year campus.
Budget model: The key word is transparency. Behrend is in good shape financially.
We should be concerned about what the budget model looks like. There is a group working on this task. They are following a playbook developed by NACUBO (National Association of Colleges and Universities Business Offices). Chancellor Ford shares a white paper (uploaded on Canvas). The budget will reward growth, size of the campus, and infrastructure. Schools and programs that go up in number of credit hours delivered need more funding.
Behrend is providing input for the model. What must be taken into consideration is how expensive the programs are.
We have highest number of Schreyer Honors College students (over 60). We have a larger research mission. This requires start-up packages for professors, for example.
We have asked that non-tenure line faculty raises be covered centrally like tenure line raises are.
Chancellor Ford anticipates that in the next 4 to 6 weeks we will have a glimpse of new budget model. It’s a complicated process, but this is the highest level of transparency he has ever seen.
Chancellor Ford returns on the Gospel Hill property. Behrend has used Gospel Hill in our classes in environmental science and biology. Lynne Beatty (School of Science) made a case we should retain the property. We are hopeful that we can retain that property.
- Question: What about the old Nova rehab center property?
Chancellor Ford: we will sell that property. That property is in the market.
- Pam Silver, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- Discussion on remote sync modality of teaching. We will obtain guidance this academic year.
- Discussion on evaluation of teaching and peer-review, student feedback, and faculty self-reflections. The conversation will affect all of us; more to come in the near future.
- University is looking at pass-fail grading policy. The new policy is almost ready; it looks like the policy we implemented during Covid, but most carefully thought through.
- Alicyn Rhoades, Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
- Undergraduate academic year research proposal funding announcements. Behrend funded a good fraction of research projects, but not all of them. We look forward to funding more in the summer. We have fewer funds, more applications.
- The UP Office of Foundation Relations visited Behrend. Dr. Rhoades shared a presentation entitled “Keys to successfully seeking support”. The members of the Office of Foundation Relations are eager to work with Behrend faculty to discuss foundation fundings. They went over foundation fundamentals and how applying to foundations is different from applying for industrial or government money. Information on this office is linked in the Grants and Contracts home page.
- Ralph Ford, Chancellor
- Report on the Provost's visit on Monday, October 17th
The Provost and his team started a process for revising budget allocation to realign resources across all campuses so we have a zero deficit by 2025. Budget models should be reactive and responsive to the mission and vision of PSU
- Question: Can we let non-tenure line faculty know that their positions are in jeopardy in a timely fashion?
Answer: Unless there are unusual circumstances, notifications about contracts should be sent in February.
- Question: Is there an opportunity for peers to work across campuses?
Answer: Engaging with peers is a great idea. There is a good chance that it would be addressed. At UP we promote interdisciplinary communities.
- Question: Are we going to keep the Gospel Hill property?
Answer: We will retain that property. Conservation is a very good objective that we want to support.
- Question: What did the leadership learn from Covid?
Answer: We learned how resourceful faculty are. What we can do effectively; how we can use technology. How to have some flexibility in terms of how faculty do their job. We learned how significant socio-economic status can be in terms of student access to resources. We have received input from all faculty and staff about the technical tools needed and practices that are working. We know all the challenges from a mental health perspective and how these challenges affect us all.
The Provost reflected on how affordability is important for student success. We cannot focus only on students’ ability to graduate. The students’ mental, physical health is important. Being in a position to come out of Penn State well prepared for a career is crucial. The other issue is the Covid gap. How do we close the gap for the students, that are coming out underprepared? This is hard. Budgeting needs to reinforce the core values. The new budget model aims at improving student support, enrollment, and scholarships. Good advising is key.
- Question: There are faculty who are very skilled at advising. I don’t know if the leadership has considered a course release for that faculty.
Answer: I would be happy to continue this conversation. As you know there are limited resources.
- Question: I understand the 2% raise according to the GSI but we need to look at staff salaries, especially in light of their inflated duties and responsibilities they have taken on.
Answer: This is a challenge across the University; we have hired a consultant whose only job is to get more students to come to Penn State.
- Question: How do you see the experience of engaging with industry in the broader Penn State experience? We are putting a lot of effort into that.
Answer: We support these efforts. I am an advocate of experiential learning.
- Encouraging Women in STEM
Lisa Jo Elliott: We have many searches going on. We need to encourage women in STEM, and we need to be careful of what we say. Bad publicity surrounds certain colleges after stories published on the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Chancellor Ford: It’s absolutely critical that we are careful in what we say, and the questions we ask. We are interviewing the candidate, but the candidates are also interviewing us.
Pam Silver reminds faculty there is training available for committees. The training addresses implicit bias.
- Sam Mason talks about sustainability.
Sam Mason intends to update the Senate regularly. She explains how her team has made progress with many projects.
- Waste recycling: Comprehensive waste management plan. We need a better understanding of what is in the recycling stream. We are concerned about contamination rate. Glass should not be put in recycling bins on campus.
- We need a plan for academic buildings and then start looking at what we can do for residence halls. Recycling is not ideal at our campus for now; we will see change by fall 2023.
- Academics: The world-wide teach-in was a success. New conference set for March 29, 2023. Sam Mason describes Session 1 and Session 2.
- Sam Mason mentions the sustainability ambassadors program.
- Green spaces: Wintergreen Gorge restoration will start soon; groundbreaking anticipated for March 2023 and completion by the end of June 2023.
- On Gospel Hill: The University purchased Gospel Hill 10 years ago (old golf course). Lynne Beaty applied for funding to develop a master plan for it. The grant will be submitted soon. The goal is to make Gospel Hill a biological field station and conservation area.
- We developed a greenhouse during the summer. We will be growing food for the Behrend community even during the winter.
- First Year Seminar Task Force Recommendations second reading
- Comments and proposal to vote in December.
At the previous meeting we talked about key recommendations (uploaded on our Canvas page). Al Warner added that a few changes passed through University Park faculty senate in September which includes some of these highlight:
- Replace the word faculty with instructors to be inclusive of all instructors
- They recommended the addition of new course number for interdisciplinary or exploratory seminar
- Question: There are no significant changes expected anytime soon (in how we teach) these seminars.
Answer: No; there will not be significant changes in the short term.
Lisa Jo Elliott: Next meeting we will vote to support these key recommendations and the report created last academic year. Lisa Jo Elliott will not ask for a move to support that yet. This is to give faculty more time to look at these recommendations.
Sherri Mason first; Ed Evans second