Executive Committee Minutes - February 11, 2004




Present:          Alexander, Beck, Bradford, Buck, Fuller, Peterson, Spann, Whitt


Absent:           Fech, Logan-Peters, Miller, Shea, Wunder


Date:               Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Location:        201 Canfield Administration Building


1.0       Call to Order

            Peterson called the meeting to order at 3:03 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            2.1       E.N. Thompson Forum

Peterson reported that Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will be speaking at the E.N. Thompson Forum on Tuesday, February 17th.


3.0       Chancellor Perlman

            3.1       Salary Increases and Using Quality Indicators

Peterson stated that there is word on east campus that the salary allocations will be based on a department’s rating on the quality indicators.  He asked the Chancellor if he has heard about this and whether it is being done on city campus as well.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he has not heard about it.  He noted that there would be no problem in using the quality indicators for evaluations if they a true measurement of quality.  He pointed out that that there are some questions regarding the quality indicators and therefore they should probably not be used exclusively when evaluations are conducted.  Beck pointed out that it is more of a philosophical question since the raises will be small this year.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he does not believe comparisons should be made between departments within a college or university.  Rather, comparisons should be made between departments of the same discipline from our peer institutions.  He pointed out that the quality indicators do have some information on our peer institutions. 


Fuller suggested that the Committee should discuss the issue of using the quality indicators for the department with Vice Chancellor Owens.


3.2       Snow Day Policy

Peterson noted that the Chancellor addressed some of the questions regarding this issue in his letter to the campus.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he does pay attention to what the Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) are doing on snow days.  He noted that the university and LPS used to have coordinated schedules but LPS changed their calendar.  He pointed out that the university has different issues than LPS. 


Spann asked what the deadline was for the Chancellor to report that the campus is closed.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he usually waits until 5:00 a.m. to see if transportation is a problem and if facilities have been able to clear the campus.


3.3       Child Care Program

Buck reported that the ad hoc committee on child care has looked at what has been done, what the current situation is, and is looking into recommendations for the future.  She stated that it is a small committee but they have been getting a lot of interest on campus from faculty, staff, and students on the subject.  She stated that she hopes the committee can be expanded so further work could be done.  Chancellor Perlman asked her if she was on his ad hoc committee that is looking into child care.  Buck stated that she was not and the Chancellor stated that he would see that she is put on the committee.


Chancellor Perlman stated that the issue with the current child care program with the YWCA is that the costs are going up greatly.  He stated that he recently found out that UNL’s subsidy of the program includes spaces for twenty children whose parents are not associated with the university in any way.  He noted that UNL has a three year lease with YWCA for the program but the cost of maintaining the program will need to increase by $50,000 in order to keep it operational. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that his ad hoc committee is thinking about hiring a consultant who works with Bryan Hospital to provide child care.  He noted that there is a lot of information on the issue.  He stated that one idea is that UNL could subsidize the child care program by providing an outside contractor with a facility on campus.  He noted that there might be a building on campus that could house a child care facility.  Buck stated that her committee has found that a company called Bright Horizons has partnered with other universities to provide child care. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that a policy question is why the university would want to be in the day care business.  He pointed out that having a program would be a good recruiting device for both faculty and students.  He stated that other questions would be whether the program should be available for convenience and whether it should be subsidized as another fringe benefit.  Buck stated that she recommends that a child care program at the university should be one of high quality. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he was informed that Lincoln does not have a shortage of day care programs.  Buck stated that the day care programs of quality have a long waiting list.  She pointed out that the YWCA is doing the best that they can with their limited resources but she does not know of any faculty members who take their children there.  She stated that convenience is important but quality is a major factor. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the next question is how much the university would have to subsidize the program.  Buck stated that if the university provided the facility and the cost of maintaining the facility then the cost of the program would be lowered.  Peterson pointed out that not everyone needs child care for eight hours a day.  A child care program on campus could be tailored to the needs of the university.  Buck pointed out that it is difficult to operate a child care program on an as needed basis.  She noted that there are many different places on campus that work with children.  She stated that a child care facility could create a youth center.


3.4       Strategy for ES/IS Proposal

Peterson reported that the ES/IS proposal was discussed at the February Senate meeting and several amendments were made to the proposal.  He noted that voting to approve the proposal has been postponed until the March meeting.  He stated that if the Senate approves the proposal it will go to the colleges’ curriculum committee for them to review.  He stated that if the colleges do not approve the proposal each one could wind up having a separate system.


Chancellor Perlman stated that the Committee should accept the fact that they were able to raise the question regarding the problems with the ES/IS programs.  He pointed out that he thinks it would be overly optimistic to think that the colleges will approve the proposal.  He noted that there may need to be further discussion on the subject.


Peterson pointed out that changes to the existing programs are quite modest.  He noted that both he and President Wunder have been meeting with college curriculum committees and there has been useful discussion on the issue. 


Chancellor Perlman suggested that the Committee might want to see if there are some general principles that can be agreed upon and then work from there to make changes to the ES/IS programs.


3.5       Distance Education Strategic Plan

Peterson stated that in a meeting with the Presidents of the Academic Senates and President Smith a question was raised by UNO regarding interest in developing strategic plans for distance education. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that origianlly Professor O’Hanlon worked on developing a distance education plan for UNL which emphasized that graduate level courses and certification courses should be put on line.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the Distance Education Coordination Committee (DECC) brought the campus plans together.  He noted that two months ago it was recommended that DECC should have broader representation with faculty members who are directly involved with distance education.  He stated that the Board of Regents did not feel that the combined campus plans created a strategic plan.  He noted that it was suggested that Varner Hall should develop a template for the campuses to use to develop a strategic plan.  He reported that Arnold Bateman, Vice Chancellor for Extended Education, is heading the project now for UNL.


Spann noted that the distance education courses can be a burden for faculty members because distance courses require considerable additional preparation and involve significant management overhead issues.  He pointed out that faculty members do not always receive the time or help they need in preparing and managing distance courses or the recognition they merit for the extra work being done.  He also noted that the number of distance students served is sometimes low, in some cases as low as only one person registered for the course via distance.  Chancellor Perlman stated that these are issues that need to be raised.  He noted that the Board sees a problem with the distance education program not being coordinated between the campuses.  Spann pointed out that some faculty members do not perceive the program to be well coordinated even on campus.  He stated that some faculty members teaching a distance education course have found they needed to go to several different places to arrange the necessary resources to teach the courses.  Chancellor Perlman stated that things should be better with the elimination of the Division of Continuing Studies since there is now one person, Bateman, overseeing distance education.  Peterson suggested that it might be useful to have Bateman speak to the Senate or the Executive Committee.


3.6       Approval for All Faculty Email Messages

Peterson stated that the Committee discussed the President of the Academic Senate having the ability to distribute email messages to all faculty members without having to get permission.  Chancellor Perlman stated that administration does not want to prevent the Academic Senate President from sending out messages to all faculty members but there is a policy and process in place to reserve use of the email to avoid cluttering mailboxes.  Peterson suggested that perhaps someone from the Senate, either the President or the Coordinator of the Senate, should be empowered to send email messages.  Chancellor Perlman noted that even he has to go through the process to have an email sent out but he is willing to work on having someone from the Senate empowered.  Beck pointed out that the issue is not so much one of censure but of delay.  She noted that an email message from the President did not get out as quickly as needed because the authorizing person was out of the office. 


Fuller asked if the new university tagline would be placed on all email messages sent by faculty, staff, and students.  Chancellor Perlman stated that UNL does not often use the tagline and that the tagline will not be placed on email messages.  He noted that two of the other campuses were using their own tagline and Varner Hall issued Executive Memorandum #28 to reemphasize the use of the official tagline. 


3.7       Dead Week Proposal

Peterson stated that the officers of the Executive Committee have been meeting periodically during the year with members of ASUN, UNOPA, and UAAD.  He noted that a concern with ASUN has always been the issue of dead week.  He reported that the Executive Committee has formed an ad hoc committee to review Wunder’s proposal to change dead week and the final examination schedule.  Peterson noted that the proposal calls for cancellation of all classes on the Tuesday that is normally in dead week and for exams to be held on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday, and completed on Tuesday of the following week.  He stated that this schedule would provide students with time off on Tuesday and then again over the weekend for students to study.  It would also provide instructors with enough time to grade exams, particularly for graduating seniors. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that some faculty will possibly oppose the proposal.  He stated that as long as the proposal did not change either the beginning dates of the semester or the end date of the semester we would not create a conflict with the system-wide schedule adopted by Varner Hall. 


3.8       Gallup Survey

Chancellor Perlman reported that the Gallup survey will be rerun in March.  He stated that the survey has some additional questions and an announcement will be made soon to the campus regarding the date the survey will begin.  He noted that departments could opt out of participating in the survey providing that they present a plan on how they will address the issues raised by the survey.


3.9       Sexual Harassment On-line Course

Chancellor Perlman stated that a number of people on campus have been asked to try an on-line course on sexual harassment.  He noted that Professor Beck took the course.  He stated that he is attracted to the program and is contemplating having it either available for people to take or requiring that they take it.  He noted that he would consult with the Executive Committee before any decisions are made.  He stated that he believed that an on-line course would be more acceptable than requiring people to attend a course.  He stated that it is an interesting course and that the University of Southern California is currently using it. 


Whitt asked how long the course takes.  Beck stated that she did not know exactly but pointed out that the course can be interrupted and continued later.  She stated that there is a quiz at the end of the course but questions can be answered at the end of each section.  She stated that she believes the course is useful and interesting and uses good examples.  She stated that one concern she has is that there is no distinction between legal and unprofessional behavior.  She pointed out that the university has a professional code of conduct and that behavior does not have to be illegal in order for it to be considered bad behavior. 


Fuller asked if the course is sufficient to address recent problems that have happened on campus.  In particular she asked if it will meet the needs of international students and the differences in cultures.  Beck stated that the examples were fairly clear and reasonably explicit.  Fuller asked if the course addresses the power situation that can occur.  Beck stated that it does deal with this in the work place and that there is also a section on students but she did not have the time to look at it. 


Bradford asked if it was possible for the Committee to see the program since they will eventually be discussing it with the Chancellor.  The Committee agreed to check with Linda Crump to see if they could see the course. 


Beck stated that a similar course certifying people for search committees needs to be developed.  She noted that in order to serve on search committees professors have to take training sessions that are very inflexible in that they are offered only once a month.  She stated that the training sessions are not effective because there is no monitoring of what happened during the search itself.  The inflexibility is creating a lot of difficulty for departments trying to conduct searches.  Spann pointed out that people are refusing to serve on search committees because of this requirement. 


4.0       Approval of 2/4/04 Minutes

Spann moved and Whitt seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


5.0       Unfinished Business

            No unfinished business was discussed. 


6.0       New Business

            6.1       Report on Meeting with President Smith

Peterson reported that the meeting focused on distance education and problems with Travel & Transport.  He stated that President Smith heard complaints regarding Travel & Transport.  Peterson stated that the usefulness of the contract was questioned.  He stated that President Smith requested that complaints be sent to him via email so he can discuss the specific problems with Travel & Transport. 


Spann noted that some of the problems stem from a lack of understanding of what Travel & Transport can do.  Fuller pointed out that she recently had difficulties in trying to obtain an airfare that was advertised by Travel & Transport.  Peterson stated that lower air fares can be lost because a faculty member has to check with Travel & Transport to see if they can match the price. Alexander pointed out that one of the benefits of the travel contract is that if a trip is cancelled, the university does not lose the entire air fare. 


Fuller suggested that the university representative on this contract should be contacted to see if he has been receiving complaints. 


Peterson stated that the issue of child care was discussed.  He noted that UNO and UNMC are well set with a good child care program.  He stated that UNK and UNL are still having problems establishing a good program.  He noted that a study was done by Varner Hall several years ago on child care.  The Committee suggested that President Wunder should receive a copy of the report.  Peterson stated that it might be advantageous for UNK and UNL to exchange information on what they are doing to address the lack of child care. 


Peterson reported that issues on the horizon announced by President Smith are the possible increase in tuition rates this summer, the Midwest Higher Education Association contract, recruiting of students and faculty; and legacy admissions. 


Alexander asked if there was any discussion on health insurance.  He stated that he has heard that the university wants to go towards a plan where you pay more if your group uses the insurance more.  Buck pointed out that increasing the fees in association with greater use could prevent people from seeking health care in the future.  Bradford, who serves as chair of the UNL Employee Benefits Committee, stated that some health plans are going towards a more actuarial plan but he is unaware if the university is planning on doing this.  He stated that developing a more actuarial plan is partly an effort to encourage people to get in better shape.  He pointed out that health care costs are forcing changes in insurance plans.


Alexander stated that he has heard that the new plan is being used as a recruiting tool to attract younger faculty members.  He pointed out that it discriminates against older faculty members.  Bradford stated that a problem is that the majority of the faculty members are older and there are not enough younger people in the pool who do not use the plan very frequently to help offset the costs of the older people. 


Bradford noted that, to his knowledge, the University-wide Benefits Committee has not met this year.  The Committee agreed that a letter should be sent to Varner Hall asking why the University-wide Benefits Committee has not met.  The letter should also inquire what the direction of the health care plan will be. 


Alexander pointed out that people are not retiring when they should because of the cost of health insurance for retirees.  He noted that this in turn hurts the departments because new lines are not opening up enabling the departments to hire new faculty members. 


6.2       Financial Support for Students Participating in Study Abroad Courses

Peterson stated that he received an email message from Professor May, Economics, stating that many students wish to take study abroad courses but do not have the financial means to do so.  In her email she suggested that scholarships funds could possibly be raised for students through the university foundation.  Peterson noted that few UNL undergraduate students have an international experience while in college.  Whitt stated that he is getting many more students who are interested in taking study abroad courses and international studies courses.  Spann agreed that there has been increased interest in the programs.  Peterson stated that it would be nice to get more students applying for Fulbright scholarships. 


Fuller suggested that the Dean of Undergraduate Studies could champion the cause.  Bradford pointed out that it is not just an undergraduate issue.  Peterson suggested that President Wunder could send a message to Dean Rita Kean, Undergraduate Studies, and Executive Associate Dean Ellen Weissinger, Graduate Studies, to see if they would be willing to champion the cause.  Bradford suggested including the Office of International Affairs. 


Alexander stated that the College of Engineering & Technology has recently received funding for international studies.  He suggested that the money could be grant money.  He stated that he would check with Dean Allen of the college to see where the funding came from. 


The meeting was adjourned at 5:10 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, February 18 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.