Executive Committee Minutes - March 30, 2005




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


Absent:           Alexander


Date:               Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Location:        213 City Campus Union


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       SVCAA Couture

2.1       North Central Accreditation (NCA) Review Process (Professor Jim O’Hanlon)

Professor O’Hanlon reported that UNL will be submitting a proposal to participate in a customized accreditation review process instead of the traditional process.  He stated that the campus will need to submit the proposal by May 15th.   He noted that the customized process involves focusing on a special emphasis.   He stated that the special emphasis will focus on what the campus is working on now and in the future rather than focusing on what has previously been done.  He pointed out that the accreditation team participates in a consultative role with this kind of review process. 


O’Hanlon stated that the campus has spoken to the NCA liaison and was encouraged to apply for this customized review process.  O’Hanlon stated that he has spoken with four other universities who have conducted their accreditation process with the special emphasis and all four felt that it was a more beneficial process. 


O’Hanlon reported that the administration is thinking about using the strategic planning process as the special emphasis.  He noted that a lot of time and effort has already been spent on strategic planning and it should fit as the special emphasis.


O’Hanlon stated that the accreditation team will visit the campus in November 2006.  He pointed out that this will give the administration time to consult with different campus groups to discuss the special emphasis and the accreditation process. 


SVCAA Couture stated that the administration is attracted to the special emphasis approach because, using this process, the accreditation team will actually assist the campus in learning something that will help us achieve our goals.  She pointed out that many campuses upon completing a traditional accreditation self-study have wondered whether anything was gained in doing it. 


SVCAA Couture noted that the special emphasis process still requires the campus to meet the criteria of the accrediting agency but the campus does not have to devote the self-study completely to demonstrating this, since it has already received accreditation in the past.  She stated that leaders from campuses who have conducted the special emphasis process have stated that it is a more rewarding experience.


SVCAA Couture stated that the strategic planning process has been identified as the special emphasis because it is something that is being done differently this year and something that the administration wants to do continuously; we want to use planning to help us improve and be more effective.  She noted that using the strategic planning as the special emphasis will allow outside experts to give feedback to see if the planning process is working to do this. 


SVCAA Couture stated that the Senior Administrative Team has reviewed the customized accreditation review process and a presentation was made to the Deans about it.  She stated that the Academic Planning Committee will be presented with the special emphasis process at its April 13th meeting.


O’Hanlon stated that the special emphasis process requires us to develop self-study questions.  He distributed a draft list of questions but noted that there will need to be discussions with faculty members and the Deans about revising and refining the questions.  SVCAA Couture stated that people will be called on across the campus to assist with the accreditation process. 


Peterson noted that the special emphasis seems to have already been decided.  He stated that while he agrees with using the strategic planning as the special emphasis, he wondered whether there is a need for broader conversations with the campus on what the special emphasis should be.  SVCAA Couture stated that there are several things to consider.  She noted that the special emphasis needs to focus on what the university is already doing that illustrates a dramatic change of direction.  The special emphasis also needs to be something that the university is committed to.  She pointed out that the strategic planning process addresses both of these issues.  She stated that timing is also a factor because the proposal must be submitted by May 15th.  She stated that if people feel there are some other changes that are occurring on campus that are moving the entire campus forward in a new way, then they should let the Senior Administrative Team know.  Peterson stated that the only other thing he could think of that might be undergoing significant changes is the General Education program but he pointed out that this does not necessarily involve the entire campus.  SVCAA Couture stated that one of the criteria for conducting the special emphasis process is that the entire campus must be encompassed in the change being studied.  She noted that the general education program is a more narrowly focused issue. 


Hoffman asked how the accreditation team will work when it comes in November of 2006.  O’Hanlon stated that it will work similar to a college accreditation team but it will involve both City and East campus and it will be more intense.  He noted that UNL will be involved in the selection process of the team members by identifying people across the country with expertise in the strategic planning process.  SVCAA Couture pointed out that there have been complaints from research institutions about the accreditation process because often those who are brought in to evaluate a research institution are not necessarily from a research institution.  She stated that the special emphasis process will give UNL the opportunity to have people from similar institutions on the accreditation review team. 


Peterson noted that we are not exempt from the basic criteria of the traditional accreditation review process which includes addressing concerns from the last accreditation review.  Beck asked if the list of concerns from the last review were available.  O’Hanlon stated that he has the list and will send them to the Committee. 


O’Hanlon stated that there are five accreditation criteria that need to be addressed.  These focus on mission, planning, research, teaching, and service.  He noted that with the special emphasis review process a more limited report will need to be written addressing the criteria rather than the lengthy report that would have been required with the traditional review process.  SVCAA Couture noted that a resource room must be made available for the accreditation team when they visit the campus; the room will contain documents on several aspects of university business. 


SVCAA Couture stated that the campus will be working with NCA throughout the process of preparing for the visit.  She stated that the special emphasis approach will provide constant communication with the NCA which will give the campus an insight as to what to expect when the team visits. 


Stock pointed out that he was on the committee that worked on preparing for the last accreditation visit.  He stated that the special emphasis process appears to be a better process.  SVCAA Couture stated that the members of the UNL internal accreditation team are:  Chancellor Perlman, Professor O’Hanlon, VC Owens, VC Griesen, VC Jackson, VC Paul, Dr. Nunez, Linda Crump, Edward Paquette, Dean Dickey, Dean Hoffmann, Dean Kean, Professor Keown, Academic Senate President Peterson, the ASUN President, and herself.  Peterson asked if this team is in place just until May 15th or if it will continue through the accreditation process.  He noted that there will be a transition in the Senate at the end of April and that Beck will become the new Academic Senate President.  SVCAA Couture stated that the team will persist throughout the process but that Beck will be on the team; the list represents functional roles that will be included on the internal accreditation review team.


O’Hanlon asked the Committee to provide feedback on the draft list of self-study questions he distributed.  He asked the Committee to respond back to him in two weeks.  He noted that comments can be sent to him at johanlon1@unl.edu.


Scholz asked whether the idea of using the strategic planning process as the special emphasis had been floated by the NCA.  O’Hanlon stated that the NCA highly encouraged UNL to do this process.  He noted that only the materials related to the special emphasis should be needed and he hoped that the colleges will need to provide minimal further information.  SVCAA Couture stated that among materials that probably will be needed are recent accreditation reviews for colleges as well as recent academic program reviews. 


2.2       Final Exam Week Schedule

Peterson noted that the Senate will vote on April 5th on the motion to recommend changes to the exam week schedule.  He stated that the Committee met with Earl Hawkey, Director of Registration and Records, who did an analysis of the impacts of the proposed changes to the exam schedule.  Peterson noted that Hawkey stated that there were no perceived structural problems with the changes. 


SVCAA Couture stated that she spoke with Hawkey and confirmed what he reported to the Committee.  Peterson stated that he will contact SVCAA Couture to let her know if the Senate approved the recommendations.


2.3       Teaching Initiative Grants – Procedures for Decision Making in Academic Affairs

Peterson stated that the Committee had questions regarding the final decisions made on the teaching grant proposals.  SVCAA Couture stated that the final decisions were based on the rankings of the faculty reviewers.  She stated that the proposals in the bottom ranking were eliminated and the remaining proposals were then grouped according to the rankings.  She noted that the administrators from Academic Affairs agreed with the assessments of the faculty reviewers. 


SVCAA Couture reported that after eliminating the bottom ranked proposals there were 37 – 38 proposals left.  She stated that these remaining proposals were whittled down by first starting with the faculty rankings.  She noted that 98% of the decisions were based on the faculty rankings.  She reported that each of the proposals were read and discussed.


SVCAA Couture stated that she was encouraged by the proposals and what people are trying to do.  She noted that Chancellor Perlman was very pleased with the proposals submitted and is going to try to get more funding for teaching initiatives next year. 


Peterson asked if distribution between the colleges was a factor in deciding which proposals would be funded.  SVCAA Couture stated that there was a minor consideration but overall decisions were based on the proposal quality as reflected in how the proposals were ranked. 


SVCAA Couture stated that while the proposals on advising were good, most dealt with some technical problems rather than addressing the problem holistically.  She noted that an issue that needs to be looked at is how to improve advising across the campus.  She pointed out that advising plays a key role in keeping students connected to the university which in turn helps to retain students.  She stated that she hopes to see more defined proposals next year on advising, should we have additional funding for the teaching initiative.


Peterson stated that in some universities students can only get into classes by obtaining a pin number from a faculty member.  He noted that this forces students to see their advisors.  SVCAA Couture stated that she wants to give further thought to the idea of creating a team to address the issue of improving advising.  She stated that one of the issues that need to be considered is what kind of incentives can be used to get students to see their advisor.  She suggested that the campus may want to bring in outside consultants to help with this issue. 


Bradford asked if proposals for graduate teaching will be considered if further funding is found for the teaching initiatives.  SVCAA Couture stated that this will need to be discussed with the Chancellor.  She stated that this first funding was a response to campus concerns about undergraduate teaching.  She noted that the loss of enrollment made the campus realize that more visible support of undergraduate teaching is needed. 


Hoffman asked if any analysis has been done to see where the enrollment was lost.  SVCAA Couture stated that the loss in enrollment is fairly evenly distributed with slightly more of a loss in areas that provide general education.  She noted that all the reasons for the decline are not clear.  She pointed out that while cost is a factor, it is known that students do not base their decision to attend a university on cost alone. 


2.4       Update on Strategic Planning Process

SVCAA Couture stated that funding for Programs of Excellence was decided this week.  She noted that it was a two stage process.  She reported that some proposals were invited to be rewritten.  She stated that the Academic Planning Committee reviewed the proposals and all proposals that were rewritten were funded. 


SVCAA Couture stated that she was happy to report that a Program of Excellence proposal to bring in consultants to examine the life science teaching labs was funded under the Enhancing Undergraduate Education category.  She stated that this proposal will help address how these rooms can be improved to enhance teaching.  She noted that the history of reports from the Life Sciences Committee indicate that there are problems with the rooms but it is unclear how to address and define these problems. 


Peterson asked if there will be an announcement soon regarding the other Programs of Excellence proposals that were funded.  SVCAA Couture stated that an announcement will be made soon. 


Peterson asked if many of the proposals were a continuation of previously approved programs.  SVCAA Couture stated that only a few Programs of Excellence were submitted that proposed areas not previously funded.  She noted that one proposal received seed funding. 


Peterson noted that there will be meetings on the Strategic Plans in April.  He asked if all college plans have been submitted.  SVCAA Couture stated that the administration has received all of the college plans.  She stated that the Deans and Chairs should be complimented for their work and for getting the plans in by the deadline.  She noted that the Deans and Chairs have all wrestled with putting their plans on Blackboard. 


SVCAA Couture stated that Chancellor Perlman, herself, and VC Owens will be meeting with the Deans to discuss their strategic plans.  She noted that putting the plans on Blackboard will give us the flexibility to cut and paste sections of the plans that address the same issues to help us see how they might relate, and whether they suggest an all-campus plan. 


SVCAA Couture noted that the administration is discussing with the Deans as to who should have complete access to the information on Blackboard.  She pointed out that currently each of the Deans has access to the core values and strategic priorities of each college.  She stated that the hiring plans are more specific and are therefore limited to access by the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors. 


SVCAA Couture stated that the diversity plans are going to the Chancellor’s Committee to revise the University Diversity Plan and the “space and equipment” strategic planning design team is getting information on the space plans.  Peterson asked if the space team is coordinating with the team working on the campus master plan.  SVCAA stated that they will be working together. 


Beck asked who is redoing the diversity plan.  SVCAA Couture stated that the Chancellor has put together a small group to advise him.


Beck stated that the Committee has heard that there are at least two colleges that have not had faculty involvement in developing the college strategic plans.  She asked if this will be addressed.  SVCAA Couture stated that the administration is going to look at the processes used in the colleges.  She stated that a number of the Deans and Directors were already developing strategic plans and they will overlay them with the current process.  She stated that she is aware that the process has been construed differently in some of the colleges.  She noted that the Deans will be debriefed about the process at the annual Deans’ retreat in August. 


SVCAA Couture pointed out that some departments were able to develop their strategic plans quickly this year because they had been doing planning all along.  She noted that this is why the strategic planning is an iterative process because each year some units will want to completely change their plans while others will want to fine-tune them. 


Peterson asked if the Deans’ plans will be compiled into the University plan.  SVCAA Couture stated that the core values will be shared and developed into a single set of core values.  She stated that we may find similarities among the colleges’ plans which may suggest that we incorporate the plans into a single campus plan.  She stated that the Deans will be asked to revise their strategic plans for the public to see.  Flowers asked when the plans will be posted.  SVCAA Couture stated that the plans will probably be posted after May 1st but a deadline date for posting them might be as late as August. 


Peterson stated that the Chancellor had indicated that there will be feedback on the strategic plans.  He asked when this might happen.  SVCAA Couture stated that the first thing is for the Senior Administration Team (SAT) to meet with each of the Deans and Directors in the planning retreat in April.  She stated that the SAT will address how next to deal with the plans at a retreat in early June.  Peterson pointed out that it will be good for the faculty to know that they will be getting some kind of feedback on the plans. 


2.5       Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC)

Beck stated that she wanted to raise awareness on a potential problem with the IACUC procedures.  She noted that she has spoken with VC Owens about this issue and that it will be raised during the open forum at the April 5th Senate meeting. 


Beck stated that last year a new director was hired for the IACUC which has resulted in a new level of scrutiny.  She stated that the University is striving to achieve accreditation with the Association for Assessment & Accreditation of Laboratory Animals Committee (AAALAC).  She questioned whether AAALAC accreditation will significantly increase the number of grants coming into IANR (46% of grants received at UNL are in IANR).  She pointed out that the micromanaging that is being done is inappropriate and is strangling the efforts of faculty and students.  She noted that this may also affect recruiting and retaining students.


Beck stated that even with an approved three year protocol, faculty members are now being required to submit requests to do individual experiments under that protocol.  The process is insulting and shows lack of understand of science.  She noted that faculty members are feeling harassed and that this new process is taking up so much of their time that it is interfering with their ability to conduct their research.


Beck stated that the equine program here and at other institutions is growing but there have been difficulties getting approval for students to do stall chores even after training.  She stated that the equine program is a high priority for student recruitment and retention in CASNR.  She reported that there has also been a problem in getting approval for research for graduate students who are to graduate in May. 


Beck stated that a number of faculty members in IANR are concerned with this issue.  She pointed out that the potential effect on students is a major issue that needs to be considered.  She asked whether a potential small increase in funding is worth losing many students. 


SVCAA Couture stated that this issue needs to be discussed with VC Paul.  She pointed out that she did come from an IACUC accredited institution that was able to deal with the issues raised.  She agreed that there are some costs with becoming accredited but she did not think that there was interference with the students at her previous institution.  She pointed out that the procedures for becoming accredited might need to be addressed.


Beck stated that the AAALAC accreditation is not the issue per se but that the implementation and how the procedures are being done are the key issues. 


SVCAA Couture stated that she will let VC Paul know of the concerns but she encouraged the Committee to speak directly with VC Paul. 


3.0       Announcements

            No announcements were made.


4.0       Approval of 3/23/05 Minutes

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


5.0       Unfinished Business

            5.1       Senate Elections

Peterson reported that there has been a nomination for the President-Elect position and several nominations for the Executive Committee positions.  Griffin reminded the Committee that biographical information on the candidates needs to be sent to the Senate on April 12th.     


6.0       New Business

6.1       Motion on Gender Equity Numbers

Beck presented a draft motion on the gender equity numbers.  She asked the Committee to provide feedback on changes they feel should be made to the motion.  Peterson noted that the motion will be presented at the April 5th Senate meeting and voted on at the April 26th meeting. 


6.2       Motion on Orn Bodvarsson Situation

Beck stated that she received a phone call from Professor Bodvarsson who is very unhappy with how the administration has handled recent events concerning his employment at UNL.  She reported that Professor Bodvarsson would like to have a public apology and a retraction made of the inaccuracies that were reported by the administration.


Beck presented a draft motion in support of Professor Bodvarsson.  Stock stated that presenting the motion could be contingent on the comments made by Chancellor Perlman when he addresses the Senate on the 5th. 


The Committee discussed the publication of the Chancellor’s email message on Bodvarsson in the Scarlet.  Beck noted that the deadline for submission to that issue of the Scarlet was March 17th and Bodvarsson had sent an email message to the Chancellor and SVCAA prior to the deadline stating the inaccuracies in their email message on his research but the publication in the Scarlet did not correct these inaccuracies. 


Hoffman stated that he was in support of the Senate stating some kind of support.  Scholz suggested that the Chancellor be asked to address the issue including Bodvarsson’s request for an apology when he speaks to the Senate.


6.3       RIF Procedures

Beck stated that the ad hoc committee working on the Reductions in Force Procedures is close to having a draft of the new procedures ready for the Senate.  She stated that the new members of ASUN need to see the draft.  Beck noted that the Senate and the ASUN must approve changes to the procedures.


Beck stated that it is important that the Committee speak to President Milliken to see what his definition is of an academic program.  She noted that there may be budget cuts this summer and having a clear definition of what an academic program is could be important.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:00.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, April 6th 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.