UNL ACADEMIC SENATE MEETING MINUTES

City Campus Union, Auditorium

April 29, 2003

Presidents Tice Miller, John Wunder, and Miles Bryant

 

1.0      Call to Order

            President Miller called the meeting to order at 2:36 p.m.

 

2.0      Announcements

President Miller noted that the past year has been a difficult and stressful time for everyone due to the downturn of the economy, the drought situation in the state, the war in Iraq, and the budget cuts.   He stated that it was a challenging year to be President of the Senate but he is pleased to have President-Elect Wunder taking over.  President Miller recognized and thanked the Executive Committee for all of their work and contribution.  He noted that Professor Wolf, English, a member of the Executive Committee will be retiring this summer and will be sorely missed. 

 

3.0      Academic Senate Elections

            3.1  Election of UNL Academic Senate President Elect

            Wes Peterson, Agricultural Economics, was elected as President-elect.

 

            3.2  Election of UNL Academic Senate Secretary

            Shelley Fuller, Art & Art History, was elected as Secretary.

 

            3.3  Election of UNL Academic Senate Executive Committee Members

Gayle Buck, Curriculum and Instruction, John Fech, Southeast Research and Extension Center, and Pat Shea, School of Natural Resource Sciences, were each elected to the Executive Committee for a three year term.

 

3.4  Election of Committee on Committees Members

Richard Hoffman, Industrial and Systems Management Engineering, and Colin Ramsay, Actuarial Science, were each elected to the Committee on Committees for a three year term.

 

            3.5  Recognition of New Senators

President Wunder recognized and welcomed the newly elected senators.  He then presented President Tice Miller with an award in appreciation and recognition for his service as President of the Academic Senate.   Plaques recognizing the service of outgoing members of the Executive Committee were then presented to James King, Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications, Mac Sawyer, Curriculum and Instruction, Shelley Fuller, Art & Art History, and Darrel Siekman, South Central Research and Extension Center.  Wunder then gave a speech introducing himself to the Senate and stating his concerns with the issues facing the University and in particular the faculty.  (To see the full speech, go to http://www.unl.edu/asenate/Wunderspeech.htm).

 

4.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman thanked President Miller and the members of the Executive Committee for working with him this past year.  He stated that he valued their help and their thoughts.  He congratulated the newly elected members of the Committee. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that in spite of the difficulties the University has faced this past year, many good things have also happened.  He noted that he recently interviewed a candidate for an Othmer chair and that we have a good chance of hiring this professor.  He reported that with this hire, the department would become one of the top five in the country.  He stated that he recently met with a professor who is working with a Fortune 500 corporation that is considering investing $10-20 million in the university.  Chancellor Perlman reported that he presented nine Cather/Bessey professorships this past year and while reading promotion and tenure files he marveled at the success of the University.  He pointed out that the JD Edwards program and the research fair have created great excitement at the University.  In traveling across the state to argue against the budget cuts, Chancellor Perlman noted that he met many people who support the University.  He reported that Professor Van Etten, Plant Pathology, has recently been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that the legislature has begun debate on the Governor’s proposed budget.  He noted that the Appropriations Committee is discussing a 3% reduction for the University although he pointed out that the final amount could be more.  He stated that if the University receives a 3% reduction, it would mean that UNL would have to cut $1.1 million more out of its budget.  He noted that IANR has already met its percentage in cuts so nearly all of the cuts would come out of city campus. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the worse case scenario would be if Governor Johanns vetoed the legislature’s decisions on the budget.  He noted that the legislature adjourns on June 2nd and the Board of Regents will meet on June 7th to address the budget situation.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there has been some discussion in the legislature about holding a special session to deal with the state budget.  He noted that it will be awkward this summer to have to deal with additional budget cuts.  He stated that he will work with the Academic Planning Committee and the Senate Executive Committee to work out a schedule that will allow for full participation of the faculty.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that his response to the Academic Planning Committee’s questions regarding the budget cuts is now available on the web (http://www.unl.edu/pr/chancllr/2003-5budget/documents/20030617_responsetoapc.html).  He noted that, including the latest budget cuts, there have been four rounds of cuts.  This has resulted in 49% of the cuts being made in administration, 24% from academics, and 25% from service.  He noted that all reorganizations due to the budget cuts have had significant faculty input. 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that the Appropriations Committee has proposed adding funds back to the University budget to offset the cost of the Veterinary Student Contract program.  He stated that the contract will be reviewed and possibly revised so that it better serves the state of Nebraska. 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that all eight of the tenured faculty members in the Research Division of the Museum have been contacted by administration.  Four of faculty members have verbal agreements to transfer to other departments with tenure and another faculty member should receive word of approval of a transfer.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the memorandum of understanding is being drafted for all faculty members.  He pointed out that two faculty members are taking early retirement and another faculty member has been offered a retraining option based on interests suggested by this professor. 

 

Chancellor Perlman wanted to clarify that his decision to terminate tenured faculty members was not based on the Oregon State University case.  He pointed out that information he had received gave him the impression that Oregon State had terminated faculty.  As it turned out, they did not have to terminate faculty members because they were either transferred to other departments, retired, or left before being terminated.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he wanted to address the moratorium resolution that would be made later in the meeting.  He pointed out that he does believe in tenure and that he has read the AAUP guidelines.  Furthermore, he stated that he has been engaged in discussions with AAUP and believes that he is not violating any of the guidelines and that he is making every effort to follow them.  He stated that shared governance also means shared responsibility and that approving a moratorium on firing tenured faculty would mean the budget cuts would have to be spread out across all departments thereby reducing the quality of programs across the board. 

 

Professor May, Economics, noted that the Chancellor publicly endorsed Jim Strand who was running against the chair of the City Council.  She pointed out that the University has many projects associated with the city and asked why the Chancellor would endorse Strand.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he grew up with Strand and that he is one of his closest friends.  He noted that he has not taken an active role in endorsing Strand but has supported him financially. 

 

Past President Bryant stated that the Deans presented budget plans that did not call for the firing of tenured faculty members.  He asked if there were other alternatives to firing faculty.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the other options would have called for broader based cuts which would have resulted in every department being cut.  He did not think this would be in the best interest of the campus.

 

Professor Harbison, Chemistry, asked for clarification regarding the Board of Regents’ decision on benefits and employees on nine month appointments.  Chancellor Perlman stated that faculty members on 9 month appointments are considered full-time and their benefits are protected.  He stated that the idea was to reduce some staff positions to .75% FTE during the summer on a volunteer basis, but allow them to retain their full health benefits.  He noted that it was thought that this could be a possible option to reduce the budget.  He stated that they tried to have the policy applied to those who have already been cut back to .75% FTE due to budget cuts but the Board felt that this would be too costly.

 

5.0      Approval of 4/1/03 Minutes

Professor Logan-Peters, Libraries, moved and Professor Peterson, Agricultural Economics, seconded approval of the minutes. 

 

6.0      Committee Reports

            6.1  Graduate Council (Exec. Assoc. Dean Weissinger)

Exec. Assoc. Dean Weissinger reported that two new Ph.D. programs on campus have been approved.  She noted that the vote to remove the two tier graduate faculty status is currently underway.  She stated that it will be implemented immediately if approved by the graduate faculty of the university.  She asked for questions.

 

            6.2  Faculty Compensation Advisory Committee (President Wunder)

President Wunder stated that the report was in the Senator’s packet.  He pointed out that the President-Elect of the Academic Senate serves as chair of this committee.  He asked for questions.

 

6.3  Teaching Council (Professor Morstad)

Professor Morstad noted that it is a somewhat bewildering and tentative time for the Council due to the elimination of the Teaching and Learning Center.  She stated that the Council is currently working on trying to define itself.  She noted that the Council has felt the loss of Delivee Wright, former Director of the Teaching and Learning Center.  Morstad stated that the Teaching for Success project brought funds in from the peer review program.  She asked for questions.

 

            6.4  Executive Committee (President Miller)

President Miller noted that the full report was included in the Senator’s packet.  He pointed out that the committee met every Wednesday and several other times during the academic year.  He noted that the Committee recently met with Professor Ron Lee, Senate Designee to the APC, and with Steve Pederson, the new Athletic Director.  He asked for questions.

 

7.0      Unfinished Business

7.1  Motion for a Moratorium on firing Tenured Faculty

Professor Beck, Animal Science, stated that the motion was originally brought forward to some of the Senators by the Faculty Women’s Caucus.  She noted that the motion is not against untenured faculty but supports tenure and academic freedom.  Professor Keith, Entomology, stated that he is not opposed to tenure but people need to be sensitive to all of the different types of faculty that are on campus.  He pointed out that many faculty members are unprotected.  

 

Professor Morris, School of Biological Sciences, stated that the faculty in his department struggled with this issue.  He stated that there is an ethical question in that they do not want to destroy tenure but they also don’t want to destroy the quality of the institution.  He noted that the motion does not allow other options for making budget cuts.  Professor Flowers, Psychology, stated that the faculty in his department had numerous frank and painful discussions on the issue.   He stated that they want to focus on vertical cuts as opposed to horizontal cuts.  As a result, the faculty of the psychology department voted against the motion. 

 

Professor May stated that the primary concern in making the motion was to try to maintain the national reputation of the university.  She pointed out that people need to think seriously about vertical cuts versus horizontal cuts.  She questioned how much is saved with vertical cuts when those faculty members that were to be terminated are moved to other departments.  She noted that the APC was told on several occasions that there was no where else to cut and then things like the funding for the Marching Band would be found.  She pointed out that the public relations department has an operating budget of $940,000 a year that has not had any cuts.  She stated that each faculty member needs to carefully monitor what other cuts are being made besides tenured faculty.

 

Professor Wolf noted that the Chronicle of Higher Education is writing a story about the firing of tenured faculty members at UNL and the rest of the country is watching to see what happens.  He noted that if the attack on tenure is allowed to continue it is setting a precedent for other universities around the country.  He pointed out that there are alternatives.  He noted that UNO functioned very well during the budget cutting process and the administration included the faculty and students in the decision making process.  He stated that all of the alternatives suggested by the Senate Executive Committee and the APC have been rejected by

 

the administration.  He pointed out that we cannot back away from trying to send the message about how crucially important tenure is. 

 

Professor Peterson, Agricultural Economics, stated that he concurred with Professor Wolf.   He noted that it is important to explore the alternatives to cutting tenured faculty members.  He pointed out that the argument of vertical versus horizontal cuts is false because vertical cuts will have horizontal repercussions.  He stated that creative ways are needed to deal with the cuts.  He pointed out that the moratorium is a way of sending a signal that the faculty wants to know what the other alternatives would be.

 

Professor Spann, Broadcasting, stated that the Chancellor was asked by the Executive Committee to share the Deans’ budget proposals with the APC.  He asked if this had been done yet.  President Wunder stated that to his knowledge it was not done.  Professor Buhman, Industrial Systems Technology, reported that he was assured by the chair of his department that they could meet the adjusted budget cuts.  He pointed out that the proposals made by the Deans appear to be ones that the colleges could live with.

 

The motion failed, 34 no to 29 yes. 

 

7.2  Approval of Election Ballot for APC Replacement

Past President Bryant motioned to approve the ballot to replace a biological sciences representative on the committee who resigned.  King seconded the motion.  Motion approved.

 

8.0      New Business

8.1  Recognition and Appreciation of APC Members

Wunder formally recognized the members of the Academic Planning Committee for their hard work and the long hours they have spent in dealing with the budget cuts.  The APC members recognized were:  Professors Craig Eckhardt, Chair of the APC, Barry Rosson, Ellen Paparozzi, Ronald Lee, Ann Mari May, Charles O’Connor, and Kenneth Nickerson; Student Representatives Xiao Hua and Michelle Schrage; Dean Representatives Cynthia Milligan and Marjorie Kostelnik; Administrators Richard Edwards, John Owens, John Benson, and Prem Paul; and Coordinator Lona Kramer.  Members of the Senate and the APC were invited to attend a wine and cheese reception after the Senate meeting.

 

8.2  Motion of No Confidence

Professor Genoways, Museum, moved that the Academic Senate take a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Harvey Perlman and his administration, including Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Richard Edwards and Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies Prem Paul, for their unprecedented assault on academic freedom and academic tenure at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the redefinition of the phrase “bona fide discontinuance of a program or department” and use of secret documents in the termination of tenured faculty at the University.  Motion seconded by Professor Beck. 

 

President Wunder stated that the rules of the Senate are that this is a motion that would be taken up at the next meeting but there is room for discussion.  Professor Genoways stated that his action is appropriate because the Chancellor violated standing bylaws, policies, and procedures of the University and Board of Regents, which has resulted in denying the academic freedom and tenure of faculty members.  He pointed out that the letters of termination sent to the faculty of the Museum were issued based on discontinuance of a program but these actions do not constitute a bona fide discontinuance.  He noted that the research units of the State museum do not constitute a “program” as defined under Executive Memorandum #24 issued by President Smith.  He stated that the discontinuance is not bona fide because it is not based on any objective criteria of quality or productivity or any other known criteria.  The misconduct also includes the issuing of letters of termination to the tenured faculty before a faculty committee conducted any review of the decision.

 

Professor Genoways stated that the university engaged in an improper evaluation of the terminated faculty by using a secret outside evaluation.  Existence of this information can be found in the March 26th Senate Executive Committee minutes and was stated by Vice Chancellor Paul before the Academic Planning Committee on April 9, 2003.  Professor Genoways pointed out that this violates Regents Bylaw 4.6 which guarantees “faculty members shall have access to all material submitted for their evaluation and the opportunity to respond in writing.”  He stated that false and erroneous information has been used in recommending the termination of the tenured faculty of the State Museum.  The existence of this false and erroneous information of unknown origin is confirmed in part in remarks to the Senate Executive Committee during their March 26th meeting with the Chancellor and in testimony given to the APC on April 9th. 

 

 

Professor Genoways stated that the net result of these actions has been to change fundamentally academic freedom and tenure at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which has been governed in the past under the Bylaws of the Board of Regents, into an at will employment situation in which faculty members can be terminated, retained, and rehired at the will of a single or a small group of university administrators. 

 

Professor Genoways noted that the lessons learned from this situation are that the definition of a program can be changed to justify any action by University administration; the rights of faculty to open and fair evaluations can be simply ignored; the budget cuts are neither vertical or horizontal, but selective; the termination of tenured faculty at UNL is not now nor will it in the future relate to budget reductions; and the process has shown that quality does not count at UNL.  He pointed out that the faculty members should not believe everything they hear because currently none of the faculty members of the Museum have anything in writing confirming a transfer to another department. 

 

Professor Beck stated that the established procedures that are in place to deal with budget reductions and reallocations have been ignored.  She pointed out that faculty governance is based on respectful communications and that all suggestions to deal with the budget situation should be considered carefully.  She stated that the faculty members need to have faith that they can participate in faculty governance as UNK and UNO have done in consulting with faculty members and students. 

 

Professor Bradford, Law, stated that he is opposed to the motion and he moved that it be declared an emergency motion so the Senate can vote on it now.  President Wunder asked if there was a second to the motion.  Professor Barnes, Music, seconded the motion.  President Wunder then ruled that action on the motion at that meeting was not intrinsic to its purpose.  Professor Genoways called for a point of order.  He noted that the motion to declare his motion as an emergency should have been made before discussion began.  Professor Jackson, Food Science Technology and Interim Parliamentarian, stated that this is correct and the motion would need to be voted on at the next Senate meeting (September 2nd).

 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:34 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, September 2, at 2:30 p.m. in the East Campus Union, Great Plains Room.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Shelley Fuller, Secretary.