BGSU Faculty Senate

Randy Gardner to BGSU Faculty Senate: “We need to invest more in higher education”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ohio should increase its support for higher education, State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) told Faculty Senate at Bowling Green State University Tuesday. No one knows the difficulties of doing that more than Gardner, the Senate Majority Leader. “I think if we had the same level of education achievement in this state as the national average, we’d increase our tax revenues and productivity,” he said. “We need to invest more on higher education. Ohio has not kept up.” That came in response to a question from Megan Rancier, a senator from the College of Musical Arts, about his view of the possibility of greater state support for higher education. In a nod to the sensitivity of the issue, Gardner told the reporter in the chamber before answering that he hoped his pen had run out of ink. Gardner said that he wasn’t hopeful that more state share of instruction funding will be forthcoming because the state has given universities a way to raise more tuition through the freshman guarantee. Under this approach, which BGSU has adopted starting this fall, a university can raise tuition and fees for incoming students, but then those costs, including tuition, room and board, mandatory fees, and out-of-state surcharge fees, will be frozen for the student’s four years on campus. Gardner said he would have liked to have included some additional state support, so that the incentive for adopting the freeze would not simply be financial. Gardner said that Ohio has had the slowest growth in tuition in the nation over the past decade. Looking back to 2007, Ohio’s tuition was 150 percent of the national average. Now is closer, but still higher, than the national average, he said. Some efforts to reduce costs may be counterproductive “If we simply mandate lower costs without state support, it makes it more difficult to offer the same level and variety of courses and flexibility,” he said. That…


BGSU sorting out confusion over fall finals week

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University’s new 15-week semester hit a snag six months before it is scheduled to start when a discussion during a meeting of administrators led to a misunderstanding about how exam week would be handled. Faculty later were shocked when they found a fall calendar on the registrar’s page stating the last day of classes for the fall semester would be Dec. 14 with the first commencement ceremony scheduled for that night. The senate was meeting the second time this month Tuesday during an on-call session. Senate Chair David Border called the session after all “the noise” generated by the confusion. Acting Provost John Fischer told Faculty Senate he took full responsibility for the confusion. What were intended to be complex, “nuanced” discussions about how to approach finals week turned “funky,” and within an hour of the meeting he was getting calls. The first discussion among department chairs and school directors was about how to make sure finals week was being used for exams, final projects or other educationally significant work. That week has become even more important, he said, because of the need to meet the number of contact hours – the time faculty are with students in the classroom – required by the state. With a 16-week semester, BGSU had already recorded the required number of hours before finals week. When Interim President Rodney Rogers was provost, he would, at the end of the semester, informally poll students waiting in line at Starbucks in the student union and ask them if they had an exam or other class meeting in all their courses during finals week. He found, Fisher said, that just about all said at least one course was not meeting. That cannot happen in a 15-week semester. So the chairs and directors discussed to stop calling the last week of the semester finals week. That was the first problem. The second more nagging…


Faculty told student evaluations don’t play into tenure, promotion decisions

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Acting Provost John Fischer sought to reassure faculty about a new approach to student evaluations of courses at Bowling Green State University. Starting next fall, students will answer the same six questions regardless of the course they are taking, and these questions can be answered online, not just in class. These will be in addition to specific questions posed by particular academic departments. A presentation on the Teaching and Learning Evaluations drew fire from faculty when a report was presented at last month’s Faculty Senate meeting. The criticism included a charge that colleges and universities were using such quantitative data to justify employing more part-time faculty, even though the methods of gathering those evaluations is flawed. The faculty online discussion group has been active with back and forth about the issue since that meeting. Fischer told Faculty Senate that the new evaluations would not be used for any promotion, tenure, or re-appointment decisions. Those are covered by the contract with the BGSU-Faculty Association. The evaluations serve more institutional purposes. “We need a university measure that will give us some sense and data of how students think we’re doing on teaching and learning,” he said. While written comments are more helpful, Fischer said, there’s no way to gather and summarize that data. Each of the six questions will have a space for written comments. He noted that when the College of Education and Human Development put its evaluations online the number and length of the written comments increased dramatically. Asked by senate member Craig Zirbel if these are the six questions he would have chosen, Fischer equivocated. He said he was reluctant to say anything that could reflect negatively on the working group that put together the proposal over the past two years. He did allow he may have included a couple other questions. During the January Faculty Senate discussion, David Jackson, president of the Faculty Association, said that all…


Common course evaluations get critical look in BGSU Faculty Senate

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The proposal to change the way Bowling Green State University students evaluate courses and professors drew questions at the recent Faculty Senate meeting. The teaching and learning evaluation instrument would make sure that there are the same six questions on every course evaluation. Departments would still be able to supplement the evaluation with their own questions. The common course evaluation would also be administered online, explained Julie Matuga, vice provost for institutional effectiveness. A working group was charged with studying the issue in fall, 2015. It included faculty, administrators, and students. “What we’ve tried to do over the past two and half year is to bring in a lot of individuals to get their feedback,” she said. The goal, Matuga said is “to better inform institutional professional development efforts, and provide feedback on teaching and learning.” The group also wanted to make sure faculty had ready access to the data. The group presented a report to the senate in March. The new evaluation will continue to be tested this semester before being implemented in fall. The group recommended adopting EvaluationKIT to administer the evaluations. The system works well with Canvas, BGSU’s online course management system, and provides the feedback to faculty. The working group studied 60 course evaluations to determine what questions are already being asked, and of those they culled questions the evaluations had in common. Through surveys and pilot programs, the group narrowed the list down to six questions. (Questions are below at end of the story.) David Jackson, from political science, said all six common questions address teaching, not learning. None ask how much effort a student put into class, how often they attended, how much of the reading they did, or how much they gained from a class. Matuga said those were good questions, but they hadn’t been selected by faculty. Departments still have the option of adding those. Several faculty had questions about what…


BGSU faculty committee finds no single solution to textbook costs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News No one solution exists for addressing the costs of textbooks. The Textbook Affordability Committee report to the Faculty Senate recommended a multipronged approach that built on what is already being done at Bowling Green State University and approaches taken at other institutions. The report was presented to the Faculty Senate Tuesday by Ellen Gorsevski, who chaired the committee. The senate voted to accept the report and discharge the committee. In a separate vote senators submitted the report to the administration saying it should be used to guide the university’s policy on textbooks. BGSU and other state universities have been feeling pressure from Columbus politicians over the costs of textbooks. One proposal that worked its way through the legislative process before being killed would have limited the cost of textbooks to $300 a year and would have required universities to pay for textbooks. In the end, the legislature left it up to universities to develop policies to reduce the costs of textbooks. “That could change,” Gorsevski said. “This is an evolving issue.” The problem with these state approaches, Gorsevski said, is that they lacked data to back them up. How much the “object formerly known as a textbook” costs students and families is hard to determine. Now texts come bundled with digital and online resources, which can drive up the costs. The committee did some number crunching, but it is still uncomplete. One of its recommendations for the administration is to determine these costs, and then post those numbers so they are easily accessible to students and their families. What the committee did determine was a cap on spending would result in students in majors with low textbook costs, such as the Humanities, would end up subsidizing those in majors that typically have higher costs, such as the STEM disciplines. She said that as the committee studied the issue “we discovered many of you are doing a fantastic job.” The…


Faculty Senate wants BGSU to become a welcome campus

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News No pickets showed up for Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting advocating for Bowling Green State University be designated a sanctuary campus. A crowd was expected for the on-call session, which is on the calendar but seldom convened. Much to the dismay of a dozen or so students and faculty gathered for the proceedings, signs at the entryway to the assembly room advised that the seats were saved for senators. Once roll was called Rachelle Kristof Hippler, who chairs the senate, invited them in to fill whatever empty seats were left. Aside from reports from President Mary Ellen Mazey and Provost Rodney Rogers, the only item on the agenda was a resolution calling for BGSU to become a welcome campus. The change in the wording from “sanctuary” to “welcome,” was intentional. Asked to explain the difference Christina Guenther, who introduced the resolution and had called for the session last time senate met, said that being a welcome campus better aligned with the Not In Our Town efforts. The term also was “less loaded in terms of associations,” said the professor of German. A bill, supported by U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), has been introduced in the U.S. House calling for sanctions against sanctuary cities. Regardless of the term used, the senate after no action on the issue the previous two times it met, passed the resolution 46-6 with one abstention. The resolution was a softer version than the original petition. This time, Mazey choose not to express her opposition, though after the meeting she said she was not ready to say she approved. The resolution contained issues, especially regarding campus police, that she would have to discuss with her cabinet, including the university counsel. The resolution was amended before being passed. A provision requiring Homeland Security, Border Patrol and Immigrant and Customs officials on campus for recruiting be dressed in plain clothes and be unarmed was stricken from the resolution….


Faculty senate hears about parking, approves graduate program & honorary degree

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Faculty Senate at Bowling Green State University was not stuck in park when it met Tuesday. Its agenda was jammed, but it kept moving, at least with as much speed as it could manage with presentations on faculty files related to merit and promotion, charter revisions, and a change in who is qualified to teach and supervise graduate students. Then there was the discussion of parking. Aaron Kane, manager of Parking Services, explained the new system his office will be initiating. Now parking enforcement officers will cruise lots and scan license plate numbers to determine if cars are parked where they should be. The system, he said, has many advantages. It should save time and energy. “Improved productivity is going to be a major benefit,” he said. People will no longer have to stand in line to get their hanging passes. The registration process will be done all online. Each faculty member will be able to register two cars. Students will be able to register one car. People with loaners or rental cars will be able to go online and change the registration so that car will be covered instead of one of the two originally registered. When prospective students and their families come to campus they will be able to register their vehicles ahead of time. At the ice arena, Kane said, people coming for open skate, now have to park, run inside, get a tag, and return to the vehicle to put it in. Now they’ll just give their license plate number at the desk. The system will allow parking services to gather data on which lot are filling up, with the possibility of an app that will tell commuting students which lots have spaces and which are full. The system Kane said may be extended to pay lots, allowing visitors to pay for parking without going to the kiosk. The system, he said, has worked…


Faculty will write next chapter in plan to reduce textbook costs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University Faculty Senate opted not to take action on a resolution calling for a goal of cutting student textbook costs by 50 percent. Instead the senate at the urging of Jim Evans will leave it up to an ad hoc committee to come up with a proposal, and then will act on that proposal. That’s the way the senate procedure should work, Evans said. He argued that the resolution before the senate, which had been tabled in November, would be an “insult” to the members of the ad hoc committee because it spells out what they should decide. That resolution called for the committee to report to the full senate by next May, and there was no indication that the timeline would change. Everyone in the senate, everyone at the university, Evans said, wants lower textbook costs. The senate should allow the committee to study the issue and deliver a resolution based on what they find. The decision should be based on “facts and data” not “hearsay,” which is how he characterized what was in the resolution. Anne Gordon asked why the resolution insisted that BGSU lead the state in reducing textbook cost. “That seems to me to be part of the agenda of moving so quickly,” she said. “Why is taking lead in this issue so important?” Allen Rogel said it was important for the senate and the university to present options before “we get something rammed down our throats by the legislature.” Provost Rodney Rogers noted in his remarks that the BGSU Board of Trustees will be discussing textbook costs. At November’s meeting when the resolution was first presented, the initiatives BGSU is already taking were spelled out. Those included the bookstore’s BGSU Choose program through which students can comparison shop for books. Also, the library buys copies of some of the most in demand textbooks and makes them available at the reserve desk….


Faculty senate mulls options for cutting students’ textbook expense

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Bowling Green State University heard about many ways to reduce the cost of textbooks on Tuesday. When it came time to approve a resolution that called for formulating a plan by May, 2017, that would cut costs in half, the senate balked. Not that the senators weren’t behind cutting textbook costs. Rather they were concerned about committing to that specific target before the issue had been studied, as well as for procedural reasons. Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature have been pushing for reductions on the price of textbooks as part of efforts to reduce the cost of higher education for students. This concern comes at a time when the trend has been a significant decrease in state support for higher education. Universities did receive a modest increase in funding in the most recent budget. Before considering the resolution titled “To Lead Ohio Higher Education in Textbook Cost Reduction,” the senate heard from a panel about what is being done to control the cost of textbooks. Provost Rodney Rogers said that after the major expenses of tuition, fees, room and board are paid, students and their parents are then confronted with “additional costs that are pretty significant and sometimes it surprises families.” Jeff Nelson, the manager of the University bookstore, said that the timing of when professors decide what materials they will use is key. The earlier, the better, he said. Through BGSU Choose, price comparison software, the bookstore gives students information on what books and materials cost at the bookstore and at 12 other national vendors, including Amazon. As soon as the bookstore knows what books will be required it can do the research, he said. The system also “gives us a lot of data and analytics.” Sometimes that information leads the bookstore to discount the price of some textbooks. He said that 85 percent of students who use BGSU Choose end up buying something from the…


BGSU studies tweaking course evaluations

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The way Bowling Green State University students evaluate their courses is getting a makeover. At Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, the Senate Chair Rachelle Kristof Hippler reported on the work of the group that is studying a proposal to have a uniform set of questions across the university. Now those can vary by department. Hippler said that the proposal was not to make the entire evaluation form uniform, but just to make sure a standard set of questions was on all evaluations. Questions specific to the department will still be included. The group that studied the issue looked at more than 60 different course evaluation instruments. From those, Hippler said, they pulled 45 possible questions. Julie Matuga, Associate Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, who was part of the group, said that a survey will be circulated to faculty from Oct. 17 through Oct. 28 to determine which of those would be most useful. The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete. An open session will be held on Nov. 8 at 9 a.m. to discuss the results of the survey. The new evaluation will be reviewed and finalized in time for it to be used in a few courses at the end of this semester. It will be further refined after that pilot administration with another pilot program planned for the end of the spring semester. In his remarks to the senate, Provost Rodney Rogers said that BGSU and universities are preparing to make their case to the legislature about the importance of public higher education. Public higher education, he said, is “incredibly cost effective.” Schools must continue to strike a balance between low tuition and high quality instruction. Rogers noted “there seems to be a lot of discussion about textbook costs.” He said he expects more talk about how universities can manage that expense.


Survey shows most oppose concealed carry on BGSU campus (Updated 4/27/16)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Most people surveyed at Bowling Green State University oppose allowing concealed carry of weapons on campus. Of more than 5,700 faculty, staff, administrators and students surveyed, 61.4 opposed allowing concealed carry and 38.6 were in favor.  The survey was done by a committee charged with studying the issue after the State House voted to loosen the restrictions on concealed carry on college campus and other currently restricted zones. The bill, House Bill 48, is still before the State Senate. If it became law, the university trustees would have to approve allowing concealed carry on campus. The committee also found a majority would not feel safer if anyone, including students 21 and older, could carry concealed weapons on campus. That was especially true of women, of whom 74.6 percent said they’d feel less safe, and faculty members, 88 percent of whom would feel less safe. Having concealed carry found greatest support among undergraduate males, 42.7 percent of whom said they would consider carrying a weapon if allowed. Alfred DeMaris, a sociology professor and statistician, said the committee made an effort to reach out to all segments of the campus community. The committee distributed 20,338 surveys, and got 5,792 back, a 28.5 percent response rate. While the committee hoped for more, he noted that this was not a target sample, but the entire target population. Graduate students had the best response rate of almost 70 percent, followed by faculty with just shy of 50 percent. Undergraduates had the lowest response rate, under 20 percent. The committee, which was charged to studying the issue and any possible response, did not present a resolution for the senate to act on. The committee had far too many divergent views on the issue to formulate a resolution, said Laura Sanchez, of sociology, who presented the report to senate with DeMaris. In the cover letter to the report, which has been distributed to faculty, committee chair Ian…


BGSU adopting new budget process

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University is changing the way it budgets its operations. Forums have been held recently on Performance-Based Budgeting, and this week President Mary Ellen Mazey and Provost Rodney Rogers gave a presentation to Faculty Senate on how the institution-wide process would affect academic units. With the change, the budgeting, specifically that covering faculty, will move to the college level with deans having more control over the money. “We’re trying to align resources with the activities going on on the collegiate level,” Rogers said. But that will come with more scrutiny of individual academic units, whether colleges, schools, departments or programs. Mazey promised the new budgeting process would be “open and transparent.” “What we are trying to achieve is to align the budget with the vision and mission of this institution,” she said. That vision is all about “student success.” That means recruiting students and then keeping them until they graduate. Financial resources will be allocated based on how well programs do that. But Rogers noted, not all units are the same. He said the administration will proceed cautiously to avoid unintended negative consequences. Rogers said in light of the new state oversight through House Bill 6, which requires universities to look at what programs and courses have few students and low enrollment, this approach makes sense. “It’s not a new model,” Rogers said. “It’s a new model for us.” Data will be collected annually, then rolled into a three-year average to smooth out any one-time divergences. That data will be compared to data from a group of 33 peer institutions. The administration will consider a number of factors including how many students are enrolled in a program, and how many end up graduating as well as how many are participating in “high impact practices.” Those practices include internships, service learning and study abroad. Also how much external funding in the form of grants a program receives as…