Executive Committee Minutes - September 15, 2004




Present:          Beck, Bolin, Bradford, Fech, Peterson, Scholz, Shea, Signal, Stock


Absent:           Alexander, Flowers, Wunder


Date:               Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Location:        Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace


1.0       Call to Order

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


2.0       Announcements

            2.1       Daily Nebraskan Editorial on Dead Week Policy

Peterson noted that the September 15th Daily Nebraskan had an editorial urging the Academic Senate to continue working on revising the dead week policy.  He distributed copies of a letter he drafted in response to the editorial and asked the Committee for input.  He reported that he has had discussions with ASUN President Katie Weichman about creating another committee to work on the issue. 


2.2       Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics

Peterson stated that he is continuing to receive information from the Coalition and is forwarding it to the Executive Committee.  He suggested that a possible topic of discussion in the future might focus on athletes getting academic credit for participating in sports.  Bradford noted that this has been occurring at universities across the country for years. 


3.0       Recommendations from Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee – Professors McGarvey, Keown, and Mayo

Peterson noted that the Executive Committee has met twice to discuss the recommendations made in the document written by members of the ARRC.  He asked if the Academic Planning Committee approved the document.  Professor Keown stated that eight members of the APC voted in favor of the document. 


Peterson stated that the Committee appreciated the work of the ARRC and APC in developing the recommendations.  He noted that some of the recommendations will be considered by the committee to look at Reduction in Force (RIF) Procedures.  He pointed out that enacting some of the recommendations may require changes in the Bylaws. 


Peterson stated that the Committee wanted to discuss and get clarification regarding the first recommendation which is about the location of tenure.  He pointed out that the Committee is trying to decide how this issue can be approached so the Senate can effectively address it. 



Shea reported that at an earlier meeting with the faculty members of the School of Natural Resources the Chancellor stated that tenure home is not as important as an academic program.  Mayo stated that a question that arose for the ARRC several times last year with the firing of tenured faculty members involved tenure.  He noted that some faculty members considered their tenure home to be in an area other than the program that was eliminated yet these faculty members were being terminated because the program they were currently in was being eliminated. 


McGarvey stated that the ARRC believes that tenure is a contract between an individual and the university.  She noted that most faculty members believe they have tenure in a department and that their continuous appointment within that department would remain intact as long as the department remains.  She pointed out that Regents Bylaw 4.4.3 states that “a continuous appointment is an appointment terminable only for adequate cause, bona fide discontinuance of a program or department, retirement for age or disability, or extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies.” 


McGarvey stated that what happened in the recent termination cases is that programs were eliminated resulting in the termination of tenured faculty members.  She noted that many of these faculty members were able to be transferred to other departments or took early retirement but how the transfers were accomplished varied by individuals. 


McGarvey stated that the university committed itself in a memorandum from President Smith on April, 7, 2003, to “explore every option to assist faculty members and staff affected by the cuts.  These options may include reassignment to another suitable position where possible and opportunities for retraining if needed.”  She noted that there is no uniform set of procedures about transferring or retraining people.  She pointed out that because there are no uniform procedures, it was difficult for the ARRC special investigative committees to deal with the complaints made by terminated faculty members.  Bradford pointed out that a concrete statement is needed about transferring or retraining people on continuous appointments.


Shea stated that he is uncomfortable with the way tenure is being treated by the university.  He stated that a strong statement about tenure and what it means needs to be made.  He stated that the university needs to clearly state at what level tenure is held. McGarvey stated that she believes tenure is at the university level.  She pointed out that Regents Bylaw 4.4.3 states that “no person shall acquire a continuous appointment until he or she shall receive official written notice from the university that such an appointment has been awarded.” 


Beck noted that when the Bylaws were written UNL was the university; there was no university system at that time.  She noted that the issue of where tenure resides has arisen in the years since the other campuses became part of the university system.  Beck stated that tenure is granted by the Board of Regents.  She noted that departments, colleges, and campuses can only make recommendations on tenure. 


Beck stated that eliminating programs because of a budget crisis does not fall under the criteria of a bona fide discontinuance (no longer relevant; obsolete).  She pointed out that none of the programs eliminated were done so based on quality.  Stock stated that the language in Bylaw 4.4.3 indicates that a program consists of more than one person. 


Beck stated that there is an elaborate set of procedures for dealing with budget reduction and reallocations but these were disregarded.  She pointed out that the Regents Bylaws, section 4.14 on the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee has a lengthy section on what processes must take place in order to fire someone who has tenure. 


Peterson suggested that the Executive Committee might want to write a resolution on tenure and where it should reside.  Bradford stated that one answer to the problem is to remove the language “bona fide discontinuance of a program or department, and retirement for age or disability” from Bylaw 4.4.3.  He pointed out that the language referring to retirement age is now illegal.  Peterson stated that the Regents should be called on to update the Bylaws. 


Fech asked if the interest is to clean up the ad hoc procedures that have been used in the transferring of faculty members scheduled to be terminated.  Mayo stated that the process of how departments handled transferring faculty members was handled very differently among the departments.  Scholz asked if it was possible to determine which model used worked the best.  Keown stated that the APC process is good but difficult to do when termination letters have already been sent to the faculty members.  Beck noted that if the procedures were properly followed the faculty members would not have received termination letters as early as they did.  Peterson pointed out that it is somewhat difficult to think of a uniform process for dealing with the transfer of faculty members due to budget reductions because in some cases departments have budget implications which need to be addressed.


Signal asked if the receiving department has a right to decline a faculty member trying to transfer from a different department.  Beck stated that this was variable.  She noted that some departments did not have much of a choice in the matter.  Shea stated that it is unfair for departments to be put under the pressure of having to accept a faculty member from outside of their unit.  Scholz asked if administration would strong arm the faculty in a receiving department if the administrators are expected to support and enforce tenure rights.    


Bolin asked if the motivating factor for eliminating programs was based on financial exigency.  Peterson stated that the campus never declared financial exigency.  Mayo noted that the cuts were done vertically because it was felt that they would inflict less damage on the university.  Peterson pointed out that some horizontal cuts were made during the same time as the vertical cuts. 


Scholz asked if the transferred faculty members were placed in open positions.  Peterson stated that there was no consistency.  Some departments had open positions while others did not.  He stated that the resources for funding these positions also varied. 


Peteson thanked the ARRC for providing the spreadsheet summarizing the events of firing tenured faculty members affected by budget reductions.   McGarvey noted that one of the members of a special investigative committee felt strongly that faculty members should be informed of what actually happened with the faculty members affected by the budget reductions.


Mayo stated that the question regarding where tenure resides needs to be addressed.  Shea stated that this is part of the whole argument and tenure needs to reside at the higher level.  He noted that departments are now more of an academic cluster and that the academic world is changing.  He stated that all of tenure is in danger and this makes faculty members very vulnerable. 


Mayo pointed out that changing the language in the Bylaws will probably be very difficult to do.  McGarvey stated that while it may not be feasible, it is important to talk to people about the issue. 


Peterson stated that the Committee will continue looking at the processes used.  He stated that the Committee will evaluate the procedures and will stay in contact with the ARRC regarding the recommendations.


4.0       Approval of 9/8/04 Meeting

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


5.0       Follow-up of Senate Meeting

The Committee agreed that the open forum discussion went well and began planning for the next open forum.  The Committee agreed that only a summary of the open forum discussion should be written in the Senate minutes. 


The Committee agreed that the issue regarding distributing political information on campus should be discussed with Chancellor Perlman when the Committee meets with him on September 29th. 


Peterson stated that Professor Jackson, Food Science and Technology, has suggested that the Parliamentarian for the Senate should sit at the head table with the officers of the Senate.  The Committee agreed.


Peterson noted that an error was made in the procedures when the question was called to address the issue of the amendment to the Senate rules.  He pointed out that the Senate should have voted at that time to discontinue discussion but this did not occur.  He stated that Professor Ledder had an amendment that he wanted to include but was not given the opportunity because of the mistake made in the procedures.  Peterson stated that he will give Professor Ledder the opportunity to make an amendment to the Rules at the October meeting. 


6.0       Report on Board of Regents Meeting

Peterson reported that discussion at the Board of Regents meeting focused on construction plans.  He stated that approval was given to the team of Lockwood Greene to provide design services for the construction of the UNL Nebraska Center for Virology Building.  He reported that the project budget for construction of a north addition to the 14th & Avery Parking Structure was presented as well as plans on how to finance the addition.  He stated that the International Quilt Study Center program statement was presented to the Board.  Peterson noted that the quilt collection is considered one of the top one hundred historic collections in the U.S.


The Committee agreed to ask Chancellor Perlman how funding is coming along for the Virology Center. 


Peterson reported that the Chancellor made a presentation to the Board regarding UNL becoming a participant in the School as Lender program in regards to the Federal Family Educational Loan Program. 


7.0       Unfinished Business

            7.1       Possible Meeting with AAUP General Secretary Roger Bowen

The Committee agreed to have AAUP General Secretary Roger Bowen meet with them on September 29th.  It was suggested that one of the questions that could be asked is how other universities define an academic program.


            7.2       Additional Agenda Items for President Milliken

Scholz suggested that an additional agenda item for President Milliken would be to ask him whether there is to be a strategic plan for the university system to which the UNL strategic plan would relate.  Peterson stated that he will compile the list of agenda items and send them to President Milliken before the meeting.


8.0       New Business

8.1       ASUN Proposal on Academic Freedom – Initial Discussion

Peterson distributed copies of an ASUN resolution regarding academic freedom.  He stated that he would like to know what the motivation is behind the resolution.  He noted that he has some concerns with how the resolution is worded.  The Committee agreed to review the resolution and discuss it with ASUN leaders when they meet with the Committee on October 6th.


8.2       Report on Recruitment and Retention of Faculty of Color

Peterson stated that he has received the final report from Professor Willis-Esqueda, chair of the ad hoc committee on Recruitment and Retention of Faculty of Color.  He stated that he will check with her to see if the report can be presented to the Senate at the October 5th meeting.


Signal pointed out that the report does not mention the work that is currently being done by Professor Jones who has been assigned to assist in recruiting faculty of color by the Chancellor.  Shea suggested that Professor Willis-Esqueda be contacted to see if she would like to amend the report to include this information.  Peterson stated that he would contact Professor Willis-Esqueda about amending the report.


8.3       Mentoring Program

Signal stated that there is a perception that mentoring for junior faculty members is a good thing but she is unaware if there are any mentoring programs on campus.  She pointed out that it is often difficult for junior faculty members to get information on such things as the tenure process.  The Committee agreed to put this on the agenda to discuss with SVCAA Couture.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:55 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, September 22th 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 Pat Shea, Secretary.