EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: Bryant, DiMagno, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Miller, Peterson, Sawyer,
Siekman, Spann, Whitt, Wolf, and Wunder
Date: Wednesday, March 26, 2003
1.0 Call to Order
Miller called the meeting to order at 3:05 pm.
2.1 Academic Planning Committee Hearings
Miller announced that the Academic Planning Committee hearings on the budget cuts are currently taking place. He encouraged members to attend the open hearings.
2.2 27th Annual Interdisciplinary Symposium by the Center for Great Plains Studies
Whitt announced that the Center for Great Plains Studies was holding its annual interdisciplinary symposium March 27 29. He noted that this years symposium is Religion on the Great Plains.
3.0 Chancellor Perlman
3.1 Visit to Western Nebraska
Chancellor Perlman reported that he spoke at three publicized listening sessions and two Rotary Club meetings in western Nebraska. He noted that he also spoke with the media there. He stated that during his talks he tried to convey the consequences of the budget cuts on the university.
Chancellor Perlman stated that he felt that the responses from the public were more positive than he had anticipated. He noted that comments from the public included concern for higher education in the state, concern for how the state was being run, and a willingness to pay higher taxes in order to help support the university.
Chancellor Perlman stated that in his talks he pointed out that, under the Governors recommendations, some of the state agencies receiving the largest cuts of 10% or more include all four levels of education: university, state colleges, community colleges, and K-12 education. He stated that those state agencies receiving increases are corrections, state patrol, and the fire marshal.
Miller asked if the legislature was moving in a more positive direction towards the university. Chancellor Perlman stated that he did not know. He noted that the Appropriations Committee will be meeting during the next three weeks but no decisions will be made until an Appropriations bill is presented to the legislature, probably at the end of April.
Sawyer asked how many faculty members have signed up for the retirement package. Chancellor Perlman stated that six individuals signed up for option one and three have signed up for option two. He noted that one individual is not state funded. He stated that the retirements surpass the $500,000 anticipated. He pointed out that more people could sign up before the April 30th deadline date.
Chancellor Perlman stated that a proposal will be made to the Board of Regents at the April meeting to extend the deadline date of the retirement package until July. He stated that this extended time would allow individuals caught in the budget reductions to select the retirement option if they so choose.
Miller asked what kind of feedback the Chancellor has received regarding the announcement of cutting tenured Museum faculty members. Chancellor Perlman stated that he has received a large number of emails from around the world. He stated that he has not received a lot of feedback from the campus on the general approach of the budget cuts. He stated that some emails are supportive while some are not. He noted that everyone on campus is uneasy about the budget cuts.
Logan-Peters asked what the plans were for announcing further budget cuts next week. Chancellor Perlman stated that he has sent an email message to the campus explaining that he is not comfortable yet with the next list of budget cuts. He stated that he needed to get clarification on some things to see if they can be considered. He stated that he will make an announcement in the next two or three weeks.
Miller asked if the Chancellor was still planning on announcing another 6-7% budget cut. Chancellor Perlman stated that he will work with the other campuses and Central Administration on how much of the cuts will be announced. He noted that the other campuses are not ready to make an announcement.
Wolf pointed out that Section 1.9.3 of the Regents Bylaws refers to the Museum and states that the Museum is to be a repository for the collections of the state. He noted that this Bylaw appears to have been brushed aside. He asked if the funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) were considered in the decision to cut the research faculty of the Museum. He questioned how the NSF will react if funds need to be returned and whether this will have an impact on future grant proposals. Chancellor Perlman stated that there will be a number of instances with the budget reductions that will appear to be in conflict with the Board of Regents Bylaws. He pointed out that the Regents will either change the Bylaws or will not approve the recommended budget cuts. He pointed out that nearly all of the collections are being kept in accordance to the Bylaws. He noted that the collections with the NSF grants are being kept and that the curators of these collections have been given alternative positions within the university.
Wunder noted that eight tenured faculty were scheduled to be cut. He stated that four have been offered alternative positions with tenure. He asked if they were kept at the same salary rate. Chancellor Perlman stated that he is not sure of the salary rate and that it will be up to the new departments to make this determination. Wunder asked if the departments taking the Museum faculty members will have to eliminate other faculty positions in order to accommodate the Museum faculty. Chancellor Perlman stated that they would not have to eliminate anyone but the colleges must come up with 25% of the salary.
Wunder noted that two of the tenured Museum faculty might retire and two are not being given any options at all. He pointed out that the two with no options are both females. Chancellor Perlman stated that he was unsure whether the two faculty members eligible for retirement will choose this option. He noted that the tenured Museum faculty included three women, one of whom is not being cut. He pointed out that if the two faculty members eligible for retirement do not take it, and they do not find alternative placements, then it will be four faculty members cut.
Miller asked if the Chancellor was aware of any departments talking with the two women faculty members. Chancellor Perlman stated that he did not know if they are in discussions with any departments but both have made inquiries. He stated that they are talking with SVCAA Edwards and VC Paul. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that he hoped he was not being accused of intentionally selecting women for disproportionate treatment. He stated that his administration is being very sensitive to the issues of diversity as these cuts are being discussed and that no judgment on this issue should be made until the entire process is completed.
Peterson noted that the Nebraska Forest Service receives matching federal funds. He asked if this money would be lost with the Services closing. Chancellor Perlman stated that this is correct. He pointed out that he is currently trying to find other designated money that could be used as matching funds. He noted that there are two faculty members in the Forest Service that fall under the university budget. He stated that we are the only university in the country that has a forestry service attached to it. He stated that he is looking at other alternative sources of funding to support the Service.
Wunder asked how the decision was made to go after the Museum Studies Program. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the priorities in dealing with the budget cuts are to preserve undergraduate education, research, and the core of the university. He noted that free standing masters programs would be at higher risk of getting cut. Wunder pointed out that the Museum Studies Programs budget is only $25,000. Chancellor Perlman stated that in actuality the budget for the program is much higher. He pointed out that sources to support it come from other areas of the campus.
Chancellor Perlman acknowledged that the research division of the Museum does good research and that only two of the collections would not be maintained. He stated that the zoology and anthropology collections were not as highly recognized as the other collections and that the zoology collection requires a great deal of space. He stated that neither of these two collections received a lot of grants or generated a lot of research activity. He noted that the distinctive collections would still be kept. Wunder stated that this indicates that the issue of quality was used as a criterion in making the decision. Chancellor Perlman stated that some issue of quality was a factor. Sawyer asked who advises the Chancellor on issues of quality in the various disciplines. Chancellor Perlman stated that he has consulted with at least one, and he thought more, individuals in the field who are experts and he has received secure information about the distinctiveness and distinguished nature of the collections. He stated that those individual experts would prefer not to be named and he would like to comply with that although it puts the Executive Committee and him in a difficult situation. He noted that he did not just walk through the museum and decide how distinctive the collections are. He pointed out that there is little doubt what the Museum is known for nationally. Wunder asked when the advice was sought. Chancellor Perlman stated that it was sought during this recent budget process.
Peterson asked if there will be any problems with the Native American remains of the anthropology collection. Chancellor Perlman stated that there will be no interference with the return of the remains.
DiMagno expressed concern that eliminating academic programs without declaring financial exigency could cause problems, since the UNL Bylaws conflict with the AAUP guidelines in this case. He stated that he is concerned that the university will be censured as a result of not declaring financial exigency. Chancellor Perlman stated that he believes that AAUP guidelines are being followed. He noted that the downsides to declaring financial exigency are as equally damaging as being censured. He stated that he is unsure whether the university could defend a claim of bankruptcy. He noted that bond rates would be directly impacted if financial exigency was declared.
DiMagno pointed out that, if no financial exigency is declared, the AAUP recommended procedures call for the identification of programs targeted for elimination to be based essentially upon educational considerations, as determined primarily by the faculty as a whole or an appropriate committee thereof. Chancellor Perlman stated that the APC is involved in the budget cutting process. Fuller noted that the APC is only an advisory committee. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the APC is faculty driven and that the Vice Chancellors have recused themselves from the budget cutting process.
DiMagno noted that the AAUP guidelines state that before the administration issues notice to a faculty member of its intention to terminate an appointment because of formal discontinuance of a program or department of instruction, the institution should make every effort to place the faculty member concerned in another suitable position. Chancellor Perlman stated that the letter the tenured professors have received is a contingency letter, not a termination letter. DiMagno pointed out that if the 12 months notification of termination begins on the day that the contingency letter is received, it could create a problem.
Miller asked if it was up to the Board of Regents to declare financial exigency. Chancellor Perlman stated that it has to be their decision. DiMagno noted that declaring financial exigency makes vertical cuts much cleaner. He pointed out that the cuts are being justified for financial reasons, not those of quality.
Wolf asked if there was any possibility of rearranging the cuts so tenured faculty are not fired. Chancellor Perlman distributed budget information on departments from four members of the committee: English, History, Theatre Arts, and Art & Art History. He pointed out how much each department would have to cut if 10% across the board cuts were made. Bryant stated that faculty members are not being allowed to help with the budget problem. He wondered what would happen if there was more time available to work on the budget cuts. Wunder stated that there is some discussion among senators in slowing down the budget cutting process or declaring a moratorium. He asked if there is the possibility of slowing down the process and allowing the faculty to figure out in their departments how the cuts can be made. He noted that many faculty members are willing to make sacrifices in order for programs to remain. Chancellor Perlman stated that he cannot slow down the process because as of July 1st he will have $21 million less in his budget to work with. He pointed out that many departments are not able to withstand a 10% cut.
Wunder asked if the cuts could be more of a combination of horizontal and vertical cuts. Chancellor Perlman stated that it will have to be a combination of both. He assured the committee that the faculty will have the opportunity to make sacrifices.
Bryant suggested that the Chancellor communicate in an email message the arguments against financial exigency. He noted that this might help the campus to understand why it is not being declared.
4.0 Vice Chancellor Paul
Executive Associate Dean Weissinger and Assistant Vice Chancellor Zeleny accompanied Vice Chancellor Paul.
Wunder asked why the Vice Chancellor approved of firing tenured faculty. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that he was responsible for breaching tenure, not VC Paul. Wunder then asked if VC Paul had named the Museum in the 10% budget cuts for the Office of Research. VC Paul eventually stated that the Museum he did place the Museum faculty on the list. He noted that the faculty members of the Museum are not doing extensive teaching.
Bryant noted that a memo from VC Paul stated that the goal of the university was to be one of the top thirty research institutions in the country. Bryant pointed out that firing tenured faculty does not agree with this goal. VC Paul stated that the cutting of tenured faculty will have an impact on this goal but a decision had to be made as to what will have the least amount of impact on the university.
VC Paul stated that he is concerned with review panels for grants. He wondered whether proposals from the university will be scored less because of the firing of tenured faculty members. He stated that the university is not going to be successful in obtaining grants for strong programs if faculty and staff are cut.
Miller noted that four of the eight scheduled for termination have been retained while four have not. VC Paul stated that is correct. He stated that he has spoken to each of the tenured faculty members and that they are exploring opportunities in other departments. He pointed out that the difficult financial situation will have an impact on whether these other people will be retained.
Miller asked whether quality played a role in the decision to cut part of the Museum. VC Paul stated that the uniqueness of the collections, their importance to Nebraska, and their funding capabilities were all factors in deciding what to cut and what to retain.
Peterson noted that quality is being considered in making cuts to the Museum. He pointed out that some of the collections are highly ranked and that the Museum Studies Program is ranked second in the nation. He asked if the cutting of the Museum is not a loss to the education mission of the university. VC Paul stated that the Museum Studies Program has never been fully funded. He stated that it takes more than the $25,000 allocated in order to run the program. Peterson asked if the tuition revenue was included in the $25,000. VC Paul stated that it takes approximately $100,000 to run the program and in the last two years some of this funding came from other departments. He noted that there are not enough outside resources to run the program properly. Chancellor Perlman noted that the Museum Studies program is good and that students from the program are successful in finding jobs within their field.
Exec. Assoc. Dean Weissinger noted that the Museum Studies Program actually falls under the Graduate College. She stated that it will most certainly be a loss. She pointed out that it received a good academic program review a few years ago, that it has good placement of its students, and that it attracts students from across the country. She stated that it has been a vulnerable program because it is not directly attached to a department or unit. She stated that the under-funding of the program has been historic and that most of the tenured Museum faculty members do not do much teaching in the program. She noted that the curriculum is usually delivered by people outside of the Museum.
Wunder asked if all of the faculty members have their tenure home with the Museum. VC Paul stated that this is correct and that eight of nine tenured faculty members are being cut. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that it is the research division of the Museum that is being cut. VC Paul noted that the faculty member being retained is involved more in education than research.
Wunder asked what the rationale is to decide to eliminate a tenure home department. Chancellor Perlman stated that it has to do with a definition of a program and is unrelated to tenure home.
Wunder asked what is being done to help the students currently enrolled in the Museum Studies program. Executive Associate Dean Weissinger stated that nearly all of the students will be able to complete their graduate work by next May. She stated that she is working with the few part-time students to see if they can arrange a schedule that will allow them to graduate.
Wunder asked if admissions into the program have been suspended. Executive Associate Dean Weissinger stated that she decided to suspend admissions. She noted that she has sent a letter to all applicants, incoming students, and currently enrolled students explaining the situation.
Bryant stated that he is concerned about the two female faculty members scheduled to be fired. He asked when the clock starts on their termination. VC Paul stated that the clock begins with the letter of contingency. He noted that there is a clause in the letter stating that the administration will work with them to try to find alternative positions within the university.
Siekman asked if the NSF grants will be covered. VC Paul stated that there have been discussions regarding the grants. He stated that the university will abide by any significant commitments that have already been made. He noted that no further proposals will be released if the university cannot meet the required institutional commitments.
Wunder asked if the position of Director of the Museums was still open. VC Paul stated that it was and that he is still looking to fill this position.
Wolf stated that he heard that the Deans submitted budgets with a 10% reduction without having to cut faculty. Chancellor Perlman stated that no Dean gave a proposal to fire tenured faculty.
5.0 Approval of 3/12/03 Minutes
Peterson moved and DiMagno seconded approval of the minutes as amended. Motion approved.
6.0 Unfinished Business
6.1 Nominations for Executive Committee
The committee discussed possible candidates for membership on the Executive Committee. It was noted that the Colleges of Architecture, Engineering, Business, Law, Human Resources and Family Sciences, and Teachers will not have a representative on the committee when some of the current members terms expire.
7.0 New Business
7.1 Report on Visit with President Smith
Agenda item postponed due to lack of time.
7.2 Upcoming Senate Meeting
The committee discussed what issues should be raised at the April 1st Senate meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:20 pm. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, April 2nd at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building. The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and James King, Secretary.