The agenda for the Penn State Senate Council meeting scheduled for January 15, 2013 has been finalized. It is set out here.
(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)
The agenda includes consideration of a number of important informational reports. In an effort to make our work more transparent I have included many of them here as well. It would be useful for stakeholders to read these before our meeting and send comments either via this post or directly to the Senate officers (www.senate.psu.edu ).
SENATE COUNCIL AGENDA
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 – 1:30 p.m. 102 Kern Graduate Building
A. CALL TO ORDER
B. MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF NOVEMBER 13, 2012
C. ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REMARKS
2. Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Pangborn
3.Vice Presidents’ and Vice Provosts’ Comments
4. Senate Officers
5. Executive Director Youtz
6. Councilor Comments
D. ACTION ITEMS
Revisions of the Berks Constitution [posted in ANGEL]
E. DISCUSSION ITEMS
1. Schedule of Senate meetings 2013-14 (Cynthia Robinson)
2. Special Committee on University Governance Update (John Nichols)
F. REPORT OF GRADUATE COUNCIL FOR NOVEMBER 21 AND DECEMBER 12, 2012
G. SENATE AGENDA ITEMS FOR JANUARY 29, 2013
Senate Self-Study Committee, A Review of Structure, Communication, and Organization of the University Faculty Senate
Admissions, Records, Scheduling, and Student Aid
Annual Report on the Reserved Spaces Program
ISIS Replacement Project
University Faculty Census Report for 2013-2014
Penn State World Campus: Today and Tomorrow
Research and Libraries, Information Systems, and Technology
PIVOT: An Online Resource for Researchers
Report on Fall 2012 Campus Visits
H. APPROVAL OF AGENDA FOR JANUARY 29, 2013
I. NEW BUSINESS
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ADMISSIONS, RECORDS, SCHEDULING, AND STUDENT AID Annual Report on the Reserved Spaces Program
"Reserved Spaces" at the University Park Campus are admission spaces reserved for eligible first year students with special needs or talents that cannot be met at non-University Park locations and whose predicted GPAs are below those for regular undergraduate fall admissions to University Park. These students contribute to the educational and cultural life and diversity of the University Park campus.
Table 1 shows the distribution of admissions through the Reserved Spaces Program by predicted GPA for each general classification. The Glossary at the end of the report provides some definitions of classifications. For Fall 2012 for students at University Park, 240 spaces were used out of the 325 allotted (73.8%), which is 3.99% of new first-year students. These spaces are distributed among three categories: Senate Approved, Other Academic, and Administrative. Several factors can impact the number of reserved spaces that are actually used. Depending on the category, the number of offers extended is based on a limit that is not to be exceeded; the proportion of spaces actually used is determined by the yield rate on those offers. In other cases, there is an intentional decision to use fewer spaces.
Table 2 provides a ten-year comparison of the number of reserved spaces, with a following chart showing reserved spaces relative to total admissions. Table 3 shows the proposed reserved spaces limit for 2013, which includes a request to increase the Educational Opportunity Program/College Assistance Migrant Program allocation by five spaces, for a total of 75.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ADMISSIONS, RECORDS, SCHEDULING, AND STUDENT AID
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ADMISSIONS, RECORDS, SCHEDULING, AND STUDENT AID ISIS Replacement Project
Penn State is moving forward with a project to replace our 30-year-old student system (ISIS) with a purchased student information system. This is a huge undertaking that will touch everyone at the University – students, staff and faculty. The Senate’s participation and cooperation will be critical to the success of this project.
The presentation will provide background regarding the decision process, an overview of the project including current status and timeline, and the role of the Senate in the project.
Karen Schultz and David Salvia will present the report.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ADMISSIONS, RECORDS, SCHEDULING, AND STUDENT AID
University Faculty Census Report 2013-2014 Senate Elections
In March 2011, the Senate voted to change the representation ratio for electing senators from one senator for each 25 members of the electorate, to a representation model of a maximum number of 200 elected faculty seats. The legislative report and a table showing the calculation for achieving a Senate of 200 faculty seats is available at http://www.senate.psu.edu/agenda/2010-2011/mar2011/appf.pdf.
The Elections Commission determined that the new representation model should be phased in over a two-year period to provide flexibility to units that are reducing their numbers of senators. This is the final year for implementing the new representation model.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON OUTREACH Penn State World Campus: Today and Tomorrow (Informational)
Wayne Smutz, Associate Vice President for Academic Outreach and Executive Director of World Campus, and Craig Weidemann, Vice President for Outreach will present an overview of World Campus, its present success and future challenges. Appendix 1 will provide additional information and data for the presentation.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON OUTREACH
The World Campus first opened in 1998, with a modest beginning of five academic programs and 41 students. Today, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate certificates and degrees are offered through the World Campus, and more than 64,500 students have taken World Campus courses (up to and including the fall 2012 semester). In the budget academic year (BAY) 2011-2012, comprised of the summer 2011, fall 2011, and spring 2012 semesters, 10,921 students were identified as World Campus students through their campus location. More than 5,000 additional students from other Penn State locations also took World Campus courses during that time frame. These 16,000-plus students accounted for 46,446 course enrollments in BAY 2011-2012. With a growth rate of 19% from BAY 2010- 11 to 2011-12, the World Campus will exceed its University-established enrollment goal of 50,000 course enrollments by BAY 2012-13, a year ahead of schedule.
In short, the World Campus is a University success story. Its success comes from the support and vision of faculty, staff, academic partners, and leadership across the University. This report will highlight how that support and vision has helped move the World Campus closer to its goal of being the premier provider of online education among peer research institutions. The University is creating a comprehensive, learner-centric experience through the integration of high-quality academic programs, outstanding student services, and excellent instruction informed by research and driven through innovation, for students who choose to study at a distance worldwide.
In January 2011, the Academic Program and Administrative Services Core Council (“the Core Council”) made recommendations to each of the Colleges to facilitate changes in their programs, operations, and strategic priorities. The 13-member core council, chaired by then Executive Vice President and Provost Rodney Erickson, was appointed by the president to provide in-depth analyses of programs, examine available resources, find efficiencies, and determine how to maintain the University’s excellence in an era of declining state revenue and mounting fiscal challenges.
The Core Council identified the World Campus as the University’s major enrollment growth area, and encouraged colleges and campuses to develop programs responsive to the fastest growing markets – professional master’s degrees and professionally oriented undergraduate degrees. The World Campus shared $42 million in tuition-generated revenue back to the Colleges in BAY 2011-12, and it projects a 21% increase in BAY 2012-13.
American higher education is facing significant challenges in the near and long term. The World Campus is in a position to help the University with these challenges. It will have its fifteenth anniversary in 2013, having demonstrated that high quality online learning can be delivered to students worldwide. A new goal of 120,000 enrollments and 25,000 students has been set for 2020-21. As Penn State considers how it will uniquely address the challenges it faces, the World Campus is eager to support the University.
SENATE COMMITTEES ON RESEARCH
LIBRARIES, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, AND TECHNOLOGY
“ScholarSphere will allow users to securely collect, preserve, and share scholarly works such as research data sets, working papers, reports, posters, and video and image collections with the Penn State community and the world.” (Taken from the ScholarSphere website: https://scholarsphere.psu.edu/)
On September 24, 2012, University Libraries and ITS Digital Library Technologies launched the ScholarSphere repository, which enables research sharing and discovery. The new service is open to faculty, staff, students, librarians, and researchers who have a Penn State Access account.
At the October 16, 2012, Senate Committee on Research meeting, Patricia Hswe, digital collections curator at Penn State University Libraries; Dan Coughlin, lead developer of ScholarSphere; Mike Giarlo, digital library architect; and Linda Friend, head of Scholarly Publishing Services of the University Libraries, were present. Patricia Hswe, digital content strategist and head of ScholarSphere User Services at Penn State University Libraries, made a presentation. She said, “ScholarSphere will create a community for accessing and discovering content across a wide array of academic disciplines and digital file types.” Hswe noted that ScholarSphere is part of a third or fourth generation of repository services that is built on the Hydra framework: flexible, open-source community development. Other institutions that are partners in the Hydra Project include Stanford, University of Virginia, University of Hull, Indiana, Notre Dame, Columbia, Northwestern, and DuraSpace.
Hswe noted that ScholarSphere is a trusted institutional service, the repository application will ensure safe, long-term storage for content, enable data to be linked to journal publications, create a citable durable record of an individual’s scholarship, track versions of deposited content, and provide flexible access controls to content, enabling researchers to openly share or restrict access to certain users. Anyone can search and browse content in ScholarSphere. “Penn State is a student-centered institution and this repository also stores student work that will allow future employers to access and cite student work,” said Hswe. She also stated that the work deposited can be found by major internet search engines.
The presentation at the Research Committee meeting also included a demonstration of the service by Dan Coughlin. He showed his recent deposits to the repository and demonstrated the search feature of the web-based tool. He noted the log-in feature, the feature that allows data to be posted to social network sites and privacy settings. He demonstrated the download feature, how to search your dashboard, and other abilities of the system.
Information sessions and demonstrations have taken place throughout September, 2012, and are ongoing at campuses and at departments. University Libraries and ITS are also responsive to requests from researchers to add their content into the service, particularly if they have special data needs, such as large data sets that cannot be transferred via the web. Researchers or any unit interested in a demonstration or assistance are asked to complete the contact form (URL listed below).
Overview of ScholarSphere features:
● Creates a citable, durable record of one’s scholarship - your files are accessible via the
web with stable and short URLs.
● Has flexible access controls for sharing scholarly content - you decide how and with
whom you wish to make available your research.
● Allows for deposit of any file format.
● Ensures secure, safe, long-term storage.
● Provides deposits adhering to the top two levels of the new data categorization standard at Penn State (AD71, https://guru.psu.edu/policies/AD71.html)
● Meets requirements for sharing and preserving research data - as mandated by funding
agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment of the
● Facilitates collection of “grey literature,” such as technical reports, learning objects,
departmental newsletters, symposia and conference proceedings, PowerPoint presentations, etc., all under the PSU domain.
● Integrates CreativeCommons license options - you choose the rights level for your
content; whether it can be used for non-commercial, or commercial purposes; and whether derivatives may be created from it. More about Creative Commons licenses:
● Enables data to be linked to journal publications - a common requirement for many
● Offers export options to a variety of citation management tools for easy sharing of your
● Tracks versions of uploaded content (with the option to revert to earlier versions).
The website for ScholarSphere is https://scholarsphere.psu.edu/. University Libraries and ITS welcome suggestions for new features and other improvements to the service; submit these via the ScholarSphere contact form: https://scholarsphere.psu.edu/contact.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH
SENATE COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH PIVOT: An Online Resource for Researchers (Informational)
This report provides a brief overview to introduce PIVOT which is being adopted as a Penn State wide research tool. The Community of Science combined their “Community of Science Funding Opportunities” and “Scholar Universe” to create PIVOT, an online resource for researchers that brings together research opportunities and people. PIVOT can be accessed by any person with a Penn State University ID (or email address) at: http://pivot.cos.com/
PIVOT is an off-the-shelf product that Penn State has purchased for three years. The rollout schedule for PIVOT began during the fall 2012 and will continue through spring 2013. Faculty will be introduced to the product via demonstrations by college research administrators, by showing faculty the functions of the system. These demonstrations are taking place at University Park as well as at the campuses. The use of the system will be evaluated and a decision will be made regarding renewal at the time of the current membership expiration.
PIVOT provides access to a global database of funding opportunities using a user-friendly interface that can be searched by a variety of ways. Results are returned instantly, providing a list of opportunities, which can then be sorted and searched at a finer scale. Along with each opportunity that is returned, a list of potential collaborators is provided (from both inside and outside of Penn State.) A notification option is available where researchers can contact potential collaborators without leaving the PIVOT website. Researchers can track selected opportunities they are interested in, having them appear on their home page as the log in. Researchers can also receive weekly funding alerts based on their saved search queries. By selecting this function researchers can select to receive a weekly email with any new opportunities matching their search.
An additional feature of PIVOT is the over 3 million faculty profiles created and maintained within the system. By claiming and updating their profile in PIVOT, faculty members can have their expertise available to colleagues. The profiles are created by PIVOT by harvesting information from the website and former COS profiles. It is important that faculty claim and update their own profiles regularly to be sure the information is accurate.
The Senate Committee on Research encourages individuals in the Penn State University research community to login, create a profile, and test the system, which can be found at: http://www.research.psu.edu/osp/find-funding/.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH
SENATE COUNCIL Report on Fall 2012 Campus Visits (Informational)
During the fall 2012 semester the Faculty Senate officers visited seven campuses: Abington, Brandywine, DuBois, Great Valley, Greater Allegheny, Harrisburg, and New Kensington. The officers met with students, faculty, and administrators separately, and thank them for their welcoming manner and the time and thought they put into our discussions. All visits were concluded by October 18, 2012. The officers debriefed with Interim Provost Pangborn and the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses, Madlyn Hanes, on December 12, 2012.
In general, students tended to be happy with their educations in general and with Penn State and their campuses in particular. Faculty tended to be less sanguine about the state of education and Penn State, and administrators varied significantly from positive to negative depending on the context of their campuses. This report summarizes the observations made during those visits, focusing on concerns that were raised. It should be noted that the discussions overall displayed a greater balance between positives and negatives than presented in this report.
The students who met with the officers expressed a high level of overall satisfaction with their campuses. They appreciate their small classes and the opportunity to get to know their professors. Many students would prefer to complete their degree programs at their current campuses, if the programs were available. Nevertheless, they raised several issues relating to academics –– specifically, textbooks, online and hybrid courses, syllabus availability, course encroachment on common hour, advising, and General Education.
Many textbooks are now available in electronic as well as print formats and may be purchased or rented. Students would like the flexibility to choose the format that best suits their needs and budgets; if a faculty member requires a specific format (e.g., print), the reason should be clear to the students. Administrators at one campus noted that students need credit cards to rent textbooks; they cannot use gift cards or cash.
Students acknowledged the potential benefits of online and hybrid courses, but the way the courses are taught appears to be critical in shaping student satisfaction. Students prefer a high level of interaction with the instructor and quality feedback on their work. In hybrid courses, a fixed meeting day for the face-to-face sessions can make it easier for students to plan their schedules. Holding students accountable for the online material in hybrid courses will prevent the need for instructors to reteach the material in the face-to-face sessions. Students reported mixed experiences with World Campus courses. World Campus courses were seen as challenging, but some instructors offered more help than others. One student reported difficulty in obtaining the books for a World Campus course.
Students mentioned that the Commonwealth Campus Student Government (CCSG) has discussed problems resulting from the current policy that course syllabi need to be provided by the tenth day of the semester. This corresponds to the end of the free drop/add period, and students would like to have the syllabi available earlier so that they can make informed decisions about which courses to take.
Students at one campus complained that some courses overlap the common hour that is supposed to be reserved for student activities. The administration acknowledged that this occurs and it is due to a lack of lab space.
Students provided mixed comments on advising. Some students reported that their advisors are excellent and make appropriate course suggestions to students. Others reported that their advisors were not always up to date on program changes, suggested courses that the students did not need to take, or did not tell them about certain requirements. Some students do not understand that their FTCAP advisor will not necessarily be their permanent advisor, and they do not know how to find out who their permanent advisor is. Sometimes students are reassigned to new advisors without the students’ knowledge.
Students expressed mixed opinions on General Education. On the one hand, some think that having to take General Education courses simply prolongs the time it takes to earn a degree. Some resent having to put more effort into some of their General Education courses than their major courses. Others feel that General Education courses should be better integrated with their majors. On the other hand, some feel that General Education courses offer a good opportunity to explore different subject areas and provide a welcome change from courses in their majors. Faculty expressed an appreciation for a diverse student body in their General Education courses, noting that students from different majors bring different perspectives and skills to their courses. There is also concern among faculty that a radical change in General Education might necessitate radical changes at campuses, since many of the courses they currently teach fulfill General Education requirements for students in 2 + 2 programs.
A faculty member raised the issue of automatic prerequisite checking. Ensuring that students have met course prerequisites is important for at least one degree program’s accreditation. Another faculty member inquired about how to handle cases in which students are called up for active military duty for several weeks during a semester. There were also faculty questions about curricular procedures and a desire for greater flexibility in developing programs.
Faculty at some campuses expressed concern about communication with administrators. In some cases, faculty felt that there is little communication between faculty and campus administrators, or that administrators provide information to faculty only after decisions have been made. If faculty are asked for input, but suggestions are not followed, faculty would appreciate receiving explanations. Some faculty members stated that more information about their campus budgets would improve communications.
Faculty also expressed opinions about communications with departments at University Park. There are cases of excellent working relationships and mutual respect between campuses and University Park faculty, but in other cases campus faculty feel marginalized.
At some campuses, students did not know how to communicate effectively with administrators. Some students complained that they receive too many duplicate messages about upcoming events and at some point, they tune them out. Others remarked that they still receive messages from campuses they attended in the past.
One faculty member suggested that the Senate should send out direct communications to the University community like President Erickson does.
Penn State campuses in some regions face increasing competition from other local colleges and universities. In many cases, other institutions charge lower tuition, have better articulation and transfer agreements with community colleges, and can develop new programs more quickly. Although some campuses have developed transfer guides to assist students attending other institutions who plan to attend Penn State, when a course from another institution undergoes initial evaluation, that evaluation occurs at University Park. It would expedite the process if the evaluation could be done at the campus.
Core Council Recommendations
Several faculty expressed continuing concerns over the Core Council’s recommendations to reduce or eliminate remedial and under-enrolled courses. Some students who meet admissions criteria may still require remedial work to be successful in later courses; a viable system to help these students meet expectations is important for student retention.
In some cases, individual courses with low enrollments are stacked or cross-listed, resulting in acceptably full classrooms and efficient use of resources. However, under the current system, these individual courses are classified as under enrolled. Even if a waiver is granted, the original data on under enrolled courses remains in University data documents that may be used for institutional research.
Some faculty felt that more advance notice about program closure recommendations should have been provided. In addition, Core Council letters recommended the elimination of some programs that cost nothing extra to offer; faculty tend to think such programs should continue.
Budget and Campus Futures
Faculty and administrators at most campuses expressed concern over the future of the campuses and the need for a new budget model. With many campuses experiencing declining enrollments, rumors of campus closures, remissioning, and regionalization are heightening anxiety. Faculty and administration noted that without resources, it is difficult to start new programs that will attract students. The balance of administration and faculty is seen as potentially problematic at some campuses. There was considerable interest in the work of the Budget Task Force subcommittees, and a suggestion that a budget model that encourages cooperation would be welcome.
Administrators at one campus also pointed out that service area boundaries do not always make sense, particularly when there are multiple campuses in the same region. It was also noted that the service areas for Continuing Education are not the same as those for Resident Instruction.
Administrators at one campus noted that the World Campus can recruit statewide, and calls itself “the real Penn State.” They believe that some students who would have attended a Penn State Commonwealth campus attend the World Campus instead. It was also noted that it is easier for students to move from one physical campus to another than between a physical campus and the World Campus. There were questions about head count and tuition revenue when students split their schedules between physical campuses and the World Campus.
Opinions and emotions about the University’s response to the Sandusky scandal, the Freeh Report, and the NCAA sanctions were mixed. It was noted that the implications of the Freeh Report are different at campuses than they are at University Park where, for example, campus athletic facilities may be used for many purposes.
There is some uncertainty about how some of the new policies developed as a result of the Freeh Report apply. For example, are international students under the age of 18 who have accepted an offer of admission to Penn State but have not yet matriculated considered to be minors under AD 39? Different people heard different interpretations.
The administration at one campus expressed disappointment that none of their nominees for the Faces of Penn State campaign were included in the first group of Faces selections. They would also like to get more feedback about the status of their nominees.
Students at a few campuses commented on a perceived increase in the amount of paperwork required to engage in student club activities. For example, at one campus, students must submit a form three weeks in advance to the campus cafeteria in order to serve food at a club meeting. At another campus, students reported that AD 39 has made it considerably more complicated to run a long-standing Halloween event on campus. Students also expressed a desire to be involved in making policy decisions that will affect them.
Students and administrators at two campuses without residence halls expressed a desire to have them. They believe that residence halls would enhance the college experience for students by making it easier for them to attend campus events and that the availability of campus housing would attract more students.
Some campuses are in dire need of facilities maintenance and upgrades. At other campuses, there are concerns about insufficient space for instruction and student activities.
Faculty and administrators are concerned about declining enrollments. Some factors contributing to the decrease are external, such as the loss of state funding for dual-enrollment students and changing demographics. One administrator explained that at campuses, students often register late and in some cases, their bills are not due until after the census count. There was also a perception that setting tuition rates earlier in the year would enable students with offers of admission to make informed decisions about enrolling. There was a suggestion that international applications could ask questions that would match applicants with campuses.
Faculty members raised two issues about faculty workload, namely the parity of workload policies across units and a concern that faculty workloads do not always match existing policies. Some faculty thought that as resources decrease, faculty are being asked to do more work and consequently some are feeling stretched thin.
Campus faculty and administrators expressed a desire to increase the proportion of faculty on the tenure track. At the same time, there is a perception that the standards for research productivity for promotion and tenure have increased to a point that, given their high teaching loads, it is difficult for faculty at campuses to meet those standards.
There were also questions about the role of faculty governance. At some campuses, too much time at meetings of the local faculty government is spent on announcements from the campus administration.
Pamela P. Hufnagel
Secretary, University Faculty Senate (2012-2013) December 14, 2012