EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: Bryant, DiMagno, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Miller, Peterson, Sawyer, Siekman, Spann, Whitt, Wolf
Absent: King, Wunder
Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2002
1.0 Call to Order
Miller called the meeting to order at 3:05 pm.
. 2.1 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony
Miller announced that the doctoral hooding ceremony will be held on December 20th at 3:30 pm in the Kimball recital hall. He noted that graduation will be held on December 21st. He encouraged faculty members to attend these two ceremonies.
3.0 Chancellor Perlman
3.1 Budget Cuts
Chancellor Perlman reported that the feedback he is receiving from the public has been one of disappointment with some of the cuts but an understanding of why they were made. He stated that the one budget cut still pending involves the Nebraska Council for Economic Education. He noted that discussions are being held with people in the private sector to see if outside support may be available.
Chancellor Perlman stated that he disagreed with the APC on closing the West Central Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. He pointed out that he did not terminate the extension tenure track faculty proposed in the original budget cuts; however, the reasons for not eliminating these positions are not the same reasons offered by APC. Wolf stated that the Executive Committee was grateful for this decision, regardless of the reasons. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that if further cuts are made to the university, the cuts will be much deeper.
Miller asked if the closing of the South Central Research & Extension Center was the main topic of discussion in the budget cuts. Chancellor Perlman stated that it was and that there was a lot of support for the Center. He noted that those who testified for the Center were very sincere and that the economic impact of closing the Center is a great concern for the community.
Miller asked if other cuts were made in order to retain the two tenure track faculty members. Chancellor Perlman responded that no additional cuts were made to cover the two faculty positions. He noted that there was a need for a veterinarian toxicologist at UNL and that one of these faculty members was moved into that position. He stated that the other faculty member has been placed in the Plant Pathology department and that funds will be bridged until a vacancy occurs with retirements in the department. He pointed out that IANR did some creative work in order to come up with the funds to retain these two faculty members.
Miller asked if there has been any interest in the early retirement incentive for faculty members. Chancellor Perlman stated that it has been reported that approximately 10 people have discussed the option with the benefits office. He noted that the option is still open and that it is unknown how many people will take advantage of it. Sawyer asked if there will be discussions on the option at some time. He noted that offering some additional benefits such as free parking or free football tickets might attract more people to participate in the retirement plan. Chancellor Perlman replied that he was not prepared to sweeten the pot for this option but he has sent out a memo to all Deans and Chairs stating that he hopes they will make the negotiating process for this option as attractive as possible within the terms of the policy.
Siekman asked if there was any discussion about offering a similar retirement option to non-tenured faculty and support staff. Chancellor Perlman stated that it was discussed but that the university would be unable to do so because these employees do not have any property interest to buy back, such as tenure.
Spann asked if there has been more discussion on consolidating academic programs between the campuses. Chancellor Perlman stated that it has not been discussed recently, but he expects that dialogue will be renewed in the near future. VC Owens stated that he hopes the legislature will have serious discussions on what they want the public university of Nebraska to be.
Peterson noted that he and Miller have met with Senator Price, Miller met with Senator Hudkins, and that he has met with Senator Foley to discuss the budget cuts and their impacts on the university. He stated that the message to the senators is that the university has already been cut to the bone and that there needs to be more thought about revenue enhancing measures. VC Owens stated that the South Platte United Chambers, whose members are small business owners throughout the state, is proposing to pass a resolution for the legislature to consider increasing some taxes. He noted that they are fearful of the economic impact that further budget cuts will have on their businesses.
3.2 UNL Results National Student Engagement Study
Chancellor Perlman reported that UNL participated in the study which addresses how much students are engaged at their universities. He noted that the students are asked questions in seven or eight categories. He pointed out that UNL did fairly well in comparison with the other colleges surveyed. He noted that the comparisons were made with AAU and doctoral extensive schools as well as with other universities.
Chancellor Perlman reported that freshman students reported that they were more engaged than students at the other AAU schools. However, seniors at UNL reported that they were less engaged. He pointed out that this indicates that more attention needs to be paid to the curriculum for junior and senior students.
Chancellor Perlman reported freshman students, as well as seniors, at UNL reported being involved in collaborative learning equal to or higher than students at AAU and doctoral extensive schools.
In faculty-student interaction, freshmen at UNL scored higher than AAU and doctoral extensive schools, and seniors scored equal to these schools.
Chancellor Perlman reported that in the category of enriching educational experiences, both UNL freshmen and seniors scored below the other schools.
In regards to a supportive campus environment, freshman at UNL scored lower than the other schools while the seniors scored lower than the AAU schools but higher than the doctoral extensive schools.
Chancellor Perlman noted that the results of the survey suggest that some areas need to be worked on for improvement. Bryant noted that the survey raises issues concerning the curriculum and that courses should address some of the issues being raised.
3.3 Committee on Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Concerns Climate Survey Report
Wolf reported that the committee decided to canvas the students on campus to determine what the climate is like for them. He noted that Emeritus Professor Bob Brown designed the survey. He stated that the results of the survey have been distributed to most administrators. He pointed out that the report does include recommendations; some are easy to address while others are more difficult.
Wolf stated that the report includes the issue of domestic partner benefits. While these benefits do not have a direct impact on students, their unavailability signals to students how gay and lesbian faculty members are valued by the university. Wolf pointed out that it is more difficult to be gay at this campus than at some other campuses. He stated that he hopes the institution will engage in working towards some of the recommendations made in the report.
Wolf stated that he hoped the Chancellor would speak at the Board of Regents meeting on December 14th in support of domestic partner benefits. Chancellor Perlman stated that he would be happy to consider speaking at the meeting. Wolf pointed out that the issue is being raised with the Board again because the University of Nebraska now finds itself in the minority of its peer institutions in failing to offer these benefits.
Chancellor Perlman stated that the survey has been briefly discussed by the senior administrative team and that they plan to discussion it further. He stated that he hopes to speak about the survey to the Senate at the December meeting.
Miller noted that offering domestic partner benefits is fundamentally an employment issue. He noted that we will be at a disadvantage with our peer schools if they offer the benefit and we do not. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that if the university is offering employees benefits for their dependents, it should not matter who that dependent is. He stated that the purpose of offering benefits to dependents is to allow employees the comfort of knowing that their dependents are covered. This then allows them to focus on their jobs.
3.4 Issues of the Academic Planning Committee
3.4.A Alternative Cuts
Miller noted that Professor Ron Lee, Academic Senate President Designee to the APC, spoke to the Executive Committee concerning issues regarding the budget cutting process. Miller asked if alternatives were ever presented to the APC. Chancellor Perlman stated that he wrestled with the question of providing alternatives. He stated that he understands the APC is in a difficult situation not knowing the alternatives, but he noted that it is difficult to divulge that kind of information when doing vertical cuts. He stated that he has great concerns about the information of the alternatives getting out to the public. He pointed out that he did let the APC know that academic programs would have to be cut if significant changes were made to his recommendations. Bryant noted that some administrative members of the APC knew of the alternative cuts while faculty members did not. Chancellor Perlman stated that only two of the voting members knew of the alternatives and they recused themselves from voting.
Wolf stated that he sees the dilemma of the APC and appreciates the concern of caution, but wondered if there might not some way to meet both concerns. Chancellor Perlman stated that presenting the APC with the alternatives changes the decision that the APC makes by shifting the decision making process from one of ensuring the Chancellor justified his decision, to one of having to choose from the alternatives. He noted that any decision by a faculty committee between known alternatives will be subject to serious credibility issues, such as did the faculty on the committee represent the right disciplines or had other conflicts of interest. Miller noted that during the 1992 review of the APC procedures, faculty members of the APC stated that they did not want the responsibility of deciding what departments to cut. Chancellor Perlman noted that in this last round of cuts, if he followed all of the APCs recommendations, he would have had to find another $500,000 to cut.
Whitt asked if academic programs would be cut if the university receives further cuts. Chancellor Perlman stated that there was no other place to make cuts at this point. DiMagno stated if additional cuts are deep it may be time to switch strategies and to let people know what the alternatives would be. Chancellor Perlman stated that it is better for the APC to judge whether he has sufficiently justified the case for making budget cuts rather than placing the APC in the difficult position of having to decide what programs to cut.
3.4.B Definition of a Center
Bryant noted that the definition of a program is not very clear. He asked whether the definition makes good policy. He noted that as things now stand, eliminating centers could jeopardize interdisciplinary work. Whitt stated that there is concern that if a person has multiple appointments and one is cut, then the persons employment could be completely eliminated.
Chancellor Perlman pointed out that there will be some ambiguity in the definition of a program. He stated that he is thinking of clarifying the issue of joint appointments by sending out an email to the faculty. He noted that Executive Memorandum No. 24 from President Smith stands as defining a program.
3.4.C Quality & 3.4.E Lack of Faculty Review
Chancellor Perlman noted that there is concern that the decision to terminate the two extension faculty members did not include a faculty review. He pointed out that he does not think the procedures for budget reduction require him to prove that an employee is a poor performer. He noted that the decision was not made on quality but rather on what cuts would do the least damage to the university. He pointed out that if part of a program were cut and only some of the untenured faculty were terminated, then the issue of quality would need to be addressed by faculty.
3.4.D Job Shifting
Fuller stated that this refers to a person whose tenure track position is eliminated but the person is hired back on a non-tenure track line. Wolf stated that there is a concern that this could be used as a model construed as an attack on tenure. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the other option would be to not have a job at all. He stated that offering another job would at least be a way of providing income for that person. He pointed out that according to AAUP, program eliminations can be made and that the university must try to find alternative employment. Non-tenured faculty positions would at least be one way to try to respond to that issue.
3.4.F Vertical Cuts vs. Horizontal Cuts
Chancellor Perlman stated that he goes into the decision making process with the notion of vertical cuts. However, often horizontal cuts are made as well. He noted that some cuts, such as the cuts to summer sessions and student affairs, are really horizontal cuts.
4.0 VC Owens/SVCAA Edwards
Chancellor Perlman stated that the search committee for the Dean of Undergraduate Studies hopes to bring candidates in for job interviews in December. He noted that Professor Gail Latta, Libraries, will be Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the next year.
Miller asked if faculty searches were on-going. VC Owens stated that there are several searches being conducted in the Institute. Chancellor Perlman reported that there are 35 40 faculty searches currently underway.
4.2 Closing of Branch Libraries
Logan-Peters asked about the status of the review of the closing of the branch libraries. Chancellor Perlman stated that he has met with the Chemistry department and is working with Dean Giesecke to try to address the concerns of the faculty.
4.3 Retirement Cap
Bryant noted that President Smith and the Chancellor have concerns regarding presenting the bill to remove the retirement cap in January. Chancellor Perlman stated that while they are not against the bill, they do not think, given the present economic climate, that it would not be wise to present it to the legislature at this time. He noted that removing the retirement cap would apply to all state employees, not just university personnel. Fuller noted that the idea of removing the cap started when the economic climate was much better than it is now.
5.0 Approval of 11/13/02 Minutes
Spann moved and Peterson seconded approval of the minutes as amended. Motion approved.
6.0 Unfinished Business
6.1 Academy of Distinguished Teachers White Paper
Item postponed due to lack of time.
7.0 New Business
7.1 Administrative Review of Alan Tomkins, Director, Public Policy Center
Peterson reported that he served on the review team of Tomkins as the Academic Senate representative. He stated that overall the administrative review was positive and it was recommended that Dr. Tomkins be reappointed. There were also a few suggestions concerning future directions for the Center.
7.2 December Academic Senate Meeting
The Executive Committee discussed the format of the upcoming December Senate meeting. They suggested that handouts be given to provide more information regarding the APC discussion.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:05 pm. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, December 4th at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be held in the Academic Senate Office 420 University Terrace. The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and James King, Secretary.