Executive Committee Minutes - November 3, 2004




Present:          Alexander, Beck, Bolin, Bradford, Hoffman, Peterson, Scholz, Shea, Signal, Stock


Absent:           Fech, Flowers, Wunder


Date:               Wednesday, November 3, 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 3:07 p.m.


2.0       Eddie October, Executive Producer of Reality TV Show and David Fitzgibbon, Manager, Office of University Communications

Peterson stated that he appreciated October’s offer to speak with the Committee.  Peterson noted that at the November 2nd Academic Senate meeting feelings about the show were mixed among the senators.  He pointed out that some were positive about the show while others were negative about it. 


October stated that everyone involved with the program, both on the producer’s side and the university’s side, are taking the issue seriously of presenting UNL in a positive light.  He pointed out that the show will not be an infomercial about UNL but it will present some of the many positive aspects of the campus.  He noted that early in the negotiation process with NBC it was Tommy Lee who brought up the fact that he will have to take being on campus seriously if the program is to work.  October stated that Lee has worked very hard since being here and is putting forth a serious effort to do well. 


Stock asked how many classes Lee was sitting in on.  October pointed out that the show is not presenting Lee as if he is an enrolled student at UNL.  He stated that Lee is attending classes as if he was auditing the course.  October pointed out that Lee has taken quizzes and tests in some of the classes.


Peterson stated that one of his concerns is that the program is more like a story with UNL being the stage setting but there is no real connection with the story to being a student.  October stated that the show wants to capture a slice of life of a student but it is a reality comedy show about a rock star going to college.  He noted that this will be a different type of reality show than most viewers are accustomed to. 


Peterson asked when the program will air.  October stated that he believes it will be aired sometime in the first quarter of the year, anytime between January and March.  He stated that there will be six episodes.


Signal asked if Tommy Lee will have a new CD coming out soon.  October stated that there may be one sometime in the near future. 


Fitzgibbon noted that reality TV shows are popular among teenagers and younger adults.  Peterson asked if there were different kinds of reality TV shows.  October stated that there are reality shows that have some form of competition and use pick up shots but this one will be different.


October asked if there was anything that he or the other people associated with the show can do to help ease concerns.  He stated that over 12 other universities were interested in hosting the show but UNL was selected because of the conversations they had with the administration and the producers.  He stated that the produces of the show felt that the campus would be a perfect fit.  He pointed out that many people do not know what a beautiful campus UNL is and what a nice place it is.


Peterson asked if there was any evidence that enrollments have increased at other universities when shows have been filmed on their campus.  Fitzgibbon stated that Dean Cerveny, Dean of Admissions, is excited about the program.  Fitzgibbon stated that there is some evidence to suggest that enrollments do increase after a TV show has been filmed on a campus.


October pointed out that NBC is a prime network which has standards and practices that it enforces with its shows.  Bradford asked what the target audience is.  October stated that the 18-49 age group represents the hardcore NBC viewers.  He pointed out that Tommy Lee appeals to people across different age groups.  He noted that there is a risk in going with Tommy Lee because he is a controversial character.  He stated that his experience with Lee has been very positive and that Lee is a great guy.  October pointed out that Lee knows he has had troubles in his life in the past but he takes responsibility for it.  Fitzgibbon stated that everyone who has come into contact with Lee and the show have had a positive experience. 


Peterson stated that Lee seems to have the greatest recognition with the parents of potential students because they grew up listening to his music.  Fitzgibbon noted that the people who watch reality TV shows are not college professors at other universities but 17 year olds.  He stated that the administration felt that the program will provide an opportunity for people to see what a beautiful campus UNL is and what a nice place it is. 


Griffin stated that one of the concerns raised in the numerous email messages that the Academic Senate Office has received is that UNL could be portrayed as a bunch of conservative red neck hicks.  October stated that this is not at all how UNL will be portrayed.  He pointed out that people in other parts of the country view the Midwest as having wholesome, good people.  He stated that this is part of the reason why UNL was selected because it does portray a wholesome image and the comedy will come from Lee struggling to fit into that wholesome environment. 


Fitzgibbon stated that one of the reasons behind the decision to have the show filmed here goes beyond enrollment.  He stated that it is awareness building of UNL and what it has to offer.  Peterson asked if the hope is that the show will help to recruit out of state students.  Fitzgibbon stated that this is the hope of the administration.


Peterson noted that initially the concerns of having the show filmed at UNL were greater but recent conversations with the Chancellor and now with October have helped to alleviate some of those concerns. 


Bradford asked how much longer filming will take place.  October stated that they are scheduled to film until November 14th.  Fitzgibbon pointed out that every student in a class had to agree to being filmed before any filming was done.  He noted that he has been at nearly every shoot and he has not seen anything that would impact the campus negatively. 


Alexander asked if October has the final say in how UNL will be portrayed in the show.  October stated that he does not have the final say but he will be involved all the way through the process.  He stated that the executives at NBC might give some notes on the show but they will not be re-editing. 


October stated that the word is out in the entertainment and news industry that Tommy Lee is filming a show at UNL.  Fitzgibbon stated that he is tracking all of the news clips from the U.S. and international news and his office will be analyzing the clips to determine the negative and positive aspects of them.  He stated that he will share this information with the Committee when it becomes available.  He pointed out that the intent was not to promote the show before it is scheduled but he noted that Lee has been talking about it briefly. 


Fitzgibbon stated that some other positive aspects about the show are that students in some classes have had members of the show’s staff come to speak to them regarding their careers and working in the entertainment industry.  He noted that approximately 8 – 9 classes have had visits from the staff and one of the photographers filming the show will speak to a beginning photography class.  He stated that the show has generated some interesting intellectual debates as well on campus.


Peterson and the Committee thanked October and Fitzgibbon for coming to the meeting and noted that the discussion will be distributed in the minutes.


3.0       Announcements

            3.1       Board of Regents Meeting

Peterson reported that the Board of Regents met on October 29th.  He noted that items discussed were the granting of a thirty-foot easement on East Campus to the City of Lincoln for the construction and maintenance of a hike/bike trail, the passing of a resolution directing the Board to direct new investments for building renovations, and the approval of the Nelnet contracts.  A resolution for a matching funds program for endowed professors was also approved. 


3.2       Meeting with ASUN

Peterson stated that he will be meeting with the ASUN this evening to discuss their proposal on the dead week policy.  He noted that he is still looking for faculty members to serve on the ad hoc committee.  He pointed out that Professor Alexander will be chairing the committee. 


Hoffman asked what the main concerns are of the students regarding dead week.  Peterson stated that the dead week policy is often violated by instructors and many papers, presentations, and lab exams are scheduled during that week.  He pointed out that the dead week policy is an issue that ASUN has raised consistently year after year.  


Alexander noted that faculty members also have concerns with the finals exam week.  He pointed out that exams given on late Friday afternoon with graduating seniors continues to be a problem for faculty members. 


Peterson stated that the students have drafted a proposal to deal with the dead week policy.  He noted that it is a modification of the proposal presented to the Senate during the spring semester.  He stated that the students’ proposal suggests holding classes the Monday of dead week followed by lab exams on Tuesday.  Wednesday would be a day off from classes to study and final exams would begin on Thursday.  Peterson noted that this creates a problem because it only allows for 14 weeks of class and the Regents Bylaws state that there must be 15 weeks. 


4.0       Approval of 10/27/04 Minutes

            Stock moved and Beck seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved. 


5.0       Unfinished Business

            5.1       Regent Wilson Letter

The Committee worked on responding to Regent Wilson’s request for specific recommendations on gender equity issues such as retaining and recruiting female faculty members.  The committee agreed to support the recommendations made by the Senate’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Recruitment and Retention of Women.


Alexander suggested that the letter include a statement that financial resources need to be provided in order for recommendations such as cluster hires to be carried out. 


5.2       Disclaimer Statement on Minutes

Bradford stated that he suggested having a disclaimer statement on the minutes to avoid potentially misleading people to think that the Executive Committee and Academic Senate Committee minutes are verbatim.  He stated that he would like the statement to include information that the participants in the meeting have the opportunity to correct the minutes before they are made public.  Hoffman suggested that the disclaimer statement should read that the minutes are a summary of the discussions held.  The Committee agreed to have the statement in the minutes. 


6.0       New Business

6.1       Reception for Professor Jim McShane

The Committee discussed holding a reception at the end of the December Senate meeting in recognition of the service of Professor McShane to faculty governance at UNL.  It was noted that Professor McShane will be retiring at the end of December.


6.2       Follow Up of Senate Meeting

Beck pointed out that the recall motion made at the meeting was raised last year.  She noted that it was referred to the Senate Rules & Bylaw Committee and they denied the request for consideration because they felt that Robert’s Rules of Order sufficiently covered the issue.  She stated that the recall motion could suppress Senators from speaking out on controversial issues and it could open the door for a disgruntled faculty member to go after someone they do not agree with. 


Peterson stated that the motions do not seem unreasonable.  Bradford pointed out that faculty members should select their representative carefully to begin with.  He pointed out that faculty members are not going to radically change their thinking over night and people should take more of an interest in election of a Senator.  Beck noted that the issue should be dealt with at the department level.  She stated that the members of a department should speak to the Senator and try to resolve any problems at that level.  Bradford pointed out that not every one subscribes to the theory that a Senator should vote according to the wishes of their constituents. 


Shea stated that the rules should be looked at objectively.  He asked if there shouldn’t be a mechanism in place to deal with a Senator who does not represent their constituents.  Peterson pointed out that sometimes there can be difficult situations for Senators to deal with.  Some of the members of their departments may want the senator to vote in a way that conflicts with the Senator’s sense of right or wrong. 


Shea pointed out that the Senate is a political arena.  He stated that departments and the Senate should have debates on issues.


Peterson noted that he did not know if the motion on the impeachment procedures of Senate officers is warranted since the officers only hold the positions for one year. 


6.3       Reduction-in-Force Committee

Beck stated that the ad hoc committee is changing its name to the Academic Community Engagement Committee and will expand their scope.  She stated that the Committee wants to look at a parallel process to the strategic plan that would look at long term efforts to enhance programs and strategic planning.  She stated that the Committee felt that the officers of the Senate should meet with VC Owens and SVCAA Couture to discuss how faculty members can become engaged earlier in the strategic planning process.  She stated that there needs to be active discussion with the faculty before the strategic plan goes public. 


Griffin questioned how an ad hoc committee can arbitrarily change their name and responsibilities without approval from the person or body who appointed the committee.  Peterson noted that Past President Wunder originally created the ad hoc committee with the specific task of reviewing the reduction in force procedures.  Peterson noted that Wunder then passed the responsibility to him to reinstate the committee.  He stated that he thinks it is important that the committee needs to keep the focus on the reduction in force procedures but he does not object to them expanding their responsibilities to address strategic planning as well.  He stated that he would like to see faculty get involved in the strategic planning process in a coherent way early in the process.  Scholz noted that the strategic planning has been described by administrators as an annual iterative process, and he suggested that the faculty need to be involved from the outset and that the strategic plan should not be driven solely by the administration.


Bradford noted that at the October Senate meeting that SVCAA Couture asked for faculty input into the strategic planning process.  He stated that the administration should get formal input from the Academic Planning Committee and the Senate.  Shea stated that inclusiveness of the faculty should be a part of the strategic plan itself.  Signal pointed out that it underscores the value of faculty governance. 


Peterson stated that he has concerns that the response back from the administration will be that faculty have involvement with the departmental strategic plans.  Bradford asked who establishes the process in the first place.  He pointed out that the faculty should have a role in what process should be used.  Scholz asked if the faculty have a role in setting the priorities of the plan.  Beck pointed out that resources will be tied to the strategic plan. 


Alexander noted that the 20/20 reports and Blue Skies report had little faculty input at the grass root level.  He stated that if the faculty had been given the time for input on those reports they would have come out differently.  Bradford pointed out that timing is an issue.  Signal stated that there are resources in place, such as the Academic Planning Committee, to deal with the process but they are being bypassed.  Peterson stated that the Committee needs to discuss with the administrators how to get the APC and Senate more involved with the process. 


Alexander asked how the administration plans on assessing how the university is doing each year.  Beck noted that in IANR the faculty activity report is now done electronically and faculty members are required to update them annually.  Peterson noted that this ties into the quality indicators report.  He stated that the quality indicators are being used in some colleges to try to get rid of people. 


6.4       Report by Professor Poser

Bradford asked if the Committee was going to request copies of Professor Poser’s report on practices the University of California-Berkeley does to retain and recruit female faculty members.  Peterson noted that a request has been made by Professor Radcliffe, Mathematics, for Professor Poser to present her report to the Senate.  The Committee agreed to see if Professor Poser can present her findings at the February Senate meeting. 


6.5       Upcoming Agenda

Hoffman asked that the issues on visiting professors should be addressed at a future meeting.  The Committee agreed to put this on the agenda for an upcoming meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:12 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, November 10th at 3:00 pm.  The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Pat Shea, Secretary.