Executive Committee Minutes - September 1, 2004



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


Absent:           Bradford, Flowers, Wunder


Date:               Wednesday, September 1, 2004


Location:        201 Canfield Administration Building


1.0       Call to Order

            Peterson called the meeting to order at 3:01 p.m.


2.0       Chancellor Perlman

            2.1       Enrollment Figures for Fall

Chancellor Perlman stated that a press release would be coming out on September 1st regarding enrollment figures.  He stated that as of August 31st total enrollment for UNL was down significantly.  He pointed out that first time freshman students were down the highest percentage.  He noted that the decrease in students ranges across the colleges. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the largest jump in average ACT scores was seen with the new students for this year.  He stated that the average ACT scores increased from 24.4 to 24.7.  He reported that the largest percentage of increase with incoming students is out-of-state students. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the decrease in the enrollment figures is not the fault of the admissions office.  He noted that the rising cost of tuition is a factor in the decrease.  He reported that Southeast Community College has seen an increase of 500 students in their academic track program this year.  He stated that marketing efforts to recruit students will be stepped up.  He noted that parents appear to be overestimating the cost of attending UNL and marketing efforts will be directed towards presenting more accurate information regarding costs.  He pointed out that other factors influencing admissions will also be looked at.


Peterson asked if there was an increase in transfer students.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there was a small increase in transfer students.  Fech asked if UNL is not getting those students who have an ACT score of 20 – 25.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this is correct. 


Peterson stated that there needs to be emphasis on the advantages for a student starting their college career as a freshman at the university.  He noted that there are many benefits the students derive from being on campus and taking classes as a freshman. 


2.2       Accreditation Update

Chancellor Perlman stated that he is still looking into the possibility of using the continuous improvement model of the accreditation process.  He noted that none of our peer institutions have opted to use this model because everyone is cautious about being the first to do it.  He reported that he is exploring whether UNL can fashion a self-study process instead that embedded a continuing improvement methodology.  He stated that he should know more in a month or so.  Peterson stated that the Senate would be willing to help with the accreditation process in any way it can.


2.3       Strategic Plan Update

Chancellor Perlman stated that he will report on the strategic plan at his State of the University Address on September 10th.


2.4       Recruitment and Retention of Women Report

Peterson noted that the Chancellor shared the report with the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women (CCSW).  Peterson pointed out that a similar report is being done on faculty members of color and that a report should be finalized soon. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he is obviously sympathetic to the issue and some of the report’s suggestions match some of things that he is already planning to do.  He thought it was appropriate to give the report to the CCSW since they are the advisory group that he works most closely with regarding the various issues that affect women on campus.  He noted that he has not had the opportunity to discuss the report yet with the CCSW. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that Professor Poser, Law, was on leave from UNL and worked at the University of California-Berkley as a visiting professor.  While there she looked at Berkley’s practices and policies regarding women and he wants to hear her report.  He stated that he will get back to the Executive Committee after he has discussed the Senate’s report with the CCSW.


2.5       Ramifications of Labor Laws

Fech noted that a university-wide evaluation of positions is going on to determine if employees are exempt or non-exempt from the new federal law regarding over-time pay.  Chancellor Perlman pointed out that these changes are not coming from the administration but from the federal government.  He stated that the law revises the interpretation of employee job classifications making non-exempt personnel subject to adhering to the rules regarding over-time pay.  He noted that it appears to be a thrust to increase the number of non-exempt workers. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the federation of higher education fought the government on changing the status of graduate research assistants to non-exempt.  He stated that higher education was able to win this battle and the status of graduate research assistants will remain the same.


Chancellor Perlman stated that there is a pocket of employees in the university, mostly in the managerial/professional classification, that may be pushed to non-exempt.  He reported that Vice Chancellor Jackson indicated that there are approximately 70 employees who may have their status changed although he did not know if this figure included IANR.   


Griffin stated that there has been little communication from Human Resources regarding the new law.  Chancellor Perlman stated that Human Resources have provided little information on a broad scale basis but they have notified staff that may be affected by the law. 


Shea stated that employees and their supervisors did not receive any advance notice that these changes where coming.  He stated that the turn around time to respond to the survey was very short.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the university was aware that the federal government was considering revising the definitions of employees but they did not expect the federal government to act so quickly on it.  Peterson stated that he believed the law is an Executive Order that did not have to be acted upon by Congress. 


Shea stated that only a few days were given for a protest to be made to change the status of the employee.  He pointed out that if someone was out of town, they would have missed the opportunity to protest the decision.  He suggested that in the future, it would be helpful if employees were forewarned about possible changes.  Chancellor Perlman agreed when it is possible to do so.  He indicated he did not know how much advance notice we had or how much time as an institution we had to make changes. 


2.6       Clarification of Bylaw Restricting UPC Funds for Guest Speakers

Peterson stated that a question was raised regarding the Bylaw that states that speakers representing both sides of an issue need to be brought into campus if UPC funds are used.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he believes the Bylaw strives for a reasonable balance representing different viewpoints among speakers.  He stated that he believes Vice Chancellor Griesen was misquoted by the newspapers and he believes everyone acted appropriately with this particular situation.  He pointed out that he does not want to see the UPC dampen their enthusiasm for bringing speakers to campus over this incident. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he received letters from both parents and students who objected to student fees being used to bring in a guest speaker such as Michael Moore.  He pointed out that students can opt out from paying student fees devoted to this purpose.  He noted that the administration does not get involved or put any pressure on the UPC regarding speakers coming to campus. 


Shea noted that there was a letter in the Lincoln Journal Star commenting how quiet things were at UNL.  Shea stated that a university is a place where there is an exchange of a lot of ideas but there has not been much in the way of a debate between opposing viewpoints.  He stated that having more debates would be healthy for the university.  Chancellor Perlman stated that other universities are experiencing the same kind of quiet atmosphere on campus.  He stated that it seems to be the phenomenon of the time.  He pointed out that there are different ways to have debates on campus and that faculty could engage themselves in holding and participating in debates. 




2.7       Responsibilities and Rights of Non-Tenure Track Faculty Members

Shea noted that there has been an increase in the number of non-tenure track faculty members throughout the campus.  He stated that a number of them have indicated that they do not have the same opportunity as tenure track faculty members in applying for some internal grants and receiving certain services.  He noted that how these faculty members are treated can vary between departments and colleges and there needs to be some kind of guidelines to assist these people. 


Shea stated that one of the first issues is how some of these non-tenure track faculty members are hired or appointed.  He pointed out that the expectations for these faculty members are not consistent.  He stated that he raised this issue to the IANR Liaison Committee to see if they have any suggestions on how this issue can be addressed.


Chancellor Perlman stated that consistency of administration can be applied to tenure track professors as well.  He noted that there is a lack of consistency in the departments and his administration is trying to address this across the campus.  He agreed that this is an issue that needs to be addressed and he is willing to look at it seriously. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he is looking into other institutions’ system where faculty members are committed strictly to teaching.  In some of these institutions they are given tenure.  He pointed out that it is important not to think too rigidly about the current UNL classifications because there is a lot of difference between a post doc and a part-time outside business person teaching courses for the university.  He stated that he does not want to restrict the colleges, particularly the professional schools who often rely on these outside individuals. 


Peterson stated that he received an email message from a faculty member who is concerned that lecturers and non-tenure track faculty members do not have the same academic freedom as full-time professors.  Chancellor Perlman pointed out that academic freedom may mean different things to different people.  He noted that certainly with respect to freedom to speak and to arrive at independent conclusions in their teaching or elsewhere they have the same academic freedom as tenured faculty.  However, although tenured faculty members may have leeway in terms of what content, within their particular course, the institution may have more authority to insist that part-time faculty members teach in accordance with a university dictated syllabus. 


Alexander asked why the university is hiring so many part-time faculty members.  He stated that some professors are feeling disengaged from the students because courses are being given to non-tenure track faculty members and other people are being hired to do advising.  He stated that removing faculty members from advising is not healthy for the university.  Chancellor Perlman stated that some departments are hiring part-time faculty for financial reasons.  They have a heavy teaching load and cannot offer all of the courses needed unless they have help from part-time professors. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that it is interesting to note that the university seems content to appoint someone to a faculty position that focuses strictly on research but not so for someone who focuses on teaching.  He noted that as a research university this is important but we also need to recognize those who concentrate their efforts on teaching.  He agreed that there needs to be further discussion on the issue.


Beck stated that in some departments a search is conducted to fill a lecturer level position while in others graduate students are appointed to these positions; in the past many of the latter were classified as instructors.  She stated that there has been an increase of 300% in the lecturer category of professors and the majority of them are women.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he is not happy with the categorization of classroom personnel.  The Committee agreed to discuss the issue further with the Chancellor and SVCAA.


2.8       Nebraska Bookstore Advertisement

Peterson stated that there is concern about why students cannot use their NCard in the Nebraska Bookstore.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the NCard can be used at the university as a deferred payment card.  The person using the card will be billed at a later date.  He stated that this is only available to university operations because it is actually a floating loan. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that if the student signs up for the Wells Fargo option on the NCard then the card becomes a debit card and there are no restrictions for its use.  Signal stated that the card cannot be used as a debit card at some stores.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the debit card is a Visa card and Visa cards work in two ways.  In some cases a pin number is required to use the card and a merchant must sign up for this option with Visa in order for the card to work. 


2.9       Academic Senate Meetings

Chancellor Perlman stated that he is sorry that he will not be able to attend either the September or October Senate meetings.  He stated that he will be out visiting communities in the state during the September meeting and he just received an invitation from the U.S. Secretary of Education to attend a small conference being held in Washington, D.C. during the October meeting.  Peterson suggested having SVCAA Couture speak to the Senate at the October meeting which will give her the opportunity to meet the Senate members.  He understands that SVCAA Couture will be out of town during the September meeting.


3.0       SVCAA Couture

            3.1       Initiatives on the Horizon

SVCAA Couture stated that she was happy to be at UNL and reported that she recently met with Peterson, Beck, and Shea for lunch and discussed some of the issues facing faculty members.


SVCAA Couture stated that she is empathetic to the concerns of the non-tenure track faculty members and she noted that this is an issue at many other institutions as well.   She stated that one of the important principles is to ensure that these faculty members are evaluated by fair criteria and have clear expectations of what is required of them.  She stated that in the past she has worked with the faculty senate to establish criteria that would allow movement within classifications for professors.  She stated that fairness to all employees is crucial and that the institution and administration need to make these people feel valued. 


SVCAA Couture stated that she is welcome to hearing from faculty members and asked if anyone has questions or thoughts to please contact her.  Peterson stated that the Committee was delighted to have her here and is looking forward to working with her.


Chancellor Perlman stated that he thinks that things will get off to a quick start because SVCAA Couture has caught on quickly to UNL and the university system. 


Alexander asked if the SVCAA plans on going out to meet the faculty members in departments to get a grass root feel of the issues.   SVCAA Couture stated that she has encouraged the deans to invite her to the colleges to meet with the faculty.  She stated that she has participated in some retreats already and has been invited by a few departments to visit with them.  She stated that she is happy to come to any meeting that she is invited to.  She noted that she has encouraged the deans to have her tour the facilities of each of the colleges. 


Peteson asked what her impressions are so far.  SVCAA Couture stated that she feels that UNL is a great place with a lot of talented people and good diversity.  She noted that there is a lot of energy on campus and there have been great strides in research and a strong commitment to teaching which is very important to her.  She stated that the voice of the faculty is extremely important because they are the pulse of the university.


Peterson stated that it was encouraging to see so many new faculty members at the new faculty orientation.  He noted that there were approximately 100 new faculty members.  Chancellor Perlman agreed and stated that in the past the average number of new hires was 60 although the last two years it dropped down to 30. 


Scholz asked whether there will be any major budget crisis looming ahead of us with the tuition income being down due to the decrease in enrollment.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the enrollment is a real concern but he does not otherwise foresee any major problems. 


Peterson pointed out that the new biennium will begin in July 2005.  He questioned whether there will be a lot of discussion regarding the budget in the spring.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the budget for the next biennium has already been approved although it does not include salary increases.  He noted that salary negotiations with the unionized campuses will begin soon.  Peterson pointed out that the salary figures provided by Dr. Nunez, Institutional Research and Planning indicate that the faculty salaries at UNL have slipped in relation to our peers. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he is trying to write a letter to the campus to educate them about the bond issue on the city’s infrastructure system.  He pointed out that the bond issue is extremely important for the university because if it does not pass it may require the city to readjust the Antelope Valley Project which will have direct impact on the campus.  He also noted that economically it can affect recruiting efforts because of the tight housing situation.  He pointed out that the average median price for homes has increased greatly in Lincoln because there is currently no where else to build in Lincoln.  He stated that while there will be an increase in property taxes initially, in the long run property taxes will be less because if Lincoln is allowed to grow it will spread the tax base.


4.0       Announcements

            4.1       Executive Committee Retreat

Griffin reminded the committee that the retreat will be held this Friday, September 3rd at the Embassy Suites beginning at 12:00.


5.0       Approval of 8/20/04 Minutes

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


6.0       Unfinished Business

No unfinished business was discussed.


7.0       New Business

7.1       Recruiting Students

Signal stated that she wants to caution the administration about recruiting so heavily for high achieving students without doing the same for other students.  She stated that the campus needs to be careful not to create a division between the students.  She pointed out that how students perceive themselves is very important.  Peterson suggested that Dean Cerveny, Dean of Admissions, be invited to speak with the Committee. 


Fech noted that those students who are in the 20-25 range of ACT scores do not seem to be recruited as heavily.  He noted that this may be due to the lack of financial aid that is available but he states that there seems to be almost three tiers of students in regards as to who is recruited. 


Beck stated that Dean Waller has said that any faculty member in CASNR, including Extension Educators, is authorized to offer a scholarship to any potential student with an ACT of 27 or above and has an interest in attending CASNR.


Alexander stated that his daughter is looking at schools and while she has been receiving information from universities in neighboring states, she has received nothing from UNL.  Peterson suggested that they bring this issue up with Cerveny.


            7.2       Resignation on Executive Committee

Peterson reported the Professor Buck has resigned from the Executive Committee but not from the Senate.  He stated that she is still interested in serving on the committee that is looking into daycare on campus.  Peterson stated that an election will need to be held to replace her since her term is for two more years. 


7.3       Research Council Appointments

The Committee discussed the proposed candidates from the Committee on Committees and VC Paul for the Research Council.  Peterson stated that he would contact VC Paul to see why his list of candidates did not include any of the ones recommended by the Committee on Committees. 


The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, September 8 at 3:00 pm.  The meeting will be held in the Academic Senate Office.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Pat Shea, Secretary.