IV.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR.

Chair Dean Neikirk (electrical and computer engineering) said he had asked the Standing Committee chairs to send him a list of their major priorities for the coming year so he could share the information and seek input from Faculty Council members. After saying the response rate had been very good, he said he wanted to report the priorities of three committees with connections to the budgetary issues on today’s agenda. First, he said the Faculty Welfare Committee intended to focus on (1) changes in fringe benefits, (2) potential increases in teaching loads, and (3) rights of lecturers and other non-tenure-track faculty members. Of the five priorities listed by the Faculty Building Advisory Committee, Chair Neikirk chose to mention the following three: (1) undertaking the development of a new master plan that technically assesses campus infrastructure; (2) increasing the number of general purpose classrooms by maintaining the recommended minimum standards for this type of space in any new construction begun on campus; and (3) encouraging investment in designs and construction materials that produce energy efficient and environmentally-sound “green” buildings, which will reduce long-term operating and maintenance costs. Lastly, Chair Neikirk reported that the Research Policy Committee would be focusing its efforts on (1) the increasing potential for conflicts of interest and restrictions on funds received for research and scholarly pursuits, (2) supporting the University’s undergraduate research initiative and seeking funding for its growth, and (3) encouraging funding support for additional fellowships for graduate students. Chair Neikirk said he felt it was timely to present the priority areas of these three committees because their work directly deals with issues that have budgetary implications. He said he would share the priorities of other committees in future Council meetings.

Chair Neikirk said he would be sending out near term a survey instrument to faculty members in the colleges and schools that have not reported back confirming that their faculty members have approved the governance process being followed for their unit’s curricular decisions. He said the survey would be designed to determine the level of understanding and satisfaction among the faculty members regarding the process followed in their respective college/school. After pointing out that the descriptions of these curricular-based governance policies are now posted on the Faculty Council web page for faculty review, Chair Neikirk said he has set up a system for conducting the survey.

Chair Neikirk reminded Council members about the electronic Faculty Activity Report System that was delayed in terms of required adoption throughout most of the campus this fall after human interface issues arose requiring extensive data entry time and effort on the part of faculty members. Although the electronic system could be beneficial in some ways, Chair Neikirk said progress being made on the usage issues as well as how to distinguish the live data that changes over time due to differences in assignments and activities from that required for the purpose of making tenure or post-tenure decisions based on a set time period needed to be monitored. He said he was still collecting information about the experiences faculty had with utilizing the new activity report system last summer during the pilot phase and invited those who had used it—or even tried to use it—to email him regarding what they had liked and disliked about the system. He wanted improvements to be made before the system was formally adopted and was working toward that end.

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