Executive Committee Minutes - July 2, 2003



Present:          Fech, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Miller, Peterson, Whitt, Wolf, and Wunder


Absent:           Alexander, Beck, Buck, Shea, Spann


Date:               July 2, 2003


Location:        City Campus Union, Georgian Room A


1.0       Call to Order

            Wunder called the meeting to order at 2:35 pm.


2.0       Announcements

No announcements were made.


3.0       Meeting with Faculty Members from Information Systems Technology (IST) and Health and Human Performance (HHP)

Wunder stated that there were several pressing matters that needed to be addressed with the proposed elimination of these two programs.  The first was the Academic Planning Committee’s deadline date of July 14th for the departments to initially respond in writing to the budget cuts.  Several faculty members from both departments stated that they were not aware of this deadline date.  They asked why they were not informed of the deadline.  Wunder stated that he read it in the Lincoln Journal Star, but he did not know why the two departments were not informed of the deadline.  Some of the professors from HHP stated that it would not be possible for them to prepare a response at this time because they are in the process of having their offices moved.  Faculty members from IST stated that their Dean and other administrators were on vacation. The faculty members from IST and HHP asked the Executive Committee to make a formal request for the APC to extend the deadline date.


A faculty member from HHP stated that letters have already been sent to students regarding the elimination of the program. He noted that there is an ethical question here that needs to be considered because the APC has not even had the opportunity to review the proposed budget cut.  Peterson asked if the department or the faculty members were working with students to find other programs within the university where they can obtain their degrees.  A professor in IST responded that his department has been given two years to get the current students through the program. 


The issue of accreditation was raised.  Members from HHP stated that they were scheduled to be reviewed for accreditation this fall but it has been cancelled.   They noted that the current accreditation expires in September 2004.  They questioned the effect on students graduating with a major in a program that was no longer accredited.  They stated that the administration told them that students would be allowed to substitute courses.  One of the faculty members pointed out that the faculty members developed the IST program to adhere to accreditation standards.  The substitution of these courses would deviate from the program that received accreditation.


The faculty members of IST also pointed out that many of their students are part time and take longer to get through the program.  They raised the question of what will happen to these students who have already begun the program and are now being told that the program will no longer exist after two years. 


Faculty members from HHP stated that they have nearly 250 undergraduate student majors and that it is not possible for all of them to complete the program within two years.  They pointed out that they also have a doctoral program as well.  They noted that it will take some students three years to complete their programs. 


HHP members stated that the athletic training program has not been dropped and that one person associated with that program is remaining.  They noted that most of that program is funded by the athletic department. 


HHP members stated that while the coaching certification is not needed in Nebraska, the coaching endorsement program is still valuable because certification is required by some states. 


Miller asked the faculty members why they thought their program was on the list to be cut.  Faculty members from IST stated that the focus of their program is on students obtaining a bachelor degree.  They noted that they have no graduate students and do not conduct research.  They pointed out that most faculty members are tenured within that department, but one is not.  They believe that part of the reason they have been cut is because they do not have as vocal a constituency as other departments in Engineering. 


Faculty members of HHP stated that many people have an inaccurate view of their program.  They noted that many people see them as ball bouncers and that their courses are not very important.  They pointed out that people do not realize the technicality of some of their courses and how students need to take courses in other departments, such as chemistry and biochemistry, as well.  Members of the department stated that they feel that one of the reasons they were targeted is because of the age of the faculty. 


Wunder stated that he is concerned with how faculty members have been approached concerning the retirement incentive package.  He asked how the process was working.  Some of the faculty members stated that they have been pushed heavily to take the retirement package and that they have been given very short notice to make a decision.  One faculty member stated that he has been given only 13 days to make a decision.  Some faculty members stated that they are hearing that they could be placed in other departments but without tenure.


Miller asked what the strengths are for each of these programs.  Members of IST stated that their students have a high rate of employability and that they get good jobs, most of them here in Nebraska.  They noted that there is no other department in any other college that can offer the same kind of degree as they can and that students cannot transfer to another program without having to start over.


Members of HHP pointed out the large number of students in their program as well as the number of students from other departments who take their courses.  They noted that their program is actually somewhat different from the programs at UNK and UNO and that they have the largest program of the three campuses.  Wunder asked if UNK and UNO could handle the influx of students if the HHP program was eliminated here.  The faculty members of HHP stated that they did not believe the other programs could handle that many students.  One of the faculty members pointed out that with the merger of the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences and Teachers College, a strong nutrition and wellness program could have been built. 


Faculty members from both departments stated that there have been no formal negotiations yet for relocating to other departments.  They pointed out that it has just been mentioned as a possibility.  Wunder reminded the faculty members he was told that departments must discuss and vote on the transfer of individuals from their department to another and that department can decide on whether to accept or reject the transfer with tenure.


4.0       Approval of 6/18/03 Minutes

Logan-Peters moved and Fech seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


5.0              <![endif]>Unfinished Business

5.1       Topics of Discussion for Executive Committee Retreat

The committee suggested topics to discuss at the Executive Committee retreat on August 29th.  The topics are:  bringing in speakers to discuss collective bargaining; ES/IS courses; time wasting committee; department and college mergers; the role of the Academic Senate and how it relates to the faculty; an electronic newsletter; and faculty salary raises.


6.0       New Business

6.1       Concern Over Going Into Executive Session During 6/4/03 Executive Committee Meeting

Wunder reported that he received several email messages from Senator Bradford, Law, who raised concern over the June 4th Executive Committee minutes and the recording of the committee going into executive session.  Since Wunder was not at that meeting he asked for clarification of what happened from Griffin.  She reported that she consulted with Richard Wood, University General Counsel, concerning the matter.  She stated that Wood informed her that the only committee that must adhere to the state open meetings law is the Board of Regents and that the Executive Committee has every right to go into executive session if it chooses to do so.  Wood also stated that the Senate bylaws state that the Committee needs only to report on their meetings with the Chancellor, and thus are not required to provide minutes of each meeting.  Griffin reported that a personnel issue was discussed during the meeting which required confidentiality.  Other issues that were discussed included public relations and press relations.  Wunder stated that he promised Senator Bradford he would put in our minutes the above information.  Wunder also stated his preference for detailed minutes to be distributed to all interested parties and as much openness as possible.


6.2       Reactions to Meeting with IST and HHP Faculty Members

Wolf made a motion to request, in a formal way to the Chancellor, that an extension be made to the deadline date for the early retirement incentive.  Fuller seconded the motion.  Wunder asked if the extension should apply only to the departments that are slated to be eliminated and for a particular time frame.  Peterson suggested that the extension be made indefinitely until the budget crisis is over.  The Committee agreed not to request a specific deadline date or program limitation.  Motion approved.


Peterson moved that Wunder write the Academic Planning Committee requesting that they extend the deadline date for the letter of response from the departments slated to be eliminated.  Fuller seconded the motion.  Motion approved. 


            6.3       Meeting with Lincoln Journal Star

Peterson reported that he, Wunder, and Fuller met with the editorial board of the Lincoln Journal Star to review how the newspaper determines its editorial pieces.  Peterson stated that the editorial staff meet and review what is going on in the state and then decide which topic to go with.  Peterson noted that the paper stated that they occasionally consult with people to get clarification before writing the editorial piece.  Fuller noted that it was the first time that the editorial staff have ever met with faculty representatives.  She suggested that the new officers should meet annually with the editorial staff.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:30 pm.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, July 16th at 2:30 pm.  The meeting will be held in the Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Shelley Fuller, Secretary.