Corrected Sept. 21, 2007
By Anita Martin and Mary Alice Casey
Ohio University Faculty Senate, in its first meeting of 2007-08 Monday night, heard some good news about student enrollment, previewed the university's new marketing campaign and discussed a proposal for an alternative presidential evaluation process.
Preliminary figures show enrollment on the Athens campus totals 20,322 students, up 176 from last year at this time, said interim Executive Vice Provost David Descutner.
Undergraduate enrollment climbed by 120 this year to 16,686. Graduate enrollment is up by 49 to 3,200. (See separate story for more about enrollment and related issues.)
In his report to the senate, President Roderick McDavis briefed senators on the University System of Ohio, which Gov. Ted Strickland announced in August. "The primary goal of the system is to reduce competition and increase collaboration among colleges and universities across the state of Ohio," McDavis said.
He urged faculty to attend an Athens campus address by Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut, planned for Sept. 26. Additional details will be forthcoming, he said.
McDavis also said the newly appointed Five-Year Academic Action Plan Committee will help refine the Vision OHIO implementation plan that he introduced in draft form to the Board of Trustees in August. The committee's work will help define Ohio University's role in the state university system.
Senator Phyllis Bernt said she was disappointed that the 13-member committee included just one faculty member, Faculty Senate Chair Sergio Lopez-Permouth, who later in the meeting said he planned to discuss with McDavis the idea of increasing faculty representation on the committee. In addition to Lopez, the committee includes the chairs of the other university senates, five deans, two vice presidents and the chief information officer.
In another presentation to the senate, Joe Brennan and Gina Calcamuggio of University Communications and Marketing gave an overview of the university's academic marketing campaign.
Titled "The Promise," the fall campaign will target prospective students and people who influence them, such as parents and guidance counselors. It features the accomplishments of a dozen students -- from a violist who played in Carnegie Hall to a Goldwater Scholar who is researching asteroids at a premiere astrophysical research facility.
"This is about 12 students who have had their personal potential realized," Calcamuggio said. "They are the promise of Ohio University."
"The Promise" is intended to boost the public's awareness of Ohio University's academic excellence and reinforce strong positive perceptions relating to student experiences and campus setting, Brennan said. The campaign was produced with input from faculty, staff and students, and was jointly funded by the offices of the president, the executive vice president and provost, the deans and Communications and Marketing. Existing research, interviews, focus groups and stakeholder feedback all informed the campaign, Calcamuggio said.
Advertisements will appear throughout central and southeast Ohio during October and November on network television, cable television, radio, billboards, the Internet and in print. Calcamuggio's team chose specific times, locations and outlets to maximize visibility.
"I think this reflects a need we've had for a long time to control our own image, instead of letting other people control our image," Bernt said. "This needs to be just the beginning. We need to define who we are and how we want people to see us."
Also addressing the senate Monday night was Najee Muhammad, associate professor of educational studies and interim chair of the Department of African American Studies. Pointing to a May 31 campus incident in which a student was charged with menacing and ethnic intimidation after allegedly making racist comments and threatening two other students, Muhammad appealed to senators to be part of a solution.
"I would like Faculty Senate to consider putting together a social justice policy on social injustice," he said. "We've got to address this issue of diversity, and it has to be addressed in the classroom. We have a responsibility to the students who come here to educate them."
Muhammad said he welcomed the opportunity to discuss the issue further with Faculty Senate's Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee or others who are interested.
In new business, Senator Joseph Bernt presented for first reading a resolution calling for a new approach to the presidential evaluation process.
The resolution, identical to one Graduate Student Senate plans to introduce at its meeting on Monday, suggests an unaffiliated third party conduct the presidential evaluation rather than the Board of Trustees. Andrew Pusateri, a Graduate Student senator, said he and fellow senators are concerned there is a lack of transparency in the evaluation process.
Faculty Senate discussed various options, including boycotting the process altogether or supporting a presidential evaluation by a third party. Several faculty senators said whatever process ultimately prevails should look at the long-term.
"If we're talking about 'the' president, I don't want anything to do with it," said Senator Duane McDiarmid, adding that he would feel more inclined to examine the process of evaluating "a" president.
After a lengthy discussion, Bernt withdrew the resolution and said he would consult with other senators in hopes of bringing a revised proposal before the senate in October.
In other meeting highlights:
- Descutner provided updates on three current searches. He said three candidates for the position of vice provost for diversity, access and equity will visit campus in October. A search committee hopes to conduct interviews for the vice provost for enrollment management yet this quarter, and a strong pool of candidates for the dean of libraries position is currently under review.
- In his report, Lopez-Permouth provided background on the Ohio Faculty Council, on which two members from each four-year institution in Ohio -- including the chair of each faculty senate (or equivalent body) and someone he or she appoints -- represent their faculty perspectives to the Ohio Board of Regents, other state officials, university administrations and the general public.
- Senator Joe McLaughlin, chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee, reviewed possible implications of the state-mandated two-year freeze on tuition and its increased investments in higher education. McLaughlin pointed to the required "efficiency savings," which call for institutions to reduce overall spending 1 percent in fiscal 2008 and 3 percent in fiscal 2009.
McLaughlin also addressed the university's working five-year academic plan, suggesting that its proposed $30 million investment in new and ongoing initiatives may require units to take further reductions in other parts of their budgets.
- David Ingram, chair of the Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee, revisited issues related to the new budget model. His main concern focused on the idea that overhead costs related to academic support units may be applied proportionately to academic units.
"We seem to be moving toward new taxes for academic units without clear definition of who is making what decisions when," Ingram said.
Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl was unable to attend Monday's meeting. A PDF version of her written report to the senate is on her Web site.
Faculty Senate's next meeting is at 7:10 p.m., Oct. 15, in Walter Hall 235.
Story posted at 1:24 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2007. Updated at 9:05 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21, to correct the quote by Najee Muhammad. The quote was originally posted as "I would like Faculty Senate to consider putting together a policy on social injustice."