Faculty Senate

November 6, 2008

Robert C. Voight Faculty Senate Chambers

3:30 p.m. – 325 Graff Main Hall


I.          Roll Call. 

: M. Abler, R. Ahmed, J. Anderson, S. Brokaw, D. Buffton, V. Crank, G. Cravins, S. Crutchfield, L. Dickmeyer, T. Gendreau, J. Heim, J. Holman, D. Hoskins, R. LeDocq, A. Loh, C. Miller, P. Miller, J. Miskowski, A. Olson, B. Riley, S. Shillinger, D. Sullivan, B. Udermann, B. Van Voorhis


II.         Minutes from the Senate’s October 9th meeting will be considered at the next meeting.


III.       Reports.

A.        Chair’s Report

         The results of the recent election should mean a more favorable outlook for higher education. The State Assembly has shifted from a Republican to a Democratic majority.   The campus district’s vote was overwhelming for democratic candidates.

The SEC appointed the following people to the new Ethics Committee:


                        John Gardner (CBA)

                        Eric Kraemer (CLS)

                        Kerrie Hoar (SAH)


                        Michele Strange (CLS)            

Keith Beyer (SAH)

                        Joe Heim (CLS)


         The Chancellor and Provost are in Madison for a BOR meeting.


B.  The Faculty Representative’s Report is recorded below in its given order.]


C.  Student Representative’s Report

         Eric Fuhrmann and Derek Kockler reported on the day’s BOR meeting in Madison, where UW-System salary parity with other universities and domestic partner benefits were discussed.         

         The Student Senate has decided to draft a new Amethyst Initiative-related document, which they will vote on next week.  Faculty Senate will discuss the initiative today and vote in two weeks, after the Student Senate has voted on its resolution.

         Students would like to be involved in making SEIs available online for them to see.


[The next two items were delivered in reverse order from the published agenda.]

V.        Request from the Department of Economics to Gather Student Evaluations of Instruction Online (Mike Haupert and T.J. Teegan).

         Haupert presented the proposal reproduced below.

         Discussion: Concerns were raised about how this information would be stored and used.  Currently, students’ written evaluations of instructors are not saved, remaining (in some cases) the private property of the individual instructors.  Could/should this information be purged if gathered online?  Would the online data be in the public or private domain? Is there a way to safeguard this data while still gathering SEIs online? 

         What about a student who is not attending but still enrolled—would he be able to evaluate a course he hasn’t attended?

         What about participation rates?  Submitting an evaluation online is a voluntary process, which Haupert explained is a benefit because students don’t feel coerced.  Haupert said data from Arizona State showed that their response rate went up when they moved to online evaluations. 

         How might the quality of responses be affected?  Moving SEIs online removes them from the immediate classroom context.  Will students be more or less candid online?  What data is there on quality?

         Minority faculty were reported to be very against the move online.

         Teegan explained that the machines currently used to process SEIs will be obsolete with PeopleSoft implementation.

         Haupert said the philosophical issues being asked about online SEIs are probably all present already in relation to paper SEIs.

         Heim asked Senate members discuss this with constituents.



April 28, 2008


To:       Carmen Wilson, Faculty Senate Chair


From:  Department of Economics


Re:      Request to move Student Evaluation of Instruction online


The Department of Economics requests that the Faculty Senate move the SEI from its current format to a web based system.


The current format of collecting SEI data requires that each instructor administer the SEI instrument in each class taught on campus.  In order to comply with the recently passed Faculty Senate SEI administration and reporting procedures, instructors are not to be present in the room when the SEI is administered, meaning that each instructor (or department designee) must arrange for somebody else to administer each SEI (we note that this practice is common in many departments already).


There are several issues we would like to address in regard to this proposal.

1   Web based student evaluations are not novel.  They are currently being conducted at several universities. 

2   Empirical evidence from those universities using web based SEIs indicates that the response rate is actually higher than the in-class versions we administer.  Currently, if a student misses a class s/he does not fill out an evaluation form.  By using a web based system, students would have a predetermined period of time to complete the SEI.  The time period for SEIs could be determined at the university, college, or department level.

3   Migrating to a web based SEI would dramatically reduce the amount of paper we generate to conduct these evaluations.  This is a nontrivial issue both in regard to cost and the environment, especially in light of the recently passed student initiative to assess themselves a fee to promote a green campus.  It is environmentally responsible of us to reduce the use of paper where possible.

4   The amount of time that is dedicated to administering and then running the results of the SEIs is enormous.  By going to a web based version no time is taken out of class, no time is necessary to organize and collect the SEI forms and responses, and no time is needed to run the scantron sheets to generate the data.  In addition, the results would be immediately available in electronic format to all who need them.  In the spring semester of 2008 there are 3065 sections of classes offered at UW-L.  If only ten minutes of time is spent in each section it amounts to more than 500 hours devoted to SEIs.  In other words, we spend the equivalent of more than 26 entire semester-length classes simply administering the SEIs each year.  In addition, time is needed by departmental employees (ADAs, student workers, faculty, etc.) to prepare the SEI packets, arrange for proctors for each course section, gather and organize the completed scantron forms, forward them for conversion to digital analysis, retrieve them and then summarize the results.  In the department of Economics this process takes an average of 30 hours per semester, or an average of 43 minutes per section.  If the average per section across the university is only 40 minutes, then it takes more than 4000 hours per academic year to prepare for and collect the SEI data.  This is the equivalent of two full time positions.  Note that this does not include the time and cost it takes to process the scantron forms.

5   Security should not be an issue.  Secure websites that allow only registered students to cast only one SEI vote can easily be created.  We could encourage student participation by repeated email reminders during the SEI period.  This method is used at some institutions.

6   Converting to a web based system will require an initial setup cost in terms of time and beta testing.  Beyond that, the costs of maintaining the system should be low. 


The long run impact of a web based system would be greater access to the SEI by students, lower costs of administering SEIs for the university, easier access to SEI information for all end users, and a reduction in the use of materials and energy thereby promoting environmental responsibility.  In sum the potential gains are significant and it is time for UW-L to move SEIs online.


[The following report was given out of order from the published agenda.]

III. B.         Faculty Representative’s Report

         Cravins reported that the Faculty Representatives met last Friday in Madison and discussed faculty pay, recruitment and retention.  The BOR has set up a special panel on faculty pay.  The state revenue report will be issued on Nov. 20.    Possible initiatives in the new legislature include a comprehensive healthcare plan for the state andcollective bargaining rights.  Heim passed out copies of the System budget DINs for recruiting and libraries.


IV.       Discussion of the Amethyst Initiative (Matt Vogel and Bob Erickson).

         Vogel couldn’t be present.  Erickson introduced the initiative (see below). The law stipulating that any state with a drinking age limit under 21 will incur a budget penalty (losing 10% federal highway funding) is up for renewal in Congress next year.  Wisconsin is rated #1 for adult binge drinking in U.S. and #2 for college-age binge drinking.  The Student Senate wants to create initiatives to deal with current drinking culture alongside requesting the Amethyst Initiative be signed.

         Discussion ensued regarding the arguments on each side of the 21-year drinking age.  If this is an initiative to open discussion, then what do students want to discuss?

There were concerns that Amethyst Initiative calls for debate and yet seems biased.

         Heim reported the Chancellor’s commitment to respect the wishes of the three governance groups regarding signing the initiative.



The Amethyst Initiative:

It’s time to rethink the drinking age


In 1984 Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which imposed a penalty of 10% of a state's federal highway appropriation on any state setting its drinking age lower than 21.


Twenty-four years later, our experience as college and university presidents convinces us that…


Twenty-one is not working


A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.


Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.


Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.


By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.


How many times must we relearn the lessons of prohibition?


We call upon our elected officials:


To support an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21 year-old drinking age.


To consider whether the 10% highway fund “incentive” encourages or inhibits that debate.


To invite new ideas about the best ways to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol.


We pledge ourselves and our institutions to playing a vigorous, constructive role as these critical discussions unfold.



VI.       Discussion of the Faculty Evaluation of Administrative Offices.

         The Senate discussed whether to continue its evaluations of administrative offices. Results from past evaluations have been used in offices about which the most concerns have been expressed.  Turnover in administrative positions has made it difficult to implement regular evaluations.  Problems with higher administrative offices seem to be aired, but problems with support units can be more difficult to report and address.  How can we create accountability?   

         The SEC will take this up and decide whether we want to proceed in some systematic way.


VII.      Old Business.


VIII.     New Business.


IX.       Adjournment.

         The meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m.


Respectfully Submitted,

Susan Crutchfield