UNL ACADEMIC SENATE MEETING MINUTES

East Campus Union, Great Plains Rooms

April 1, 2003

Presidents Tice Miller, John Wunder, and Miles Bryant, Presiding

 

1.0      Call to Order

            President Miller called the meeting to order at 2:32 p.m.

 

2.0      Announcements

2.1  Recognition of Outgoing Senators

President Miller announced the names of those senators whose terms are ending with this meeting.  He stated that the faculty appreciated their contribution and service to faculty governance.

 

3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman stated that the focus of everyone is still on the budget reductions.  He noted that the recent action of the Appropriations Committee is encouraging but it is a long time until June 2nd when the legislature is likely to make its final recommendations on the budget.  He pointed out that there is still much work that needs to be done.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he had originally planned to announce the second round of budget cuts today but it has been delayed.  He stated that Central Administration will determine when the campuses will make the next announcements but there is currently no fixed date.

 

Chancellor Perlman noted that the reductions he announced were controversial.  He pointed out that the Academic Planning Committee process of reviewing the budget cuts is underway.  He stated that the administration has conducted a number of exercises to explore what the effects of horizontal cuts would be to the university.  He pointed out that a 10% reduction for every unit on campus would be so damaging that it would strip every program on campus of any kind of quality.  In order to demonstrate the damage that an across the board cut would do to departments, Chancellor Perlman distributed a handout which provided budget information for each department.   The handout showed what the total cut to the departments would be if the budget was decreased by 8%.  He stated that if anyone thinks their department could handle such a cut, then they should let him know. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he is distressed with the assertion that the consequences of the Museum reductions have impacted women disproportionately.  He pointed out that eight faculty members were being eliminated.  Of these eight, four have been offered positions in other departments, two are eligible for retirement, and two have not yet been placed. 

 

Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the APC process of dealing with the budget cuts is not over.  He stated that he understands the obligations the university has under the AAUP guidelines and the administration is exerting all good efforts to find other jobs for the Museum faculty members.  He noted that the tradition of the university is that a department has to vote on approving the transfer of a faculty member from another department and this has not yet taken place. 

 

Chancellor Perlman noted that if tenure track and tenured faculty were not cut, every other category of personnel would have to be significantly cut.  He pointed out that most of the people in these categories, and in tenure track positions, are women and cutting them would create a disproportionate impact on women. 

 

Professor Genoways, Museum, stated that as one of the eight professors scheduled to be terminated, he feels that he may be forced into retirement because of the cuts.  He stated that he and the other curators of the Museum believe that the firing of tenured faculty is an attack on the tenure system itself and that it is being masked under budget cuts.  He asked if cutting the research division of the Museums is a bona fide elimination of a program and what constitutes a program.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the definition of a program is explained in Executive Memorandum No. 24 and in the Procedures to Be Invoked for Significant Budget Reductions and Reallocations.  Genoways asked why eight of nine tenured faculty members in the Museum constitute a program and one does not.  He pointed out that he does not see two different programs.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the assessment of the programs at the Museum indicated that there was a research branch and a public education programs branch.  He pointed out that the faculty member not proposed for termination is more involved in public education.  He noted that the process calls for the APC to review and recommend to the Chancellor whether or not the program should be eliminated.  The decision to eliminate the program must then be made by President Smith and finally by the Board of Regents.

 

Professor Genoways noted that the Chancellor is not following AAUP guidelines in all cases.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he believed that he is following the AAUP guidelines.  He pointed out that he needs to consider the university further down the road.  He stated that his proposed budget cuts are not a reflection on the quality of the Museum.  He stated that he is trying to maintain and enhance the quality of education for other parts of the university while trying to deal with a possible $21 million budget cut.  He pointed out that if there were no vertical cuts, then the entire university would suffer.  He stated that if he thought the university could rebuild in a short period of time, then he would do the budget cuts differently.  Genoways questioned how cutting $400,000 from one unit will affect the educational system across the university.  Chancellor Perlman pointed out that most of the university is not made up of big programs with lots of money.  He stated that he needs to make cuts in a number of places in order to reach $21 million.

 

Professor Genoways noted that the AAUP guidelines state that faculty members being terminated should receive compensation.  He asked if it was the university’s intent to follow these guidelines.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he tries to adhere to the AAUP guidelines as much as possible.  He pointed out that the university’s policy is to give one year’s notice to faculty members who are being terminated. 

 

Professor Gennoways stated that he has been put in a difficult situation because the decision to retire must be made in a very short period of time since the deadline date is April 30.  Chancellor Perlman reported that a proposal to extend the retirement deadline date until July will be made to the Board of Regents at the April meeting. 

 

Professor May, Economics, stated that she understands the severity of the situation and faculty want to work with the Chancellor on the budget cuts, but he seems to be working against the faculty.  She stated that the Chancellor needs to explain the specific cuts of $1.1 million and how this will save money when people are being hired back to fill the employees being terminated.  She stated that these cuts are not worth the tremendous stress and threat to tenure.  Chancellor Perlman pointed out that, contrary to what people may think, he does not spend all of his time arguing with the faculty.  He stated that the bottom line is that by July 1 UNL will have $21 million less in the budget.  He stated that faculty being terminated can only be rehired if open faculty lines are available.  He noted that the department picking up the faculty must also cover part of the salary.  He pointed out that he is not targeting any individual faculty member. 

 

Past President Bryant asked the Chancellor to clarify why financial exigency is not being declared in light of the current financial crisis.  Chancellor Perlman pointed out that there are negative consequences of declaring financial exigency.  He stated that by declaring bankruptcy the university would have difficulty recruiting and retaining both faculty and students and bond rates would increase. 

 

Professor Gay, Physics & Astronomy, stated that he supported vertical cuts.  He pointed out that horizontal cuts would have far greater impact on all of the departments.  He noted that in his department a horizontal cut would require elimination of at least ¾ of their graduate teaching assistants.  As a result, faculty would have to teach more courses which would leave them little time to work on grant proposals and to obtain outside funding.  Professor Ford, English, stated that he supports the general strategy of vertical cuts.  He noted that weak programs need to be identified and that this should have been done in the past.  He pointed out that specifics in how to identify these programs need to be determined.

 

Professor Hoffman, Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, stated that he prefers the Chancellor to make the decision on the budget cuts.  He asked if UNK and UNO were using the same approach as UNL.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he has not heard how UNK and UNO are dealing with the second phase of these budget cuts.  He reported that they have not cut tenured faculty members yet.  He stated that UNL must stand for quality and that he is not comparing us with UNK or UNO. 

 

Professor Sherrard, Civil Engineering, asked if there has been any forecast for increases in tuition.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he has not heard of any decisions yet regarding tuition increases.  He pointed out that the tuition increase will more than likely only cover the increase in fixed costs.  He stated that the Board of Regents feels strongly that part of a tuition increase needs to go towards need-based scholars.

 

Professor Wolf, English, asked if the deans’ proposals for the 10% budget cuts were horizontal cuts and if they suggested firing tenured faculty members.  Chancellor Perlman stated that no dean recommended the firing of tenured faculty.  He stated that the deans’ recommendations were not absolute across the board cuts but included a variety of responses.  He pointed out that some colleges cannot get to a 10% budget reduction.  Professor Spann, Broadcasting, asked why the deans did not support cutting academic programs.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the deans were not willing to make those cuts.  He pointed out that it is a difficult decision that only the Chancellor should have to make. 

 

President-Elect Wunder stated that he had just returned from a National Endowment for the Humanities meeting in Washington, DC.  He stated that while there he was confronted by other scholars asking what is going on at UNL.  He stated that the faculty would find it helpful to know how to respond to such questions.

Chancellor Perlman stated that the budget cuts will no doubt hurt our reputation with some people but he is hopeful that if the cuts are done right, that the damage will be short-lived.  He noted how long the university’s reputation suffered in the 1980’s when severe budget cuts occurred.  He reported that the last university to fire tenured faculty members was Oregon State and the University of Oregon.  He pointed out that nearly all of the other state universities are facing severe budget cuts.  He stated that Nebraska is putting the focus on sustaining quality programs and that he hopes we will remain strong in spite of the cuts.

 

4.0      Approval of 1/14/03 Minutes

Professor Diffendal, Conservation & Survey Division, moved that the minutes be approved.  Professor Jackson, Food Science & Technology, seconded the motion.  Motion approved.

 

5.0      Committee Reports

5.1  Parking Advisory Committee (Professor Bell)

Professor Bell indicated that the Senators received a copy of the report in their packet.  He stated that although it was not an eventful year, the committee did good work.  He stated that they are reviewing the guiding principles of the committee and have developed a five year plan.  He noted that the committee wants to include in the guiding principles that parking must be replaced whenever it is displaced by the construction of a new building.  He reported that there are no large fee increases scheduled in the five year plan.  He stated that there will be a $1 per month increase for faculty and staff this coming year to cover maintenance costs.  He reported that the ASUN approved a transit plan. 

 

Professor Carlo, Psychology, asked if the committee has reviewed having a separate fee for faculty and staff since staff are not paid as much as faculty.  Bell reported that there was no discussion and that the UNOPA representative to the committee never raised the issue. 

 

Professor Hoffman noted that at 6:30 in the morning he had to go to the third level of the 17th & R Street parking garage to find parking.  He asked if the garage is a permanent parking garage for students and, if so, can he leave his van in the garage for two or three weeks at a time.  Bell stated that Tad McDowell, Director of Parking and Transit Services, is monitoring the situation with the garage.  He stated that he would take the question regarding a faculty or staff member leaving their vehicle in the garage for an extended period of time back to the committee.  Carlo asked that the issue regarding the faculty/staff parking fee be taken back to the committee as well.

 

5.2  Employee Benefits Committee (Professor Bradford)

Professor Bradford stated that the report was self-explanatory but welcomed questions that anyone might have.  He stated that the committee did not try to increase benefits this year because of the budget problems facing the university.  He stated that the committee received some information regarding the utilization of the tuition remission benefit.  He noted that the information received addressed only the number of people using the benefit and it did not provide information on the cost of it to the university.

 

5.3  Computational Services and Facilities Committee (Professor Jackson)

Professor Jackson noted that the report is self explanatory but welcomed questions that anyone might have.  He stated that the committee meets once a month and tries to take action on computer policies.

 

5.4  Academic Freedom Award Committee (Professor Moshman)

Professor Moshman stated that there were two nominees this year for the Academic Freedom Award but the committee chose not to give the award out this year.  He stated that an explanation for this decision was provided in the report.  President Miller asked if this has ever happened in the past.  Professor Moshman stated that there have been years when no award was given.  He pointed out that the award is to recognize a faculty member who has a long track record of defending academic freedom.  He noted that the defense of academic freedom needs to be in the general sense, not just in regards to an individual’s work.  He pointed out that the Academic Freedom Award is very specific regarding this issue. 

 

6.0      Unfinished Business

6.1  Motion on Implementing the New Grading System

Professor Ford stated that the motion presented at the March meeting states that “in the implementation of UNL’s new grading system, no change shall be made which results in the lowering of standards.  The new standard shall be equal to, or higher than, the old standard when letter grades in both systems are converted to numerical equivalencies.”  He pointed out that it is the Senate who should decide to maintain the standards of the grading system, not local interests.  The motion was approved with six abstentions.

 

7.0      New Business

7.1  AAUP Guidelines

Professor Haller, English and member of AAUP, recognized that these are difficult times for everyone.  He stated that he has been in close contact with the national office of AAUP concerning what is occurring at UNL.  He stated that he has enormous concerns for the quality of education at UNL.  He pointed out that the maintenance of the tenure system is critical in keeping quality at the university. 

 

Professor Haller stated that there is harm in going after tenured faculty and even more harm when faculty members start going against each other.  He stated that it is important that the AAUP guidelines not be compromised.  He pointed out that the AAUP guidelines state that the university must try to find another position for any faculty members who are terminated due to program elimination.

 

Professor Haller stated that the AAUP supports a moratorium on firing tenured faculty members.  He stated that enhancing revenues could be one way of helping with the budget cuts.  He stated that the faculty needs to take control and that the Senate and APC should be the bodies to take this control.  He noted that while the local AAUP chapter is not active, faculty members will be contacted to request that they join.  He pointed out that the AAUP could be another voice for faculty.

 

Professor Diffendal, asked if it was possible for the AAUP to review equivalently ranked faculty members and whether then can be moved from soft dollars to hard dollars.  Haller stated that the AAUP is disturbed by the trend to build a faculty body without tenure track members.  Diffendal stated that academic freedom and tenure should be extended to the extension faculty.  Haller stated that he would like to see the extension faculty be given tenure if this can legally be done.

 

7.2  Faculty Women’s Caucus

Professor Beck, Animal Science, stated that on behalf of the Faculty Women’s Caucus, she wanted to present a motion calling for a moratorium on the firing of tenured faculty.  She made the motion:

 

      “Whereas academic freedom and tenure are the fundamental foundations of a university system and

Whereas the University of Nebraska-Lincoln must not sacrifice its reputation as a comprehensive research institution by failing to honor the commitment of tenure,

Therefore be it resolved that the Faculty Women’s Caucus calls upon Chancellor Perlman to immediately institute a moratorium on the firing of tenured faculty and calls upon him to honor the commitment of tenure for both men and women faculty at UNL.”

 

Professor May seconded the motion.  President Miller noted that the motion must be declared as an emergency motion in order to be voted upon at today’s meeting.  Professor Fuller, Art & Art History, moved that the motion be declared an emergency motion.  Professor Wolf seconded the motion.  Motion defeated: 32 against, 18 in favor, 3 abstentions.  Motion fails as an emergency item.  The motion made by Professor Beck will be voted upon at the April 29th meeting.

 

Professor Beck pointed out that the university’s reputation has suffered due to the proposal to eliminate tenured faculty members.  She stated that the motion put forward by the Faculty Women’s Caucus is a request for the Chancellor to pause in the budget cutting process and to work with the faculty rather than against the faculty.    She noted that tenure has been breached and that we need to retain a commitment to tenure on campus. 

 

Professor May stated that the request for a pause in the budget cutting process is give the Chancellor a chance to reevaluate the firing of tenured faculty members.  She stated she has concerns for the loss of tenure and has immediate concern that the only two Museum faculty members who have not been offered a position elsewhere in the university are women.  She noted that the state legislature passed LB 389 which requires that

 

the university move up from the bottom, to the top 50% of our peers in regards to diversity.  She noted that there are only four more female faculty members now than when the bill was first passed. 

 

Professor Prochaska-Cue, Family Resources and Consumer Science, stated that she believes in the concept of tenure but is torn by the way the resolution is written.  She noted that she has concerns for the non-tenure faculty members.  She offered a friendly amendment of including the language “while viable alternative solutions are sought” at the end of the last sentence in the third paragraph.  Beck seconded the friendly amendment.  Prochaska-Cue offered another friendly amendment to replace the language Faculty Women’s Caucus with UNL Academic Senate.  May seconded the friendly amendment.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he would like to be able to pause in the budget cutting process but he stated that events are out of his control.  He noted that he has to have a budget ready by July 1.  He pointed out that he is certainly willing to listen to any faculty member concerning the cuts.  Professor Carlo asked if a timeline for the moratorium was included in the resolution.  Professor Beck stated that there was no timeline. 

 

Professor Genoways stated that his constituents in the Museum wanted him to bring forth a motion for a vote of no confidence in the Chancellor.  He stated that in his judgment, it may be premature to do this right now.  He stated that the APC process needs to take place.  He noted that the Museum’s hearing with the APC is scheduled for April 9th.  He pointed out that he may bring the motion forward at the April 29th meeting and he encouraged the senators to inform themselves with what is really going on.  He stated that the issue is tenure, not budget cuts.  He stated that faculty governance has been circumvented with these budget decisions and that the faculty members need to get involved.  He pointed out that the fate of the eight Museum faculty members could be the fate of other faculty members as well.  He stated that he does not believe that any faculty members are safe and that these budget cuts are driving the UNL campus to unionization.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that if the faculty members are committed to doing budget cuts through horizontal cuts, which many think would severely damage the university, then Professor Genoways should make the motion of no confidence now.  He stated that by April 29th he may be forced to announce further proposed budget reductions.  He noted that the Appropriations Committee will make their recommendations to the legislature on April 24th or 25th.  He stated that if the reductions for the university are above 3%, then the next set of proposed budget reductions that he will announce will include additional tenured faculty members.  He noted that he strongly supports tenure but he will not be able to support it for long if the quality of the campus is going to suffer because of it.  He stated that unless someone can show him another way of making the budget cuts without compromising quality, he can see no other course of action but to eliminate some academic programs. 

 

Professor Keith, Entomology, stated that it was a sad day.  He did not believe it was fair to come up with a motion of no confidence in the Chancellor when he and the administration have been working hard to fight for the university.  He suggested that a straw poll should be taken. 

 

Professor Archer, Anthropology and Geography, pointed out that he represents the faculty in his department and that he feels that he needs to consult with his colleagues before he could vote on this motion.

 

Professor Hoffman moved that the meeting be adjourned.  Motion approved.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:10 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, April 29, at 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and James King, Secretary.