University of Denver
Faculty Senate, February 13, 2004
1. Approval of Senate minutes for January 16, 2004. Approved, with the understanding that subsequent corrections may be forwarded to Executive Secretary, Barbara Wilcots.
2. Provost Report/Comments/Questions. Provost Coombe reported that he had no real report. That the budgetary items discussed at last Senate meeting remain intact. He invited question and comment from the floor. Asked whether he would like to speculate on the relationship between the recent resignation from the Board of Trustees and the academic program of the same name, Coombe answered, No. There was no further discussion.
3. Senate Position Statement on Academic Values, Rights, and Responsibilities (second reading) (Dean Saitta)
Dean Saitta re-introduced the statement, asking that senators compare the draft document with wording regarding Professional Behavior and Responsibility taken from the APT Document (Sections 1.1-1.2). Saitta also provided copies of the wording from proposed legislation (HB 04-1315) which would amend Section 1. 23-1-125 (1) of the Colorado Revised Statutes with regard to student rights and academic freedom. Saitta explained that the document before the Senate is an attempt to state what the faculty really feels. Commentary from the Senate and the academic divisions has been incorporated, pointing out minor word changes in items 1-6. Saitta explained that the intent of the statement is to look neither defensive nor reactionary. He indicated that the Context Paragraph is particularly important, and invited discussion from the floor.
Chip Reichardt called for a vote on dropping the defensive stance (i.e. Context Paragraph) altogether, indicating that DU already has an Honor Code that provides appropriate context. Jack Donnelly stated that if the statement is to be a contribution to political debate, the Context Paragraph must be retained; if, however, it is a general Position Statement with long-term value, the Context Paragraph should be dropped. David Christophel suggested retaining both aspects for a short period of time.
Motion: Reichardt moved that the Context Paragraph be dropped. Ron DeLyser seconded. Donnelly asked that if the statement be dropped, its text be included in the Minutes of the Faculty Senate. DeLyser seconded the friendly amendment. The vote on whether the Context Paragraph should be included was called: Should the Context Paragraph be removed from the Position Statement and placed in minutes? 18 in favor; 14 opposed; with 2 abstentions. The motion passed.
Colorados colleges and universities are currently in the eye of a national storm concerning the state of academic freedom on American campuses. Faculties have been accused of harboring a pervasive liberal political bias, discriminating against conservative viewpoints in the classroom, and using their power to indoctrinate, rather than educate, students. Efforts are afoot in the Colorado state legislature and by private organizations to watchdog the behavior of professors within our institutions of higher learning. This has serious implications for academic freedom on both sides of the teacher-student relationship, and for the University as a site of critical, creative, and ethical inquiry.
Andy Divine objected to the process enacted, indicating that there appeared to be a great deal of confusion over what the Senate was voting on. He requested that his original motion (re: eliminating the Context Paragraph) be removed from the floor, and asked for a sense of the Senate. According to Divine there were three options: 1) to remove the context, 2) to remove the context placing it in the minutes, 3) to leave the context with the Position Statement. Motion: Reichardt moved to remove context from doc. Donnelly seconded. The vote was 20 in favor; 15 opposed; with 3 abstentions. The motion carried.
Donnelly suggested that the motion placing the Context Paragraph in the Senate Minutes be withdrawn, with an amendment that it is the Sense of the Senate that the context of the Position Statement is important, but that including it in the document mitigates against the statements being a timeless document. Motion: Divine moved that the motion be withdrawn. Cathryn Potter seconded. Donnelly expressed concern about Section 3c of the Position Statement indicating that it might be interpreted in such a way as to impact the appropriate use of class time, citing the example of a biology class in which discussion of the theory of evolution is forced to give way to one of creationism, to the detriment of subject coverage, when teachers and students express and examine the societal commitments and biases that influence Lisa Conant objected, indicating that it is the educational purpose that is at the heart of the issue, and that University policy protects student and faculty from pursuing or avoiding taboo subjects. DeLyser expressed trouble understanding Donnellys position and asked for a clarification of the concern with the documents wording. Donnelly explained that not everything should be concerned with societal commitments and biases. The statement should be removed. Reichardt indicated that faculty should be free to discuss such issues in their classrooms, but they dont have to.
Motion: Donnelly moved to delete Section 3c. Elizabeth Anderson seconded. DeLyser suggested that the statement limits expression to societal commitments and biases; Potter indicated that it is not meant to be exclusive. The question was called: to strike Section 3c. The question is opposed by a clear majority. The motion failed, and discussion returned to the main motion on the floor.
Sandy Dixon asked if the phrase best served should be changed to is served or if the societal wording should be removed. Potter asked that senators think carefully about large group wordsmithing, since the document is already in its second reading and has been discussed and edited at length. Saitta explained that the lynchpin of the Position Statement is the faculty stance, which is the source of debate. There is no need for wordsmithing. Motion: Jack Sheinbaum observed that there is a difference between wordsmithing and philosophical debate based on semantics. He moved for alteration of the statement to read, Critical, creative, and ethical inquiry are well served when teachers and students are free to express DeLyser seconded the motion.
Saitta objected, saying that to make such changes would be to gut the statement. The issue at hand has to do with partisanship, and bias, and we (i.e. the faculty) are avoiding the issue. Saitta expressed his embarrassment at being associated with a gutted document. The political agenda of legislators and parents is clear. Donnelly asked if there were any substantive difference between Section 3c of the Position Statement and Item h in the proposed legislation (HB 04-1315; dealing with infringements on student academic freedom). Reichardt explained that wording in Item h prohibits faculty from discussing political or religious beliefspresupposing what is controversialwhile Section 3c says that they should. Saitta: Who determines what is controversial? Donnelly indicated that the statement expresses a controversial philosophical position about knowledge. Why state that to make a point about freedom of inquiry? Saitta indicated that the Position Statement began as a statement on objectivity; it has now been gutted. He also indicated that he would like to reinvigorate the discussion about objectivity and has no desire to dilute the statement any further. Diane Waldman called for a straw poll taken on the social biases wording. Potter called the question. A clear majority appeared in favor of including the wording; 6 were opposed.
Vote: The motion to approve the document including the language (Section 3c) suggested by Sheinbaum was approved by a majority of 24. The motion to approve the approved changes without including the Context Paragraph in the Position Statement passed by a majority of 24, with 3 opposed, and 2 abstentions.
Motion: Donnelly moved to include the contextual paragraph with a notation that historical context is important. Divine seconded. The motion carried: 31 were in favor; 0 were opposed; with 2 abstentions.
Catherine Freeman asked whether this document is for public dissemination. Leon Giles indicated that the Senate Executive Committee intends to post it to the Senate Website, and perhaps to disseminate it electronically to the University community by middle of next week through normal electronic methods. Freeman asked if the document would be sent to the newspapers. Giles called for a Sense of Senate with regard to how the document should be used internally and externally. Motion: Jenny Cornish expressed concern that without the Context Paragraph the document would be watered down. She moved that when the document is released to the public, it should include the Context Paragraph. Her motion was seconded. Giles called again for a sense of the Senate re: use of the document as an authorized press release, indicating that the Minutes of the Faculty Senate minutes are already part of the public record. Potter suggested that Carole Farnsworth be kept informed of Senate activities, and urged Leon to work with her office to ensure clear channels of communication. Lois Jones suggested that when the document is released to the press, it can be contextualized. Donnelly suggested that the entire document be released to the press. Coombe recommended that, whenever the Senate deals with the media, they go through Carole Farnsworths office. All University communications should go through the Office of Communications. He also suggested that the language of the Context Paragraph sounds like a statement in itself, and recommended couching it in some other suitable way.
Christophel proposed a friendly amendment to Cornishs motion that the Context Paragraph plus an excerpt from the Minutes not be included, but appended. Cornish objected vehemently. Discussion ensued as to whether the Cornish motion duplicated an already failed motion. She explained that her motion only applied to the public release of the Position Statement. The question was called: 17 in favor; 14 opposed; 0 abstentions. The motion passed.
Donnelly reiterated that the Position Statement without the Context Paragraph is of lasting significance, but that the Context Paragraph should be included to support argument in public debate. Saitta indicated that the intent of the document was originally to protect people most at risk (e.g., the minority at the fringes), and expressed his hope for consensus in protecting those at risk.
The question was raised as to what institutional arrangements were needed to endorse the document and disseminate it to students, etc. Divine reiterated that Carol Farnsworths office could advise. The Statement is controversial; it will bear the imprimatur of the University. The Senate should proceed with caution. Potter disagreed, stating that the Position Statement is a Senate Document, a statement of what we believe, and is not intended to have the form or content of a University policy. With its last vote, the Senate took some responsibility for disseminating the document. Were committed to it. Students can take it to honor board. Were saying to community that this is what we believe to be true, not making official University policy [paraphrase].
Catherine Sailer pointed out a process issue. The Context Paragraph has a definite viewpoint. The idea was to embrace a number of viewpoints. The Context Paragraph is liberal in orientation. Saitta objected, indicating that the document is a clear invitation to explore any number of biases. He referred to the
Statement from APT document, sections 1.1-1.2 (Handout). Giles indicated that it was time to move on.
The new PROF fund ($200,000 in FY05) will be awarded collaboratively through the Senate and the Provosts Office. Potter went over the new wording included in the document, explaining that if Senate approves the wording, parts of the policy must operationalized immediately. Giles proposed a friendly amendment concerning the peer review committee for each academic unit (Section h(a)).. The amendment was seconded. Divine indicated that such oversight could provide for a healthy closing of the loop each year Arthur Best opposed the motion because the document fails to state by what criteria Jim Moran will review each units procedures. Giles agreed that this was a legitimate concern, indicating that the entire document struggles with like issuesattempting to be flexible yet providing appropriate internal review procedures. These procedures are different in the sciences than in music, and in all cases rely on the good judgment of colleagues. As long as the document makes sense, it doesnt have to look identical from division to division.
Donnelly suggested changing the word must to may and deleting annually. Potter objected, saying that such wording makes the document even fuzzier. Do it or not. Forms may vary, but the process is intact. The desire of the committee is that reviews be handled by respected scholars with strong academic credentialing from each unit. The process involves faculty oversight and involvement. Review committees are to be established by the faculties of each academic unit; the faculty voice is primary. Christophel asked about continuity if the composition of committees if it is to change annually. Giles admitted that We have to learn as we go. The money is to be used to support faculty across the Universitymoney that the deans dont have control over. Deans do have other pots of money. The purpose is to avoid gamesmanship. Best pointed out that the original language of the document allowed for learn as you go and suggested alternative language: review and certify. Giles pointed out that the terms need to be defined, and that to define them, we need data. The question was called on the amendment: 23 in favor; 3 opposed; 0 abstentions.
Donnelly asked about the intent of Item c:
Seek to distribute funding across the funding range (depending on application numbers and proposal quality)
Potter explained that it is meant not to privilege larger over smaller projects. But to allow for a full range of proposals in play. Donnelly asked why we should look at anything other than the quality of the proposals. Divine replied that the entire amount of money could be used on a minimum of very large proposals. The intent is to spread the funds over entire spectrum of the University. Reichardt agreed that the intent is distribution across units. Potter added that the goals of the fund are better served if cost proposals are realistic rather than inflated. Donnelly asked how the stated intent differs from that in B, which provides for two pools. Christophel explained that the same possibilities exist in both pools. Divine called the question. The motion passed unanimously.
Potter asked that senators from each division meet together to design evaluation procedures. The RFP for the fund will go out next week; units will need to do the evaluation if the money is to be distributed in the spring. She requested that senators let the Executive Committee know when they are going to meet. Giles suggested that each group have a convener.
No input as yet. This is a first reading based on a general consensus that the process is OK. This is a draft resolution to change the process of administrator evaluations based on four points (See Handout). Changes include moving to a 6 point (rather than 5-point) scaleto avoid gravitation to the middleand the inclusion of comment blocks. The instrument is Web-based instrument. DeLyser moved to adopt the resolution. Divine seconded. The first reading is on the floor. Senators were asked to read carefully for next months meeting. Donnelly asked why public dissemination of the results had been eliminated. DeLyser indicated that there had been no imputation of public dissemination. Margo Espinlaub reminded DeLyser to the comment blocks to his list of changes (4-pt text) making them five. Freeman asked why the change to a six point scale.
There is really no need for discussion of this item. The Senate Constitution calls for yearly distribution of this report (by March 15). This is the first time it has been provided by the administration to the Senate, thanks in large part to the successful implementation of the Banner system. Senators were asked to take it and read it in preparation for future discussion.
Catherine Reed explained that if students do not withdraw from classes by the end of the first week of classes, the grade of W stays on their transcripts. This can have implications for students who want to attend graduate schools, especially in todays increasingly competitive climate. Such a practice is not fair to the students, and Reed suggests changing the policy to withdrawal by the second, rather than the first week. She has discussed this issue with the Registrars Office and was told that this is a Faculty Senate Policy. The matter was referred to the Academic Planning Committee for further study, with a report expected by the Senate as its next meeting.
Deborah S. Grealy
February 19, 2004