Executive Committee Minutes - April 20, 2005




Present:          Beck, Bolin, Fech, Flowers, Hoffman, Peterson, Scholz, Shea, Signal, Stock


Absent:           Alexander, Bradford


Date:               Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Location:        City Campus Union, Room 213


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 3:02 p.m.


2.0       Chancellor Perlman/VC Owens

2.1       Budget Update

Peterson noted that the Faculty Compensation Advisory Committee will be meeting on April 11th and hopes to determine the Committee’s salary distribution recommendations during the meeting.


Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the Board of Regents has not adopted salary numbers yet.  He stated that the State Appropriations Committee is recommending salary increases of 4.4% for UNK and 3.95% for the other three campuses.  He noted that the University is not bound by these numbers but if approved, these figures will let the University know how much funding will be in the budget.  Peterson asked if the Appropriations Committee’s recommendations were set.  Chancellor Perlman stated that they were not.  He noted that a business incentive package was being put together in the Legislature and there is concern whether there will be enough funding left to support the Appropriations Committee’s recommendations if this package is passed. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that if the Appropriations Committee’s budget is approved it will be a very good budget for the University.  He pointed out that the budget does not fund the Programs of Excellence, diversity, two of the Regents’ priorities.  He noted that overlaying the budget situation is the tuition revenue shortfall. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the Board of Regents made no decision at the April 15th meeting whether there will be a tuition increase.  He stated that President Milliken has stated that it is unlikely that there will be double digit increases in tuition. 


Stock asked about the suggestion of having variable tuition rates.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he made the suggestion for some form of flexible tuition rate in a paper that he recently co-authored.  He stated that he believed it was reasonably accepted by the Regents.  He noted that the Chancellors may be able to make limited adjustments in tuition rates in June if approved by the Board. 


Stock stated that the issue was discussed at an English department meeting and it was questioned how the variable tuition rate could be implemented and what effects it would have on small programs.  Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the campus already does some variable tuition rates now with the fee structure but discipline specific variations are not the prime motivation for this proposal.


Peterson stated that variable tuition rates should be approached with care.  He pointed out that competing with community college tuition rates for certain courses could signal that these courses are academically similar.  Chancellor Perlman noted that there needs to be a lot of discussion about the issue. 


Fech asked if there is a framework for knowing more specifics about salary increases, tuition rates, and the University budget.  Chancellor Perlman stated that no specifics will be made until the Board meets on June 10th. 


Shea asked if the University has considered giving in-state tuition rates to neighboring states.  Chancellor Perlman stated that UNL was a part of a Midwest agreement with some programs but it resulted in a loss of students for us.  He also indicated he did not think the answer to our revenue shortfall was giving our product away. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he has reviewed the literature regarding variable tuition rates.  He noted that he does not want to do some formalistic price variation.  He stated that research needs to be conducted to measure price sensitivities. 


Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the major share of the $6 million shortfall in tuition is due to remission.  He stated that the three largest contributors in the shortfall are covering the cost of tuition for Regents scholars, graduate students, and new Nebraska scholars. 


Scholz asked to what extent the Legislature earmarks the University’s budget.  Chancellor Perlman stated that in theory the Legislature cannot tell the University what to do with its budget but the Appropriations Committee’s recommendations need to be respected.  He stated that the Legislature mostly build the budget but legally the University has some flexibility with the budgets.  He noted that some funding is separated for IANR and Curtis. 


2.2       New Diversity Plan

Peterson stated that SVCAA Couture had indicated in a previous meeting that a new group has been formed to look at the diversity plan.  Chancellor Perlman stated that a year and a half ago a small committee was created to revise the diversity plan.  He noted that the plan was to have a small group of administrators draft a new plan and then distribute it to various campus groups for feedback.  He stated that the committee first reviewed diversity plans at other institutions.  He pointed out that with the emergence of the strategic plan a better template has been developed to address the diversity issue.


Signal asked how the new plan will affect the work of the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of People of Color, the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women, and the work of Professor Colleen Jones.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he expects the Commissions to be actively involved in developing the plan.  He pointed out that he does not want to work across the perspectives of the work that has already been done. 


Peterson asked about the origin of the original plan.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he believed it might have been done during Chancellor Spanier’s time and it was a product of discussions.  Chancellor Perlman noted that there was nothing in the original plan to object to but it lacked priorities and ways to measure success. 


Beck asked when others will be able to see the revised plan.  Chancellor Perlman stated that nothing has been drafted yet and the committee is considering a model used by Penn State. 


2.3       Climate Issues

Peterson stated that this is a complex issue.  He stated that the Executive Committee feels that it should convey concerns that are raised to members of the Committee to the Chancellor.  Peterson noted that one of the problems affecting the climate is that some faculty members are unhappy when they learn how varied procedures and processes are across the campus.  He stated that the strategic planning is a prime example.  He noted that the Deans were given a lot of power in determining the college plans and some Deans did not allow faculty members to provide input into their own department’s strategic plans. 


Flowers stated that differences in procedures and processes become apparent when faculty members become involved with groups that have members from across the campus.  He noted that faculty members are seeing changes made to the standards for promotion and tenure and significant variances in hiring practices across the campus. 


Signal stated that it is difficult for junior faculty members to determine how to walk the line.  She noted that the structure of the system is such that faculty members do not know who to speak with about problems.  She stated that junior faculty members can be concerned with possible retaliation if they try to resolve a personnel problem. 


Hoffman pointed out that the grievance procedures call for a faculty member to talk to the chair if they are having problems but he stated that if the problem is with the chair then the faculty members should go to the Dean but this could be problematical if the Dean and the chair are friends.  He stated that there is no neutral person, like an ombudsman, to go to who could help resolve problems.  He noted that faculty members are left with the choice of either living with the problem, leaving the university, or bringing a lawsuit against the college or university. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that part of the inherent tradition of universities is that faculty members retain control over certain matters that may be perceived to be actually in the hands of the administrators.  He noted that promotion and tenure are a faculty process determined in each department and college and if an administrator tries to craft the process it interferes with the faculty process so it is difficult to standardize the process across the campus.  He stated that he believes it is the senior administration’s role in the promotion and tenure process to look at outlier cases to insure that no unreasonable decisions are made. 


Flowers agreed that one size does not fit all in regards to standardizing processes.  He noted that the climate problem arises because some departments seem to have a lot more faculty input and control over promotion and tenure than other units.  He stated that in the College of Arts & Sciences the system seems to be working well because the faculty is setting the standards but there are other areas where faculty members are not seeing the process as being consistently handled.  He noted that another problem is when the standards for promotion and tenure change a year or two before an assistant professor goes up for tenure/promotion.


Chancellor Perlman noted that usually allegations of changes in standards are usually made when someone has been denied tenure.  He stated that it is important for departments to have discussions on increasing the standards for promotion and tenure in order for the department to excel in quality but it could cause problems if not handled correctly. 


Flowers stated that he did not know if the Gallup survey included specific questions to see if faculty members feel they have input into decisions.  He noted that there would probably be different responses and the survey would should a diversity of opinions. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he is open to suggestions on how to deal with the climate issues.  He stated that he finds some of the concerns perplexing.  He noted that he is concerned with the different processes and realizes it can cause climate problems.  He supposed that he could issue an edict about processes or he could bring the Deans together to discuss the various processes which he is currently trying to do. 


Flowers noted that distribution of salaries in departments and colleges can cause misunderstanding. He pointed out that it is a complex issue and people do not realize that changes occur over time.  Peterson stated that salary inversion can cause problems with faculty morale because older professors feel they are losing out when they see young professors coming in with higher salaries.  He pointed out that the higher salaries are due to the current market for new professors.  He stated that UNL is 4% behind its peers in salaries for assistant professors and the University will need to meet these salaries in order to be competitive. 


Hoffman stated that he has been on promotion and tenure committees where the committee approves a faculty member for tenure but then the Dean turns it down.  He noted that the committee never finds out why the Dean denied the promotion.  He stated that it would be helpful to know the reason to see if the committee is using a different set of criteria or whether there are floating rules of requirements.  He stated that a simple explanation would help.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this is a fair comment.  He noted that administrators are sometimes too cautious to reveal reasons for denial because of concern about litigation.  He stated that this is an issue that should be addressed. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that if there is an issue of variance in faculty governance then the place to explore this issue should be with the Senate Executive Committee.  He stated that the Senate should explore whether the majority of faculty members in a department feel that there has been a violation of faculty governance or whether it is just a few people that are upset.  Beck asked how the Chancellor thinks the Senate should address this issue.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he is unsure but he has tried to determine if faculty participation occurs.


Peterson suggested that the topic could be used for an open forum in the fall.  He stated that it would be useful to have a conversation about the subject.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the Senate may want to measure the degree of faculty governance. 


Beck stated that there appears to be a problem in the Economics department with faculty participation.  She pointed out that every woman who has left that department except one has sued.  She suggested that the department may not fit well in the Business College and noted that it was previously in Arts & Sciences.  Peterson pointed out that typically Economic departments in Business colleges are smaller than those in Arts & Sciences.   Chancellor Perlman noted that from an intellectual viewpoint he could see how some might think Economics as a discipline outside the mainstream of a business college. 


Hoffman asked if the Gallup survey will be conducted this year.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it will be only done every two years because of the cost.  He noted that the campus is conducting the Bright Line Harassment course on-line.  He stated that it is going well.  Peterson noted that at this point supervisors are required to take the course but faculty members can volunteer to take it.  VC Owens stated that it is a good course and he will be contacting those heads and chairs in the Institute who have not taken the course yet.  He stated that the campus should consider migrating to on-line training for other things such as search committee training. 


Stock noted that the campus used to have an ombudsman to deal with some of the problems raised.  He wondered whether there have been any discussions about getting another one.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the issue comes up periodically but the question right now is one of resources. 


2.4       Increasing Enrollment versus Student Credit Hour Production

Peterson noted that the Chancellor had discussed the possibility of tying department resources into student credit hour production.  Peterson pointed out that there is a difference between increasing enrollment and increasing student credit hours.  Tying resources to student credit hour production could create perverse incentives.  For example, engineering could increase student credit hours by teaching its own math courses instead of relying on the math department for these requirements.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he will not do any formulaic procedure because there is too much variance across departments.  He pointed out that the only thing he has said is that opportunities to increase enrollment will be considered in determining resources.  He noted that he wants positive incentives for departments to increase their enrollment.  He stated that he just wants to get people thinking about the need to increase enrollment. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that everyone on campus needs to do things to make UNL a friendly place.  He noted that there was a recent incident of a student not being excused from an exam by a professor when the student’s father had passed away the day before.  The Chancellor stated that the student came from a small town and everyone in the town is angry with the University for the way this student was treated.  He pointed out that things of this nature give the University a bad reputation.  Peterson noted that treating students as human beings gives students a positive experience which in turn spreads into good public relations for the University.  Chancellor Perlman stated that faculty members can play a role by exerting some peer pressure in regards to how faculty members treat students. 


Beck pointed out that on the Institute side the scrutiny that is being placed on researchers because of the IACUC procedures is hurting students by not allowing some of them to work in laboratories.  She stated that this is a problem that is not going away unless something is done about it.  


2.5       Decision on Final Exam Week Schedule

Peterson asked if the administration has made a decision to accept the recommendations made by the Senate with regards to the final exam week schedule.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he has asked for further information on how the new schedule would be implemented.  He noted that people seem to be positive towards the change. 


Peterson pointed out that if the schedule changes it will not be implemented until Spring 2006 because the fall schedule of classes has already been published. 


2.6       Update on Strategic Planning Process and Accreditation Process

VC Owens stated that the Senior Administrative Team will be meeting with the Deans on April 25th and 26th to review the plan. Chancellor Perlman pointed out that the administration will now be struggling with putting the strategic plans together.  He stated that there will be a lot for the administrators to simulate over the summer. 


Peterson asked if there is any sense of timing about when the plan will be ready.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there are no benchmark dates.  He noted that some things have been done but there is still a lot of work to do.


2.7       Accreditation of Athletics

Chancellor Perlman reported that there will be a number of committees that will be created to work on the accreditation of athletics.  He noted that faculty members will be needed for these committees.  He stated that the committees will be working with Professor Potuto and the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee.  He stated that he will send a list of the committees to the Executive Committee so they can suggest faculty members to serve on them. 


Chancellor Perlman pointed out that he is not trying to limit faculty governance with the accreditation processes but he is trying to not overburden faculty members so they do not stop the momentum on campus.  The processes for developing a self study will be transparent. 


Peterson noted that the self-study accreditation process should be less work.  Chancellor Perlman stated he hopes this is correct.  He pointed out that engagement of the faculty will come with the strategic planning process. 


Scholz asked if there will be a unified campus plan.  VC Owens stated that there will be a unified plan.  He noted that the IANR and academic plans will be merged. 


Scholz asked if the campus priorities have been identified.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the Programs of Excellence have already been identified as a campus priority but there could be others. 


Scholz asked how the unified campus plan document will be generated.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he is not sure at this point.  He stated that any strategic plan for the campus as a whole would not be workable unless there was considerable faculty involvement and buy-in. 


2.8       Update on Searches

VC Owens stated that the search for a new head of the Agronomy and Horticulture department identified three candidates who were brought in for interviews and one will be returning for a second interview. 


Vice Chancellor Owens noted that the search for a new Dean for the Agricultural Research Division will close early next month.  He pointed out that administrative searches across the country are not turning up many candidates and therefore the search process can sometimes take longer. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he hopes to form a search committee before the summer break for the position of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.  He noted that he hopes to get the search going in September because VC Griesen will be stepping down from the position. 


The Committee discussed the Chancellor’s suggestion of surveying the faculty to see if they are unhappy or want changes.  Flowers wondered whether the Senate could conduct a targeted survey.  Peterson pointed out that the Gallup survey showed that administrators were happy but the faculty and staff members were not.  Flowers noted that the Gallup survey identified some problem areas.  Shea stated that the Senate needs to determine how widespread the dissatisfaction is and where.  He said we are being challenged on this question.  Peterson stated that the Senate will need to provide evidence if it is going to show the campus that the faculty members are dissatisfied.  He noted that a goal for the Executive Committee is to get a better sense of how the faculty feels on various campus issues.  Signal suggested that the Committee check with the Research Council to see if they have any data.  She pointed out that the Council conducted a survey on mentoring and they may have some useful information.


3.0       Announcements

            3.1       Distinguished Teaching Award to Beck

Signal pointed out that Professor Beck received the IANR distinguished teaching award.  The Committee congratulated Beck.


4.0       Approval of 4/13/05 Minutes

Signal moved and Flowers seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


5.0       Unfinished Business

            5.1       Motion on Bodvarsson Issue

Beck suggested that a substitution motion could be presented because there was no objection from the Senate about there not being a second on the motion made at the April 5th meeting.  Griffin pointed out that there were no objections because the Senate was informed that the motion came from the Executive Committee.  Peterson noted that the motion has not been seconded because the Executive Committee did not approve the motion.  He questioned whether the motion was really on the floor if there was no second. 


Shea stated that the motion is invalidated because the Executive Committee did not approve it and there was no second from the Senate.  He suggested that a new motion could be made at the April 26th meeting or raised in September.  Beck stated that she did not want to have a motion held over until September for a vote.  She stated that the Senate needs to say something about the issue of discussing personnel issues in a public format.  She stated that she would consider raising the motion at the September meeting.


6.0       New Business

6.1       Report on Board of Regents Meeting

Peterson reported that President Milliken set out the strategic planning framework at the meeting.  Peterson noted that three points made by the President were the goals of recruiting good faculty members, improving salaries and benefits, and creating more endowed chairs. 


Peterson stated that the University Diversity Report was presented.  He noted that the recommendations made in the report were similar to those made in the Gender Equity Report.  He stated that each campus also presented a report along with recommendations. 


Peterson stated that Provost Noren reported that the University was monitoring student progress towards graduation.  He stated Noren reported that graduation was not delayed because students were unable to get into needed courses. 


Peterson stated that a report on budget and budget tracking was given.  He stated that tuition and fees in 1994-95 made up 15% of the university budget.  He noted that in 2004-05 it now makes up 18% of the budget.  He pointed out that as the state’s funding to the University is reduced, tuition makes up a bigger percentage of the University budget.  Peterson noted that we are behind our peers in terms of the amount of funding for need-based aid.


Peterson reported that the idea of variable tuition rates was presented.  He noted that there is concern that if the tuition is raised for some courses that people will not take these courses.  He pointed out that the University is in the middle of its peers in terms of cost of tuition.  Beck stated that the University of Colorado in-state tuition rate is more expensive than UNL’s out of state tuition rate. 


Shea stated that the University needs to make greater efforts to recruit students outside of the Great Plains region.  Peterson reported that applications from Minneapolis and Chicago are up from last year. 


The meeting was adjourned at 4:52 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, April 27th 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.