University Council and Faculty Senate

FACULTY MATTERS

April 2013, Volume 2, Issue 3


In this issue:
Hail to the Chief
The Faculty Fund is a good thing
New syllabus policy
On a related matter


Hail to the Chief

The presidential search reached a successful conclusion when on Tuesday, April 2, the Board of Trustees confirmed Douglas D. Baker as the 12th president of NIU. Consistent with the criteria developed by the faculty, Dr. Baker is a career academician who rose through the ranks at Washington State University and currently serves as provost and executive vice president at the University of Idaho. He has extensive experience in shared governance, having served as a faculty senator, faculty senate vice-chair and chair, and as faculty senate legislative representative, representing Washington State University faculty to the state legislature.  He also brings business and organizational expertise to the job. He specialized in organizational behavior and theory and his dissertation topic was: The structure of colleges and universities: An organizational life cycle and population ecology examination. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee was confident that it had given the Board of Trustees the absolute four best candidates in the applicant pool. There was strong agreement among all of the constituent groups that met with Dr. Baker that he was the right person for the job. Dr. Baker’s wife, Dr. Dana L. Stover is also an eminent academician who currently serves as the assistant dean for Recruitment, Retention and Assessment in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. We are delighted to welcome the new first family to NIU.

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The Faculty Fund is a good thing

If you don’t know what it is, you’re not alone. Apparently most faculty are either unaware of the fund or simply don’t want to support it. I’ll assume the former, because if faculty were aware of it, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to support it. The Faculty Fund provides scholarship aid to the best and brightest undergraduate students. All of the money donated is used for scholarships, which average $9,000 per year and are renewable for up to four years as long as recipients maintain a GPA of at least 3.2. Right now, there are 16 scholarship recipients supported by this fund. We frequently hear faculty members  voicing support for increasing the quality of our entering class. Vision 2020 reflects this objective:

The goal is to increase the percentage of students graduating in the top 10% and top 25% of their class from 9% and 31% to 20% and 40%, respectively, by 2020. Moreover, the goal is to move the average high school GPA from 3.20 to 3.30 and the average ACT score from 21 to 23.

This is exactly what the Faculty Fund scholarships are intended to do. To be considered for a Faculty Fund scholarship, entering students must have at least a 32 ACT score and be in the top 5% of their graduating class, or have a high school GPA of at least 3.75.

In recent years, only about 10% of the faculty have donated to the Faculty Fund. We can do better. We can give more scholarships and attract more great students. You should have received a letter from Dan Gebo, current director of the fund, which included a donation form. You can make a donation via payroll deduction and reduce your taxable income. If you would like to make a contribution but lost the form, contact Dan Gebo and ask him to send you another form. Alternatively, you could contact Sandra Yandle at the Foundation. Next year, I hope to report to you that more than half the faculty participated in this year’s fund drive.

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New syllabus policy

The Graduate Council and the Undergraduate Coordinating Council have each approved policies regarding the content of syllabi. This is a new policy that was developed in response to the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education and Higher Learning Commission that we have a written syllabus policy. The policy was constructed by an ad hoc committee comprised of members from the Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum and the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee based on the best practices guidelines of the NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. Highlights include: a statement of the course’s learning objectives, criteria of student assessment, other course policies (e.g., attendance, lateness, cell phones, extra credit), Americans with disabilities statement, and an academic integrity statement. Since the syllabus becomes the reference document for cases involving grade appeals and academic misconduct penalties, having a syllabus that includes all of the requisite information is really in the best interest of faculty members. The new policy will be included in the Academic Policies and Procedures Manual.

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On a related matter

In 2007, the Graduate Council passed a resolution regarding split-level courses (defined as courses that could be taken for either undergraduate or graduate credit). Students taking a split-level course for graduate credit must receive a syllabus distinct from the undergraduate syllabus for that same course. This graduate syllabus must provide evidence that the graduate students are required to demonstrate advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities as compared to the undergraduates taking the course. To ensure broader circulation of the sentiment of the council, the text of the resolution will now be included in the Academic Policies and Procedures Manual under Section III, Item 13, Graduate Course Requirements and Scheduling.

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Important Links
University Council
Faculty Senate
2012-13 Meeting Schedule
Academic Policies & Procedures Manual
Statement of Professional Ethics for Faculty
State Pension & Budget Update
Vision 2020

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