Meeting Minutes, October 13, 2020
The Arts and Sciences Council (ASC), 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm, Zoom

Representatives Present: Mithi Mukherjee (HIST), Andrew Cowell (LING), Sebastian Casalaina-Martin (MATH), Juan Herrero-Senes (SPAN), Angelica Lawson (ETHN/CINE), Stephen Mojzsis (GEOL), Mike Zerella (RAPS), Robert Rupert (PHIL), Rebecca Wartell (JWST), David Stock (EBIO), Michela Ardizzoni (FRIT), Cecilia Pang (THDN), Leslie Irvine (SOCY), Julie Lundquist (ATOC), Jennifer Schwartz (HONR), William Taylor (ANTH), Mara Jill Goldman (GEOG), Lorraine M. Bayard de Volo (WGST), Beverly Weber (GSLL), Annje Wiese (HUMN), Zachary Kilpatrick (APPM), Robert Kuchta (BCHM), Matthias Richter (ALC), Carol Shiue (ECON), Anthony Abiragi (PWR), Francoise Duressé (AAH), Tanja Cuk (CHEM), Deborah Whitehead (RLST), Christina Meyers-Denman (SLHS), Colleen Lyons (ENVS), John Keller (APS), Lewis Harvey (PSYC), Shelley Copley (MCDB), Julie Carr (ENGL), John Gibert (CLAS), Robert Parson (BCHEM)

Representatives not present: Janet Casagrand (IPHY), Paul Romatschke (PHYS)

Also in attendance: Kenneth Hopping (Faculty Affairs Director, A&S), David S. Brown (Assoc. Dean, Social Sciences), Noah Finkelstein (PHYS), James White (Interim Dean), Anna Jensen (Dean’s office)

The meeting is called to order at 3:31 pm by ASC Chair Robert Rupert.

Teaching Initiative

The ASC chair welcomes Noah Finkelstein and Associate Dean David Brown, who have come to discuss their Teaching Quality Initiative. Interim Dean White charged Finkelstein and Brown in January 2020 with the following: write a policy statement on teaching that sets expectations to deliver an excellent education.

Brown explains that most of this is discipline-based and they are trying to give the departments the tools they need to define for themselves how to achieve and assess quality teaching. They will hopefully get resources from the interim dean to provide consultations and resources for faculty. A draft plan was finished in June 2020 and presented to the interim dean in July. It is now in the implementation and communication phase.

Finkelstein explains that initiative is not setting up new policies. It is designed to be supportive of faculty and units. There are several components, which include inclusive pedagogy, goal-oriented teaching, and scholarly teaching.

The ways to evaluate teaching quality include ensuring that departments are empowered and held responsible, applying scholarly framework for evaluations, and multiple measures using scholarly tools.

This is meant to be department-oriented (resources provided, but each unit provides its own plan) and the process will last 12-16 months.

The chair asks how they might imagine this affecting the number of faculty members earning tenure with excellent teaching and meritorious research.

Finkelstein says it will be up to the units. He does not believe they should pit research against teaching and expect more cases with both excellence in research and excellence in teaching. This will provide the tools for the department and college to make those decisions in a scholarly way.

The chair says many faculty members are concerned. University of Colorado Boulder is a Research 1 University and they want to foster excellent research. Will this have an effect on cases of tenure that have either excellence in research or teaching, without excellence in the other?

Finkelstein says that Association of American Universities will be changing to a model in the future that includes teaching and that the AAU sponsored the seeds of this project.

A representative asks for clarity on the implementation of learning objectives prior to instruction. Will that be held at the department or instructor level? Finkelstein says that the curriculum is owned by the unit, not the faculty members. They will empower departments to engage and have these discussions with their faculty. Learning objectives should be made public and should be continuously improving.

Finkelstein and Brown leave the meeting and the discussion is finished at 3:50 pm.

Dean’s Remarks

Interim Dean White announces that the census was complete two weeks ago. The university is down most in non-resident undergraduate students and international undergrad students. These are the university’s most tuition-generating populations.

There was a $20 million loss in tuition revenue this fall. There is a $120 million cut across the entire university. About half of that is the state’s contribution to budget. This will result in a $20 million loss per year for the next 4 years.

1600 students deferred to start in the spring or fall of 2021. We can assume that many of these students will still want to come in the fall (depending on how the virus is doing).

However, White warns that universities are not great at shrinking and then growing quickly. This year is a struggle because of cuts while next year may be a struggle because of many more students coming in.

White clarifies that no one is predicting next year’s state tax revenue to rise rapidly and we should expect the current reduction to remain. The CARES Act partially back filled this reduction this year, but the college also had a lot of expensive COVID-specific costs (air filtration, testing, etc.).

CU Boulder campus asked A&S to take a temporary pay reduction, but this was not enough to backfill the revenue loss. They then asked colleges to model a 5%, 10%, and 20% cut. They ultimately asked A&S to implement a 5% cut. A&S is accommodating that cut as best they can, without additional pay cuts or layoffs. They are hoping that the incentivized faculty retirement will meet most of the budget reduction.

While the campus refers to this year’s budget cut as “temporary,” A&S is treating it as a permanent budget cut that will remain for the next few years.

A representative asks for White’s take on the provost’s continued push for re-organization by calling for committee members outside the normal structure of faculty governance. Why would the Provost push for this if we do not know how much it will cost? White says he has no insight into the provost’s thoughts on this. All White knows is that the provost would like to see work continued on this project despite COVID. White explains that this is the way this process has been handled since we started it three years ago.

The chair explains that in some ways, this is not consistent with how it has been handled.  One of the recommendations from Academic Futures is that each dean work with their own faculty to construct faculty governance structures that are suitable for their own college or school.  So why is this not currently with A&S? White says he does not have much insight into this.

Another representative asks if these cuts are not temporary, how will we avoid eventual pay cuts? White explains that the cuts are “continuous,” which means more than a couple of years. He believes that in two to three years, student numbers will be back and the college will be back to where it was in 2018/19. In the meantime, the college should not commit dollars that they do not feel comfortable losing.

Another representative points out that the last time there was a pay cut, the campus ended up losing a lot of money on retention packages. Was this factored into the college’s budget cutting plan? White thinks that may be true, but does not know the details enough to give an answer.

Another representative asks how the 1600 deferrals relates to those who did not show up. White says there were more deferrals than those who did not show up.

Chair’s Remarks

The Provost’s Process for Reorganization

The chair would like the provost to collaborate more with ASC. The Faculty Affairs Committee is moving forward with putting together a draft of a proposal for the re-organization of faculty governance.

The chair asks that all members of ASC take information back to their departments on a regular basis. He reminds ASC members that it is their responsibility to send out minutes and agendas as they are received and consult with faculty members to get feedback. It is also a good idea to converse with your department’s BFA representative and catch up on what is going on over there.

Motion from Curriculum Committee

The chair of the Curriculum Committee explains that most of campus moved to online instruction modes in response to COVID. As a result, a large number of A&S students will be in violation of the 30-credit hour maximum for online coursework. The Curriculum Committee believes it would be a good idea to temporarily suspend this rule and has made a motion to that effect. The ASC chair displays the motion through shared screen and reads motion aloud to the ASC.

Voting is done via Zoom poll. The result is 32 yes, 0 no, 1 abstention. The motion is passed.

The ASC chair goes on to explain that some A&S administrators would like to entirely do away with the 30-credit hour maximum for online coursework. However, not all faculty want to get rid of it altogether. He asks ASC representatives if there should be a discussion about this, or should they wait until COVID has ended to discuss? A representative believes they should discuss now and be proactive.

The Curriculum Committee chair explains that this issue is very complex. The ASC’s online committee deals specifically with this. There is currently no clear definition of online education. A&S is the only college on campus that decided there should be a regulation of online credits. This shows that A&S faculty is invested in some form of face-to-face education and setting limits on online education. During last fall’s accreditation process, the university said to the accreditors that the CU administration certifies that all of CU Boulder’s courses meet the same learning objective, no matter how it is delivered. They also said they could not distinguish between course delivery methods when it comes to degree requirements.

The ASC chair recalls that in 2013, the ASC officially defined online courses, making it clear that faculty was concerned about the differences between online and in-person courses.

A representative wonders what the basis was for administration making claims to the accreditors that online and face-to-face courses were the same. The ASC chair is not sure, but thinks that Katherine Eggert might be a good person to ask.

The ASC chair points out the connection to transfer credits. When A&S gets courses from other schools, they are not marked as online or not. Because of this, the 30-credit limit is not enforced for those transfer credits. Rupert says this is a flaw in the system that they cannot control, but they can control their own courses.

A representative recalls that about two years ago, the regents came up with the idea for an online University of Colorado. He has not heard anything about it since then. The same representative says it is the faculty’s responsibility and right to govern how they teach and how credits are assigned.

Another representative wants to know if fiscal issues or accessibility is driving the upper administration’s attitude toward online classes to lower income students. The ASC chair believes it is a mixed bag. He has seen both economic and accessibility arguments and is unclear what the real motive is.

Online committee’s chair says the committee investigated Academic Futures last year and came to the conclusion that it is mostly about money.

Online committee’s chair also points out that CU Complete, a program that pushes for requirements for specific majors to be put online for students who are about to graduate but need to physically leave the area, has been essential to student success.

Another representative does not see any reason why this suspension should not be temporary. While the enforcement could be a problem, departments should be able to be trusted.

Online committee chair clarifies that while online courses are not flagged in CU’s system, they have a specific section number to easily identify them.

Dean Searches and College Re-Organization

As fall semester got going, the ASC chair received emails from department chairs expressing concern about a fourth year interim dean. Does ASC want to do anything about this? Does the ASC want to make a recommendation concerning the process of hiring a Dean of Arts and Sciences?

A representative voices his belief that this behavior is unconscionable on the part of the Provost and suggests that the faculty as a community demand that they must vote on any changes to the structure of the college. This includes any hiring of deans, associate deans, etc.

The chair believes there are a variety of motions to consider. It is hard to know which of ASC’s standing committees should be in charge of this issue. Perhaps the Planning Committee could take on this initiative.

A representative points out that we should involve chairs and directors in this since they have been vocal about it.

Another representative asks if they can go back to their departments and get opinions from other faculty members. The chair says he can write up a bullet list of 4-5 aspects of this to separate them and put them into ASC representative’s hands so they can talk to their departments about it.

Another representative points out the difficulty in asking the interim dean to take over the re-structure, while simultaneously starting the process of hiring a new dean. The ASC may have to prioritize. The chair agrees that this should be part of the discussion.

Planning committee’s chair says he would be happy to talk with ASC chair about whether or not the Planning Committee can take this issue on.

New Business

A representative asks about getting the staff advisory committee’s input and points out that staff have stake in this also. Rupert says he can invite staff council rep to come speak with ASC about this.

Meeting is adjourned at 4:59 PM.