Academic Activity Tracking Emails

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Registrar, Chad Learch

Why am I receiving official UNF emails related to Academic Activity Tracking from Chad Learch to both my UNF and my personal email addresses? This occurred on August 27 and August 31. My personal email is just that personal and has nothing to do with UNF; I take great care not to mix my personal email with UNF business, especially in light of the recent changes to UNF’s email policy. Please update the system to prevent this from happening in the future.

 

Response from the Floor by Registrar Chad Learch: 

The questioner is correct, personal emails were being used. I have already removed this feature from the system.

Supporting Students being Threatened by Campus Protesters

January 11, 2018

Questioner: Curtis Phills

Posed to: Radha Pyati, President Faculty Association, UNF President John Delaney

As a faculty member at UNF, one of my great passions is working with and supporting our students. As we all know, it is exam week and our students are hard at work studying and completing our exams. Last week was world aids day and our LGBT center was handing out condoms. Someone not part of our community came on campus and started targeting and intimidating our students during this stressful period.
He was specifically targeting individual students and saying hateful things based on gender and sexual orientation. For instance, he targeted individual female students who were wearing yoga pants and told then that they would be going to hell. He also targeted individual LGBTQ students and also told them that they were going to hell. Members of the University Police Department (UPD) were present while our students were harassed and intimidated, and they did not intervene.
I have been told by General Counsel that targeting individual students, as this individual did, is a violation of UNF policy for outside groups exercising free speech on campus. Students who were targeted reported not being able to concentrate and take their exams to the best of their abilities. Some even reported skipping class or going home. Their ability to participate in educational activities is restricted by being individually targeted by this individual.
What advice does the FA President have for faculty to support students targeted by an individual in this way? What can we do when these students come to our offices or classrooms, upset and looking for support? What should we expect UPD to do in support of our students?

Partial answer from the Floor by FA President Radha Pyati
My advice for faculty would be to provide the most supportive environment for students so that they feel that they are in a safe space. I can discuss this issue with Tom VanShoor, Dean of Students, and representatives of the UPD to determine what can be expected of the UPD and student conduct code in such circumstances. The Faculty Association can provide a short version for faculty regarding the limitations of the conduct code so that we can express to students what is expected in this situation. The provision of a supportive environment is an expectation that we need to fill for our students. I will follow-up a more complete answer and provide a summary regarding these policies to which faculty can refer.

Partial answer from the Floor by Interim Provost Pam Chally
In situations like this, we should lean on our Counseling Center. They are open every day and can provide support for our students in these situations.

 

Response from UNF Police Chief Frank Mackesy

Current case law and new legislation by the Florida Legislator continue to recognize free speech as highly protected and for such targeting to be actionable it must be severe, persistent and pervasive (in other words, repeatedly occurring and causing the student harm) for it to be actionable. In addition to being severe, persistent or pervasive it must also have the impact of limiting or denying the student’s ability to effectively participate in the University’s programs and activities. This is a very tough standard to meet. If any member of the UNF family should observe such behavior as described above , according to UNF policy 7.0040R the following course of action should be taken:

“If, in the opinion of the President or his/her designated representative, an event is disrupting normal University operations or infringing on the rights of other members of the University community, the President or his/her representative may:

(a) Identify him/herself to the participants, giving name and official position;
(b) Inform the participants that they are in violation of the University policy and/or in violation of the law and specify the nature of the violation;
(c) Request that the violation cease; and
(d) In the event of noncompliance with this request, enlist the assistance of the University Police in restoring order and enforcing the law.”

The current designated representatives are identified by the President as the Interim Provost, or later the Provost, and any associate vice president under their supervision, in Academic Affairs or Student Affairs, to act as the President’s designee in enforcing the regulation. If that administrator’s efforts to enforce the regulation are unsuccessful, the University Police, as the President’s designee, may take necessary steps to enforce the regulation.

 

 

Altering the Student Code of Conduct to Protect Students/Staff from Hate Groups

November 2, 2017

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Radha Pyati, President Faculty Association

A UNF student has served in a public role as a Grand Dragon of the KKK, a known hate organization that devalues and actively threatens the lives of non-white non-Christian students on campus.

  1. Given free speech rights, what is the threshold at which his speech, writing, or behavior would trigger a student conduct code violation? What actions trigger expulsion?
  2. If the student code of conduct as written allows faculty and administrators no ability to refuse to teach this student, can the code of conduct be updated to deal with this problem?
  3. If the student behaves calmly in class, but serves in this position very publicly off campus, what recourse do faculty have to protect themselves and their students from him? How might the university ensure that faculty’s home addresses are not provided to these hate groups via a FOIA request?
  4. Among our diverse student body, we may have KKK members as well as known affiliates of ISIS. How would UNF treat a student who was a known affiliate of ISIS, in a practical sense? Are these same practical measures applied to members of the KKK and other such domestic hate groups?

Response from Karen Stone, Vice President and General Counsel:

Please see the ACLU primer on Speech on Campus linked below.  I realize that one of the question subparts ((3.))  asks about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and faculty home addresses. Employee home addresses are public information unless the employee falls within a limited number of categories, such as current and past judges, prosecutors, police officers, etc.  But, we do not publish a directory of this information. Instead, someone would need to make a public records request for the information.

ACLU Speech on Campus link

 

 

Increase in Awarded Presidential Scholarships

October 13, 2016

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: John Delaney, President, University of North Florida

 

In the e-mail you sent to faculty on 9/22, you noted the large number of Presidential scholarships awarded to UNF students. While this is certainly great, I am wondering if we can get (a) an accounting of how much is being spent on these scholarships and where the money comes from and (b) why the UNF endowment seems to not have increased substantially in many years.
Response from the Floor by Vice President Shari Shuman:

There were three parts of the question. The first part was about the number of Presidential Scholarships. That information will need to come from Enrollment Services. The second part of the question relates to from where are the Presidential Scholarships are paid. Presidential Merit Scholarships are paid for through the regular E&G (Education and General Funds) budget. The UNF Foundation also provides many merit-based scholarships for students from the UNF Foundation budget. The third part of the question is about the Foundation and its endowment. In 2008, it was about $100 million dollars. After the economic crash in 2008, the endowment reduced to about $70 million. Currently, the endowment is up to about $90 million dollars. In 2003, the endowment was around $50 million. There have been some declines, but other than the dramatic drop in 2008, the endowment was on an increasing trend.

Student Grade Petition

October 13, 2016

Questioner: Pali Sen

Posed to: Provost Earle Traynham, Academic Affairs and Megan Kuehner, Registrar, Registrar’s Office

A question on a student’s petition of a grade of a F to a W in the faculty association meeting on September 1, missed the intended mark. I know students can petition any grade, I am asking about the outcome of it. If a student uses a Waiver of University Policy form to change a final grade in a course to a W, and the faculty assigning the grade denies the request, then it can be granted by a chair or a dean or ultimately, the Provost. I believe this violates the collective bargaining agreement. The process for assigning a W after a final grade has been assigned, needs a clarification so that faculty know the answer to an important issue.

 

Response from Provost Earle Traynham, Academic Affairs: 

Article 10.2 (a)(2) explains the grade appeal process, and makes clear that neither the department chair nor the dean has the authority to change a grade that has been assigned by the faculty member . If the student appeals to the provost, the appeal is heard by the University Appeals Committee, which then makes a recommendation to the provost. Through this process, the provost does have the authority to change the grade.

This process covers the vast majority of cases involving a dispute over an assigned grade. The student has 90 days to file an appeal. Although rare, there have been cases in which a student requests a change in a grade of F to a W after more than 90 days, sometimes after several years. I am aware of two instances in which this has occurred. In these cases, our office contacted the faculty member notifying them that the student had submitted a Waiver of University Policy for a grade change from F to W. We indicated that if the faculty member could verify that the student never attended class we would consider the appeal. In both instances, the faculty member was able to determine that the student had not attended class and had not taken any exams. The grade was the n changed to a W.

Please let me know if there are any questions.

Response from Megan Kuehner, Registrar, Registrar’s Office:

Good afternoon – I would like to send the attached response to the question posed by Dr. Sen. I know
it was directed to and answered by Dr. Traynham but, given my office’s role in the process I want to provide additional feedback.

Students at the University of North Florida currently have several withdrawal options. Withdrawals for extenuating circumstances typically include the withdrawal for military service (WS), medical withdrawals (WM), and withdrawals with a fee refund (WR). Each of these options has its own governing policy and approval process. In the case of the WM and WR, those processes exist outside of Academic Affairs.

A request for a traditional withdrawal after grades have posted would initiate with the student and would be submitted via the online Student Petition of Academic Policy. All students are required to upload documentation to support the request and the requirement is enforced by a systematic hold that prevents submission until documents are uploaded. The appeal is submitted for review by the advisor, instructor, chair and Registrar’s Office/Graduate Dean.

Students can appeal to withdraw for a variety of reasons. Most often the student will state that he or she did not attend the course and therefore did not earn the failing grade. These are usually students who left UNF without officially dropping courses. In these cases the instructor typically verifies the student’s statement and approves the withdrawal. In cases where the student has attended and still wishes to pursue a withdrawal, the instructor, advisor and chair would make the best decision based on the student’s supporting documentation. The online process does not prevent any reviewer from discussing the appeal with another reviewer and it is our understanding that a dialogue frequently occurs between each party. Additionally, each reviewer can enter notes for final review by the appeals committee. The committee is comprised of members from offices with Enrollment Services and academic advising. The committee reviews the same documentation, the advising history and most importantly, the feedback of each reviewer.

Appeals are not automatically funneled to the provost for additional review. Any undergraduate student who wishes to appeal the final decision is referred to the dean of Undergraduate Studies and graduate students are referred back to the Graduate School. The situations that typically escalate are those where the student was denied the request and those denials are in support of the faculty and chair.

The committee makes an effort to openly communicate with instructors and chairs to clarify any questions prior to review, which can include verifying the accuracy of a student’s stated timeline, reviewing the syllabus and/or confirming communication outside of class. This is done to ensure all parties are accurately represented and have a voice in the process. Very seldom have we encountered a situation where there is disagreement between and chair and instructor. In those cases, we notify each party and seek a solution.

It is important to note that there are two related processes that are sometimes confused with the Student Petition of Academic Policy. First is the punitive F grade or FA. This grade is assigned when a student has violated the Academic Misconduct Policy and it is a final assignment that cannot be withdrawn by the student. Students do have the right to appeal and that process is outlined in the policy with the absolute final decision rendered by the president if necessary.  The second process is the grade appeal process outlined in the Appealing Academic Grades policy. Students in this separate, but related, case have the right to appeal any grade. Please note that this policy states, “Neither the Chair nor Dean may override the instructor’s decision and issue a change of grade without the faculty member’s concurrence.”

Freshman Admission Profile

October 13, 2016

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: Albert Colom, Associate Vice President, Enrollment Services

President Delaney recently sent out a notice about the admission profile of our freshman student class. Would you kindly provide the Faculty Association with the admission profile of students admitted for Spring 2017 as well as for Summer 2016?

Response: 

The anonymous questioner asked for the academic profiles for UNF’s student admitted in summer 2016 and spring 2017. Because the University of North Florida spring 2017 freshman class has not yet enrolled, it is impossible to provide numbers on that cohort.

For summer 2016, the academic performance averages were 1085 SAT, 22 ACT and a 3.55 high school GPA. When we compare this profile we find that it quite similar to the summer profiles with those schools with whom we most directly compete: USF, UCG and FSU.

The data on the range for scores falling between the 25th and 75th percentile ranks are as follows.

  • UNF’s GPA was 3.33-3.84, USF’s was 3.38-3.85 and FSU’s was a 3.5-4.1
  • UNF’s SAT math sub-score was 500-570, which was the same as USF’s, while FSU range went from 550-630
  • UNF’s SAT reading sub-score was 510-580, which was the same as UCF’s, FSU scores ranged from550-630.

As we all know, summer has typically been an entry point for students who are falling somewhat below fall admissions profiles; although that is changing for some institutions with low acceptance rates. Some of these schools, such as UF, are delaying admissions for student who are not meeting fall standards until spring ter

Student Grade Petition from “F” to “W”

September 1, 2016

Questioner: Pali Sen

Posed to: Provost Earle Traynham, Academic Affairs

Once a grade is posted, can a student petition the grade after it is posted, for example to change an “F” grade after the final exam to make the grade a “W.”

Provost Earle Traynham provided a response from the floor:

Students are able to petition grades. The process involves review and recommendations by the faculty member, Department Chair, the College Dean, the University Appeals Committee, and the Provost. At each stage, recommendations regarding the grade change is determined and communicated to the student.

* Also Answered here

15 Credit Requirement for Scholarship Recipients

September 1, 2016

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed to: John Delaney, President, University of North Florida

Why was the decision to require UNF scholarship recipients to take 15 credits per semester made, seemingly, without faculty input? This decision seems like it will have many negative consequences such as: students attending other universities instead of UNF, students taking heavier course loads than they can handle well, especially if 4 credit courses or labs are involved.

Response: 

The decision to require students to complete 15 hours in fall and spring terms, or 30 hours over fall, spring and summer is based on different pieces of data.

The first of these was watching the effects a similar program had at the University of South Florida. When South Florida’s graduation rates took a dramatic increase a few years ago we began to explore how they accomplished this. In speaking to various representatives from USF, each of them emphasized a cultural shift on the campus – 15 credit hours per term became the new norm. USF advisors were recommending 15 hours per term for students across the campus, with some exceptions. Students were becoming committed to graduating in four years.

After exploring the change at USF, Jay Coleman compared second-year retention rates for UNF students who took 15 hours their first semester compared to those who took 12 hours in their first term. He determined that those taking 15 hours showed higher second year retention rates.

The third set of data we considered were the additional expenses added and the income lost to the student by slowing down degree completion.

In making the change we mandated it for students receiving institutional grants and scholarships. At the same time, we provided a review process for exceptions.

As to the question of faculty input, since coming to UNF I was never made aware that faculty input was required in establishing criteria for student scholarships. Over the past few years we have worked closely with Enrollment Services to grow and reframe scholarships to meet with the mission of the university, taking into consideration how much money was likely to attract students and provide them with the support they needed to succeed at UNF.

When we made this most recent changes to our scholarship programs we worked closely with academic programs where students would be unable to comply with the requirements we set forth. It is also important to remember that these rules don’t affect any scholarship programs funded by other sources.

It is our hope, however, to see as many students enrolled in 15 hour per term or 30 hours per year, when possible. Making 15 the norm is likely to have several positive effects on our students and the nature and reputation of the institution. It may also affect future university funding.

Respectfully,
John A. Delaney

Freshman Housing Requirements

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: John Delaney, UNF President

I read with interest your response to the previous question about the effect of requiring freshman to live on campus. I ask, as a follow-up, whether the following data is being collected also:

1. The amount of student loans being incurred by students. It seems to me that the residence requirement may cause some students to take on extra loan debt (and this may become either a hurdle to completion or a difficulty later in life).

2. Whether UNF is seeing an increase in the number of students who transfer to UNF from FSCJ as sophomores, meaning they did not spend their first year at UNF. Such students likely received a weaker academic (and social) preparation during their first year of college and as such may have difficulty adapting once they get to UNF; not to mention the financial impact on UNF of a smaller freshman class size.

In short, are there unintended consequences to this policy that may not have been examined?

 

Written response from the President’s Office:

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

December 14, 2013

Dear President Rakita;

At the November Faculty Association meeting, someone asked a set of anonymous questions about our policy on mandatory housing. I appreciate the individual’s recommended metrics for tracking our success in improving the UNF students’ educational experiences and increasing our six-year graduation rates:

I read with interest your response to the previous question about the effect of requiring freshman to live on campus. I ask, as a follow-up, whether the following data is being collected also:

1. The amount of student loans being incurred by students. It seems to me that the residence requirement may cause some students to take on extra loan debt (and this may become either a hurdle to completion or a difficulty later in life).

2. Whether UNF is seeing an increase in the number of students who transfer to UNF from FSCJ as sophomores, meaning they did not spend their first year at UNF. Such students likely received a weaker academic (and social) preparation during their first year of college and as such may have difficulty adapting once they get to UNF; not to mention the financial impact on UNF of a smaller freshman class size.

No doubt, both of the measures can help inform our analyses of the mandatory housing policy.

From the very start, we have worked hard to find additional funding to help students who face financial need. We want to maintain access for students who meet our admissions standards, but who come from homes where economics will play a major role in whether they can attend UNF.

When we look at loans for students who entered in fall 2011 versus fall 2012, we find an increase in the overall percentage of students with loans: 32.27 percent to 41.99 percent. The increase occurs for students living on campus (39% to 44%) and those living off campus (22% to 26%). The average amount of loans for students living on campus decreased slightly ($2,670 to $2,649), while the average loan for students living off campus increased more dramatically ($2,243 to $2,641), in part because some of these students walked away from institutional support for housing. UNF has a track record for the percent of, and averages for, student loans being well below national and state averages. The current numbers keep us below these averages. But as the questioner states, these are numbers we need to monitor closely. And to the degree possible, we need to keep these loans as low as possible.

With regard to transfers, in fall 2012 we had 119 lower division transfers Equal Opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action Institution from state colleges. These students constituted 0.9 percent of our undergraduate student body. In fall 2013 there were 156 state college transfers at the lower division. These students made up 1.2 percent of our undergraduate enrollment. There was 0.3 percent increase. This could be a natural fluctuation or it could represent a stable or growing, albeit very small, increase. We will need to pay attention to this metric as we examine our success in changing the character of the university.

In a final note, I would like to remind the questioner and others who are concerned with the financial impact of fewer students on campus, that our failure to improve our six-year graduation rate will have a significant impact on future performance-based funding. We need to pay even closer attention to this metric and the funding that comes with or may be taken away as a result of increases or lack of increases in graduation and retention rates. The evidence is compelling that commuter campuses don’t fare as well as more residential campuses. In addition, we don’t do our students or our community a favor by admitting students if we can’t see them through to graduation.

Respectfully, Tom Serwatka.

Equal Opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action Institution.