Executive Committee Minutes - November 19, 2003





Present:          Beck, Fech, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Peterson, Shea, Whitt


Absent:           Alexander, Buck, Carlo, Miller, Spann, Wunder


Date:               Wednesday, November 19, 2003


Location:        Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace


1.0       Call to Order

            Peterson called the meeting to order at 3:10 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            No announcements were made.


3.0       Harriet Turner, Director of International Studies and Peter Levitov, Associate Dean of International Studies

Peterson welcomed Turner and Levitov and stated that the Executive Committee was interested in learning about the impacts of the U.S. Patriot Act on international students and the university.  Levitov noted that the U.S. Patriot Act was passed and signed by Congress on October 26, 2001 in response to the September 11th terrorists’ attacks.  He pointed out that the act was passed so quickly that not much thought was given to the implications and ramifications of it.  He stated that the Act set the stage for statutory and regulatory measures to monitor international visitors to the U.S. 


Levitov stated that the affects on higher education institutions actually started in 1993 after the World Trade Center bombing.  He reported that in response to the bombing, an act was passed requiring some monitoring of foreign students. Levitov pointed out that 98% of the foreigners who come to the United States are visitors and only 2% are students that can be traced.  He reported that the government realized in 1993 that there was no real count of the number of foreign students in the U.S.  As a result, a system was developed and tested in the 90’s to help track these students.   Levitov pointed out that the system did not really go on line for universities to use until August 1, 2003.


Levitov stated that the university must report on foreign students whenever certain events occur such as a change in major, change in number of credit hours, or a change in residency.  He noted that the information that is reported includes personal information such as home residency and information on any dependents. 


Levitov stated that every university is either developing their own computer program to help deal with all of the required information or they are buying a program.  He pointed out that the additional information and reporting that is required on international students has caused a tremendous amount of work for the International Affairs Office and Information Systems who are working on developing a program that will help integrate the university SIS system with the federal program. 


Levitov stated that international students must be approved for a student visa before they are allowed into the country.  He stated that there are certain fields, anything that can be weapons related are considered sensitive fields and individuals from certain countries are under scrutiny if they are a student in any of these fields.  He noted that these students cannot get access to certain types of sensitive equipment or supplies.


Levitov stated that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) notifies a school when a student arrives in the country.  He stated that the university must report to the INS if the student does not appear on campus within 30 days.  He noted that social security numbers are no longer being given out to foreign students.  He stated that this is causing a problem for students needing or wanting to obtain a drivers license.  He noted that a foreign student must report a change of address within 10 days. 


Levitov reported that students from certain countries, mostly the mid-East, are required to be registered with the INS.  They must renew their registration each year in person.  He stated that registration includes a photograph and fingerprints of the individual and within a few years, an iris scan will also be done.  He stated that the name of each individual is compared to a list of names of known terrorists.  He pointed out that the list of countries considered to be sensitive has grown.  Levitov stated that even visiting professors and scholars are subject to this registration process. 


Levitov reported that a survey involving 331 institutions (including UNL) was conducted by NAFSA, the Association of American Universities, and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges during the month of October 2003.  He noted that 64% of the institutions that responded have seen steady or declining enrollments by new and continuing international students.  Levitov stated that in 2001 there was a 6.4% increase in the number of international students at UNL but that it has dropped to only a .6% increase this year.  He noted that there has been a huge decrease in the number of students coming from the mid-East and some African countries.  He pointed out that the number of visiting scholars is also down, particularly from Russia and China. 


Levitov stated that he does not know of any international student who has been denied a visa to come here but he does know that there have been significant delays for students to get a visa.  Peterson stated that his department was trying to recruit a graduate student from Albania but the student was denied a visa.  Levitov pointed out that those countries that teach in English, such as Australia and New Zealand, are seeing a significant increase in the number of foreign students attending their universities.  He stated that part of this is due to the fact that parents are fearful of their child’s safety here in the U.S and are sending their children to other countries.


Levitov noted that very few international students left UNL after the 9/11 attacks.  He stated that the campus responded by meeting with international students, providing counseling and convening the campus police to assure them of their safety. 


Levitov stated that, unless world politics change, he did not foresee any significant changes in the number of international students in the near future. He noted that currently the largest number of foreign students is from India.  He stated that the number of applications for admission to UNL has declined.   He pointed out that departments are unwilling to commit to a graduate assistantship if they think a student may not come here. 


Levitov noted that the international students here are happy and feel that UNL and Lincoln are hospitable environments.  He stated that International Affairs and the campus have worked hard to create a positive atmosphere for the students. 


Peterson stated that the system of granting a student visa is arbitrary and subjective.  Levitov stated that there are legal statutory requirements when granting a student visa.  He noted that consulates must know if a student has the intention of returning to their country when their studies are completed.  He pointed out that the difficulty here is that intention cannot be proven. 


Peterson asked whether the Patriot Act has put a heavy burden on the university and whether International Affairs has had to absorb all of the cost of adhering to the Act.  Levitov stated that while graduate and undergraduate admissions and the intensive English program have had some increase in their workload, the main responsibility of providing information to the federal government has fallen on the International Affairs Office.  He noted that Information Services has also been actively involved in trying to develop a computer program that will interface between the University system and the federal system for reporting.  He pointed out that INS sees each campus of the university as a separate institution. 


Levitov reported that administration has provided some funding for a clerical person to assist with all of the recordkeeping.  He pointed out that other offices have not been able to increase their staff to assist in the additional work created by the Act.  In fact, some have actually lost people due to the recent budget cuts.  He stated that the additional work has put a tremendous burden on the staff of International Affairs.  He pointed out that last summer many of their staff members could only work on reporting to the federal government.  As a result, the office was less able to serve students as promptly as they had in the past. 


Turner pointed out that every university has had this additional work imposed on them.  She noted that the Student Information System here is not compatible with the federal system.  As a result information on the SIS cannot be transferred over to the federal system but must be manually entered.  She stated that Central Administration decided to let the company that provided the SIS system develop a program that would electronically interface SIS with the federal system.  She noted that this has not happened yet. 


Turner stated that information must be provided on approximately 2500 people and each one has to be entered manually into the system.  She stated that the university only has 21 days to report any changes on the student or their dependents otherwise the student could be deported. 


Turner stated that I-20 forms must now be printed through the INS electronic system.  They cannot be typed here.  She stated that because an interface system has not been constructed, employees in her office have been coming in at 6:00 AM so that they can have access to the INS database.  She pointed out that only 10 people from the university can be designated as having access to the federal database.  As a result, she stated her office has had to cross-train all of the personnel.  Levitov pointed out that the 10 designated people also have to be knowledgeable about the rules and regulations of INS. 


Turner stated she fears that international education has become politicized and that some faculty and students are apprehensive of becoming involved with it because it may be viewed negatively. 


Fech noted that the federal mandate to provide the required information came as an unfunded mandate.  Turner stated that it is difficult for the university to provide additional personnel to help with the requirements of the Act due to the budget crisis.  She stated that she feels that the administration has been very sympathetic to the situation.  Levitov noted that there are only 2 international advisers for 1500 students and 250 visiting scholars.  He pointed out that certain event changes for international students requires some investigation but they do not have the staff to be able to do this.  He noted that if their office is not careful, the institution could lose its credibility. 


Levitov noted that the study abroad program continues to do well and that last year they had the highest number of students participating in the program.  Turner pointed out that there has been an increase in the number of students participating in the English Conversation Partner Program.  She stated that this is a program where domestic students and international students converse in English.  She stated that 250 students are now involved in the program and last year there was a waiting list of domestic students wanting to participate. 


Levitov noted that the administration reacted quickly to the incident involving the visiting scholar in Computer Science.  He stated that the Chancellor is requiring that all people that will be employed by the university will need to be carefully screened.  Turner stated that Dean Hoffman of Arts & Sciences discussed the matter with the chairs in his college and stated that everyone being hired by the university must now be thoroughly checked. 


Peterson asked if the Senate could help in any way.  Levitov stated that a statement of support would be very helpful.  Fuller suggested that a resolution could come from the Senate showing support.  Turner pointed out that it is essential for the campus to continue having international students.  She noted that it provides cultural diversity for the campus and brings talented students to Nebraska.  She pointed out that the international students compose the largest minority on campus and that efforts need to be made to keep the doors open so that they continue to come here.


Beck suggested that the Senate should have a conversation during the spring semester about this issue.  She pointed out that a student group wants to give a presentation to the Senate regarding the impacts of the Patriot Act.  Logan-Peters stated that the Libraries should be included at that meeting because of the federal regulations that they have to comply with.  Beck asked if departments or colleges could help in any way.  Levitov stated that it would be helpful if International Affairs could have more professional advisors but that is a difficult thing to ask for now with the budget cuts the university is facing.  Turner noted that her office is managing but that the task is challenging.


The Committee agreed to discuss a resolution stating support for International Affairs and students at an upcoming meeting.


4.0       Approval of 11/12/03 Minutes

Beck moved and Whitt seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.  Shea asked for clarification on the appointment of a faculty member to the Alliance for Intercollegiate Athletics Reform.  Griffin stated that President Wunder appointed a new member of the Intercollegiate Athletics Reform to represent the faculty because he felt that appointing the Chancellor’s representative to the NCAA would put her in a difficult situation. 


5.0              <![endif]>Unfinished Business

5.1       Resolution Supporting UNOPA and UAAD

Due to lack of time the item was postponed.


5.2       Wasted Time Proposal

Logan-Peters suggested that there needs to be discussion at the Senate on each of the procedures that were listed in the report that was distributed to the Senate last month.  Beck agreed and stated that further discussion on the proposed changes needs to take place before faculty members could decide to support them. 


Fuller suggested that the identified procedures should be referred to Senate committees when possible to thoroughly review and discuss the proposed changes.  Fech stated that the vision of the proposal should be changed and that the proposal should be looked at as a framework that was developed.  The Committee concurred that the Senate should not take any particular action on the proposal. 


Logan-Peters suggested that the Executive Committee should accept the report.  She pointed out that the Wasted Time Committee did its job by identifying particular procedures that are deemed by the faculty to be time wasters.  She stated that the Executive Committee should charge specific Senate committees to review the proposed changes.  She stated that these committees could then report to the Executive Committee or the Senate at a later date where it can be discussed. 

The Committee agreed and stated that President Wunder would report the decision to the Senate at the December meeting.


5.3       ES/IS Proposal

Peterson reported that the proposal to revise the ES/IS courses will be presented to the Senate at the December 2nd meeting but it will not be voted on until the January meeting.  He noted that the ES/IS Review Committee is proposing a number of changes which will have to be ratified eventually by college curriculum committees.  He noted that some of the major changes are to replace the name “Essential Studies” with “General Education Requirements”; students are required to take one course in each of eight subject matters; the departments and colleges will determine the courses to be listed in these areas and this list will be considered the university list; courses on the university list will be accepted by all colleges as fulfilling the general education requirements in the specific areas.  


Peterson stated that the intent of the IS program will be retained but the Committee wants colleges and departments to be responsible for creating a plan to achieve the IS objectives.  He pointed out that achieving these objectives would be part of a department’s assessment and academic review.  He stated that the Committee felt that the general education courses should be considered university courses but the IS program should be considered to belong to the college and department. 


Logan-Peters asked how long it would be before these changes are made, if the Senate approves the proposal.  Peterson stated that any changes would probably not occur until the colleges approve them. 


Fuller stated that these changes could create less work for the UNL Curriculum Committee.  She asked what that committee would be doing if the changes are implemented.  Peterson stated that some people on the Committee felt that the Curriculum Committee could be eliminated.  Fuller stated that the Office of Undergraduate Studies could see if new courses are a duplication of already existing courses.  Peterson pointed out that everyone on the Committee agreed that the curriculum belongs to the faculty but they felt the eight general requirement subject areas should be accepted across the university. 


Fuller noted that the IS courses have a hidden pedagogical agenda and that it is imposed on every major.  Peterson stated that the IS courses are about pedagogy.  Fuller asked if the proposed changes mean that a major must have IS courses but one course does not have to cover all of the components of the required pedagogy.  Peterson stated that this is correct and that the courses do not even have to be called IS courses.  He stated that the Committee is suggesting a change of the language in the bulletin.  He stated that if the colleges approve the suggested changes in the spring, the course list for the general education requirements could be generated during the summer or fall semester. 


Griffin asked what will happen if one or two colleges do not accept the changes but the rest do.  Peterson pointed out that the Chancellor is in favor of revising and cleaning up the ES/IS courses and may be able to help move the changes forward.  It is possible that members of the Senate will want to offer amendments and that whatever is sent forward from the Senate may be rejected by one or more colleges.  If that were to occur, the changes are that UNL would simply continue with the current system.


6.0       New Business

No new business was discussed.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:18 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, December 3 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.