September 30, 2010 Faculty Council
1120 Thompson Library
Gordon Aubrecht, Scribe
1) Faculty Council Chair Remarks; reminder regarding President Gee’s address to faculty on 10/13/2010
2) Background Checks Policy – Larry Lewellen and Susan Williams
3) CAA proposals – Jay Hobgood
a. Plastic Surgery Department Status
b. Education Specialist Degree in Teaching and Learning
c. Women’s Studies Name Change
d. Master’s in Plant Health Management
e. Clinical Faculty Proposal for Communications
4) Rules Committee Item – T.K. Daniel – Frequency of Faculty Meetings
Faculty Council chair Myroslava Mudrak reminded senators are responsible for assigning alternates when they are going to miss a meeting.
Business at the meeting includes a report on background checks, transmittals from the Council on Academic Affairs (CAA), some of which were informational in nature, and reconsideration of a rule change that was discussed at Faculty Council in May.
Vice President for Human Relations Larry Lewellen brought the background check issue to Faculty Council. He noted that he had written to faculty members about this in advance of the police report on the shooting last year.
The aim of the policy, said Lewellen, is for OSU to eliminate reputational and safety risks.
Verifications have become more usual but are not always followed, at OSU and at other institutions. All senior appointments are now subject to background checks. Last year, OSU background checked 60% of faculty appointments and 90% of staff appointments. Many are being done, and Human Resources (HR) would prefer to make this universal.
Lewellen said that maintaining privacy is critical. The current plan is to record that the background check has been done, then to destroy the records. There is emphasis on ensuring that the right decisions will be made and that the check be timely. Lewellen said that he was meeting Friday with the Steering Committee, and that he expected that policies will be out in late fall.
Vice Provost Susan Williams noted that a check of state and federal databases cost $35 to $55. Should international checks be included?, Williams asked rhetorically. She said that international checks cost around $120. She said that cost is a consideration, and that one vendor will be found. It is important that hiring not be slowed.
Williams said that the Colleges of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, the Newark campus, and some others where positions are considered sensitive already do background checks on 100% of potential hires.
Lewellen and Williams were asked about whether student workers would be checked. The matter is under consideration, but it is likely that there would be yearly checks. These issues still need to be worked out.
Lewellen and Williams were asked about current faculty and staff. What if the check is contested? They said that any discovered convictions would have to be reported. The information would be tightly held. If it affects employment, the person would have a chance to respond.
Lewellen and Williams were asked what a background check meant. They said that it would involve a criminal record check, a Social Security validity check, and a sex offender conviction check. Misdemeanors and felonies are recorded.
Lewellen and Williams were asked whether the offer to a new faculty member could be made without the background check. They said that the offer would be subject to successful completion of the background check.
Lewellen was asked about criminalization of political ideas in some other countries. Lewellen said that that had not been considered, and needs to be.
Lewellen was asked how decisions will be made on which misdemeanors are relevant. He replied that the decisions should be case-by-case rather than uniform. A followup question was asked: Who makes the decision? Lewellen said a panel would do so, and if more input was needed, HR, the OSU legal office, and the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA).
Lewellen was asked about medical marijuana, which is criminal in some states, not in others. He said that was an example of why case-by-case decisions were necessary.
Mudrak introduced Jay Hobgood, co-chair with Jim Cogdell of the Council on Academic Affairs (CAA). Hobgood said that CAA was trying to work through proposals from last spring. They completed work on them during the summer.
The first proposal from CAA was from the Division of Plastic Surgery, which is asking to become a department. Hobgood said that Plastic Surgery was a stronger unit than many, and could get more grant money and hire higher quality faculty members. CAA approved the proposal on 22 July. According to the rules, this kind of proposal must be brought to the Senate.
Hobgood was asked about whether there was a review by the College of Medicine. Yes, he said. Hobgood said that the “whereas” statements would be emailed to senators this afternoon.
A faculty member noted that this would lead to a clinical to tenure track ratio out of balance. Hobgood said that the ratio was similar to that in other College of Medicine departments. He said that the rule may need to be reexamined. Hobgood was reminded that there is no limit on clinical faculty any longer in the College of Medicine, but “it is a reasonable question to examine” the ratio. The new department would have three regular faculty. It is hoped that new MD-PhD’s would be hired.
Hobgood was asked why there were votes against the proposal. A representative of the new department responded that some members were concerned about the removal of money from Surgery. Actually, he said, those remaining will get a bonus of accounts collectible left behind when the new department is formed. Most money goes directly to University Hospitals in any case.
Mudrak called for a hand vote, and the great majority of hands were raised in affirmation.
The second CAA proposal was for a clinical faculty track in Communications. When Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) Departments took advantage of clinical faculty, Communications was not prepared. Hobgood said that journalism is changing rapidly, and the department wants to offer up-to-date training. Instructors are in high demand, and the department finds it difficult to retain quality instructors. They want to be able to offer instructors more, and these positions are not appropriate for the tenure track. Hobgood introduced guests from the College.
A faculty member said he had been present when clinical faculty were approved, and in general, they were restricted to teach clinical courses or work with interns. It is believed, he said, that many departments were abusing the rule by having clinical faculty teach introductory courses in place of regular tenure track faculty. He asked what CAA was doing to police abuse, and opined that this was such a case.
Hobgood replied that the four clinical faculty members would work with the Lantern, so effectively being clinicians. They would not teach courses for majors, only courses that would be hands-on students.
The SBS representatives said that the courses are heavily resource based. Clinical faculty are needed to train students in skills. Tenure track faculty, they said, are not qualified, because they lack significant journalistic background and experience with current techniques.
The faculty member expressed incredulity that faculty members at OSU were not able to keep up with their field. He cited his own department, Physics, as one where faculty members at all levels are expected to keep current in their fields, including new technologies. Isn’t this the rule at a university?, he questioned. Shouldn’t university faculty members be expected to be competent to teach courses in their fields?
The SBS representatives replied that faculty members were dealing in theory, not practice. They are not journalism professionals and do not keep up to date with changing technology. Students need to know software. The practice of journalism is essential. They need clinical faculty to teach majors these techniques and software.
“If these clinical faculty members are here, teaching full time, how will they be able to keep their professional skills?”, a faculty member asked. The reply was that they would be subject to review for renewal. Again, the faculty member asked whether, if they were not practicing professionally, they could keep up to date. The reply is that there has been a lot of turnover in Lantern advising. Asked where they go when they leave OSU, some go elsewhere as professors, some go back to being journalists.
The SBS representatives were asked whether other universities had clinical faculty in Communications. They replied that at other universities, these faculty are in tenure track positions, but they won’t get tenure at OSU.
A faculty member noted that as news organizations collapse, major journalists go to work at universities. Is OSU going in that direction? There were two SBS answers—“I don’t know” and “doubtful.”
Another faculty member asked why this could not be accomplished by tenure track faculty.
The SBS reply was that OSU couldn’t attract people capable of doing such practical teaching and get tenure.
A faculty member said that the Lantern idea sounded good. As a member of the Art Department, he said, they would like to do the same thing as Communications in creating clinical technology positions because there’s a lot of turnover. This integrates staff people in a department and he supported it.
A faculty member said that the key difficulty will be in insuring that people are current, and the need to critically evaluate them. He opined that it may be difficult to do.
A faculty member asked if there are only four positions. Yes, was the SBS response. She asked whether adding tracks would require Senate approval. Yes, again. Hobgood stated that the clinical faculty number would be limited to four tracks. He said that the clinical faculty proposal does conform to the existing rule.
A vote was taken. Twenty-one voted in favor of the proposal, four voted no, and three abstained.
Hobgood said that the remaining proposals were informational. They would go to the Senate, the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Regents for enactment.
The first proposal was for a change in the name of the Department of Women’s Studies to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Feminist perspectives would distinguish their approach from existing courses in sexuality and gender.
The second was a proposal for a terminal degree in the College of Education, the Education Specialist master’s. Hobgood said that this would involve coursework and practical expertise. He said they could come back and get a Ph.D. A faculty member from Education who helped write the proposal said that was inaccurate, that the person must make a choice early on in the process. They would have to return and petition to join the Ph.D program and couldn’t use the courses from the terminal degree.
The third proposal was for a tagged degree, a master’s in plant health management. Two departments in College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Plant Pathology and Entomology, are cooperating in this. Industry wants people who have this experience. Hobgood was asked why there were no lab courses listed and where internships would be. He replied that he understood that students would be out in the field a great deal of the time.
Mudrak introduced T. K. Daniel, chair of Rules. Daniel noted that the proposal concerning frequency of faculty meetings on semesters had been brought before Faculty Council in May. Daniel said he wanted to go over it again before it goes to next week’s Senate meeting.
This arose out of semester conversion when Rules found the wide disparity in faculty meetings. It requires TIUs to meet at least once per semester (i.e., it is a minimum). He ended by noting that this is not the sole way TIUs need to conduct business.
There were no comments, and the meeting adjourned at 16:35 (4:35 PM).