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Minutes for October 2, 2017

The Faculty Senate of Eastern Kentucky University met on Monday, October 2, 2017 in the South Ballroom in the Keen Johnson Building. Senator Winslow called the second meeting of the academic year to order at approximately 3:30 p.m.

The following members were absent:

M. Benson* B. Clark*^ A. Collier
A. Fleischer* D. Hayes J. Palmer*
C. Sickels*^    

Indicates prior notification of absence to the Faculty Senate Secretary
^ SUB Michelle Gerken attended for B. Clark
^ ALT Robert Johnson attended for C. Sickels


Senator Slusher moved approval of the September 11, 2017 minutes as written, seconded by Senator Spigelman. Motion carried. (YES = 53 votes NO = 1 vote ABSTAIN = 2 votes) (See Also: Individual Votes)


    President Benson had to be in Washington for the annual Washington Center dinner. He shared the following in his written report to Senate.

    As mentioned last month, Dr. Matt Winslow received this year’s Acorn Award, the highest honor for teaching excellence presented by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

    Dr. Winslow is the most recent in a long line of winners from Eastern. In fact, since 1995, Eastern can claim more recipients than any other institution in the Commonwealth. When we talk about the improvement in our student success metrics, this is the most critical ingredient in making it happen.

    Another factor is our living and learning environment. This past month, we dedicated two facilities (newly completed Science Building and the Scholar House) that, together with the two new residence halls that opened in August, will go a long way toward helping our students succeed.

    Yet another factor, one of ever-increasing importance, is our level of private support. I am happy to note that our Board of Regents Chair, Craig Turner, and his wife, Madonna, recently committed $1 million as a leadership gift toward a variety of academic, athletic and facility initiatives.

    As we strive to recruit, retain and graduate more students, we must never lose sight of the importance of public outreach. We are very excited about the recently announced partnership between Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) at EKU and University of Kentucky’s Office of Technology Commercialization aimed at growing the state’s economy, with research and intellectual property as the driving forces.

    I want to take a moment to mention our next major initiative as it relates to investment in our campus infrastructure. As you all know I have commissioned a Task Force to work with our faculty, staff, students, parents and other stakeholders to set forth a strategic plan to move our
    Model Laboratory School forward. That work is well underway with town-hall meetings and scheduled small-group meetings. I am looking forward to reviewing the recommendations that come from that process and the presentation of those findings to our Board of Regents on November 15th.

    Be sure to check out two upcoming events on campus, if schedules permit.

    1. Holocaust exhibit at Giles Gallery in the Campbell Building through Oct. 25. An opening reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, Oct. 4, will feature Prestonsburg, Kentucky, resident John Rosenberg, one of the Holocaust survivors depicted in the exhibit.
    2. Chautauqua event on Thursday, Oct. 5, where Co-Director Sally Rubin will present scenes from the forthcoming work, “Hillbilly, The Documentary: 100 Years of Appalachia in TV and Film.” The event, at 7:30 p.m. in the Whitlock Building, will help us better understand how many on the outside might view the region we serve.

    Lastly, I want to address a matter related to faculty salaries.

    The Senate gave the Administration the charge to find ways to finance salary increases for both faculty and staff. As long as we have to grapple with the ongoing pension crisis in Kentucky, this will always limit the extent to which we would like to increase what our faculty and staff are paid. Nonetheless, we are actively pursuing a mechanism whereby a portion of our Education and General budget (E&G) might be unencumbered to allow us to redirect ongoing funds to salary and benefit increases. Nothing is certain at this point, but we are working diligently on multiple fronts to bring in additional revenue to the University to make this happen.

    It has been said that EKU faculty increases over the past decade fall short of cost-of-living adjustments by more than 10 percent. While it is true that those adjustments for each year 2006-17 on the Social Security website total 24.3 percent, and the University has issued 16.0 percent in across-the-board raises in the same period, it is important to keep in mind that faculty members receive raises for other reasons in addition to the University’s across-the-board raises. Therefore, it might be more accurate to evaluate the projected Social Security COLA 2017 salaries compared to actual 2017 EKU salaries for those faculty members still employed in the same rank without appearing to have additional administrative roles. That comparison shows that overall, EKU faculty 2017 actual salaries are at 96 percent of the 2017 projected Social Security COLA salaries. Professors are at 98 percent, associate professors are at 95 percent, and assistant professors are at 96 percent.

    Overall, EKU faculty salaries are at 96 percent of our official benchmark institutions for which data were available. Professors and associate professors are at 95 percent and assistant professors are at 98 percent.

    The benchmark data cited in the Faculty Senate resolution referred to a custom Kentucky peer group requested by a faculty senator. In order to fulfill that request, an ad hoc comparison group that included Western Kentucky University, Murray State University, Morehead State University, Northern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, and Berea College. (Please note that Berea College was included because the comparison tool required eight institutions.) With that subset in mind, EKU faculty salaries are at 92 percent: professors at 89 percent, associate professors at 92 percent, and assistant professors at 96 percent


    Provost Search Update. Senator Winslow reported that the first meeting of the entire committee will be tomorrow to set the timeline.

    Thanks again to all those who provided feedback on the campus profile. We received many good suggestions and corrections and the updated profile is in good shape.

    Most of the committee’s work will happen in January. The goal is to have Skype interviews in January and campus visits soon thereafter.

    LMS Update. Dean Betina Gardner gave a brief update on the LMS. To date there have been several drop-in training sessions. Those have been announced through EKUToday and IT also sent out a separate message. Special sessions can also be scheduled for individuals or by department. Blackboard is providing lots of training materials and tutorials which are currently being customized for EKU. Those should be made available for use in late October. In addition, there will be a course available within the current Blackboard system that will give you access to those materials.

    In early November an on-site visit is being planned with Blackboard which will provide faculty an opportunity to have a dialogue with the company about how you currently use Blackboard and how the new Blackboard might change based on faculty needs.

    Blackboard will perform a trial migration of all data to the new system in October in preparation for the full migration in December.

    Health Insurance Plans and Premiums. Sarah Pitt gave a brief update on the new health care plans. The 2017 Employee Benefits Guide is available for review from the HR website. The plans are the same this year but there will be a slight decrease in premiums. The defined contribution that the university pays will be increasing but the university is covering that increase this year.  


    Policy 4.7.4 – Faculty Grievances. Senator Winslow reminded that the Senate passed the policy last spring. However, the Provost Council recommended some changes after Senate approval. The policy will be on the November Senate agenda for action.

    Policy 4.7.12 – Faculty/Staff Academic Travel with Students. Senator Winslow introduced the new policy as a first read and noted that it will be on the November Senate agenda for action.

    Posthumous Degree Award. Senator Turner moved approval of awarding a posthumous degree for Muhammad Abdulrahman Al-Swaidi, seconded by Senator Rothe. Motion carried. (YES = 51 votes | NO = 0 votes | ABSTAIN = 4 votes) (See Also: Individual Votes)

    Report from Council on Academic Affairs. Vice Provost Sherry Robinson presented the following materials for information only.

    1. Departmental Certificate
    2. eCampus Registration Hold

    No-Confidence Vote in the Faculty Regent. Senator Fitch moved for a no-confidence vote in the Faculty Regent, seconded by Senator Esor. Motion carried. (YES = 33 votes | NO = 8 votes | ABSTAIN = 16 votes) (See Also: Individual Votes)

    Senator Fitch noted that a vote of no-confidence is symbolic and not binding. However, a statement is the only way to formally register faculty concerns with this performance.



    The Executive Committee is continuing to discuss how to proceed with the faculty evaluation of President Benson. We are waiting to receive information from Board Chair Turner about options for outside firms. No decisions about the outside firms have been made as of yet.

    As you know we have not had merit pay for many years, and President Benson indicated several years ago that he has a different vision for how merit pay would work, were we to have it again. The Executive Committee will discuss this with President Benson on October 9.

    The Executive Committee is reviewing the internal procedures for the standing Senate Committees and the Senate officers. We plan to bring those documents to the full Senate soon. Thanks to the various Senators who have worked on those documents.

    There have been some changes at the Federal level that means we will need to revise our policy about free speech on campus. There is a team of faculty, staff, and administration currently working on that policy. Dr. Lynnette Noblitt is the faculty representative on that team.

    Senator Winslow shared Senator Ciocca’s AAUP PowerPoint presentation “Death by a Thousand Cuts: Real EKU Salaries” as well as the link to the YouTube video produced by the Communications Department.

    The Ombud was unable to attend the meeting but shared a copy of the quarterly report for July.

    Finally, there was some discussion at the September Senate meeting about the criteria the Chair uses to determine if a motion is substantive. The Parliamentarian examined Robert’s Rules and the Faculty Handbook and the best answer is that it really is a matter of the Chair’s discretion, but that the Senate can move and vote to overrule the Chair’s determination. So that is how we will proceed. When a motion is made from the floor, the Chair will determine if it is substantive, and then the Senate can, if they wish, move to overrule the determination, and if the motion passes then the determination will be changed.


    The next meeting of the EKU Board of Regents will be held on November 15th at Model Lab School. The meeting has been moved from October in order to give the Board an opportunity to gain more budget information from the upcoming special session.

    Based on preliminary guidance from the Office of the State Budget Director, it appears that the EKU KERS pension costs for FY19 may increase by $9.5M. If our FY19 General Fund appropriation is also cut 12% - which looks like a real possibility - that would equal another $7.8M. This combined with our decline in enrollment this fiscal year could potentially give us a $20M hurdle to clear for FY19. (Opinions are mixed on the likelihood of a midyear cut in FY 18.) But we won’t know the full picture until the end of January. There may be some one-time savings actions that might lower our FY19 hurdle to about $16M.

    REPORT FROM COSFL: Senator Kopacz

    COSFL met on September 12, immediately after the Governor’s Conference on Postsecondary Education Trusteeship, which is sponsored by CPE.

    Robert Staat was the major speaker. Basically he came with bad news:

    • State revenues were down in
    • Rainy day fund is at $0 
    • Governor wants to raise $350 million

    State agencies were directed to slash their budgets by 17.4%. Fortunately, finally, higher education was excluded from this round of cuts, although the CPE itself was charged with this cut.

    We received a little more information about how the retirement problem became so grave:

    • an assumed return on investment that didn’t pan out
    • failure to do actuarial planning
    • total lack of funding for 15 years
    • an assumed 4.5% payroll growth – but as we are well aware, faculty numbers have declined so fewer are paying in to the system
    • education has not been getting the money it was supposed to be getting from the lottery; much of that money was going to the General Fund instead
    • and all of this is complicated by the fact that there are 24 different retirement plans among the institutions of higher ed

    The good news from all of this for those of us currently in the system is that Staat told us that by law the pensions were solidified in 1972 and cannot be altered, except in the future for new faculty coming in, which will, of course, affect our recruitment.

    Bob Staat’s term of office at the CPE actually ended last June. COSFL held nominations for a new faculty representative, and I was nominated, along with two faculty from U.K. and two from U. of L. Our names were then sent forward, apparently one is to be elected by the faculty members of the governing Boards, the faculty regents such as Richard, and then (according to the CPE website) appointed by the Governor. I haven’t heard anything more about either the process or the result.

    We had a lengthy discussion about meeting directly with the Governor to make a case for higher education. COSFL will meet again to strategize before meeting with the Governor.

    The meeting closed with the need for us to talk to legislators about the value of higher education to the state. Perhaps more important, we need to convince ordinary citizens as well as legislators that higher education achieves a greater good for a greater number. We need to do a better job of communicating to the public how higher education is value added to the Commonwealth.

    PROVOST REPORT: Senator Whitehouse

    One of the exciting topics at the Governor’s Trusteeship Conference last month was a presentation by Dr. Tom Sugar, President of Complete College America (CCA). CCA’s focus is on several high-level, game-changing, proven strategies to help campuses and states move the dial on student progression and college completion. We may try to attract him as an EKU speaker for our campus.

    Dr. Bob King presented state data and strategies to address some of the biggest challenges facing our Commonwealth, including low educational attainment and achievement gaps among low-income and minority students.

    Another speaker at the conference, Dr. Darcie Milazzo, Director for Leadership Development at the Academy for Innovative Higher Education, addressed leading change for the innovative institution. We came back with good ideas for consideration and additional validation for many of our high-impact success strategies.

    These themes of change permeate nationally. Higher education is struggling with shrinking budgets, declining numbers of high school graduates, offering degrees that students and employers seek, finding the best support that works for groups of students, and individualizing that support.

    As a “teaching university,” EKU remains a top choice for our students. Faculty at EKU have a long tradition of keeping our promise to students to do everything we can to help them achieve their degrees. We have faculty dedicated to innovative teaching strategies for high-impact learning. We have a strong support staff dedicated to removing barriers to success. We have just had another successful Assurance of Learning Day, demonstrating our focus on program growth and enhancing student learning.

    I think we have a strong plan and will continue this year to assess and enhance strategies that work. We continue to:

    • Adopt transformative curriculum revisions
    • Provide the education students and employers seek
    • Embrace intrusive advising to get students on the right path (support 15-to-Finish)
    • Decrease DFW rates
    • Connect students to the support they need
    • Embrace technology that provides new opportunities
    • Enhance our efficiency of delivery

    The overall 4th-Week Report participation rate remained steady for Fall 2017 at 76 percent, and the participation rate for 090-200-level courses increased slightly to 77.2 percent (from 76.3 percent in Spring). Thanks to all faculty who participated in this early intervention best practice.

    Please mark the following upcoming dates on your calendars:


    Academic Quality Committee. Senator Polin reported that the committee is working on a map of visual representation and organization for all of the student initiatives available on campus. The deadline for completion of the project is November 20.

    Budget Committee. Senator Ciocca reported that the committee met on September 22 with the Welfare Committee to review the benefits for the coming year.

    Elections & University Nominations Committee. Senator Mason stated that the committee met last week in special session. In attendance were the chairs from the General Education Committee, Graduate Council, Library, and Research. Discussion centered around the election for faculty appointments on university committees held last spring and ways to improve the process and increase faculty participation. The response rate from 2016 was at 7.6% as compared to 26% this past spring. So we’re hopeful that the new process is a contributing factor for the increased response rate. Anyone with suggestions to improve the process or faculty participation should contact Senator Mason.

    Information Technology Committee. Senator Baggett reported that the committee met on September 22. Jonathan Sikora was in attendance to provide training for the TurningPoint software which is used for Senate digital voting. In addition, Mr. Sikora provided a Blackboard SAAS update.

    Rights and Responsibilities Committee. Senator Quan announced that the committee has met to review charges.

    Rules Committee: Senator Kay reported that the committee met on September 18 to discuss the charges for the year. The committee has begun drafting generic language for a petition to be used in the faculty-at-large approval process.

    The committee continues to work on revisions for the Senate internal procedures and should have those completed this year.

    The committee is also investigating whether the merit pay guidelines should still be listed in the handbook and if so, if they need to be updated. The Executive Committee will discuss this with the president at their next monthly meeting.

    Another charge the committee is working on is to clarify administrative voting rights on Senate.

    Faculty Welfare Committee. Senator Turner reported that the committee met and reviewed the health care plans.


    Ombud Framework. Senator Zeigler announced that the meeting with the president to discuss the proposed charter was postponed. More information should be available next month.


    Senator Whitehouse moved to adjourn at approximately 4:45pm.

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