UNL ACADEMIC SENATE MEETING MINUTES

East Campus Union, Great Plains Room

January 13, 2004

Presidents John Wunder, Wes Peterson, and Tice Miller

 

1.0      Call to Order

            President Wunder called the meeting to order at 2:34 p.m.

 

2.0      Announcements

2.1  Big 12 Conference on Athletic Reform

Wunder announced that Professors Sidnie Crawford and Kay Logan-Peters are attending the Big 12 Conference on Athletic Reform in Kansas City.  He stated that they would be reporting back to him on the meeting.

 

2.2  December Graduation

President Wunder reported that he attended the December graduation ceremony.  He stated that he did not see many faculty members in the audience but he highly recommended that they attend.  He pointed out that the Chancellor recognizes all faculty members by asking them to stand.  President Wunder noted that the Omaha World Herald published the list of graduates from Creighton University on the front page but UNL’s list of graduates was on the last page, next to the obituaries. 

 

2.3  Recognition of Former Senator Don Jensen

President Wunder reported the death of Senator Don Jensen and noted that memorial services were held on Sunday, January 11th.  He stated that Senator Jensen served as a member of the Senate for many years representing the department of Psychology.  President Wunder pointed out that Senator Jensen often initiated discussions at the Senate meetings.

 

2.4  Resignation of Professor Carlo

President Wunder reported that Professor Carlo, Psychology, has resigned from the Senate.  President Wunder stated that elections are being held in the Psychology department to replace Professor Carlo but an election will need to be held to replace Professor Carlo on the Senate Executive Committee.  President Wunder stated that he has received two nominations for the election that will be held at the February meeting.  He stated that he is still accepting nominations and noted that nominations can be made from the floor at the February meeting.

 

3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman welcomed everyone back and wished them a good semester.  He stated that one issue that arose over the holiday break was why the search process for the football coach is different from that of hiring an academic administrator or faculty member.  Chancellor Perlman reported that the Board of Regents Bylaws and the UNL Bylaws have well established rules for hiring academic administrators and faculty members.  However, these rules do not apply to athletics.  The Chancellor pointed out that equal opportunity rules govern all searches, athletic as well as academics.  He stated that circumstances for some searches justify a different method of conducting a search process.  He noted that different methods were used to recruit and hire faculty members for the Othmer Chairs.   Chancellor Perlman pointed out that if the search is to be conducted differently, the hiring office must justify in writing why.   He reported that the Athletics Department did comply with the university rules for hiring. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that a number of initiatives are coming together on campus that will enable the campus to rethink undergraduate education.  He noted that this is an important issue for the campus and that particular attention needs to be paid to teaching.  He reported that he warmly embraces most of the ES/IS proposal.  He stated that the Transition to Universities Report will be distributed shortly.  He noted that this report looks at how universities approach the transition of students from high school to college.  He stated that the university is doing a wonderful job now but we should strive to do better in this area.

 

Chancellor Perlman noted that economic indicators for the state are currently disappointing and the state still faces challenges.  He noted that the Governor would be making his formal budget announcements on Thursday.  He reported that the Governor is looking into budgets being done on a three year cycle rather than two.  Chancellor Perlman noted that the university could be facing another budget cut.  He encouraged people to call legislators to support higher education should the university be targeted for more cuts. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he was a bit embarrassed by how his comments were interpreted in the Lincoln Journal Star article about the numbers of female faculty members at UNL.  He stated that he was disappointed to see the use of simplistic numbers for a complex issue which paint a picture that is worse than it really is.  He noted that the AAUP faculty database indicates that UNL had the smallest increase of female faculty members out of its peer institutions.  He acknowledged that this was true and that the campus has work to do to improve these numbers.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there was some encouraging news in the AAUP figures.  He noted that 41% of assistant professors at UNL are women and since 1997 there has been an increase if the number of female full professors by 66%.    

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that UNL increased the number of female faculty members by four which resulted in 23% of tenure track positions filled by women.  He noted that in 1996 only 20.9% of tenure track positions were filled by women.  He pointed out that there has been an increase in the percentage of female faculty members in tenure track positions by 2.1%. 

 

Chancellor Perlman acknowledged that Purdue University was at the top of the peer institutions in the number of female faculty members hired.  He reported that they added 115 female faculty members.  However, Purdue still has a lower percentage of female faculty members than UNL does.  He noted that the University of Colorado increased the number of their female faculty members by 19 but over the same period of time as UNL, Colorado decreased in the total number of women faculty members by 1.1%. 

 

Chancellor Perlman agreed that UNL was not leading our peer institutions in the number of female faculty members but he noted that we are within 2% of three other institutions.  He stated that there is room for improvement and he is committed to improving the number of female faculty members.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that two units on campus made remarkable success in hiring female faculty members.  He noted that 31% of the Law College faculty members are now women and the College of Business Administration has both a female dean and assistant dean and they have the highest percentage of female faculty members (28%) in a business school out of our peer institutions.

 

Chancellor Perlman pointed out that it does not serve the women’s cause by painting a negative picture.  He stated that the campus should not waste time arguing about absolute numbers.  He noted that he has restructured the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women and that he has asked them to study women friendly policies at other universities because he is concerned with the retention rate of female faculty members at UNL.  He suggested that the tenure clock and maternity leave policy may need to be reviewed and possibly revised to address the problem of recruiting and retention. 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that most or all of the units are trying to improve the diversity of their faculty.  He pointed out that in some disciplines it is more difficult to hire women or people of color.  He stated that he appreciates the isolation some women feel on campus, particularly in the hard sciences.  He noted that the lack of female faculty members in the hard sciences is a national problem and he is talking to successful women in these fields to see if improvements can be made at UNL to help recruit and retain female faculty members in these areas.

 

Professor May, Economics, stated that she was glad to hear that the comments written in the article did not reflect the Chancellor’s views.  She noted that oftentimes the media misquote or take out of context comments that people make.  She pointed out that the first step to addressing the problem of the lack of diversity of the faculty on campus is to recognize the reality of the situation.  She stated that 40% of our peer institutions managed to increase their female faculty members by an average of 45 while suffering budget cuts similar to UNL.  She noted that LB 389 called for the university to be in the upper 50% of our peer institutions in the number of female faculty members.  She stated that the AAUP data shows that UNL was 4th from the bottom of our peers in 1996.  She noted that while the UNL percentage rose to 23%, it is only better than Purdue University.  She stated that the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that there are now more women getting Ph.D.’s than ever before.  She stated that the Faculty Women’s Caucus want to work with the administration on improving the situation here but the administration needs to accept the reality of the problem. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that absolute numbers are not relative if doing comparisons.  He stated that UNL is not the lowest of our peers and it is important that comparisons be made between institutions of the same size.  He pointed out that LB389 did not apply only to UNL but to the entire UN system.  He noted that the system has met the edict but he does not know why the sister campuses are doing better at recruiting and retaining female faculty members.  He noted that in some disciplines, such as the hard sciences, it is harder to recruit female faculty members and faculty of color.  He acknowledged that UNL’s numbers are lower than some of our peer institutions but noted that we are not the worst. 

 

Professor Harbison, Chemistry, asked if there has been a change in the number of male faculty members over the same period of time.  Chancellor Perlman reported that there has been about a 6% decline in male faculty members and approximately 6.7% of total faculty members. 

 

4.0    Approval of 12/2/03 Minutes (Secretary Fuller)

Professor Harbison requested that the word median replace mean in section 7.1.  Professor Flowers, Psychology, moved that the minutes be approved as amended.  Professor Spann, Broadcasting, seconded the motion.  Motion approved. 

 

5.0    Panel on Blue Skies Report (Professors Whitt, King, May, and Moeller and Professor Bruning, Chair of the Blue Skies Committee and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Kean)

Professor Bruning acknowledged the members of the Blue Skies Committee for all of their work:  Professor Avolio, Management;   Professor Baenziger, Horticulture; Professor Pope Edwards, Psychology and Family & Consumer Sciences; Dean Hoffmann, Arts & Sciences; Professor Mamiya, Art & Art History; Professor Moore, Sociology; Debra Mullen, Div. of Housing; Professor Verma, School of Natural Resources.  He also thanked Rebecca Carr, Jessica Jonson, and Nancy Bucy from the Office of Academic Affairs for their help. 

 

Professor Bruning stated that the committee was formed in October 2002 and worked during the 2002-2003 academic year.  He stated that the task of the committee was to review the indicators of quality, the National Student Engagement survey and the Gallup survey to determine what these mean and how they can be used to help set the course for education and research at UNL. 

 

Professor Bruning stated that highlights of the findings are that undergraduate students are having an excellent experience at UNL.  He noted that the biggest obstacles they reported were with money and the conflict with work schedules.  He noted that the data indicates that conflict with work was greater for UNL than at many other schools.  He pointed out that students at UNL rated their success as being higher when they were academically challenged and working harder. 

 

Professor Bruning reported that for information on the faculty and staff experience the committee relied on the quality indicators and the Gallup survey.  He noted that the findings indicate that some units are tremendously successful while other units are not.  He stated that the data indicates that some promise can be seen for improvement.

 

Dean Kean stated that the quality indicators and National Student Engagement Study data indicates that more attention needs to be given to the academic and social support for students and they need to be more academically challenged.  She stated that another finding of the committee was that more timely information on academic advising needs to be provided to the students. 

 

Dean Kean stated that the academic challenge includes assisting students to become more active in their academic careers.  She stated that the there is a transition from the high school structure to the college structure and students needs to be more active learners when they enter the college environment.  She stated that students can be challenged more by expanding support in mentoring programs such as UCARE. 

 

Dean Kean stated that the findings of the report indicate that many graduate teaching assistants are teaching first year students.  She pointed out that the campus needs to review the kinds of professional development that is being provided to these graduate students. 

 

Dean Kean reported that the Transition to Universities task force was set up by former SVCAA Edwards to review the goals and effectiveness of programs for first year students.  She stated that the task force has found that the programs need to have more funding but also need better coordination.  She stated that a report from the task force is forthcoming and will be made available.  She stated that the task force wants to have open discussions on the report and they would like to come back to the Senate to discuss it. 

 

Professor Whitt, Sociology, stated that he was asked by the Senate Executive Committee to review and critique the report.  He stated that he examined the report carefully and came to the conclusion that much of what the report recommends is currently being done.  He stated that there was very little to disagree with in the report.  He noted that the report did indicate that better methods need to be developed to introduce first year students to academics.  He stated that another proposal of the report was to provide greater support to graduate teaching assistants and visiting scholars who have considerable interaction with first year students. 

 

Professor Whitt stated that the report did not have much discussion on the quality of life on campus for faculty and staff.  He noted that the report was uneven but there were no proposals that he could object to.  He pointed out that the report does not mention service but does mention outreach.

 

Professor May stated that she agreed with Professor Whitt’s observations.  She recommended that senators  read the Academy of Distinguished Professors’ White Paper after they read the 20/20 report, the quality indicators, and the Blue Sky report.  She stated that it is worth the time of the faculty members to look through all of the documents.  She noted that the tone of each report is different and that they address different audiences.  She stated that the Academy’s White Paper is more critical and intended to raise questions. 

 

Professor May noted that the Blue Sky report is not a visionary statement but a report.  She pointed out that some of the data is worth looking at.  She stated that the Gallup data is the weakest in the report and that it needs to be worked on. 

 

Professor May stated that the report is weak on the discussion of faculty teaching evaluations.  She pointed out that the quality of teaching cannot be measured well with the present evaluation forms.  She suggested that work needs to be done on revising these forms.

 

Professor Moeller, Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, stated that the report does not provide a vision but tries to assess three areas on campus:  the undergraduate experience, the graduate experience and the quality of life on campus for faculty and staff.   She noted that 40% of first year students indicate that there is a lack of academic advising on campus. 

 

Professor Moeller stated that the Blue Skies report was not a deep analysis but a first attempt to identify problems associated with undergraduate education.  She noted that she was a member of the freshman experience task force and they suggested a four day plan to introduce students to academics at UNL. 

 

Professor King, Agricultural Leadership Education, and Communication, stated that the report indicates that there is not much management of graduate teaching assistants who are teaching first year students.  He suggested that the report should ask what the goals are for 100/200 level courses.  Professor King stated that the report identified faculty/student contact as very important.  He stated that students need to be exposed to more senior level faculty members. 

 

Professor King noted that the emphasis on research and the research accomplishments at UNL have been successful, particularly since Vice Chancellor Paul came to campus.  Professor King stated that teaching and outreach needs a similar champion.  He pointed out that support for these areas is currently too diffuse.  He noted that there is no system in place to really support teaching and outreach. 

 

Professor King stated that the report does not address lifelong learning through extension and outreach.  He noted that these areas can be expanded.  He suggested that the role of the alumni system should be assessed. 

 

Professor Moeller stated that an infrastructure, such as the one VC Paul has created for research, would help accomplish some of the recommendations made in the report.  She noted that the Teaching and Learning Center was a great source of support but that it was eliminated due to budget cuts.  She stated that the question is how to build an infrastructure that would support teaching. 

 

President Wunder stated that the report has some suggestions for improving undergraduate education.  He noted that only 20% of undergraduate students have an international component to their programs.  He suggested that all honors students should be required to fill out applications for the Fulbright scholarships.  He noted that the athletics department has done a good job of assisting and advising athletes.  He suggested that this advising program should be applied to the whole university.  Professor Moeller stated that the report does state that the UCARE program has been very successful and has created excitement for undergraduates by connecting them with graduate students and faculty to conduct research.  She noted that students can get an international experience by participating in study abroad programs.

 

Professor Bruning stated that the Blue Skies report is a bridging document between the 20/20 report and actual procedures.  He stated that the underlying question of the Blue Skies report is how to enhance the intellectual experience of students across the campus.  He stated that by looking at the data that was provided the committee tried to develop goals that could be focused on.

 

Professor Gilde, Modern Languages and Literature, stated that some of the phrases used in the report, such as intellectually challenged, creates a misunderstanding.  He asked what the phrase peoples’ university meant.  He stated that he liked what the report had to say about new student enrollment and the emphasis the report makes on academics.  He pointed out that students and parents need to know about the importance of academics.  He noted that it is difficult for students to have a good academic experience if students do not attend class.  He stated that the university needs to impress on the students when they first arrive that their first obligation is to be in class.  He stated that he sees most students three weeks before the semester ends.  Professor Moeller pointed out that the data indicates that ¾ of the seniors rated the quality of their education as good.  She stated that the maturity level of the students could be a factor in their class attendance. 

 

Professor Signal, Advertising, stated that the report should define the role of the undergraduate student and what part the student plays in their own success.  Dean Kean stated that this subject is addressed in the transition to universities report.

 

Professor Whitt asked how the phrase peoples’ university was developed.  Professor Bruning stated that the university belongs to the people of the state, hence the phrase.  Professor King stated that it might have come from the Kellogg grant which allowed the public to provide input about the university. 

 

Professor Cohn, Mathematics, stated that to his experience most faculty members have an open door policy with students.  He pointed out that it is the students who are failing in their responsibility.  They do not want to work hard enough and are often unprepared for class.  Professor Bruning stated that Harvard University has a nine day orientation period for new students where they stress that Harvard is a place of intellectual activity and that the student plays an important role in their own academic experience. 

 

6.0    Unfinished Business

6.1    Motion on President’s Salary

President Wunder stated that he would consider amendments to the motion as there was considerable discussion among senators regarding the language of the motion, particularly the use of the word average.  President-Elect Peterson noted that Professor DiMagno, Chemistry, did some research on the average salary of the presidents at our peer institutions and found that they were significantly higher than what was originally thought.  President-Elect Peterson moved that the language in the last paragraph be changed to read:  “Therefore, be it resolved that the UNL Academic Senate urges the Board of Regents to set a salary that is commensurate with the duties and responsibilities of the presidency, the qualifications of the candidate and that is broadly equivalent to the current presidential salary; and further urges the Regents to refrain from the use of private funds to supplement the state-appropriated salary, unless such supplements are very diverse and not identifiable with specific donors.”  Professor Moeller seconded the amendment.  Professor May stated that she supported the amendment and pointed out that each campus of the system has its own peer group.  She stated that President Smith’s salary was the lowest of the peer groups when the list of the institutional peers was developed.  Amendment to original motion approved.  Motion approved overwhelmingly with three opposed. 

 

6.2    Motion on ES/IS Proposal

President Wunder stated that he would entertain a motion to postpone the vote until the February Senate meeting so departments would have time to discuss the proposal.  Spann moved that the issue be debated at this meeting but the vote be taken at a later time.  Professor Stock, English, seconded the motion.  Motion approved.

 

President Wunder stated that the Executive Committee began discussions on the problems associated with the ES/IS programs a year and a half ago.  He stated that the Committee met with interested groups and three fundamental questions arose from the discussions:  1) problem of colleges not recognizing some of the ES/IS courses; 2) problem of complexity of the programs; and 3) concerns about the implementation of IS courses. 

 

President-Elect Peterson noted that the proposal retains the ES program but drops the number of required courses from nine to eight.  He stated that the eight courses can be taken from a list of 8 subject matters and academic units will generate the lists.  President-Elect Peterson pointed out that the ES/IS review committee believed that the ES required courses should be seen as the University minimum.  He noted that no restrictions are being placed on colleges and that they are free to add additional required courses for students to obtain a degree in their college.  He stated that academic advisers can suggest to students which courses they should take in the ES program that would help fill their requirements.  He reported that the intent of the change to the ES program is to help transfer students. 

 

President-Elect Peterson reported that the ES/IS review committee felt that the IS program courses should be given back to the departments.  He noted that departments would be responsible for developing plans to incorporate IS courses into their curriculum.  He stated that this change would not require departments to create new forms of IS courses.  He pointed out that the IS courses would be reviewed in the unit’s annual assessment and in the academic program review. 

 

President-Elect Peterson stated that one of the broader issues is whether or not there needs to be some kind of centralized control over the ES courses.  He stated that the committee felt that the faculty own the curriculum and that it should be left up to individual departments to develop a list of ES courses. 

 

President-Elect Peterson stated that another issue is whether the general education requirements should be a university-wide program or whether each college should decide what the general education requirements should be.  He pointed out that the advantage to having a university-wide program is that it helps students transferring between colleges. 

 

President-Elect Peterson noted that there was a suggestion from the Senate that the proposal be split into two different segments and voted on each.  He reported that the ES/IS review committee felt that it should be presented as a whole document.  He noted that it will be up to the Senate to decide if it wants to split the proposal for separate voting.

 

Professor Stock, English, stated that his department had a long and lively discussion on the proposal.  He stated that most faculty members are skeptical of it.  He noted that one of the biggest concerns of the proposal deals with the oversight of the programs.  He noted that some feel that removing the IS program would diminish or eliminate many of the IS courses.  He reported that members of his department were concerned with the use of the word ratified in the proposal.  He stated that professors are questioning if the Senate has the authority to bring this proposal up for a vote.  He noted that others in his department felt that it was a good extension of the Senate. 

 

Professor Gallagher, English, stated that some of the faculty members in the English department were concerned that the Senate was trying to run around the faculty in making changes to the curriculum.  He noted that the use of the word ratified created this concern.  He stated that one of the questions that need to be addressed is what the changes would mean for big academic programs.  President-Elect Peterson pointed out that the ES/IS review committee and the Executive Committee understand that the Senate does not have the final authority to make these changes.  He stated that when the problems of the programs were first discussed, no one knew who should initiate the changes and it was finally decided that it should come from the Senate.  He pointed out that the curriculum committee of each college would need to approve the proposal before it could be put into place.  He reported that the ES/IS review committee felt that there is the sense on campus that the ES courses belong to the colleges while the IS courses belong to the university.  Professor Gallagher stated that the concern is that bypassing the faculty’s decisions on the curriculum would further erode faculty governance. 

 

Professor Harbison stated that his department reviewed the proposal and strongly supports it.  He stated that the Chemistry department believes that it is a good idea to turn the IS courses back to the departments.  He stated that the department would most likely endorse the proposal. 

 

Professor Crawford, Classics & Religious Studies, reported that his department has discussed the proposal.  He stated that the faculty in his department are opposed to the hands off approach to the IS courses.  He stated that they think the goals of the IS courses might be compromised and that the IS requirements could become diluted.  He stated that there should be a committee that would oversee the IS courses to ensure that they are meeting the goals of the program.  He pointed out that many problems with the ES/IS programs might be resolved if people understood what the goals and requirements of the programs are. 

 

President Wunder stated that in the Transition to Universities report a survey of IS courses was conducted and it revealed that 40% of instructors were not aware that they were teaching a course that was identified as an IS course.  He distributed a copy of four proposed amendments to the ES/IS proposal.   He asked the senators to review the amendments so they can be discussed at the next Senate meeting.

 

President-Elect Peterson stated that the ES/IS review committee looked at the proposed amendments.  He noted that the change in the number of required ES courses was done to evenly distribute the required courses among the eight subject matters and to make it easier for the College of Education and Human Sciences.  In response to proposed amendment number two, President-Elect Peterson noted that it introduces tighter control of the general education list.  He pointed out that a problem with this amendment is that leaving 300/400 level courses out as general education requirements creates a huge amount of substitution waivers.  He suggested that a statement be provided in the amendment that says that 300/400 level courses will be accepted as a substitute.  President-Elect Peterson stated that in response to the fourth proposed amendment, the ES/IS review committee discussed requiring departments to have a capstone course that would meet the IS goals but the committee decided that this should be up to the departments to decide.

 

Professor May stated that she shares the concerns about the ES/IS programs but noted that significant faculty resources were allocated in developing the ES/IS programs.  She questioned why the committee would recommend that the IS list of courses be eliminated.   President-Elect Peterson stated that the committee did not recommend that the list be eliminated but that the departments should decide on what course(s) they want to keep as fulfilling the IS requirement. 

 

President-Elect Peterson stated that he has spoken with Professor Fuess, Chair of the University Curriculum Committee and he stated that the Curriculum Committee does not want the responsibility of overseeing the ES/IS programs.    President-Elect Peterson stated that the charge of the Curriculum Committee would need to be changed if it was to take on this responsibility.

 

6.3    Motion on Revisions to the Syllabus of Campus-Wide Committees (Professor Fowler, Chair, Committee on Committees)

Voting and discussion on the motion could not take place because the membership of the Senate fell below the one-quarter needed to conduct business.  The motion will be voted on at the February meeting.

 

7.0    New Business

No new business was discussed.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:31p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, February 3, at 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Shelley Fuller, Secretary.