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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

May 2, 2008

Faculty data, library needs highlight final senate meeting

by Erin Rosacker

In the final meeting of the academic year April 29, members of the Faculty Senate needed extra time to get through a lengthy agenda that included a trio of special presentations.

David Miles, president of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, kicked off the discussions with his vision of the future of Iowa's public universities. His first order of business is to work on a new strategic plan, replacing the 2004 version that runs through 2009.

"This process will answer the question of what path our universities and special schools will take in the coming years," he said.

This year, Miles listed three "critical initiatives" he will ask the board to consider:

  • The long-term financial health of the institutions (including a "professional communications plan")
  • Affordability and financial aid (student debt levels and reasonable tuition rates)
  • An integrated and collaborative effort toward sustainability

Library numbers

Library dean Olivia Madison gave senators a look at the library's FY2009 materials and access budget request, which reflects inflationary pressures (and the declining value of the U.S. dollar), and rising costs of electronic fees being passed on by publishers/vendors. The recommendation submitted by the library's advisory committee added $938,725 to last year's $9.3 million acquisitions budget, an increase of just over 10 percent.

Madison shared data illustrating the disparity among three indexes: consumer price (CPI), higher education price (HEPI) and library acquisitions price (LAPI). In a comparison of the three since 1983, the LAPI skyrocketed 355 percent in that span. The CPI and HEPI grew 200 and 240 percent, respectively.

Although faculty rated the library favorably in a recent survey of service quality, Madison said information access remains an area of concern, particularly access to:

  • E-resources from home and office
  • Needed electronic information resources
  • Required print and e-journal resources

"If we continue to fall behind, in terms of resources to purchase journal collections that we need, this is going to be more problematic in meeting faculty and student information needs, as well as for our national benchmark rankings," Madison said.

Faculty data

Executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman delivered her annual report on non-tenure eligible (NTE) instruction, tenure and promotion, and faculty retention.

Although ISU policy sets a university-wide limit of NTE teaching at 15 percent (25 percent at the department level), Hoffman said the fall 2007 data showed overall NTE instruction at 25.3 percent. Of ISU's 55 departments, 22 exceeded the 25 percent benchmark (topped by community and regional planning at 49.4 percent). In contrast, 33 departments were below 25 percent, including 13 falling under 10 percent.

Hoffman's office considered 69 promotion and tenure cases (six faculty withdrew from consideration) -- granting 26 promotions to professor; 30 promotions to associate professor and awarding tenure to four associate professors. Three faculty were given extensions and six promotions were denied.

In response to concerns raised during the yearlong debate on non-tenure research faculty, Hoffman promised to take a look at why ISU has lost so many faculty. Data compiled by her office showed a net change of -25 in FY07, with 66 faculty joining the ISU ranks and 91 faculty leaving. FY05 showed the only positive gain (+2), while FY04 (-6) and FY06 (-15) both showed losses.

"What we found is there has not been any particular trend in resignations," Hoffman said. "It's not that we are on average losing -- either by retirement or resignation -- an unusually large number of faculty. We just haven't been hiring."

This year looks to be shaping up differently. Hoffman said 143 hires have been made for the fall semester so far, a big jump from last year's total.

"The resource management model is actually leading to a significant increase in tenure-eligible faculty. We're running about 40 percent more new hires this year than the last several years," she said.

On the docket

Senators were presented two curricular items to consider over the summer:

  • Undergraduate minor in nuclear engineering
  • Undergraduate certificate in community leadership and public service

The senate will resume its meetings in September under the leadership of president Clark Ford (food science and human nutrition) and president-elect Arnold Van Der Valk (ecology, evolution and organismal biology).


NTE summary

ISU policy sets a university-wide limit of non-tenure eligible (NTE) teaching at 15 percent (25 percent at the department level). Fall 2007 data showed overall NTE instruction at 25.3 percent.

Of ISU's 55 departments, 22 exceeded the 25 percent benchmark (highest was 49.4 percent). Thirty-three departments were below 25 percent, including 13 under 10 percent.