THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT CHATTANOOGA
FACULTY COUNCIL MINUTES
December 2, 1993
Signal Mountain Room
ELECTED MEMBERS PRESENT: Valarie Adams, Jim Avery, Tom Bibler, Ken Carson, Monte Coulter, Neal Coulter, Susan Davidson, Robert Duffy, Aniekan Ebiefung, Howard Finch, Jack Freeman, John Garrett, Nick Honerkamp, Larry Ingle, Doug Kingdon, David Levine, Loretta Prater, Mike Russell, Greg Sedrick, Edgar Shawen, John Tinkler, Joe Trahan, Ling-Jun Wang, David Wiley, Sally Young
ELECTED MEMBERS ABSENT: Lawrence Akers, Will Bertin, Martha Butterfield, Lloyd Davis, Fritz Efaw, Renée Lorraine, Clifford Parten, Ossama Saleh, Clint Smullen, Larry Tillman, Terry Walters, Carolyn Wiley
EX-OFFICIO MEMBERS PRESENT: Jane Harbaugh, Fred Obear, Grayson Walker
AMONG THE GUESTS PRESENT: Brenda Davis, Dick Gruetzemacher, Arlie Herron, J.W. Mies, Judy Miler, John Phillips, Verbie Prevost, Marea Rankin, Ken Venters
Call to Order
President Tom Bibler called the meeting to order at 3:17 pm.
Approval of Minutes
The minutes were approved as distributed.
President Bibler rearranged the agenda to place New Business next because he expected the report from the Curriculum Committee to take quite a bit of time.
Professor John Phillips of the Departmental Honors Committee presented the New Proposals for Honors Projects. Professor Mike Russell moved and Professor Greg Sedrick seconded the motion to approve the projects as listed.
Professor Edgar Shawen asked about Ted Howard, who had been left off the April 1993 list of candidates. Professor Jack Freeman asked what W. Aaron Fortner was going to study since his title was listed as "None." Professor Ingle reported that he will be studying a fundamentalist.
The motion to approve passed unanimously.
Proposal Regarding Graduate Tuition for Faculty/Staff Relatives
Professor Mike Russell spoke to the issue of a graduate tuition discount for spouses of faculty and staff. On the basis of a questionnaire he sent out concerning spouses taking graduate courses, he discovered that ninety spouses are currently taking them.
Several reservations were expressed. How much would it cost the university for the fee discount? Would the discount apply to Knoxville as well as to Chattanooga? Would medical school and law school be included?
At this time, Professor Russell was interested only in a fee discount to apply to UTC.
Professor Russell moved and Professor Larry Ingle seconded the motion to have Faculty Council ask the Chancellor and the Committee on Budget and Economic Status to look into a graduate tuition discount at UTC for spouses. The motion passed with one abstention.
Report of the Curriculum Committee
Curriculum Committee Chair Ken Venters reported that the Committee had moved 7-3-1 to retain the Freshman Seminar.
Professor Doug Kingdon moved and Professor Joe Trahan seconded the motion to accept the Curriculum Committee's recommendation to retain the Freshman Seminar.
Professor Larry Ingle expressed concern that the report seems "lukewarm" and shows a "lack of excitement" about the Seminar. Professor Ingle said that students are not excited about the course, according to the figures. Further, among those he has talked to informally who teach the Seminar, only one faculty member was enthusiastic. He wanted someone to speak strongly in favor of the Seminar.
At this point, Professor Ken Carson moved to amend the catalogue description from "required of" to "recommended for." Professor Greg Sedrick seconded the motion.
Professor Verbie Prevost, Director of the Freshman Seminar Program, remarked that the student data collected was evaluation of the course, not of the instructor. The student evaluations of those teaching USTU 101 have been very high.
Furthermore, Professor Prevost noted, the course has had to fight a battle every semester because there are faculty members who tell students that they should not have to take it. The second year evaluations of the course were better than the first year, and the third year evaluations were even better than the second. Yet in this, its fourth year, evaluations may decline as a result of teachers who are telling students that they should drop the course because it will not be required next year. All required courses get lower evaluations.
When asked about the Committee's deliberations, Professor Venters noted that the study skills part of the course bogged the discussion down. The amendment to make the Seminar optional tied (and therefore failed) in the Committee.
Professor Prevost said that she wished it were possible to ask students to evaluate the Seminar several years later. Currently all we have is anecdotal evidence from students, most of which supports the usefulness of the Seminar.
Professor Honerkamp spoke against the amendment. He believed that Council should either vote it down or up. He added that we do not have "recommended" Category G courses, for example.
Professor Kingdon also spoke against the amendment. He observed that when he did some of the same activities in the Learning Center, the course was not required and few students finished the course.
Professor Ken Carson asked if the course was targeted for students at risk. The response was multiple "NOs" from around the room. Despite that response, Professor Carson sees the course as one for people who are more likely to drop out if they cannot find answers easily. He believes that the statistics show that better prepared students do not need it.
An argument for the amendment was that if students did not take the three-hour seminar they could take something else, a "content course."
An argument against the amendment was that student tracking might develop.
Professor Honerkamp stated that the amendment does not talk about targeting the course; it kills the course.
Professor Kingdon noted that the course was intended to be a facilitator. Many students who have good high school backgrounds have never applied what they know. Being exposed to sources and resources is a major help to them.
Professor Mike Russell asked what "process" meant as used on the sample syllabus.
Professor Prevost replied that it referred to the process of doing certain things, such as how to use the library and computer labs. It also refers to development of critical thinking skills and is therefore difficult to evaluate.
Professor Russell asked if the course is more process. Professor Prevost replied yes. Professor Kingdon remarked that process and product are better than process and content.
Professor Ingle agreed with Professor Honerkamp that the amendment does "muddy the waters." He wondered if anyone had suggested recommending the course just for certain students.
Judy Miler, a member of the Curriculum Committee, commented that once the committee members looked at the figures, they could not decide who profited most from the course.
Professor Loretta Prater, who has taught the course, said that she believes it is for everyone, not just for students at risk. Some of the benefits from the Seminar her students pointed out on the final examination she recently administered were development of time management skills, making friends, and feeling a part of UTC. She thinks that it is important for students to feel welcome and that we should not suggest that Seminar is just for at-risk students. She also emphasized that teachers who want to teach it should teach it. Furthermore, she noted that having students like the course was not one of the goals; if students are learning what they need to, that is what should be evaluated.
Professor Jane Harbaugh noted that the recommendation for establishment of a Freshman Seminar originally came from a faculty committee.
Professor Russell said top students think it is too "Mickey Mouse." He wants to limit who is required to take it.
Professor Venters noted that the Curriculum Committee did talk about that. He is convinced that there is enough content for a three-hour course.
Professor Ingle said that although he has not taught the course, he believes that the course evaluations show that students are at best neutral about the course.
Professor Freeman asked if there were enough sections of Seminar offered each fall so that all could take it. Also, is there an age limit?
Professor Davis noted that registration does not have a check. Professor Prevost noted that we do register most freshmen, but a few get away because their advisors do not explain that they need to take it.
Professor Freeman noted that a pre-med student who takes chemistry, biology, English and math really does not have time to take Seminar too. A transfer student too old to have to take physical education wondered if he would have to take it. Professor Harbaugh said that exceptions are made if students really do not seem to need the course, especially for adult students.
Professor Jim Avery said that the "sense of personalization" is one of the best things that takes place in Seminar. He frequently runs into students from several years ago who are glad to see him. He also advises students from a few years ago. He believes that they like the personal attention.
Professor Honerkamp replied to Professor Ingle that he did not think the report should be "enthusiastic." Its purpose was simply to present the numbers. Further, he believed it was unfair to judge the course by the enthusiasm of the students. He remarked that we evaluate no other course that way; besides, we do not have the negative comments of other teachers about our courses. He wishes that those who are negative would "shut up."
Professor Ingle replied that he thought no Faculty Council member had expressed hostility; rather they have reported hostility. Professor Ingle wants to concentrate on the facts in the report.
Professor Arlie Herron remarked that some of the responses must have been enthusiastic or the results of some of the areas evaluated would not be neutral.
Professor Ling-Jun Wang noted that the temperature in the room was going up. He did not want the debate to get emotional. He noted that the three in the Curriculum Committee who voted against continuing the Seminar did so because they thought some students should have the option of taking it, not because they felt that the course was not worthwhile. They felt sorry for students who really didn't need it. He agreed that if we change the course from a requirement to an option, we have killed the course. He proposed changing the last sentence to "required of all students unless advised otherwise" or "unless recommended otherwise."
Professor Russell said that he liked the intent of the motion, but he does not think it is practical. If we set up exceptions, we need to make them specific.
Professor Prevost asked if Professor Ingle saw the 4% increase in retention as significant. Professor Ingle did not reply, but Dr. Gruetzemacher answered that it is statistically significant because it translates into thirty-five students retained. In dollars it is financially meaningful because it means approximately $105,000 in fees, which pays for about half of the actual expenditure.
Professor Prevost suggested that one of the strengths of the course is that it is a contact course. Studies show that 50% of students who have not had significant contact with a teacher are more likely to drop out.
Professor Honerkamp also asked what would happen to the faculty lines if the Seminar is not continued.
Chancellor Obear answered that if the students who are not taking Seminar take something else, then the lines will be kept. But if they do not, then lines will be lost.
Chancellor Obear wondered what level of evidence would be acceptable to Professor Ingle. He noted that Professor Mike Biderman, Chair of the Committee to Evaluate the Freshman Seminar, had said both at breakfast with the Chancellor and at Faculty Council meeting that he had been skeptical about the Seminar but had changed his mind about it.
Professor Robert Duffy said that he too thought making the course optional would kill it, but he noted that South Carolina has an optional seminar. Theirs is still in existence. So why shouldn't ours be optional?
Professor Prevost replied that their program has been in place for twenty-two years, giving them time to build its reputation.
Professor Ingle replied that he thought someone at South Carolina probably wanted to scrap it and they made it optional. Weren't we promised more than a 4% increase in retention? We need to build the Seminar's reputation.
Professor Miler noted that in the sample we do not have GPA's and ACT's for all who were exceptions, just the regular ones. Are we to assume that those students need more help from Freshman Seminar than others?
Professor Prevost believes not. The sample does not include students admitted without a high school GPA, for example, but that was just a handful of students.
Professor Kingdon remarked that he thinks the evaluation is what bothers Professor Ingle. Kingdon thinks we should look at evaluations of other required courses, but we do not have them.
Professor Russell wanted to know more about how the optional South Carolina course is set up.
Professor Prevost said that because it is optional, there is no specific group to take it. The University advertises the program to incoming freshmen and has advisors to explain its benefits.
Professor Russell wanted to know if South Carolina's seminar is graded.
Professor Prevost said that it was a three-hour course, but she could not recall whether the course is graded. South Carolina's center does recommend that Seminar be a graded course.
There have been no other evaluations of courses on this campus like those of USTU 101.
Professor Aniekan Ebiefung said that we should not depend on GPA. He recommends that we find another appropriate way to evaluate the course, preferably a couple of years after the student has finished it.
President Bibler called for a vote, and the motion to amend the original motion failed 7-16-0.
Professor Ingle again urged voting against continuing the Seminar. He pointed out that the report of the Committee to Evaluate the Freshman Seminar says "While the committee feels that the amount of information available to the faculty when it decides to retain or drop the seminar has increased as a result of this examination, the results presented here by no means signal a mandate to keep or drop it."
Professor Sally Young noted that the committee did not make a recommendation because they did not think that it was their place to do so.
Professor Ingle further said that he had not addressed money in his remarks.
Professor Joe Trahan thinks that retention of even one student is enough. He wants a vote to keep the Seminar.
Professor Russell remarked that we do not even know that Freshman Seminar is responsible. Economic factors might have been an influence.
Dr. Gruetzemacher responded that the 4% is an increase over the expected rate. That is why it is attributed to Freshman Seminar.
Professor Jack Freeman noted that a large increase in retention occurred during the Vietnam War. He is not sure that retention ought to be a main goal.
Professor John Garrett had a practical reason for opposing the retention of the Seminar. If students do not take USTU 101, they will take something else. He likes the idea of the Seminar, but doesn't think it is ambitious enough. He thinks we need to take students out of their environment and shock them; some other course might do that.
President Bibler called for the vote to recommend continuation of Freshman Seminar as recommended by the Curriculum Committee.
The vote was 12-9-2, and the motion carried.
This item will be placed on the agenda for the regular faculty meeting in January.
A called faculty meeting to vote on Handbook changes will be held December 8 at 1:30 in Grote 129. Members were urged to encourage their colleagues to come.
There were no announcements.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:36 pm.