EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: Bryant, DiMagno, Fuller, King, Logan-Peters, Miller, Sawyer,
Spann, Whitt, Wolf, Wunder
Absent: Peterson, Siekman
Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2002
1.0 Call to Order
Miller called the meeting to order at 3:02 pm.
2.1 Lobbying Efforts
Miller reported that he met with Senators Price and Hudkins to discuss the gravity of the situation for the university regarding the budget cuts. He noted that he will be meeting with other senators in the future.
2.2 Retirement Cap
Bryant reported that Senator Beutler has agreed to introduce a bill to remove the retirement cap on university employees. Bryant stated that he hoped the bill will move to the State Legislature Retirement Committee and that the committee will give it a hearing. He stated that he has discussed the issue with President Smith, Chancellor Perlman, and is in the process of speaking with the Faculty Senate Presidents from the other campuses.
2.3 Climate Survey by the Committee on Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Concerns
Wolf reported that the results of the survey were released to the press and circulated to the university administrators. He stated that he would provide the Executive Committee with a copy of the results.
3.0 Ron Lee, Academic Senate Designee to the Academic Planning Committee
Lee reported that the APC completed its recommendations on the budget cuts and submitted them to the Chancellor. He stated that the Chancellor plans on publishing both the APCs recommendations and his decisions sometime next week.
Lee stated that a number of issues have surfaced in regards to APCs role in the budget cutting process. He pointed out that one of the issues concerns alternatives to the budget cuts proposed by the administration. He noted that the APC is not provided with this information. He stated that this lack of information makes it difficult to argue against proposed cuts.
Bryant suggested that the process could be changed so that the APC is provided with a longer list of proposed cuts than is actually needed. Lee stated that some members of the committee might feel uncomfortable in having to select where to make budget cuts. Bryant noted that the process of proposing cuts is a confidential one. He stated that the Deans prepare a list of cuts to make in their colleges and the Chancellor selects what areas to cut. Lee noted that the APC does not see the long list. He stated that the Chancellors response to providing alternatives is that it would create undue tension if people or departments knew they were on a proposed list of budget cuts. Bryant suggested that the Chancellor could share the list with the APC before a public announcement is made regarding the cuts.
Lee stated that a second issue is defining a Center. He noted that faculty members frequently move back and forth between Departments and Centers. He pointed out that if the security of a faculty members appointment is located in a Center and that Center is eliminated, the person could be fired even if he or she has a tenure home Department. He noted that this greatly jeopardizes the interdisciplinary approach being touted by administration. He stated that the AAUP guidelines on programs are unclear.
Lee noted that a third issue is that quality does not appear to be a criterion for elimination. He stated that programs with few, or no, students appear to be more vulnerable than programs with students. As an example, he cited the elimination of the South Central Extension Center. They have no students but they are the leading authorities on irrigation in Nebraska. Lee stated that the question of how quality plays a role in deciding where cuts should be made needs to be addressed.
Lee reported that another issue is one he terms job shifting. He noted that this refers to moving people from tenure-track positions to non-tenure track positions but having the person do the same work. Wunder pointed out that in the past there were research initiatives which created opportunities to hire people on soft money. He stated that during this time the administration was persuaded to turn these positions into tenure track appointments. He noted that when the soft money was no longer available, the colleges were forced to come up with money to cover the salaries of these individuals. Lee pointed out that there are a lot of people employed at the university who are on soft money but have academic rank. Bryant noted that job shifting is unfair. DiMagno stated that shifting people is not a bona fide program elimination and would not be supported by the Regents Bylaws. Lee pointed out that faculty without tenure do not have many rights.
Lee stated that another issue is that faculty members are being dismissed without a review of their performance. Wunder noted that VC Owens stated that the cuts were made for budgetary reasons and were not based on performance. Lee asked how administrators can decide which probationary faculty members to cut if a review of their performance is not conducted. He stated that it is not clear that being in a program is a major factor for protecting probationary faculty.
Lee reported that another issue is what he termed the rhetoric of vertical cuts. He wondered if vertical cuts do not, in some way, protect administration from cuts. He noted that there are some areas where horizontal cuts could be made. DiMagno pointed out that if UNL receives another $30 million in cuts, the reductions cannot all be made vertically.
Logan-Peters asked if the APC procedures to deal with major budget reductions are working for the APC. Lee stated that not knowing what other budget cutting alternatives are limits the committees ability to argue. Miller asked if the APC would want the responsibility of dealing with the alternatives. Lee stated that he believes they would at least like to know what are the alternatives. He stated that the Senate and the faculty need to be vigilant in looking at the cuts. He noted that internal administrative functions should be looked at carefully to see if there could be more cost savings.
Fuller asked if the Executive Committee was effective in supporting the two extension faculty scheduled to be eliminated. She asked if the committee could have done anything better. Lee pointed out that the AAUP should not be used as the first line of defense. He stated that it should be pointed out that the policy of firing tenured or tenure track faculty has adverse consequences for the university over a long period of time. He noted that when the Senate testifies, it receives media coverage.
Lee noted that the faculty are more involved in the decision making process when the cuts are horizontal because each department has to develop a scenario. He pointed out that with vertical cuts there is little faculty input.
Miller asked if the size of the APC made it difficult to get work accomplished. Lee stated that the size is not the problem. He stated that the problem is that some of the administrative members of the APC undoubtedly know the alternatives, but the faculty and student representatives do not. Miller asked if confidentiality and talking to the press would be a problem if the entire committee knew the alternative cuts. Lee stated that only the chair of the APC, Professor Eckhardt, speaks to the press.
Wunder asked what the APC anticipates in January. Lee stated that it would be helpful to have some of the issues mentioned worked out before January, particularly areas of ambiguity. Bryant asked if financial exigency needed to be declared if tenured faculty positions are cut. Lee pointed out that it does not have to be declared if programs are cut.
Lee questioned whether further cuts will be made to probationary faculty members first, or whether departments with tenured faculty will be cut. He noted that the administration did protect a tenured faculty member over a program, but he was unsure as to whether this would happen again in the future.
Whitt pointed out that there is a limit to how many faculty members, tenured or untenured, can be cut. He noted that the response to cutting faculty members is to create larger classes. He stated that there is a limit to how many large sections can be offered because of the lack of large classrooms.
Miller asked how the Senate can be helpful in the budget cutting process. Lee pointed out that lobbying state legislators is helpful as well as uncovering areas where there could be administrative savings. Logan-Peters asked if tweaking the APC procedures would be helpful. Lee stated that it would. He suggested that the Executive Committee should meet with the APC to discuss this issue further.
The committee agreed to discuss the issues raised by Lee at the next meeting with the Chancellor. They agreed that there needs to be discussion at the full Senate meetings regarding these issues.
4.0 Approval of 11/6/02 Minutes
DiMagno moved and Fuller seconded, approval of the minutes as amended. Motion approved.
5.0 Unfinished Business
5.1 Emeritus Faculty Report
Fuller reported that giving the emeriti faculty members a vote in the Academic Senate is possible but it would be a very complicated process. She stated that she was unsure whether it would be in the best interest of faculty governance since the emeriti faculty members already have privilege of the floor at Senate meetings. Spann suggested that a more formalized process of inviting the President of the Emeriti Association to meet with the Executive Committee at least once a year may be more constructive. He suggested that a representative of the Emeriti Association be invited to speak to the full Senate on an annual basis.
Fuller noted that the Regents Bylaws state that emeriti faculty members are encouraged to attend Senate meetings. She wondered if they are aware of this policy and whether they are being encouraged to attend the meetings. Wunder suggested that the Emeriti Association be encouraged to designate a person to attend and speak at the Senate meetings.
5.2 Transit Services Option Plan
The committee reviewed the three proposed option plans for transit services. Wolf moved that the Executive Committee support the decision of ASUN because the committee believes that this issue affects students more than the faculty. Logan-Peters seconded the motion. Motion approved. Griffin stated that she would contact ASUN to see when the student poll on transit services will end and when ASUN will make a decision regarding the options.
5.3 APC Procedures on Budget Reductions
Wunder asked for clarification on the term, extension agent, as stated in the 1993 procedures. King stated that extension agent was a term used for extension educator, the term currently being used.
6.0 New Business
6.1 Future Agenda Items
Wolf requested that the results of the National Student Engagement Study be placed on the agenda when the committee meets with the Chancellor.
The committee agreed that the white paper on teaching written by the Academy of Distinguished Professors should be placed on the agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:14 pm. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, November 20th at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building. The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and James King, Secretary.