EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: Beck, Buck, Fech, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Miller, Peterson, Shea, Whitt, Wolf
Absent: DiMagno, Spann, Wunder
Date: Wednesday, May 7, 2003
1.0 Call to Order
Peterson called the meeting to order at 2:37 pm.
Peterson reminded the committee that commencement will be held on Saturday, May 10th. He hoped that as many faculty members as possible will attend the ceremony.
2.2 Fulbright Award
Peterson reported that Christopher Gustafson, a student in Agricultural Economics and son of Mark Gustafson, received a Fulbright award to go to Italy. Peterson stated that he believes that 8 10 applications for the award were sent forward from students at UNL, but Gustafson is the only one who has received an award at this time.
3.0 Chancellor Perlman
3.1 Email Message on Vote of No Confidence
Chancellor Perlman stated that he sent the email out to faculty members to see if they support him because of the misconception the public seems to have that the Senate voted no confidence in him. He pointed out that the risk of sending the email was that it appears to be circumventing normal procedures as stated in the UNL Bylaws and that it could be viewed as a power play. He noted, however, that he felt it was I nthe Universitys interest to do because a vote of confidence in the Chancellor would alleviate the confusion the public has about the circumstances that occurred at the April 29th Senate meeting. He pointed out that the external public perceived the faculty as attacking the Chancellor and it appears that the University is in disarray. He stated that he did not feel this perception should continue given the present economic crisis. He noted that sending the email was a difficult decision to make, but he felt that the issue needed to be resolved now, particularly while the legislature was still in session.
Chancellor Perlman stated that he will do all that he can to rebuild communications with the Executive committee. Peterson stated that the Chancellors comments were very helpful and that he appreciated what the Chancellor had to say in his correspondence with him. He pointed out that he believes the committee wants to reestablish the relationship they had with the Chancellor and they cannot let this incident get in the way of the committee and the Chancellor working together.
Peterson asked if the process of dealing with the budget cuts will stay the same. Chancellor Perlman stated that it definitely would. He noted that he spoke with Professor Eckhardt, Chair of the Academic Planning Committee, who was concerned that all of the work of the APC might be in vain. Chancellor Perlman stated that the recommendations of the APC will be carefully considered. He noted that, depending on the outcome of the vote, the wishes of the faculty will have an influence on his decisions on the budget cuts. Wolf asked if this meant that the recommendations of the APC would not have an influence on the Chancellors decisions regarding the budget cuts. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the results of the vote would be binding only on him.
Logan-Peters asked what kind of changes the Executive Committee could make and what changes the Chancellor could make to rebuild their communication with each other. Chancellor Perlman stated that he has discussed the issue with the Vice Chancellors. He stated that he did not know if any changes were necessary. He pointed out that the stress on campus resulting from budget cuts has led to frustration and that it was partly inevitable that an incident such as this would occur. He noted that it appears that the faculty members advocating a vote of no confidence do not seem to understand or care about the perspectives of the general public. He pointed out that the ASUN has accepted higher fees because they want a quality institution. He stated that the Executive Committee has proposed a 25% increase in tuition but they have not offered anything up that would reflect a sacrifice on the part of the faculty. He stated that he has defended tenure in every press interview since proposing the Museum reduction.
Wolf pointed out that the Executive Committee has suggested on numerous occasions that many faculty members are willing to forgo their salary increase, or even give back some of their salary, to help with the reductions, but each time has been told by administration that they should avoid doing this. Chancellor Perlman stated that this might have been his fault. He stated that the administration was concerned that if they did not take the salary increase, then the University would not receive as much funding. He pointed out that both the administration and the faculty have to think about shared governance and pay more attention to the outside perspective of the University. He stated that it is critical for the people of Nebraska to think well of the University and that for the most part they do. He noted that the recent accomplishments of the university, such as the grants that have been awarded, have been very helpful in the public perception of the university. He stated that there needs to be vigorous debate concerning issues but that both sides need to remember the outside perspective.
Peterson stated that it would be helpful if the Chancellor could indicate what the consequences might be on particular issues. He noted that the Executive Committee has been discussing the salary issue. He pointed out that he realizes that the issue of tenure is not a major concern with the public.
Logan-Peters asked what other options besides salaries and the loss of tenure could the faculty look at. Chancellor Perlman stated that he can think of other options although he did not know if he would accept them. He stated that one issue the senate could consider is teaching loads and the possibility of increasing teaching loads for non-research active faculty members.
Miller stated that it is important for people to remember that there are really two audiences, one within the University and the other outside the University. He noted that much of what the Senate and Executive Committee work on is for the University community. Peterson pointed out that what occurs here is played out at the national level as well. Wolf pointed out that the national level represents a third audience.
Logan-Peters asked if there were ways in which there could be more open dialogue between the Chancellor and the Committee. Wolf suggested that the dialogues could even be just among the Chancellor and the President and President-Elect of the Senate. He pointed out that he would like to see the three of them deal with difficult issues and that it would not always be necessary to share the details of such conversations with the rest of the Committee. Peterson stated that President Wunder would be returning and that this suggestion should be discussed with him. Peterson stated that he is open to engaging in conversations with the Chancellor.
Miller pointed out that it is the responsibility of the Executive Committee to try to understand both sides of the cuts. He stated that on the one hand we need to defend faculty members but we also have an obligation to understand the finances and the problems associated with the budget cuts. Shea pointed out that the Committee needs more financial information in order to be able to evaluate the proposed cuts. Chancellor Perlman stated that there is a limit to how much information he is prepared to disclose. He pointed out that he has tried to show the impacts of horizontal cuts in the spreadsheet handed out at the April 1st Senate meeting.
Chancellor Perlman noted that judgments on the budget cuts cannot be based on quality because he does not believe there are any academic programs here of poor quality. He stated that centrality has been used as a criterion but it is subject to discussion.
Chancellor Perlman noted that the University is reluctant to make cuts but must do so in order to comply with the legislature. He stated that he is willing to engage in conversations considering other options. He pointed out that he cannot provide the necessary information that would allow the Committee to make comparative judgments because it would force him to surface potential cuts that might not take place. Beck suggested that the Chancellor does not need to be specific about units but could discuss the philosophy of the cuts in a variety of ways, such as discussing teaching loads. Chancellor Perlman stated that the debate over the budget cuts has been characterized as vertical versus horizontal cuts. He pointed out that he has used both in making cuts. Beck noted that these cuts have not been made from the core of undergraduate education. Chancellor Perlman noted that this is true because undergraduate education is the top priority of the University. He pointed out that there has only been one vertical cut that has eliminated tenured faculty and one prior vertical cut that was going to eliminate two tenure track faculty members even though we have reduced the budget by almost $23 million.
Beck stated that no revenue enhancements have been made. Chancellor Perlman stated that this is not true. He noted that there have been increased student fees and that he is advocating as much as possible on the tuition increase. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that he has taken about as much from the auxiliary funds as he possibly can. Beck asked how these things impact the budget situation. Chancellor Perlman stated that the increased fees will help the libraries and will help somewhat with reductions. He pointed out that the auxiliary money was laid out in the spreadsheets given to the Senate. He noted that other revenue enhancements are being considered such as an exclusive University credit card which would generate income for the University and a discount card for students that would cost $20 but could be used as an ID card as well as for getting discounts with local merchants. He noted that this last option may take some time to develop.
Miller asked if there is going to be a cash flow problem for next year. Chancellor Perlman stated that in the last round of cuts he was able to capture 60% of the budget reductions within the year. He pointed out that while support staff and managerial staff can receive two weeks or three months notice of termination, faculty members receive a years notice and must be paid during this time. He stated that next year it will be a little harder to meet the cash flow. He stated that this year colleges have been taxed so that any surplus money at the end of the year is returned to the administration to help with the budget.
Logan-Peters asked if the Chancellor could provide the APC with more of a menu of possible budget cuts. She pointed out that the Chancellor had stated earlier in the year that he would try to give them a bigger picture of what is available for budget cuts. Chancellor Perlman stated that he spoke with Professor Eckhardt concerning this issue. Chancellor Perlman noted that it is not practicable to do this, but he suggested that the APC could come up with alternative options. He stated that he has tried to provide the APC with enough information for them to be able to do this.
3.2 Deans Budget Proposals to APC
Chancellor Perlman reported that he responded to President Wunders letter asking that the Deans budget proposals be given to the APC. Chancellor Perlman stated that the college budget proposals present a very mixed picture. He stated that some college proposals were transparent and represented speculation by Deans rather than recommendations. He pointed out that the proposed budgets provided information on too many specific positions that could easily be identified. Miller asked if the Deans gave the budgets to the Chancellor with the understanding that they would be kept confidential. Chancellor Perlman stated that this was correct. Logan-Peters asked if there was any way that the budgets could be summarized or cleaned up so the information could be provided to the APC. Chancellor Perlman stated that this would be difficult to do. He noted that no Dean recommended cutting a department and firing its tenured faculty. He pointed out that three of the smaller colleges could not meet a 10% cut.
3.3 Budget Update
Chancellor Perlman reported that the Appropriations Committee is holding firm with its budget proposal which includes a 3% reduction for the University. He stated that if this budget should pass the legislature, the city campus would need to cut $1.7 million more from its budget. He noted that IANR would be slightly ahead of its share but the outcome of the vet school contract will be a factor needing to be considered. Miller asked if the $1.7 million from the city campus takes into consideration any tuition increase. Chancellor Perlman stated that the $1.7 million is just his best guess at what might happen. He pointed out that the fixed costs will be a factor that will determine the actual amount the city campus budget will need to be reduced.
Fuller asked if the Chancellor will announce the additional budget cuts after the legislature makes a decision on the budget. Chancellor Perlman responded that this is a real possibility.
Fuller pointed out that the announcement about the universitys providing full benefits to employees who are reduced to .75% FTE due to the budget cuts has created a rumor that all staff and managerial-professional people will be reduced to .75% FTE. She asked if this were true. Chancellor Perlman stated that the theory is to offer people the option of going to .75% FTE but with full benefits. He stated that he did not know how many people would volunteer to do this. He pointed out that the administration wanted to help other employees who are already at .75% FTE but the Board of Regents opposed this based on cost. He stated that the .75% FTE proposal is just another tool to help with the budget. Fuller asked if she could assure staff that they will not be forced into being reduced to .75% FTE. Chancellor Perlman stated she could give the assurance that this was not the intention of the plan going to the Regents.
3.4 Update on Status of Museum Faculty
Chancellor Perlman stated that there seem to be different perspectives on what has and has not been done for some of the Museum faculty members. He noted that the administration has not done the documentation as quickly as it should to move some of these people to different departments. He stated that the administration will do better in the future with the paperwork.
Chancellor Perlman stated that the first four Museum faculty members have been placed in other departments and have now received a draft Memorandum of Understanding. He reported that the fifth Museum faculty member is almost at the point of being accepted by another department but that departments promotion and tenure committee must meet to discuss this assignment and then the necessary process will need to be completed. Chancellor Perlman stated that the five faculty members being retained are concerned about the collections and whether they will be cared for properly.
Chancellor Perlman reported that two of the Museum faculty members are eligible for early retirement and he understands that they are in the process of negotiating their retirement in the event that other alternatives are not available. He pointed out that the deadline date for faculty to sign up for early retirement has been extended.
Chancellor Perlman stated that one faculty member has been offered a retraining package but has not accepted it. He reported that the School of Biological Sciences is considering this faculty member and would possibly accept this person with a two year probationary period. He stated that the faculty members vitae has been circulated to other departments as well.
Chancellor Perlman reported that one of the faculty members looking at retirement has been accepted with a split appointment between two departments but neither department is willing to commit any resources at this time.
Chancellor Perlman noted that, depending on the legislatures decision on the budget, there would probably be more academic programs eliminated and tenured faculty fired.
Miller asked if there were resources available for the first five Museum faculty members. Chancellor Perlman stated that funds were available through several different resources.
Beck asked if any staff have been hired back to deal with the collections. Chancellor Perlman stated that the debate on how many will be needed has not yet been settled. He noted that they are still negotiating this and until it is settled, the positions cannot be advertised. Fuller asked if all of the collections will remain at UNL. Chancellor Perlman stated that it is unclear if all will remain. He noted that the anthropology and zoology collections are questionable. He stated that the alcohol collection will probably be let go because of the difficulty of maintaining it. He stated that parts of the anthropology collection may be given out and some might be kept. He pointed out that parts of this collection have been given to the university on a loan basis but the university can no longer afford to keep the private collections and they will have to be returned to their owners. Shea asked if the university will receive money for the collections that may go elsewhere. Chancellor Perlman stated that he is unsure. He pointed out that he wants the collections to go to places that will preserve them.
Beck stated that what is happening with the Museum appares to be more a reorganization than an academic program cut since at least five of the faculty members have been hired back. She asked how firing tenured faculty members fit into a reorganization scheme. Chancellor Perlman stated that in his opinion he has proposed a program elimination of the research division of the Museum. He stated that the administration has worked to place as many of the tenured faculty as possible in other areas of the university. He noted that originally there would have been a saving of over $1 million with the Museum cut but that has now been reduced to $750,000 with the retention of people to care for the collections.
Fech asked if there were any deals underway to help save the Arboretum and Nebraska Forest Service and whether there was any potential for a reversal of these cuts. Chancellor Perlman stated that there is always the potential for a reversal. He noted that he is waiting to hear the APCs recommendations. He stated that no tenured faculty members were affected by these cuts. He pointed out that the real issue is the matching of federal money. He stated that he believed other funds have been found to match the federal dollars. He noted that the fire suppression component of the Forest Service will stay with the university. Fech asked if some of the Arboretum will stay with the university as well. Chancellor Perlman stated that it will with the help of donors.
3.5 ES/IS Committee
Chancellor Perlman stated that he supports the effort of the Executive Committee in tackling the problem of the ES/IS courses. He stated that he would like to help out with this. He noted that the current ES/IS curriculum hurts the university with transfer students. He pointed out that the principles of the ES/IS courses are important but they need to be carried out in a way that is not so complex. He noted that the committee will need the cooperation of the college curriculum committees in order for things to change and that probably the APC will need to review the proposed changes.
4.0 Approval of 4/30/03 Minutes
Whitt moved and Logan-Peters seconded approval of the minutes. Motion approved.
5.0 Unfinished Business
5.1 Review ES/IS Committee Charge
The committee reviewed the draft of the ES/IS Committee charge. Fuller stated that it is too long as currently written. Logan-Peters and Whitt felt that it was too limiting. Peterson stated that the charge should state that the principles of the ES/IS should be retained. Wolf suggested that the difficulties with the current system be included in the charge. Fuller stated that the members of the Executive Committee who are members of the ES/IS Committee can communicate the problems. She stated that the charge should be brief. Peterson stated that the charge should encourage the Committee to strive to simplify and make requirements uniform across the colleges but there should be a broad flexibility of course choices. He reported that the ES/IS Committee will be meeting for the first time next Wednesday.
Miller stated that whatever changes are made must work for the students. He stated that the system needs to be simplified. Buck suggested that the committee should be charged to go back to the original principles. Peterson stated that he and Griffin would write a draft of the charge and get it to the Executive Committee for review.
6.0 New Business
6.1 Wasted Time Committee
Miller reported that the committee met for the second time yesterday. He stated that subcommittees were formed that will work on various topics over the summer. He stated that the committee will resume in the fall. Shea asked for clarification on some of the subcommittees and what they are looking at. Logan-Peters stated that Exec. Assoc. Dean Weissinger created a survey to ask faculty what procedures and processes they find wasteful. Logan-Peters stated that Weissinger will pull out what processes and procedures were identified most frequently by faculty members. Logan-Peters stated that the chairs are interested in reducing the workload from these processes as well.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:18 pm. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, May 14th at 2:30 pm. The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building. The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Shelley Fuller, Secretary.