Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Senate to Consider Resolution in Praise of University Leaders

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

At its December 2012 meeting, the Penn State University Faculty Senate will consider the following resolution, proposed at the October Senate meeting by Senator Thomas O. Beebee, Liberal Arts: 

In light of the Freeh Report, the NCAA sanctions, and the conviction and sentencing of Jerry Sandusky, the Faculty Senate of the Pennsylvania State University wishes to convey its deepest sorrow in the face of these crimes, and to extend its sympathy to all victims of these proven criminal actions. The Senate furthermore hereby:
·   Expresses its support for President Rodney Erickson and the Board of Trustees in their efforts to bring greater transparency and accountability to university governance;
·   Affirms its commitment to furthering the cultures of excellence at Penn State: cultures of teaching, of scholarship and research, of service, of student philanthropy, and of student athletics;
·   Pledges its own best efforts, through its committee work, Senate Council, shared governance, and plenary meetings, to continually making Penn State a better place to work and live, and an environment where cultures of excellence can flourish.

What do you think?  Please either post comment here or send comments to me for distribution prior to the meeting.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Michael Bérubé: On the Road From the Paterno Family Professorship in Literature at Pennsylvania State University

Michael Bérubé explains why he resigned the Paterno Family Professorship in Literature at Pennsylvania State University.

The explanation appears in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael Bérubé, Why I Resigned the Paterno Chair, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 15, 2012.  The article is reproduced below. Professor Bérubé is now the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature at Penn State.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Too Little but Maybe Not Too Late: Association of Governing Board's Report on Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) "is the only national association that serves the interests and needs of academic governing boards, boards of institutionally related foundations, and campus CEOs and other senior-level campus administrators on issues related to higher education governance and leadership. Its mission is to strengthen, protect, and advocate on behalf of citizen trusteeship that supports and advances higher education." About AGB.

(Pix from AGB website)

The following is a link to a new report from the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) on board responsibilities for intercollegiate athletics released yesterday by the Knight Commission: Trust, Accountability and Integrity: Board Responsibilities for Intercollegiate Athletics (2012) ("AGB Report". It was put together by a group representing university presidents and board of trustees members.  It included no other constituencies and so remains very much an insider's project for insiders.  That alone should give pause.  To some extent this Report can be understood as a step forward.  However, for the most part it presents the sort of timid and overgeneralized approach that both creates  the appearance of forward movement and enough ambiguity to protect boards in their desire to change nothing but appear to speak to changing everything. If this is the best these grandees can do, then the locus of evolution of both the university and of college sports is much more likely to originate from others--principally the state, the media and critical consumer and user constituencies. That the university would willingness ceded control of its fate to others is sad, indeed. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Here Comes Generation A: What Faculty Say About Adult Learners

Here Comes Generation A: What Faculty Say About Adult Learners

Thursday, October 25, 2012
1:30p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
508 Rider

Panelists: Martha Aynardi, Director of Academic Support and Special Projects, Penn State Berks; Martha Jordan, Director of Admission Services for Continuing Education and World Campus and Adult Learner Advocacy; Jane Owens, Senior Director of Continuing Education, Penn State Abington; Karen Pollack, Director of Academic Affairs for Undergraduate Programs, Penn State World Campus; and Patricia Shope, Prior Learning Assessment Coordinator, Continuing Education and World Campus

The Penn State Commission for Adult Learners, composed of faculty, staff, and students from across the University system exists to increase enrollment of and improve the adult learner experience at Penn State. In the fall of 2011 a total of 4,807 faculty members were invited to participate in a survey to gather information relative to (1) current attitudes toward adult learners at Penn State, (2) perceptions of the unique needs of adult learners, (3) the types of accommodations necessary for adult learners, and (4) identifying the needs of adult learners that are not currently being met. This panel will present the results of this survey, the background and methodology, and action steps that came about as a result. The panel will also focus on two specific initiatives – a joint effort with Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence to produce a faculty workshop that will inform and prepare faculty to better understand and work with adult learners and the Prior Learning Assessment Initiative.
To register for this free event call the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment at 814-863-8721 or email Penn State campuses interested in participating in Quality Advocates via videoconference should contact the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment.
The Quality Advocates Network meets several times each semester to share ideas and examples of improvement and change. To join the Quality Advocates Network mailing list or to learn more about the meetings scheduled, contact the staff at

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Emeriti Faculty--An Underutilized Resource or a Spent Asset?

The issue of emeritus faculty remains an object of conversation in may institutions.  On the one hand, older faculty can be seen as an impediment to the hiring of "new blood" and on the other they can be viewed as a highly exploitable commodity by deans and other unit administrators whose budgets, to of whack, can be served by the re-hiring of emeriti for course teaching at very very favorable rates.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

This post summarizes a very interesting piece by Seth Matthew Fishman a visiting lecturer in the higher education program at the University of North Texas. The article appeared in the May-June, 2012 issue of Academe, Volume 97, Number 3, published by the American Association of University Professor (AAUP) [], The Merits of Emeriti: Providing Campus Community to Retired FacultyThe COMMENTS are also worth reading.

Monday, October 8, 2012

General Education at Penn State--Responses to the Gen Ed Report

Penn State is beginning what may be an exciting discussion relating to the revamping of general education at the university (e.g., Designing General Education for the Future: Penn State Report on General Education).

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

This post includes a reaction and set of suggestions to get the discussion going.  My thanks to
Bernadette A. Lear, Behavioral Sciences and Education Librarian Coordinator of Library Instruction and Outreach, Penn State Harrisburg Library.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Digital Humanities From the CIC

The CIC was pleased recently to announce the report by the CIC Digital Humanities Committee that is the product of the first CIC Digital Humanities Summit, held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in April 2012. The paper is said to reflect the consensus reached by the sixty faculty, librarians, and administrators attending that there are significant shared requirements necessary to foster thriving Digital Humanities communities, and a common belief in the importance of interdisciplinarity, collaboration, and open access and open source models.

Read More HERE.

From the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE): Diversity, Climate and More at Penn State

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) annually collects information at four-year colleges and universities about student participation in educational and cocurricular programs and activities.

NSSE data is meant to be used by participating institutions to aid in data driven planning.  At Penn State this is focused on (1) responding to the University’s First-Year Experience plan requirement for assessment; (2) measuring change in student engagement since the last NSSE administration in 2008
Measure student-centeredness; (3) examining involvement in educationally enriching experiences; and (4) supporting the assessment requirements of accreditation.  (See Penn State, Student Affairs, Research and Assessment website).  This post provides links to that data for 2011.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Designing General Education for the Future: Penn State Report on General Education

It s my great pleasure to circulate A Report based on an Invitation from the President, the Provost and the Chair of the University Faculty Senate to Examine General Education – August 2012.  It is the product of the work of a Committee, headed by Jeremy Cohen and including Cynthia Brewer, Cary Eckhardt, Tanya Furman, Cynthia Lightfoot, Tom Litzinger, Mark Munn and Mary Beth Williams.

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

 I hope that all members of the Penn State community will vigorously participate in the conversations that we hope to initiate on the future of general education at the university.The Report will be presented to the Penn State University Faculty Senate at its October 16, 2012 meeting to be held in the Kern Building at 1:30 P.M. The presentation will be led by Associate Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Jeremy Cohen.

Informal Notes of October 2 2012 Faculty Senate Council Meeting

On October 2, 2012, the Penn State Faculty Senate Council held a regularly scheduled meeting.  This post provides an informal summary of the meeting.  In the event of conflict the formal minutes will be regarded as authoritative.  

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

The slides of the PowerPoint Presentation made by Chair Backer at the meeting may be accessed HERE.