Executive Committee Minutes - October 8, 2003



Present:          Buck, Carlo, Fech, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Miller, Peterson, Shea, Spann, Whitt


Absent:           Alexander, Beck, Wunder


Date:               Wednesday, October 8, 2003


Location:        201 Canfield Administration Building


1.0       Call to Order

            Peterson called the meeting to order at 3:06 pm.


2.0       Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman stated that he was unable to attend the October 7th Senate meeting because he was hosting a reception to honor the opening an exhibit by Professor Carole Levin, History, at the Newberry Library in Chicago.  He noted that an invitation to the reception was sent to all university Presidents, Provosts, and Chairs of the History departments around the greater Chicago area.  He stated that the opening was successful and approximately 100 people attended.  He noted that a similar type of reception will be held in Washington DC in the near future.  He pointed out that these receptions not only honor the faculty who participate in the exhibitions, but they also bring recognition to the academic achievements of the university.


Peterson asked if there were alumni centers elsewhere in the country.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there are some alumni clubs but none have a physical location and most focus on athletics.


2.1       Faculty Salary Increase Update

Chancellor Perlman stated that he is unsure at this time whether or not the increases will be distributed in January.  He stated that he does not think the cash flow for this year will allow the increases to be distributed.


Chancellor Perlman stated that an email message will be coming soon stating that there could be increases in health care costs for some employees.  He noted that the increase will depend on the category that an employee is in for health care coverage.  He stated that the university is making an effort to move to a plan that is more actuarial based and is looking into assessing the cost of health care coverage.  As a result of the increase, Chancellor Perlman stated that he would like to give a flat, across the board increase to help offset the increase in health care but is not yet certain if he is in a position to do so.


Chancellor Perlman stated that Varner Hall is looking seriously at reconstructing the health care plan.  He noted that pharmaceutical costs have had the largest increases.  He pointed out that it would help greatly if more employees used generic drugs when possible.  He stated that the university is only one of a limited number of employers that allows retirees to be included in the prescription coverage of the plan.  He stated that if the U.S. Legislature passes approval of including pharmaceutical drugs under Medicare, this would help greatly. 


Spann asked if a large number of faculty and staff were using the University Health Center pharmacy.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he did not know how many of the employees were using the pharmacy.  He pointed out that the pharmacy is there to provide a service to the employees, not to compete with the private sector. 


Fech asked if the actuarial plan is based on an individual’s health profile.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it would probably be done by categories, although he did not know how the categories would be determined.  He noted that classifying the health care coverage would be a sensitive issue. 


Miller asked if it would be more beneficial to faculty members if the across the board increase was applied to the health care costs instead of salaries.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the tax consequences would be the same either way.  Spann asked if the limit on the medical reimbursement account is set by the university or the federal government.  Chancellor Perlman reported that it is set by the government. 


Fech reported that a suggestion was made at the Senate meeting for the university to consider increasing or extending the tuition reimbursement benefit rather than focusing on salary increases.  He noted that the rationale behind this suggestion is that more children of faculty and staff members would come to UNL instead of going elsewhere.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he did not think the Board of Regents would approve an increase in this benefit.  He stated that the benefit was extended to family members because it was part of the collective bargaining units’ contract.  He noted that it is an economic question and that the benefit does cost the university some money.  He pointed out that the tuition benefit does not apply to all employees because not everyone has children. 


Miller asked if enough faculty members retired to help with the budget cuts.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there were enough but that some money will be paid to those that are taking the phase-out retirement program. 


2.2       Climate Survey

Peterson noted that the survey is to be conducted in the spring semester.  He asked what departments will need to do if they decide not to participate in the survey.  Chancellor Perlman stated that departments need to show some good faith effort that they are trying to improve the climate in their departments.  He noted that a report will more than likely need to be filed.  He pointed out that departments will not be penalized if they not complete the survey but they will need to do something to address the climate issue.


Fuller asked if the survey has been altered.  Chancellor Perlman stated that some slight changes have been made but that it is close to the original.  He pointed out that the survey needs to be conducted for more than one year to see how effective it is and whether it is working.  He stated that he has received feedback, particularly from the support staff that the survey has helped make improvements. 


Logan-Peters asked if neighborhoods will be reorganized since there have been a number of mergers.  Chancellor Perlman stated that Associate to the Chancellor Howe would be making these changes. 


2.3       President Smith’s Return to Teaching

Peterson noted that the Lincoln Journal Star article indicated that President Smith’s salary, when he returns to teaching, will be based on the average of the three highest faculty members in the School of Biological Sciences.  He pointed out that President Smith will only be at .50 FTE.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this was correct and noted that the money is not in the campus budget at this time. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that he is working with Vice Chancellor Paul to establish a Biotechnology Forum that will be comprised of members from the university and private sector.  He noted that this could help the state economically.  He stated that President Smith would lead the forum. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that President Smith will be teaching an honors course in the honors program.  He reported that President Smith is considering other teaching options as well. 


Miller stated faculty members are frustrated because tenured faculty members are being fired yet administrators who are resigning from their positions are being allowed to go back to departments and teach.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the university has to honor its contract with these administrators.  He noted that it is the faculty who typically want academicians hired to these administrative positions.  He stated that if universities were allowed to hire people outside of academics, they would not have to be hired with academic tenure. 


2.4       SVCAA Search Committee Update

Logan-Peters, a member of the committee, stated that they are not scheduled to meet until October 29th.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the job description has been announced and that applications are being received. Miller asked if an employment firm was being used.  Chancellor Perlman stated not at this time but may be used to expand the search.  Carlo asked if the deadline date for submitting vitas was firm.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it is open.  He noted that he hopes to have the position filled by next summer. 


2.5       Service on Campus Committees

Peterson stated that it has been difficult to get people to serve on campus committees.  He stated that there seems to be an issue regarding how service is rewarded and whether it is recognized.  Carlo noted that there seems to be more recognition for faculty members to serve on department or college committees rather than campus committees.  He stated that another problem with the service issue is student organizations getting faculty advisors.  He noted that this can be a large time commitment on the part of the faculty member that is often not recognized by the department. 


Fuller pointed out that the culture of the campus does not value and recognize service.  She stated that there are not many celebrations recognizing people’s contribution to service.  She reported that faculty members are sometimes told by department chairs that they should not be involved in service.   Shea noted that some people feel that faculty members serving on committees must have time on their hands.  He stated that this is untrue.  He pointed out that service is hard to quantify and therefore, may not be valued as highly. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that administration had a difficult time with the outreach aspect of the quality indicators.  He noted that members of the university community have obligations as citizens.  He stated that he would be happy to encourage faculty members to participate on committees.  He noted that some of these committees provide important services.  However, he suggested that some committees should be reviewed to see if they are central to faculty issues or whether the work the committees do can be done elsewhere. 


Fuller asked what response the Chancellor was getting on the formation of the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women.  Chancellor Perlman reported that members of the support staff have indicated interest in service on the Commission but he has had few faculty members, and none from IANR.  He noted that the agenda for the Commission is to advise the Chancellor on issues relating to women on campus.


Peterson asked if a new award is being considered at the system-level for community service, similar to the ORCA and ORTICA awards.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he was not aware of a system-wide award.  He noted that there are already some awards for service on campus, such as the Award for Exemplary Service to Students. 


Miller stated that most faculty members are involved in the life of their department but not in the life of the campus.  Peterson pointed out that there is a life cycle of a faculty member.  He stated that younger faculty members are involved in conducting research in order to achieve promotion and tenure.  When faculty members are older, they may not be as actively involved in research and therefore should take a more active role in service which would allow younger faculty to conduct research.  Chancellor Perlman suggested that the Senate could review what professors do and the life cycles of a professor.  He stated that faculty obligations could be articulated. 


Buck asked how the Senate could give a voice to all faculty levels if these levels are not all represented.  She stated that junior faculty members need to be allowed to speak up and be represented in the Senate and on committees.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he agreed that the Senate should have a range of faculty members but he was concerned that some junior faculty members could be put into positions where it would be difficult for them to say no to particular issues increasing demands on their time from committee service.  Buck pointed out that the culture needs to be changes.  She noted that all faculty members will never be represented if junior faculty members do not take part in the discussion of these issues.


Miller suggested that the Committee on Committees should review the list of committees to determine if they are all needed.


            2.6       Gender Equity Report

Peterson stated that at a recent meeting of the UNMC Faculty Senate, it was mentioned that a report on gender equity was going to be given by each campus to the Board of Regents.  He asked if UNL would be providing a report and who was involved.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the Board created a University-wide Gender Committee and they are to submit a report each year.  He noted that each campus generates the report.  In the past the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women wrote the report but this year Professors Joy Ritchie and Marjorie Lou drafted a report with his involvement. 


Peterson noted that a gender equity salary report was supposed to have been conducted at UNL but he is unsure as to the outcome of the report.  Chancellor Perlman stated that a committee was formed to look at the issue using a regression analysis.  He noted that a report was submitted to him.  It was a reasonable but not a clearly acceptable report to all parties.  He noted that it is difficult to get an accurate analysis of the situation because there are so many factors that need to be considered.  He thinks it would be difficult to do on a broad based campus.  He stated that there have been a number of articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education addressing the issue.  He noted that many universities feel that information needs to be drilled down to the department level before accurate information can be obtained.  Carlo suggested that an assessment should be done at the local levels. 


2.7       Breakdown of Programs of Excellence Funding

Peterson stated that the Committee requested a more complete breakdown of the programs of excellence funding about a month ago but has not yet received it.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he will see that the Committee gets a report of the funding.  He noted that there have been some changes to it since more money has become available.

3.0       Announcement

            3.1       EN Thompson Forum

Peterson announced that the first EN Thompson Forum will be held next Wednesday, October 15th at 3:30 pm.  He stated that the speaker will be political theorist Benjamin Barber.


4.0       Approval of 10/1/03 Minutes

Miller moved and Carlo seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.




5.0              <![endif]>Unfinished Business

5.1       Blue Skies Report

Whitt stated that the Committee might want to endorse emphasizing academics more in freshmen orientations.  Shea felt that there needs to be a clearer picture of service and outreach in the report.  Whitt noted that the report focused on three missions:  teaching, research, and outreach but there was no mention of service.  He stated that if service is going to be left out that this creates a problem.  The Committee discussed whether a resolution should be presented to the Senate.  Whitt stated that he would see if he could draft a resolution that addresses the issues raised about the report and present it to the Committee next week.


5.2       Wasted Time Committee

Whitt stated that an email message was received from SVCAA Edwards regarding protecting faculty time.  He asked if this is in conjunction with the Wasted Time Committee.  Miller stated that it was part of it.  He stated that the Committee felt that they could not look into specifics on each of the processes because it would be so cumbersome that the approval to revise the procedures would not pass.  He noted that in some places revisions are already being made to procedures and processes.  Carlo suggested that departments should be encouraged to periodically review their processes and procedures to see if they can be revised and improved. 


6.0       New Business

            6.1       Future Agenda Items

Spann stated that he would like to see the following issues on upcoming Executive Committee agendas:  fees assessed by Information Services for faculty to learn how to use programs for teaching; how much is actually being saved by program eliminations; college restructuring of Architecture and Journalism.  Carlo stated that he would like to have discussions on the basic need of equity between the athletic department and other university departments and colleges.  He pointed out that the athletic department is treated differently in many ways from the rest of the university system. 


The meeting was adjourned at 5:07 pm.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, October 15th 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 Shelley Fuller, Secretary.