DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT (03feb5mins)




Present:          Bryant, DiMagno, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Miller, Peterson, Sawyer,

                        Spann, Whitt, Wolf, Wunder


Absent:           King, Siekman


Date:               Wednesday, February 5, 2003


Location:        420 University Terrace, Academic Senate Office


1.0       Call to Order

Miller called the meeting to order at 3:06 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            No announcements were made.


3.0       Approval of 1/29/03 Minutes

Bryant moved that the minutes be approved but not distributed until the Chancellor had the opportunity to review his statements.  Wolf seconded the motion.  Motion approved.


4.0       Vice Chancellor Owens

Miller asked for an update on the water initiative.  VC Owens stated that the water initiative is in the conceptual stage and that the Chancellor will bring it to the Academic Planning Committee for consideration as a priority program once it is developed.  He noted that discussion on developing a water initiative was raised at a Deans’ retreat this past fall.  He pointed out that the drought situation and the importance of water to the State of Nebraska led to the thinking that this should be considered as a priority program.


VC Owens reported that Professor Hoagland, Director of the Water Center, and Professor Fritz, Geosciences, are providing leadership on the proposal.  VC Owens noted that a draft of the initiative will be given to the APC and the Executive Committee. 


Bryant stated that the South Central Research & Extension Center, which is being cut due to budget reductions, has worked on water issues.  He asked if this work is continuing or whether it will need to be revamped if the initiative is approved and funded.  VC Owens stated that the work is on-going.


Peterson pointed out that there is already a Water Center.  He asked if the initiative would be connected to the Center?  VC Owens stated that the initiative would revitalize all work being done on water.  Peterson noted that there are many legal aspects regarding water and its use.  He asked if the initiative would interface with the state agencies that deal with legal aspects of water.  VC Owens pointed out that the Conservation & Survey Division is a de facto state agency and that they would be involved.  He noted that the Law school is also very interested in re-emphasizing water law.  VC Owens stated that the initial amounts given to programs designated as areas of excellence are quite small and that it would be difficult to get the initiative up and running with such a small amount of money. 


Miller asked what the reaction is from around the state to the initiative.  VC Owens noted that the initiative has not yet been made public.  Fuller asked if the initiative is a new proposal or a revision of a proposal previously submitted for priority funds.  VC Owens stated that the initiative being developed is different from the one originally submitted for priority consideration. 


Wunder noted that the formation of the water initiative is different from the original intent of the programs of excellence.  He stated that the initiative is more comparable to the research initiative created by Governor Orr.  He asked if the water initiative is an attempt to use the money that was designated for the failed rural initiative.  VC Owens stated that he did not know if the water initiative is an attempt to use the rural initiative funds.  He pointed out that water is a critical concern to the state.  Fuller asked if the programs of excellence that have been approved, but have not yet received funding, would be next in line to get any available money.  VC Owens stated that there was a water proposal submitted to the programs of excellence but that he did not know where it stood in the list of priority programs. 


Bryant stated that he has concerns that the APC was not included in the decision to take the rural initiative funding and give it to another area of excellence.  VC Owens stated that a quick response was needed and the Chancellor met with the Deans to review the rural initiative proposal.  He noted that the Deans felt that the proposal did not justify funding.  Peterson asked if the water initiative has been approved to receive funding.  VC Owens stated that it has not yet been approved and has received no funding at this time.


DiMagno asked why the water initiative could not be folded into the Nathional Drought Mitigation Center.  VC Owens pointed out that he is not sure that it is an official center.  He noted that it is federally funded.  He stated that he hoped the water initiative would stimulate conversations on campus to encourage interest in this area.  Wolf suggested that people from the Center for Great Plains Studies should be involved in these discussions.


Wunder noted that the concept behind the formation of the School of Natural Resource Sciences was to bring people working in these areas together.  He asked if the renovation plans for the Hardin Center take into consideration the need for laboratories to incorporate the interdisciplinary mix of the faculty members who will be using them.  VC Owens stated that there will not be enough room in the renovated building to house all faculty members in SNRS, but the laboratories will be available for all faculty members associated with the school.  He noted that he has been working with Dean Hoffman of Arts & Sciences to coordinate the renovation. 


Peterson asked if the funds for constructing a new building for SNRS will be used for the renovation.  VC Owens stated that they would.  He noted that there was not enough money to build a new facility and when the hotel became available, it was seen as an alternative.  Peterson asked if the available funding is enough to cover the renovation.  VC Owens stated that it will cover the renovation but some things, such as the re-glazing of windows, will probably not be done. 


Fuller stated that at the February Senate meeting SVCAA Edwards noted that the legislature may not finalize the budget cuts for the university until June 2nd.  She pointed out that the new fiscal year begins July 1.  She asked how termination of IARN personnel could take place by July 1.  VC Owens stated that faculty would have to be given a one year notice and extension educators would receive a 90 day notice.  He pointed out that this would result in a need to have an adequate cash flow to keep these people employed for the specified period of time of their notification. 


VC Owens stated that at a luncheon meeting with the IANR senators, it was suggested that the faculty members voluntarily reduce their salary, possibly by 10%.  He noted that people in rural Nebraska did not appreciate faculty and administrators receiving salary increases while the university was facing budget cuts.  He pointed out that he does not want to cut tenured faculty.  He stated that no other university is considering firing tenured faculty for this year.  Bryant pointed out that administrators at all levels should also cut back their salaries if the faculty members decide to advocate a voluntary cut back.  He noted that many faculty members feel that financial exigency must be declared before tenured faculty can be fired.  Wunder pointed out that each of the four campuses in the NU system may have a separate set of procedures for financial exigency.


Spann asked if there were any openings that IANR was trying to fill and, if so, how successful the searches have been.  VC Owens stated that they are currently trying to fill two vacancies in biochemistry.  He noted that the grant received by Professor Banerjee from biochemistry will cover the salaries of these two people until they receive tenure.  He stated that he will need to conduct either an internal or external search for the position of head of biological systems engineering since Professor Hoffman will be retiring. 


5.0       Executive Associate Dean Weissinger

            5.1       Graduate Faculty

Weissinger stated that her proposal recommends changing from a two-tier graduate faculty designation to a one-tier designation.  She reported that she first presented the proposal to SVCAA Edwards, then to the UNL Graduate Council, and then to Graduate Committee Chairs.  She noted that while there were some recommendations for minor changes, overall there was a good deal of support for the proposal.  She stated that the proposal was then sent to departments and she has asked for feedback from them by February 7th.


Weissinger stated that 29 departments have responded to date, 27 of them fully endorsing the proposal.  She reported that one feedback was ambiguous.  She stated that CBA is concerned with decentralizing standards.  She noted that CBA pointed out that the proposal could open the door to a proliferation of Ph.D. programs at the other campuses. 


Weissinger reported that she plans to gather all of the data and present them at the UNL Graduate Council meeting on February 13th.  She stated that if the council feels there has been sufficient feedback on the proposal, it will be forwarded to the Executive Graduate Council.  She stated that if the Executive Graduate Council supported the proposal, the graduate faculty would need to vote on it.  She stated that it would take 2/3 of the majority of the votes received in order for it to be approved.  She noted that the proposal was written for UNL but that it has been distributed to the other campuses and, if approved, would probably be implemented at the system level.  Sawyer asked if both members and fellows would vote.  Weissinger stated that both would be able to vote. 


Wunder stated that he had three concerns.  He pointed out that in some departments Graduate Faculty Fellow status is an important component in the tenure process.  Secondly, he stated that there is concern that the serious situation that already exists – where non-tenured and tenure-track instructors teach graduate classes – will be exacerbated.  He stated that his third concern is that there could be a potential overload of work on new faculty members.  Weissinger stated that only two colleges require Graduate Faculty Fellow status to achieve tenure (CBA and Teachers College). 


Sawyer asked if the proposal waters down standards.  Weissinger pointed out that VC Paul and Associate Executive Vice President Burns decide who can chair graduate committees based on refereed journal articles. 


DiMagno stated that he endorses the proposal and noted that it should be assumed that faculty members hired by graduate departments are capable of doing graduate level work.  Miller noted that UNL used to be concerned about the other campuses developing graduate programs.  Weissinger pointed out that CBA’s concerns need to be addressed carefully.  She pointed out that there are a number of programs at UNO that have enough Graduate Faculty Fellows to create a Ph.D. program.  However, she noted that it is a very difficult and long process to get a Ph.D. program approved. 


Bryant pointed out that Teachers College has a joint Ph.D. program with UNO.  He stated that it is difficult to sustain a joint Ph.D. program.  Wunder noted that some faculty members in UNL departments are interested in a system-wide Ph.D. degree.  Bryant stated that he would have concerns with a system-wide degree because it could put the supervision of the doctoral committee at the central level. 


Weissinger noted that most of UNL’s peer institutions have a one-tier system.  Only two have a system similar to UNL’s.  She stated that the earliest the proposal could be approved was probably in May.  She noted that it would then have to wait until the fall semester for approval by the graduate faculty.


Weissinger stated that she would like to eventually simplify the forms required for the master’s and Ph.D. program and graduate curriculum.  She stated that she wants to make the processes as efficient and least time consuming as possible.


6.0       Members of the Academic Planning Committee

The committee met with several faculty members of the Academic Planning Committee to discuss the timeline, procedures, and policies for the next round of budget cuts. 


7.0       Unfinished Business

7.1       Evaluation of Candidates for Dean of Undergraduate Studies

The committee discussed their interviews with the three candidates for Dean of Undergraduate Studies.  The committee agreed to forward their recommendations to SVCAA Edwards.


8.0       New Business


The meeting was adjourned at 5:36 pm.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, February 12th 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.