Southeastern Louisiana University

                                                 Faculty Senate Minutes

                                                     December 7, 2005

                                                       Alumni Center

 

I.                    Senate President Laverne Simoneaux called the meeting to order at 3 p. m.  Senator Mary Sue Ply called the roll.  Senators absent were:  Bancroft, Beard, Bornier, Hines, Holt-Ochsner, Johansen, Lewis, and Smith.

II.                 Senator Simoneaux moved for approval of the minutes for November 2, 2005.  The minutes were approved. Senator Simoneaux then welcomed student guests from Mr. Babington’s COMM 151 class who had come to watch the proceedings.

III.               Senator Simoneaux introduced invited guest Dr. Randy Moffett, President of Southeastern Louisiana University.

A.     Dr. Moffett began by saying that this has been an “interesting” semester, and it has felt like a very long semester.  He thanked everyone for rallying to cope with a difficult situation.  The situation was challenging for everyone, but we near the end with some positive outcomes because everyone stepped up to help out.  It is hard to get away from Katrina-related issues, but the reaffirmation of Southeastern’s SACS accreditation is good news.  It is a “stamp of good housekeeping.”  Dr. Moffett thanked everyone who worked so hard on this process.

B.     Dr. Moffett then addressed budget concerns.  He said that after the special session of the legislature ended, Southeastern had a reduction that was about 1.7 million less than had been talked about. We were under-funded already, and after Katrina over 1500 students withdrew.  Southeastern refunded 2 million in tuition so we technically lost that money.

1.        Accepting the visiting students was a way for our institution to reach out and help after the storm.  We took in approximately 1600 students, the 2nd highest number in the state. We paid out 2 million for housing and food services for visiting students.  The legislature is aware of this; however, to date, no reimbursement of funds has been transferred to us. Dr. Moffett said that the administration is continuing to work on this. Still, we are better off than many of our sister institutions, and we will not let this deter us from our efforts to continue to be an exemplary regional institution.

2.        In response to a question, Dr. Moffett said that, like everyone else, he is waiting to hear if there will be another special session.  Louisiana needs its educational system to recover, but there could be further cuts.  The administration is staying in constant touch with State offices.  We are not out of this yet.

3.        Dr. Moffett was asked about the status of visiting students.  He

       said that we are glad to continue to assist them, but if they wish

       to return in the Spring semester, they will need to reenter as

       transfer students and meet our admissions criteria.  Also, tuition

      and fees will need to be paid.  We intend to stay on track with

      our goals, and we may have an even greater mission now

      because other institutions cannot do some of the same things that

      they were doing.  We have a solid Spring enrollment so far.

C.     Dr. Moffett said that SACS is supporting our advising and retention initiatives.  We will move forward with creating the proposed Advising Center.  Our retention numbers are improving, which is an effect from our stricter admissions standards, especially higher ACT scores.  We don’t want to lose momentum on these issues.

D.     Dr. Moffett went on to say that the administration is also working on diversity issues, especially ways to achieve more faculty diversity.  They are looking at the entire search and recruiting process.  Southeastern always wants to get the most talented person to fill a position while also enhancing diversity.  There are some internal processes that need to be improved because bureaucratic paperwork can sometimes get in the way.  Dr. Moffett said that Senator Simoneaux has brought some issues to the administration’s attention, and those are being discussed.

E.      Dr. Moffett concluded by saying that, given all of the unexpected difficulties of the past few months, he is pleased with Southeastern’s position at the end of the semester. There will be some short-term financial challenges, and we are at a key point in the budget year. There is still a hiring freeze, but administrators will be sitting down with deans and department heads to discuss employment needs.  We have less money, but the administration hopes not to have to make any more adjustments.  If there has to be an eventual impact on employees, the administration would not want to do it in academics, nor would they want to hurt the lowest-paid employees.  The administration is asking the Board to let us know now if further cuts are coming because March will be too late to make adjustments.  Dr. Moffett’s closing remarks were to ask faculty to stay with Southeastern Louisiana University because it is a good institution.

F.      Senator Ply asked if the fact that some New Orleans schools will not reopen in Spring would impact us.  Dr. Moffett replied that we will do anything we can to help, but anything we do will be done under our regular procedures.  We are going back to the rules.  Everything in Spring will be back to “normal.”  We will have summer school.  We will operate according to our routine.  Dr. Moffett offered to answer any additional questions, but there were none.

IV.    Old Business

A.     Senator Simoneaux asked Senator Bostic to give the Faculty Welfare Committee report on the Resolution on Advertising Guidelines for the Hiring of Tenure-Track Faculty.  Senator Bostic referred senate members to Resolution  2005-06:08.  ADDENDUM A. As everyone read the resolution, Senator Bostic asked the committee members to raise their hands and be recognized.  A motion was made and seconded to accept the resolution. Senator Weaver asked exactly what was being changed. Senator Bostic referred to the copy of the current paragraph that is being amended and where the rewritten sentence will be inserted. Senator Valentino asked if the recommendation to advertise through a national publication would apply to web publications. Does the word “journal” cover a website?  Dr.  Crain responded that no distinction is made to websites. In fact, the movement is toward wider use of the web. Senator Ply offered a friendly amendment to take out the word “journals” and leave the phrase as “nationally circulated whenever practicable.”  Senator Dassau pointed out that the committee is just making a suggestion, not a requirement, to encourage national searches.  She suggested that where the ad was placed could become part of the hiring checklist. Dr. Crain said he would add this and monitor it.  A vote was called for and the motion passed.

B.     Senator Simoneaux next asked Senator Bostic to give the Faculty Welfare Committee report on the Resolution on Diversity among Tenure-Track Faculty. Senator Bostic referred senate members to Resolution 2005-06:09  and a copy of an email from Dr. Moffett.  ADDENDUM B.  Senator Simoneaux said that she was present at Dr. Moffett’s evaluation, and he made a point of saying that he wants to work on this issue.  Senator Bostic also passed out a copy of the resolution on diversity that the SGA recently passed.  It shows that everyone is “on same page.” Senator Bostic moved for acceptance of the resolution.  Senator Wyld seconded.  Senator Kleiner, who is the Senate liaison to the SGA, spoke to the SGA’s concern about the low number of minority faculty members compared to the number of African American students on campus.  Senator Ramsey called  attention to a punctuation correction in the “therefore” paragraph and said that the term “diversity” is not defined. Senator Bostic said that the committee did discuss that. Another senator asked if the term would apply to the diversity of degrees held by faculty. Senator Bostic said that the committee agreed, and that could be included in the resolution.  Senator Dassau, who serves on the Faculty Welfare committee, said that the group looked at “diversity” as an all- encompassing term, referring to all kinds of diversity.  The motion with punctuation corrections passed.

C.     Senator Simoneaux asked Senator Williams to present Resolution 2005-2006:10 on Non-renewal of Non-tenured Faculty from the Professional Rights and Responsibilities Committee. ADDENDUM C.  Senator Williams began by asking the committee members to raise their hands and be recognized. Senator Williams explained that this resolution was a follow-up to issues regarding the dismissal of tenure- track faculty that were presented to the senate by Dr. Burstein, an AAUP representative.  The two issues are faculty not being given a reason for their dismissal and the lack of peer input in the process of dismissal. The committee met with Dr. Crain, and he was very helpful in explaining the complexities of the

      process, especially the legal ones.  He pointed out that the administration’s

      way of doing things is designed to comply with legal policies.  The

      committee also met with the University’s legal counsel, Mr. Gene Prejean.

      Committee member Senator Neuerberg then drafted this resolution which

     makes two recommendations:  that a faculty member be given a reason for

     the termination, and that peer input be part of the process.  Motion was

     made and seconded to accept the resolution.  

1.    Senator Lewallen asked what form the peer input would take.

Senator Titard echoed this by asking if this would be done by an ad hoc committee or some other arrangement.  Senator Williams answered that the Senate committee is making these recommendations to the administration but is not offering specifics on how the recommendations would be carried out. Senator Bostic said that this is already done when tenure- track faculty go through a third-year review.  Senator White said that the concern is for faculty who are dismissed before the third year. Senator Valentino said that AAUP offers three choices for dismissed faculty:  to not know the reason for the dismissal, to be given the reason verbally, or to be given the reason in writing.  All of these options have advantages and disadvantages for both the faculty and the university, which Dr. Crain explained to the committee members.  Putting the reason in writing puts the university at risk.  It also can mean the faculty member must share the information with a future employer.  Senator Valentino said the resolution is just the senate asking the university to take a closer look at the AAUP recommendations.

2.       Senator Titard asked what the role of peers would be.  Wouldn’t

        they, for example, need to be told the reason for the

       dismissal? Isn’t there a limit to how much peers should know?

       Senator Urick said that she agreed with that concern, and she

       asked what Mr. Prejean said about this.  Senator Williams said

       that he reiterated that what is done now is the system’s accepted

       legal position. Senator Urick said that Nursing does annual

       faculty evaluations so an individual should have some idea if

       there are problems.  When Nursing refuses a student appeal,

       for example, they issue a blanket statement of denial with no

       specifics. Senator Carruth questioned if faculty members would

       want to be drawn into this legally risky situation.  Senator Cox

       wondered if this wasn’t a moot point since Louisiana is an “at

       will” state.  Dr. Crain clarified that this is true for all except

       tenured faculty, who cannot be removed without due process, in

       which case, reasons would have to be given.  Senator

       Simoneaux said that this resolution is about termination prior to

       the 3rd year, which means non-tenured faculty.  The AAUP

       attorney who addressed this issue said that it is not a legal issue

       but a moral one because it is the right thing to do.  In the case of

       faculty liability,  Senator Simoneaux said that service on a peer

       review committee would be voluntary.

                                  3.   Senator Ply reiterated that this is an issue of “decency.”  In a

       worst-case scenario people can be dismissed because of personal

      animus or rumors but be unable to defend themselves because

      they are never told the reason for the dismissal.  Instructors have

      fewest rights, even less than classified staff.  They are

      completely vulnerable and can be dismissed without warning or

      reason. Senator Shwalb asked what the word “allow” means in

      the resolution. The resolution says to “allow” an opportunity but

      that does not guarantee it.  Senator Lewallen asked what would

      be the purpose of peer input.  What if the faculty did not agree  

      with the termination, would that hurt or help?  Senator Mitchell

      said that he certainly understands the administration’s position,

      but the Faculty Senate’s job is to protect the faculty.  If what the

      administration does in a case of dismissal is fair and legal, how

      could liability become an issue?  In any case, the Faculty

      Senate’s mission is to stand on the side of the faculty.

    4.  There then began a discussion of the language of the resolution.

      Senator Ramsey moved to strike the entire fifth “Whereas”

      clause, which was seconded by Senator Titard. Senator White

      agreed that the clause changes the tone of the resolution away

      from legalities.  Senator Titard asked the reason for the

      resolution.  Does the need for “’family’ atmosphere” as

      mentioned in the resolution warrant going against legal

      concerns?  Senator Valentino said that firing faculty without

                                       giving a reason damages morale.  Also, even a dismissal is a type

      of learning experience, but dismissed faculty learn nothing if

      they do not know why they were terminated.  Senator Root asked

      if Senator Ramsey would accept a friendly amendment to alter

      the  clause to just read “morale.”  Senator Ramsey reiterated that

      he would prefer to see the clause eliminated.  Senator Titard

      offered that the words “ may be” should be included to avoid the  

      implication that all dismissals are a miscarriage of justice. At this

      point, Senator Ply made a motion to table the issue and ask the

      committee to resubmit the resolution.  The motion passed.

V.  New Business

  1. Senator Simoneaux asked Senator Dranguet to speak on Changes to the Faculty

Handbook regarding “Procedures for Resolving Faculty Complaints.”  Senator Dranguet referred to the handout.  ADDENDUM D. 

                        1. Senator Dranguet pointed to points 7, 8,and 9 in comparison to

                            the 2002 revision.  There is no clear timeline for steps in the

                            appeals process.  Once the report is given to the President of the

                            University, there is no time constraint for the President to

                            render a decision.  There is also no statement that says the

                            aggrieved faculty member can appeal to the Board.  Senator Ply

                            said that the “five working days” in the old version is perhaps

                            not practicable, although a time deadline should be inserted.

                            Senator Dassau asked if this was the only place in the Faculty

                            Handbook where the issue is addressed.  Senator Dranguet said

                            yes.

                       2.  He added that this issue came up because, for the first time in six

                            years, a grievance has been filed.  There have been no problems

                            with the President’s response and no problem with the appeal to

                            the Board.  Due process has been followed, but it highlighted the

                            need to get the specifics in writing. Senator Ply added that there

                            is also a reference to the chair of the Grievance Committee, but

                            this committee does not have a chair until the Faculty Senate

                            President appoints one. So that should also be corrected. Senator                

                            Lewallen said that the description of the appeals process should 

                            be updated to refer to the System’s Grievance Committee.

                            Senator Yeargain said that it is on the Board’s agenda to discuss

                            the function of their grievance committee, and whether it should

                            hold this type of hearing or not.  Senator Simoneaux made a

                            motion to send the matter to committee.  The motion passed.

                            The matter was sent to Professional Rights and Responsibilities.

VI. Announcements

  1. SGA Liaison Senator Kleiner reported that she has been favorably impressed by

the commitment of the SGA students.  They are generous and fair in their

disbursement of money to campus organizations and projects.  For the first time

this year they sponsored a program of distributing “Finals Week Care Packages,”

which were purchased by parents to be given to students in the dorms.

  1. Senator Simoneaux reminded faculty that they can still make changes to their

      Optional Retirement Plans and cafeteria plans.

  1. Senator Yeargain presented the BOS report.  ADDENDUM E. There was no FAC report. He also announced that the Calendar Committee has not met yet, but that

       he wanted to take an informal poll on two options for the Fall calendar.  One is

       to be in session from 8/21-12/9; the second is to set the calendar from 8/29-12/16.

       The hand vote was 25 to 17 in favor of the first option.

VII. Senator Simoneaux adjourned the meeting at 4:20 p.m.

            The next meeting will be held on January 18, 2006.

            New Business should be sent to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee by

            January 11, 2006.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Rebecca Hite

Recording Secretary