By Katie Quaranta
Faculty heard updates on subjects ranging from enrollment numbers to budget planning at its Monday night meeting, at which it also passed two resolutions.
During her report, Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl said the university already has a record number of applications, up 8 percent from last year at this time. This includes significant increases in both non-resident and resident applications. It also includes a 19 percent increase in multicultural applications and an 89 percent increase in international applications.
Krendl also reported that average ACT scores and mean grade point average are higher among admitted students.
The provost gave an update on faculty compensation in comparison to peer institutions. Last year was the first of an initiative to raise faculty salaries, with a $1.2 million investment, and already salary and compensation rankings rose for full professors, assistant professors and associate professors.
This report prompted a discussion regarding how the money is distributed. Last year, the deans of each college received a set amount to distribute at their discretion. Several senators questioned why decisions didn't occur at the department level, based on merit. Senator Phyllis Bernt said senate passed a resolution last year making those suggestions and recommended a similar resolution this year.
The provost's full report is available on her Web site.
Senate President Sergio Lopez-Permouth introduced a resolution to support the recently passed Student Senate resolution regarding changes to the presidential evaluation policy. The resolutions are in response to an Ohio University Board of Trustees committee's recommendation to revise the presidential evaluation policy.
In particular, Lopez-Permouth wants the board to hold a comprehensive evaluation this fiscal year, as called for in the committee's proposed policy. He further indicated that if the board did not follow this advice, he would support Faculty Senate conducting its own evaluation of the president. Senate passed the resolution.
Joe McLaughlin, chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee, reported that the Budget Planning Council planned to hear from the General Fee and Student Fee committees next week. He also said BPC members were creating budget contingency plans in case the state reduces funding for next year.
Many of the senators argued that surplus health care benefits reserves should not be used for this purpose, as some BPC members have suggested. There also were questions about whether surplus health care benefits are included in total employee compensation figures for the university. Senator Charles Naccarato recommended that the senate invite someone to come to a future meeting to answer these questions.
In other meeting highlights:
- President Roderick J. McDavis provided an update on the voluntary system of accountability that may be implemented as part of the University System of Ohio. Although he had heard there might be one tool to measure all universities, he said he is now optimistic that there probably will be diverse assessment options.
- Charles Smith, chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee, introduced a resolution to change the language in the Faculty Handbook regarding faculty members' annual merit reviews. The language now indicates that any changes to a department's written procedures, evaluation process or criteria will not take effect until the beginning of the next evaluation period. Following extensive discussion, the senate voted to pass the resolution.
- Krendl announced progress on two searches: The search for the vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the graduate college is in its final stage and an announcement is expected soon. Also, three finalists for the director of the Center for International Studies will visit the Athens campus in April.
- During his report, Lopez-Permouth said he is almost ready to submit a proposal to the committee on committees to have a university standing committee on benefits. The proposal will echo the language in a resolution passed by the senate at its June 2007 meeting. He also said he soon will be meeting with board Chair Daniel DeLawder to discuss the presidential evaluation process and the possibility of adding a faculty member as a nonvoting member of the Board of Trustees.
- Sherrie Gradin, chair of the Professional Relations Committee, updated the senate regarding the university's concerns about deans' evaluations, including a low faculty response rate and a cumbersome evaluation process. Proposed solutions included making the evaluation survey available online, having the deans e-mail a list of their goals and accomplishments to the faculty, and holding evaluations only in the first and third years with a comprehensive evaluation during the fifth year.
Several senators argued that these changes are unnecessary and that the deans should be evaluated publicly every year. Others said lack of interaction with deans, uncertainty about what deans' responsibilities are and even overall satisfaction with the deans' performances could have contributed to the low faculty response.