Board of Trustees Remarks

Marianna Walker, Chair of the Faculty

February 26, 2010


Good morning to all you.  I bring greetings to the Board of Trustees on behalf of the faculty and the faculty senate.  Today I would like to update you on faculty ­­­­activities since my last report in November. 


Even though IÕve been a faculty officer for the past 2 ½ years, I donÕt think IÕve witnessed such a productive, positive, and progressive year in the faculty senate.  The work that is underway is prolific, reflective, and collaborative. Faculty who have been active in university committees and the senate for a period of time have stepped up and are assisting newer committee members and committee chairs with the review of the faculty manual and in staying on top of additional committee charges. Unit administrators, Deans, Vice Chancellors, and other administrators are meeting with faculty in a multitude of meetings, with resulting positive outcomes.  Shared governance is working at East Carolina University!


Let me begin by reporting the progress in the review and revision of the faculty manual.  As you are aware, the faculty began the process of review in late August, with standing university committees, faculty officers, and the Faculty Senate working diligently during the Fall Semester and continuing into Spring Semester.


The committees are taking this review seriously, in addition to completing their standing charges, but also in reviewing and providing advice pertaining to administrative policies.  In the last five months, the Faculty Senate Agenda has contained items relating to the review of the faculty manual.  Since September, Appendix B (Cumulative Review of Permanently Tenured Faculty), Appendix D (Tenure and Promotion Policies and Procedures), and Appendix I have been reviewed by the faculty senate.  Appendix D continues to be updated, to include consideration of the scholarship of engagement and innovation. Parts V (Academic Information) and VI (General Personnel Policies) have undergone major review, editing, and condensing, and yes, parts have been recommended for removal from the faculty manual!  Three committees (Academic Standards, Admission and Retention, and Faculty Welfare) have done a tremendous job in rewriting sections that are unclear and/or outdated and insert new language that will serve to guide the faculty member in academic responsibilities. Each committee has revisited specific text in the faculty manual, considered the relevancy of the material and process, and updated language to reflect current academic policies or rules. I applaud them for their efforts.


To give you an example of the depth and the technical nature of the review, Part 5 (Academic Information) contains 3 major sections (19 pages) and 36 subsections with 22 of those subsections already addressed by the committees and the faculty senate. Only two of those sections, following significant discussion in the senate, have been sent back to the committee for further consideration. Collegial but necessary discussion of this information is needed to truly examine this academic faculty information!  In Part 6 (General Personnel Policies), there are 8 sections (29 pages) and 47 subsections with 16 of these sections addressed by the committee and faculty senate. In Part 5, 11 subsections have been recommended for removal or condensed, while in Part 6, 8 sections have been recommended for removal.  The Grade Appeals process (Part V) has been addressed and approved by the Chancellor.  Part V, Curriculum Development, reviewed by the senate in January, has been sent back to the committee for reconsideration of the process involving Foundations curriculum but will return to the senate in March.


As parts of the manual are reviewed by the senate, approved by the Chancellor, and vetted by the Faculty Manual Steering Committee, and unless required for current policies, these sections will be housed in a new draft until the current manual is completely reviewed, comprehensively reorganized and formatted, which is projected for completion in Spring 2011.  The Faculty Manual Steering Committee, meeting in two weeks, will review this information, and begin to make decisions relative to the sections that are recommended for removal and/or relocated to the University Policy Manual.


In addition to this review, other faculty committees and task forces are breaking ground in discovering new relationships, establishing order, and determining solutions to university challenges. Such initiatives involve the establishment and principals of a University Policy Manual. I represent the faculty and the faculty senate on this committee, and will have input in how the revised faculty manual will become part of this university policy manual. Specific issues such as the selection of major policy categories, subcategories, and the process for adoption of new policies, rules, and regulations are being explored prior to implementation. The faculty senate, in its formal review and advice pertaining to administrative policies, as solicited by the Academic Council, sets the pace for this new process at the university. Such policies include Gifts Affecting the Curriculum, and Faculty Workload. This new process, in addition to traditional roles of university standing committees, requires that critical communication and vetting occur between and administration and faculty prior to the committee report to the faculty senate.


Other new discoveries include the facultyÕs role in retention of students, not only from freshman to sophomore year, but in the retention of students each academic year. Partnerships between faculty, staff, and administration must develop to increase retention and graduation rates for our students. Faculty must get involved in this endeavor, which will uncover best practices and pitfalls in the retention of our ECU students. Their success is our success. Not only is this a challenge for administration, but the faculty as well since they are on the front-line in educating these students. The faculty must step up and determine how we can be part of the solution.


So, how does the faculty embark upon such challenges? ItÕs the way we tackle major issues, problem solve with poise and conviction, and use the scientific method to structure our inquiries and add value to our findings. We seek data to validate our assumptions and test our assumptions through systematic investigation. We recognize that our initial hypothesis may not be proven, but that by finding unexpected outcomes, our understanding of the problem is only strengthened. This is academia at its best. We can use our academic foundation to assist in solving any university problem. Faculty must be part of these initiatives and strategic directions for change to occur. The faculty realize that through involvement in such university initiatives, students succeed, and university goals are accomplished.

We have had a wonderful year full of firsts!  For the first time in the history of the Faculty Senate, the President of the UNC System, Erskine Bowles, spoke to the Faculty Senate in January.  We were so delighted that he accepted our invitation to be on the Agenda, which was coordinated by Chancellor Ballard. Another highlight of the year was the first State of the University address by the Chancellor. In his address, the Chancellor highlighted areas of excellence, which showcased outstanding faculty in both teaching and research. The faculty truly appreciates the collegial relationship with the Chancellor and the Academic Council.


In closing, I thank each of you for your dedication to East Carolina University. Our university is changing not only in its size, but also in the profile of its students and graduates!  The faculty is not only known regionally, but nationally and internationally! The university is at the forefront of discovery in many different realms, and its impact on our world is tremendous.  How fortunate we are and how exciting it is to be at East Carolina University at this time!