UNL Academic Senate Meeting - December 7, 2004




East Campus Union, Great Plains Room

December 7, 2004

Presidents Wes Peterson, Mary Beck, and John Wunder Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Peterson called the meeting to order at 2:30 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  January Senate Meeting

President Peterson stated that plans are being made for the January Senate meeting to have a satellite hookup with faculty members from a land grant university which has collective bargaining.  He noted that hopefully the hookup will allow UNL Senators to ask the faculty members questions regarding collective bargaining.  He pointed out that the opposing view to collective bargaining will also be presented during the meeting.


2.2  Last Meeting for Past President Wunder

President Peterson reported that this was the last Senate meeting for Past President Wunder.  President Peterson noted that Past President Wunder will be going on sabbatical next semester and his term on the Senate was scheduled to end in May.  President Peterson thanked Past President Wunder for his service to faculty governance.


3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman reported that the accreditation review is looming overhead of the campus.  He stated that the review will be scheduled for either November 2006 or January 2007 but a lot of preparation work needs to be done before the review takes place.  He noted that the campus is required to do a self-study report which will require great effort and work.  He stated that as many people as possible will be engaged in the process but the administration will try to use existing structures of committees, such as the Academic Planning Committee, Research Council, and Teaching Council, to conduct some of the work. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that Professor O’Hanlon, College of Education & Human Sciences, will be leading the accreditation effort.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the accreditation effort will be combined with the strategic planning process and he hopes that this will help both processes.


Chancellor Perlman noted that an open forum was held last week on the strategic plan’s core values.   He announced that a second open forum will be held in January on East Campus.  He stated that the open forum discussion was helpful and he assumes that there will be some revisions to the values based on the comments made during the forum.  He noted that anyone with additional thoughts should attend the January open forum.


Chancellor Perlman stated that while he is a skeptic on strategic plans the administration is trying hard to develop a plan that is practical and that will have consequences.  He stated that the administration expects the departments and academic units to articulate how their plans will relate to the core values.  He noted that there are some core values that have consequences such as the core value relating to teaching.  He stated that proposals that emphasize teaching should justify how they relate to a measurement of success in teaching and student learning. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that in March there will be a set of hearings for the Deans to present their college strategic plans.  He stated that representatives of the Academic Planning Committee and Senate Executive Committee will be invited to the hearings.  He noted that the final strategic plan results will be made public.


Chancellor Perlman stated that most faculty members should have seen the email message from SVCAA Couture calling for proposals for the teaching initiative.  He noted that the initiative is to encourage ways to improve teaching and the purpose is to push forward teaching efforts.


Chancellor Perlman stated that enrollment figures are still an important issue that the campus continues to work on.  He stated that the Enrollment Management Council is working on recommendations to improve recruiting efforts.  He noted that these recommendations will be presented soon to the campus.


Chancellor Perlman reported that there will be an initiative in space planning.  He stated that this will provide the campus with the opportunity to review the current space and to assess the needs of the campus.  He noted that he believes physical space to be a central resource for all faculty, staff, and students. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that a number of administrators have been visiting other institutions and they came to the conclusion that UNL does not identify itself enough.  He noted that other universities display the name and logo of the institution in various places throughout the campus.  He pointed out that east campus is making better progress identifying the university through office decals and banners.  He stated that subtle efforts will be made to give people a sense that they are at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  He noted that these efforts will include decals on lecterns, waste baskets, and other objects. 


Chancellor Perlman urged the faculty to attend events on Martin Luther King’s birthday.  He stated that he hopes the Senate and the faculty members will be active participants in the numerous events that are scheduled.  He stated that Martin Luther King’s birthday is an important reminder of the value of diversity.


Chancellor Perlman stated that in closing he wanted to comment on the retirement of Professor McShane.  He stated that Professor McShane’s wonderful contributions to shared governance and the university extend over a long period of time.  He noted that Professor McShane has been a person who he has worked both with and against at times.  He stated that he and Professor McShane often engaged in debates and he always felt better about the outcome because of Jim’s engagement.  Chancellor Perlman stated that Professor McShane will be missed and he wished him well in his retirement.


Chancellor Perlman gave his best wishes to all for happy holidays.


Professor Bradford, Law, asked if the teaching initiative included proposals relating to graduate student teaching.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the foundation funds being used for the teaching initiative stipulate that the money be spent on undergraduate teaching.  He stated that this does not mean that graduate teaching efforts are diminished in any way. 


4.0      David Lechner, Vice President for Business and Finance

VP Lechner noted that the University’s health plan is a self-funded plan which means the University keeps the profits if any are made.  He stated that in 1999 the revenue for the plan was $40 million but expenses were $44 million.  He reported that as a result increases to the cost of belonging to the plan were made.  He reported that in the following years the expenses have continued to increase but in 2002 the plan was able to turn a profit and the reserve balance on the plan increased.    He stated that in 2003 there was not as much of an increase in the profit but the plan pretty much broke even.


VP Lechner stated that projections for 2004 indicate that expenses are estimated to be $80 million and revenue is estimated to be $81 million.  He noted that the reserve trust should have a balance of approximately $20 million.  He pointed out that expenses in the past five years have nearly doubled and medical claims this year have increased to $56 million. 


VC Lechner reported that the University consulted with actuaries who created a trend line based on the experience of the past several years.  He noted that increases in rates were based on the recommendations made by the consultants.  He pointed out that while rates increased slightly, the good news is that the deductible, stop-loss charges, and co-insurance payments were not changed.  He noted that some changes were made on the cost of prescriptions.  He stated that in order to encourage the use of generic drugs there will be no increase in their cost.  He reported that there will be a $1 increase in the cost of formulary prescriptions and a $2 increase for preferred drugs.  He noted that people will be required to pay the difference along with the co-pay for preferred drugs if a generic drug is available for use. 


VP Lechner stated that the university will be able to purchase high cost bio-technology drugs through the health plan’s pharmacy benefit provider who can get these drugs cheaper.  He stated that the process of getting these drugs will be transparent to the employee.


VP Lechner stated that members can go to caremark.com to get a history of their purchases and what drugs were used in the past year.  He noted that the website also can provide a list of generic drugs


VP Lechner stated that the University was able to keep the cost of the health care low this year because 2003 was a good year.  He noted that the plan was not used as heavily as in previous years and there was some cushion in the reserve to work with.  He stated that he hopes that the plan will break even this year which will enable to forestall an increase to the employees.


VP Lechner reported that the University contributes over 80% to the cost of the health care plan.  He noted that this is still good in comparison to the national market.  He stated that next year the federal health care plan will cost the employee $110 per month, the state $71per month, and the University $61 per month.  He pointed out that the University has also created a break for the single parent with a child by offering a rate that is lower than the employee with a family.  He noted that the University’s plan had a slight increase in comparison to peer institutions. 


VP Lechner stated that the University’s health plan went broke in 1988 and employees had to suffer large increases in the cost of the health plan in order to restore it.  He pointed out that current reserves are equivalent to two and a half months of use. 


VP Lechner stated that the demographics of the University show that currently 5.3 active employees help to support one retiree.  He noted that this number will drop to 2.7 in 2013 and will drop even further to 1.8 in 2023.  He stated that the number of retirees that will participate in the plan will triple in the future.  He pointed out that most of our peer institutions have a separate health care program for retirees but the University’s plan has better pharmacy coverage.  He noted that pharmacy costs are the fastest growing cost to the plan. 


VP Lechner stated that if the usage of the plan continues to grow there will be a scissoring effect where the usage will surpass the revenue.  He noted that Chancellor Perlman is pushing for a restructuring of the health plan.  VP Lechner stated that the University wants to make sure it keeps a competitive plan. 


Professor Fech, Southeast Research & Extension Center, asked if there were any efforts to make the long term care option of the health plan more comparable and effective.  He stated that the cost of long term care is very costly and the long term care plan is not as realistic as it should be.  VP Lechner stated that the long term care plan is out sourced and is not part of the University’s contribution. 


Professor Reichenbach, Computer Science & Engineering, asked if the plan’s reimbursement account can be modified so people can roll over the accumulated funds.  VP Lechner stated that there are actually two different plans for health reimbursement.  He stated that the 125 plan is where money can be withdrawn prior to taxes and he believes that this money can now be rolled over.  He stated that there is also a wellness bucket that is built into the health care plan.  He stated that with this plan the employee is allowed approximately $1000 for things such as inoculations, physical exams, etc.


VP Lechner stated that some people in good health have opted to take the low cost plan.  However, these people are finding out that this option does not help them out as much as they had anticipated.  He noted that the vision plan is similar to the dental plan that once enrolled an employee stays in the plan for several years.


Professor Hoffman, Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, asked if the University is doing anything about the turnaround time that it takes Blue Cross/Blue Shield to process claims.  He noted that he did not receive a claim for a bill that was processed in June.  VP Lechner pointed out that when Blue Cross/Blue Shield does not pay quickly it helps the plan’s reserve but if anyone should encounter problems with a delay in processing claims they should contact either Keith Dietze, Director of University-wide Benefits, or Bruce Currin, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Human Resources. 


Professor Stick, Educational Administration, asked about coordination of benefits if Blue Cross/Blue Shield needs to work with other insurance providers.  He asked how it would work if an employee is a secondary on another health plan.  VP Lechner stated that it would depend on the other plan. 


Past President Wunder stated that it is important to have good people on the University-wide Benefits Committee because it is an important committee that affects most employees.  He noted that there has been little word on the U-wide Benefits Committee and whether it is an active committee.  He asked if any comparison data has been conducted on the health plans at our peer institutions.  VP Lechner stated that the University’s health plan is based on local rates.  He pointed out that the University would probably compare favorably with our peer institutions because of the low rates.  He reported that President Milliken has strong interest in the U-wide Employees Benefits Committee and that it will be activated again.  Past President Wunder pointed out that having a comparison of health care plans for our peer institutions would be a helpful recruiting tool. 


Past President Wunder noted that a person used to be able to purchase a three month supply of their medication but this is no longer possible.  He asked why.  VP Lechner stated that people used to be able to purchase a 90 day supply by mail.  He stated that a change in a state law may possibly be to blame for why this option is no longer available.  He pointed out that 38% of the drugs used by employees are used for maintenance purposes.  He stated that it would be helpful if the University could take advantage of purchasing these prescriptions at wholesale cost through the mail. 


Professor Hoffman asked if the total dollars of expenses changes dramatically if broken down by the different campus units.  VP Lechner stated that the number of employees involved in the plan has remained relatively the same. 


Professor Hodges, Agronomy & Horticulture, stated that she appreciates the low cost that Caremark is able to provide on prescriptions but if a person is not on a generic drug it can be difficult to determine what the difference in cost will be for the employee.  She pointed out that some people cannot use generic drugs.  She stated that she would like to see some exemptions to Caremark’s preferred list of generic drugs for those people who can’t take the generic drugs.  Professor Hoffman agreed and stated that some drugs can be purchased on line for cheaper than what Caremark offers them.  VP Lechner stated that he would have concerns of the origin of the drug if purchased over the internet. 


Professor Prochaska-Cue stated that she disagrees with the health plan’s comments on wellness prevention.  She asked if financial incentives can be provided to those people who participate in wellness activities.  VP Lechner stated that the University must provide uniform benefits to all employees because of state law.  Professor Prochaska-Cue stated that the University should encourage the unicameral to change this law.  VP Lechner stated that it would be great to offer incentives for people who practice a healthy lifestyle.


VP Lechner stated that the University-wide Benefits Committee will be meeting soon.  He stated that anyone with questions on the health care plan should contact him at dlechner@hnebraska.edu.


5.0    Approval of 11/2/04 Minutes (Secretary Shea)

Professor Klein, West Central Research & Extension Center, moved and Professor Bradford, Law, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved.


6.0    Committee Reports

          6.1    Academic Planning Committee (Professor Keown)

Professor Keown reported that the committee has been busy this year but will be even busier next year with the strategic planning process and the upcoming accreditation.  He asked for any questions.  No questions were asked.


6.2    University Appeals and Judicial Board (Dr. Hecker)

Dr. Hecker stated that the service of the faculty members on the Judicial Board is very valuable.  He reported that the Judicial Board has not been needed much this past year and he stated that it is a committee that is not too time consuming.  He encouraged faculty members to serve on the Judicial Board. 


Dr. Hecker reported that alcohol violations are still the primary behavioral problem.   He noted that the second violation is academic dishonesty.  He stated that the number of incidents of academic dishonesty has increased although he is unsure whether this is due to greater detection or an increase in the number of violations. 


Dr. Hecker stated that a good question that the University needs to address is how to address academic dishonesty.  He pointed out that the current policy is not widely known and the issue of plagiarism is cloudy for most students.  He stated that he is interested in visiting with the Senate and with departments to address this issue.  He asked that comments or suggestions should be directed to him and he stated that he is willing to be the point person for getting the message out to the campus community. 


Dr. Hecker stated that the recent article in the Daily Nebraskan on academic dishonesty was not very accurate.  He noted that he did reply to the DN about the article.


Professor Jackson, Food Science and Technology, asked approximately how many cases Dr. Hecker deals with that do not go to the Judicial Board.  Dr. Hecker stated that he typically deals with 600 cases annually.  He noted that about ten of these cases go to the Judicial Board.  He pointed out that these figures do not include residence hall cases. 


Professor Bradford asked what the typical punishment is for students caught cheating on an exam.  Dr. Hecker stated that the students typically receive a failing grade for the exam or for the class.  If it is the first offense, the student is put on probation. 


Professor Archer, Anthropology & Geography, asked if there are sample statements that professors can use on their syllabus regarding academic dishonesty.  Dr. Hecker stated that there a several model statements that are available.  Professor McShane, English, suggested that professors should look at the student code of conduct regarding academic dishonesty and stated that the subject of academic integrity is on the web page. 


President Peterson stated that the Executive Committee will follow up on the issue and is planning to meet with Dr. Hecker in the spring. 


6.3    Honorary Degrees (Professor Lawson)

Professor Lawson wanted to thank the Chancellor’s office and Associate to the Chancellor Herb Howe for their help in preparing the information provided on the honorary degree ballots.  He asked the Senate to vote on the ballots that were in the packet distributed at the Senate meeting.  He asked the Senators to keep the names of the nominees confidential. 


7.0    Unfinished Business

          7.1    Revisions to Teaching Council Syllabus

President Peterson stated that the proposed revisions to the Teaching Council Syllabus and the UNL Bylaws are the result of changes made to the Council due to the elimination of the Teaching & Learning Center.  He asked if there were any questions or comments.  Motion approved. 


7.2      Reality TV Show

Secretary Shea noted that the main point of this motion is to emphasize the process of making decisions that affect the campus.  He stated that he wanted to make a friendly amendment to his motion.  He suggested removing the language “whereas, the so-called ‘student’ has a lengthy criminal record” and removing “the extracurricular activities of this ‘student’ disrupts student activities.”  Professor Harbison, Chemistry, seconded the friendly amendment. 


Professor Bradford stated that he was opposed to the motion although he understood the grounds on which the motion was made.  He stated that he objected to the motion’s implication that the Chancellor must consult with the faculty, particularly on all contacts with the media.  He stated that the motion is written too broadly about the Chancellor consulting with the faculty before entering into future contracts with the media.  He noted that the Chancellor probably should have consulted with the Senate Executive Committee in this particular case.  He pointed out that the only negativity he has heard about the show is those that have been generated by the campus community.  Professor Hope, Psychology, seconded what Professor Bradford said.  She stated that the faculty members in her department have adamantly stated that she should vote against the motion.


Professor Reichenbach stated that he is unsure about the motion.  He stated that he agreed that the Chancellor should consult with the faculty about substantial matters but he has reservations on what is considered substantial matters.  He made the motion to table the resolution.  Professor Hope seconded the motion.  Discussion followed about the basis for motion to table and Professor Reichenbach withdrew his motion.  Professor Bradford moved that the motion be tabled indefinitely.  Professor Bradford stated that the motion to table a motion indefinitely was not debatable.  Motion to table indefinitely approved – 37 in favor, 16 against.


7.3      Revisions to Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee

Professor Harbison stated that he had a concern about a faculty member not being allowed to have legal counsel available during a hearing when the faculty member’s tenure status could be at stake.  He noted that he has discussed the issue with Professor McShane.  Professor McShane, chair of the committee that revised the procedures, explained that the committee tried to keep the procedures on Academic Freedom and Tenure – A as academically structured as possible.  He stated that allowing lawyers could change the investigation of the cases.  He stated that the Rules of Evidence state that lawyers have to be allowed.  He noted that lawyers are permitted in Professional Conduct – B cases because the rules of the federal government require it in cases of professional misconduct involving federal research. 


Professor McShane stated that one of the things allowed in the Professional Conduct procedures is that a recommendation can be made by the investigative committee that someone with tenure can be displaced but this is rarely done.  He noted that the President of the University would have to make the final decision.  Professor McShane stated that a case of this nature would be reviewed by an outside lawyer before the President made such a decision.  Professor McShane stated that the procedures call for full participation by the parties involved.    He noted that he discussed Professor Harbison’s concern with the committee but the committee agreed to bring the procedures forward to the Senate without any further changes.


Professor Grange, Theater Arts, stated that he agreed with Professor Harbison’s concerns.  He pointed out that faculty members who think that cases will be handled in a collegial manner are misinformed or deceived.  He stated that the idea that a faculty committee investigating cases could be in collusion with the Affirmative Action office is against the idea of academic freedom.  He stated that the procedures are disingenuous and he urged the Senate to vote against the revised procedures.


Professor Bryant, Educational Administration, asked to address the Senate.  He urged the Senate to vote in favor of the revisions.  He noted that the vision of the Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee and its procedures is to protect faculty members.  He pointed out that the original procedures needed revising to correct some problems that existed with the way the investigations were handled.  He noted that overall the revisions are improvement to the procedures.


Past President Wunder called the question.   Professor McShane noted that if the Senate approves the revisions they will go to the Board of Regents for approval and if approved, will go into effect. 


Motion approved.  50 in favor, 2 opposed.


7.4  Resolution on Amendments to the Bylaws of the Academic Senate (Recalling Senators and Senate Officers)

Professor Reichenbach stated that the proposed amendments are meant to provide democratic mechanisms to recall Senators or Senate officers.  He stated that he expects that these mechanisms will rarely be used.  He noted that the purpose of the amendments is not to suppress faculty members from speaking on controversial issues.   He stated that some might argue that the amendments suggest that departments do not take Senate elections seriously.  He pointed out that while Senators are elected in good faith unforeseen events can occur that might call for a Senator or officer to be recalled.   He stated that he did not think the amendments will change Senate actions and he would not support recalling someone over honest differences.  He stated that the amendments are designed for difficult situations. 


Professor Fech, stated that there was a mistake in the language in motion three.  He noted that Extension Agent needed to be changed to Extension Educator. 


Professor Bender, News-Editorial, stated that the Senate Rules & Bylaw Committee reviewed the amendments and decided not to support them.  He stated that the Committee asked whether the amendments addressed any real problems that exist.  He noted that the Committee did not see any problems.  Furthermore, the Committee felt that the process for recalling Senators was very contentious.  He noted that in small departments only two or three people would be needed to initiate a recall.  He pointed out that a Senator’s term could be shortened instead.  He stated that the Committee did not feel that the amendments provided a good process.


Professor Wunder suggested that the Senate needed to either postpone or vote on the amendments.  He pointed out that motions two and three did not provide mechanisms for the recall.  He stated that he did not think these motions were needed.  He pointed out that in stressful times there are often multiple views, some very passionate, on certain issues and people may hastily consider activating a recall if it was available.  He stated that in order for him to vote for the amendments he would need to be convinced that there was a serious problem.


Professor Reichenbach stated that Roberts Rules of Order are fairly clear about the nature of rescinding previous actions.  He stated that he agreed that there was no serious problem but he felt that the Senate should have a democratic process available if needed. 


Professor Krug, Architecture, noted that if the motions are approved it would give Senators greater freedom to speak.  He stated that he did not believe the process would create a large amount of work or trouble. 


Coordinator Griffin reminded the Senate that a letter calling for nominations is sent out to each faculty member in a department when a Senate position needs to be filled.  She stated that if only one faculty member is nominated another letter is sent to all faculty members to inform them that this particular Senator has been nominated and if no other nominations are made, this professor will become the department’s Senator by default.  If another nomination is made, the Senate office will conduct an election and ballots will be sent to each individual faculty member.  She pointed out that faculty members are aware of the views of their colleagues and if they have concerns about a person who is nominated they should nominate either themselves or someone else so an election can be held. 


Professor Bradford reminded the Senate that the Bylaws state that 2/3 majority vote is needed in order for these amendments to pass.  Professor Archer, Anthropology and Geography, stated that he had concerns with the wording of the amendments because of the low threshold of the number of constituents that would be needed to enact the recall.  He offered a friendly amendment to change the wording to 50% of constituents.  Amendment seconded by Professor Hodges.  Amendment approved 39 in favor, 1 against. 


Professor May agreed with Professor Bender’s comments concerning the decision of the Senate Rules & Bylaws Committee.  She stated that the Committee surveyed the Bylaws of Faculty Senates at our peer institutions and perhaps only one had a provision for recalls.  She stated when Roberts Rules of Order are read entirely it is clear that there is a delicate balance set up which allows the majority to act on issues while allowing minorities to be heard.  She stated that the Senate wants to create an environment where people can speak freely, even on issues that may not be popular.    Professor Reichenbach stated that he has read Roberts Rules of Order and he believes that the procedures stated in the Rules are more divisive than what is being proposed. 


Professor Hoffman moved that the motion be postponed until the January Senate meeting.  Motion seconded by Professor Dewey, School of Natural Resources.  Motion approved 30 in favor, 16 against.


9.0  Reception in Honor of Professor Jim McShane

The Academic Senate recognized and honored the many years of service to faculty governance by Professor Jim McShane who is retiring from the University.  The Senate presented Professor McShane with a gift and a reception in his honor followed the meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:42 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, January 11th, 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Patrick Shea, Secretary.