Council Minutes 10-20-2017 | Kent State Stark | Kent State University

Kent State Stark Faculty Council Minutes
October 20, 2017
2 p.m.

I.  Chair Warren called the meeting to order at 2:00 PM. 

II.  Secretary Moneysmith called the roll and determined a quorum was present.

Attendance by Constituency:  I: Sebastian Birch, Kim Garchar. II: Bei Cai, Erin Hollenbaugh, Dee Warren. III: Matt Lehnert, Oliver Ruff, Greg Smith. IV: Jayne Moneysmith, Stephen Neaderhiser, Paula Sato. V: Lucas Engelhardt, Deepraj Mukherjee, Haithem Zourrig. VI: Greg Blundell, Chrissy Kauth, Eric Taylor.

Ex-officio: Dean Denise Seachrist.

Excused: Lindsay Starkey.

Guests: Rob Kairis, Faith Sheaffer-Polen.

III.  Approval of Agenda

Motion to approve: Councilor Lehnert
Second: Councilor Mukherjee
The agenda was unanimously approved.

IV.  Approval of Minutes for the September 15, 2017 Meeting

Motion to approve: Councilor Lehnert
Second: Councilor Mukherjee
The minutes were unanimously approved.

V.  Chair’s Report 

A.  RCFAC. RCFAC met on Friday, October 6, 2017. Dr. Ritchey reported on the budget process for regional campuses. He emphasized that any argument for a tenure-track position must be tied to enrollment. He also stated that he wants campuses to look at tenure-track faculty strategically, specifically in the context of building faculty strength across the system. Dr. Ritchey envisions the “sharing” of faculty to be in terms of collaboration across the system (teaching, research), rather than physically sharing faculty among campuses.

B.  Recruitment, Enrollment, and Retention. RCFAC continued their discussion of issues surrounding recruitment, enrollment, and retention of students in the regional system, particularly focusing on what we can do as faculty to aid in that process. Dr. Ritchey advised that the Provost has declared it the year of enrollment. He stated that we are down 340+ students across the campuses. He further said that despite that, budget wise, campuses are reporting balanced budgets. Dr. Ritchey pointed out that online fees have saved some campuses. He used Stark campus as an example, stating that online fees added $760,000 of revenue to the campus. Dr. Ritchey also emphasized that campuses cannot sustain decreasing enrollment, that the goal at this point is to yield flat enrollments.

In terms of recruitment, Dr. Ritchey said that many campuses have no recruiters, either full or part-time, and that enrollment management groups must be more productive. He stated that he has approved two recruiter positions across the campuses. In terms of retention, Dr. Ritchey indicated that across campuses, on average, we lose more than 50% of our students in two years. He emphasized the role faculty must take in the recruitment, enrollment, and retention of students. He said we should focus on ensuring our programs are up-to-date and accessible, thinking about what new areas or concentrations we could bring to our campuses, as well as possible cross-disciplinary programs. He further stated that faculty are in a unique position to identify students who might be at risk of leaving and presenting them with academic and ”life” support.  Lastly, Dr. Ritchey would like for campuses to think about strategies to recruit and retain adult learners. He suggested things like strategically developing some compressed hybrid options (i.e. 8 week course lengths—think University of Phoenix model) and revisiting Saturday class offerings.

VI.  Dean’s Report

A.  May 4, 2020. The university is making plans for May 4, 2020, the 50th anniversary of the events that occurred in 1970. From August 2019 to August 2020, one major event a month will be scheduled. The hope is that people interested in being involved from all campuses can get together to work on these initiatives. In 2019, a film is going to be made about May 4, produced by Jay Richmond, a graduate of our theatre program, Jay Roach, and Tina Fey. A tool kit will be put together to enable other universities to compare what happened on their campuses about that time to what happened at Kent State. The film is tentatively scheduled to be released sometime in 2020.

B.  Aramark Summit. With La Tarsha Miller and Stephanie Monastra, Dean Seachrist attended an Aramark Summit to discuss our food service arrangements with company representatives. Due to many pervasive problems, Aramark’s efforts have been deemed a failure. We are now evaluating the situation to see what changes can be made. 

C.  Utilization of Space. In Cabinet questions were raised about utilization of space in various locations on campus, especially with the use of offices in the Science and Nursing Building. Space is at a premium right now; we are even using two classrooms at Stark State. Dean Seachrist explained how some people were moved around, for example, Michael Gleason was moved to Main Hall Center Core to make room for a new counselor in the Campus Center. Sally Lavery, who is affiliated with the Area Health Education Center (AHEC), was moved from the Center Core to the Science and Nursing Building, where she can be close to nursing faculty, especially Councilor Kauth, who is now on the board of AHEC. Some faculty had expressed concern about a student who has an office in SNB. This is a student who works in the Business Office, where there is not enough space. Housing a student in an office on the ground floor of SNB goes back to when the Conference Center was being renovated, and there was a student working there for whom there was no longer room. That office has continued to be used essentially as swing space for student employees.

D.  Possible New Hires. Dean Seachrist and La Tarsha Miller will be making their budget presentation to Dr. Ritchey on November 9. She is working with staff and Cabinet to determine our needs, which may be more difficult to assess than usual because we do not yet know how many faculty might take advantage of the University Employment Separation Plan (UESP). Any faculty positions will need to be carefully justified. We do already have approval to hire for a Student Accessibility Services person to replace Amanda Weyant.

E.  Instructor Verification Form for Notetakers. When Cabinet last met, they briefly discussed the form that instructors need to sign so that students can be compensated for serving as a notetaker for a student who has that accommodation through Student Accessibility Services. New language has been approved in response to faculty concerns. Dean Seachrist indicated that she may ask Chair Warren to send out email about the new form to ensure that all faculty are aware of the change.

F.  Animals on Campus. Yesterday Dean Seachrist participated in a discussion about animals on campus, service animals (which benefit someone with a disability), service animals in training, and assistance animals. 

If a student wants to bring a dog into the classroom, the instructor can ask if the dog is required due to a disability. If the answer is “no,” then it is permissible to ask that the dog not be brought into class. If the answer is “yes,” then a second question is permissible: what work or task is the dog trained to do (for example, open and close doors, respond to seizures, retrieve dropped articles, etc.)? The instructor cannot ask what the disability is. Accommodation through SAS is not required. There is an etiquette to follow when the dog is in the classroom: don’t touch or feed the dog or separate it from its handler. The dog is working and should not be treated as a pet. 

If a student is training a dog to become a service dog, they may want to bring it to class. In that event, the dog must have insurance through its sponsoring organization, such as 4 Paws for Ability, which is an official student organization. Instructors will receive notification from the sponsoring organization or the trainer if a service dog in training will be attending class.

Assistance animals can be any animal that provides companionship or emotional support. They do not need special training and are only allowed in the student’s residence hall room. Assistance animals are an accommodation granted by SAS for students in residential housing.

G.  Adult Learning Strategies. Dean Seachrist volunteered our campus to help with environmental scans to see what strategies might be appropriate to accommodate adult learners. In Stark County, census information tells us that many people have completed some college but do not have a degree. This is a population that we could potentially serve if we deliver programs in the appropriate way. For example, if we have a popular program, would it make sense to offer the introductory course every 8 weeks to make it easier for adult learners to begin their program?  Such courses could be taught in a variety of modalities, face-to-face, hybrid, or fully online. To ensure the integrity of the program, we would need faculty expertise to identify courses that might work with this model. In many cases, these changes would also affect faculty workload. 

In-roads are already being made in other areas. For example, a fully online Insurance Studies minor and degree has passed through EPC. These programs can be marketed heavily in the next few years, as an increasing number of retirements due to the aging population are likely to create a need.  We also are looking at sharing more courses, such as through the “Zoom Room” in the lower-level of the library. Dr. Gomez will be delivering the first class using this room next semester.

H.  United Way Campaign. Dean Seachrist reminded Council that the United Way campaign is now underway. Donations can be targeted to benefit the Stark Campus if one prefers (for example, allocating the contributions to Flash’s Pantry).

I.  Memo of Understanding with Walsh University. On Wednesday we signed an MOU with Walsh University regarding foreign language classes, as they have students who wish to take courses that are not offered at Walsh. These students will still be classified as Walsh students and will pay Walsh tuition (we will get some revenue as well).

J.  Library Open House. Dean Seachrist reminded everyone that an Open House will be held on Tuesday, October 24 from 10:00 to 1:00 to mark the completion of extensive remodeling of the library. The library now includes a new, much larger space for the Writing Center (which includes a student publication office for Canto and the Writing Center Review), a new LGBTQ Resource Center for students, and the new Mamava Lactation Suite. Attendees will also have the opportunity to see the William G. Bittle Veterans Commons, as well as some enhanced library service such as 3D printing and poster printing.  

K.  Maintaining Professional Behavior. Noting that this has been a difficult week on campus due to administrative changes, Dean Seachrist said that she has been spending a lot of time working with direct reports and will meet with all of our full professors on Monday. She reminded Council that it is important to abide by the university’s employee code of conduct and to maintain professionalism by refraining from gossip and unsupported rumors. She thanked faculty for their continuing support in the coming days.

VII.  Committee Reports

A.  PAAC. Councilor Hollenbaugh indicated that PAAC reviewed 11 travel requests in September. Fourteen travel requests are now being reviewed and 5 FPIL requests. PAAC has set up a timeline for reviewing requests. The deadline for submitting requests is the 15th. On the 16th, they will populate a google doc with all the information about the requests and have 5 days to evaluate them. As chair of the committee, Councilor Hollenbaugh will send recommendations on the 23rd.

B.  Committee II. Councilor Ruff gave the committee’s report prepared by committee chair Councilor Starkey, who was attending a conference.

The members of Committee II (Lindsay Starkey, Lee Fox, John Lovell, Oliver Ruff, and Hrubik-Vulanovic) met on October 3, 2017 to discuss the data collected at the Fall Faculty Workshop on August 24, 2017, and through the survey distributed from August 28-September 1, 2017. The summary of this discussion is appended to these minutes. 

Committee II asked Cabinet to be put on the agenda for the Fall Full Faculty Meeting on October 27, 2017, and this request was granted. The committee plans to distribute all the data they collected in August and September along with the summary of their discussion prior to this meeting, so they can solicit more feedback and have another discussion of those materials on October 27. 

Committee II has been in contact with the Staff Campus Vision Committee about helping them solicit feedback from students that will be of use for the development of the Campus Vision Statement and the Strategic Plan 2018-2022. 

Once Committee II has received further feedback from our colleagues at the October 27th meeting and after the Staff Campus Vision Committee has finished collecting their data at the end of October, these two committees will be working together to develop an initial draft of the Campus Vision Statement, which will then be distributed for feedback and amendment.

Councilor Ruff stressed that Committee II wants to give all faculty the opportunity to contribute to the Vision Statement and will be happy to answer questions and take suggestions.

C.  Colloquium Committee. Secretary Moneysmith read the report submitted by committee chair Dr. Martinez, who was unable to attend the meeting.

The first Faculty Colloquium this semester will take place on Friday October 27, at 4:30 pm (after the Full Faculty meeting), in Science and Nursing room 217. The presenters are Dr. Bei Cai and Dr. Relja Vulanovic. Both will be discussing their research findings from their recent sabbaticals. Dr. Cai’s presentation is titled “Internationalization of Higher Education: KSU Stark ESL Program–Opportunities and Challenges,” and Dr. Vulanovic’s is titled “Singular Perturbations and Mathematical Linguistics.”

Dates for the remaining colloquia have been set to coincide with Faculty Council meetings in November, February, and March. Committee members are in the process of contacting faculty who might have recent research or teaching findings to share. 

The committee—Ann Martinez, Joel Carbonell (on sabbatical), Patrick Dillion, and Jim Seelye—also welcomes any inquiries. Please feel free to reach out to any of them if you have an interest in presenting your work. 

D.  Treasurer/Social Committee. Councilor Sato reported that the drawing for the Faculty Council Chair Parking Spot Raffle was on September 27. We collected $54 and donated the money to the KSU Stark Food Pantry and Interfaith. The Social Committee has reserved the Conference Center Dining Room on Friday, December 8 for the Faculty and Staff Holiday Dinner. The price has been confirmed at $15 per person, and the menu is being finalized. Councilor Sato also indicated that the Social Committee would like to encourage more staff to attend and encouraged Councilors to make suggestions for how we might do that.

E.  Technology Committee. Councilor Neaderhiser indicated that no requests were pending at this time. He, Katie Baer, and Jared Weber met to discuss some streamlining of procedures. The tech request protocols document needs to be updated. That document was originally approved by Faculty Council, so he will bring the revised version to Council when it is completed. 

F.  Handbook Committee. The committee does not have a charge at this time. 

VIII.  Old Business: None

IX.  New Business

A.  Faith Sheaffer-Polen: Student Professional Development Conference. Ms. Sheaffer-Polen reported on the success of the Student Professional Development Conference, which was held on Friday, October 13. She thanked the faculty who helped them recruit students; fifty-eight attended. A wide range of workshops was presented and many community groups were there to help with professional development. Some students visited Flash’s Pantry to find an appropriate outfit to wear.  

Chair Warren asked what type of students would benefit the most?  Ms. Sheaffer-Polen explained that the event is not designed to help students get a job, but rather it was, “You have the job; now what do you do?” Councilor Hollenbaugh asked if they had considered opening the conference to students outside of Kent State at a higher price point?  Ms. Sheaffer-Polen replied that at present they would like to keep it as a Kent State event, to give our own students an advantage.

B.  Rob Kairis: Faculty Senate Discussion on Tenure and Promotion. As one of our Faculty Senate representatives, Rob Kairis typically emails all faculty a summary of each meeting. After reading his report on the October meeting, several faculty members expressed concern about the discussion on the possibility of linking tenure and promotion because of uncertainties about how such action might impact regional campus faculty members. At Chair Warren’s invitation, Rob Kairis gave an overview of the points discussed during Faculty Senate, focusing on these three issues: (1) the linking of tenure and promotion; (2) need for a clarification of the word “sustained” in university policies for tenure and promotion; and (3) possible change in the guidelines for early tenure and promotion. Discussion ensued about the potential advantages and disadvantages of making these changes and the importance of ensuring that policy and handbook language be explicit and clear. The section of Rob Kairis’ original Faculty Senate report that discusses these issues in more detail is appended to these minutes.

X.  Announcements

A.  Councilor Garchar announced that last evening a group of our students won the “Battle of the Brains”!

B.  Councilor Taylor reminded everyone that the Boo U Fall Festival will take place on campus next Thursday, October 26, beginning at 5:00pm.

C.  Councilor Neaderhiser reminded everyone that next Wednesday, October 25, the English department will hold a “Dead Authors” event in the Campus Center to promote the English program. Games, prizes, food, and information about the English major and upcoming courses will be available from 10:00 to 2:00.

XI.  Adjournment

Chair Warren adjourned the meeting at 4:04 PM.


Summary of Committee II Meeting
On Tuesday, October 3, 2017

1. General Themes We Noted from the Data

  • A focus on high-quality teaching and engagement with students 
    • Liberal arts focus with agility, given our position within a wider system 
  • Only public, BA granting institution in Stark County 
    • Stress the difference between Kent State Stark and Stark State more heavily, as well as suggest some of the distinctive things the Stark Campus offers within the Kent System 
    • Communicate a clearer identity 
    • As a regional campus, we have a local mission, focused on teaching 
    • We offer an opportunity to students, who may not attend college otherwise 
    • Sustainability
    • Environmental 
      • Economically, especially given the decreasing population of high school students in the school districts from which our students typically come

2. Ideas for Campus Vision Statement Language, Based on Data Collected

  • “World class public education (or university) in your backyard” 
    • Integrated into Kent State and other larger educational systems
    • In reference to the training we are trying to offer and how we would like to shape students through their educational experience: 
      • “Contributing citizens”
      • “Responsible stewards” 
      • “Contributing members to Stark County Community” 
        • “Make Stark less stark” 
    • “Global citizens through the most up-to-date programs and international experiences” 
  • “Bringing the world to Stark County citizens” 
  • Stress interdisciplinary-nature of our campus – part of our uniqueness 
    • Would like to develop something more concrete with precise, descriptive, and meaningful language 
      • We must keep in mind that we are a university, and as such, our vision statement should reflect what we do specifically at the Stark Campus of Kent State University. 

3. Troubling Themes in the Data That We Would Suggest FC Consider

  • There are mixed messages when it comes to quality of academic instruction and campus facilities vs. quantity of students 
    • Though mindful of the fiduciary pressure to enroll more students, especially in an RCM model and with the declining population of high school students in Ohio, the drive to retain students and enroll more of them could easily come to conflict with academic standards. 
    • In addition, we have a limited amount of space in which classes can meet. Building more buildings and/or residence halls to accommodate students from outside Northeastern Ohio would mean a substantial investment that may threaten the campus’s economic viability.
  • There is disagreement about the global and diversity initiatives undertaken by our campus.
    • Last year, Committee II did some polling in the process of preparing the 2017-2018 Strategy Map that along with the data collected in August and September suggested three possible concerns about global and diversity initiatives: 
      • Some seem to question whether we should have global initiatives at all, given the regional mission of the campus 
      • Others object to the ways in which the decisions about these programs seem to have been made
      • Top-down
      • Lack of transparency 
        • Require a great deal of resources – is this where our resources should go? 
      • Others object to how the programs have been run
        • Only a small group of people seem to be involved 
        • For diversity programs: targeting of particular individuals leading to tokenism, othering, and even ghettoization  
        • Our campus does not reflect the demographics of Stark County 
  • There is a disagreement about whether our faculty should be more teaching or research oriented. 
    • Among the members of the committee, we discussed that teaching is the largest part of our campus’s mission. It also makes money for the university, whereas research costs money both for the Stark Campus and for Kent State as a whole. 
    • The responses of our colleagues indicate that many would like to see more resources and emphasis given to research
    • Several stated they would like TAs and RAs
      • Others mentioned they would like to see variable teaching loads or pay raises for those producing more research 
  • There are serious tensions among faculty and between faculty and administrators
    • Comments indicate serious tensions between junior and senior faculty, and though the RTP process may be responsible for some of these tensions, these comments were persistent. 
    • Concerns were expressed about the administration
    • Some people suggested that we lack leadership  
    • There were also discussions of tensions among those faculty from different categories (TT, FTNTT, and adjuncts) 
    • Several people mentioned tension surrounding the service loads of male vs. female faculty. 


Changes to the tenure and promotion polices
Summary of remarks made in the October 9, 2017 Faculty Senate, prepared by Rob Kairis

The chair introduced three issues that the Professional Standards Committee is being asked to consider:

1.    Linking Tenure and Promotion (to Association Professor). This not entirely new. Former provost Robert Frank had asked to have this considered several years ago. One advantage to linking the two is that faculty would only have to prepare a single file. Some points of concern included:

a.    What if someone is hired at the Associate Professor rank but must still meet tenure standards?

b.    One senator voiced opposition to the idea and thinks it de-emphasizes the value of teaching and favors researchers—both should be considered equally important. It was noted that our policies do not favor research over the other. However, there is a general understanding that practice has suggested research is more heavily weighed, particularly in promotion decisions, while teaching is marginalized and service is almost entirely discounted.

c.    Individual handbooks should be reviewed. Some do not currently differentiate standards between tenure and promotion.

d.    I suggested including language in the policy regarding the different expectation between Kent departments and regional campuses, since regional campus faculty have a greater teaching load and service commitment--not simply relying on individual handbooks to make this distinction.

e.    It was pointed out that there are fundamental differences between tenure and promotion. Tenure is supposed to be forward-looking (what are the future prospects for a tenure candidate) while promotion tends to be backward-looking (what has the candidate accomplished since being hired or last promoted).

2.    There needs to be clarification of the word “sustain.” There have been unintended consequences in how this word has been applied. In one case, the wording suggests faculty engage in sustained research efforts. If a candidate experiences a gap of any length, some interpret this has not having a sustained record. On the other hand, the promotion policy refers to a “sustained research focus.” Some have interpreted this as changing research interests from one concentration to another does not maintain a focus and can be used against a candidate. The chair requested ideas for changing the language in the policies to avoid these misinterpretations.

3.    Early tenure/promotion. Again, there is some vagueness in the language, when the policies talk about “extraordinary circumstances” for allowing candidates to go up early. Should candidates not simply be expected to meet the standards established in the handbook, just within a shorter timeframe? And what constitutes “extraordinary?” Finally, the President offered the idea that candidates going up early should only get one shot. Currently, a candidate going up early and denied tenure can simply reapply again in the future, so long as they are within the time limits. This change would likely inhibit many from attempting an early tenure decision but suggest that candidates going up early really have a well-developed file.