Executive Committee Minutes - February 2, 2005




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




Date:               Wednesday, February 2, 2005


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 3:00 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            2.1       Recruiting Students

Fech reported that his daughter recently received a handwritten note from Dean Cerveny of Admissions.  Fech stated that he was unsure if all students interested in UNL received such a note but he pointed out that it did have a positive impact.


2.2       Meeting with Deb Thomas, Vice President for External Affairs

Peterson stated that he and Griffin will work to set up a meeting with Thomas in the near future.


3.0       Professors Kay Logan-Peters and Paul Shoemaker, Intercollegiate Athletics Committee

            3.1       Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) Document

Peterson noted that the COIA wants UNL to take action on approving the document on academic integrity but he is unsure of what exactly is expected from the Senate.  Shoemaker noted that the document on academic integrity is a position paper from the COIA and is not binding.  He pointed out that a vote on the document needs to come from the Senate, not the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee (IAC).  He stated that the position paper is being viewed as a way for academics to give input into the NCAA. 


Logan-Peters stated that 44 Division I schools are members of the COIA and five of them are members of the Big 12.  She noted that most of the members of the Coalition have either had leadership in their Senates or have been members or chairs of their university’s intercollegiate athletic committee. 


Logan-Peters reported that at a recent COIA conference in January, only about half of the faculty representatives were in attendance.  She noted that it would have been helpful if the Faculty Athletic Representatives (FAR) who are appointed by the Chancellors and serve as a representative to the NCAA were also in attendance because they are aware of changes the NCAA is making.  Some of these changes are items identified in COIA’s document. 


Logan-Peters pointed out that one of the reasons the COIA was started is because some FARS were not balanced in their representation of the faculty and students.  She stated that Professor Potuto, UNL’s FAR, is very balanced and does a good job of representing all the constituents at UNL.  Logan-Peters noted that a number of the institutions that belong to COIA must support the athletics department out of the institution’s operating budget.  She pointed out that not many of the universities have a self-supporting athletics department like UNL.  She stated that the students at the University of Maryland pay $300 per semester in student fees to support athletics.


Peterson asked if Logan-Peters and Shoemaker think it is still useful for UNL to participate and be a member of the COIA.   Logan-Peters and Shoemaker stated that UNL should remain a member of the COIA even though many of the problems raised do not pertain to UNL.  


Shoemaker noted that many of the recommendations made in the document are already in place here at UNL.  He stated that the document provides too much detail but some areas are vague.  He pointed out that overall the IAC is not supportive of the document.  He noted that the IAC has student and athletic department representatives as well as faculty representatives although the faculty representatives are more outspoken.  Logan-Peters pointed out that Dennis LeBlanc and Steve Pederson from Athletics often stay neutral on issues. 


Logan-Peters stated that Professor Potuto reviewed the document and sent comments to her.  She stated that Professor Potuto noted that some things in the document are counter to changes the NCAA is making.  Logan-Peters stated that Professor Potuto saw some problems with the document.  Logan-Peters stated that she will forward Professor Potuto’s comments to the Executive Committee.


Peterson noted that when he read the document it made some recommendations on issues that should be looked at and suggested best practices at other institutions.  He stated that it was not a binding document in any way.  Logan-Peters agreed that it wasn’t binding.   She asked if the Senate would want to vote to support a document that won’t do anything but pointed out that UNL already has a pro athletics reputation and not endorsing the document could be viewed as being in favor of athletics more than academics.  Shoemaker agreed stating that there are concerns either way the Senate votes.


Hoffman asked for a brief history of the COIA.  Logan-Peters stated that it was started by faculty members in the Big 10 who had grave concerns with how athletics was dominating academics.  She noted that at first the Coalition did not want to align itself with the NCAA.  She stated that there is good representation on the Coalition from the Big 10 and PAC 10 schools. 


Shea asked if the document conflicted with the NCAA.  Logan-Peters stated that there are many conflicts but pointed out that the NCAA policies are very complicated.  She noted that some of the things in the COIA document conflict with the changes being made by the NCAA.  Fech asked if the NCAA changes make some of the documents points moot.  She stated that this is correct.


Logan-Peters stated that the document does address the issue of the length of season for some sports.  She noted that some seasons are becoming longer which creates problems.  She pointed out that the document makes a good point regarding the notion of canceling evening classes for an athletic event.  She noted that at many schools this frequently happens because the game is to be broadcast on TV. 


Fech noted that travel time can really affect the amount of time a student athlete is in class.  He stated that with some sports it is difficult to keep the student in the classroom.  Logan-Peters pointed out that UNL monitors this carefully.  Shoemaker stated that UNL’s missed class policy is fairly well adhered to.  Signal pointed out that Dennis LeBlanc in Athletics is very helpful in making sure that students do not miss too many classes.  Hoffman noted that his wife had student athletes in her class and they often missed class. 


Peterson noted that the spring athletics schedule came out late.  He asked if this caused any problems.  Shoemaker stated that there weren’t any problems and the IAC has a subcommittee that carefully monitors the schedules.  He noted that if there is a problem with the scheduling, such as with volleyball when the final four competitions are during finals week, the athletics department will come to the IAC to ask for an override.


Scholz asked who made the decision for UNL to join the COIA.  Logan-Peters noted that it was the Academic Senate who voted to join.  Scholz asked if the goal of the COIA is fulfilled with the academic integrity document.  Logan-Peters stated that it wasn’t and that another document is forthcoming.  She noted that this second document will address financial matters and the athletics arms race.  Scholz asked if the COIA will be on going.  Logan-Peters stated that there seems to be disagreement within the Coalition about this. 


Scholz asked about voting and how it works with the COIA.  Logan-Peters stated that each member institution gets one vote.  Peterson suggested that the Executive Committee could take the document to the Senate for a vote.  He questioned whether amendments can be made to the document.  He pointed out that the COIA timetable for members voting is too short.  Logan-Peters agreed and stated that the COIA wants to have the final vote by the end of February. 


Peterson pointed out that the final document will have a disclaimer stating that not all of the suggestions or recommendations in the document would necessarily be approved by the institutions.  Bradford asked what we would get out of approving the document if it is non-binding.  Logan-Peters agreed that the document does not have any power behind it but not approving it can send a message that UNL is more pro athletics than pro academics.  She pointed out that approving the document would possibly help out those institutions that do not have the similar structure that we do in respect to athletics. 


Scholz asked if the goal of the COIA is to bring the document to the NCAA eventually.  Logan-Peters stated that this is correct.  She stated that the COIA wants to get across the ideas and areas of concern to the NCAA and they want to get athletics scheduling under control. 


Shea noted that the formation of the Coalition indicates that there are many universities that share the same views and problems in regards to athletics.  He pointed out that the Coalition is a means for faculty members at various institutions to express common concerns.  He noted that by forming the Coalition the faculty might be better heard.


Shea stated that the document does need to have a disclaimer statement in it.  He acknowledged concerns with some of the particulars of the document but he believes the spirit of the document and the Coalition is a good thing for academics.  Bradford asked if the document should be endorsed just because the spirit of intent is good.  Shea stated that the document should be carefully reviewed to make sure there are no strong objections but it should be okay with the disclaimer included.  Peterson questioned whether the document might be approved in spirit.  Logan-Peters stated that a faculty representative on the IAC felt that the document micromanages universities too much. 


Hoffman asked how much of the document conflicts with established practices that we have here at UNL.  Logan-Peters stated that there were a number of conflicts.  She noted that one of the recommendations of the document is to move the student advising office out of athletics and put them into the Chancellor’s office.  She stated that this could help remove pressure that some coaches might try to put on the academic advisors but she did not think that most of the administrative offices would have the time to supervise the advising center.  She pointed out that UNL’s athletic advising center is very good. 


Fech asked if the average person on the COIA believes that athletics enhances a student’s education or detracts from it.  Logan-Peters stated that most of the members hope that it enhances the student’s academic career but oftentimes reality shows that it does not.  She stated that there is a quasi professionalism about athletics and students attend practice sessions before anything else.  She noted that the members of the COIA believe that graduation should be a goal for every student. 


Signal asked if there is any student input into the document.  Logan-Peters stated that there was no direct input from students but many of the members of the COIA have had direct contact with student athletes. 


Peterson stated that he will contact Bob Eno who is heading the COIA to see what he is expecting from the Senates.  Peterson stated that he believes the vote should go to the Senate and that we should be allowed to take our time with the document.  Logan-Peters stated that she believes that other schools will have difficulty with the short timetable as well. 


Fech suggested that Professors Logan-Peters, Shoemaker or Potuto should be at the Senate meeting when the Senate discusses the document to answer questions.  Hoffman asked if an institution can abstain from voting.  Shoemaker noted that 2/3 of the members need to vote.  Beck asked if an institution can approve the document on principle.  Shoemaker stated that he did not think this is an option. 


4.0       Approval of 1/26/05 Executive Committee Minutes

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


5.0       Follow up On Senate Meeting

Peterson reported that he sent a note to Katie Weichman, President of ASUN, about the vote on adding the question about academic freedom in the classroom on teaching evaluations.  He noted that he informed her that the vote was very close and the students should not interpret the failure of the resolution as faculty members being against academic freedom.  He also informed her that many faculty members support the students’ sentiment on the issue.  Hoffman polled his constituents and found that they were split 50/50 on the issue. 


Peterson stated that Professor Fuller, Chair of the Committee on Committees, spoke to him after the meeting and stated that the CoC will work with the Executive Committee on the recommendations made by the University Curriculum Committee.  He noted that the Executive Committee might want to discuss the recommendations with SVCAA Couture to see what changes in the responsibilities of the UCC need to be made in order to bring it up to date. 


Bradford stated that he understood the UCC’s request about giving colleges the responsibility for deciding to delete courses no longer being taught.  Hoffman pointed out that deleting courses could have implications for other departments.  Flowers stated that departments should review the courses that they recommend to students to make sure that courses in other departments haven’t been deleted.  Beck stated that it would be helpful if deleted courses were posted on the web somewhere.


Peterson stated that he was disturbed when he heard how Professor Owomoyela has received racist comments on his teaching evaluations.  Peterson stated that he is not sure what can be done about it but he is concerned.  Beck noted that other incidents of this type have surfaced in the English department in the past and Stock stated that he did not think the comments on the teaching evaluations are wide spread but occasional problems do occur. 


Beck stated that she would like to put the Gender Equity Report figures on an upcoming agenda.  She noted that UNL is down 14 female faculty members in 2003-04 compared with 1996-97.  She and Peterson debated the numbers.


Alexander stated that a problem that needs to be addressed which relates to the hiring of female faculty members is the lack of professors who are retiring and the reason why.  He stated that older faculty members are not retiring because the cost of health care after they retire is so prohibitive.  He noted that as a result departments are not able to hire new faculty members.  Fech pointed out that the departments eventually bear the brunt of not being able to hire new people.  Bradford stated that younger faculty members should not have to pay higher health insurance fees to subsidize older faculty members.  He noted that this would hurt recruiting efforts as well.  Peterson stated that the Committee should talk with the Chancellor to see if the University would offer a permanent early retirement program. 


6.0       Unfinished Business

6.1       Review of Executive Committee Goals

The Committee will continue to review the Executive Committee Goals at an upcoming meeting.


7.0       New Business

            7.1       Dead Week Proposal

Alexander presented the dead week proposal recommended by the Dead Week Committee.  He noted that the students on the Committee support the document and would like to see it implemented as quickly as possible.


Alexander noted that one of the main changes in the proposal was to change the term “dead week policy” to “fifteenth week policy”.  He pointed out that the other major change includes the following sentences:  “Moreover ALL requirements, except for the final exam, must be completed no later than Wednesday of the fifteenth (15th) week.  The exception to this is a class meeting one day a week on a Thursday or Friday for which all policies/requirements are shifted to either a Thursday or Friday, respectively.”


Alexander noted that procedures to deal with complaints needed more clout.  The proposal states that complaints about failure to follow the policy should be made immediately to the appropriate department chair (or equivalent) or the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs with appropriate written records documenting the issue and a copy sent to the President of ASUN. 


Peterson noted that the proposal will probably need to be separated into two motions.  The first motion should deal with the dead week issue and the second motion should deal with the recommendations on finals week.  Alexander stated that this is correct.


Flowers asked if the faculty members on the Dead Week Committee were satisfied with the recommendations in regards to the once a week classes.  Alexander stated that they were. 


Alexander stated that changes are also being suggested in regards to the phrase “mutually agreeable to all parties concerned”.  He noted that the professor/instructor must have an anonymous method of agreement or opposition to changing the final exam time for three class periods.  Beck noted that the students would have three chances to object to a change.  Alexander stated that this is correct.  He pointed out that many professors/instructors use Blackboard to post notes and students don’t always come to class and that is why three votes should be taken.  He noted that the professor can set up the way the vote is taken as long as it is anonymous. 


Peterson pointed out that the original dead week policy states that students could file a professional code of conduct grievance if a professor/instructor violates the policy and refuses to do anything about it.  Alexander stated that he believes the students would like to have that information included.  He noted that ASUN Officers Weichman and Opal spoke with SVCAA Couture about the proposed policy and they felt she was receptive to it. 


Hoffman stated that he is concerned with courses that are on a schedule because they are broadcasted over TV or restricted due to other technological situations.  He noted that the choice of when some assignments can be given can be limiting because of satellite connections.  Alexander pointed out that those courses would need to adhere to the new policy.  Flowers asked if a statement should be included to deal with these unique courses. 


Fech asked if the language professor/instructor includes teaching assistants as well.  Alexander stated that it does.  He pointed out that teaching assistants will have to consult with the supervising faculty member. 


The Committee agreed to put the policy on the agenda to discuss with SVCAA Couture on February 16th. 


Beck asked if the ASUN needs to adopt or endorse the policy.  Peterson pointed out that it is a Senate policy but that it would be good to have ASUN adopt it as well. 


Alexander stated that recommendations to change finals week includes extending exam times on two night sessions from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. and for all finals to be scheduled to end by Friday noon of finals week.  He stated that Registration and Records should be able to minimize any class conflicts with the change in time. 


Flowers moved that the motions be brought to the Senate for approval.  Motion seconded by Beck.  Motion approved.  The motions will be presented to the Senate at the March 1st Senate meeting. 


Peterson thanked Alexander and the Dead Week Committee for all of their hard work on tackling a difficult issue.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, February 9th 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.