Executive Committee Minutes - April 21, 2004



Present:          Alexander, Beck, Bradford, Fech, Logan-Peters, Peterson, Shea, Spann, Whitt, Wunder


Absent:           Buck, Miller


Date:               Wednesday, April 21, 2004


Location:        201 Canfield Administration Building


1.0       Call to Order

            Wunder called the meeting to order at 3:04 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            2.1       Email Messages

Wunder reported that he has received email messages regarding the contract between the university and pickaprof.com.  Griffin noted that the committee will be meeting with the new ASUN officers next week and suggested that this would be a good opportunity to discuss the contract. 


Wunder stated that he has received an email message regarding the dead week proposal.  He stated that he responded to the email message addressing the concerns of the instructor. 


2.2       Outgoing Executive Committee Members

Wunder noted that this was the last Executive Committee meeting for Professors Logan-Peters, Spann, and Whitt.  He and the rest of the committee thanked them for their commitment and service to faculty governance and their valuable input over the last three years.


3.0       Approval of 4/14/04 Minutes

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


4.0       Unfinished Business

            4.1       Senate Rules Amendment

Spann reported that he spoke with Professor Bender, Chair of the Senate Rules and Bylaws Committee, regarding the concerns about the nomination process for Academic Senate officers and Executive Committee members.  Spann stated that Professor Bender indicated that the Rules Committee was wide open to any suggestions.  Professor Bender stated that the Committee on Committees was selected to handle the nominations because it was already an existing committee with similar responsibilities and with faculty representatives from different disciplines. 


Wunder suggested that if a nominating committee is created, the Past President or a designee of the Executive Committee could be on the committee.  


Fuller stated that she has several concerns with the Committee on Committees being involved with the nominations.  She noted that there are members of the Committee that are not on the Senate and that there is an administrator who serves on the committee.  She stated that people on the nominating committee should come from the Senate. 


Beck asked what the responsibilities will be of the nominating committee.  Wunder stated that the committee would solicit nominations and provide encouragement to Senators considering running for election.  He pointed out that the process requires a certain amount of activity that could be done by the people on the nominating committee.  Beck asked if the nominating committee would screen or rank nominees or would they just identify people and give a list of names to the Executive Committee.  Peterson stated that there is value in having people on the committee that are familiar with the Senate.  He pointed out that nominees must be from the Senate and be willing to serve. 


Wunder suggested that members of the nominating committee could be the Chair of the Committee on Committees, two current Senate representatives from the Committee on Committees, and the President’s designee from the Executive Committee.  Peterson suggested that the Coordinator of the Academic Senate should serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the committee since she can provide information on the Senate. 


Peterson agreed to draft an amendment to the Senate Rules and have it presented at the April 27th Senate meeting. 


4.2       ES/IS Update

Wunder reported that meetings have been held with some of the colleges regarding the ES/IS proposal.  He noted that Arts & Sciences does not seem to be supportive of the proposal.  Peterson stated that Arts & Sciences does not want to accept outside courses.  Shea stated that he has heard other faculty members express this concern. 


Beck stated that Arts & Sciences may be more supportive of the proposal if the courses in the grid that are contentious are removed.  Peterson pointed out that the ES/IS Reform Committee looked at the grid and they could not come up with a consensus of what would work best. 


Peterson stated that most of the faculty members in CASNR seem comfortable with the proposal.  Spann stated that he believes the faculty members in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications are basically in favor of it.  Griffin noted that Professor Harbison stated in a Senate meeting that the Chemistry department was in favor of it and Professor Flowers from Psychology indicated the same thing.  She suggested polling the senators to see how each department was feeling about the proposal. 


Wunder stated that Arts & Sciences is concerned that their requirement of six hours of English could be usurped in part by a written communication ES course outside of English courses.  Fuller asked if the social sciences were concerned with the drop in the required credit hours from nine to six.  Whitt stated that there is some concern in his department about this part of the proposal. 


Peterson noted that the typical undergraduate student takes approximately 40 courses to graduate.  He noted that eight of these courses meet the minimum requirement of the ES program and approximately 10 courses are required in a major.  He pointed out that this leaves 22 outside courses that can be filled by required courses.  Fuller pointed out that for some professional degrees those 22 courses are already locked up with required courses. 


Logan-Peters asked how the College of Education and Human Services feels about the proposal.  Wunder stated that he attended a meeting with members of the college and they seemed quite interested.  He stated that they had a lot of questions but their biggest concern was the IS program.  Beck stated that she did not believe the IS courses should be pushed back to the units.  She noted that the program may not be working perfectly but it is working.  Peterson stated that no evidence is available that supports her argument.  Beck stated that the responses made by UNL students in the National Student Engagement Survey indicate that the IS program is working.  Peterson stated that the data from the survey does not give direct evidence to support the IS program. 


Beck stated that faculty members should be able to ensure that the intent of an IS course remains consistent with the goals of the IS program.  Wunder pointed out that once a new course is approved by the college and the University Curriculum Committee there is no further oversight of it.  Beck stated that departments should provide the oversight of its courses.  Peterson noted that the proposal recommends that overseeing the IS courses would be part of the department’s annual assessment.  He stated that he does not feel that faculty members in a department should be assessing each other’s courses. 


Peterson suggested that this discussion should be continued in the fall.  He noted that the Committee can then assess where things stand with the proposal.


4.3       Changing Executive Committee Meeting Time

Wunder suggested that the Executive Committee meeting time could be changed to Tuesday afternoons.  He noted that this is the time that most Senators block out for the Senate meetings and this would possibly help in getting more people to run for the Executive Committee.  Beck suggested that the first Executive Committee meeting of the month could meet on Thursday afternoon.  This way the Executive Committee could still maintain the number of times that it meets.  Alexander stated that his college typically holds faculty meeting on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons or has colloquiums.  Griffin suggested that this issue should be discussed with the new members of the Executive Committee.





5.0       New Business

            5.1       Faculty Trends

Shea noted that he sent a copy of the faculty trends report presented at the last AAUP meeting.  He stated that the information in the report was obtained from the NU Fact Book and was gathered by Professors Ron Lee and Ann Mari May.  He pointed out that the report shows an alarming trend in the loss of tenured and tenure track positions. 


Alexander stated that he would like to see whether the trend is also occurring at our peer institutions.  He stated that this information is needed to see how we compare with our peers.  Peterson suggested that Dr. Nunez, Director of Institutional Research and Planning, could possibly get this information. 


Beck noted that a lot of faculty members are not included in the figures presented in the report.  She stated that research faculty and extension faculty are not included.  She pointed out that some of our peer institutions do not include librarians as faculty members.  Shea stated that if research faculty were included in the report the figures would be even worse.  Wunder stated that the university is pushing for faculty to work on large grants but little is being done to replace these professors with comparable professors in the classroom. 


Shea stated that he is concerned with the rise in the number of special appointments and the impacts it can have on faculty governance.  He pointed out that faculty members on a contract may be leery of confronting administrators because of a lack of security with their position.  He noted that the changes that are occurring on campus with the faculty are going to have further impacts on the restructuring of the campus. 


Beck pointed out that the decrease in the number of assistant professors that are on tenure leading lines is alarming.  She noted that the report indicates that there has been a 50% decrease in these lines since 1993.  She pointed out that some research faculty members are being hired with open searches and are considered permanent employees although they are not tenured.  She stated that in some colleges a great deal of the teaching is being done by part time instructors. 


Spann stated that the College of Journalism and Mass Communications has a lot of part time instructors to help with their writing courses.  He pointed out that many of these instructors have been teaching on campus for 20 years.  


The meeting was adjourned at 4:02 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, April 28 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.