skip page navigationOregon State University
OSU Home.|Calendar.|Find Someone.|Maps.|Site Index.

Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate » March 5, 1998

Faculty Senate Minutes

1998 No. 536
March 5, 1998

For All Faculty
The meeting was called to order at 3:01 PM by President Maggie Niess. There were no corrections to the February minutes.

Meeting Summary
– Discussion Item: Quality of Distance Education Courses, Gordon Matzke
– Committee Report: Instructional Development and Technology Committee, John Block
– Action Items: None
– Old Business: None
– New Business: None

Roll Call

Members Absent With Representation:
Chambers, P. Primak; Delson, L. Jodice; Hale, R. Foster; and Wood, B. Cusimano.

Members Absent Without Representation:
Bontrager, Brodie, Cheeke, Collins, Cowles, Cromack, Farnsworth, K. Field, Grunder, Huber, Jones, Kerkvliet, Longerbeam, Lowrie, Mallory–Smith, Mix, Peters, Randhawa, Reed, Rielly, Righetti, Rodriguez, Sanford, Savage, Savonen, Schowalter, Williams, and Yim.

Faculty Senate Officers/Staff Present:
M. Niess, President; R. Rose, President–Elect; A. Wilcox, Immediate Past President; R. Iltis, Parliamentarian; and V. Nunnemaker, Senate Administrative Assistant.

Guests of the Senate:
J. Block, L. Burns, J. Caspers, J. Dorbolo, S. Francis, D. Johnson, M. Merickel, C. Pedersen, L. Pribyl, J. Root, R. Schori, and L. Schroeder.


Quality of Distance Education

Gordon Matzke, Ad Hoc Committee on Off–Site Degree Programs co–chair, provided a brief update of committee activities and led a discussion related to the current university policy that all OSU distance education courses should be of equivalent quality to those taught on campus.

Matzke noted that the committee has received quite a few questions and will work toward categorizing the questions and identifying answers.

In regard to concerns surrounding the tabled Environmental Science and Natural Resources Category I proposals, Matzke felt that the issue of quality is a judgement to be made by each faculty member. One concern related to the limited time available to discuss issues of quality when proposals are brought forward. In response to that concern, this item was placed on the agenda to enable the faculty to better evaluate quality issues.

In response to the university policy that specifies that the quality of OSU off–site courses shall be the same as the quality of on–site courses, Matzke reported that President Risser turned the argument around and indicated that the reverse must be true in that on–campus courses be up to the quality of off–campus courses.

Ann Messersmith, Nutrition and Food Management, reported that, in comparing the same course on and off–campus, the outcomes are greater for off–campus students. Tools used to measure quality outcomes include projects, learning, interest and complications. Distance education has allowed students from Spokane and Alabama to collaborate on projects.

Senator Cornell, Liberal Arts, questioned a reference to distance education allowing opportunities that could never be accomplished in an on–campus classroom. Matzke responded that he has been informed that the off–campus students are more likely to be mid–career professionals who bring to the classroom a much different perspective and set of experiences than do 18 year old students typically found on campus. There is more collaborative teaching among older students not found with younger students.

Henry Sayre, Art, is currently teaching a live two–way audio/video distance education course and felt that it is the best class he teaches because he has to prepare the hardest for it. He noted that he does have to prepare a very complete syllabus and stay close to it. One advantage is that off–campus students form cadres and can formulate group questions without interrupting the lecture since they don't appear live until they push a button. It creates a great advantage when the class turns into a live discussion group.

Senator Rosenberger, Liberal Arts, also teaches distance education courses and agreed with Sayre that preparation time is increased. She felt that there isn't the ease in back and forth exchanges, and long discussions become awkward when not face to face. Sayre agreed with Rosenberger and felt that only certain types of courses should be taught via distance education, primarily lecture courses. Most of all, the courses should be multi–media driven since television is deadly if the screen doesn't change a lot. Sayre felt that, since current library resources are not adequate, distance courses can't require use of the library. He gave the example of not expecting students in Madras to be doing heavy library research.

Sally Francis, Apparel, Interiors, Housing and Merchandising, questioned the type of copyright permission required for the use of slides in a distance course. Sayre responded that the Attorney General ruled that, as long as the course is a live, closed circuit, two–way audio/video, there is no issue.

Jean Caspers, Valley Library, agreed with Sayre that library resources are an issue. She explained that, in most cases, a 10–week course does not allow students time to learn how to order materials, receive them and have enough time to use the materials before the end of the course. She noted that there is a greater success rate for graduate courses since most have more flexible deadlines. Messersmith agreed that 10–week courses are hard when library research is required. She sent a questionnaire to her off–campus students regarding library resources and the responses ranged from "marvelous" to a student who doesn't use library resources at all.

Leslie Burns, Academic Affairs, teaches a graduate course on–line on the web and felt that students are much more invested in the class and the class is more challenging for her as an instructor since the exchanges are at a much higher level than those occurring in a traditional classroom.

Senator Gardner, Science, felt that students with disabilities will be more highly represented in distance education courses than on–campus courses. Since distance education makes heavy use of technology, we are in the early stages of what he hopes will result in better education.

Mark Merickel, Education, teaches graduate courses over the web and agreed with Burns' comments. He has found that web–based delivery is a much greater vehicle for synthesis level courses and allows for greater strength within the course. He felt that quality comes down to methodologies and strategies and these courses have allowed him to expand on his methodologies.

Matzke expressed concern that this discussion was turning into a love feast for distance education and called for the skeptics in the audience to express their thoughts.

Senator Thies, Science, noted that in years past students indicated that distance delivery was not quite as good as being in the classroom live, but felt it was advantageous to them compared to not being able to access the course at all.

Robby Robson, Math, teaches courses on the Web and noted that distance education has been occurring for about 40 years. A Canadian study has found that there is no significant difference in the performance of students whether on– campus or at distance delivery sites. He felt that it is necessary to be careful in how quality is measured. Perhaps the quality of education should be measured rather than the quality of distance education. On the issue of libraries, he urged the ad hoc committee to learn from the experiences of others. He cited the University of Oregon which has a person specifically responsible for enabling students with disabilities to access Web courses and mentioned their criteria to make Web pages accessible.

Senator Rose, Forestry, asked Sayre to expand on his experiences with discipline–oriented courses, personality needed, time required, etc. Sayre noted that the Liberal Arts experience was really sobering in that not everyone wants to teach distance courses and, of those who want to, not everyone can. He felt it takes a unique kind of person with a unique kind of classroom presence. He noted that the wrong person behind a TV camera can be disastrous, and equally disastrous is the wrong person monitoring a Web site and discussion group. Sayre doesn't feel that the university is currently putting enough attention toward course development given the amount of time, effort and energy required to develop good distance education courses. If faculty are going to put forth the effort to develop and maintain the courses, they should be adequately compensated. He noted he is teaching distance courses because he is interested in the technology and to personally learn how to operate in this environment. He doesn't feel he would be teaching via distance if it was just a part of his every day experience. Matzke thanked Sayre for his comments and added that he has been told over and over that distance education is not cheaper or easier and that the reason to do it is that it works in their class.

Sayre mentioned that Penn State had probably the most interesting, positive and powerful distance education he's ever seen and felt that a lot could be learned from their model.

Senator Lunch, Liberal Arts, felt that the problems include getting lab experience to students in the biological and chemical sciences and arranging for discussion groups and interaction among students since it was necessary to have an assistant physically present at the course delivery site, which requires ongoing fiscal resources.

Senator Shor, Engineering, indicated that technology has been developed for some labs, but doesn't see how all labs could be accommodated. She noted that she had to obtain grants to purchase necessary resources to make the course available for distance education.

Senators Woods, Engineering, commented that lab requirements could be accomplished by having students come to OSU for weekend classes. In this way, courses could incorporate both interactive and Web models.

On the subject of field trips, Matzke noted that one instructor developed a field trip on the Web for an on–campus course since it was impossible to take 450 students on a field trip. The student downloads the program and takes a self–guided field trip and reports their findings in class.

Senator Coblentz, Agricultural Sciences, felt that distance labs would be difficult to accomplish in a number of the natural resource and biological sciences. He also noted that, depending on the number of labs required and students participating, it may be difficult, given family responsibilities for both the students and faculty members, to dedicate very many weekends to a particular course.

Senator Tate, Science, felt that the prime goal is to improve education on campus as a whole. She expressed concern about political pressure translating improvement of education to distance education, when it can mean many different things. In her department, any effort toward distance education must be done at the expense of courses already being offered and they don't have the resources available to provide the technological support needed for distance courses.

Senator Foster, Liberal Arts, referred to Baccalaureate Core courses, in particular WIC and DPD which includes in–class writing. This requires students to process information and results in dead television air time, which is not engaging nor constantly changing. He felt it may work better on the Web. He also felt that DPD courses, which require soul searching intellectual engagement and is dependent on a certain level of trust and communication that must be developed, would be difficult to accomplish via an electronic classroom. Dick Schori, Mathematics, was concerned about justifying using limited resources for a small number of students. He has created an option of teaching a distance course to two distance students and has enhanced the course for on– campus students with one lecture and one recitation per week. His plea was to increase the resources available to continue to create distance courses. In response to Matzke's concern about exams, Schori indicated that, in lieu of homework, he has on–line quizzes which account for a small portion of the grade. He also gives two in–class monitored mid–terms and a monitored final which are administered by a representative at the distance location.

Robson noted there are serious administrative issues since Web courses are not readily identified when students are registering. Banner also does not offer students the option of registering for Web courses when classroom courses are full.

Senator Manogue, Science, is feeling pressure from this university to convert their whole major, which requires many labs, to distance education. She acknowledged that there may be an occasional major that is appropriate to be offered via distance education. She is also disturbed that students may never have the opportunity to take a class from someone of the opposite gender or from a different ethnic group. She felt that distance courses were appropriate for those who have already received their undergraduate degree in a university setting.

Matzke thanked those who participated in the discussion and commented that it isn't the medium used that will create a quality experience for students, rather it is the quality of faculty at Oregon State University.


Instructional Development and Technology Committee

John Block, Instructional Development and Technology Committee (IDTC) Chair, reported on their activities and the Technology Resource Fee process.

Block explained that, in the past, the committee has had about $300,000 available to grant to faculty from the Technology Resource Fee. Cutbacks in Information Services (IS) has reduced that amount to about $62,000 this year. Applicants are being asked to focus on Baccalaureate Core courses that have high enrollment. One consideration will also be whether there will be departmental or college matching funds. The process will be for pre–proposals to be submitted in late March and selected applicants will be asked to provide full proposals. Grants between $500 and $5000 will be awarded. Information about the proposals can be found at:

Block noted that a Technology Resource Fee Allocation Committee has recently been formed and it is unknown whether the IDTC will continue to participate in allocating the resource fee. He reminded Senators that the Technology Resource Fee is a fee assessed to the students and the guidelines state that allocation of the money must benefit students.

A concern was expressed earlier this year about the amount of money being spent to print, primarily, lecture notes in student labs. The IDTC discussed the issue and forwarded their comments to a committee chaired by Sandie Franklin studying this issue. The committee identified the following issues:

1) A cost shift is occurring since departments don't have money to print materials and faculty are being asked to post notes on the Web.

2) In the past, faculty have sold notes at the Bookstore and materials would be available usually 12–24 hours after receipt. This procedure is now more time consuming since all materials must go through Printing and Mailing Services due to copyright concerns. To avoid the time delay, some faculty are placing their notes on the Web.

3) The committee discussed asking faculty to question whether placing their lecture notes on the Web is really an appropriate use of the Web as compared to links to sites that students may not normally have access to.

4) There is a need for IS to explain to faculty and students what is appropriate, where are costs allocated, and whether routinely printing large amounts is something students would normally expect from the $50 Technology Resource Fee.

Senator Morris, Science, questioned where the balance of the money goes if there is only $62,000 available this year. Block responded that the IDTC receives an allocation of the Technology Resource Fee from IS and this was the amount left after reductions.

In response to Senator Lee, Science, questioning why it may not be appropriate for lecture notes to be placed on the Web, Block responded that there is a cost issue involved and the committee wondered if there was another way that would be just as effective at a lower cost.

Senator Coakley, Science, felt there was a conflict since faculty are being asked to use the Web and then being told that it costs too much to use the Web. She also finds it odd that some sort of printing or copying metering device is not in place. Block responded that some places do meter copies.

Senator Brooks, Business, felt that since there is a zero cost to print copies, students print more than is necessary. If this were an economic choice where students had to pay a marginal cost for copies made, they would choose the most economic route.

Senator Daley, Agricultural Sciences, noted that some students are in a marginal economic status. He was concerned about asking them to pay an additional fee.

In response to Senator Burton, Science, expressing his feeling that it would be a huge step backwards to take course materials off the Web, Block indicated that was not a recommendation.

Block responded negatively to Rose who questioned whether there was any discussion of professors distributing their notes on disk.

Jon Dorbolo, Information Services, felt that printing is related to quality. He has found from teaching on the Web that students who print materials don't print pages that show activity, rather they look for activity and, when absent, they default to the print button. Robson agreed with Dorbolo and hoped that the IS committee could pro–vide guidelines for appropriate use of the Web medium.

Jane Huyer, Oceanic & Atmospheric Sciences, commented on the cost issue and felt that reading is a very cost effective way to learn things, but reading on the screen is difficult, time consuming and ties up an expensive resource in labs. She suggested it may actually be cheaper for the university to print pages rather than queue up to use computers.

Caspers serves on the Commuter Committee and hears frequently that students who commute don't always own computers or have access the Web at home and aren't able to sit for long periods of time to get notes from computers in the labs.


– Interinstitutional Faculty Senate Recap – The IFS February recap was distributed via e–mail to all Senators.
– Faculty Awards Deadline – Awards selected by the Faculty Awards and Recognition Committee to be presented at University Day are due March 6.
– Committee Interest Forms – Forms allowing faculty and staff the opportunity to volunteer for committees will be distributed after Spring Break and are due in the Faculty Senate Office on April 10.
– Post–Tenure Review Task Force – The Task Force is sponsoring open sessions on March 11, 12, 16 and 19 to gather input on the draft report that is available on the Web at:


Provost Arnold congratulated the Senate on what he felt was an excellent discussion regarding distance education. He reported on the following items:

  • Budget process and performance measures – An earlier version of the performance measures called for "participation in OSU Statewide." The present wording has been expanded to provide more context and perspective and the orientation has been reversed away from participation to the issue of access. In an effort to capture a number of concerns, it now reads "expand Statewide access to OSU credit and degree programs in areas of OSU strengths where evidence of need and demand support cost effectiveness." He noted this was not necessarily the final version.

    An additional section has also been revised from "evidence of working collaboratively across the university" to "increase university–wide collaboration and external partnerships where appropriate and responding to needs and demands of Oregonians and to opportunities for significant revenue generation." This revision clarifies that there must be some need or demand we're responding to and takes cost into account.

  • The work of the two State System Board's committees is continuing. Mark McCambridge will represent OSU on the Committee on Budget and Finance. Provost Arnold is participating on the Governance and Structure Committee. The two committees will be working together to integrate their comments. It is expected that there will be significant changes as a result of the process.

  • Textbook Orders – There was a great deal of concern about administration monitoring textbook orders as a result of a message indicating that copies of orders must be sent to the Provost's Office. Dr. Arnold explained that this is a long–standing policy and OSU is required by law to make book orders available to any vendor in the community since the OSU Bookstore does not have an exclusive opportunity to sell textbooks to students.
Senator Frank, Liberal Arts, questioned the rewriting of one performance measure concerning sponsored research and asked if the intent was to recognize only sponsored research. He noted that many units spend most of their time working on unsponsored research. Arnold noted that the wording had been changed from "increase in number and success of research proposals" to "increase in dollar amount and success rate of external funding requests for research, outreach, and teaching and learning projects and programs." He acknowledged that Frank was correct in his assessment and mentioned that it was discussed at the recent Academic Deans meeting and they will work on wording that identifies the contribution of scholarship generally.

Senator Manogue asked Arnold to comment on why the proposed performance standards don't seem to address the quality of the teaching community. Arnold acknowledged that that discussion has taken place and language needs to be included to address the importance of quality teaching. He noted that the performance measure document is a work in progress. Arnold emphasized that the measures are not aimed at the performance of specific individuals, but at the outcome of the process. The performance measures being defined will look at students, graduation rates, retention rates, time to degree, and impact of economic development which are all the result of the faculty collectively.

Senator Shor, Engineering, questioned if certain performance measurements are desired, wouldn't it be more appropriate to convert the reward structure for faculty to something more in alignment that helps the university. Arnold agreed with her and noted that the current process can only help, but he also felt that it is important to identify items that are relevant to the public that supports us.


President Niess felt that, with all the negativism being reported about OSU, faculty and administration need to focus on getting out the message that we are working together to provide a compelling learning experience. OSU's leadership and quality educational and research programs that support the Oregon economy should be receiving positive media attention to help achieve support for higher education in Oregon. She referred to several positive things that happened in the past month:

  • In response to library concerns, Information Services is moving ahead with using $100,000 from an endowment and $200,000 in new money from OSU's limited reserves to buy more books. They are also putting together a budget proposal for next year that reflects needed changes required for Association of Research Libraries (ARL) status.

  • Individual units are supporting each other through difficult financial times. OSU will probably receive additional funding from the state system this year due to increased Student Credit Hours based on the efforts of the collective institution.

  • The Athletic Director search has resulted in the hiring of Mitch Barnhart who recognized that the entire university needs to work together and support each other.

  • A recently developed program, Science Connections, connects OSU scientists with high school science teachers and acts as a mechanism for students to see the quality of the faculty at OSU. This effort is positively marketing OSU as a quality learning institution. OSU needs to be marketed better overall to make sure that prospective students understand the real strengths we have to offer.

  • The news received by President Niess concerning the tabled Category I proposals is that the primary goal is to make sure that the distance offerings are of quality comparable to the on–campus offerings. In general, the offerings will differ from on–campus offerings largely in that fewer courses will be available to choose from. The groups working on these proposals are very close to having at least one course in each of the core areas. She felt that the action taken by the Senate in January has led to a responsible clarification of a decidedly different delivery approach that has the potential of providing a compelling learning experience while meeting the needs of a diverse and extended student body. This is another example of supporting each other and OSU.


There was no old business.


There was no new business.

Meeting was adjourned at 5:10 PM.

Respectfully submitted:

Vickie Nunnemaker
Faculty Senate Administrative Assistant