Executive Committee Minutes - October 20, 2004




Present:          Beck, Bolin, Bradford, Peterson, Scholz, Signal, Stock, Wunder


Absent:           Alexander, Fech, Flowers, Hoffman, Shea


Date:               Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Location:        Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace


1.0       Call to Order

            Peterson called the meeting to order at 3:07 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            2.1       Search Committee for Dean of Agricultural Research Division

Peterson stated that he is working on providing Vice Chancellor Owens with a list of faculty names of which 8 – 10 faculty members would be chosen to serve on the search committee.  He noted that only half of the final number will probably be appointed to the committee. 


3.0       Approval of 10/13/04 Minutes

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


4.0       Strategic Planning

Wunder stated that the strategic planning process for UNL seems to be time driven.  He stated that some departments are organized and will not have difficulty meeting the January 31st deadline date but other departments will need to work quickly to submit their plan.  Peterson pointed out that SVCAA Couture noted at the Senate meeting that some department would be more prepared than others to meet the early deadline date.  Peterson noted that departments will also have to respond back on the Gallup survey by the end of January. 


Peterson asked for input on the core value list that was distributed by the Chancellor.  He noted that one professor has questioned why the core value on teaching is not at the top of the list since it has been designated by the Board of Regents as being the first mission of the university. 


Signal stated that there needs to be clarification on some of the core values because their intent is not clear.  Wunder questioned whether the use of the language “stimulate research and creative work that fosters discovery, pushes frontiers, and advances society” could be restricting to some forms of research.  He stated that the core value stressing commitment to the uncompromising pursuit of excellence makes the assumption that the university has never been committed to excellence in the past. 


The Committee agreed to discuss the core values when they next meet with the administrators.


5.0       Unfinished Business

            5.1       Letter to President Milliken

The Committee discussed making slight revisions to the letter being sent to President Milliken on the ARRC case discussed last week.  Peterson agreed to the changes and stated that he would send the letter to President Milliken.


            5.2       Recruiting Points from October Senate Meeting

Peterson noted that Fech and Griffin summarized the comments made at the October Senate meeting on recruiting efforts.  He suggested that the summary be sent to Dean Cerveny, Admissions, with a copy sent to the Chancellor. 


Scholz pointed out that there are probably many faculty members who have a wealth of information about recruiting because of the experiences they have recently had with their children.  He suggested that Admissions might want to hold a faculty meeting where people can come and discuss the issue.  He pointed out that many faculty members can point out the good and the bad things that UNL is doing to recruit students. 


Bradford stated that there should be a statement noting that the entire Senate does not necessarily subscribe to the suggestions made and that this is just a summarization of the comments made at the meeting. 


Wunder stated that he thinks the reaction to the decrease in enrollment is related to the budget crisis that the university is just starting to recover from.  He pointed out that the figures being publicized by community colleges and smaller universities may include on-line students and others who may not be included in the university’s figures.  He noted that hard core data on the number of full-time students on campus might show a decrease for the smaller universities and community colleges as well. 


Peterson reported that enrollment was discussed when the Senate Presidents met with President Milliken for lunch recently.  Peterson stated that UNK has remained static in the number of students enrolled while UNO claims to have increased slightly. 


Wunder pointed out that only 22% of students graduating from community colleges continue their education to get a four year degree.  He stated that the University should be recruiting more of these students.  Peterson stated that the Senate President of UNO stated that the campuses should be working with the community colleges to recruit more students. 


Peterson pointed out that many of his students who have difficulty in his courses are transfer students.  Wunder stated that there needs to be more coordination and cooperation between the university and the community colleges.  He noted that the community colleges should be hiring people for teaching who have received their masters or Ph.D.’s from the university.  He stated that this would probably help those students planning to finish their four year degree with the university.  He stated that he thinks transfer students from the community colleges should be able to transfer without any problems.  Peterson stated that they need to meet the high school requirements for admission. 


The Committee suggested that Dean Cerveny be invited to meet with the Committee. 


            5.3       Charge to Ad Hoc Dead Week/Finals Week Committee

Peterson reported that he is working on assigning people to the dead week/finals week committee.  He noted that ASUN has three or four students who are willing to work on the committee.  He stated that he wants to make sure that there are people on the committee who have different perspectives on the issue.  He stated that anyone should forward names of people who might be interested in serving on the committee.


Peterson stated that he attended the Big 12 Student Government Conference session on finals week.  He noted that Texas A & M and another university have two stop days to allow students to study for finals.  He pointed out that Texas A & M distributes their diplomas at graduation although he had the impression that graduation was several days after the last day of final exams. 


Wunder stated that there is a geopolitical problem with the issue.  He pointed out that many of the Senators are not involved in giving final exams and they may not understand the problems associated with dead week or finals week.  He noted that there are many violations of the dead week policy.  Signal suggested that final exams for courses with many graduating seniors should be given early in finals week.  Peterson suggested that the date of graduation could be changed to Sunday instead of Saturday.  Wunder suggested that exams begin on Saturday immediately after dead week and finish on Thursday of finals week. 


            5.4       ASUN – Academic Freedom Resolution

Peterson stated that ASUN wants a resolution requiring student course evaluations to include a question regarding academic freedom in the classroom.  Bradford stated that he has been corresponding with ASUN Senator Keele about the resolution.  Bradford stated that he informed Keele that the resolution would probably not pass if it is required.  Bradford stated that the resolution should read that it is suggested that a question be included in the evaluations. 


The Committee felt that the question for the evaluations needs to be revised.  The Committee agreed to discuss the issue further.


6.0       New Business

            6.1       Reality TV Show

Beck reported that various websites, including some pornographic websites, are running articles about the reality TV show and Tommy Lee being on the UNL campus.  Bradford noted that CNN and the Boston Globe had good articles about the show.  Wunder stated that there was a news piece on Headline News about the filming.  He pointed out the contrast between those universities holding the presidential debates and UNL filming a reality television program. 


Peterson noted that some faculty members are discussing a resolution on the reality show that could be put forward as a motion at the November Senate meeting.  Some of these faculty members feel that the resolution should come from the Executive Committee.  A draft of a possible resolution was circulated to the Executive Committee.  Peterson noted that the push to call for a special meeting of the Senate was dropped when it became clear that the show could not be stopped because of the contract.


Peterson noted that there are three main issues that were raised in the faculty discussion of the reality show.  They are:  the faculty and students were never consulted about the show, having the celebrity Tommy Lee on campus, and the show’s potential to interfere with the educational mission of the university.  He stated that the number of emails he is receiving on the issue has almost ceased and there appears to be a wait and see attitude by most people. 


Stock stated that faculty members in the English Department were concerned that the filming would be disruptive to the classes being held in Andrews but he pointed out that there has really been no disturbance. 


Beck suggested that the resolution should be revised so that it is not so lengthy.  She stated that she believes that some form of the resolution should be presented to the Senate. 


Signal stated that the resolution should focus on the educational mission of the university and should not include personal information on the celebrity, regardless of who the celebrity is.  Beck pointed out that it is the lifestyle of the celebrity that is the issue.  Bradford pointed out that reports are that Tommy Lee has indicated that he wants to change his life. 


Wunder stated that a greater problem is that the faculty and the students were not informed or consulted with before the contract was signed.  He pointed out that not consulting with the two groups shows a disregard for shared governance.  He noted that both groups should have been consulted because the reputation of the campus is at stake.  He stated that he does not see the connection between the reality television show and the ability to enhance our recruitment efforts.  Stock noted that the administration has done a poor job of explaining how the show can benefit UNL.   Peterson stated that the Chancellor believes that the show will provide publicity for the campus outside of Nebraska.  Wunder stated that if the administration is really concerned about enrollment they need to commit to the freshman experience.  He pointed out that there is not enough commitment to insuring that faculty members, not graduate students, teach some of the freshmen classes. 


Wunder suggested that the resolution could be submitted to the Senate without the Executive Committee’s endorsement.  Stock noted that any member of the Senate can bring a motion to the Senate.  Bradford pointed out that the Senate will make the final decision.


Beck stated that she would revise the resolution and send it to the Committee for their input.  Peterson stated that he believes the resolution should include a statement regarding the faculty members and students not being consulted.  Signal agreed and stated that the motion should be about the precedent that the Chancellor is setting in disregarding shared governance.  She questioned whether shared faculty governance even exists when decisions like this are made.  Beck stated that the secrecy of the negotiations and the contract is a real issue that should be addressed. 


Peterson asked if the Board of Regents had to sign the contract.  Bradford stated that the Board probably delegates the signing of contracts like this to the Chancellors.


The Committee agreed to discuss the resolution at their next meeting. 


The meeting was adjourned at 4:58 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, October 29th 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.