UNL Academic Senate Meeting - December 3, 2002




East Campus Union, Great Plains Rooms

December 3, 2002

Presidents Tice Miller, John Wunder, and Miles Bryant, Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Miller called the meeting to order at 2:34 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  Update on Executive Committee Goals

President Miller reported that the Executive Committee has worked on defending academic programs and protecting faculty interests by meeting with the Academic Planning Committee and the Chancellor to discuss the firing of tenure leading and/or tenured faculty.  He noted that the APC supported the Executive Committee’s recommendation not to eliminate the two tenure track extension faculty members slated for termination in the budget cuts.  President Miller thanked Professor Siekman and the APC for their work on this issue.


President Miller reported that members of the Executive Committee have met with several state senators. Senator Beutler attended an Executive Committee meeting.  President Miller noted that he has met with the presidents of the faculty senates of UNK and UNO to discuss issues facing the university.


President Miller thanked Professor Wolf for continuing to work and push for health benefits for domestic partners.  He thanked Past President Bryant for his work on trying to get a bill introduced to the legislature to remove the retirement cap. 


President Miller stated that Professors Wolf, Spann, and King have worked to improve the undergraduate experience at UNL.  He noted that the Executive Committee agreed to support the decision of the ASUN on the transit service fee.


2.2  Graduation

President Miller noted that graduation will be held on December 21st.  He encouraged faculty members to attend the ceremony.  He pointed out that parents and family members of those students graduating notice and they appreciate the attendance of the faculty.


2.3  January Senate Meeting

President Miller announced that VC Owens will be speaking at the January meeting on IANR (institute) and agriculture in the state of Nebraska.  He announced that Provost Noren will also be speaking at the meeting on the US Patriots Act and its impact on the university.


3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman reported that the merger of Teachers College and the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences is moving forward.  He noted that good conversations are underway between the faculty of the two colleges. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that he has asked the APC to hold off on the proposal to eliminate the branch libraries.  He stated that he is meeting with the faculty members of each of the departments that will be affected by the closings.   He noted that Dean Giesecke and the staff of the Libraries are working hard to respond to the concerns being raised by faculty members.  He reported that Dean Giesecke is working towards consolidating all of the science libraries into Love Library. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that one of the major concerns of the faculty members regarding the closing of the branch libraries is the loss of accessibility to the library 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  He stated that Dean Giesecke is working with Vice Chancellor Paul to develop a system where faculty members could have access to the library at odd hours, provided they give advance notice.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this would be consistent with other research universities.




Chancellor Perlman reported that he is engaged in discussions with the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women.  He noted that the discussions are focused on how the Chancellor functions with the Commission and the possibility of making changes to it.


Chancellor Perlman stated that he has met with the Academy of Distinguished Teachers to discuss the paper they generated on teaching at UNL.  He noted that there are many interesting ideas in the paper and some concerns that need to be addressed.  He stated that he is contemplating forming a committee, similar to the one for the 20/20 report, to study undergraduate education.  He pointed out that once the new Dean of Undergraduate Studies is hired, he/she should participate in the study.  Chancellor Perlman encouraged all faculty members to read the report which is available on the web at http://tc.unl.edu/cansorge/academy/whitePaper.html.


Chancellor Perlman reported that UNL’s results were good in the National Student Engagement Survey.

He noted that UNL’s ranking in the demanding course category was equivalent to other AAU schools.  He pointed out that some issues have surfaced such as senior students being less excited about their courses than freshman students.  He noted that the campus has spent a considerable amount of focus on the freshmen experience and that it may now be time to focus on the experience of junior and senior students.


Chancellor Perlman encouraged faculty members to look at the results of the survey conducted by the Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual/ Transgender Concerns.  He stated that the administration is seriously considering the report and will carefully think about the recommendations that were made as a result of the study.  He noted that it is important for all faculty and staff to help students achieve success.  He pointed out that the campus community needs to remove barriers for all students. 


President Miller asked if the Chancellor has received feedback from departments regarding the results of the Climate Survey.  Chancellor Perlman reported that he occasionally receives email messages that are less than supportive.  He stated that there are a number of questions regarding the survey instrument that was used.  He stated that he is prepared to tinker with the language of the survey to make it more acceptable. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he has received email messages stating that the survey did not fully address faculty engagement.  He stated that the survey was not able to address everything.  He noted that the measure of productivity is more diverse than for a business.  He stated that he did not know yet whether a low score correlates with the productivity of a department.  He pointed out that if each department works on the questions on the survey, UNL will be a better place and units who take the survey seriously will be better off. 


Professor Hoffman, Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, stated that the Gallup organization appears to have an attitude that they will not take suggestions or make changes to the survey.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the goal of the survey is to measure faculty engagement and a way to improve it.  He stated that Gallup used a survey that has been validated in other studies.  He stated that if it appears that some changes need to be made to the survey, then some refining of the survey will take place.  He pointed out that the survey should be done several times before it is known where changes should be made. 


Professor Alexander, Electrical Engineering, asked if there was a deadline for departments to have a discussion on the results of the survey.  Chancellor Perlman noted that the sooner departments hold discussions the faster improvements can be made.  Professor Kranz, Northeast Research & Extension, stated that there is logic in having surveys conducted at the local neighborhood but that the survey should also be done at other levels as well. Chancellor Perlman stated that the survey did not communicate clearly that the process was designed to elevate issues up to higher levels. 


Professor Hoffman asked how often the survey would be conducted.  Chancellor Perlman stated that it would be done on a yearly basis.  He pointed out that he wants the process to be constructive and to try to make improvements within the departments and on campus.   


Professor Wolf, English, asked the Chancellor to discuss the positive aspect of offering domestic partner benefits.  Chancellor Perlman stated that businesses offer benefits for dependents because it realizes that a worker who does not have to worry about providing for his/her dependents is more productive.  He pointed out that people who are in a domestic partner relationship should be given that same level of comfort.  He noted that it is a dependent issue and that a dependent could be a parent or grandparent.  He stated that the issue has both economic and political implications.  Chancellor Perlman reminded the Senate that the university is in a market place to attract new employees.  He stated that the university will become uncompetitive if the benefit is not offered. 


4.0      Approval of 10/1/02 Minutes

Professor Diffendal, Conservation & Survey Division, moved and Professor Prochaska-Cue, Family and Consumer Sciences, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved.


5.0      Honorary Degrees Election

Professor May, Chair of the Honorary Degrees Committee, stated that ballots were available for each senator upon entering the meeting.  She asked the Senate to vote on the ballots and she asked that the Senate keep the names of the nominees confidential until approval is made by the Board of Regents.


6.0      Committee Reports

6.1  Research Council (Professor Lou)

Professor Lou, reported that highlights of the report were the 24.63% increase in funding, creation of the Research Advisory Council, and the award of funding to 65 applicants.  She noted that the council advertised vigorously the deadline dates for submission of applications.  She stated that the Council is working on whether lecturers and senior lecturers can qualify for funding.  She noted that the Council will be participating in the Research Graduate Day scheduled for some time in April.  She reported that the Council is working with VC Paul to identify potential research clusters. 


6.2  Grading & Examinations Committee (Professor Lee)

Professor Lee reported that the committee provides a service to the students by processing grade appeals.  He stated that appeals are handled in the college between the college member of the committee and an appeals officer designated by the college.  He stated that the committee gathers the information from each college and reviews the appeals to see that they are handled fairly.  Professor Lee stated that Professor Woodward will become the new chair of the committee in January. 


Professor Lee reported that the committee will evaluate the new grading system.  He stated that the committee will look at the effects the new system has on GPA’s and scholarships.  President Miller noted that there has been some decreases in GPA’s but that more A’s are being given.  Professor Lee stated that the committee could review this to see if it is an issue. 


6.3  Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women (Professor Morstad)

Professor Morstad reported that the Commission is rediscovering its role as an advisory committee to the Chancellor.  She noted that the Commission has met with the Chancellor and they are working on developing new charges for it. 


Professor Hodges, Agronomy & Horticulture, asked whatever happened to the idea of putting a child care facility in the parking garage on 17th & R streets.  Professor Gardner, Libraries, stated that there was an issue of licensing for the facility.  Chancellor Perlman stated that a child care facility must have an outdoor playground and that it was not feasible at that location.  He noted that the issue is still on the agenda and that there could be the possibility of a facility being created in conjunction with the Antelope Valley Project.


Professor Wolf noted that eleven years ago one of the charges of the Commission was to review the curriculum to insure that women’s courses were included.  He asked if the Commission still checks on these courses.  Professor Morstad stated that the Commission does not take an active role with curriculum. 


6.4  University Appeals and Judicial Boards (Rosemary Blum)

Committee report postponed until January.


7.0      Professor Eckhardt, Chair of the Academic Planning Committee

President Miller reminded the Senate that Professor Eckhardt was at the meeting only to discuss APC policies and procedures for budget cuts and that no specifics concerning the recent cuts could be discussed.  Professor Eckhardt stated that the APC has worked very hard over the past semester on the budget cuts and that the committee has had to deal with very difficult issues.  He stated that the APC would like to focus less on the procedures and more on actual planning.  He stated that the committee is in an awkward situation because it behaves as a regulator, yet it does not have access to all the pertinent information.  He noted that the APC has reached out to the Senate Executive Committee as well as ASUN, UNOPA, and UAAD to get feedback regarding the cuts.  Professor Eckhardt pointed out that the administrative members of the APC who were actively involved in determining proposed cuts recused themselves from voting on the budget matters.



President Miller asked if alternative budget cuts were given to the APC.  Professor Eckhardt stated that only proposed actions were presented to the committee.  He stated that no alternatives were presented.  Professor Lindgren, West Central Research & Extension, asked if the APC’s recommendations had any weight to them.  Professor Eckhardt stated that they most definitely did have weight.  He noted that the APC strongly supported retaining the two extension faculty members slated to be cut. 


Past President Bryant noted that the APC had wrestled with the definition of a center.  Professor Eckhardt stated that the committee felt that the present definition is so broad that it almost makes it moot.  Professor Bender, News Editorial, asked if the criterion for the APC making recommendations was based on the lack of having information on alternative cuts.  Professor Eckhardt stated that the APC had hearings to gather more information regarding the cuts.  He noted that the APC has no budget to be able to gather further information on its own.


Professor Fuller, Art & Art History, asked if the quality of a program is considered a criteria for cutting a program.  Professor Eckhardt stated that quality is not a criterion.  He noted that APC is concerned with this issue because it will become a bigger factor with further cuts.  He noted that there are some programs, such as the libraries, which must be maintained because they are essential to all programs. 


Professor Fech, Southeast Research & Extension, asked if it is the desire of the APC to ask for them to be given the alternative cuts or would the committee prefer things to stay the same.  Professor Eckhardt stated that the APC will be discussing this issue.  He noted that getting information on the alternatives could put the administration in a difficult situation.  He noted that confidentiality is a major concern.  He stated that the APC may have to seek alternatives on its own, possibly with the help of the Senate,  


President Miller asked what the differences are between the procedures being used now and the ones used in the 1991 budget cuts.  President Elect Wunder stated that the emphases of the procedures are different.  He noted that the definition of an academic program in the 1986 procedures stated that those areas with representation in the Academic Senate were defined as an academic program.  He stated that the definition in the current procedures is very broad and that the characteristics listed covers individuals as well as programs.  He noted that this could potentially abolish areas of expertise which could be an issue if the university receives further cuts. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he has had discussions with the Senate Executive Committee and APC regarding these issues.  He pointed out that the definition of an academic program is broad but does not allow him to single out individuals.  He noted that he must justify his recommendations to the APC.  He pointed out that if programs were defined more concisely, he might have to make more cuts to the campus than he would want. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that if the APC made decisions based on information provided on alternative cuts, it would put a question of credibility on the committee.  He stated that there may be some middle ground that could be met that would provide the APC with more information. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the work of the APC has been exemplary and that most people do not realize how hard the committee has worked.  He stated that the campus owes the APC a great deal of thanks and applause for all of their hard work.


President Miller asked if the APC wants to have the power to make decisions based on alternatives.  Professor Eckhardt stated that no one wants to make the decision.  He stated that the APC is sensitive to balancing the disciplines.  He suggested that a subcommittee of experts in a particular field could be made up to review possible program cuts.  He noted that further cuts to the university may result in changes to the procedures. 


8.0      Unfinished Business

            No unfinished business was discussed.


9.0      New Business

            Professor Beck, Animal Science, requested that the Senate hold a discussion on possible strategies and mechanisms for faculty salary increases at the February meeting.  She suggested that Professors Wally Bacon and Will Pratt from UNO be invited to speak to the Senate.  She stated that her suggestion comes from hearing that salary increases may be distributed unevenly based on merits.  She stated that there is growing concern that if a unit does not fit the quality indicators, it will not have the same access as other units in getting funding.   She noted that there is also concern regarding the composition of the Faculty Compensation Advisory Committee and how well it serves the faculty.  President Miller stated that her suggestion will be discussed by the Executive Committee.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, January 14, at 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and James King, Secretary.