EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: Bryant, DiMagno, Fuller, King, Logan-Peters, Miller, Sawyer, Spann
Whitt, Wolf, Wunder
Absent: Peterson, Siekman
Date: Wednesday, November 6, 2002
1.0 Call to Order
Miller called the meeting to order at 3:04 pm.
2.1 Meeting with Ron Lee, Academic Senate President Designee to APC
Miller reported that Professor Ron Lee would be meeting with the Executive Committee on November 13th to discuss the budget reduction process and the APC.
2.2 Request for Domestic Partner Benefits Issue to be Placed on Agenda for December Board of Regents Meeting
Miller reported that a request has been made to Vice President for External Affairs Robak to place the domestic partner benefit issue on the agenda for the December Board of Regents meeting.
3.0 Tad McDowell, Transit Fee Presentation
McDowell stated that the Parking Advisory Committee recommended last spring a transit fee of $20 per month to help cover the cost of transit services. He stated that the feedback from the campus prompted enough concerns for the committee to revise the transit plan and to present it to the campus. He noted that he has made the presentation to ASUN, UNOPA, UAAD, an East Campus student organization, and the Residence Hall Association and wants to get feedback from each group.
McDowell noted that there are currently 5 bus routes operating on campus but Parking & Transit Services hopes to make the transit system more efficient by combining three of the routes into 1, leaving 2 routes. McDowell noted that the cost of operating the transit services has increased from $648,748 in 1999 to $1,142,455 for this current fiscal year. He pointed out that the increase is in the cost of maintaining the buses and the leasing of some buses. DiMagno asked what the cost is for a bus and how many buses Transit Services operates. McDowell stated that the cost of a bus can be $60,000 - $90,000 and there are currently 18 buses. He explained that they had to lease some of the buses because they did not have the funds to purchase new ones. He reported that the biggest maintenance fee is the cost of gasoline.
Miller asked what the cost would be to have StarTran run the entire operation. McDowell stated that the universitys cost is $25 per hour but StarTrans cost is $50 per hour. Wunder suggested Transit Services handle all of the routes and eliminate the StarTran contract. McDowell noted that Transit Services is currently at its limit for handling bus maintenance. He pointed out that Parking and Transit Services needs to focus on facilities and parking lots.
McDowell reported that currently anyone can request a bus pass. He noted that approximately 8000 requests are made each year. He reported that the committee is proposing 3 options:
Option A - bus pass required, parking permit holders would receive a pass for free, non permit holders would be charged $45/semester. Income generated could be anywhere from $148,500 - $270,000.
Option B - bus pass required, students pay mandatory $17 per semester transit fee (students receive a $17 credit towards parking permit), faculty/staff non permit holders would be charged $45/semester. Estimated income $270,000.
Option C - Make no changes but continue to have parking permit holders cover cost of both parking and transit services.
Bryant raised the of whether the university has an obligation to provide free transit services since many students are required to take courses on both east and city campus. McDowell stated that Transit Services is only looking to cover about 25% of the operating costs of the buses.
The committee discussed the various options. It was noted that Option B was the only one that makes a significant difference and encourages people not to park on campus. McDowell stated that 500 cars are kept off campus because of the transit service. Spann noted that there was an increase in cost of 70% from 1999 to 2002, yet the increase in riders was only 14%. He asked why the increased cost was so high. McDowell stated that several buses were purchased during that time period and maintenance costs have gone up.
The committee agreed to discuss the issue further at its next meeting. They told McDowell that they would let him know which option they support by November 15th. Wolf recommended that Miller contact ASUN to see what option they are supporting.
4.0 Ron Withem, Associate Vice President for External Affairs, and Michelle Waite, Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Relations
The committee discussed the results of the election and whether the legislature will be supportive of the university. Withem stated that the net results of the elections are unknowable at this time. Bryant suggested that the Executive Committee write a letter of appreciation to those out-going senators who have been supportive of the university. He asked whether it was appropriate for him to speak to legislators during the special session regarding the proposal to raise the retirement cap. Withem stated that it should be okay to talk to senators about this subject during the special session.
Miller asked how the faculty can help in getting the universitys message out to the senators. Withem stated that he did not think that all of the senators realize the gravity of the universitys situation. He stated that it is important that they realize that academic programs will be cut if further reductions continue.
Withem noted that the forecasting board is predicting a worse deficit than expected. He pointed out that there are some things that must be covered such as Medicaid, special education, etc. He noted that senators need to understand that the university has already been cut $31 million from the amount that was appropriated last year. He stated that the $616 million deficit cannot be covered through budget reductions alone if the state plans on providing some public service. He stated that the revenue base needs to be broadened.
Withem stated that there are three groups of state senators: those who are absolutely not in support of the university, those who support the university and 24 of them are in the middle. He stated that it is the intent of the university to focus on these 24. He pointed out that every senator who voted for a tax increase was reelected while those that opposed the increase were all defeated.
Miller asked where revenue enhancements could come from. Withem stated that expanding the tax base would help, extending the temporary tax increase could provide $240 million over a two year period of time, or taxing things such as food or medical services would provide additional revenue. Logan-Peters asked about repealing LB 775, the corporation tax break. Withem stated that there is not much momentum to do this. He pointed out that repealing it would prevent corporations from obtaining new contracts, but would probably not provide any significant revenue at this time. Wolf asked how long the contracts were for. Withem stated 8 years.
Withem pointed out that another area of revenue could be the income tax reduction. He noted that if this were repealed then half of it could go towards revenue. He stated that some things could be done besides raising taxes to increase the revenue base. He pointed out that there are some pockets of one-time cash that could be available. He felt that overall there will be some cuts and some revenue increasing measures passed.
Miller asked what faculty should discuss when they talk to their state senators. Withem reiterated that the gravity of the situation needs to be explained. Wolf noted that further impacts will have dire consequences for the university. Withem pointed out that cutting $1 million from the Summer Sessions budget is going to have a serious impact on people. DiMagno noted that the impact of firing tenured faculty will have long-term negative impacts for the university. He pointed out that having the job security of tenure and the academic freedom to work on research of a professors choice are incentives for professors to work for the university rather than going into private business where they could make more money. Withem noted that a campus is as good as the faculty members it employs. Wunder noted that 40 out of 50 state universities are experiencing the same financial difficulties, but Nebraska is the only one on record to come out and say that tenured faculty will be cut.
Waite asked for all faculty members to email her to let her know if anything is happening on campus that could have impacts on the university.
5.0 Approval of 10/30/02 Minutes
Wunder moved and Logan-Peters seconded approval of the minutes as amended. Motion approved.
6.0 Unfinished Business
6.1 Report on Emeriti Faculty Status and the Academic Senate (Fuller and Spann)
Fuller reported that the Academic Senate Bylaws, UNL Bylaws, or Regents Bylaws do not recognize the emeriti faculty or association as a formal group. She noted that only a policy page referring to the procedure on how to become an emeritus professor exists on the web. She pointed out that the Regents policy states that emeritus faculty members are encouraged to attend Senate meetings and they have the privilege of the floor, but no voting rights.
Fuller reported that senators are elected from home departments. She noted the important distinction between whether the entire emeriti faculty at large would be considered a district or just the Emeriti Association. She reported that in order to change the Academic Senate Bylaws, the Senate Bylaws Committee would need to be activated. They would need to review the issue, present their recommendation to the Senate for discussion and approval. The UNL Bylaws would need to be changed as well as the Board of Regents Bylaws. Fuller felt that the committee could be more helpful to the Emeriti Association in other ways, such as seeing that they get an office, establishing a website, and helping in other areas.
Wunder suggested that a resolution could be made inviting the Emeriti Association to elect a non-voting representative. He noted that they are still considered members of the Graduate College and serve on Ph.D. committees. Fuller stated that the election would be somewhat redundant since they have the right to attend Senate meetings and have the privilege of the floor. The committee agreed to discuss the issue further at the next meeting.
6.2 APC Procedures Evaluation Study Committee
Wunder reported that the committee to evaluate the procedures of the APC met last week. He stated that they are comparing the differences between the 1986 procedures and the 1993 procedures. He noted that they hope to be able to report to the Senate in December.
7.0 New Business
7.1 Academy of Distinguished Teachers Report
Bryant reported that the Academy has written a report on teaching, similar to the 20/20 report. He noted that it has been given to the Chancellor and that the Deans are scheduled to see the report, yet it has not been given to faculty for their review. Miller stated that he would contact the Academy to get a copy of the report and then distribute it to the committee. He suggested that Professor Thompson, one of the authors of the report, be invited to speak to the Executive Committee. King stated that he thought the report was written as a response to the 20/20 report and that the intent of the Chancellor is to create a committee to write a report on teaching similar in scope to the 20/20 report.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:24 pm. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, November 13th 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.