Executive Committee Minutes - July 14, 2004




Present:          Alexander, Beck, Bolin, Bradford, Buck, Flowers, Peterson, Scholz, Shea, Wunder


Absent:           Fech, Signal, Stock


Date:               Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Location:        Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace


1.0       Call to Order

            Peterson called the meeting to order at 2:30 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            2.1       Meeting with Professors McGarvey and Keown

Peterson reported that he met with Professor McGarvey, Chair of the Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee, and Professor Keown, member of the Academic Planning Committee, to discuss a draft resolution they are writing regarding budget cuts and how they are handled.  He noted that the Executive Committee will review the proposed resolution before it goes to the Senate. 


Wunder asked if the resolution will deal with the issues related to the firing of tenured faculty members and where tenures resides.  Peterson stated that part of the resolution will address the procedures regarding the termination letters.  He noted that the issue of tenure and where tenure resides is being considered.  He pointed out that this could be a contentious issue.  He stated that McGarvey and Keown hope to have a completed draft of the resolution by the end of the summer. 


Wunder stated that the issue of whether a faculty member can be transferred to another department with tenure needs to be addressed.  Beck noted that tenure cannot reside in different areas and should reside at the campus or university level.  She pointed out that departments do not have final approval on tenure.  They merely recommend tenure. 


Peterson stated that the three main points of the resolution will address the timing issue of the termination letters, the retention of having the right to file a grievance if terminated, and pressuring faculty members to retire.  He noted that McGarvey and Keown will meet with the Executive Committee to discuss the draft.  Wunder suggested that discussions should be held with UNK and UNO faculty members as well because the issues being discussed can affect them. 


2.2       Retirement Cap Information

Peterson reported that he received a packet of information from Past Academic Senate President Miles Bryant regarding the retirement cap (the Nebraska Statutes states that the Board of Regents cannot authorize more than 8% contribution of an employee’s annual salary to retirement).  He stated that Bryant will be meeting with the Chancellor to discuss the issue and that Bryant hopes to have Senator Beutler introduce it to the State Legislature in January. 


Wunder stated that other state employees do not have a cap on retirement contributions.  Peterson asked if the committee wanted to meet with Bryant to discuss the issue further.  Wunder noted that the Senate has already endorsed the removal of the cap.  Peterson stated that he will speak with Bryant about the retirement cap. 


Wunder noted that no new information has come out regarding domestic partner benefits.  He suggested that Peterson should check with the Chancellor to see if there are any new developments on this issue. 


3.0       Approval of 6/30/04 Minutes

Wunder moved and Shea seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


4.0       Recruitment and Retention of Women Report

Peterson stated that the report was written by an ad hoc Senate committee.  Wunder stated that the report is very good and offers clear direction and specific recommendations for departments and colleges in how to recruit and retain female faculty members.  He noted that the report addresses important issues.  He suggested that a copy of the report should be sent to the Chancellor and placed on the agenda for a meeting with the new SVCAA Couture.  Peterson suggested that the report could later be sent to Deans and Directors. 


Wunder stated that one recommendation was particularly important.  He noted that creating a uniform policy on maternity leave and its impact on tenure clock should be done.  He pointed out that there are as many policies on this subject as there are departments.  Buck stated that maternity leaves are almost done on a case by case basis.  Wunder stated that the policy needs to be rational and fair. 


Peterson stated that he will send a copy of the report to Chancellor Perlman, SVCAA Couture, and VC Owens.  He noted that this issue will be on the September 1st meeting when the Committee meets with the administrators. 


Peterson stated that he wanted to give special thanks to Professor Moeller and the other members of the Committee (Professors Cohn, Fulginiti, Levin, and Ramsay) for their work.  He suggested the report should be presented to the Senate at the September 14th meeting. 


5.0       Unfinished Business

            5.1       ARRC Case

Peterson noted that the rules and regulations regarding the Executive Committee discussing a grievance case after administrators have rendered a decision do not specify whether the Committee members can see the report written by the special investigative committee.  He noted that an issue that needs to be discussed and addressed is whether grievance cases, when the complaint is against an administrator, are worth pursuing since the vast majority of the final decisions made by the appropriate administrators support the administrator and not the recommendations of the special investigative committee.


Wunder stated that the main purpose of the ARRC is to provide a record of the investigation so that the complainant can pursue legal action outside the university if necessary.  He noted that the ARRC should protect the integrity of faculty rights but it is important that the ARRC does not impede legal action in any way for a faculty member.   He stated that there needs to be a discussion with administrators on validating the special investigative committee’s work. 


Beck stated that the Executive Committee as a group can make a statement supporting the conscientious work that the special investigative committees do.  She noted that members of these special committees can become discouraged if their findings and recommendations are often ignored by administrators. 


Flowers pointed out that the special investigative committee’s can pinpoint procedures that may have been violated by a department and/or college. 


Peterson noted that there needs to be a system in place that protects faculty members.  Wunder suggested that this issue be discussed with the Chancellor and with President Milliken.  Shea stated that he has concerns with how procedures are being handled in the various departments and colleges. 


Bradford suggested that the discussion with administration should be broadened beyond procedures.  He pointed out that committees such as the UNL Employee Benefits Committee often have little input into employee benefits. 


Alexander stated that the duties of the Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs need to be clear in regards to the tenure process.  He stated that it should be clear that the votes from the department and college promotion and tenure committees are advisory votes.  Beck and Buck stated that the letter of tenure clearly states that the Chancellor is the person to give approval to granting tenure. 


Peterson stated that a letter of appreciation should be sent to members of the ARRC and the special investigative committees for the work they do on these cases.


5.2       Information on ES Courses

Griffin stated that she entered the ES courses into Access, a database management program, to be able to provide information to the Committee.  She distributed a handout which indicates that the total number of ES courses is 892.  Of these courses, 313 are accepted by all of the colleges and the elementary education program.  Another 92 courses are accepted by all of the colleges but not the elementary education program.  Information was also provided on the number of courses offered by departments.  The History department had the highest number of courses (96) followed by the English department (95). 


Beck reported that in CASNR there were 1,070 total requests for substitution/waivers for courses in 2003-04.  Out of those that were denied, 13 involved ES courses.  She pointed out that students transferring to CASNR from other colleges do not have a problem with getting credit for their ES courses because they are either waived or transferred.  Peterson stated that the ES/IS Review Committee found that transferring between colleges was not a big issue for students because the courses are usually waived.  Wunder pointed out that in Arts & Sciences the transfers can be a problem.  Peterson stated that the real problem with transfers is with students coming from outside of UNL. 


Peterson stated that there is a problem with colleges making general education courses college specific.  He stated that he has spoken with Dean Kean about this and she stated that she wants to work on clarifying this issue.  Peterson stated that there needs to be discussion on the philosophy behind general education.  Wunder suggested that the original intent behind the ES courses should be reviewed. 


Shea noted that the Chancellor is concerned with the accreditation review and how the ES/IS courses can be assessed.  Wunder asked how the goals of the ES/IS programs can be measured.  Peterson stated that the Committee should work with the administration on how assessment information can be gathered on these courses. 


Wunder suggested that the Committee should discuss the issue with SVCAA Couture.  Shea stated that Dean Kean and SVCAA Couture need to be engaged with the ES issue.  He suggested that each college should provide a list of the specific problems they have with the ES/IS proposal. 


Wunder suggested that one way to simplify the ES courses is to only use the 313 courses that are accepted by all of the colleges and the elementary education program.  Peterson pointed out that he did not believe the College of Business Administration would accept this. 


The Committee requested information on how many of the 313 accepted courses break down into the different essential studies areas. 


5.3       Update on Faculty Compensation Advisory Committee

Peterson stated that he has sent an email message to Dr. Nunez, Director of Institutional Research and Planning, asking him questions about the salary comparison figures.  Peterson stated that he has not received a response yet from Dr. Nunez.  Peterson stated that Chancellor Perlman indicated in a conversation that he would be open to a revision of the gender equity model. 


5.4       Update on DeadWeek/Finals and Commencement Issue

Peterson noted that at the June 30th meeting with the Chancellor the issue was raised regarding Records and Registration retaining the grade of C for a graduating senior even though the professor may have reported an F as the final grade.  After checking with Dr. Hawkey, Director, Registration and Records, the Chancellor found out that this is true.  According to Dr. Hawkey’s email message to the Chancellor in the special case when a professor has filed a passing grade on the early grade roster but then determines that the student has not passed the course and files a failing grade on the final grade roster, “We will accept a lower grade after commencement from a faculty member as long as it does not disqualify the student’s graduation.  But if the circumstances are exactly as you outlined – an initial grade of C at commencement but then after the fact the faculty member wishes to change it to an F, and the course is required for graduation, we will retain the C.  Thankfully, this is not a common occurrence.”  Dr. Hawkey’s email message also indicated that they have never withdrawn a diploma after it was received.  He pointed out that the language of the diploma clearly states that the degree has been awarded. 


Peterson stated that the Chancellor has suggested that final exam and graduation policies and procedures should be checked at our peer institutions.  Peterson noted that Professor Spann reported this information at an earlier Executive Committee meeting and noted that Dr. Nunez in Institutional Research and Planning is also planning on looking at this issue. 


Buck suggested that senior and junior level courses have their exams earlier in finals week.  She noted that this might help alleviate the problem of submitting grades in time for those students graduating.  Bradford pointed out that this would compress exams into a shorter period of time for the students.  The Committee agreed to discuss the issue further.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:15 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, July 28 at 2:30 pm.  The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Pat Shea, Secretary.