Executive Committee Minutes - March 10, 2004




Present:          Bradford, Fech, Fuller, Logan-Peters, Miller, Peterson, Shea, Whitt


Absent:           Alexander, Beck, Buck, Spann, Wunder


Date:               Wednesday, March 10, 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       Recognition of IANR Extension and Outreach Programs

Fech reported that VC Owens and members of IANR gave a presentation to the Board of Regents at the Board’s last meeting on outreach and extension.  Fech stated that the Board was pleased to hear of the work being done with low-income families and awareness about lead-based paints as well as other outreach programs.


3.0       Chancellor Perlman

            3.1       Custodial Employees – Change in Work Schedule and Pay

Shea reported that he was informed by a custodial worker that the custodial staff has been switched to day shifts which have resulted in a 10% decrease in pay for them because they no longer get shift differential pay.  Furthermore, the custodial staff has been informed that they can no longer use their night parking permits and either they purchase new permits or use perimeter parking.  Shea asked if this change was broadly announced.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he knows that the change to the day shift is a part of the budget reduction for Business & Finance but he will check further with VC Jackson on the details.  He stated that he is unaware of the parking but will check about this as well. 


3.2       Status of Sexual Harassment Course

Chancellor Perlman stated that he has received some negative email messages from people about requiring all employees to take the sexual harassment course.  He stated that one of the reasons for requiring the course is that an institution can be held liable if a sexual harassment case goes to court and the institution has not provided any kind of training to employees on sexual harassment. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he is contemplating requiring administrators to take the course first and then judge the reaction to the course.  He stated that, depending on the reactions, the course would then be available for faculty members and supervisors.  He pointed out that he did not know if the course could be done in stages and whether this would make it cost more.


Shea asked what the strong objections are for people taking the course.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there are some concerns that it will be a sensitivity training course rather than a course dealing with the legal aspects of sexual harassment.  Shea pointed out that the institutional responsibility alone should be a sufficient explanation of why the course must be taken. 


Logan-Peters stated that taking the course could help clarify what is legally considered sexual harassment, particularly for those who think they might be victims of harassment.


Miller stated that faculty members might object to taking the course because it is one more thing that they are required to do.  He stated that pointing out the institution’s legal responsibility for providing the training is more understandable.  Fuller stated that taking the course should be considered a condition of employment for all employees and also given to students.


Peterson noted that the Executive Committee saw a demonstration of the course and thought it was reasonable.  Bradford stated that he is concerned with tweaking the script.  He noted that right now the script deals with the legal aspects of sexual harassment.  He cautioned that changing the script to accommodate issues of professional ethics could infringe on freedom of speech.  Chancellor Perlman stated the script will not be changed much because it is too costly.  He stated that most of the changes will be to provide links to the university’s website on various policies and offices that can provide help if a person is harassed.  He stated that he has agreed to do an introduction to the course which would make an observation on what the course is designed to do.  


Bradford asked what would be done if people refused to take the course.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he is unsure but he is considering it being used as part of an employee’s satisfactory performance in their annual review.  He noted that failure to take the course could result in an unsatisfactory performance rating which could impact the employee’s salary increase.  Whitt asked if anyone would be fired for not taking the course.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this would not happen. 


Bradford stated that a large number of people would be required to take the course when in actuality only a small number violate the policy.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it happens more than most people realize.  He noted that many unintentional actions that can lead to a hostile environment are reported each year.  He stated that the course makes people think about what is considered sexual harassment.  Peterson pointed out that the course can help clarify in both directions what is legally considered sexual harassment. 


Bradford stated that he favors having a select group, such as administrators, take the course first to see what the reactions are to the course before it goes out campus-wide.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he is still negotiating with the company on some things but that it might be possible to have some people take the course this spring.  He noted that the remainder of the employees would then take the course in the fall. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he hopes the course can be used as a model so that other training, such as training for search committees, can also be put on line. 


Peterson asked if the Chancellor would like to have the senators poll their constituents on what the sense of the faculty is regarding taking the course.  The Chancellor stated that it would be helpful if this was done after he sends out information to the campus regarding the course.  He asked if he can state that the Executive Committee has viewed the course and is not opposed to it.  The Committee agreed that this was fine.


3.3       Budget

Chancellor Perlman reported that before the forecasting board’s recent announcement of the state’s budget situation the university was hoping that there would not be any cuts made to the university’s budget.  Now the best case scenario is if the university only gets cut a half a percent.  He pointed out that two issues will have an influence on the percentage of cut the university will receive.  The first is the amount of money that the state takes in and the second is when the money comes in.  He noted that there has been some talk from the legislature of using a half a cent tax increase to offset the cost incurred from penalties of not building the nuclear waste site in Nebraska.  He pointed out that the university will know the status of the budget on April 15th.


Miller asked how much UNL would have to cut if the university receives a half a percent decrease.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it would be $1 million for UNL.  Miller asked if the Chancellor had any idea what would be cut to cover the $1 million.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he does not know at this time.  He pointed out that there are additional issues that must be considered such as the decrease in enrollment and tuition.  He stated that the university also has to deal with a fine from the EPA over waste products at the Mead site.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he is looking into consolidating some services.  He pointed out that if the consolidation does occur, it will have an indirect impact on academics. 


Peterson asked if the Board is considering another increase in tuition.  Chancellor Perlman noted that the Board approved a 12% increase for the second part of the biennium but this increase will cover other costs.  He pointed out that while the budget for the second year of the biennium has been approved by the legislature, they could make changes to it. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he does not think increasing tuition is the way to cover additional cuts.  He noted that the number of applications to the university for next year is down.  He stated that it is not known whether this is a result of the raise in the application fee or whether it is due to the tuition increase. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that much of the public has a misperception of how much it costs to attend the university.  He stated that the administration is working on providing more accurate information on the actual costs to parents and prospective students.  He noted that the university is working on providing scholarships to low income families through the need-based scholarship program.


Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the tuition at UNL is not out of line with other universities.  He stated that the number of transfer applications is up from last year. 


Bradford asked if the salary increases will be used to offset a $1 million cut to UNL.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this would not happen.  He reported that information from the legislature indicates that they are considering a 1% increase for state employees in the next biennium.  He pointed out that many of our peer institutions have not received a salary increase in four or five years.  He stated that UNL is not falling behind our peers and is in fact close to the average of our peers in faculty salary salaries. 


Bradford indicated he thought the Board of Regents made a commitment several years ago to keep UNL’s raises at the same level as the raises of the unionized University of Nebraska campuses.  He asked if they have abandoned this goal.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the Board made a commitment to not let UNL fall below the mid-point of our peer institutions.  He stated that the recent salary increases attempt to keep up with our peers. 


            3.4       Parking

Chancellor Perlman noted that parking will be giving presentations on their proposed parking plan involving increases in parking fees.  He stated that he hates having to increase parking fees but the plan is the most reasonable given that the Antelope Valley Project is having a greater impact on parking than originally thought. 


3.5       Wells Fargo Plan

Chancellor Perlman stated that the Wells Fargo Bank has made a great deal with the UNL community and the NCard.  He stated that if faculty and staff open an account with Wells Fargo and have their paychecks deposited at the bank then they will receive free checking, free checks, and free on-line bill paying.  He noted that the NCard can be used as a debit card at the ATM machines on campus. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that approximately 7500 employees currently have accounts with Wells Fargo and if the number rises to 15,000, Wells Fargo will pay approximately $10 per account to the university.  He reported that this could generate approximately $1 ½ million for UNL in addition to the $3.8 million that the campus will already be receiving in conjunction with the new NCard.  Fech asked if this would be considered a new creative revenue stream.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this is correct and that the NCard can be used in vending machines on campus if the person has an account with Wells Fargo.  Chancellor Perlman reported that faculty and staff will be able to get their new NCards in early May. 


Peterson asked if the card will be used in the libraries as well.  Logan-Peters stated that this is correct.  Fuller asked if only the UNL campus was participating in the deal with Wells Fargo.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the other campuses were informed about the deal but they decided not to participate because some of them already have existing deals.  He noted that they can join in at a later time. 


Fuller stated that she has concerns that students will be getting a Wells Fargo credit card instead of an ID card and they will have the potential of running up a large debt.  Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the NCard will only be used as a debit card, not a credit card.  Bradford asked if Wells Fargo will market a credit card to the UNL community.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it is possible. 


4.0       Approval of 3/3/04 Minutes

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


5.0       Unfinished Business

            5.1       ES/IS Strategy

Peterson stated that he spoke with Wunder and they have the sense that the Senate has not taken a position on the ES/IS proposal.  Peterson noted that Interim SVCAA Brinkerhoff stated that Academic Affairs would be happy to help in presenting the proposal to the colleges.  Peterson stated that he spoke with Dean of Undergraduate Studies Rita Kean about her office helping with the task.  He stated that Kean does not want to take the task on by herself.  Peterson suggested that a subcommittee could be formed that would assist Kean in meeting with the faculty of the colleges.  He stated that the Office of Undergraduate Studies would arrange the meetings.


Peterson stated that the first thing the subcommittee would need to decide is when to start meeting with the colleges.  He suggested that the subcommittee might want to start with the smaller colleges because it would be easier to discuss the proposal with a smaller group.  He noted that this would give the subcommittee some knowledge on what to expect when they meet with the larger colleges. 


Peterson stated that it is his understanding that if the colleges either approve or reject the proposal there is really nothing for the Senate left to do.  He noted that a motion has been made at the Senate but he stated that this could be removed. 


Shea pointed out that Interim SVCAA Brinkerhoff stated that the curriculum committees in the colleges do not have any authority to make decisions on the curriculum and that any changes must be approved by the faculty.  He asked what the plan is for dealing with this situation.  Peterson stated that in some cases, such as the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, it will be easy because the number of faculty members in the college is small.  He pointed out that as a practical matter it is impossible to meet with all faculty members in a college. 


Whitt and Fuller both noted that the college faculty members must approve any changes to the curriculum but a proposal to makes changes can come from the college curriculum committee.  Shea stated that he has heard that some college curriculum committee members are feeling that they have been left out of the process.  Peterson suggested that the college curriculum committees could take the proposal back to their departments and college. 


Logan-Peters stated that Beck’s suggestion of listing the problems with the current ES/IS programs in the preamble of the proposal would be helpful. 


Peterson pointed out that having Kean assist with the proposal will be very helpful because she has been on both the ES/IS Reform Committee and the Transition to University Task Force but it is important to have faculty participation in the process.  He noted that there may be recommendations from the Task Force that will need to get incorporated into the proposal. 


            5.2       Update on Child Care

Griffin reported that Buck will be meeting with VC Jackson and Assistant VC Currin of Human Resources to discuss child care.  Buck will report to the Executive Committee at a later date on her meeting.


5.3       Update on Dead Week Reform

Spann was unable to attend the meeting.  An update on the reform will be provided at a future meeting.


5.4       Human Rights Resolution from Western Washington University

Peterson reported that a copy of the human rights resolution from Western Washington University was sent to Wunder by Professor Eckhardt.  He noted that the resolution deals with requirements of the U.S. Patriot Act.  Bradford pointed out that the resolution is poorly written and applies to much more than the U.S. Patriot Act.  He noted that some things stated in the resolution are not considered illegal.  He pointed out that if the Executive Committee or the Senate wants to oppose the Patriot Act then they should specifically make a statement opposing the Act.


Peterson stated that the resolution is not a model.  He asked if a resolution should be developed that opposes elements of the U.S. Patriot Act.  The Committee agreed to discuss the issue at the next meeting.


6.0       New Business

6.1       Memo from Committee on Committees Regarding Human Rights Committee

Peterson stated that he received a memo from the Committee on Committees (CoC) proposing the discontinuance of the Human Rights Committee.   He stated that the memo indicates that the Human Rights Committee has not been meeting for some time.  Logan-Peters noted that she was on the Committee on Committees in 1995 and back then the Human Rights Committee was floundering. 


Bradford stated that he was concerned with the public relations aspect of eliminating the Human Rights Committee.  He asked whether or not the responsibilities of the committee could be transferred to another committee.  Griffin stated that the Committee on Committees thinks that the Chancellor’s Commissions on the Status of Woman and the Status of People of Color and various offices on campus deal with some of the issues that the Human Rights Committee dealt with.  Furthermore, the CoC think that a special task force or subcommittee could be formed either by the Academic Senate or the administration should a human rights issue occur on campus that needs to be dealt with. 


Logan-Peters stated that the CoC should write a motion and present it to the Academic Senate at the April 6th meeting.  The Committee agreed.


Peterson stated that the structure of committees and faculty governance should be reviewed, possibly during the summer.  He suggested that the CoC and the Executive Committee could work together on this. 


The meeting was adjourned at 4:55 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, March 24th 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.