Executive Committee Minutes - March 9, 2005




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


Absent:           Signal, Stock


Date:               Wednesday, March 9, 2005


Location:        201 Canfield Administration Building


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

            2.1       Student Credit Hour Production and Relationship with Department Budgets

Peterson stated that the subject came up in an informal discussion with members of the Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee.  He asked if there is any relation between the number of credit hours produced by departments and the budgets they receive.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there is no relationship currently but there will be.


Hoffman thought that at one time there was a relationship between the two.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he cannot recall a connection between department budgets and student credit hours during his time here at UNL.  He stated that there may have been very rare cases when there was a significant reduction in student credit hours produced.  He pointed out that UNL will start to base budgets on the number of student credit hours produced.  Peterson asked how this will happen.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it will be associated with departments getting new faculty lines. 


2.2       Faculty Evaluations Based on Apportionment of Responsibilities

Peterson stated that questions are arising about apportionment of duties and what it means in terms of evaluations.  He noted that there is not a lot of consistency on campus in how they are defined.  Chancellor Perlman stated that faculty members should know what their teaching, research, and service assignments are.  He stated that a faculty member needs to decide how they wish to be evaluated in terms of productivity in these areas.  He noted that evaluations will never be consistently done across campus because some of them are based on empirical information while others are based on judgments. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that there needs to be conversations with the Chairs about how evaluations are conducted.  He noted that this is one of the topics being discussed in the workshops that are being held for Chairs. 


Peterson asked if Bylaw 4.3 allows faculty members to negotiate their apportionment of duties with their Chair.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the Bylaw does not allow Chairs to arbitrarily change the apportionment of a faculty member.  It must be negotiated. 


Alexander pointed out that faculty members often do not know what their workload will be in research and service until that year when it is happening.  Chancellor Perlman noted that the apportionments are not meant to measure the amount of time that a faculty member spends in each area.  He noted that a faculty member cannot decide unilaterally to change their apportionment each year. 


Alexander stated that a faculty member could be asked by a Chair to serve on a committee during the year and this could take time away from teaching and/or research.  Chancellor Perlman stated that if there are good communications between the Chair and the faculty member problems can be avoided.  If during the year a faculty member has opportunities that require a change in apportionment it should be worked out with the Chair so that there are no misunderstandings when evaluations are done.  He stated that conversations are needed between the Chair and the faculty member for the apportionment system to work. 


Flowers pointed out that the College of Arts & Sciences bases its evaluations on a three year period.  He noted that this helps buffer years when the faculty member might not be quite as productive in a given area due to other commitments.  He stated that the three year window allows flexibility for the faculty member.


Scholz asked if the letter of offer for new hires indicates the apportionment of time.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it does and he believes that this is required in the letter.


2.3       Exit Interviews – Summary of Information

Beck stated that she has received questions regarding exit interviews.  She noted that when a faculty member resigns a questionnaire is sent and there is an offer to hold an exit interview.  She suggested that a more inviting offer for the exit interview should be extended to junior faculty and minority faculty members particularly.  She pointed out that the exit interview can be intimidating and some former faculty members have feared retaliation.  She suggested having a witness in the interview if requested.  This witness could be appointed by the Academic Senate President.


Beck stated that it would be helpful to the departments if they could get a summary report on why faculty members are leaving UNL.  She noted that specifics would not need to be provided. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that prior to this year a survey was conducted of outgoing faculty members and a long elaborate report was written.  He stated that it was stopped this year because it was expensive and turned out not to be very helpful.  He noted that the response rate was only 20%.  He stated that the reluctance found in conducting exit interviews seems to carry over in completing a survey.


Chancellor Perlman stated that the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women (CCSW) calls every female faculty member who leaves the university to speak with them.  He noted that the CCSW reports back to him regarding the interviews.  Beck asked if an exit interview is still conducted even if the CCSW calls.  Chancellor Perlman stated that an exit interview is offered. 


Beck suggested that the exit interviews be conducted by the Vice Chancellors.  She noted that they have a broader view of the campus and can assess why people are leaving UNL.  She stated that they could then get the information out to the departments.


Chancellor Perlman stated that he will continue to think about the issue and will discuss it with SVCAA Couture and VC Owens.  He stated that he has conducted his own exit interviews at times.  He noted that the theme of benign neglect may come out in the Gallup survey. 


Peterson asked if there was a large enough sample to provide useful information.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the CCSW has been speaking to exiting female faculty members for 3 or 4 years.  He noted that sometimes the information is useful.  Peterson stated that it would be good for the departments to get some information so they can possibly fix the problem.


2.4       Need for Ombudsman

Beck noted that former Chancellor Spanier eliminated the position of ombudsman and in doing so, moved some of the responsibilities to the Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee and later the Employee Assistance Program.  She stated that while these resources can help in some cases, they do not handle problems that may not need or want formal grievance procedures.  She noted that she spoke to President Smith about the problem four years ago and he promised that an ombudsman would be appointed to the campus.  She pointed out that this did not happen.  She suggested that there is a need for an ombudsman, someone with authority, on campus to intervene in or mediate cases that don’t warrant full complaints.


Chancellor Perlman stated that he understands and somewhat sympathizes with the problem but it would not be a high priority item for the budget at this time.  He stated that there are still some significant budget issues that need to be dealt with. 


2.5       Enrollment and the Budget

Chancellor Perlman stated that there are still serious financial challenges that need to be met in part due to the lack of enrollment.  He noted that he is working on how to resolve the problem for this year but he pointed out that it is an on-going issue that needs to be addressed. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that this year’s freshmen class was small and the size of this class has an impact on enrollment for the next four years.  He noted that the numbers for the fall freshmen class look good but the total enrollment is going to decline because we have a large graduating senior class.  He pointed out that the large decrease in international students is also hurting enrollment. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that the state’s Appropriations Committee is suggesting a significant increase in the University’s budget but the campus will still have to face a shortfall because of the enrollment problem.


Chancellor Perlman stated that new students and current students will begin registering for fall classes soon.  He noted that at the end of April when registration for fall classes ends there is going to be a quick assessment of the enrollment figures.  He stated that he hopes he will be in a position to ask faculty members to call and speak to students to see why they have not registered for classes.  He stated that the faculty will be provided with talking points and a directory where students can be referred to for help with things like financial aid.  He pointed out that retention of students is very important and he is hoping that contact from faculty members will impact the retention rate.  He noted that the University wants to have a significant impact with transfer students as well. 


Hoffman pointed out that his son tried transferring to UNL years ago but was disappointed to find out that there are no scholarships for sophomores.  Alexander asked if the administration has considered backing off on the high ACT requirements.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the admission standards will not be relaxed because it is too important to get good students.  He noted that admissions will be working more closely with some students who may be slightly deficient in their requirements. 


Peterson reported that Deb Thomas indicated in a meeting with the Committee that the Omaha business incentive bill that was before the state Legislature could have a negative impact on the amount of funding the University will receive.  He asked if it was a good thing that the bill has been removed.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he did not think it was necessarily bad or good.  He noted that it is important to improve the state’s economy but the bill may not have been the right one to address the problem. 


3.0       Announcements

3.1       Changes to Academic Rights & Responsibilities Procedures

Peterson reported that he received a message from Associate to the Chancellor Howe about the ARRC procedures dealing with Professional Conduct-B.  Peterson stated that the procedures are not in compliance with federal regulations.  Peterson reported that Howe is speaking with Professor Works who helped to revise the procedures.  Peterson stated that he will be contacted about the necessary revisions.


4.0       Approval of 3/2/05 Minutes

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


5.0       Jennifer Dam Shewchuk, Campus Planner and JoAnne Kissel, Consultant, Clark Enersen and Partners

            5.1       Campus Master Plan

Dam Shewchuk presented the status of the current physical master plan of the campus.  She noted that the campus master plan was last updated and adopted by the Board of Regents in 1988.  She pointed out that a number of changes have occurred on campus since then.  Alexander asked if there are any plans for the Whittier building.  Dam Shewchuk stated that the building is included in the master plan but there are currently no definite plans for the building. 


Dam Shewchuk noted that the east campus master plan called for the 38th street entrance to be moved slightly west.  The plan also called for a 48th street entrance on the east side of campus.  Fech asked how likely is it that these changes will be made.  Dam Schewchuk stated that moving the 38th street entrance would probably not occur because it is too costly but there is still the possibility of creating a 48th street entrance. 


Hoffman noted that many universities are going to a closed campus where traffic is not allowed.  He asked if UNL is looking at doing this.  Dam Shewchuk stated that there still needs to be some roads for service and disability vehicles.  She stated that the UNL police are looking at closing the campus for security issues. 


Dam Shewchuk noted that the current parking system is designed to provide shuttle service.  She stated that the campus master plan will look at the issues surrounding parking but will not redevelop the parking plan for the campus. 


Dam Shewchuk reported that Central Administration mandated that the campus master plan be updated.  She stated that UNL’s plan will be presented to the Board of Regents in December. 


Dam Shewchuk stated that consultants from Clark Enersen Partners will be working with the campus on the plan.  She noted that there will be visioning workshops for faculty, staff, and students on March 29th in the City Campus Union and March 30th in the East Campus Union.


JoAnne Kissel, consultant with Clark Enersen Partners stated that during February and March she has been meeting with various campus groups to hold in depth interviews.  She stated that this is to gather preliminary observations to see if there are emerging themes on campus in regards to the master plan.  She stated that the strategy is to float ideas to the campus through the visioning workshops and by other means.  She noted that in April she hopes to have a survey conducted which will gather information from the campus community.  She stated that there may be a second survey but this is unclear at this time. 


Hoffman asked what will be presented during the 3 hour visioning workshops.  Kissel stated that they are still working it and a slide presentation will be available and smaller stations will be set up that people can visit and discuss some of the ideas that are being considered.  Hoffman suggested that the workshops could be broadcasted over the university television station. 


Peterson asked what comprises a master plan.  Dam Shewchuk noted that a campus master plan can mean a lot of different things to different people.  She noted that this will be a master plan of the physical building and space on campus.  She stated that part of the master plan will deal with forecasting the physical needs to conduct research on campus. 


Dam Shewchuk stated that the plan is to refine the concepts during the spring and summer and to present the master plan to the campus in the fall to get more feedback. 


Alexander pointed out that there is more collaborative research going on between departments and space should be evenly integrated to accommodate this research.  Fech asked if there were any plans to build a visitors’ center on east campus.  He noted that there is currently no visitors’ center for east campus.  Dam Shewchuk stated that there are plans to put a visitors’ center in the Hardin Center which is currently being renovated. 


Flowers stated that there is a great need for large size classrooms that are equipped with new technology.  He pointed out that there is a high demand for these classrooms.  Dam Shewchuk stated that the classroom advisory committee is looking at these issues.  Hoffman stated that the problem is that these classrooms barely exist on campus. 


Alexander pointed out that the Othmer building on campus, a new building, has been poorly designed for classrooms.  He stressed that it is important to have people who understand the needs of the faculty and students when these buildings and classrooms are designed.  He noted that the rooms need to be student and faculty friendly.  He pointed out that there are limited classrooms with technology and that this is hurting the teaching efforts of faculty members.  Flowers noted that oftentimes the equipment in some classrooms belong to different departments or groups and it is difficult to know who to contact when there are problems with the equipment. 


Hoffman pointed out that visitors coming to campus cannot tell where they are going because of lack of signs.  He noted that at other campuses there is usually a guard at a gate where information is provided. 


Peterson stated that there needs to be a better system to get people from east to city campus and vice versa.  Dam Shewchuk asked if an express shuttle system between the campuses would help.  Peterson stated that it would.  He noted that students often have to leave class early in order to get to the other campus to attend a class. 


Scholz asked if the campus master plan was dealing with transportation issues.  Dam Shewchuk stated that they are looking at circulation patterns on campus.  She noted that they are looking into trying to develop better connections between the baseball stadium and the campus. 


Dam Shewchuk stated that one of the themes that they are hearing is to keep cars from the inner part of campus.  She noted that consideration is being made to close 17th street into a service road and the make 16th street a two way road. 


Scholz asked if they are making provisions for bikes.  He noted that UNL is behind in providing bike paths.  He stated that this prohibits people from using bikes which could help reduce the number of cars on campus.


6.0       Unfinished Business

            6.1       Proposed Amendment to 15th Week Policy

Peterson stated that Frank Opal, the ASUN representative of the Senate, would like to have an amendment made to the 15th week policy.  Peterson noted that the amendment provides the students with an option of contacting the ASUN if the problem cannot be resolved.  Peterson stated that he senses that the students want this language included. 


Beck asked if violation of the dead week policy is a huge problem.  Peterson noted that there is a flurry of calls in dead week about violations.  Hoffman stated that he has been surprised in talking with other faculty members as to how many of them violate the policy. 


Alexander stated that the language gives the students more of a role in the procedures.  He noted that the policy goes back to the original intent. 


The Committee discussed making slight changes to the grammar of the proposed amendment. 


7.0       New Business

            7.1       Gender Data

Beck distributed new data from IPEDS which shows that UNL has fallen significantly behind its peers in the number of female faculty members.  She noted that this information was left out of the report recently presented to the Board of Regents.  She pointed out that the information has been provided in the past but was omitted this year. 


Peterson stated that the information should be kept in mind because it is evident that UNL has slipped in relation to its peers.  He stated that the University needs to continue pushing on this matter. 


Beck suggested that the Senate could make a simple resolution noting that UNL has fallen behind its peers.  She stated that she might draft a resolution for the Senate. 



The meeting was adjourned at 5:05 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, March 23rd 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.