Dean Search

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President Academic Affairs

“Why are we doing an expensive search for a Dean of the Honors College when the end-result seems a foregone conclusion? Why not an internal search?”

Response from Earle Traynham, Provost, Academic Affairs:

First, we have not yet started a search for a Dean of the Hicks Honors College, but we do plan to have a national search as soon as we can. As with any national search, there will be expenses beyond those of a typical internal search. The primary reason we are doing a national search is because we consider the appointment of the inaugural Dean of the Hicks Honors College to be critical to the early success of the college. President Delaney and I have discussed the possibility of visiting with the deans of some other successful honors colleges to better understand the skill set needed by the first Dean of Hicks Honors College. We hope that the faculty are excited over the tremendous opportunity we have to develop the Hicks Honors College into one of the best in the southeast. This search will be critical to that goal, and the outcome is anything but a “foregone conclusion”.
Thanks

Earle

 

Survey For Graduating Students

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President Academic Affairs

Can Academic Affairs make the survey for graduating students mandatory?

Response from Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President Academic Affairs:

In order to address the Faculty Association question regarding whether it is possible for Academic Affairs to make the graduating senior survey mandatory, I have sought the guidance of Judy Miller, Executive Director of Assessment who is responsible for the design and distribution of the graduating senior survey.  Judy raised some very valid points which I have summarized below regarding the feasibility of layering on a mandatory completion requirement for this survey.

According to the terms of the IRB application for the graduating senior survey, respondents have to be able to opt out of the survey.  If we make this survey mandatory, we have to decide on a penalty for not completing the survey.  If we define a penalty such as not being able to graduate or receive your diploma, we are essentially creating a new degree requirement for which we would need to seek approval.  We would also have to submit a revised IRB application with a requirement for completion which would change the survey’s current “exempt” status.

It is unlikely the faculty and administration would want to impose a new degree requirement on students, particularly at a time when time-to-graduation is a critical metric for UNF.  What we can do as an initial step is review the survey with the Director of Assessment when he or she comes on board and determine whether there are changes we can make to the instrument which will increase rates without the risk of delaying graduation or disrupting the IRB exempt status.

Retention Votes

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President Academic Affairs

Why do we have retention votes for Deans if the results are not going to be honored?

Response from Earle Traynham, Provost, Academic Affairs:

In the penultimate year of a dean’s appointment, a comprehensive evaluation is conducted as a part of the decision process to reappoint or non-reappoint the dean to a subsequent term. One required element of that comprehensive evaluation is a retention vote by the faculty under the dean’s leadership. The result of the retention vote is an important element of this evaluation. The UNF Constitution addresses the matter of the retention vote in Article 5, section 4:

 

“At the end of the College Dean’s term, if retention is an option, the College faculty shall individually vote by anonymous ballot on the question of retaining the College Dean.  In that case,

the Vice President for Academic Affairs shall receive the vote and report the result to the College faculty. In the event the result is negative, the Vice President for Academic Affairs will meet with

the College faculty and explain any action other than replacement of the College Dean.”

Additionally, in the same section, the Constitution provides for the faculty to request a retention vote

at any time during a dean’s tenure.

“Academic Affairs to conduct an anonymous retention vote by the College faculty prior to the end of

the Nothing in this paragraph shall limit the authority of the faculty of the College or the Vice President for College Dean’s term.”

 

During the comprehensive review, annual performance appraisals, additional feedback from the faculty, feedback from external constituents, feedback from other university personnel, and other information are combined with the outcome of the retention vote to form the basis for a decision on reappointment or non-reappointment.  In this sense, the retention vote is very important but advisory to the overall process.  If the retention vote were to be binding, it would not be necessary, or even useful, to perform a comprehensive evaluation.

In cases where the faculty call for a retention vote, the results are absent a more comprehensive review and, therefore, while it is important to recognize the facu lty vote and related feedback, and discuss with them any concerns with college leadership, it would be irresponsible to act on one single event such as an out-of-cycle retention vote.

FTIC Residency Requirements

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President Academic Affairs

UNF has a mandatory residency requirement for First Time In College (FTIC) students. Academic Affairs also wants to make sure that students can meet their General Education requirements through DL courses. Unfortunately not all disciplines are well-suited for DL. Exactly what population of students needs a DL path through General Education? Surely, we are not talking about the residents of the dorms. Also, how many students are in that population?

Response from Earle Traynham, Provost, Academic Affairs:

I am not aware of any statement or policy or directive from Academic Affairs indicating a desire “to make sure that students can meet their General Education requirements through DL courses.” I thought that possibly the Gen Ed Council had addressed this issue, and asked the chairperson of the council. His response is as follows:

“The General Education Council has not discussed the possibility of establishing one or more DL pathways through our many gen ed curricular offerings.  However, as of spring 2016, the general education curriculum will include DL versions of at least one course in each of the five state-mandated “Common Core” areas as well as in the four competency areas of that part of the gen ed curriculum specific to UNF. A small group of Gen Ed Task Force members have had one meeting with Len Roberson and Deb Miller to discuss how we can support those facu lty who do wish to develop and offer new DL versions of gen ed courses and those faculty who have already developed and/or are offering such courses.”

While I do not believe that Academic Affairs has stated that it wants to make sure that we offer General Education courses on-line, I would encourage the faculty to consider the advantages of doing so. First, Gen Ed courses are taken by more than FTICs, and students who are not living in our residence halls may prefer to take one or more Gen Ed courses on- line. Secondly, eve n students who live in UNF’s residence halls may, as a matter of convenience, prefer to take one or more Gen Ed courses on-line. I do not know how many students might fall into these groups. Other SUS schools, e.g. UF On-line, offer Gen Ed courses on-line.  If UNF does not, we run the risk of having our students opt to take these courses at another SUS university and transfer the credits to UNF.  I would much prefer that we do not simply concede this market.

I am well aware and appreciate that “all disciplines are not well-suited for DL.” The decision as to which courses we might offer on-line, and whether to offer a course on-line remains a faculty decision at UNF. Barring state mandates or BOG mandates, I anticipate that will continue to be the case.

Building 14 steps

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Shari Shuman, Vice President Administration & Finance

A concern was expressed about the steps in building 14.

 

Response from Shari Shuman, Vice President Administration & Finance:

Physical Facilities reviewed the steps and did determine that the metal stair treads, that covered the edge of the stairs, needed to be replaced.  The work should be completed within two weeks.

 

Shari Shuman

VP, Administration and Finance

University of North Florida

1 UNF Drive

Jacksonville, Fl  32224

904-620-4727

Follett Up Contract

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Shari Shuman, Vice President Administration & Finance

When is the contract with Follett up for the bookstore? They seem to be gouging our students with prices higher than retail (let alone Amazon) and do not display prices or alternatives to faculty when we order our texts.

Dr. Chip Klostermeyer responded: The contract is up next fall.

Academic Affairs Administration

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: John Delaney, President University of North Florida

The current Academic Affairs administration has been particularly non-consultative and lacking in transparency. A graduate dean was appointed without faculty consultation. An undergraduate dean was appointed without faculty consultation. A formula for reallocation of faculty lines – justifying the removal of 18 lines from Arts and Sciences – was created and implemented without faculty consultation and without transparency. A formula for compression and inversion raises was implemented without any explanation; even if the formula was created by the union, the faculty at large had a right to know – from AA — what the formula was before it was implemented and mass confusion and frustration ensued. There are strong rumors that UNF may create a College of Honors and a College of Nursing – and that both of these new units are borne on potential gifts to the university — yet no faculty consultation and no transparency about these major academic changes have been forthcoming. Question: how long will we have to endure this trend?

Response from John Delaney, UNF President:

Dear President Klostermeyer,
Before I begin my answer to the anonymous question asked at the last Faculty Association meeting, I would pose a question to the author of the letter: Have you made an appointment to sit with the Provost to explain all of your concerns? Have you expressed your concerns to a chair or dean asking them to convey these concerns to Academic Affairs?

In an email with another faculty colleague, I equated the idea of shared governance to due process: the more important the issue, the more process that is due. For example, contesting a parking ticket involves minimal due process, facing incarceration for life, or even death, triggers a far higher degree of due process. For trivial things, I doubt most faculty care to be consulted. On the other hand, for the search for a provost, the faculty makes up the majority of the search committee.

But for matters in between, sometimes we don’t appropriately engage—we need to collectively work on that. Earl’s and my door are wide open to make sure that faculty is comfortable with their level of involvement.

In a meeting with the chairs some years ago, several people brought up a recurring IT problem that had gone on for some time. I asked the chairs who they had told about the problem so I could see where things broke down. There was a pause, and the chairs looked at each other. Then Bill Slaughter looked at me and said with a laugh: “We mostly just bitch about it amongst ourselves!”

I ask the original question above for this reason: several years ago I failed to widely engage faculty in a discussion of mandatory freshman housing. I, wrongly, considered it a clerical decision that would not interest or concern faculty. Of late, I have begun meeting with the Faculty Affairs and Executive Committees of the Faculty Association. The idea is to talk about issues and hear where more engagement is necessary. But the conversation should go both ways. I often say that if I don’t know about a problem, I can’t fix it.

Historically, I try to have availability to faculty via “Coffees with the Presidents” with the Union, or department or college visits. In addition to my door being open, I respond to every email. As best as I know, the Provost follows the same practice.

I imagine that the questioner may desire to remain anonymous so as to not risk any fear of retaliation. For a non-tenured faculty member, this is completely understandable. In saying that I often joke with a Faculty Association President that I have such little power to retaliate against a faculty member beyond perhaps moving their office, but even that I could not do! Even the tenure process has a level of protection in it as the applicant moves through the stages. As a former President of the Faculty Association once told me, the anonymous question gives the faculty power to balance against the Administration. That is fair enough, though I still wince at the tone of the occasional snarky personal attacks some questioners use. Of course, the vast majority of the questions are fair and constructive.

During the search for a provost, the search committee formulated a question that was essentially: What is the correct balance between confidentiality and transparency and how does an administrator navigate through those sometimes blurry lines.

Had I been asked this question in an interview, one example I might have offered is the necessity to maintain confidentiality when a university is negotiating with a major donor. Until all the figures are locked down and agreed upon, it would be imprudent for any college administrator to talk about the gift publicly. Having said this, I would also state that when all of the details are lined up, the administrator(s) involved in soliciting the gift have an obligation to ensure that the faculty and campus community knows about the gift and are given a realistic time period to review any and all changes to the university, most especially if they involve changes in the curriculum or the structure of the institution. Despite any agreement with a donor, all such changes would need to be vetted using all standing university policies and practices, including approval of the Faculty Association.

For a gift that involves curricular or structural changes within the purview of the Faculty Association, acceptance of the gift is contingent on faculty approval.

Turning to information about the recent raises negotiated with the union, the process of developing the formula and the formula itself are covered under open records and public meeting laws. All faculty members who were concerned about the formula were invited to all of the meetings on the development of the formula. In fact, a few faculty members asked to see copies of the formula prior to issuing the raises and were freely given copies. The process was open and completely transparent. The Union, which represents the faculty directly, did a good job of updating faculty frequently via a set of all-faculty emails as to the status of the discussions, and in inviting people to the sessions. Any individual or collective group had access to the entire process and could have asked for copies of any related documents at any point in time. Not trying to throw the Union under the bus, but I am wondering why the finger of guilt is being pointed at AA and not elsewhere? Without knowing more facts, I will refrain from speculating.

There are an infinite number of ways to run a model to distribute raises. Historically the Board of Trustees would like to see all funding go toward merit pay. In any event, the final agreement is a result of months of compromises with the Union representing faculty.

In a recent email chain with a faculty member who I consider a friend, the faculty member criticized the distribution model. I asked him if he had a better idea, and where was he during this process?

The author of the anonymous letter points to two administrative positions that she or he feels were made without faculty consultation. One of these was essentially a reassignment of duties, something that frankly happens all the time.

As Len Roberson’s role with distance learning expanded, AA moved the position and responsibilities of graduate dean from Len and reassigned this role and these responsibilities to John Kantner.

The decision to move the graduate dean’s responsibilities to John Kantner without a search is not without precedence. UNF’s first graduate dean was a sitting associate vice president in Academic Affairs who was asked to add the position of graduate dean to his portfolio. That action was taken for the same reason Earle used in making the decision to reassign the responsibilities to John Kantner – to avoid adding one more administrator for budgetary reasons. The combining of these duties is consistent with patterns seen across the country where graduate deans hold other administrative positions in Academic Affairs. This same shuffle of responsibilities occurred with UNF’s second graduate dean. Tom Serwatka was asked to assume Jim Collom’s role as director of Sponsored Research upon Jim’s retirement. Tom held both positions for a two year period.

UNF has had five graduate deans. Including John Kantner, two have assumed this role as part of their load as an assistant or associate vice president. A third graduate dean assumed the leadership in sponsored research while serving as graduate dean.

Three of our five graduate deans were selected through what we consider a “formalized” search process. Two assumed the role of graduate dean as a means keeping administrative costs down.

While the position of undergraduate dean did not follow a formalized search committee, it certainly did involve faculty consultation. A campus wide notice was sent out announcing the opening for the undergraduate dean’s position and four faculty members applied. Each of the candidates was interviewed by faculty members in each of the units that would report to the undergraduate dean. The candidates were also interviewed by the college deans with whom the successful candidate would be working closely. My assumption is that the deans likewise received input from within their respective colleges. Earle used this input to inform his decision in selecting Dan Moon. Albeit without using a formal search committee, Earle received input from faculty and others through a search process.

This issue was raised to me in a recent meeting with the Faculty Affairs Committees. Several active faculty members said that they were unaware of these steps listed above. For that, we have to take responsibility for not communicating more widely.

The final example described in the anonymous letter focused on the proposed formula for reallocating faculty lines. The formula was developed as a way of better understanding which colleges had more and which colleges had fewer faculty lines when compared to enrollment figures. After AA came up with the first draft, it was introduced to the Deans Council. In Deans Council there were spirited debates over how the formula failed to account for several variables. Based on these discussions, the formula was modified to incorporate many of the suggested variables, making it somewhat more complicated. After these changes were made, the formula was presented to the Faculty Association’s Budget Committee. Jay Coleman also made himself available to any faculty group that wanted to discuss the model.

When the model was first presented and throughout the entire process of laying out the model, it was made clear that it was not a formula to be used for final decision making. Instead the formula was one data point to be considered in the overall reallocation process.

While I don’t fully buy into the model myself and I regret the unnecessary impact on COAS faculty morale, I am certain that there were opportunities for colleges to give their input. Regrettably the story of the model morphed as it was translated from one person to the next, in much the same way as the message gets distorted in the proverbial telephone game. I suspect that any plan we develop for reallocation of faculty lines will be heralded by the colleges who gain faculty lines and quickly dismissed as flawed by those colleges who will have to give up lines. I am certainly not surprised by these reactions having been on both losing and winning sides in similar situations. In fact, I have the same reaction to the Board of Governors metric formula. But in that case, there are real and direct monetary consequences as opposed to creating one of many tools used to assess line allocation.

Let me close by answering the stated question: “How long will we have to endure this trend?” I don’t believe we have the trend the author of the question sees. However if there is such a trend, when the next decision pops up I would suggest that the person who asked this question makes an appointment with the Provost, or me, to openly and without prejudice ask questions about the decision. That course of action will go a lot further then the anonymous question in strengthening the open dialogue we all seek.

For our part, we continue to look for ways to open dialogue and to seek input for decisions. If anyone has suggestions about techniques or ways to open things up more, please let me know. I do believe that frequent meetings with both the Faculty Association Executive and Faculty Affairs Committees is one such way. A personal open door policy, frequent and consistent meeting with the chairs and deans (pretty uncommon at other universities) should also help.
John

 

Testing Center at UNF

Questioner: Steven Williamson

Posted to: Earle Traynham, Interim Provost Academic Affairs

What is the possibility of UNF getting a testing center in the near future?

Provost Earle Traynham answered during the meeting.
We have a testing center, but they administer primarily SATs. You may be talking about one that would serve DL courses and others. There has been some discussion, but no immediate plans. We will be looking for space for a testing center that is easily accessible to all.