Faculty       Chairs/Directors    
Dean of the Faculty/Vice President for Academic Affairs
 

FACULTY MEETING

November 7, 2003
Payne Room – Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery

MINUTES

President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:45 p.m.

President Glotzbach asked if there were any objections to the approval the October 3, 2003 Faculty Meeting minutes; hearing no objections, the minutes were approved. President Glotzbach deferred the President’s Report in order to take care of legislative business first.

OLD BUSINESS

MOTION:

Professor Katie Hauser, Chair of the Committee on Faculty Governance (CFG), at the October 3, 2003 Faculty Meeting introduced a motion on behalf of CFG to move that the term of service of the Faculty Development Committee (FDC), as described on page 214 of the Faculty Handbook, be changed from two years to three years. (See Attachment A.) The motion came from the Committee and required no second. The floor was opened for discussion. The motion was voted on and passed with all in favor.

NEW BUSINESS

Scott Minkoff, President of the Student Government Association introduced Courtnei Evans ’05, Coordinator of Diversity Affairs. Ms. Evans explained the purpose of a Resolution that was recently passed by SGA, “A Resolution to Establish an Award for Faculty, Staff and Administration who Pursue Excellence in Diversity,” SGA Resolution 14-4.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

President Glotzbach conveyed his thanks to everyone who participated in Inauguration and Centennial Weekend. Specifically he thanked Professor Robert Boyers and Professor Mary Lynn who participated in the Centennial Symposium. Thanks also to Tad Kuroda who chaired the Centennial panel. He thanked the many people who also gave mini-college sessions for parents and families: Professors Mary Crone Odekon, Robert Jones, Regis Brody, Kyle Nichols, Sheldon Solomon, Michael Marx, Kate Leavitt, Beau Breslin, Daniel Flores-Guri, Robert DeSieno, Timothy
Harper, James Kennelly, Crystal Moore, Margaret Tacardon, Michael Arnush, Daniel Nathan, Lewis Rosengarten, Corky Reinhart, Catherine Golden, Daniel Coleman, Phyllis Roth, Hugh Foley, Gregory Goodwin, Margaret Pearson, Sandy Welter. President Glotzbach also thanked Tony Holland for musical support. He acknowledged Carolyn Anderson and those who worked in Galileo. Professor Marc Tetel is attending a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans where he will present a poster, co-authored with two Skidmore students Suzanne Murphy ‘04 and Nora Siegal ’05, entitled Confocal Analysis of Neuronal Coexpression of Nuclear Receptor Coactivators and Steroid Receptors in the Rat Hypothalamus. Professor Tetel is also presenting another poster Nuclear Receptor Coactivators Function in Estrogen and Progestin Receptor-Dependent Sexual Behaviors in Female Rats. President Glotzbach congratulated them for this accomplishment. President Glotzbach announced that the architectural firm Ewing, Cole, Cherry, and Brott recently won a major award given by the American Institute of Architects for their design of Skidmore’s new music building. Fred DiMauro, Assistant Director and Manager of Planning and Construction will represent Skidmore when the award is presented in Cleveland.

President Glotzbach addressed the men’s ice hockey situation. The decision to dissolve the hockey team was a decision that had to do with strategic resources. Subsequent to that decision, a group of alumni have expressed a desire to pursue fund raising in order to keep the team. Discussions are ongoing. President Glotzbach advised that a fundraising vehicle is being created: the Friends of Skidmore Athletics. This fund was intended to be a part of the Capital Campaign for the purpose of obtaining new money specifically in the interest of Athletics.

President Glotzbach addressed the issue of student housing. As was mentioned in the “Faculty Observers’ Report,” the Trustees gave clear direction that they wish for the Moore Hall problems and issues to be taken care of. The larger goal is for Skidmore to become more residential. Slightly under 75 percent of Skidmore’s students are currently residential.  However, most juniors and seniors move off campus leaving a predominately freshmen and sophomore population on campus. Scribner Village needs to be dealt with, as it is nearing the end of its useful life. This may mean that Skidmore will need to take on some additional debt to fund additional residential space. With a threat of the bond market rising again, the Board of Trustees is looking to move on this matter sooner rather than later. Pat Oles, Dean of Student Affairs, and his staff are doing a survey of off-campus students to investigate true costs of off-campus housing and determine their opinions and attitudes. Pat is also working with three task forces on the new housing, each of which includes faculty representation.

President Glotzbach thanked Professor Arnush and Professor Levith for compiling the Board of Trustees Faculty Observer’s Report (See “BOT Faculty Observers Report”). A portion of that report mentions a budget “surplus” of about $1.2 million. President Glotzbach explained that $829,000 of that figure is Skidmore’s contingency budget. This amount, which is less than one percent of the operating budget, indicates it is not an adequate contingency. The remainder of that figure is the result of savings from changes made in healthcare management. Historically, Skidmore has taken any contingency funds remaining at the end of the year and put it into endowment. If that money remains in place by the end of this year, other uses will be explored.

President Glotzbach spoke about the many gatherings that have been occurring at Scribner House and on campus. Conversations at these gatherings have been about teaching and learning and surrounding issues: governance; time; fatigue; feeling like there is no time for anything; academic rigor; how do we challenge our students; how do we support one another while doing so; academic standards; what about academic integrity in terms of student honesty, trust, leadership. President Glotzbach stated the purpose for moving to the Payne Room was to allow for open
discussion about these issues.

DEAN OF THE FACULTY'S REPORT

Charles M. Joseph, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, stated that hard copies of the Greater Expectations Report could be obtained from the offices of Ray Rodrigues, Director of Assessment by contacting Linda Santagato (5948), Secretary for Assessment and Honors Forum. Next Friday afternoon (11/14) will be the next Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP) forum in Davis Auditorium at 3:30 p.m. This will be the second opportunity to voice opinions. The subcommittees are in full swing and progress is being made. Skidmore is moving forward with the Mellon proposal to which many people of the faculty and staff have contributed. It appears that Skidmore, together with Colgate University, Hamilton College, and Union College, will receive the grant to support faculty career enhancement through post-tenure faculty enhancement, increased sabbatical support, faculty exchanges, and a speaker’s bureau.

OTHER BUSINESS

Ann Henderson, Registrar and Director of Institutional Research and Joe Stankovich, Associate Director, Registrar and Institutional Research presented a PowerPoint presentation detailing the results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Institutional Benchmark Report. The survey was undertaken last spring (2003). It is a relatively new survey having been administered since 2000. It was designed by a group of experts in the field of survey research. It has received attention in the higher education media because it offers an alternative to the USNews and World Report approach to ranking colleges. The major difference in this survey is that it collects attitudinal and opinion information as well as data on what students do, their behaviors in various areas, and provides comparison data with peer groups as well as national data. The report is quantitative and tries to focus on what students do that represents their depth of engagement in their academic work. The sample consisted of 450 Skidmore students: half of them were first-year students, and half were seniors. The response rate was over two-thirds. Comparison data from other institutions was used for the analysis. (For details, see NSSE – Institutional Benchmark Report.) Dean Joseph invited comments and thoughts from faculty members regarding the results of the report.

COMMENTS/DISCUSSION:

• The interpretation of the data was seen as relative and subjective and the value and meaning of the data were questioned.
• Considering the categories, a question was raised as to the authenticity of representation of Skidmore based on the data collected; there are other models of education, which Skidmore might want to measure instead.
• A question was raised as to who is determining that these categories represent Skidmore’s goals and is Skidmore agreeing with the data in those categories?
• Some faculty expressed being surprised and disturbed about the first-year/senior disparity in academic challenge (only 8 percent of schools had a negative difference that was greater than Skidmore for first-year students compared with Skidmore’s seniors where 82 percent of schools had a negative difference that was greater than Skidmore’s (a good thing)).
• Perhaps some of the reason for the disparity is related to a recent increase in student expectation at the firstyear level; first-year student expectation relating to academic challenge may be higher than some faculty members realize.
• The items grouped under challenge: being prepared for class; class participation; writing assignments; required to analyze elements of ideas, experiences, and theories; synthesizing ideas; organizing and judging information; applying theories; working harder than they thought they ever could.
• Skidmore does do a good job in being accessible and available to students, even to students who transfer, perhaps there is too much handholding.
• Academic advisors are often asked to take on the role of personal advisor. Many times students see faculty as role models, but they have no out-of-curriculum interactions; they do not see faculty as being active in their non-curricular lives. Perhaps a debriefing during the first five minutes of class to ask how students how their lives are going and to talk collectively about their experiences may help make a connection.
• A student who departs from Skidmore in the first year is often an above-average, female student who feels under challenged in her first year.
• It was suggested that perhaps the eight percent correlates with what students think about LS1. Students do not find LS1 challenging; one out of every ten students finds LS1 very, very good.
• Skidmore may rely too much on LS1 to be the advising component for first-year students. Perhaps ensuring that first-year students have at least one class that is small in size and taught by a senior faculty member.
• A suggestion was made that perhaps reversing LS1 and LS2 so that LS2 would come first, the classes are smaller, and the LS2 professor would often be the academic advisor to the student.
• Research opportunities for first-year students may need to be increased. Some first-year students (in the London Program) have participated in research opportunities and have won regional and national awards in research. This may be a model for other first-year students.
• It was expressed that most students are not ready or prepared for the depth, specificity, and experience required to do successful, meaningful research in their freshman year. Many students did state that they did not feel ready to work independently on research but that they were willing to work in a helping capacity together with a senior-level student in a collaborative way.
• Many courses do not have lab components; therefore, research would not be an option.
• There is a need to figure out how to make a 100-level course as challenging as 300-level courses. This may be a result of faculty not getting as jazzed about 100-level courses because the passion for the discipline at the 100 level is not as evident as it is in the 300-level courses.
• A question was raised as to whether the less-than-adequate challenge of 100-level courses is evidence of something being done different at Skidmore versus other colleges. Students have been discussing lack of challenge in entry-level courses.
• Class size is often not what is depicted in the Skidmore Catalog (14:1). Students may experience disappointment because they may feel a lack of faculty/student interaction due to larger class size.
• If introductory classes are composed of 40 or 50 students, there simply is not enough time to give close attention to each student. Average course size for introductory courses varies: many classes are in the 28-32 range, lab sizes are 16, foreign language classes are 18-20, LS1 is 18, UWW classes are 17.
• There may be effective ways to teach an exciting and interesting introductory-level class of 40 students, but departments may have to look at how they are allocating their time and faculty resources. If it is departmental priority to have smaller classes, is Skidmore doing everything it can to ensure this happens within the way schedules are built?
• Skidmore has a tendency to engage first-year students in larger classes in which the levels of intimacy and interaction are reduced compared to the smaller-sized 300-level courses. Students have expressed their frustration about this. If Skidmore wishes to have an engaging first-year experience, the pedagogical rationale for introductory courses should be to have small class sizes in order to allow the same teaching qualities as that at the 300 level.
• It was mentioned that the Board may question the hiring of additional faculty members. However, if a request to the Board for more faculty need to be specific in that it would strengthen the first-year experience through reduced class sizes and help solve the failing of the first-year experience, they may be more likely to support new lines.
• If it is determined that more faculty are needed, President Glotzbach stated he is willing to go to the alumni population and others to convince them they should support Skidmore at a higher level than ever before.
• It was suggested that perhaps too many entry-level courses are staffed by adjuncts who may have less of an investment in the success of first-year students or who may be less effective as teachers. Departments may want to find out who is teaching the entry-level courses in their departments. It was suggested that more senior people could teach introductory courses.
• It is common for freshman students to register for the spring semester and find they do not get most of the courses that they want; there are cases when some freshman do not get any of the courses they want. This may have influenced the results of the survey since it was done in the 2003 spring semester. Skidmore should avoid placing first-year students in a majority of courses they really don’t want to take during their second semester.
• The data represented in the senior columns should be considered informative because there are very real differences in student experience after a student declares a major as opposed to his or her experience before declaring a major.
• More mature upper class students have a better-developed sense of passion for their interests and better faculty connections. It is more important for them to please their professors who have recognized them as having potential. These elements should be considered when looking at what Skidmore could be doing for students in their first year.
• Over a progression of years, students have more of a chance of having one particular faculty member for more than one course. This faculty member, in turn, can be more supportive because he or she believes in that student’s potential, whereas first-year students may not have that kind of engagement or commitment. The first time a professor has particular students, he or she gets to know them; the second time around there is a better opportunity to challenge them.
• Current qualifications for honors lists were detailed. Departmental Honors are awarded to 26 or 27 percent of students; Latin Honors are awarded to 39 percent of students.
• Faculty face many pressures that tend to make everything less rigorous: perceived needs for recruitment of students, designing of the major, how many prerequisites, how tough are the prerequisites. It may be harder to be tough in new courses due to lack of confidence, student perception of unfair demands of the class, etc.

President Glotzbach concluded that the discussion was not about placing blame. It is clear that students are asking for a better first-year experience, and now Skidmore must figure out how to do what needs to be done. He stated how very good the faculty at Skidmore is and recognizes how much the faculty really cares about the work that they do. Skidmore must be sure that the strengths, talents, and passions of the faculty are put into the first year. President Glotzbach encouraged faculty to work toward this goal and let it energize them.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

• Tang Exhibit Grant Applications – DUE MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17
• The Faculty Meeting Reception was hosted by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and was held in the Atrium of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Colleen M. Kelly
Executive Secretary
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
and Dean of the Faculty

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