Advisory Council of Faculty Report

September 13, 2002

The September meeting took place at West Virginia State University in Institute, on Friday, September 13, 2002. The meeting was a joint meeting with faculty senate presidents and ACF members. After lunch, Chancellor Mullen met with the group for a "conversation" about current issues in WV Higher Education.

The following issues were discussed in the morning ACF meeting:

1) Draft of Evaluation of Administrators: When the subcommittee finishes its revision, ACF representatives have been asked to share with faculty senates a draft proposal for evaluating administrators.

2) ACF Web Portal: Barbara O'Byrne (MUGC) and Jim Hoey (Potomac St.) have agreed to manage the new ACF website. It is hoped that the website will offer faculty across the State a forum and a source of information about the ACF and faculty issues.

3) ACF Pamphlet: Sylvia Shurbutt presented the first draft of the ACF legislative pamphlet to the group. Text and format for the pamphlet were drawn from the ACF PowerPoint presentation. The purpose of the six-panel pamphlet, which will be revised each year as issues change, is to explain to West Virginians the variety of services performed by higher education faculty and to detail faculty 2002-2003 legislative concerns. Four legislative concerns were determined for 2002-2003:

Achieving legislation that will address decrease in benefits and rising costs of health insurance (PEIA), which, in some cases, has resulted in actual salary decline;

Achieving "Incremental Salary Increases Based on Years of Service," comparable to other state employees (see policy 5-5-2, "Granting Incremental Salary Increased Based on Years of Service");

Achieving legislation to permit faculty, eligible to accrue sick leave, to participate in the Catastrophic Leave Bank;

Achieving legislation that would allow higher education faculty and staff to serve in the legislature, a right currently enjoyed by public school teachers.

The final draft of the pamphlet will be approved at the October meeting.

4) Legislative Lobbyist: Members discussed the efficacy of a utilizing a lobbyist to voice faculty concerns to the legislature. It was determined to invite a legislative lobbyist to the next ACF meeting in order to inform us of the practical aspects of the position and whether this is the direction we wish to follow in achieving our goals with the legislature.

5) Merit Pay Plans: Connie Moore shared with ACF members a hardcopy of a PowerPoint presentation given at Fairmont (copy available), on the subject of developing and implementing a merit pay plan. Merit systems must be in place by 2005.

ACF Meeting with Chancellor Mullen and Faculty Senate Presidents:

1) Decline in Numbers of WV High School Graduates: Dr. Mullen shared a report from the U.S Department of Education, which forecasts a steady decline in the number of WV high school graduates, from 17,230 in 2003-04 to 15,620 in 2011-2012. Institutions will, of necessity, Mullen noted, turn to more admissions marketing for out-of-state students and aggressive "selling" of their programs. (Report is available.)

2) General Studies Education: Dr. Mullen believes that as the new high school graduation standards go into effect (2007), along with revised college baccalaureate requirements, demands for revision of General Studies curricula will also be required to keep pace with higher standards. Some ACF members were skeptical of the over-all rise in the quality of in-coming freshmen.

3) NACHEMS Assessment Report: The Chancellor shared with the group the report and emphasized the importance that assessment would play in determining curricular issues in the State (copies available).

4) Biological Sciences Program Review: Program reviews in the biological sciences are scheduled to address "deficiencies" in this area of instruction, according to Mullen. The program reviews are set for this academic year. (Copies of the format are available.)

5) Degree Productivity and Closure of Programs: Dr. Mullen shared the "new philosophy" now in effect in West Virginia's higher education system: "degree productivity." By 2005, all "non-productive degree programs" (translated in terms of "qualitative and quantitative") will be closed. The measure of a non-productive program is fewer than 10 graduates over a three-year period (fewer than three graduates per year). Local Boards of Directors will make all final curricular decisions, Mullen said.

6) Closure of Classes with Low Enrollments: Mullen shared data on class size among institutions in the State. While Mullen conceded that fine arts, of necessity, had the largest proportion of small classes, too many other disciplines had inexcusably low-enrollment numbers, he said. ACF members questioned the clarity of the data, which did not take into consideration specialized practicum courses or individualized courses created for students over and above a professor's typical course load (thus suggesting "high productivity" rather than "low productivity"). The veracity of the Chancellor's data was clearly troubling to many faculty, who were well aware of enrollment numbers in their own departments and disciplines, numbers that did not reflect those on the Chancellor's chart. The Chancellor's response was that these were the numbers sent by our own institutions. (Document is available.)

7) Improving Faculty and Staff Productivity: The Chancellor noted that at the top of the list of strategies for addressing the 10% budget cut was "improved faculty and staff productivity." Mullen translated this principle as increasing the course load (from 12 to 15 teaching hours per semester) for "non-productive" faculty. Among other issues associated with improving faculty productivity are class size analysis (see item #6 above) and pooling teaching resources through technology and distance learning.

8) Budget Cuts and Salary Adjustments: Mullen noted that salary adjustments may not be on the horizon, as the $36 million in additional funding needed merely to fund staff salary adjustments cannot be reconciled with the current fiscal crisis. Mullen foresees a gloomy fiscal scene for many years to come in the State. He shared hardcopies of a PowerPoint presentation that attempts to present the fiscal situation for the State. (Copies are available.) Among the associated issues are room use and new building programs: Mullen shared data on space inventory and noted that many buildings were not fully utilized. Campuses will not be granted approval for new buildings when current facilities are not being fully utilized, he said. The standard for full-capacity room use is 8:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. or 70 hours per week, Mullen said.

9) Peer Institutions: Dr. Mullen noted there will be a careful review of peer institutions to more accurately match peers.

10) Increased Use of Adjunct Staff: Mullen answered questions about increased use of adjunct staffing, since some institutions across the country are now putting caps on adjunct use (the Georgia system recently put a 10% cap into practice.) Mullen said, given the current mood of the legislature, the system would continue to rely heavily on adjunct staffing in WV higher education.

The meeting adjourned around 3:30 p.m. The next ACF meeting will be at Glenville, on Thursday, October 17.

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