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THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT CHATTANOOGA
FACULTY COUNCIL MINUTES

January 20, 2000

Signal Mountain Room
University Center

Elected Members Present:
Tom Bibler, Pedro Campa, Roland Carter, Fritz Efaw, Gene Ezell, Diane Farone, Dawn Ford, Phil Giffin, Ron Goulet, Lee Harris, Jim Hiestand, Mike Long, Irene Loomis, Deborah McAllister, Gail Meyer, Burch Oglesby, Cliff Parten, Edward Rozema, Mike Russell, Marsha Scheidt, Ken Smith, Mac Smotherman, Margaret Trimpey, Rick Turpin, Steve Underwood, Mike Whittle, Sally Young, Sherry Young

Elected Members Absent:
Lauren Coulter, Beth Craig, Charles Knight, Valerie Rutledge, John Trimpey

Ex-Officio Members Present:
Bill Berry, Sheila Delacroix, Jane Harbaugh

Among the Guests Present:
Herb Burhenn, Betsy Darken, Nick Honerkamp, Lanny Janeksela, Richard Rice, Bruce Wallace

Actions and Announcements

Council passes one General Education Committee recommendation and rejects a second.

Call to Order

President Verbie Prevost called the meeting to order at 3:03 p.m.

Approval of the Minutes of December 2, 1999

Referring to "Report from the Graduate Council" on page 2, Professor Mike Russell asked that the word "had" and the phrase "in Graduate Council" be stricken from the first sentence of paragraph 2 since he is not a member of Graduate Council. Following the change, the minutes were approved as distributed.

Election to Fill Vacancy on Grade Appeals Committee

President Prevost said a replacement was needed on the Grade Appeals Committee for Professor Renee Lorraine who is on sabbatical during spring semester. Alternate committee member Gary Fleischmann was elected by acclamation to fill the vacancy. Professor Lucien Ellington was elected by acclamation to fill the alternate slot.

Report from the General Education Committee

Saying she wanted to be able to comment on the recommendations from the committee, President Prevost yielded the podium to First Vice President Tom Bibler.

General Education Committee Chair Betsy Darken presented two recommendations from the committee regarding transfer credit for general education. (See attachment.) The recommendations engendered a very lengthy and spirited but reasonably civil debate on the merits of each proposal.

The first recommendation called for dual enrollment courses taken through summer 2001 to be accepted as satisfying UTC’s general education requirements per agreements worked out with area community colleges. (See attachment for exact wording.) Professor Darken explained that this proposal indicates UTC will be flexible (at least through the summer of 2001) with regard to dual enrollment courses, e.g., western literature courses, that UTC freshmen may have taken in high school under programs offered by colleges such as Chattanooga State.

Discussion highlights/questions/concerns on Recommendation No. 1:

  • How similar or different are world and western literature courses?

A discussion ensued on the question, and Professor Darken accepted a friendly amendment to reword the recommendation to say "world or western."

  • Concerns were raised about the placement and use of the word "temporarily."

Is the student temporary? Are the courses temporary? The recommendation was reworded to exclude the word "temporarily."

Recommendation No. 1 passed 26-0-2.

Prof. Darken said Recommendation No. 2 concerned evaluation of transfer credits for the Cultures and Civilizations category of general education. She noted the Cultures and Civilizations category is the most different from the old general education requirements. As background, she discussed the options available in that category. She then reviewed how transfer credits in general education have been evaluated over time. The committee handled appeals of transfer credits until about 1990 at which time the department heads began performing the task using committee guidelines. She said the committee revisited this arrangement last fall after it became apparent there were "widely diverging and strong differences of opinion" about the awarding of transfer credit in the new Cultures and Civilizations category. She read Recommendation No. 2 (see attachment for exact wording).

Discussion highlights/questions/concerns on Recommendation No. 2:

  • How will the committee determine what texts/materials were used in a particular course?

Professor Darken suggested there would be some flexibility in reading between the lines of course descriptions.

  • Since these courses are still primarily based in particular departments and disciplines, why is the General Education Committee more competent to evaluate transfer credit than the heads of departments? Why is the committee asking to evaluate transfer credit in just one general education category?

Among the responses: The General Education Committee spends most of its time determining whether courses satisfy general education requirements; individual departments don’t make that determination. The new interdisciplinary courses are not as straightforward as the old requirements where students more or less chose from a smorgasbord of courses. Given the complexity of the Cultures and Civilizations category, the committee is willing to reclaim its responsibility for evaluating transfer credit it that category. Council proceeded to discuss the nature of interdisciplinary courses, the learning process for teachers of such courses, and related topics. As the discussion wore on, support was expressed both for the committee’s role as the main arbiter of general education requirements and for the role department heads have played in transfer appeals in the last ten years. Committee members suggested faculty are in charge of the curriculum through Faculty Council’s General Education Committee, and so the committee should be the final arbiter of questions about transfer credit. Further, committee members pointed to the Cultures and Civilizations category as the cornerstone of the new general education curriculum, the component that makes UTC’s program most different from other institutions. Committee members said they felt a responsibility to take care of this special and important area.

  • Has this proposed change been discussed with the affected departments?

The General Education Committee met extensively with the departments last fall and it was then that they discovered the significant differences of opinion concerning which transfer courses should be allowed to count for Cultures and Civilizations. There was particular disagreement on whether world literature was acceptable for western humanities.

  • If a world literature course shares 60% of the content of the western humanities course, is that good enough to make it an acceptable substitute for western humanities?

Some Council members seemed to say yes while the General Education Committee members said no. One example used by the General Education Committee was a non-lab science course that met 75% of the requirements of a lab science course. The non-lab course would not, they said, be deemed good enough to count as transfer credit for a UTC lab course. By extension, they suggested a 60% overlap between world literature and western humanities would not be acceptable either. Other people pointed out that 60% was an arbitrary figure that might not reflect the true overlap; the percentage could be much higher.

  • Will the General Education Committee meet often enough to deal with student appeals in an expeditious manner?

Diverging opinions emerged on the possible numbers of students who might be making appeals and how often the committee would need to meet. Most committee members seemed to feel weekly or bi-weekly meetings would handle the demand. Other people disagreed. Some said having the committee review transfer appeals would take too long and create a situation unfriendly to transfer students. One person recollected that the committee passed the evaluation function to department heads ten years ago because of a committee process that had become unwieldy and unworkable.

  • Concern was expressed that department heads were ignoring standard operating procedures in their decisions on transfer appeals.

Attendees were very animated in discussing both sides of this issue. Some suggested there were differences of opinion on how the general education guidelines should be interpreted, that it was not a question of people who followed SOP and those who did not. Some suggested the central dispute was whether department heads could be trusted to interpret the guidelines properly while others suggested the core disagreement was that department heads wanted to be more flexible on transfer credits than the General Education Committee.

Professor Fritz Efaw called the question and Professor Pedro Campa seconded. The motion failed 17-10-0.

  • Additional questions were posed about the timeliness with which students could be served.

Weekly meetings were again suggested, but others on Council did not think that would be timely enough. One person suggested students be encouraged to complain directly to Council if they were not served in a timely fashion. Again it was suggested that appeals would be few and that weekly or bi-weekly meeting would suffice. It was further suggested that students were not likely to need immediate answers on transfer appeals for this one category.

  • A suggestion was made that the committee review department head decisions, or develop a list of equivalent courses over a period of years to add to the guidelines used by department heads.

The committee said the issue had already come to a head since area feeder schools needed to know about the transferability of world literature courses. Another discussion on flexibility ensued. Some people pointed to the variations in courses on the UTC campus and suggested UTC recognize flexibility in courses taught elsewhere. A number of people said they wanted what was best for the student but could not agree on what that should be. Several people expressed concern about students from Chattanooga State and elsewhere being able to bypass the Cultures and Civilizations category when UTC students could not. Committee members said again a 60% overlap was not good enough for transfer credit.

  • Why does the committee think it has more expertise than English and Philosophy?

One member suggested it was a matter of local control versus a centralization of authority.

Other questions/concerns/discussion items raised during this portion of the discussion:

  • Are we trying to revisit/change the general education program after the fact?
  • A discussion of how effective faculty are when teaching out of their disciplines. Can interdisciplinary courses be successful without team teaching?
  • Some discussion of the impact of the new general education requirements on enrollments in some departments.
  • Some people said they felt uncomfortable changing a policy that seemed to be working.

Professor Roland Carter called the question and Professor Mike Russell seconded. The motion passed 25-3-0.

Recommendation No. 2 failed 6-22-0.

President Prevost thanked Professor Bibler for presiding over the discussion and resumed her duties at the podium.

Administrative Reports

Provost

Noting the lateness of the hour, Provost Bill Berry said he would defer his report to the next meeting but would answer questions. Professor Russell asked about spring enrollment. Provost Berry said it was down eight-tenths of one percent over last spring as of the end of the day on January 19.

Professor Campa said he heard there had been changes in the list of UTC’s peer institutions. Provost Berry said discussions on that issue were underway, but no changes have been made at this point. He said a number of people feel the current list disfavors UTC by not including other metropolitan campuses or units of a land grant system. He said, while President Gilley is open to the discussion, the list itself is the province of THEC and cannot be changed by the UT Board of Trustees.

Professor Richard Rice asked about the stipulation in the cumulative performance review guidelines that said documents were not to exceed 10 pages. He expressed concern that the vita was to be part of the 10 pages and not a supporting document. He said his understanding was a ten-page narrative plus a vita. Several people noted the 10-page limitation was part of the implementation policy passed by the faculty.

New Business

Professor Russell expressed concern about the timeliness with which the bookstore notified him concerning an out-of-print textbook for one of his spring classes. He said he was not notified until the third week in December that the book would not be available for the spring. He said by that time it was too late for him to revise or restructure the course. He noted the bookstore did use various means to try and identify used copies of the book but said that procedure only delayed their notifying him. He asked that the Bookstore Committee consider whether faculty are given enough notice on out-of-print items. President Prevost said she would alert the committee to the concern.

Professor Sherry Young said library faculty have been having difficulty entering and exiting Lot 12 because of illegal parking on Vine St. Parking Services has said they can’t ticket on a city street. President Prevost said she would relay the concern to Vice Chancellor Richard Brown.

Returning to the topic of performance review, Professor Hiestand said he had found the passage on documentation in the final draft of the implementation policy passed by the faculty and that it limited submissions to ten pages inclusive. He speculated the campus could probably change the number of total pages. Several people mentioned the discussions last year that led to the limit and suggested more discussions take place before any change.

Professor Hiestand said the campus had received the Board of Trustees’ comments on the cumulative review documents. He said, with one exception, they were all editorial and trivial in nature. The exception was that they did not accept the statement that someone facing dismissal was entitled to a year’s pay. He said that meant, of course, that a tenured faculty member was at a disadvantage relative to an untenured faculty member in the third or subsequent year.

Professor Rice suggested taking another look at the EDO. He noted that Knoxville had more categories including one along the lines of "not performing enough," and suggested that UTC might want to consider expanding the number of categories. Provost Berry agreed it was time to look at ways to refine the EDO instrument including increasing the number of categories. He said various deans and department heads were already doing that by using plusses and minuses, a practice that had on occasion led to complaints and concerns on the part of faculty.

Adjournment

President Prevost adjourned the meeting at 4:52 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

  

Kathy Breeden

Secretary

  

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