Senate opens academic year

Faculty Senate hears from Acting President Targett, honors Brynteson


8:43 a.m., Sept. 25, 2015--The University of Delaware Faculty Senate held its first meeting of the fall semester on Sept. 21 in Gore Hall, with Acting President Nancy Targett providing introductory remarks.

Senators also heard a report on the status of the national search for UD’s next president and passed a resolution honoring Susan Brynteson, May Morris University Librarian Emeritus, who retired recently.

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Presidential update

Introduced by Robert Opila, president of the Faculty Senate and professor of materials science, Targett shared her experiences at UD and what the campus community can expect during the transition. 

“I’ve been at UD since 1984,” Targett said. “I went through the ranks, starting as assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, and while I was a faculty member I actually sat on the Faculty Senate.” 

Targett also commented on her new role leading UD as a presidential search is underway. 

“Now, I have an unexpected privilege to serve as acting president of this University,” Targett said. “I have to say this -- and I mean it very sincerely -- what an honor it is to be able to give back to an institution that has given me so much.” 

Targett noted that while enjoying the opportunity to teach, to mentor students and faculty, to conduct research and to serve the greater institutional mission as an administrator, serving as acting president has given her a broader view of the large contributions by students, faculty, staff and alumni. 

“I have to tell you that the last three months have given me a very unique vantage point,” Targett said. “I get to see the composite of all the great things that are going on at UD, and it really is awesome.”

Targett observed that there exists a wide range of differing opinions on a variety of issues among members of the UD community. 

“This all plays out against the national background, where there are lots of questions from the general public,” Targett said. “There also are questions from state and federal government entities wondering about the value of higher education, the cost of higher education, and the workload that we have in higher education.” 

With respect to differing opinions, Targett said her goal is to be fair in making decisions and to consider all points of view. 

“The idea is that I want for the University what all of you want -- we want the collective good of the University,” Targett said. “We will continue to work within the national context even as we work to do our best to position ourselves.”

Provost’s report 

University Provost Domenico Grasso updated senators on plans to implement UD’s Delaware Will Shine strategic plan. 

“The implementation phase is going to be led by Charlie Riordan, deputy provost for research and scholarship, and Lynn Okagaki, interim deputy provost for academic affairs, who will meet with the implementation committee,” Grasso said. “There will be five action teams associated with various initiatives under them. We are asking for nominations and volunteers.”

The first phase of the implementation, Grasso said, it to map initiatives back to the grand challenges and great debates that are identified in the written plan. 

“The second initiative we have going forward is our diversity blueprint and action plan that is going to be led by Carol Henderson, vice provost for diversity,” Grasso said. “We have a draft of the diversity blueprint and action plan circulating with the senior leadership right now.”

Grasso also noted that a diversity plan preview now nearing completion will be shared with the executive committee of the senate. 

“Once we have both plans in ready-to-view form, we are going to share them with the faculty at large and the Faculty Senate,” Grasso said. “It’s not something that just comes from the administration.” 

Other initiatives mentioned by Grasso included the 2016 openings of the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) Center on Delaware Avenue, and the Nanofabrication Facility, which will be located in the Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory

Grasso also noted the launching of a Coalition for Student Mental Health on Campus, the implementation of the recommendations of the Alcohol and Drug Coalition, and the strategic enrollment management initiative headed by Chris Lucier, vice president for enrollment management. 

Presidential Search Committee update

Donald Puglisi, a member of the UD Board of Trustees, updated senators on the status of the search for UD’s next president. 

UD’s MBNA Professor Emeritus of Business and managing director of Puglisi & Associates, Puglisi co-chairs the search committee with fellow trustee Terri Kelly, president and CEO of W.L. Gore & Associates. 

“I want to give you an idea of where we are in the search process,” Puglisi said. “First, the search isn’t over. We have not selected the next president or recommended to the Board of Trustees the next president of the University.”

Puglisi said he believes the search committee has gone to great lengths to get input on where the University is, where its stakeholders want it to go, and what the committee should be looking for in recommending the next president of the University to the board. 

“We have conducted 19 focus groups and open forums, and many of you attended some of those sessions,” Puglisi said.  “The focus group information is summarized and appears on the presidential search website.” 

In addition to the focus groups and the forums, members of the committee have met with many stakeholders, from the chairs’ caucus, to elected officials in the Newark area and the state legislature, to the governor, to the leadership senate minority and senate majority, to Delaware’s federal officials, Puglisi said. 

“All of this information went into the position profile, which is also available on the presidential search website,” Puglisi said. “In addition for giving us the basis for what we are looking for in the next president, I found these meetings very beneficial as a trustee, because it gives me insight into some of the issues that need more examination.”  

The 15-member search committee reviewed over 50 dossiers, a group very diverse by gender, by race and by discipline, Puglisi said. 

“By consensus, the committee selected 14 people that they wanted to get more information on, and consider in additional depth. Three of those 14 decided to withdraw from the process,” Puglisi said. “They had other commitments and decided they didn’t want to be a UD president for whatever reason. The committee then met with each of those 11 remaining people.” 

Puglisi said the committee has narrowed the list down to fewer than half a dozen candidates. 

“We are intending to meet with each of those five or six people with interviews that will last an hour and a half, with subgroups of the entire committee,” Puglisi said. “We are on target to hopefully recommend to the Board of Trustees our recommendations sometime in early winter.”  

Senators also heard presentations from Sue Groff, UD's Title IX coordinator and director of institutional equity and inclusion, and Fred Hofstetter, professor of education and past president of the Faculty Senate, who updated senators on UD’s General Education Initiative. 

Regular agenda

Senators approved a recommendation thanking Susan Brynteson, May Morris Librarian Emerita, for her commitment to and leadership of the University of Delaware Libraries during her 35-year tenure.

The resolution notes that Brynteson, who announced her retirement this summer as vice provost and May Morris University Librarian, oversaw the innovative conversion from a card catalog system to the online DELCAT catalog.

Now DELCAT Discovery, the online cloud-based service provides information about and access to the library’s physical and electronic holdings. Brynteson’s tenure also saw the University of Delaware Libraries achieving membership in the prestigious and by invitation-only Association of Research Libraries. 

Following the presentation of a special plaque honoring her many achievements, Brynteson was given a long and loud standing ovation. 

“I am deeply honored by this recognition,” Brynteson said. “I attended just about every Faculty Senate meeting when I was on campus, and I truly admire your work and thank you again for this recognition.” 

Senators passed a resolution that the University Committee on Promotions and Tenure shall consist of four tenured professors, two tenured associate professors and one continuing faculty member at the rank of associate professor or higher, who will be fully involved in deliberations and voting on all matters pertaining to continuing track faculty.

Another resolution about who gets to vote on promotion and tenure cases was delayed to the next meeting.

The senate also decided to delay the vote on a resolution to add a section in the Faculty Handbook, 4.4.13 Promotion and Tenure. The resolution states that administrators at or above the level of department chair or academic program director not be allowed to serve as members of promotion and tenure committees at the University, college or departmental levels. 

The next meeting of the Faculty Senate will be held at 4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5. A general faculty meeting preceding the regular meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m., at the same location. 

Article by Jerry Rhodes

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