Behrend Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes
Friday, October 13, 2023
1:30–2:30 p.m., 114 Reed
I. Call to Order - Lena Surzhko-Harned, Faculty Senate Chair
A. Approval of the minutes from previous Faculty Senate Meeting
Motion: Jason Bennet
Second: Viki Kazmerski
II. Special Presentation – Fatima Pereira Kelly, Student Success and Retention Coordinator: Discussion of PaSSS
- Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) has been going on for about 7 years on campus. Students start the summer before their ﬁrst year – lowest summer enrollment had 22 students, highest had 64 students, target enrollment is about 40 students. Two classes are taken during the summer, with mentoring , workshops, and activities offered. Students have 5-6 classes to choose from – they meet with advisors to select courses.
- Excelerate is a partnership between Erie Insurance and Behrend. It allows for an internship in the second, third, or fourth summer – usually with a non-proﬁt or start-up company. Another option that we haven’t really looked into too much at this point is that students can also do research with faculty.
- Beneﬁts include meeting classmates early and getting an idea of what college is like before oﬃcially starting. Otien students like starting in the summer for academic or social purposes, many students have a lot of anxiety about starting college. There is a Scholarship for $3,000, which covers over 75% of in-state summer cost, and there is also a housing scholarship. Students create an Academic and Engagement Action Plan that covers what they want to do and accomplish over the next four years.
- There is a kickoﬀ event in May that students attend, and can be attended virtually for those that live four hours away.
- Program includes: PaSSS Orientation, Tech Academy, mentoring, campus resource presentations, academic skills workshops, tutoring, continued monitoring, coaching and support throughout the school year, and creation of the academic and engagement action plan.
- The academic skills workshops are short sessions introducing students to various resources so they know they exist. If they run into issues atier the summer, they know they can go to Fatima to seek the resources.
- Scholarship eligibility (any of the following four criteria):
- Eligible for a Federal Pell grant or PA PHEAA grant (even out of state, if they would qualify)
- First-generation college student
- Member of an underrepresented group
- Additional math prep needed, based on ALEKS math assessment score
- Students can participate in the program even without a scholarship.
- For summer 2023 there were 36 students in the program with 42% having a GPA over 3.5 Only 2 students had under a 2.0, and they are closely monitored, they atend academic coaching throughout the fall.
- All students have to meet with Fatima in the ﬁrst week of fall classes to discuss the summer session and to make sure they are on track for the semester. Students meet again in October for a mid-semester check-in.
- As far as retention goes, there have been over 250 students enrolled in the program at Behrend since 2017, when the program started. 23% of those students have graduated, 44% are still enrolled somewhere, 33% are not currently enrolled (academic suspension, withdrawal, leave of absence and so on).
- Students can continue the summer scholarship in second or third summer – up to $6,000 in scholarship money.
- Sarah Whitney – A strategic priority has been made to reintroduce the program campus wide. We are asking for Senate’s help. After summer ends, students can be lost and engagement tends to fall.
- Lena Surzhko-Harned – At our previous Council meeting, we discussed creating an ad hoc committee consisting of members from the Student Life and Undergraduate Studies committees, in addition to others across the community. Anyone who would like to jump on this ad hoc committee are encouraged to.
- Greg Filbeck – Behrend’s PaSSS program was recently singled out with its success being used as a model for other campuses. If other campuses are looking for assistance, they are being referred to us.
- Q - How do we currently advertise?
- A – Admissions sends a brochure to qualiﬁed students and Fatima goes to Erie High to talk about the program.
III. Reports from Committee Chairs (those with updates):
A. Academic Computing, Elisa Beshero-Bondar
Elisa was invited to series of meetings on the future of computing at Behrend. Behrend IT and the Registrar have been atending these meetings – Todd said we need to do a survey about academic/teaching resources and how we work with computers. Behrend IT and the Registrar have been monitoring computer lab class usage – day-to-day data of which labs have students logging into the campus machines. Behrend IT is facing budget cuts and are looking to ﬁnd ways to optimize the way we are using computer resources. This is an equity issue where all students need equivalent access to technology. The survey will be going out in the upcoming weeks and will be looking for what you would want to have access to if you could, conﬁgurations of classroom that would be nice to have, and so on. When it comes out, please encourage faculty to respond.
B. Ad Hoc Constitutional Reform Committee, Jason Bennett
Good representation from each school at diﬀerent levels. First meeting on Wednesday 10/18.
Jason Bennet – Associate Professor of Chemistry (Chairperson)
Mat Swinarski – Associate Professor of Management Information Systems
David Dieteman – Associate Teaching Professor of Management
Chetan Nikhare – Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Jie Zhao – Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Software Engineering
Dawn Blasko – Associate Professor of Psychology
Kristy McCoy – Assistant Teaching Professor of English
Pat Kelly – Lecturer in Math Education
Pam Silver – Professor of Biology
Mat Ciszek – Director of Lilley Library (Parliamentarian)
IV. Faculty Senate Updates
University Senate meeting on Tuesday 10/17 at 1:30 pm. Main proposal is an advisory report looking at full-time teaching faculty and clinical faculty getting sabbaticals. The report is coming up for a vote, which is a suggestion, implementation would be completed afterward.
- Q – Is it just sabbaticals for pedagogical purposes, not traditional research?
- A – The document oﬀers examples, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s limited to that. Mat could raise that question on the ﬂoor to make sure it is addressed when implementation is completed, or we could make an amendment.
V. Q&A with College Leadership Team
Updates sent via email, see Appendix at end of minutes.
- Q – One of charges for the Faculty Aﬀairs committee is to investigate sabbaticals. Interested to know if the administration here would support that.
- A – It’s really a mater of whether or not University passes the policy, administration will support if passed.
- Q- Are there any updates on pass/fail?
- A – Not at this point, it keeps getting delayed from an implementation standpoint.
Ralph Ford – State budget update – still not resolved. Only the preferred (required) budget has been passed as of this point. We are part of the nonpreferred budget which has not yet been passed. It typically passes around this time, but sometimes doesn’t get passed until January or February, so there is still an expectation that it will be passed.
Greg Filbeck – There have been many discussions on AI writing generators coming this year. Committees are working on it – potential future minor opportunity. Thanks to all who could attend Dr. Monroe’s presentation earlier this week. We got good media from it as well, Erie News Now was here. There is a taskforce recommendation to revise First Year Seminar (FYS) – two meetings dedicated to that this year. Initial meeting was last week, directors talking about thoughts and ideas to get this rolling by next fall. In the spring there will be a meeting dedicated to seeing what it looks like in each of the four schools. We know FYS is critical to student success.
- Q – Do we know at what point are students leaving Behrend, where is the drop oﬀ?
- A – We are trying to address this from the point of admission to new student orientation (NSO) as we know we lose some students along the way. What we are trying to capture is what is happening from NSO through the student’s ﬁrst semester – are people falling through the cracks in the process of various handoﬀs? What can we do to try to enhance that from ﬁrst year perspective. If we get them through the ﬁrst few semesters, retention improves substantially.
Alicyn Rhodes – Right now we have about 20 faculty registered for the Magee Women’s Research Institute’s Fall Retreat, but we need about 40. Even if you don’t think this event is ‘for you,’ you’d be surprised. And it should be fun! The Faculty Senate Canvas page has an announcement with all this information. You can come and go based on your class schedule. We tried to keep everything on campus, it will be held in Burke. Please talk to school directors if you want to attend and have class, there may be an opportunity to adjust your schedule for this event.
VI. Special Presentation – Melissa Sulkowski, Personal Services
Most of Melissa’s historical work has been centered in interdisciplinary areas and since coming to Behrend, it has been important for her to discuss with all diﬀerent departments to see how everything works together. She is looking for what faculty are needing for support from their oﬃce. Traditionally there is a step care model with triage to screen and see what students are needing, our approach is similar, going from least intensive care to most intensive care. Personal counseling is centered in Erie Hall. We are trying to think outside box in how we approach students. Not every student that is seen necessarily needs individual counseling and some need more than can be offered. Students can go to the website to ﬁnd resources, or they could join a workshop, and so on.
Sometimes faculty or staﬀ will send students to the office, but there really isn’t any closing of the loop as to whether they actual scheduled or showed up. There is a form that can be utilized by faculty to complete with student to refer to oﬃce. Faculty can still recommend that a student go straight to personal services. There is a member of personal counseling on the CARE Team.
VII. Old Business
VIII. New Business
A. There appears to be some confusion about the updated Policy 42-27, class attendance and the election. Is it for all elections or just national?
Intent is for Pennsylvania November elections, beginning this November 7th.
Motion: Jay Amicangelo
Second: Jason Bennet
College Leadership Team Updates:
Chancellor, Ralph Ford – no updates
Interim Vice Chancellor and Dean of Academic Affairs, Greg Filbeck
Stephen Monroe, University of Mississippi, was on campus next Monday, October 10, for a series of presentations on AI.
Advising Task Force held its initial meeting and is dividing into four subgroups to tackle charges. Will be working closely with Faculty Senate for feedback.
We are working on multiple fronts to implement an India recruiting strategy.
Retention-based strategies continue to be a high priority - an NSO feedback committee is investigating the eﬀectiveness of NSO, in particular, how to better "chunk" material for students to ensure better success.
A Student Success Committee will explore linkages between NSO eﬀorts and ﬁrst year seminars
Schools will be working on implementation of changes to ﬁrst year seminars in fall 2024 based on passage of recommendations of the task force for Faculty Senate. A preliminary meeting in October with ALT will discuss timelines - and a follow-up meeting in spring for a plan of implementation.
Academic aﬀairs is working on strategy for stronger collaborations with western Penn State campuses. We will be working on ﬁrst with Penn State Beaver with a meeting scheduled at the end of October. The goal will be to increase transfer ﬂow to Behrend for programs not offered at smaller campuses.
Vice Chancellor and Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Alicyn Rhodes
Please join us on October 26th as we host the Magee Women’s Research Institute’s annual fall retreat! While our engagement with MWRI was established a few years ago, we would like to ﬁnally introduce Behrend’s faculty to the MWRI faculty to foster future research projects in all areas of expertise. MWRI faculty have strong talent in biomedical research, which opens potential collaborations in topics that range from those obvious (biology, chemistry, and psychology) to those less obvious, such as data analytics, machine learning, robotics, business planning, rapid prototyping, and nearly everything else Behrend has to oﬀer.
The 26th will be a day packed with engaging opportunities, and you can pop in and out as your schedule permits though we strongly suggest you consider modifying your daily schedule to maximize participation. In the evening we will have a reception in the VAR lab that promises to be a great way to cap oﬀ the day.