Executive Committee Minutes - December 1, 2004




Present:          Alexander, Beck, Bradford, Fech, Hoffman, Peterson, Scholz, Shea, Signal, Wunder


Absent:           Bolin, Stock


Date:               Wednesday, December 1, 2004


Location:        Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace


Note:   These are not verbatim minutes.  They are a summary of the discussions at the Executive Committee meeting as corrected by those participating.


1.0       Call to Order

            Peterson called the meeting to order at 3:06 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            2.1       Meeting on Business Services

Griffin reported that the Committee will be meeting with Bruce Currin, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Human Resources, and Russell Bartholow, Director of Copy/Printing/Mail & Distribution Services, on January 12th to discuss business services since the budget cuts.


3.0       Approval of 11/10/04 Minutes

Signal moved and Alexander seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


4.0       Conflict of Interest Policy

Peterson noted that he received an email message from Chancellor Perlman asking the Committee to review the draft of the Conflict of Interest Policy recently developed by Central Administration.  Bradford stated that the document needs to be clearer and is almost incomprehensible.  He noted that the policy should list what faculty members can and cannot do.  Bradford pointed out that the policy is sufficiently ambiguous that it could be used against virtually anyone for virtually any outside activity.  He worried that this conferred too much discretion on the administration to selectively prosecute faculty members for violations.


Alexander stated that, if read carefully, the document appears to indicate that research cannot be conducted on anything a faculty member receives royalties on.   He also had concerns with the section regarding open meetings and public records.  He stated that as a public institution the university should make records available to the public.


Alexander noted that another problem with the document is in regards to the use of research labs and other university facilities.  He pointed out that the document indicates that computers and other university equipment can be used to conduct outside research but laboratory equipment falls under the area where it must be leased.  He stated that not being able to use research labs would cause difficulties for faculty in Engineering.  Peterson stated that it is a matter of degrees regarding what university equipment can be used for outside consulting and what cannot.  He pointed out that faculty members doing paid manuscript reviews can use their university computer. 


Fech asked if it is correct that faculty members are allowed two days per month for outside consulting.  Peterson stated that this is correct.  He noted that some faculty members on 12 month appointments will often use their annual vacation leave to do outside consulting because the nature of the consulting can take several days or longer. 


Peterson noted that the Chancellor has requested that comments be sent to Vice Chancellor Paul by January 15th on the document.  Wunder suggested that the policy should be sent to the Senators for their feedback.  Peterson agreed to send the policy to the Senators.  Alexander noted that the document is very important to the faculty and could have implications for their research. 


Alexander stated that he is on the UNL Committee on Conflict of Interest and will be reviewing the document with that group as well.  He noted that Associate Vice Chancellor Crockett is chairing the committee. 


Fech pointed out that faculty members participating in outside consulting can enhance the university’s reputation as well as provide the individual faculty member with monetary or other benefits.  He stated that the draft policy could potentially quash some outside consulting.  Wunder noted that a problem could arise if faculty members were neglecting their university duties in order to do outside consulting. 


Alexander pointed out that the document allows the Athletic Department and associated faculty members to use university facilities for youth camps that are conducted in the summer.  He asked what the difference is between athletics and a university professor using a research lab to conduct research.  He pointed out that many professors use their grant money to purchase equipment for the research labs and that this equipment is used by many members of the university. 


Alexander stated that there should be openness about the outside consulting work that is being done by professors should be included in the document so the public knows what work is being conducted.  Shea pointed out that the way the document is currently written could allow an individual to set up a lucrative arrangement between themselves and the university without anyone else knowing about it. 


Fech stated that the document needs to be simplified.  Bradford pointed out that a lot of the document deals with procedures to set up committees.  He stated that this should be separated from the document. 


Peterson noted that each campus needs to respond to Central Administration on the document by March 1st.  Wunder suggested that Peterson contact the other Senate Presidents to see what they think about the document.  Peterson stated that he would contact the other Senate Presidents.


5.0       Open Forum Discussion on Core Values

Peterson noted that the first open forum discussion for the campus on the core values is scheduled for Thursday, December 2nd from 11:00 – 1:00 in the City Campus Union.  He noted that members of the Committee should attend if possible. 


Wunder asked if any changes have been made to the core values based on the suggestions made by the Committee when they met with SVCAA Couture.  Peterson stated that he did not think any changes were made yet.  He noted that the administration might want to wait until after the open forums to make any revisions.


Wunder noted that the upcoming reaccreditation process seems to be generating the energy to develop the campus strategic plan and core values.  He noted that IANR is ahead of the planning process since they have been working on a strategic plan for some time.  Peterson stated that there will need to be some major revisions to IANR’s strategic plan because it does not fit with some of the unit plans that are being developed. 


Alexander questioned how the different college plans will be incorporated into the campus plan.  He wondered what the process will be to do this.  Hoffman wondered how the plans will be implemented.  The Committee agreed to put this on the agenda for their December 15th meeting with the Chancellor, SVCAA, and VC. 


6.0       Teaching Initiative Committee

Peterson reported that he has been asked to appoint a faculty member to serve on the Teaching Initiative Committee.  He stated that this committee will review the applications that are submitted for the teaching initiative funds.  Wunder suggested considering a faculty member from the Academy of Distinguished Professors. 


7.0       Unfinished Business

7.1       Response from President Milliken

Peterson reported that President Milliken responded to the Committee’s request for the President to reconsider a grievance case.  Peterson stated that President Milliken wrote that he sought legal advice and was recommended by the University Counsel not to reconsider the case.  Peterson noted that at this point the Committee could take no further action and it was up to the complainant to take legal actions.


Peterson noted that President Milliken stated in his letter that he does want to address the concern of faculty members about shared governance and whether any grievances filed against an administrator would be found in the complainant’s favor. 


Wunder pointed out that the current grievance procedures have problems because they do not allow for appeals and they do not address the issue of the Chancellor being a respondent in cases.  Beck stated that the proposed ARRC revisions address this problem.


7.2       Changes to Preliminary Grades

Wunder stated that it is important to remind the faculty that Registration and Records will not change the preliminary grade given to graduating seniors if the grade is lower than what is reported on the early degree grade roster.   He noted that the preliminary grade will become the permanent grade even if the graduating senior should flunk the course.  


7.3       Dead Week Committee

Alexander reported that the committee met last week.   He noted that resolving the issue will be very difficult.  He reported that the students came up with a new proposal which is very similar to the one that the Senate voted against in April.  He stated that all of the members of the committee, even those from the physical sciences, could not understand why the document was voted down.  Alexander stated that the proposal may need to be presented in a different way for it to be accepted. 


Wunder noted that many professors cancel classes during Thanksgiving week.  He suggested that this could be dead week. 


Alexander stated that the committee will be meeting again in December.  He stated that the committee is concerned whether or not the Senate has the authority to approve changes to the semester schedule.  Peterson noted that the University-wide Calendar Committee policy states that classes must meet 15 times for each day it is scheduled during the week (15 Mondays, 15 Wednesdays, etc.).  Wunder pointed out that the university is in violation of its own policy because of the fall break and Martin Luther King holiday. 


Wunder stated that when he spoke with former President Smith about the issue Smith informed him that it was the prerogative of the campus to change the semester schedule.  Wunder noted that Chancellor Perlman stated that he believed as long as the beginning date and commencement dates remained the same that the Senate could make any changes to the schedule between those two dates.  The Committee agreed that they need to get clarification from the Chancellor on whether changes can be made. 


Peterson suggested that Vice Chancellor Griesen meet with the Dead Week Committee to address concerns regarding students taking courses at one of the other campuses.  Peterson stated that Vice Chancellor Griesen’s argument is that the semester should remain the same to facilitate students taking courses at the other campuses. 


Wunder suggested that another possible solution is to make an exception to allow lab quizzes during the proposed stop days.  Signal asked if the due date for final class projects which are given in place of a final exam would have to be moved up or back a week.  Alexander stated that it would be moved back but it would really be up to the discretion of the instructor. 


Alexander stated that some of the greatest opposition to the proposed changes is from non-tenured instructors who may be fearful that their jobs will be in jeopardy if classes are shortened. 


7. 4      Response from Regent Wilson

Signal asked if Peterson has received a response from Regent Wilson on the letter that was sent recommending specific actions to improve diversity on campus.  Peterson stated that he has not received a response yet but will contact Regent Wilson if he does not receive a response sometime soon. 


8.0       New Business

8.1       Call on Minus Grades

Peterson stated that he received a call from the mother of a student who was concerned with the minus grading system.  The mother claims that the students will be at a disadvantage with this grading system.  Peterson stated that he informed the mother that the average student gpa’s have not changed with the minus system.  He reported that he invited the mother to send a letter about her complaint which would be kept on file should there be more concerns on the minus grading system. 


8.2       Searches to Fill Positions

Beck reported that she received a phone call from a faculty member in a department that is conducting a search to fill a position within the department.  The faculty member stated that they had requested to see the evaluations and resume on the candidates but was told that they could not see the evaluations or meet with the candidate individually. 


Wunder stated that it would depend on the department’s bylaws.  He noted that some departments have abrogated their search committee’s responsibilities to a personnel committee.  He suggested that the faculty member might want to speak with the College Advisory or Executive Committee regarding the issue if the department does not have bylaws regarding search committees. 


Alexander pointed out that the Equal Opportunity Commission might have guidelines on this subject.  He questioned what stage the search process was in and suggested that the faculty member should consult with the Office of Equity Access and Diversity.


8.3       Daily Nebraskan Article on Cheating

Bradford stated that he was bothered to learn that the university’s response to students cheating is simply to give the student a zero.  Peterson stated that Dr. Hecker, Director of Student Judicial Affairs, tried to clarify the university’s position in the next edition of the DN.  Bradford stated that students should automatically be expelled if they are caught cheating. 


Hoffman stated that he found it disturbing to learn that in the Arts & Sciences testing classroom that if a student is caught cheating they cannot be told to leave the room.  The only action that can be taken is to report the incident to the professor. 


Wunder suggested that this is a topic that should be addressed.    He stated that cheating is becoming more technologically advanced and students are becoming more creative in ways to cheat.  The Committee agreed that this may be something that Academic Affairs should look into.  It was noted that there does not seem to be any workshop for faculty regarding ways students cheat and what actions can be taken. 


The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, December 8th 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 Pat Shea, Secretary.