Advisory Council of Faculty Report

June 20, 2002

The June ACF meeting took place at the HEPC Building in Charleston, on Thursday, June 20, 2002. Topics of discussion are noted below:

1) ACF Presentation to LOCEA: Connie Moore announced that last week's ACF power point presentation at the LOCEA meeting was impressive and well-received.

2) State Compact: Moore passed out hardcopies of the drastically revised state compact. Copies are available upon request or check out the Policy Commission websight (www.HEPC.wvnet.edu).

3) Evaluation of Major Administrators: Acting upon a request from the HEPC, the ACF produced a draft of an evaluation process for major administrators. An ACF subcommittee produced the first draft and suggestions were made for improving the document. ACF members are asked to share the redraft with campus senators for their feedback in the fall.

4) Conversation with Chancellor Mullen:

Budget Cuts and Academic Cutbacks: Chancellor Mullen reiterated the dilemma of "low productivity programs." He noted there will be a hard look at programs graduating only 3 or 4 students per year or offering required courses only once every three years. Such programs, Mullen said, drain resources, particularly in these tight times and with large-scale retirement numbers looming over the horizon. Mullen believes that new hires at current market rates will further stress system resources.

(Note, the following pertinent fiscal facts were shared by Mullen at the May ACF meeting. There was an average 1.45% budget cut for baccalaureate campuses in the system, and most institutions, Mullen reported, made up the cut in increased tuition and fees. Mullen noted that the Governor has identified a $110 million shortfall for the coming year, a figure Mullen believes is understated. PEIA increases will further stress institutions, with faculty and staff paying more as well. Mullen noted that for the past decade or two, approximately 1800 students annually leave the State in order to pursue higher education; the PROMISE scholarships are estimated to increase the numbers of WV graduates attending colleges in the state, from 54% to approximately 70%.)

Raising Baccalaureate Admissions Standards and High School Graduation Standards: Mullen shared his believe that the new standards will affect college general studies education. When the new high school graduation requirements (additional units in math, science and modern languages) go into effect for seniors graduating in 2008, upgraded high school course content must already be in place by 2005. Mullen said that students will enter colleges and universities with increased skill levels and a stronger knowledge base, thus impacting the content of general studies math and science courses, in particular. If college freshmen language skills are enhanced, this may also affect beginning language courses (particularly, he believes, Spanish courses). Mullen asserted that one of the aims of such programs as PROMISE (specifically through providing economic incentives for WV parents) is to "change behaviors," to create parental pressure exerted upon students and more serious high-school study habits. Some ACF representatives reminded the Chancellor that similar scholarship programs, for example Georgia's HOPE scholarships, had produced grade inflation in the high schools and had actually increased numbers in college developmental programs; however, it is also clear that raising WV high school graduation requirements (something the Georgia system did not do) may help to off-set the high school grade inflation tendency. Raising graduation requirements contiguous with instituting the PROMISE program is unique.

State Assessment Project: Dr. Mullen stressed System emphasis on assessment in WV higher education and said the State is looking for universal alumni assessment to dovetail with other assessments currently in practice.

Merit Plans: Dr. Mullen asked ACF members about the status of faculty merit programs. Bruce Flack repeated the mandate that merit plans be developed by 2003 at State institutions and implemented by 2005. Connie Moore shared once again information about Dr. Raoula Arreola's Developing Comprehensive Faculty Evaluation System and suggested that ACF representatives encourage their faculty and senates to become involved in developing their own merit plans rather than allow administrators to take the initiative. Dr. Flack also stressed this important responsibility for ACF members.

Over-reliance on Adjunct Staffing: ACF members shared their concern about increasing reliance on adjunct staffing to accomplish teaching missions. Dr. Mullen answered that ten years ago adjunct staffing percentages ranged in the low range of 30% and today in the high range of 30%, which he said fell within the national average. He noted that the significant figure that we should have is the percentage of courses taught by adjuncts rather than the percentage of adjuncts, and an accurate figure for the system, he said, is not yet available.

5) Conversation with Dr. Flack:

Seamless Curriculum: ACF members asked Dr. Flack about the "seamless curriculum" recently touted in the State. Flack noted that the intent of the policy is to enable students in high school tech programs to complete work toward junior college degrees. ACF members expressed their concern about watering down the associate degree. Flack noted that this new initiative is also geared toward better utilizing the senior year of high school; he also stressed the appropriateness of "skills" subjects rather than academic subjects for the "seamless curriculum."

HEPC Studies Mandated for the Summer: Dr. Flack mentioned a number of studies that his office has been commissioned to conduct over the summer; they include the following: 1) Redefining the mission of Bluefield, Glenville, and Potomac State colleges. (The ACF asked what the intent behind this study was. Dr. Flack repeated that the study would be limited to "redefining the mission" of each of the three institutions, which is immensely significant.): 2) Developing an "on-line instruction plan" for the State system;
3) Developing a set of defined "standards for university status";
4) Developing a plan for expanding graduate course offerings through out the State (Currently four institutions--Shepherd, Fairmont, Glenville, and WV State have presented plans for offering graduate courses.);
5) Developing a plan to expanding "dual credit" course access;
6) Refining the plan for articulation of transfer credits;
7) Rendering "teacher certification" more consistent and timely;
8) Recognizing American Sign Language as a foreign language. (Dr. Flack explained the importance of recognizing the work of the small number of students who have learned to "sign," and he stressed the need to have more signers in the State. While many legislators support allowing American Sign Language to suffice for a foreign language, members of the Policy Commission questioned at the May meeting the validity of such recognition. Though American Sign Language does not have a phonologic component per se, it does have the distinctive morphologic, semantic, and syntactic qualities of any modern language.)

6) Acf.hepc.wvnet.edu: The HEPC webmaster demonstrated an ACF webpage, its use and potential. The ACF affirmed its enthusiasm for the new page, which would allow us to initiate system-wide conversations about higher education issues, as well as post important dates and announcements.

7) Election of ACF Chair: Connie Moore was re-elected for a second term as chair of the Advisory Council of Faculty to the HEPC. Jim Nemitz accepted the position of vice-chair for another term and Patricia Shafer agreed to serve as secretary for another term.

8) ACF Concerns for 2002-2003: The ACF settled on the following issues of primary concern in the coming year:
… Improved communication between the HEPC, Chancellor, and ACF constituents;
… Encouraging faculty across the system to become involved in developing fair and equitable merit plans at those institutions where plans have not yet been developed and implemented;
… Concentrating on a number of legislative concerns and developing a rapport with legislators.
…Dealing with several legislative issues:
1) achieving incremental salary increases based on years of service comparable to other "state employees" (copy of current law that omits faculty from this benefit is available);
2) achieving legislation to allow transfer of catastrophic leave;
3) achieving legislation that would allow higher education faculty and staff to serve in the legislature, just as elementary and secondary teachers can currently serve.

The ACF agreed to continue to meet on the current schedule, with monthly Thursday meetings, prior to Friday HEPC meetings, to begin at 2:00 and subcommittee meetings to begin at 1:00. The consensus of the group was to keep our concerns lofty, as selfless as possible, and focused on improving WV higher education in general. This year saw increased awareness and respect for the Advisory Council of Faculty, both from the Chancellor and from the Policy Commission; this is a dynamic that we wish to continue. As one Policy Commission member said about the ACF: "You have the ball; now keep it rolling."

Some Highlights from April 19 Higher Education Policy Commission Committee Meetings (Academic and Finance), June 21, 2002

1) Guidelines for College Courses for High School Students, Series 19:
Dr. Flack passed out the revision of the policy for offering college courses in the high schools (document available). The guidelines state that these courses must "meet the same rigorous standards as required for on-campus instruction," must "meet the minimum faculty credential requirements for instructional rank at the college" granting the credit, and must "be approved by the chief academic officer of the college . . . and the department which will grant the credit." President Beasley (Concord) expressed his reservations that these courses might affect the numbers of AP courses offered at WV high schools (students must make at least a 3 on the national standardized tests in order to receive AP credit, whereas they need only pass the dual-enrollment course at the high school to receive regular college credit).

2) Standards and Procedures for Undergraduate Admissions, Series 23:
The revised admissions standards with a 2008 implementation deadline (to be consistent with high school curricula upgrades) are as follows:
4 English units (including grammar, composition and literature)
3 Social Studies units (including US History)
3 Mathematics units (Algebra I and at least one higher unit)
3 Science units
2 Foreign Language units
1 Arts unit

3) Preparation of Students for College, Series 24:
Upgrades in the high graduation requirements are comparable to the Undergraduate Admissions Standards above. Implementation is set for 2008, but the curriculum must be in place in the high schools by 2005.

4) Higher Education State Budget Review: One, among several, alternatives suggested for dealing with the budget crisis is to raise faculty teaching loads to 15 hours. The ACF will watch the progress of discussion on this issue.

The next Policy Commission meeting will be August 2 at Bluefield State College. Connie Moore announced that the ACF will not meet in August. The next ACF meeting will be Thursday, September 12.


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