Leadership Crisis on Campus

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David S. Szymanski, UNF President

What are you doing to address the current crisis in leadership on our campus? We have some ineffective deans, a severe lack of inspiration, and the metrics failure fiasco. Are we going to see bold, courageous, long-term solutions from you?

Response from the Floor by President Szymanski

Yes, they plan to work on inspiration, leadership transformation, and success. We are going to be a great institution.”

Math-Stat Department

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

  1. There is talk that Lev Gasparov, as part of his acceptance as Associate Dean of COAS, was granted approval for software that cost around $30,000 or more by Dean Rainbolt. Despite the fact that administrators do not have research programs, much less that this is an extraordinary amount to spend on one person’s request, how does the Dean justify this extraordinary expense?

Response by: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Thank you for your question. I place a high value on the transparent allocation of resources. The COAS Dean’s Office is happy to answer any questions about resource allocation.

In COAS, associate deans and the Dean are expected to maintain research programs. Of course, the level of research expected of associate deans and the dean is less than expected of other faculty.

In 2007, Lev Gasparov and Jay Huebner received a grant of approximately $850,000 from the Office of Naval Research. Approximately $320,000 was used to purchase a Raman spectrometer. (In Raman spectroscopy, a sample is hit with a laser and the light that is scattered back reveals information about the sample.)           Dr. Gasparov used the spectrometer to earn two NSF grants totaling approximately $275,000. Over his career at UNF, Dr. Gasparov has secured more than $1.5M in collaborative and sole PI external funding, has published 20 articles in the leading peer reviewed journals, and has mentored many students. This led to his being designated a Presidential Professor. The Naval Research grant and the two NSF grants alone have resulted in the award of more than $110,000 in indirects to UNF.

The spectrometer is eleven years old and requires new controller. If a new controller is not purchased, the spectrometer will become useless. The cost of the new controller and the controller’s software was $20,915. It was paid for as follows: Dr. Gasparov Summer Research Grant $4000, Physics $3,410, Academic Affairs: $4,000, COAS Sweep Funds: $9,505.

Originally, the Department of Physics was going to contribute approximately $8,000 for this project. The faculty of the Department of Physics discussed and approved the allocation of $8,000. However, Karla Calliste-Edgar used her outstanding budgeting skills to transfer some of this burden to the College’s sweep funds.

Sweep funds are funds allocated to departments, but not spent by the departments. At the end of each fiscal year, the unused funds are “swept” by the College. Then a call goes out to chairs for requests for the use of sweep funds. Last year, all sweep requests submitted by departments were funded before funds were allocated to Dr. Gasparov’s spectrometer. In the past two years, sweep funds have been used to support faculty in departments such as Music, Art, Communications, and Chemistry.

The expenditures on the Raman controller were a sound investment in a piece of equipment and a faculty member with an excellent record of research productivity.

Yours in peace,

George Rainbolt, Dean

College of Arts and Sciences

 

 

2. A new position was created in the Math-Stat department for a “Lower Course Coordinator.” This person is granted a course release which will cost the university around $18K a year. There was no need for this position as faculty in the department did this work for free. How does Dean Rainbolt justify this unnecessary expense?

Response by: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Thank you for your question. Course releases are an important resource and so it is important that they be allocated fairly and transparently. The COAS Dean’s Office is happy to answer any questions about resource allocation.

When he became Chair, Dr. Richard Patterson proposed a reorganization of the service roles in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Part of this reorganization included a Lower Division Programs Coordinator. This position comes with a release of one course per year and a stipend of $1,500. The University and the College is encouraging the Department to make significant changes to its lower-level courses. I agreed with Dr. Patterson’s view that these changes merited this additional service role and a course release.

The primary duties of the Lower Division Coordinator are to provide leadership, to maintain quality and consistency, and to coordinate improvement for all lower division mathematics and statistics courses. Specific duties are:

  • To foster consistency, the director sets the course syllabus for all lower division courses.
  • In consultation with faculty teaching the courses, the director determines common textbooks to be used for these courses.
  • The director provides regular guidance and oversight for adjuncts and GTAs who are teaching standalone courses.
  • The director assists the chair in optimizing the lower division course schedule.
  • The director coordinates and compiles assessment data at the end of a semester.

The cost of a one-course release varies depending on whether the course is three hours of four hours and on whether a course is canceled, covered by an adjunct, or covered with an overload. In this case, the course was covered by an adjunct at a cost of approximately $3,000. However, in future years, an overload may be required. In that case, the cost would be $6,000 or $8,000 depending on whether the course is three hours or four hours. Therefore, for this year, the cost to the University was approximately $4,500, not $18,000.

Yours in peace,

George Rainbolt, Dean

College of Arts and Sciences

 

3. It has been proven by UNF’s own data that the ALEKS Math Placement Test and Remediation software has a positive effect on increasing math ability. It is also known that success in mathematics classes directly correlates with graduation rates. Faculty members in the Math-Stat department tried last Spring to correct severe communication problems between administrative departments as well as help them provide the correct information to students. Despite their knowledge of the issues and their ability to quickly correct the problems had they been given the chance, faculty were admonished and even retaliated against by Dean Rainbolt and Interim Chair Gasparov. These problems still exist. If the University is so interested in increasing pass rates and lowering DFW rates in math, why are these faculty not supported? Also, since these issues have not been resolved and metrics are a University priority, who is willing to listen to the ALEKS implementation issues in an effort to resolve them?

Response by: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Thank you for your question. I appreciate your concern for helping our students increase their mathematical abilities. As you suggest, data from the UNF Office of Institution Research indicate that ALEKS placement test is a good predictor of the level of math course that is best for a student. For this reason, we have been using it more extensively than in the past.

I do not believe that there were any serious communications issues regarding the ALEKS test last spring. As with the roll out of any expansion of a program, there were some bumps along the way. However, overall reports that I have received were positive. I would particularly like to thank the Enrollment Services office. They graciously agreed to fund and manage the expanded ALEKS placement testing.

On October 4, when this question was asked, the Department of Math and Statistics was in the middle of reviewing how the ALEKS placement testing went this past year. They have since made some very helpful suggestions for improvement and I anticipate that many of those suggestions will be implemented for the class entering in Summer 2019.

Yours in peace,

George Rainbolt, Dean

College of Arts and Sciences

 

4. There is talk about changing the ALEKS Math Placement and Remediation from a proctored to an un-proctored test due to Enrollment Services not wanting to do the job. The point of having a proctored math test is to correctly identify and place students in the appropriate classes as well as provide them with 6 months of math remediation (at no cost to them). It has been shown that UNF students who spend only 5-10 hours in remediation can substantially increase their entrance scores as well as help them succeed in GE classes as it refreshes the math skills they learned in high school. This remediation positively affects departments in all colleges from accounting to nursing.

The Math Center Director resigned as the burden of testing was going to be placed solely on her shoulders. Given the concerns over DFWs, graduation rates and other metrics, and knowing how effective ALEKS is at UNF (even with its current haphazard implementation), why is the University not only not supporting full implementation of ALEKS so that it can help students (and UNF) succeed, but considering diminishing its effectiveness?

Response by: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Thank you for your question. I appreciate your concern for helping our students increase their mathematical abilities.

Data from the UNF Office of Institution Research indicate that ALEKS placement test is a good predictor of the level of math course that is best for a student. For this reason, we have been using it more extensively than in the past.

Proctoring a placement test is expensive and places a barrier to student enrollment. The UNF Writing Center has been successful using an unproctored placement test. Many other institutions use an unproctored math placement test.

The Director of the Math Center did step down because she found that the administrative burden of the Director position (including the supervision of math placement testing) was greater than she anticipated. She stepped down in a professional and helpful way. I am grateful for her service as Director of the Math Center and her help in smoothing her transition out of the Director position.

On October 4, when this question was asked, the Department of Math and Statistics was in the middle of reviewing how the ALEKS placement testing went this past year. They have since made some very helpful suggestions for improvement and I anticipate that many of those suggestions will be implemented for the class entering in Summer 2019.

Yours in peace,

George Rainbolt, Dean

College of Arts and Sciences

COAS Media Person

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

 

When there is a call for reallocation to student scholarships from across campus, all units must think of ways to contribute to that funding (which is fine since this is focusing on the students), but

1) Rate from unfilled lines may possibly be used so that departments may not be able to request a needed line (should be a priority to better serve students)

2) The dean says the COAS web/media person hire may be put on hold but might still be able to move forward. Why can’t departments continue updating their sites and maybe have meetings to make sure all units are on the same page (uniformity across the college)?

If unfilled lines are potential sources of the scholarship revenue, then so should this potential admin position (another one in the dean’s office).

 

Response by: George Rainbolt, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Thank you for your question. I place a high value on the transparent allocation of resources. The COAS Dean’s Office is happy to answer any questions about resource allocation.

In the recent temporary reallocation to support student scholarships, no rate from unfilled lines was reallocated. I have not heard anyone suggest that colleges will be asked to reallocate rate from unfilled lines to scholarships.

I believe that support for web pages across the College is an important priority. Several departments and office managers have expressed frustration with needing to design and update websites. As you suggest, some level uniformity seems to be a good idea. However, it would not be appropriate to have too much uniformity. We must strike a balance.

As you suggest, the Dean’s Office is exploring a number of different possible configurations for a web/media position. The Office of Human Resources specifies a number of different sorts of positions that might be used for a web/media person. We are also reaching out to other colleges to see how they configure their web/media staff in hopes that we may find some good models that we can adapt to the COAS situation. In consultation with the department chairs, I hope to select a model for the web/media position by the end of the fall semester.

Departments are free to update their sites as we explore the options for the web/media person. Several departments have updated their sites recently. Others have decided to wait on updates until this exploration is finished.

 

Yours in peace,

George Rainbolt, Dean

College of Arts and Sciences

Not Getting Paid On Time

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Pamela S. Chally, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

As an adjunct in COAS, it was a hardship to not get paid this fall in a timely manner. I understand several of my colleagues were victims of the same snafu. Will someone be held accountable for this error? I do not want to leave UNF, but will not continue if this is the way we are treated.

Response from the Floor by Provost Chally

Provost Chally apologized for the error and assured the faculty that the process that caused the problem has been corrected. There are new processes in place to ensure that this will not happen again. Dean’s that were involved in this situation understand that this is their responsibility.

Email to COAS Faculty Members

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Pamela S. Chally, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

On September 23, Dean Rainbolt sent an urgent e-mail to all COAS faculty saying:

“As some of you may have heard from your chair, the University has asked all units across campus to temporarily reallocate resources to support student scholarships. ”

and after asking for suggestions states:

“I will make the decisions regarding which funds will provide the temporary reallocation.”

Did the university in fact, ask colleges to make such a reallocation? As an underpaid, under supported COAS faculty member, I do not see how we can continue to serve our students with fewer and fewer resources. Does the administration not recognize this?

Response from the Floor by Provost Chally

Provost Chally stated that colleges look at their budgets to identify monies that could be used for student scholarships. Provost Chally stated that Academic Affairs would not ask departments to cut critical funds.

CBL Carnegie standards

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Pamela S. Chally, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

At a recent meeting discussing the Carnegie standards for community engaged research, the LARGE discrepancy between the CBA’s interpretation of scholarship and what is put forth for consideration for P&T committees by CCBL regarding community engaged research was discussed.  The UFF President noted that, if a faculty member were to not be promoted and/or receive tenure due to a perceived lack of scholarship despite engaging in high quality and quantity community-engaged scholarship as defined by Carnegie, this would not be a grievable incident. Is this true? If it is, what can be done? And isn’t exploitative of the university to seek out Carnegie status, say they value community-engaged scholarship of this nature, and then not give credit to community scholars for their work?

Response from the Floor by Provost Chally

Provost Chally stated that she knew that the contract stated that community based research and teaching will be considered, recognized, and valued. To her, that meant that it will be considered as part of the tenure and promotion decision.

Data Analytics Recent Announcement

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David Fenner, Faculty Association President

The recent announcement of an internal search for a Vice President of Data Analytics made me look up the definition of Analytics on the web. It says that it is “the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. It relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance”. In that definition, the word statistics comes first because statisticians are professionally trained to interpret and communicate data.  The previous administration had enlisted statistics professors to help precisely because the data analytics people came short in that. This year BOG Performance Metrics indicate that effort paid off with 10 points increase in the score over the year before. Why doesn’t the position announcement underscore the importance of a PhD statistician?

President Szymanski’s response copied from his report. 

The Vice President for Analytics search is ongoing. Finalists will be interviewed during the second week of October. The President addressed an anonymous question about whether or not candidates could or should have a PhD in statistics. The President stated that while that was one acceptable degree, there were finalists with other backgrounds as well.

Live Streaming for Faculty Association Meetings

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David Fenner, Faculty Association President

Will the Faculty Association be live streaming their meetings? Many faculty cannot attend meetings due to class and other obligations. With newer technology, it doesn’t require much effort and it is not costly. The faculty union live streamed all of their negotiation sessions this past year. Doing so enabled faculty who could not attend sessions to watch. The sessions are also archived on the faculty union website for later viewing by faculty and others. This is common practice at other institutions.

Response from the Floor by FA President Fenner

The FA will explore live-streaming meetings. The Association is working towards identifying a means to vote anonymously. There was hope to preview electronic voting earlier, but a more cost effective system is being explored.

Promotion and Tenure Standards

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Pamela S. Chally, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

UNF is supposedly an institution that provides undergraduate students with an exceptional classroom experience and promotes and rewards excellence in teaching, per UNF Strategic Plan Goal 3 Strategy 2. As a 10-year faculty member in a large department in a large college at UNF, I teach and meet with a large number of undergraduate students. It is my opinion that many of our students are not always getting the excellent experience in the classroom they deserve. Yet every single tenure candidate and every single instructor promotion candidate was approved this past year–that all of these candidates are truly “excellent teachers” seems implausible. What is UNF doing to ensure that we sort out what is really good teaching (as opposed to “I put my course online and therefore I am a good teacher”) and spare our students the poor teachers that we seem to be claiming from the promotion data do not exist, yet whom we all know do exist?

Response from the Floor by Provost Chally

That is an important issue. It is important that we become extremely cautious of the individuals we deem as exceptional teachers. Our students deserve the very best.

Faculty Association Unanswered Questions

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: FA Secretary Dan Richard, FA President David Fenner

Why are questions asked to the Faculty Association approximately a year ago still pending responses according to the minutes of the Faculty Association? When should faculty expect for responses to be submitted to questions asked to Faculty Association?

 

Response from the floor by: FA President Fenner

We have received a number of questions, and we do have a backlog of unanswered questions. I will work with Dan Richard and Liz Gregg, current FA Secretary, to clear this backlog.