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UNL ACADEMIC SENATE MEETING MINUTES

City Campus Union, Auditorium Room

November 2, 2004

Presidents Wes Peterson, Mary Beck, and John Wunder Presiding

 

1.0      Call to Order

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

 

2.0      Announcements

2.1  Professor Susan Rosowski

Past President Wunder reported that Professor Susan Rosowski, from English and one of the country’s leading authorities on the work of Willa Cather, passed away this morning after a long battle with cancer.  He noted that her husband is Professor Jim Rosowski from the School of Biological Sciences.  Past President Wunder stated that there will be a memorial service in honor of Professor Rosowski in a few weeks.  He asked for a moment of silence. 

 

2.2  Open Forum Discussion

President Peterson stated that the open forum discussion for this Senate meeting will be about the reality TV show being filmed on campus.

 

3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman stated that the passing of Professor Rosowski was a deep loss to the entire campus.  He reported that he spoke with her husband this morning and was informed that even until the end she was discussing establishing a memorial Willa Cather scholarship fund. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that several initiatives are beginning on campus.  He stated that the strategic plan will be a major initiative that he hopes the faculty will take seriously.  He stated that he hoped he made clear what the campus was trying to accomplish in the core values that were listed in his recent email message.  He pointed out that the strategic plan will help to build and fund the university.  Chancellor Perlman urged the departments/units to be creative in their thinking about the barriers that may exist which restrict UNL from succeeding and to think creatively about the strategic plan.

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that the Deans met to discuss and revise the core values.  He stated that the Deans believe that the core values reflect what UNL has been doing in the past four years and where the university is heading in the future. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he wants to have two open forums for faculty members to discuss the core values.  He noted that it is important to have discussion on the core values to see if they should be revised or whether anything is missing from them. 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that another initiative for the campus will be on teaching.  He stated that there is one-time private money that can be used to enhance teaching.  He stated that these funds will be invested in pilot projects that will move learning and teaching methods forward.  He pointed out that there is no deadline for when this money must be spent.

 

Chancellor Perlman noted that the recent visit of Karin Kawar, Ambassador to the U.S. and Mexico from the Kingdom of Jordan, initiated discussions that can provide the campus with extraordinary opportunities to interact with the Kingdom of Jordan and the State Department to launch collaborative projects and initiatives. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that a major issue that the campus needs to address is the decrease in enrollment.  He pointed out that he does not know if the decrease is a one time event or whether it represents a shift in students’ thinking towards higher education or their thinking towards the university.  He noted that the long term challenge, given the demographics of the state means that the campus and the faculty need to focus on increasing enrollment.  He pointed out that enrollment impacts everyone on campus and has financial implications as well. 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that he has asked the Enrollment Management Council to examine and report on barriers that may exist for incoming students.  He stated that the report will be distributed soon.  He noted that some conclusions the Council has formed already are:  1) the belief that the culture of campus is not suitable for enrollment and recruitment; 2) tuition policies regarding payment methods; and 3) more scholarships are needed.  He stated that there are some issues with admission standards that need to get resolved.  He noted that the university requires that incoming students have taken four years of math courses.  He stated that this works fine for in-state students but for those out-of-state students many of them do not have Geometry but the university does not offer the course so the student is forced to take the course at Southeast Community College to complete the deficiency.   He noted that the best predictor in success rates of students is the four year math requirement but there are students who have a 32 ACT score but are deficient in the math requirement.  He reported that the Mathematics department is working on providing courses that students will need to correct their math deficiencies. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the residency requirement for IS courses creates a problem.  He asked if the IS courses may be hurting us in terms of enrollment.  He noted that professional programs often have higher admission standards and sometimes students cannot get into the courses for these professional programs in their first two years at UNL.  He pointed out that retention rates remain high when a student can make contact with their program courses early in their student career. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the university needs to make it easier for academic track students from community colleges to transfer to UNL.    He noted that a practice that needs to be stopped is UNL students taking courses at community colleges because they think the courses will be easier. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the campus needs to think about dual enrollment courses with high schools.  He pointed out that other local universities are participating in these programs. 

 

Chancellor Perlman noted that former Chancellor Spanier had decided not to compete for non-traditional students but he has asked the Council to look into recruiting non-traditional students.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the honors program is nearly full but there is more interest in the program now than ever before.  He stated that the departments will need to consider expanding the honors courses that they offer. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the university needs to work harder on getting more mid-tier students.  He stated that the university is losing many of these students to other institutions. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the campus is actively recruiting out-of-state students and they recently brought in guidance counselors from the Twin Cities area.  He stated that once the guidance counselors come to campus they often get excited about the programs here and will encourage students to attend the university.  He stated that some guidance counselors from the Kansas City area recently visited campus.  He pointed out that it will take some time to build relations with high school guidance counselors from other states. 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that the Communications office has developed a Big Red Truths brochure for perspective students and parents.  He noted that this brochure will assist recruiting by providing more accurate information about the cost of attending UNL.  He stated that all faculty and staff will need to interact with perspective students and make enrollment a priority effort. 

 

Reality TV Show

Chancellor Perlman acknowledged that the filming of the TV show on campus has been a cause of concern for some people.  He stated that he has received mixed reactions on the show.  He noted that the campus has been approached a number of times in the past for reality TV shows but he turned them down because there were very few standards governing the filming.  He stated that what made this reality TV show different is that NBC was producing the show and they have standards and practices that they stand by.  He reported that six episodes of the program will be shown on prime time TV.  He noted that this will provide UNL with free advertising which is worth millions of dollars and he hopes that it will help in recruiting out-of-state students. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the show will provide the opportunity for people across the campus to see the physical beauty of the campus as well as seeing faculty members engaged in interesting activities.  He noted that the Admissions Office is excited about the program.  He pointed out that the people who watch reality TV shows are people who are perspective students. 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that he had extended conversations with the producer of the show and while he does not have 100% assurance that UNL will be portrayed in a favorable way, he does have some assurances that this will happen.  He noted that the theme of the show is about a rock star coming to a serious academic institution, a fish out of water theme.  He admitted that he was taking a risk in having the TV show filmed on campus. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that the show has created a sense of excitement on campus and that students he has talked to who have interacted with the show have had very positive experiences.  He noted that in particular, the band director and the members of the marching band have had a very positive experience with Tommy Lee and the members of the production crew.  He pointed out that people associated with the show have spoken to various Journalism classes about what it is like to work in the entertainment industry.  He noted that the best experience for students might be that they have learned that reality TV shows are not really based on reality. 

 

Chancellor Perlman reported that an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about universities that have had TV shows filmed on their campus has been sent out to the Senators.  He noted that the article indicates that TV shows are a way for universities to get national attention.   He pointed out that an article in the Wall Street Journal stated that the universities that hosted the Presidential debates had to pay $2 ½ million and had to call off classes for two days.  He noted that faculty and staff were not allowed to park on campus for two days due to security reasons.  He pointed out that none of these things occurred here at UNL with the filming of the TV show.

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he understands some of the concerns of the faculty and students.  He noted that there are really two questions here.  The first deals with shared governance and what official role the faculty plays.  He stated that the faculty has a primary role in curriculum, faculty status, and academic issues.  He noted that the Chancellor’s responsibility deals with non-academic issues.  The other question is how broadly he should have consulted with others about the show before he made a decision.  He reported that he spoke with the Senate Executive Committee and stated that the decision was made during the summer when the Executive Committee only meets every other week.  He stated that he had to make a decision in a relatively short period of time and he was under a confidentiality clause.  He noted that he regrets not consulting with the Executive Committee and admitted that he was worried about the confidentiality issue. 

 

Professor May, Economics, stated that she conducted a search on google.com and found many sites about Tommy Lee and the Cornhuskers.  She noted that many of these websites contained unflattering comments about female faculty members and students at UNL.   May pointed out that in Tommy Lee’s interview with David Letterman he discussed his book and how the book opens with a discussion Lee is having with his penis.  She noted that 58% of the undergraduate students at UNL are women and she asked how the filming of the program with Tommy Lee as the main character contributes to the message that is being sent to women.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he was disappointed and apologized if anyone felt that the interpretation of his actions indicated a reduction in his commitment to women.  He pointed out that the internet is not a valuable source of information.  He noted that the did see the Letterman interview and pointed out that Tommy Lee’s book would not be considered great literature but some great literature has used the penis as a device for communicating a story. 

 

Chancellor Perlman stated that he did not believe that Tommy Lee represents UNL.  He pointed out that other celebrities who have filmed here, such as Jack Nicholson or Debra Winger, have not been representatives of the university.  He pointed out that a number of women in his office were involved in helping him make the decision to have the show filmed on campus. 

 

Professor Harbison, Chemistry, stated that he has concerns regarding the confidentiality clause in the contract that was signed between the Chancellor and NBC.  He noted that it appears as if the Chancellor has sold the faculty for the show.  He asked the Chancellor how he can expect the faculty to keep strict confidentiality about the show when the faculty never agreed to the contract.  Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the faculty members who agreed to allow the filming in their classes did so willingly.  He noted that the faculty members were told that NBC preferred if they kept what happened in their classes confidential until the show is aired.    

 

Professor Rapkin, Political Science, stated that one of the reasons for concerns among the faculty is the unsavory nature of the character involved with the show.  He pointed out that people are often judged by the company they keep.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this was one of the risks of the show but it is also one of the reasons why the show might be successful.  He noted that if the main character was a snow white type of person the show would be boring.  He admitted that there is nothing in Tommy Lee’s past that would inspire someone.  He noted that his friends’ daughters don’t see a problem with having Tommy Lee on campus. 

 

Professor Ledder, Mathematics, questioned how the message of the show, redemption through higher education, can be accurate when Lee is not enrolled in classes.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the implicit message of the show is that Lee would be redeemed because he attended college classes.  He pointed out that Tommy Lee has worked hard since coming to campus.  He noted that Lee had to pass a test before he could perform with the band.  He stated that Lee has been studying for courses and recently passed his horticulture quiz.  Chancellor Perlman noted that it is a risk getting involved with projects such as the show but sometimes the university needs to take some risks in order to get ahead.

 

Professor May noted that the Chronicle of Higher Education article that was distributed stated that a public relations firm was interviewed and they claimed that nine out of ten times the university involved in TV programs will get burned.  She noted that the University of Central Arkansas refused the show because they felt Lee would be a distraction.  She asked if the Chancellor looked into the background of Tommy Lee.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he was aware of Lee’s background but pointed out that he did serve his time in jail.  The Chancellor noted that he did not survey public relations firms to see what their research shows regarding filming on campuses but he noted that a President at another university who wanted the show was disappointed that they did not get it.    Professor May asked if other universities competed for the program.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there were a number of other schools being considered.

 

Professor Ramsay, Acturial Science, noted that it can be difficult to make hard decisions but he supported the Chancellor’s decision.

 

4.0      Approval of 11/2/04 Minutes (Secretary Shea)

Professor Bauer, Northeast Research & Extension, moved that the minutes be approved.  Motion seconded by Professor Harbison, Chemistry.  Motion approved.

 

5.0    Committee Reports

          5.1    Research Council (Professor Ragsdale)

Professor Ragsdale noted that the report discusses the work that the Council has done in the past year as well as future projects.  He reported that the lecture series was developed last year and Professor Wishart, Anthropology and Geography, will be the featured speaker for the third lecture series which will be held this fall.  Professor Ragsdale stated that the Council has not finalized who the spring speaker will be. 

 

Professor Ragsdale pointed out that the Council initiated a mentorship program last year for junior faculty members.  He reported that a questionnaire about mentoring was sent out to department chairs and has recently been sent out to all faculty members.  He noted that some of the responses to the questionnaire indicate that some junior faculty members were unaware of the mentoring program.  He stated that Academic Affairs is getting involved and with the help of the Senate and Academic Affairs he hoped the program will be successful. 

 

Professor Ragsdale stated that there is a 40% success rate in funding grants.  He noted that four out of 10 interdisciplinary grants are funded. 

 

Professor Hoffman, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, asked if the mentoring program considers Visiting Professors and how they are treated.  Professor Ragsdale stated that the responsibilities of the Council do not specifically pertain to visiting scholars.  He reported that the panel is actively involved with the mentorship program and want to raise awareness of it. 

 

Professor May thanked the Research Council for doing the questionnaire on mentorship.  She noted that there seemed to be some confusion regarding the appointment of faculty members to the Research Council and she asked if this has been resolved.  Professor Ragsdale reported that it has been resolved.  He noted that the Council might recommend changing the Council syllabus to indicate that the Council chair should be consulted on faculty appointments to the Council. 

 

President Peterson thanked the Council for their work and for taking on the task of initiating the mentoring program.  He noted that this is an important program and the faculty members appreciate the work of the Research Council on developing the program.

 

5.2    Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women (Professors Lyons and Albrecht)

Professor Lyons reported that there was a complete reorganization of the Commission which has resulted in the formation of three Councils.  These are the Faculty Council, Staff Council, and Student Council.  She stated that there is a lot of interaction between the three councils but each Council addresses issues that are particular to that group and issues that pertain to all of the Councils. 

 

Professor Lyons reported that the Commission has worked on suggestions to Deans’ evaluations, reviewed the sexual harassment training website, and worked to insure that equity was maintained during the budget cuts.  She noted that the peer institutions for staff members and for Library faculty members are not the same as the faculty.   She reported that the Commission continues to work on domestic partner benefits and has sponsored a UCARE student.  She noted that the Commission recently met with the Chancellor to discuss the issues surrounding Tommy Lee being on campus. 

 

Professor Lyons reported that the Council of Faculty is contacting former female faculty members to see why they left the university.  She reported that the Council of Staff is reviewing the tuition remission policy and the Council of Students is addressing issues in regards to safety on campus and in the libraries, Title IX, and have conducted a forum on academic freedom for students. 

 

Professor Lyons reported that upcoming issues for the Commission is to complete the survey on former faculty members, review the maternity and paternity leave policy and the students are drafting a policy on military leave.  She stated that the Commission is continuing to work on a report on “best practices” that will be provided to the Chancellor and the Board of Regents.

 

Secretary Shea asked if the report that will be sent to the Board of Regents will be available.  Professor Lyons stated that it will be made available.   President Peterson noted that the Executive Committee received a letter from Regent Wilson requesting specific recommendations for hiring and retaining female faculty members.  He stated that the Committee will incorporate specific suggestions made by the Senate’s ad hoc committee on Recruitment and Retention of Women.  Professor May pointed out that many suggestions and reports have been provided to the Board of Regents over recent years yet very few of the suggestions made in the reports have ever been adopted. 

 

Professor Radcliffe, Mathematics, asked if Professor Poser who wrote a report on the human resource practices of the University of California-Berkeley for female faculty members, has been invited to speak to the Senate.  President Peterson stated that she has not been asked yet because the Executive Committee is determining when there will be time for the report at a Senate meeting. 

 

Professor Harbison asked for clarification on the Commission.  He asked if it was a Senate committee or a Chancellor’s committee.  Professor Lyons stated that it is an advisory committee of the Chancellor.  Professor Harbison asked why the Commission reports to the Senate if it is not a Senate committee.  President Peterson stated that the Commission reports to the Senate to provide information of ongoing efforts.  Professor May noted that previous Commissions have had pressure to revise their reports to the Senate to leave things out.  She stated that suggestions have been made for the Senate to have its own committee on gender issues. 

 

Past President Wunder asked if the Commission was consulted with before the decision was made to allow Tommy Lee to be filmed on campus.  Professor Lyons stated that they were not consulted. 

 

5.3    Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of People of Color (Professor Perez)

Professor Perez stated that the major news on the Commission is the reformation and reorganization of the Commission.  He noted that it has three councils, similar to the CCSW.  He stated that the primary charge to the Commission is to identify best practices that will help improve the climate for people of color on campus.   He reported that the Commission reviewed the diversity report and the computerized sexual harassment training program.  He stated that the Commission is drafting a set of formal recommendations on best practices to the Chancellor.  He noted that one of the recommendations is for UNL to create a website that can be a resource for people of color. 

 

Professor Perez reported that each of the Councils of the Commission is working on identifying institutions that have best practices for people of color.  He noted that significant progress is being made on this project. 

 

Signal asked how the work of Professor Jones in the Chancellor’s office coincides with the work of the Council.  She asked if the Commission is working with Professor Jones.  Professor Perez stated that there is no formal connection between the Commission and the work that Professor Jones is doing on recruiting people of color but she has attended some of their meetings.  He noted that Professor Jones has been a very resourceful person for the Commission even though the relationship between the Commission and her are very informal. 

 

Secretary Shea noted that the Senate ad hoc committee headed by Professor Willis-Esqueda made specific recommendations for improving the climate at UNL.  He suggested that coordinating committees or groups with similar interests to the Commission would help enact some of the recommendations.  Professor Perez agreed and stated better coordination on campus would be a first step to improving the climate at UNL.

 

6.0    Unfinished Business

No unfinished business was discussed.

 

7.0  New Business

7.1      Revisions to Academic Rights and Responsibilities Procedures

Professor McShane, English, urged the Senators to look at the revisions being proposed to the Academic Rights & Responsibilities procedures.  He noted that they can be found on the Academic Senate web page.  He suggested that the Senators first look at the ARRC procedures.  He suggested that Senators then look at the Grievance procedures which is the most basic of the procedures and which is a template for the changes in the other documents.  He reported that the committee that worked on the revisions tried to correct areas that were ambiguous in the original procedures.  He noted that the committee also worked on coordinating the procedures with Equity, Access & Diversity procedures.  Professor McShane stated that the revisions address the concern of recordkeeping on cases and noted that files on cases will be kept under special conditions. 

 

President Peterson noted that the committee that worked on revising the procedures will be available to discuss any concerns.  He suggested that faculty members call the members of the committee and if necessary, the committee can meet with the faculty member(s) in the Senate office. 

 

Professor Harbison moved that the revisions be introduced.  Motion seconded by Past President Wunder.  President Peterson stated that discussion on the documents will be held at the December meeting.    He thanked all of the members of the committee that worked on the procedures for their hard work:  Professors McShane, Works, Beck, and Bender. 

 

7.2      Revisions to Teaching Council Syllabus and UNL Bylaws

President Peterson stated that the revisions to the Teaching Council syllabus were being offered by the Executive Committee.  He noted that the language in the syllabus and UNL Bylaws needs to be changed due to the elimination of the Teaching & Learning Center.  He stated that the motion will be voted on at the December meeting.

 

7.3      Motion to Amend Academic Senate Bylaws

Professor Reichenbach, Computer Science & Engineering, stated that he was offering the motions to amend the Senate Bylaws because there is currently no mechanism in place for departments to insure that their representative to the Senate can be changed if that Senator fails to represent the constituency of that unit.  Professor Reichenbach moved that Motion 1 calling for the recall of representatives be considered.  Motion seconded by Professor Harbison.  Professor Reichenbach moved that Motion 2 stating that the election of any Officer may be rescinded by the Senate and a successor elected be considered.  Motion seconded by Professor Krug, Architecture.  Professor Reichenbach moved that Motion 3 stating that the election of any member of the Executive Committee may be rescinded by the Senate and a successor elected be considered.  Motion seconded by Professor Leiter, Law.  Motions will be discussed and voted on at the December meeting.

 

7.4      Open Forum – Discussion on Reality TV Show

Secretary Shea presented a motion on the filming of a TV reality show on the UNL campus.  He stated that the motion is to address the concerns raised about the filming of the show and the Chancellor’s decision to exclude consultation with the university community about whether the show should be filmed here.  Motion seconded by Professor Harbison.  Motion will be voted on at the December meeting.

 

One of the professors stated that there were far more important issues, such as the Academic Rights & Responsibilities Procedures, that needed to be discussed.  She noted that her constituents discussed the matter and felt there was some merit to having the Chancellor consult with the faculty before entering such a contract but too much time has been devoted to the show. 

 

Another professor stated that students in the classes were filming took place were never consulted about the program.  He pointed out that the show has nothing to do with the teaching or research mission of the university and that the show was basically misguided public relations.  He noted that the message about the show being filmed on campus was distributed two days after a Senate meeting but the Chancellor did not inform the Senate about the show. 

 

The comment was made that the Senate needs to speak up when decisions are made by the administration that effect teaching. 

 

A Senator suggested that the faculty members who have had filming conducted in their classrooms should be asked about their experience with the show and how they felt it worked in their classrooms.  He noted that a student commented that the show filmed a student sleeping in class.

 

A Senator stated that the Senate needs to think seriously about the motion and the Senate needs to make a statement concerning the show.  The Senator pointed out that many faculty members have given their careers to the university and are feeling that they are being made a mockery by their professional colleagues because of the filming of the show.

 

A Senator stated that there is a larger problem in that the campus does not know who we are and that the campus is only focused on research.  The Senator noted that the campus is holding workshops and awareness groups on domestic violence but the administration turns around and brings in a celebrity who has been convicted of domestic abuse.  The Senator pointed out that it is not overly aggressive for the Senate to ask for consultations on such matters that affect teaching and the reputation of the campus.  Another Senator stated that stronger wording was needed and that the Senate should demand consultation from the administration on such matters. 

 

An Executive Committee member stated that the Committee discussed the issue with the Chancellor.  The Senator stated that the Chancellor feels that he often consults with the Committee more than he should or that is required.   The Senator stated that he was unsure whether demanding the Chancellor to consult with the faculty would work.   Another Senator asked what is considered the prerogative of the faculty if not academics.  He noted that there has been too much exclusive decision making by the administration.

 

A Senator who is the band director stated that the experience with the show and Tommy Lee has been very positive.  She noted that the band has a long standing history and the Music department is very concerned with its public image.  She pointed out that the captain of the drum line corresponded to her about what a positive and life changing experience it was for him to be involved with the show and with Tommy Lee.  The Senator noted that the band directors stated that they had the most productive rehearsals they have ever had.  She suggested that the Senate needed to put things in perspective.  She pointed out that Tommy Lee is a character but he was entirely respectful with her and was a delight to work with. 

 

Another faculty member pointed out that other students are and have been admitted to the university with criminal records. 

 

Professor Lauerman, Director of University Communications, pointed out that the show was not a candid camera on campus and that the producers have been very respectful and have listened to the concerns of the campus.  She noted that all students in each of the classes where filming took place had to sign release forms for the filming to be conducted.  She stated that David Fitzgibbon of University Communications has been with the film crew for nearly every second they have been on campus and that nothing was filmed that would be considered negative.  She noted that UNL was selected because of the contrast between the campus and its community and with Tommy Lee.  She stated that the show will be portrayed as a clash of cultures.  She stated that she would be happy to speak with anyone as much as she can about the show.  She stated that the administration is very comfortable with the relationship they have with the producers of the show.  She pointed out that no one has been forced to be involved with the show. 

 

Professor Lauerman stated that various crew members from the show have spoken to students in the Journalism College to tell them what it is like to work in the entertainment industry.  She pointed out that the campus has numerous relationships with the media but most people are not aware of them.  She noted that there was probably more control by the university on this show than what goes out in the news media.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:37p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, December 7th at 2:30 p.m. in the East Campus Union, Great Plains Room.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Patrick Shea, Secretary.