Present: Anderson, Bible, Conroy, Deduck-Evans, Hays, Hunter, Irvin, McGee,
Oliver, Pascoe, Sawey, Simpson, and Winek.
Guests: Pres. Supple, AVPAA Cassidy, Margaret Vaverek (Library), Susan Day
(Sociology), Mike Moore and Dylan Sides (Star)
"Top 50" Classes
Chapter V, Regents Rules
Tenure and Promotion Review Committee
The PAAG meeting/social hour hosted by Dr. Supple was called to order by
Chair Bible at 4:08.
Dr. Supple first discussed his health, reporting that he has received the
good news that the treatments for his illness appear to be working well and
the results are ahead of schedule.
1. "Top 50" classes.
The "Top 50" classes in terms of student enrollment are being examined with
an eye toward the percentages of D's, F's, and W's in them. Dr. Supple
reported that VPAA Gratz had initiated this project as part of an ongoing
effort to measure student academic success, which is critical to SWT and to
our retention efforts. He noted that most of these are general education
courses and that because there is essentially no difference in the overall
ability of the students who take them, we must be interested in why some
courses have much higher "unsatisfactory performance" rates than others.
This may be a question of how a teacher gets students to learn and to do
their assignments and what strategies to use to engage them. Dr. Supple
discussed the issue of supplemental instructors who have been used in
History and in Health Professions; they are students who have successfully
taken a course and then come back to provide peer review study groups with
students who are struggling. It was pointed out that this solution has been
successful but would require financial resources. Sen. Simpson said that
the supplemental instructor idea is well established and there is a webb
page available with more information about it.
Sen. Hays noted that faculty can consult with the School of Education and
the Faculty Advancement Center to help them improve their teaching skills.
Dr. Supple believes that assessment is helpful to new teachers as well and
that all faculty should know about the resources available and be encouraged
to use them.
Sen. Deduck-Evans wanted to know how the failure rate (D's and F's) would
look if the "W's" were removed from the picture; she speculated that it
would go down. She also suggested that the very late date for withdrawing
from a course encourages a lack of commitment from students and results in a
waste of the time of faculty, especially in writing intensive classes, who
grade these students' papers during the year.
Dr. Supple noted that evidence does not support the notion that earlier
withdrawal dates foster more commitment to the course by students. Though
he does not favor the idea, he did not close the door to an earlier with-
drawal date; he did agree, however, that we should more clearly articulate
to students the perils of withdrawing late in the semester -- e.g. students
lose money with late withdrawals.
All these issues are connected to the retention efforts. Dr. Supple noted
that our fall-to-fall retention should be 75% and that we are now at 65%.
Interestingly, he observed that the data do not support the notion that many
of our students leave to attend UT or A&M; in fact, we get far more transfer
students from UT and A&M than we send there.
2. MWF/MW classes.
In late December the administration decided that MWF classes could not shift
to an MW format until 2:00 p.m. Dr. Supple indicated that the decision was
made because of classroom utilization and student access to class issues.
It was noted that deans can make exceptions if it doesn't cause utilizations
concerns. Chair Bible said that the Senate would focus on this issue later
and perhaps come forward with a recommendation. He also noted that he had
received e-mails from several chairs and former chairs expressing their
desire that MW 12:30-2 classes be permissible at least.
A memo entitled "Pondering Merit," written by Ev Swinney on behalf of the
Senate's Tenure, Promotion and Compensation Committee, was circulated last
fall. Dr. Supple was asked to address the merit process as a whole. He
believes that it relies fundamentally on the judgment of deans and chairs.
The Senate discussed the need for more uniformity and for written criteria
on merit across campus; it also questioned whether there have been improper
awards in the past and to what extent VPAA Gratz monitors the process.
The Senate also raised the issue of how the administration regards service.
The impression is that service generally counts little if at all in the
merit and promotion process. Dr. Supple noted that he has repeatedly said
that if this is so, it is because departments choose to treat it that way,
but the Senate responded that departments often take this stance because
they feel the administration regards it negatively; the problem is circular,
in other words. Dr. Supple suggested that perhaps the VPAA could hold back
funds to award for merit personally, but the Senate doubted that this would
ever become a reality. Sen. Sawey suggested that the Council of Chairs
should draft a philosophy of merit.
Sen. Simpson stated that merit was handled well in the School of Education
where teaching, scholarly activities and service were all well valued.
The Senate will continue to pursue this issue.
4. Chapter V, Regents Rules
It was noted in a recent set of PC minutes that an effort to rewrite Chapter
V of the Regents Rules (Faculty Prerogatives and Responsibilities) was under
way. Dr. Supple reported that the current text is old and serious thought
had been given to improving it. Fernando Gomez, System Attorney, has been
rewriting Chapter V and a draft will soon be ready.
An important part of Chapter V is the section on Promotion Criteria and the
Denial Process. Dr. Supple believes that conversations about promotion
denials should happen because it helps faculty to know why a denial occurs;
the problem is that this has to be done in the context of the Regents Rules,
which now prohibit giving faculty reasons why they were not promoted. He
said that above the school level denials are a judgment call which he must
make in light of his experience and whether he is comfortable with the
promotion in question. He also noted that in recent years he has seen much
stronger quality in those coming to the Associate Professor level because
SWT has a spectacular young faculty. He said ultimately promotion data
prove that more faculty are being promoted to the full professor level.
5. Tenure/Promotion Criteria
Last fall, in our Senate/Liaison meeting, there were expressions of concern
about the criteria now being employed at the VPAA level and above in regard
to tenure and promotion decisions. The Senate discussed the problem of
faculty being turned down for promotion at the VPAA level after being sent
forward by their chairs and deans. This suggests either that the school/
department criteria are deficient, that they are not being properly applied,
or that the VPAA is employing additional, unstated criteria. The Senate
wants more guidance from the President and VPAA on what is needed for
6. Administrators Teaching
From time to time faculty have suggested that administrators who do not now
teach any classes should occasionally do so in order to reacquaint them with
what life is like in the trenches. Dr. Supple would not support an effort
to put administrators in classrooms on a "class every now and then" basis
because it would be counterproductive. Administrators need to be able to do
their jobs without interruptions. Research has proved that the success of
an institution grows with the longevity of the administration. He does,
however, feel that a sabbatical leave to return to the classroom would be a
good idea if an administrator chose to do that.
7. Enrollment Projections
The issue of enrollment projections came up in light of the fall 97
enrollment figures. SWT did not meet the strategic plan targets for fall
97. Dr. Supple indicated that sizable computer problems in Financial Aid
last fall may have added to the problem. He said applications were up but
enrollment was down. The spring 98 numbers show an increase of 150-160
students, and Dr. Supple feels we are back on track to reaching the
projected enrollment targets of our strategic plan.
8. Tenure and Promotion Review
Dr. Bible asked for another Senator to join Joan Hays on a new committee to
examine the Tenure and Promotion Review. No one volunteered so the issue
was RTA'd until next week.
The minutes of the 1-21-98 meeting were approved.
The meeting adjourned at 6:12 p.m.