UNL ACADEMIC SENATE MEETING MINUTES

East Campus Union, Great Plains Room

November 4, 2003

Presidents John Wunder, Wes Peterson, and Tice Miller

 

1.0      Call to Order

            President Wunder called the meeting to order at 2:33 p.m.

 

2.0      Announcements

2.1  Meetings with Senators

President Wunder thanked all of the Senators who met with him to discuss issues of concern that they and their departments have.  He stated that he would be reporting the concerns to the Executive Committee and that they will attempt to address these issues.  He urged the Senators to distribute by email the minutes of the Executive Committee to their constituents.  He suggested that Senators should give a report of the Senate activities at their departments’ monthly meeting.

 

2.2  Panel on Blue Skies Report

President Wunder stated that there will be a panel discussion at the January meeting on the Blue Skies Report.  He noted that copies of the report will be included in the December Senate packets for the Senators to read before the January meeting.  He stated that Professor Whitt, Sociology, will chair the panel.

 

2.3  Resolution on President’ Salary

President Wunder reported that the Executive Committee is considering writing a resolution calling for a limit on the new President’s salary.  He stated that anyone having an opinion on this should contact either himself or members of the Executive Committee. 

 

3.0      Approval of 10/7/03 Minutes

Professor King, Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, moved that the minutes be approved as amended.  Professor Stick, Educational Administration, seconded the motion.  Motion approved.

 

4.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman reported that an important announcement will be made on November 6th at 1:30 in the Visitor’s Center.  He noted that this is in regards to a major effort that will take place to secure private funding for several different campus projects, including athletics.  He pointed out that this endeavor provides evidence that the University continues to have ambition and wants to continue growing.  He stated that these efforts will move the university forward on a variety of fronts in spite of the difficult economic challenges of the last few years. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the efforts of the Wasted Time Committee are consistent with his State of the University Address.  He stated that there is a lot of work that needs to be done but not enough time to do all of it.  He stated that the only way to address this is by taking some items off the agenda for faculty members.  He suggested that the colleges and departments should not stop with the Wasted Time Committee’s report but should have serious conversations concerning what processes and procedures could be handled differently.  He pointed out that these conversations should also include teaching and research. 

 

Chancellor Perlman apologized for the length of time it has taken him to restructure the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women and the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of People of Color.  He reported that he will be giving a list of members for each Commission to the Executive Committee to review.  He stated that he hopes to have both Commissions functioning within a short period of time.  He noted that both groups have important things to accomplish.

 

Chancellor Perlman urged the Senate to think hard about possible candidates for the position of Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  He reported that there are many administrative positions open in higher education around the country and there is a growing sense that fewer people are willing to take on these jobs.  He stated that the campus will need to work hard to find someone for this position.  He stated that he has pressed hard to find suitable candidates at other universities.  He encouraged faculty members to submit names to him of anyone they think would be qualified for this position.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he wanted to address the funding issue regarding the J.D. Edwards program.  He reported that the campus was originally given a very large and generous gift to establish the program.  However, this gift was not endowed.   The gift allowed the campus to create and develop the program and to construct a building.  He noted that it is an extraordinary program that should be explored further.  Chancellor Perlman reported that the McVaney family is still considering how it will participate in the program although there is no assurance that their support will continue.  He stated that the program was considered a high priority for undergraduate education and was provided with $500,000 for one time.  He stated that the program has since submitted a proposal to the Academic Planning Committee for additional funding and that it is being considered by the APC.  He noted that the program has great potential for current students and is helping to recruit quality students.  He pointed out that the two undergraduates with perfect ACT scores are currently in the program.  He noted that at this time the program probably cannot be supported strictly through private funds but he will do what he can to keep the program going.

 

Professor May, Economics, stated that she has heard in various meetings that there is great concern about the magnitude of spending so much money on a program of such a small size and which has a poor attrition rate.  She asked if there has been any follow up with those students who have left the program.  Chancellor Perlman stated that initially there was significant attrition in the program, in part due to the fact that it was a newly evolving program.  He stated that the original idea of the program was to have students of any major brought into the program to study business and computer science.  He pointed out that it was determined that students who had a strong background in computer science did better in the program and they are now seeking students with this background.  He noted that there is a high level of excitement among the students of the program.  He stated that a serious evaluation of the program would need to take place if it was to be totally supported through public funds.

 

Professor May stated that the Gender Equity Report was presented to the Board of Regents at the last meeting.  She noted that there has not been any considerable change in the number of female faculty members at the university over the past five years.  She asked if the Chancellor reviewed the data in the report and whether it responds to the 1991 goals that were established by the Board of Regents.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he did not have the report with him but he noted that there have not been significant increases in female faculty members.  He pointed out that while both the number of male and female professors on campus has actually decreased, the percentage of female professors on campus has increased although not as fast as they had hoped.  He stated that the report was not discouraging.  He noted that 40% of Assistant Professors are women and that there has been an increase in female Associate Professors although there has been a reduction of the number of female Full Professors.  He pointed out that the number of male Full Professors decreased significantly.  He reported that he spoke with the authors on the report and noted that works needs to be continued on hiring and retaining female faculty members. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that more troubling to him was the number of professors of color that the university has lost.  He pointed out that traditionally the campus has hired 70 new faculty members each year but in the last two years only 30 new faculty members were hired.  He noted that it will be difficult to make any gains with so few new faculty members.  He stated that the attrition rate has been slightly higher than the hiring rate for people of color.  He noted that this is not a result of positions being cut.  He stated that Deans and Chairs have been holding onto positions for fear of further budget cuts but he has been encouraging them to open up some of these positions.  He stated that he would get the Gender Equity Report on the web if it is needed.

 

5.0      Representatives from UNO and UNK Collective Bargaining Units (Roger Davis, UNK, David Corbin, UNO, and Roger Larson, NSEA)

President Wunder stated that Professor Corbin from UNO and Professor Davis from UNK were invited by the Senate to come speak about their collective bargaining units.    Professor Corbin stated that he is President of the UNO chapter of the AAUP.  He gave a brief history of the AAUP.  He sated that in 1980 the UNO chapter voted to become associated with the national chapter as a collective bargaining unit.  He pointed out that not all chapters of AAUP are collective bargaining units.  He noted that the UNO contract deals not only with salary issues but also with academic freedom, benefits, procedures for elimination of programs, and work environment.  He pointed out that once a contract is signed both parties have to abide by the contract.  He stated that a copy of the new contract will soon be on the UNO website.  Professor Corbin stated that the UNO chapter of AAUP works in conjunction with the Faculty Senate.  He noted that many members of the AAUP are also members of the Senate. 

 

Professor Davis, reported that the bargaining unit of UNK has been affiliated with the Nebraska State Educators Association (NSEA) since 1972.  He noted that through their affiliation with NSEA, they are affiliated with the national association.  He reported that UNK operates within the context of shared dialogue.  He stated that the contract deals with salary, working conditions, benefits, and other items that pertain to faculty.  He noted that they have a good working relationship with the Faculty Senate.   He pointed out that there is considerable overlap between the members of the bargaining unit and the Faculty Senate.  He stated that both organizations are very cooperative with each other and that they have a good working relationship with the administration. 

 

Professor Davis stated that the bargaining unit wants to maintain a cooperative working relationship with the administration.  He pointed out that state law requires binding arbitration which means that the management will bargain in good faith and adhere to the contract and the faculty members agree not to go out on strike. 

 

Roger Larson, Director of Institutional Research for NSEA, stated that he assists the UNK collective bargaining unit by providing faculty with resources that they may need when they begin bargaining with administrators for their contracts.   He noted that 35 states allow faculty members of higher education to bargain. 

 

Larson stated that negotiations typically start in November and the intent is to be completed by the end of December.  If this is not possible, a Special Master is called in and a hearing is held with the two parties that are negotiating.  He stated the Special Master makes his or her decision shortly after the hearing.  Larson noted that the Special Master has absolute authority to set the contract based on what is comparable to other institutions.  He noted that typically the peer institutions are used when making these comparisons. 

 

Professor Cohn, Mathematics, asked if the faculty members have generally been satisfied with binding arbitration.  Professor Corbin stated that they have been satisfied and that the atmosphere on campus has changed favorably towards the faculty members since they have a contract.  He noted that the AAUP makes a report to the Faculty Senate each month.  Professor Davis stated that UNK recently did an internal assessment of the faculty and found that an overwhelming majority of the faculty members are satisfied with the contract and the bargaining unit.  Professor Corbin pointed out that the faculty members are asked what they want in the contract before negotiations begin. 

 

Professor Davis stated that one concern for faculty members at UNO is long term disability care.  He stated that this benefit was raised during negotiations.  As a result, a long term disability committee has been set up to study and come up with suggestions for addressing this concern.  Larson pointed out that the collective bargaining unit is advantageous for a campus if they are behind their peers in such things as salary and benefits. 

 

Professor Barnes, Music, asked if the relationship between the faculty members and the administration has become more adversarial since the campuses have become unionized.  Professor Corbin stated that the relationship has actually greatly improved although there are some administrators, and faculty members, who do not like the unionization.  He noted that members of the bargaining unit meet regularly with the administrators.  He stated that the relationship between the faculty members and the administration is more positive now than it was in the past. 

 

Professor Davis stated that, to his knowledge, the relationship between the faculty and the administrators is very positive since the unionization of the campus.  He stated that there is more sharing of information between the two groups and that both feel obligated to provide information.  He stated that both sides strive to find common ground and they often have very similar goals, but their methods may be different.  He pointed out that the contract is for two years and if there are issues of concern on either side, these can be addressed when the contract is renegotiated.  Larson pointed out that there is a very cordial relationship between UNO’s AAUP and UNK’s NSEA chapter. 

 

Professor Stick, Educational Administration, asked what the negative sides are to having a bargaining unit.  Professor Davis noted that the cost can be expensive if you want a good bargaining unit.  He pointed out that UNK faculty members belonging to the unit pay $39 in union dues per month for eleven months.  He stated that in the past ten years the dues have increased by about $1 a year.  Professor Corbin stated that faculty members of UNO pay .075% of their salary for nine months.    

 

Professor Stick asked what the negative outcomes are for the campuses when the university is forced to pay salary increases comparable to peer institutions, particularly during tough economic times.  Larson stated that it forces a change in how the campus is budgeted.  He noted that the salaries are frozen in the contract and the administration must make adjustments in other areas of the budget in order to meet the requirements of the contract.  He pointed out that it can change the priorities of the administration.  He noted that concessions on the salary increase can be made at the time of negotiations.  Professor Davis stated that the faculty members need to decide if the quality of the institution is going to be affected if the faculty salary dollars are going into other resources.  He stated that the contract insures that the faculty members are included in the process of determining the budget for the campus. 

 

Professor Corbin stated that the faculty members need to decide what would be best for the campus.  He noted that the faculty members might press for better benefits rather than salaries when negotiating the contract.  He pointed out that the UNO contract gives the faculty members a step by step process that allows faculty input into the budget cutting process. 

 

Professor Stick asked if one bargaining unit has any advantages over the other bargaining unit.  Professor Davis stated that each bargaining unit develops its own personality and the unit from UNO is different from the one at UNK.  UNL would develop its own personality if it was to unionize.  He noted that the two unions do share information and cooperate a great deal with each other. 

 

Professor May asked if, and how, the bargaining units gave a voice to the faculty during the budget cutting process.  Professor Corbin stated that the UNO contract has a specific eight step process that the administration must go through when making budget cuts.  Professor Davis stated that UNK has a similar structure in their contract.  He noted that a committee has to be formed to gather data and to review all information if financial exigency is declared.  He pointed out that there is an obligation on both parties to be part of the process. 

 

Professor Fech, Southeast Research & Extension, asked if there was ever a time when the contracted faculty salary increases resulted in the loss of faculty positions.  Professor Corbin stated that there has not been an instance of faculty positions being eliminated or removed in order for the campus to come up with the necessary money to provide the salary increases.  He pointed out that some faculty members do leave on their own accord if they hear that severe budget cuts are going to be made.    Professor Davis stated that he expects a good administration to fight for what the faculty members need.  He stated that the unit has discussions with the administration about what other things would be cut in order to meet the contract’s required salary increases.  He stated that there have been no faculty lines cut as a result of the negotiated contract. 

 

Professor Barnes asked how the contracts affect merit pay.  Professor Corbin stated that at UNO it is a 70/30 split.  He stated that 30% goes towards merit and it is up to the department to decide the procedures on how merit is determined.  He pointed out that increases due to promotion and tenure come from the 70% pool of funds.   Professor Davis stated that it is different for UNK.  He stated that UNK is not comfortable with merit pay increases and research shows that merit pay is not beneficial for academics.  He stated that the research shows that merit pay divides faculty members.  He noted that the UNK contract does allow payment for exceptional performance by a faculty member.  He stated that this award is determined at the department level.  He noted that this is a one time payment and that it is not included in the base pay.   He pointed out that these awards come out of a pool of funds and that it may not be available if money is not in the pool.  Professor Corbin stated that the percentage of merit can change when the contract is renegotiated.  Professor Davis pointed out that UNL is 100% merit.

 

President Wunder inquired about membership to the bargaining units.  He noted that the State of Nebraska is an open shop and that not everyone has to join or become a member of the union.  Professor Corbin stated that faculty members can choose to join the union and pay the dues.  He pointed out that all faculty members are covered by the contract, regardless of whether or not they are a member.  Professor Davis noted that state law does not require employees to join the union.  He stated that there are some faculty members that choose not to join and pay dues but this is a minority of the faculty members at UNK.  Larson stated that nearly 80% of the faculty members at UNK belong to the NSEA. 

 

President Wunder asked if the bargaining units have taken on the issue of domestic partner benefits when negotiating their contracts.  Professor Davis stated that domestic partner benefits are continually on the negotiating table.  He stated that they have tried to address this issue but he pointed out that it will take time to make this change.  He noted that an issue that has been raised with Varner Hall by the UNK bargaining contract is tuition remission.  He pointed out that UNK had this benefit before it joined the university system and that through UNK’s bargaining it became a university-wide benefit.  Professor Corbin stated that the domestic partner benefits issue has always been on the negotiating table.  He pointed out that there are times when compromises must be made and the bargaining unit cannot get all of the benefits that it would like. 

 

Larson pointed out that the issue would be easier to negotiate if the majority of the peer institutions provide this benefit.  He noted that the number of peer institutions that have this benefit is growing.

 

6.0    Unfinished Business

          6.1    Motion on the Academic Senate Joining the Alliance for Intercollegiate Athletics Reform

President Wunder stated that the motion for UNL to join the Alliance for Intercollegiate Athletics Reform was introduced last month and that it was now open for discussion.  He reported that two faculty members from UNL, Professors Jo Potuto and Roch Gaussoin, attended a conference in October that was devoted to intercollegiate athletics.  He noted that a report on the conference was included in the Senators’ packet.  He stated that Professor Potuto continues to support UNL’s joining the Alliance.  In her report, she stated that it is important that UNL be kept apprised of what is going on in the Alliance as well as having a voice in the solutions that are developed. 

 

President Wunder stated that he would entertain an amendment to the motion to have the Academic Senate President appoint the faculty representative to the Alliance.  President-Elect Peterson stated that he would like to add the following sentence to the amendment:  “The Academic Senate President shall appoint a faculty member to represent UNL in the Alliance for Intercollegiate Athletics Reform.”  Professor May seconded the amendment.  Amendment approved with three opposed. 

 

President Wunder then called for a vote on the motion.  Motion approved with five opposed.

 

7.0    Committee Reports

          7.1    Research Council

Professor Ragsdale, Chair of the Research Council, stated that significant activities of the Council this past year included changing the eligibility for seed grants.  He noted that the eligibility has been expanded to include anyone who could apply for federal grants can apply for seed grants.  He reported that 109 applications were received last year and $313,000 was available for grants.  Professor Ragsdale stated that one of the complaints about the Council is that there is not enough advertisement of the deadline dates for submitting grant requests.  He noted that the Council has made efforts to advertise more and as a result more applications were received.

 

Professor Ragsdale reported that the Council initiated the Nebraska Lecture Series this year with Professor Jim Van Etten being the first speaker.  He stated that the criteria for being nominated as a speaker are that the person must be based at UNL and has done special work.  He stated that anyone can nominate someone for the series.  He reported that the speaker in the spring will be Professor Gary Moulton and he will discuss his work on the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Professor Ragsdale stated that the Lecture Series is a way to celebrate the work of professors at the university.  He encouraged faculty members to spread the word about the Lecture Series. 

 

Professor Ragsdale reported that the Council was going to vote on including Senior Research Associates in the eligibility guidelines but the Council decided that it was not necessary to explicitly list this job title. 

 

Professor Ragsdale noted that there is less money available for research grants this year than last year.  He stated that the Council is modifying its way of distributing grants to have a more equitable success rate among the different categories of grants.  He stated that the Council would like to increase the number of interdisciplinary grants it receives. 

 

Professor Ragsdale reported that the Research Fair is scheduled for April 21-22 and the Research Council will participate in the fair. 

 

Professor Ragsdale stated that the Research Council wants to establish a mentorship program during the summer for junior faculty.  He stated that the program will include grant writing workshops as well as other initiatives.  He stated that the goal is to create a strong environment for junior faculty members.

 

Professor Ragsdale reported that one problem the campus is facing in regards to research is a crunch for space.  He noted that the award of large grants gives the university the opportunity to hire more people to assist with the grants but there is no where to put these people.  He pointed out that in order to attract these people, there needs to be space for them.

 

 

 

President-Elect Peterson asked why there were fewer funds available this year.  Professor Ragsdale stated that

four additional grant-in-aid awards were given out last year resulting in a $23,700 deficit that had to be made up with this year’s money.

 

President Wunder stated that some faculty members have voiced concern that much of the grant money is going towards research in the hard sciences.  Professor Ragsdale stated that most grants-in-aid go to the Humanities.  President Wunder asked if this is a change from the past.  Professor Ragsdale stated that the distribution is similar to that of last year.  He noted that there is adequate representation from each of the areas of disciplines on the Council.  He stated that the Council tries to maintain a standard for each of the categories but it really depends on the proposals that are submitted. 

 

8.0    New Business

          8.1    Motion to Revise the Syllabus of Campus Wide Committees (Professor Fowler, Chair of Committee on Committees)

Professor Fowler, chair of the Committee on Committees, stated that most of the revisions are in the section Definition of Disciplines.  He stated that the changes are due to the merging of departments and colleges.  He noted that he contacted the chair of the Statistics department and the Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences regarding what disciplines their departments should be affiliated with.  He reported that Statistics decided to remain in Physical Sciences and Dean Kostelnik stated that all but one of the departments in the college should be classified under Business and Social Sciences.

 

Professor Fowler noted that another change is to include lecturers and senior lecturers under eligibility of membership.  Professor May asked why lecturers and senior lecturers were being included.  She stated that the Committee should have a careful discussion on this issue.  She stated that she is concerned that having lecturers and senior lecturers on faculty committees could weaken faculty governance.  Griffin reported that the change was made to coincide with the Senate’s eligibility rules.  She noted that the Academic Senate approved inclusion of lecturers and senior lecturers to the Academic Assembly several years ago.  Professor Fowler noted that many of the committees specifically state in their syllabus whether members must be tenured or of a specific rank in order to serve.  Professor May stated that she would oppose the resolution and suggested that the committee should address the issue more carefully.

 

President Wunder questioned whether extension faculty should be included in the list of eligible members.  Professor Lindquist, Agronomy & Horticulture, pointed out that “equivalent rank” in the description of eligible members covers extension faculty members. 

 

President Wunder noted that the Mathematics and Statistics department has split.  He asked if the Statistics department is now a department in IANR.  Griffin stated that it is one of those departments that falls both under IANR and Academic Affairs.  Some faculty members report to IANR, others to Academic Affairs. 

 

President-Elect Peterson asked how the definitions of disciplines were established and how the departments were classified under the different disciplines.  Professor Fowler stated that he did not know the beginning history of the syllabus but the suggested revisions reflect the changes that have occurred on campus.  President Wunder suggested that the Committee should check with each department to see if they are classified under the correct definition. 

 

Professor Buhman, Industrial Systems Technology noted that the College of Engineering should be listed as the College of Engineering and Technology.  Professor Crawford, Classics and Religious Studies, noted that the department of Classics should be Classics and Religious Studies.  Professor Fowler stated that these corrections would be made.

 

Professor Yang, Textiles and Clothing Design, stated that he does not recall his department discussing the issue of what discipline they should be listed under.  He stated that he would like to discuss this with his department. 

 

President Wunder asked how many faculty members are included in each of the four definitions.  He stated that it would be useful to see the breakdown of these numbers.  Professor Fowler stated that he would take the suggestions made at the meeting back to the Committee on Committees for discussion.

 

8.2    Wasted Time Committee Proposal (Past President Miller)

Past President Miller stated that the committee met and discussed how the committee wanted to present their suggestions.  He stated that the proposal is a beginning to change the culture of the campus by reducing unnecessary bureaucracy.  President Wunder asked if this was a motion that is to be voted upon in December.  Past President Miller stated that this is correct. 

 

 

Professor Crawford asked if the process for approving new course offerings is being revised.  Past President Miller stated that the committee is not dealing with specifics because many of the procedures and processes need to be addressed at the college level.  He stated that the proposal suggests that there should be a simplifying process. 

 

President Elect Peterson asked if the Senate is being asked to approve just the proposal with no specific actions attached to it.  He asked if the proposal is to encourage faculty members to engage in conversations of how bureaucracy can be reduced.  Past President Miller stated that this is correct.  Professor May pointed out that this should then be made a motion, not a proposal.  She noted that in its’ present form, the proposal is a report.  She stated that some of the suggestions in the proposal should be directed to certain committees for them to review.  She pointed out that the Senate can request the faculty to review and begin the process of simplifying procedures but it cannot dictate specific policies. 

 

President Wunder stated that the Executive Committee discussed whether each issue raised in the proposal should be discussed and voted upon separately.  He noted that discussion on the proposal will take place at the December meeting.  He stated that the Wasted Time Committee wants to get a sense of the Senate about the issues being raised in the proposal.

 

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