Executive Committee Minutes - May 18, 2005




Present:          Alexander, Bolin, Flowers, Moeller, Peterson, Rapkin, Scholz, Shea, Signal, Stock


Absent:           Beck, Fech, Hoffman


Date:               Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Location:        Academic Senate Office, 420 Univ. 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

            Moeller called the meeting to order at 2:31 p.m.


2.0       Martin Gaskell and Orn Bodvarsson

            2.1       Issues Facing Senior Lecturers and Visiting Professors

Moeller noted that approximately 29% of the UNL academic assembly is made up of lecturers and senior lecturers.  Peterson stated that he has corresponded with Gaskell and Bodvarsson on issues facing senior lecturers and visiting professors.  He pointed out that Chancellor Perlman has stated that he wants to reconsider the classification system of faculty members at some point


Gaskell stated that he has been investigating a number of issues concerning senior lecturers.  He noted that he had drawn up a list of most people who had been senior lecturers in recent years.  The number of people included was similar to the number the Office of Academic Affairs listed for senior lecturers.  He reported that information was drawn from publicly available sources and that he has had contact with about a quarter of the senior lecturers.  He stated that he not only wished to thank the Committee for the invitation to discuss senior lecturer issues, but also to convey the widespread appreciation among senior lecturers he had spoken with that the Senate Executive Committee was considering the issues senior lecturers face.


Gaskell stated that there seem to be some major misconceptions about senior lecturers and not all chairs and department heads might be aware of the existing policies regarding this position.  He stated that according to the 2003 SVCAA Guidelines for Faculty Appointments senior lecturers are supposed to be appointed on the basis of “a sustained record of superior performance” and their extensive responsibilities and evaluation records “justify increased compensation.”  He noted that the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences states that “a rank of Senior Lecturer should be considered at the same level as Associate Professor.” 


Gaskell reported that the median age of senior lecturers is 56.  He noted that the basic statistics indicate that 46% of senior lecturers are female compared to 16% of full professors, 31% of associate professors, and 39% of assistant professors who are female.  He stated that a quarter of the senior lecturers are part-time but 72% of lecturers are part-time. 


Gaskell stated that the biggest misconception about senior lecturers is that they are all “just teachers.”  One question he asked senior lecturers regarded their letter of appointment and the percent of time they were to spend on teaching.  He pointed out that senior lecturers are a very heterogeneous group.  Their official teaching loads vary between 50% and 100%.  He noted that many of the senior lecturers are doing considerable work in research, service, extension, and some even have had administrative positions.  He stated that some of them are undergraduate advisors in their departments. 


Gaskell reported the number of courses senior lecturers teach and the nature of those courses varies considerably across departments from one to ten courses per year.  He stated that it should be realized that there are major differences in what constitutes “a course.”  However, senior lecturers seem to almost all have a higher teaching load than other faculty members.  He stated that it was clear from his discussions with senior lecturers that they were involved in many other responsibilities than just teaching even when these were not specified in their contracts. 


Gaskell noted that it is important to realize that some senior lecturers are heavily involved in research.  He stated that he had not attempted to quantify the research records of all senior lecturers, and indeed it would be difficult in many fields to do so, but that in his own case, for example, he could point out that he is the principal investigator on over half a million dollars in Federal grants, that he leads a major international astronomical collaboration, and that  according to the Science Citation Index (a widely-used measure of the impact of research) his research papers are cited at comparable rate to those of the endowed chairs in his department. 


Gaskell noted that the main mission of the University is teaching but research plays a key role as well.  He reported that the Bylaws of the College of Arts & Sciences states that “faculty members have an obligation to maintain command of developments in their fields and to develop their own capacities for research or whatever creative activities of mind and talent they can pursue most fruitfully.”  He stated that while professional development of senior lecturer is important, research by students is also important and many senior lecturers are actively involved in supervising students in research and other creative activity.  He praised the University for its strong emphasis in recent years on undergraduate research.  He had personally supervised almost 40 undergraduate researchers over the past 13 years at UNL.  He stated that, clearly, in order for a senior lecturer to guide student research, he or she needs to be actively involved in research themselves.  He stated that it was thus important that senior lecturers be given time to work on research since they are often actively involved in supervising undergraduate students conducting research. 

Gaskell stated that many senior lecturers are involved in supervising graduate students as well.  He noted that, for example, he had supervised several Ph.D. and masters students and that he knew of one senior lecturer who had been supervising two dozen masters students.  Peterson reported that the new rules for the Graduate Council include senior lecturers. 


Gaskell stated that a universal concern for senior lecturers is promotion and tenure.  He reported that there is no formal mechanism in place for senior lecturers to be moved to tenure track lines even though some senior lecturers have been moved to tenure track positions at the assistant professor level or higher.  Two years ago a senior lecturer was given a named professorship at UNL.  He stated that although complete numbers were hard to come by, he estimated that approximately 15 – 20% of senior lecturers have been moved to tenure track positions. 


Gaskell stated that a major concern for senior lecturers is job security.  He stated that as far as he could tell, all full-time senior lecturers are on 3-year contracts.  The lack of tenure makes senior lecturers particularly anxious at times of budget cuts.  Flowers stated that he can understand the concerns of the senior lecturers.  He noted that some of the senior lecturers were part of a spousal hire package but others are the main breadwinner for their families. Gaskell stated that some senior lecturers are in dual-career situations but others are the sole breadwinner for their families.  He stated that one of the aspects of the lack of job security for senior lecturers is the perception that they can be dismissed without due process. 


Gaskell pointed out that the UNL policy on appointing and reappointing senior lecturers needs to be clearly conveyed.  He noted that the policy states that appointments and reappointments are to be tied to annual evaluations yet some senior lecturers are not evaluated on an annual basis.  Peterson stated that he was on his department’s promotion and tenure committee when the policy was put in place in 1999.  He noted that the policy is not written clearly and there is uncertainty and confusion about the rule. 


Gaskell reported that the variation in senior lecturer salaries is wider than for many other academic ranks.  He noted that the highest senior lecturer salary is almost $100,000 but other salaries are only $30,000 - $40,000.  He pointed out that many senior lecturer salaries are not comparable to associate professor salaries even though the positions are considered comparable. 


Gaskell reported that male senior lecturers on average are paid about 28% more than female senior lecturers.  He noted that this is the case despite the fact that the majority of senior lecturers are female.  Flowers asked if Gaskell had broken down these figures by part-time versus full-time senior lecturers.  Gaskell stated that most of the senior lecturers are full-time and that in a few cases where the appointment was part-time he had scaled the salaries accordingly.  Shea asked if the salary information was determined according the length of time of service and age.  Gaskell stated that he did not check for a correlation with length of time of service but that there is a positive correlation of senior lecturer salary with age and time and with the most advanced degree. 


Gaskell stated that some of the senior lecturers felt they were treated fairly well when it came to pay increases however, others did not feel the same way.  He reported that some senior lecturers felt that in matters of annual evaluation and salaries their departments do not feel they have to treat senior lecturers the same way as tenure-track faculty members. 


Gaskell stated that another issue facing senior lecturers is “taxation without representation.” Some departments, such as the English Department, make it clear in their bylaws that senior lecturers have full voting rights.  However, he reported that some departments do not give full voting rights to senior lecturers and that they might not even be invited to department meetings or informed of issues facing the department. 


Gaskell reported that the attitude of some faculty members is that senior lecturers are “second class citizens.”   He noted that this is evident in letters to the Daily Nebraskan and in official reports of discussions by University bodies.  He stated that Vice Chancellor Paul has been very supportive about getting senior lecturers involved in research and that the Research Council had changed its rules so senior lecturers can get internal grant funding.  He pointed out that nonetheless there was an unsuccessful attempt several years ago by a member of the Research Council to deny senior lecturers from receiving funding from the Council.  There has been at least one case of a senior lecturer and students working with the senior lecturer being denied access to a University research facility because the researcher was a senior lecturer.


Gaskell stated that another example of the second-class citizenship status is the recent case of a senior lecturer who won the system-wide Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity award yet he is not eligible for membership in the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.  He pointed out that the Teaching Council sent a request to the Academy to consider changing its rules for membership so senior lecturers can be included.  Moeller noted that she is a member of the Academy and she reported that the Academy had a difficult conversation regarding this issue.  She stated that part of the responsibility of being a teacher is to do research but not all senior lecturers conduct research.  She pointed out that another concern is that tenured faculty members can speak up on issues because they have job security while senior lecturers might not want to speak up because of the lack of job security.  As a result, if members of the Academy are unwilling to speak up the Academy may not be taken seriously. 


In conclusion Gaskell stated that UNL could take a leadership position with senior lecturers. He recommended the Senate to actively promote the following:


1)         Give voting rights to senior lecturers.  He noted that extending this right would come at no cost to the university.


2)         Have the administration make departments aware of the requirements of treating non-tenure track faculty members in a manner consistent with the treatment of tenure-track faculty members.


3)         Give senior lecturers equal access to facilities. 


4)         Contracts with senior lecturers should be required to include language that allows time for research and other appropriate scholarly activity for professional development.


5)         Bring salaries in line with associate professors when this is not already the case.


6)         Create a mechanism for promoting senior lecturers to tenure track positions.  He noted that procedures are needed to enable this kind of promotion to happen.


Bodvarsson stated that he appreciated the work and efforts of Gaskell to collect the data on senior lecturers.  Bodvarsson stated that he wanted to make observations regarding visiting professors.  He pointed out that visiting professors do not receive retirement benefits from the university.  He stated that he has been a visiting professor at a number of other institutions and UNL is the only one that did not provide this benefit to visiting professors.  He noted that if a visiting professor is here for only one year the retirement benefit is not too great of an issue but it definitely is an issue if the visiting professor is here for any longer period of time. 


Bodvarsson stated that the University needs to be clear in its expectations of visiting professors.  For example, he pointed out that his contract was 80% teaching and 20% research, but he was never actually given a service assignment.  Yet, he was still evaluated on his service performance.  He noted also that visiting professors can be involved in research and the University should consider providing time for this in the contract.


Bodvarsson reported that certain benefits are not available to visiting professors.  He stated that paternity leave is given to regular faculty members but not visiting professors.  He stated that tuition remission for dependents is also not available to visiting professors. 


Bodvarsson stated that the university needs to decide what its goals are in regards to visiting professors.  Does the university want to bring in good faculty members or is the university looking just to fill spots for teaching.  Peterson stated that it is somewhat of a department issue but something that the university needs to consider as well.  Bodvarsson stated that this issue could apply to senior lecturers as well. 


Bodvarsson noted that other professional issues such as travel allocation are things that the university needs to address.  He pointed out that travel allocation is substantially lower for visiting professors and is often up to the discretion of the department chair or head.  Gaskell stated that the College of Arts & Sciences has a policy of awarding $600 for travel to tenure-track faculty members but only $300 for travel to non-tenure track faculty members.


Bodvarsson stated that the issue of voting is a difficult one.  He pointed out that if a visiting professor is here for longer than a year she or he could make a contribution to the department by having voting rights. 


Bodvarsson stated that whether or not visiting professors feel like a second class citizen depends on how the university markets the position.  He pointed out that many temporary faculty members have been very productive and can contribute to a department’s reputation.  He stated that having policies to address this issue would be helpful.


Shea noted that the issues facing senior lecturers and visiting professors revolve around the definition of the faculty.  He stated that the question of how we define faculty members needs to be decided.  He pointed out that the different faculty positions have not been defined but yet tiers of these positions have developed.  He questioned whether there should be different classes with different rights and if so, they should be clearly defined. 


Shea stated that there has been some discussion on senior lecturers but there seems to be a reluctance to establish campus-wide definitions because it limits the flexibility of colleges and departments in hiring and using senior lecturers.  He noted that there is significant interest in maintaining this flexibility.  He pointed out that the faculty will need to decide if they want changes to faculty positions.  He suggested that this could be a question to include in the Senate’s survey of the faculty. 


Shea pointed out that concerns arise if a senior lecturer or visiting professor is not hired in the same way as a tenure track faculty member.  Bodvarsson pointed out that some visiting and senior lecturers are hired through a national search process while others are hired just through association.  He pointed out that there are the same concerns with targeted hires.  Peterson noted that he tried to get a definition of targeted hires from the Office of Equity, Access & Diversity Programs but was never given an answer.  He pointed out that senior lecturers are considered members of the academic assembly while visiting professors are not.  Signal stated that the university needs to focus on what it wants, particularly relating to target hires. 


Shea reported that some people are moved from post doctoral positions to research assistant professor positions without a search being conducted and in some cases with no faculty input.  Moeller stated that this is where a policy by the university needs to come in.  She stated that the heterogeneity of senior lecturers and visiting professors is mind boggling.  Gaskell noted that post docs have been moved to research assistant professor positions in order to be eligible to apply for Federal research grants.  Moeller stated that faculty members are supposed to have input on hiring.  She noted that if there were clear policies the faculty could help with these situations. 


Rapkin asked if there are any exemplar universities out there with policies about senior lecturers and visiting professors.  Gaskell stated that he had not researched that.  He stated that the “The Center” at the University of Florida ranks institutions and makes quantitative studies of what produces excellence in universities.  A key thing they stress is the need for having quantitative measures of performance.  In the absence of these they say that politics replace performance as the institutional criteria.  He stated that there needs to be clear objective standards particularly in regards to evaluation policies and to procedures to ensure fairness of how people are treated. 


Alexander asked if senior lecturers are evaluated annually and whether these are peer reviews.  Gaskell stated that the Regents Bylaws state that all faculty members are to be evaluated annually.  Bodvarrson stated that his home institution is unionized and faculty salaries are governed by a state-wide contract.  He noted that this is one solution to the problems associated with evaluations but it creates the problem of salary compression.  Shea pointed out that most of the faculty members at UNL are not in favor of contracts although this is contrary to some of their concerns.  Bodvarsson noted that having contracts eliminates merit increases.  Shea stated that this is not necessarily the case and depends on the contract.  Stock stated that there appears to be a lot of cynicism among the faculty about having a contract.  He stated that he thinks faculty members prefer merit increases.  Flowers pointed out that having a contract can impact high performers. 


Peterson noted that salaries for faculty members at all ranks are not necessarily in line and that the problem is not unique to senior lecturers.  Bodvarsson stated that if one of the recommendations is to put salaries of senior lecturers and associate professors in line the question needs to be asked if the responsibilities are similar. 


Scholz asked how many senior lecturers there are.  Gaskell reported that there are approximately 32 full-time senior lecturers but there are many more lecturers.  Moeller noted that senior lecturers must be approved by promotion and tenure committees.  Scholz asked if there is a high turnover rate of senior lecturers.  Gaskell stated there is not. 


Bodvarsson stated that the terms “teaching contract” and “senior lecturer” are used interchangeably on campus.  Moeller stated that it depends on the departments.  She noted that some senior lecturers are hired strictly for teaching.  Bodvarsson questioned what the Board of Regents had in mind when they created the lecturer and senior lecturer positions.  He wondered if it was designed to give flexibility to units or to maintain quality.  Gaskell stated that one of the factors in creating the classifications was retirement benefits.  Moeller noted that senior lecturers gained retirement benefits they previously did not have. 


Alexander noted that there are an increasing number of research assistant professors and he wondered what faculty position they would be equivalent to and what rights they have.  He noted that it would be good to work on the issues facing senior lecturers and research assistant professors at the same time.  Gaskell stated that the number of research associate professors and senior lecturers is comparable and their salaries are similar.  Peterson pointed out that the extension non-tenure track is another classification of faculty members.


Peterson stated that the Committee will continue to discuss the issues.  He noted that the Chancellor does plan on looking at the classification system at some time in the future.


Rapkin asked if senior lecturers were included in the gender equity report figures.  Moeller stated they were not included.  Shea asked why there weren’t.  Moeller explained that the national data gathered on gender does not include information on senior lecturers.  Peterson pointed out that the AAUP figures show 44% of the faculty members are female, not 39%.  Moeller noted that the number of female assistant professors is increasing.  She stated that nationally, 52% of the people getting Ph.D.’s are women. 


3.0       Announcement

            3.1       Meeting with Chancellor Perlman

Griffin noted that the Committee will be meeting next week with Chancellor Perlman.  She pointed out that they will not be able to meet with the Chancellor again until July 6th because he will be traveling for most of the month of June.


4.0       Approval of 5/4/05 Minutes

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


5.0       Unfinished Business

            5.1       ARRC Procedures

Griffin reported that Beck spoke with Professor Works regarding the changes to the ARRC Professional Conduct-B procedures.  Beck informed Griffin that Professor Works stated that the changes being made by the Office of Research were acceptable and did not create any problems.


6.0       New Business

            6.1       Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Senate Bylaws and Rules

Peterson noted that Professor Bradford chaired a committee to review the Senate Rules, specifically the redistricting of the Senate.  Peterson stated that the committee proposed two different models for redistricting.  He stated that the committee also suggested incorporating language that would allow for electronic voting. 


Moeller noted that the apportionment of the Senate impacts how departments and units are represented.  She suggested that the committee review and discuss the suggested changes at the next meeting.  Peterson agreed and pointed out that the Committee should recommend one of the proposed models of distribution and present it to the Senate in the fall. 


The Committee briefly discussed the pros and cons of the two distribution models suggested by the ad hoc committee. 


Moeller stated that the Committee will discuss the apportionment models at the next meeting.




6.2       University of Nebraska-Lincoln AAUP Report on the Department of Economics and Issues of Faculty Governance

Moeller noted that the report raises serious concerns about faculty governance in the Economics department.  She questioned what the Committee should do with the report and whether the Committee has the power to act on it.  Alexander stated that Beck should acknowledge that the Committee received the report and should make an informational inquiry to the faculty of the department asking whether they would like the Committee to discuss the concerns with the administrators.  He suggested that a copy of the letter should be send to Dean Milligan, SVCAA Couture, Chancellor Perlman, and Associate to the Chancellor Howe. 


The Committee agreed to discuss the report at the next meeting.


6.3       Faculty Salary Increases

Alexander asked why UNL accepts less of a salary increase than some of the other campuses.  Moeller pointed out that UNK and UNO both have unions that negotiate their increases.  She noted that UNK makes considerably less than UNL.  Peterson stated that while UNO and UNK may get more of a percentage of salary increase overall, these campuses still receive the same percentage of increase from central administration as UNL and UNMC.  Any additional amount on top of what central gives them must come out of the campuses’ operating budgets.  In the past this has resulted in a significant number of employees being fired and programs being cut at UNO and UNK. 


The meeting was adjourned at 4:45 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, May 25th at 2:30 pm.  The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Pat Shea, Secretary.