Executive Committee Minutes - June 8, 2005




Present:          Beck, Fech, Flowers, Hoffman, Moeller, Peterson, Rapkin, Scholz, Stock


Absent:           Alexander, Bolin, Shea, Signal


Date:               Wednesday, June 8, 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

            Beck called the meeting to order at 2:37 p.m.


2.0       Announcements

            2.1       Board of Regents Meeting

Beck reported that the Board of Regents will be meeting on Friday, June 10th.  She stated that one item of interest will be the hearing to approve increasing the University’s contribution to the retirement plan to 8%.  She reported that the Board will also be considering increasing tuition rates and changing the policy to allow the Chancellor’s of each campus to consider differential tuition rates. 


Fech asked if the differential tuition rate is a new concept.  Beck reported that the Chancellor had mentioned it before.  She pointed out that there is no concrete proposal on differential rates.  She stated that the Board of Regents is approving a policy that will give a Chancellor the option of having differential tuition rates.  Peterson noted that President Milliken is just asking the Board for permission to be able to have differential rates.  Peterson stated that he believes it can be perceived as price discrimination.  Fech asked if a differential rate could be perceived as one class being more valuable than another class.  Peterson stated that there have been many negative reactions on the issue from students.  He stated that he did not believe that the administration has completely thought through the problems that a differential tuition rate can create. 


Fech questioned which courses would have higher tuition rates and what the rationale would be for these higher rates.  Flowers stated that the Chancellor has indicated that one justification would be the class time.  He noted that those classes taught at the most popular times could cost more.  Stock stated that this could be discrimination against students who have to work and who do not have the flexible time schedule that would allow them to take the same course at an alternative time.  He noted that faculty members could also feel discriminated against if their course(s) did not have the higher tuition rates.  Rapkin stated that students should be allowed to make choices as to what courses they want to take.  He noted that the economic market should not influence the cost of courses.  Peterson pointed out that the University should not enforce a policy that discriminates. 


Griffin noted that the Chancellor had stated that UNL already charges a differential rate by adding laboratory fees to certain courses.  Scholz pointed out that courses across the board in the College of Architecture charge a professional fee. 


Beck stated that the committee will discuss the issue further with the Chancellor.


Beck stated that another agenda item for the Board is the removal of the in-state tuition rate for the children of alumni who live in another state.  Fech asked if this was the legacy scholarship.  Beck stated that this is correct.  She noted that removal of the legacy scholarship program will bring in greater revenue to the University.


3.0       Approval of 5/25/05 Minutes

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


4.0       Unfinished Business

            4.1       Identifying Questions for Faculty Survey

Flowers stated that the Committee previously identified three topics of discussion.  These are promotion and tenure, hiring, and faculty governance in the departments and colleges.  He stated that the Committee should be selective in the amount of questions that should be asked on each topic.


Beck suggested that each of the topics could be broken down into a couple of questions.  One question would be whether the faculty members feel there is adequate opportunity for faculty members to participate in promotion and tenure, hiring, or faculty governance.  Flowers suggested that another question could be whether the unit/department is consistent in following the procedures in these areas. 


Rapkin asked what the specific focus is of the survey.  Flowers stated that there were several discussions this past spring resulting in obvious levels of dissatisfaction for some faculty members or units.  He noted that the Committee recognizes that there can be substantial differences in how procedures are carried out but the concerns that were raised have caused the Committee to question how effective faculty governance is.  He pointed out that it was the Chancellor’s idea for the Committee to assess how faculty members feel about various issues.  Peterson noted that the Chancellor has indicated on several occasions that he is not hearing the same concerns that the Committee is hearing.


Peterson stated that the lack of faculty participation in some units in the strategic planning process was raised.  He suggested that the survey could focus on this particular issue.


Moeller stated that the survey should try to gauge faculty input.  She stated that the survey should ask whether faculty members feel they have a voice in governance issues. 


Rapkin stated that the Committee should consider developing a mechanism for gathering feedback from faculty members, not just now but for later on as well.  Peterson agreed and stated that the preamble to the survey could state that the Senate will not conduct a survey frequently but will do it on issues of importance.  Moeller suggested that the preamble could state that the survey is a way to optimize representation of the faculty to the Senate. 


Flowers stated that it could be useful to develop a template that could be used later on.  He questioned whether this would need to be endorsed by the Senate.  Peterson suggested that the Committee could work on the template during the summer and bring it to the Senate in the fall.  Moeller stated that it would be good to have a mechanism that would allow faculty members to provide input whenever they want to raise a concern or express an opinion. 


Scholz noted that the faculty might feel more comfortable if they can envision how the information will be used.  He stated that it is important for faculty members to know that the intent of the survey is not to target specific individuals or units.  He pointed out that having a goal in mind will be important when developing the survey instrument for the use of the survey results. 


Scholz asked if the data will be broken down by colleges or departments.  Peterson stated that the data should be done by departments.  Flowers stated that breaking down the data to rank could be a factor but it depends on the size of the unit.  He pointed out that confidentiality is a primary issue that will need to be addressed.


Scholz asked if there will be a follow-up report.  Moeller stated that the Committee should make recommendations to the Chancellor if the data indicates there are problems in some units.  Scholz suggested that the Committee should report back to the unit as well.  Flowers stated that the Senate should also be informed. 


Scholz asked what the underlying reasons were for conducting the survey.  Flowers pointed out that there have been recent incidents on campus that have not been good for the health or reputation of the University.  He stated that conducting the survey might help to correct some of these problems.  Peterson noted that while the Committee has received some complaints and concerns from faculty members it is not sure whether these concerns are representative of the other faculty members in a unit or on campus. 


Stock stated that when the Committee presents the survey to the Senate it should explain that the reason for conducting the survey is to gather information from the entire faculty.  Flowers stated that conducting the survey will provide the Senate with necessary information that will help improve the role of the Senate. 


Moeller asked how the survey will be presented to the Senate.  Flowers suggested that it be presented as a report from the Executive Committee.  Beck suggested that a motion could be made by the Executive Committee based on recommendations made from the subcommittee that will be working on developing the survey.  Flowers stated that the motion could endorse the establishment of a mechanism that would allow the Committee to gather information on issues.  He noted that specifics of the survey could be identified later on. 


Hoffman asked if the Senate rules would need to be changed to allow the mechanism.  He questioned who would instigate a survey being conducted and how many votes would be needed to approve the survey being conducted.  The Committee did not think that the rules needed to be changed and a majority vote would be enough to give approval for a survey to be conducted. 


Flowers suggested that the Committee work on framing the resolution at the June 22nd meeting.  The Committee briefly discussed how the survey would be distributed.  Stock stated that developing a mechanism should mesh with the goals that the Committee will establish at its annual retreat. 


4.2       Names for Vice Chancellor Student Affairs Search Committee

Beck reminded the Committee that she needs to give the Chancellor the names of eight faculty members who would be willing to serve on the search committee.  The Committee then discussed possible candidates for the committee. 


5.0       New Business

            5.1       Regent Hergert

Beck noted that members of the Legislature have called for Regent Hergert to resign from his position.  She noted that the Board of Regents will be taking up the issue.  She asked if the Committee feels that it needs to make a statement.  Moeller stated that she believes it is not in the jurisdiction of the Committee to address the issue.  The Committee agreed and stated that it should be up to the State Legislature and Board of Regents. 


5.2       Replacement on Campus Recreation Advisory Committee

Beck noted that the term of the current faculty representative on the Campus Recreation Advisory Committee is ending.  She asked for suggestions for a replacement on the committee.  The Committee suggested several faculty members who might be willing to serve.


5.3       Royalty Distribution Policy

Beck stated that the process to change the royalty distribution policy for patents and technology transfer activity started some time ago.  She noted that Vice Chancellor Paul held forums about the policy back in March.  She pointed out that one of the major changes to the policy is that this proposed policy is only for the UNL campus.  She stated that previously the policy applied to all four campuses. 


Beck stated that the changes two years ago to the Regents policy were never distributed to the faculty for feedback.  She stated that to her knowledge there has been no campus-wide discussion of the proposed UNL policy and it was never brought to the attention of the Executive Committee. 


Hoffman stated that one of his concerns is that UNL gets funded first from the royalties which could potentially result in the faculty member not receiving anything. 


Moeller asked why the changes were being made.  Beck stated that she believed the changes are being made to help support the infrastructure of the Research office.  Flowers noted that the proposed changes will mostly affect the share the college receives.  Moeller stated that the proposed changes are similar to reverting faculty open lines back to Academic Affairs.  She noted that the royalty distribution policy seems to be centralizing power. 


Peterson pointed out that the 15% technology management fee seems to be the same as the remaining proceeds that will be distributed to the Office of Research.  Flowers noted that the 15% technology management fee is to be used for administrative purposes while the remaining proceeds will be used to help generate more research. 


Rapkin asked what the policy is for other institutions.  Beck stated that she checked the policies at Ohio State, University of California at Davis, Stanford, and MIT.  She noted that the policies have some similarities with UNL’s proposed policy except that UNL’s policy will distribute significantly less to the college and department.  Flowers pointed out that if the proceeds are over $2 million, the college and department will receive 20%.  Moeller questioned who is pivotal in stimulating research.  She noted that it is usually the college or department.  She wondered whether grants are so successful to warrant an increase in the size of the Office of Research. 


Peterson wondered whether the Committee could do anything because the Board of Regents is going to decide on the policy in just a few days.  Beck stated that she thought the faculty was going to receive a draft of the policy after the March forums but this never happened. 


Scholz asked if the departments which are heavily involved in research and especially development of patents and technology transfer activity have seen the draft policy and whether they had input into it.  Beck stated that she did not know.  She noted that the Research Council and the Research Advisory Board should have seen it but this is not a guarantee.  She pointed out that one of the problems is that a Regents policy affecting faculty members was changed without the campus having knowledge of it.  She stated that there has not been wide faculty input on the UNL proposed policy. 


Peterson suggested that the issue of why the Committee was not informed should be discussed with the Chancellor.  He noted that the issue of not being able to get accurate accounting information on the university’s cost on such research should also be discussed. 


Hoffman questioned how the policy will affect research projects that involve faculty members from the different campuses.  He wondered whether overhead charges for eeach campus will be charged against the proceeds.


Flowers suggested inviting Vice Chancellor Paul to a meeting to discuss some of the concerns that were raised.  Beck suggested that Professor Ragsdale, Chair of the Research Council, and Professor Alexander should be asked their opinion about the proposed changes. 


5.4       Conference on General Education

Peterson reported that he and other faculty members and administrators attended a national conference on general education in May.  He noted that the overall view at the conference was that general education is seen as being the same as a liberal education. 


Peterson stated that one of the things he learned at the conference is that it is taking many institutions 3 – 4 years to reform their general education program.  He pointed out that SVCAA Couture wants to look at the general education program here at UNL.  He noted that the team that went to the conference will report to her about it and the themes that were discussed. 


Peterson pointed out that any changes to the general education program will need to involve the faculty.  He stated that he will argue for the Senate’s involvement in the reform.  He stated that at the conference he learned that for many institutions the Faculty Senate was the deciding voice on changes to the general education program.  Moeller stated that the Senate needs to demand input into any general education reform. 


5.5       Student Enrollment Issue

Fech stated that he recently attended his daughter’s graduation from high school in Omaha and spoke with students and parents about going to UNL.  He reported that out of a graduating class of 617, 60% of the students will stay in Nebraska, 105 will attend UNL, and 95 will attend UNO.  He stated that he found it disturbing that UNL was not the primary choice for many graduating seniors. 


Fech stated that the great majority of students apply to universities out of state and UNL was seen as the back up choice if they could not get into or could not afford universities outside of Nebraska.  He pointed out that it is important for UNL to try to change this perception. 


Moeller stated that she has been hearing some of the opposite reactions.  She noted that she has been involved in recruiting honors students and many of them are interested in attending UNL for their undergraduate education and then going out of state for their graduate education.  She stated that the number of students in the honors program has tripled over the last few years.  She stated that she believes that one of the changes in this attitude is that many students want to stay in closer vicinity to their families.  Another factor is the financial cost.  She noted that a number of institutions have very high tuition costs.  She pointed out that attending UNL is still a good deal.  Hoffman stated that he asked the students in his class approximately how much they spend to attend UNL per year.  He reported that the students stated anywhere from $7,000 - $10,000 including living expenses.  


The committee agreed to discuss the issue this fall when they meet with Dean Cerveney.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:30 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, June 22nd at 2:30 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.