The meeting was called to
order by Chancellor Keating at 3:35 in 262 CART.
Faculty members present were S. Akindes, D. Baldwin, R. Barber, S. Christoph, H. Colston, D. Cress, L. Duetsch, L. Gellott, P. Goldsmith, J. Greenfield, S. Hansen, F. Kavenik, J. Keating, W. Leeds-Hurwitz, M. Lenard, L. McCann, G. Mayer, F. Monardi, M. Mullen, C. New, J. Ostheimer, D. Pham, L. Ross, C. Ruffolo, R. Singer, S. Thompson, M. Wafa, D. Walter, and G. Wood. Also present were T. Castor, D. Holle, C. Jensen, M. Jensen, B. Lewis, R. Lott, R. McCready, G. Miller, W. Moy, N. Sicuro, W. Streeter, and M. Young.
A motion was automatically on the floor to convene as a Committee of the Whole for the dual purpose of addressing concerns about current institutional policies and discussing initiatives that may need to be undertaken in the 2001-03 biennium. MOTION APPROVED on a voice vote.
By prior agreement between the Chancellor and the University Committee, Professor Gellott Chaired the Committee of the Whole. She began by introducing Chancellor Keating, who had asked to have the floor.
Chancellor Keating said
he would address a variety of institutional accomplishments and challenges.
He said when he was hired he was told UW-P had a top-notch faculty - and it
certainly does. He understands that this came to be because circumstances at
the time the institution was founded led to the recruitment of people who valued
research and scholarship. Although our circumstances have changed in many ways,
the culture of valuing scholarship has been passed on as new faculty members
have been recruited. We continue to do very well in this regard.
Chancellor Keating next reminded everyone that when he was hired the Board of Regents charged him with increasing enrollment and expanding the institution's engagement with the community. In both of these respects we have clearly made progress, he said, but we should aspire to do more.
Chancellor Keating noted
that the faculty has continued its long-standing policy of admitting students
who might not be given an opportunity elsewhere, and has done so without compromising
graduation standards. The faculty has maintained high performance standards
- for themselves and for students. He said we should be proud of these traditions.
Many of the
students we have accepted whose prior academic records were problematic have gone on to become particularly successful graduates. Indeed, he finds that our reputation among employers is stellar because our graduates generally perform very well. The Chancellor observed that the faculty (especially the younger contingent) seems to enjoy the challenge of working with the varied student body we have. He added that a greater volume of external grants is being generated and that the UW-P Foundation now enjoys strong support. Overall, we are certainly doing well.
Chancellor Keating rhetorically asked those present to consider how our curriculum might be adjusted to better meet the needs of our students. He characterized our undergraduate curriculum as one that is grounded in the liberal arts, that develops critical thinking skills, and that fosters community engagement. At the same time, he noted that the teaching load of the faculty does not appear to be as great as it is in other UW comprehensive institutions and suggested that this is a matter that needs attention.
Chancellor Keating went on to recall that the STAMATS study done at the time he arrived cited a regional need for expanded teacher certification programs - a need that we have not yet addressed. We certify far less teachers than we should, he said. After saying that we cannot afford to expand our teacher certification programs in their present form, he called for a comprehensive overhaul of our teacher certification process to bring about expansion of these programs through greater participation of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty. The Chancellor also said he believes the institution should decouple the certification process from the academic process and plans to invite a series of consultants to the campus to generate discussion about how this can be accomplished. He expressed the hope that a new approach can be implemented by 2004.
After the Chancellor finished
his remarks, a broad-ranging discussion took place. Professor Mayer said that
an instructor's compassion for the plight of poorly prepared students can make
it difficult to maintain grading standards. Chancellor Keating agreed and called
for being tough-minded. Professor Greenfield said that he has been concerned
about the structure of our first-year curriculum and wondered whether we should
do something different with our first-year students, particularly those
who are less well prepared.
Professor Lenard asked what a junior faculty member is to do if a conscientious effort to maintain high grading standards brings about lower student evaluations of instruction. Chancellor Keating said this is a real problem that the faculty must deal with.
Professor Walter wondered why there has been a substantial increase in the number of students suspended during the last two years. Chancellor Keating said there has been no change in admission standards that would account for this. Professor Kavenik said behavioral problems seem to be more common and suggested that prescriptive advising may be needed again. Professor Gellott noted that our budgetary outlook is not bright and more resources would be needed to provide more student support services. Chancellor Keating said he expects to establish more realistic departmental budgets. Professor Greenfield said that, for budgetary reasons, his department has felt pressure to maintain its introductory course enrollment and suggested that high grading standards can pose a problem in this regard.
Professor Akindes asked
whether we have talked to our students about why they don't wish to do what
we want them to. Acknowledging that such evidence is fragmentary, Professor
Mayer cited data recently gathered from students who have been suspended and
Provost Ostheimer cited data gathered from students who have chosen not to return.
The indications seem to be
Professor Walter suggested
that when recruiting we should advance evidence that we enable well prepared
students to realize their full potential and, at the same time, offer a very
different set of support services to students who are not as well prepared.
Professor Greenfield supported this and Chancellor Keating suggested the use
of mentoring programs that would target different populations. Professor Leeds-Hurwitz
strongly opposed strategies that would physically separate students of differing
backgrounds, arguing that students learn from the example of others. Professor Mayer deplored the image we apparently project to local high school guidance counselors. Professor Kavenik emphasized that there is great value in having a diverse classroom population and Professor Leeds-Hurwitz added that all students have strengths and weaknesses and benefit in some respect from interaction with others. Nevertheless, Professor Greenfield insisted that we need to do things differently to increase student success. Dr. Lewis suggested that the faculty do more to promote the quality of our programs in the high schools.
Professor Mullen said that students bring different levels of cultural capital with them when they are admitted and many simply don't know what is expected of them. Professor Pham said that many students with good grades are not performing up to their potential either; she argued that even good students need coaching to realize their full potential.
Finally, Chancellor Keating thanked everyone in attendance for showing their interest in these matters. The Committee of the Whole rose without report and the meeting adjourned at 5:20.