EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: Beck, Buck, DiMagno, Fech, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Shea, Spann, Whitt, Wolf, Wunder
Absent: Miller, Peterson
Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2003
1.0 Call to Order
Wunder called the meeting to order at 3:05 pm.
3.0 Approval of 4/23/03 Minutes
Wolf moved and Whitt seconded approval of the minutes as amended. Motion approved.
4.0 Welcome New Executive Committee Members
Wunder introduced the new executive committee members and discussed how the Executive committee operates.
5.0 Reflections on the Past Year
Shea stated that he has concerns regarding the counting of votes on controversial issues where the vote count is close. He asked if a hard ballot could be used in these cases. Wunder suggested that a roll call vote can be done. Spann stated that given the seriousness of a vote, the President has the prerogative to ask for a roll call vote.
Wolf asked what the reasons were behind Wunders comments to the Senate when he assumed the role of President during Tuesdays meeting. Wunder stated that it was important to talk about the Senate as a whole. He stated that he wants to get a greater sense of Senators concerns. He noted that he felt that the full Senate was splintering last year. He pointed out that the Senate is composed of a wide variety of different types of faculty and that some of the language being used was divisive. He stated that he wants to find common ground for discussion and for all faculty members to feel included.
Wunder stated that when the Senate or Executive Committee responds to issues or to actions taken by the University, he often receives strongly worded email messages from the administration. He noted that while responses made by the Executive Committee or Senate were often correct, there were sometimes based on incomplete information provided by the administration. He stated that he has found that the Chancellor has not always been fully informed by his staff on what is currently happening. He cited the Museum faculty as an example. He noted that although the Chancellor indicated at the Senate meeting that they have received a draft memorandum of understanding, the faculty members state that they have received no written notification. He noted that the credibility of the administration is problematic and could get worse. Wolf pointed out that this has been the pattern of interaction with the administration all year. He noted that including faculty leaders more frequently and fully in administrative deliberations affecting faculty would be a significant improvement.
Fuller pointed out that when faculty members file a complaint with the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee and want legal assistance, they have to pay for it out of their own pockets. However, the administration has the legal support of the University counsel. She suggested that a Faculty Legal Defense Fund be established. Beck noted that only cases of Academic Freedom and Tenure can use attorneys. Wunder pointed out that a faculty member who files a complaint has the choice of whether to obtain an attorney or not. He noted that if the faculty member chooses not to use an attorney, then the administration cannot use one. He suggested that the Law college faculty could be asked if they would be willing to offer pro bono services to faculty members in these situations.
Fuller asked if a Foundation account can be established to assist faculty members with legal fees. Griffin stated that she would check into the requirements for setting up a Foundation account. Fuller moved that a legal defense fund be set up for faculty members to use for representation in Academic Rights and Responsibilities cases or for legal advice. Motion seconded by Wolf. DiMagno stated that the language of the motion needs to be refined. Wunder suggested that the motion be delayed until more information is received. Spann asked whether the full Senate needs to approve such an action. Griffin reminded the committee that according to the Bylaws, the Executive Committee shall act for the Faculty between meetings of the Senate and the Assembly.
6.0 Issues for the Summer
Agenda item postponed.
7.0 Report on the Board of Regents Meeting
Wunder stated that testimony was given to the Board on the vet school contract with Kansas State. Wunder noted that only 40% of the vet students who are subsidized by the program return to Nebraska. He noted that Chancellor Perlman stated that for the State of Nebraska to benefit from it more, the contract needs to be rewritten.
Wunder stated that President Smith discussed the budget reductions and noted that if all of the top administrators from Central Administration and the four campuses were fired it would save $14 million. Wunder stated that President Smith praised UNOs handling of the budget reductions and the elimination of a Vice Chancellor position. Wunder noted that the Board of Regents must approve the elimination of a program and the firing of tenured faculty, but they do not have to approve the elimination of staff.
Wunder reported that the Board was informed that the appropriations committee wants to provide extra money for the University to support UNOs 3.3% salary increase. He noted that this means UNO will not have to come up with additional money from its budget to help cover salaries beyond 1.5%, which is what UNL may receive. Wunder noted that the Senate office now has a copy of both UNOs and UNKs collective bargaining contract.
Wunder stated that there was a motion to provide full health insurance benefits to staff who have been cut to .75 FTE because of budget cuts. Wunder stated that Chancellor Perlman tried to convince the Board to include all staff at .75 FTE in the agreement, but the Board did not approve this because of the cost.
Wunder reported that a presentation on water was given to the Board and that there was a suggestion to have a masters degree in a non-thesis program relating to water.
Wunder reported that the retirement incentive extension was approved.
Beck reported that the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee cases on Academic Freedom and Tenure go to the Board of Regents for final approval. She noted that Board members have made public statements supporting vertical cuts. She stated that the Board has been told by Richard Wood, General Counsel for the University, that they should not make any further public statements regarding the cuts.
Wunder stated that there was an indication at the meeting that the Regents instructed Chancellor Perlman to make vertical cuts. Wunder stated that the Board believes that the horizontal cuts made in the 1980s caused too much damage to the university. The committee discussed the possibility of meeting with some members of the Board.
8.0 Unfinished Business
8.1 Report on ES/IS Committee and Its Charge
Wunder stated that the committee would be meeting some time during the week of May 12th. He stated that the revised charge would be distributed to the Executive Committee for review. He suggested that responses to the charge be sent back to Griffin by email.
9.0 New Business
9.1 Chronicle of Higher Education Article
Wunder reported that in addition to an article in this weeks Chronicle of Higher Education on the threat to tenure at UNL, there is also an article that looks at the publics perception of higher education in the U.S. Wolf stated that the Nebraska article should be widely distributed. He noted that it is important for the faculty to see how the University is being viewed by people outside of it. He suggested that it should also be sent to the state legislators and perhaps the Board of Regents.
9.2 Academic Senate Operating Funds
Wunder stated that there may be some money left over in the operating fund for this year. He noted that while the office could use some of the money to purchase equipment for the Senate office, it could be given back to the Chancellors office to help with cash flow problems for this year. Whitt asked if returning funds could result in a smaller operating budget for next year. Spann suggested that a letter to the Chancellor be sent indicating that the Senate is foregoing purchasing items to assist in the cash flow problem, but requesting that the office not be penalized by reducing future operating budgets.
9.3 Motion on Vote of No Confidence
Wunder stated that he felt Professor Bradford of the Law College should have a chance to make a rebuttal to Professor Genoways motion of a vote of no confidence in the Chancellor. Fuller asked why this should be done. Wunder stated that he felt that Professor Bradford was not given a chance to respond to the motion at the Senate meeting on Tuesday. Griffin reported that Professor Bradford asked if he could send an email message to the Senators. She reported that other Senators have sent out email messages on Senate matters and Professor Bradford should have the same opportunity.
Shea stated that he tried to send an email message to the Senators but was unable to do so. Griffin stated that members of the email list should be able to send messages. She stated that she would check on the status of the email list. Wunder stated that the emails will be monitored to make sure that they pertain to Senate business.
9.4 Oregon State University
Wunder reported that he has a copy of the email correspondences and information from Oregon State University pertaining to the firing of tenured faculty members. He noted that a copy of the report is in the Senate office and that people should contact Griffin to obtain a copies.
9.5 Meetings with ASUN, UNOPA, and UAAD
Wunder reported that he plans on having meetings with members of ASUN, UNOPA, and UAAD to discuss issues facing the campus. He invited the members of the Executive Committee to attend these meetings. He stated that he also hopes to hold meetings with 5 to 10 Senators at a time to hear their ideas and concerns. He noted that the Executive Committee members are welcome to attend these meetings as well.
9.6 Review of Administrative Cuts
Wunder asked if Professors Spann and DiMagno would work with Griffin to review the budget cuts and the administrations claim that 49% of the cuts were administrative. DiMagno asked if more information could be obtained to assist with the review. Wunder stated that the information could be requested. He stated that he would like a report presented to the Executive Committee by May 28th. Fech noted that Assistant Vice Chancellor Moeller of IANR provided some information regarding the administrative cuts to the Senators before the Tuesday meeting. He noted that there is concern over what the administration is defining as an administrative cut.
9.7 Blue Skies Report
Wunder stated that he would like to form a subcommittee to review the Blue Skies report on intellectual engagement and achievement at UNL. He asked Professor Whitt to chair the committee. He stated that he would like to get some of the Senators involved with this committee. Wunder stated that he would like to have the subcommittee report on their findings in a couple of months.
9.8 Child Care on Campus
Wunder stated that he has heard many discussions regarding child care on campus. He stated that this is something that the Senate should look into. Beck stated that many studies on this subject have been conducted over the years but nothing has ever come of them. She stated that it would be good to have the Senate involved in this issue. Wunder asked Buck if she would head a subcommittee to look into this and suggested that they work with UNOPA and UAAD on this issue. Wolf suggested that the diversity plan available on the web should be looked at to see if it relates at all to this issue.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:02 pm. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, May 7th at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building. The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Shelley Fuller, Secretary.