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Faculty Senate

Textbook submission process

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Faculty prerogatives are being infringed upon by a new directive establishing an earlier deadline for faculty to submit their textbook orders. Such orders are now to be submitted simultaneously with course schedules:

"Textbook submission process to change
Beginning with courses scheduled for fall, 2011, UNI will take a different approach to collecting and sharing information about the textbooks required for courses.  The federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (PL110-315) now requires that universities provide students with textbook information at the time the student registers for the course.  So, our new SIS is being configured so that textbook information will be submitted directly into the system at the same time that class information is submitted.  The bookstore will access information about your textbook needs from SIS rather than from you directly.  If bookstore staff have questions, they will contact you directly.  If it is not possible to provide the textbook information at the requested time, we can list "to be determined" in place of the information, but wholesale use of "to be determined" will not satisfy the requirements of the law.  Each academic department will determine how the course and textbook information will be collected from within the department and submitted to SIS."

Reading the relevant Act (see Supporting Information A), it becomes clear that the issue hinges on the interpretation of the passage in the law that says textbook information must be supplied to the extent “practicable.”  So the question is what is meant by “practicable.”  More to the point, the real issue for us is WHO at UNI gets to decide what is meant by “practicable.”  As far as any communication we’ve received would indicate, this determination has been entirely in administrative hands, specifically the Dean of Students and the Registrar.  This issue impacts quality of instruction and therefore it is a matter of educational policy, one of the specific charges of the UNI Faculty Senate.

Regarding quality of instruction, two issues come to the fore immediately.  Others may emerge as the Senate turns its attention to this matter:

1. An earlier deadline impedes our ability to integrate the latest scholarship and instructional materials into our teaching.

2. Many of us teach the same course in one semester following another.  An earlier deadline requires us to decide on the next semester’s books before we’ve had sufficient opportunity to determine how our current texts are working out in the current semester.




Therefore, be it resolved that the Senate shall determine the best way to implement at UNI provision of college textbook information in course schedules.

Inquiry response

From a response by Terry Hogan to an inquiry on this matter:

the University's obligation is:

SCHEDULES.—To the maximum extent practicable, each institution of higher
education receiving Federal financial assistance shall—
‘‘(1) disclose, on the institution’s Internet course schedule and in a
manner of the institution’s choosing, the International Standard Book
Number and retail price information of required and recommended college
textbooks and supplemental materials for each course listed in the
institution’s course schedule used for preregistration and registration
purposes, except that—
‘‘(A) if the International Standard Book Number is not available for
such college textbook or supplemental material, then the institution
shall include in the Internet course schedule the author, title,
publisher, and copyright date for such college textbook or supplemental
material; and
‘‘(B) if the institution determines that the disclosure of the
information described in this subsection is not practicable for a
college textbook or supplemental material, then the institution shall so
indicate by placing the designation ‘To Be Determined’ in lieu of the
information required under this subsection; and
‘‘(2) if applicable, include on the institution’s written course
schedule a notice that textbook information is available on the
institution’s Internet course schedule, and the Internet address for
such schedule.

We are interpreting this to mean that when we publish the online course
schedule, it should include the textbook information required. The gap
that will exist between the time of submission and the time of
publishing the online course schedule will be reduced from what it has
been in the past (a benefit of publishing online only rather than in
print and online). Relative to textbooks, this gap (processing time)
allows three things: ISBN numbers must be gathered and/or verified and
(if necessary) added, pricing information must be gathered and added,
and the submitted information must be proofread (along with the entire
course listing). If it turns out that the amount of time allocated for
this processing is excessive (because we get more efficient at it), we
would reduce the gap in subsequent terms.

If textbook information for a given course in not available or not
submitted, the listing will read "to be determined." At a later date
(any date) when the textbook information is provided, it can be entered
and immediately made available in the online schedule of classes.

To allow individual faculty to submit textbook information would require
them to be trained to use the system and would require setting up and
then managing security access for each. Most departments report that
they currently gather this information and submit it centrally.
. . .

Finally, I should note that we had hoped to discuss this and other
questions with the Council of Academic Departments Heads at a meeting on
Dec 3, but we were bumped from that meeting and rescheduled for January
7. This and other questions were vetted through a work group of academic
unit representatives and this one did not spark any concerns.

Meeting Date: 
Apr 11, 2011