UNL Faculty Senate Minutes - December 6, 2005




 City Campus Union,

December 6, 2005

Presidents Mary Beck, Ali Moeller, and Wes Peterson Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Beck called the meeting to order at 2:35 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  General Education Revision

President Beck urged the faculty to visit the Blackboard discussion on the general education revision process.  She noted that this is an issue that the faculty needs to give input on and she asked Senators to encourage their colleagues to participate in the discussions.


2.2  Lincoln Public Schools and UNL Calendar

President Beck reported that the calendars will not coincide until 2007 because the LPS schedule is set up for a two-year period. 


2.3  15th Week Policy Change

President Beck noted that the 15th week policy that was approved by the Senate in the spring does not take effect until spring of 2006.  She pointed out that there has been some confusion on this but all of the minutes from the Executive Committee meetings and the Senate September meeting state that the policy does not go into effect this semester.  She noted that the reasoning for this was because the fall spring semester schedule was already printed when the Senate approved the policy. 


2.4  Senate Survey

President Beck announced that the Senate had a 35% return rate on completed surveys.  She noted that 492 surveys were completely filled out and 86 were partially filled out.  She noted that a report along with a presentation will be made to the Senate in January.  She pointed out that the survey was a good first attempt at hearing from the faculty at large.


2.5  Board of Regents Meeting

President Beck reported that she recently attended the Board’s strategic planning meeting.  She noted that it was a very interesting and productive meeting with thoughtful comments and in depth discussions.  She stated that the Executive Committee will be following up with the Chancellor on some of the things discussed at the meeting.


President Beck announced that there will be a wine and cheese reception immediately following today’s Senate meeting.


3.0    Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman wished everyone Happy Holidays and a relaxing or productive break, whichever the case may be. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that the Board of Regents is engaged in a strategic planning process although it is more of a strategic framework.  He noted that the process bears watching and requires active participation from the campuses.  He pointed out that the Board will develop a matrix of priorities to which the President and the Chancellors will be held accountable.  He stated that the conversations have been very good and the Board has been focused.  He noted that the Board is creating objectives that will move the University forward.


Chancellor Perlman stated that the Board is addressing four particular priorities, three of which directly impact UNL.  He stated that graduation rates are being looked at.  He stated that compared to our peers we are below the average but our trend lines are good and in the last five or six years good progress has been made.  He noted that the graduation rates could indicate that there is insufficient pressure for students to complete their degrees in a timely fashion or it could indicate that students here are under more financial pressure.  He noted that the Board thinks that another factor in the graduation rate could be the inability for students to work their way through the curriculum in order to get the courses they want.  He stated that research does not indicate that


this is a problem.  He noted that the Board is trying to establish some matrixes that will move us towards the average of our peers in terms of graduation rates. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that another concern of the Board is administrative costs.  He noted that some Board members feel that there should be a flat reduction rate of 10% in administrative costs for the next few years.  He stated that it was pointed out that a presentation was given to the Board about the administrative cuts made over the past few years.  He pointed out that President Beck spoke against the flat reduction rate of 10%.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he does believe administrative costs should be examined but administrators are needed as well as faculty members in order to run a university. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the Board adopted suggestions of taking a look at individual issues of administration and a cost benefit analysis will be conducted to see if the University is efficient.  He stated that the Board is planning to engage in a process that is called application rationalization.  He noted that the focus will be on information technology and an external consultant will come in to help examine all software programs that are used across the University to see if some of them can be eliminated.  He stated that administrative computing will be examined but he does not know if this will affect departments.  He stated that he is hopeful that these efforts will not penetrate into departments to ask faculty what programs they use. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that another issue discussed by the Board is faculty merit compensation.  He pointed out that it is a Board policy for the University to attain the average of its peers in terms of salary.  He noted that some Board members feel that the average is too low a target but if the target is set too high funding becomes an issue.  He pointed out that the University has never met the average of its peers yet.  He stated that the Board thinks there should be some pool of funds that would be allocated on the basis of merit.  He noted that he does not know how this money would be distributed across the campuses. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that serious discussions of the budget cuts have been avoided but the shortfall will be confronting the campus soon.  He reported that the proposals from the units will be coming in shortly to the administration.  He stated that he is still hopeful and optimistic that we can get through these budget cuts without doing damage to the University.   He noted that he is struggling with looking for ways to deal with the cuts without affecting the impact of movement on the campus that is being made in teaching and research.  He stated that more information will be given about the cuts as the process moves forward. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the committees working on revising the general education process are still struggling to figure out a name to call themselves.  He urged all faculty members to take this issue seriously because it is an important issue.  He pointed out that care and success of our undergraduates is one of our top priorities and is critical to the University.  


Chancellor Perlman stated that associated with this issue is what we expect our undergraduates to acquire and achieve here.  He noted that we do not have a method to assess how they acquire these skills and this is an extremely important part of the accreditation process.  He pointed out that the current general education program is directly impacting our enrollment because courses cannot be easily accessed and in some cases it is delaying graduation rates.  He noted that the general education program needs to be addressed for revenue purposes if for no other purpose.  He stated that the faculty will need to address the issue and be open to the stark possibility that things will need to be changed. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he does appreciate that there are two aspects of curriculum reform.  The first is the philosophical question of what do undergraduates require in order to graduate.  He noted that he does not think there will be significant disagreement on this and thinks the community can come together and define what this is. 


Chancellor Perlmam stated that the second feature is the play of self interest that is part of the curriculum reform.  He stated that faculty members will ask if their courses are included and if so, do they get any benefits.  He noted that the campus administration is prepared to try and address this feature.  He pointed out that stepping back from participation on how courses can play a role in this program will not burden or benefit departments.  He stated that he hopes the faculty will address this issue and debate how assurances can be given to those who feel disadvantaged by the adoption of a new general education program. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he will be receiving a report from an ad hoc committee that reviewed faculty titles.  He noted that there will be discussions on it and the process of how this information will be distributed to the faculty needs to be addressed.  He pointed out that he wants the campus community to feel comfortable


with this.  He stated that the ad hoc committee will also be thinking of other matters and considerations and recommendations will be made at the end of the spring semester. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the NCAA and NCA accreditations are moving forward.  He stated that the administration is trying to strike a balance between not having the accreditations consume faculty time and yet getting sufficient input so the campus will be recognized for the self study. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that it now looks unlikely that UNL will be selected to host the Semester at Sea program.  He pointed out that the decision has not been made yet but indications are that we will not get it.


Chancellor Perlman reported that five applications have been submitted to him for the position of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.  He noted that interviews will be set up for some time in January and names of the applicants will be forthcoming.  He stated that he hopes there will be opportunities for people to participate in the interviews.  He noted that it is a good pool of candidates.


Professor Stick, Educational Administration, stated that in regards to the comments made by the Board of Regents on graduation rates, it is his sense that the campus is not a user friendly environment when students try to transfer credit into UNL.  Chancellor Perlman admitted that there is some truth to this but there are some institutional interests that need to be taken into account.  He pointed out that courses being transferred in need to meet the standards of the University.  He agreed that there is a need to facilitate the process and the administration will continue working on this.  He noted that there is not a problem of transferring courses to courses but in transferring in courses that meet the ES and IS course requirements. 


Professor Hoffman, Industrial and Systems Management Engineering, asked the Chancellor to comment on the College of Engineering and Technology’s accreditation that was just completed.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the outcome was very good and the college received a full and clean accreditation.  He noted that the accreditation for the college will not have to be done for another six years. 


President Beck stated that during the discussions at the Board meeting there were comments made about the University acquiring software application that has never been used at a university campus before.  She stated that there is concern about this, particularly with the recent experience of SAP and the costs associated with it.  She stated that she hopes that they look at the SAP system and abandon it quickly.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the hope is that the cost of evaluating the software programs does not exceed the gains of what we need.  He noted that he is not sure this will happen.  He stated that with respect to SAP many universities have not adopted it and the alternatives are slim.  He pointed out that the problem with software programs for universities is that there aren’t many major research universities to have programs designed for so there will always be an adjustment of existing software programs to make them work at a university.


4.0    Approval of 11/1/05 Minutes

Professor Ford, English, moved and Professor Hope, Psychology, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved. 


5.0    Committee Reports

5.1    Academic Planning Committee (Professor Harvey)

Professor Harvey reported that the APC has been involved in a number of academic program reviews this past year and most things are on track.  He noted that one of the more exciting things that occurred in the APC is the approval of the Whittier building renovation for the University’s child care facility. 


Professor Harvey noted that the APC is currently working without a full slate of members but the committee hopes this will be resolved in the coming months. 


Professor Harvey stated that the APC was recently given a charge by SVCAA Couture to look at strategic planning.  He stated that the APC will be identifying consistent themes across the colleges.  He noted that this can be a difficult task but faculty members have been stating that they want to find other faculty members to collaborate with on interdisciplinary research.  He stated that the APC will look to see how this can be done.


Professor Harvey reported that the APC looked at how faculty members can come together to create a more user friendly environment and develop coursework that would create new interdisciplinary courses.  He stated that this was presented to SVCAA Couture who viewed it favorably.  He noted that this is in the early stages of development. 




Professor Harvey reported that the APC is looking at the undergraduate curriculum to see if it can be given a more interdisciplinary approach.  This would allow students to take a variety of courses from different disciplines.  He noted that this would allow students to reach across boundaries. 


President Beck asked if the APC has thought about ways in which the academic program review format or content might be meshed with those units that have accreditation.  Professor Harvey stated that this has not been considered to his knowledge. 


Professor Hope asked if Professor Harvey knew when the child care center will be opened.  Professor Harvey stated that he did not know the answer to this and it is his understanding that plans are just being looked at.  Professor Hinchman, Architecture, asked if the child care center was taking over the entire Whittier school.  President-Elect Moeller stated that just part of the facility will be used.  Secretary Shea noted that his understanding is that the north end of Whittier will be used for the facility. 


5.2    University Appeals and Judicial Board (Dr. Hecker)

Dr. Hecker noted that official matters of appeals are included in the report distributed to Senators.  He wanted to express profound thanks to the faculty members and students who serve on these boards.  He noted that this past year this has been little need to utilize these boards.  He stated that four cases over the last twelve months came in front of the Judicial Board.  He noted that one of the cases was a sexual assault case which resulted in a suspension.  He stated that another case was academic dishonesty. 


Dr. Hecker stated that in January 2005 there was a case involving alcohol that could have resulted in the closing of a Greek house but the final results of the case did not close the house. 


Dr. Hecker reported that not a single case went to the Appeals Board this past year.  He stated that he believes this may be the result of the thoroughness of the work of the Judicial Board.  He noted that the Board deliberates very well. 


6.0    Honorary Degrees Election

Associate to the Chancellor Herb Howe noted that the packets with the ballot for the Honorary Degrees election were distributed.  He asked that faculty members keep the names of the nominees confidential because final approval needs to be made by the Board of Regents.  The Senate voted on the Honorary Degrees ballots.


7.0    Unfinished Business

          7.1  Update on Reduction in Force Procedures

President Beck reported that she had hoped to bring the revised Reduction in Force procedures to the Senate for them to consider this month but there has been a slight delay with ASUN.  She noted that the previous student members of the ad hoc committee did not inform the new students about what was going on so she is working with the new students to bring them up to date.  She stated that she hopes to bring the procedures to the Senate before too long. 


8.0    New Business

          8.1  Report on Teaching Council’s Efforts on Academic Dishonesty

President Beck reported that she asked the Teaching Council to work with Dr. Hecker to address the issue of academic dishonesty on campus.  She stated that the campus needs to think collectively how this issue should be addressed.


Professor King, Chair of the Teaching Council, stated that Dr. Hecker would lay out some of the discussions he has had regarding academic dishonesty and then the discussion will be turned over to the Senators for their comments and thoughts.  In particular, they want to get an idea of how to go about engaging the campus community in a discussion on academic dishonesty and how to address a policy for the campus.


Dr. Hecker noted that the summary of the Judicial Board hearings hints at the problem of academic dishonesty but the cases do not reveal a lot of information about the issue.  He stated that a year ago there was a case of academic dishonesty involving a graduating non-traditional student who was accused of plagiarism.  The student was found guilty by the Judicial Board and the student admitted that she had been doing that kind of writing throughout her college career. 



Dr. Hecker reported that around the same time as the above case the Daily Nebraskan had an article concerning cheating on exams.  The article had statements from a student who openly admitted that he routinely cheated on exams. 


Dr. Hecker stated that the third incident that caught his attention to the problem of academic dishonesty came up when he was doing the annual statistics for his office.  He pointed out that alcohol violations and related alcohol problems were the number one violation on campus but the second was academic dishonesty.  He noted that the statistics change from year to year but this may have to do with the type of dishonest activity that the students engage in.  He noted that some forms of academic dishonesty are more discernible than others but it is apparent that it is a problem on campus.


Dr. Hecker stated that the question is what the campus should do about the problem and how pervasive is it.  He questioned whether there are university-wide issues that need to be addressed.  He noted that departments handle academic dishonesty differently and it is the faculty member’s prerogative how to handle their class but the campus should engage in a discussion about this.  He stated that if there is a pervasive problem then it should be dealt with. 


Dr. Hecker noted that he has had several discussions with the Senior Administrative Team, Deans, and the Senate Executive Committee about this issue.


Professor King asked the Senate if there should be a campus discussion on the issue.  He noted that given the digital age and the availability of getting information off the internet or by using IPODS and text messaging, cheating is much easier to do. 


Professor Fech, Southeast Research & Extension Center, stated that he speaks with a lot of high school students and he believes it is fairly well understood by these students what is and is not academic dishonesty.  He stated that the problem seems to be a matter of communication.  He noted that students need to be informed of what is tolerated and what is not tolerated. 


Professor Stick stated that when he worked with undergraduate students he had a confirmed case of academic dishonesty but the process that he had to go through with the Judicial Board was time consuming.  He pointed out that each time he went with evidence to the Judicial Board the student was later exonerated.  He asked why an instructor should go through the process if the result is always going to be in favor of the student. 


Professor Ledder, Mathematics, suggested that there should be a campus-wide academic dishonesty statement.  He noted that the statement should define what is considered academic dishonesty and the students should sign it indicating that they have read the statement and understand it.  He noted that way if the student is caught cheating he/she could not use the excuse that they didn’t know what academic dishonesty is.  He suggested that there should be a distinction between academic dishonesty and plagiarism.  He pointed out that the standards for plagiarism tend to be technical whereas standards for dishonesty are clear. 


Professor Flowers, Psychology, stated that there is a statement in section 4.2 of the Student Code of Conduct regarding academic dishonesty.  He noted that the statement also includes examples of various forms of academic dishonesty.  He stated that most instructors in his department include a statement of their syllabus regarding academic dishonesty.  He pointed out that the Student Code of Conduct would be a good starting place to address the issue.


Dr. Hecker pointed out that the process of how instructors can deal with cases of academic dishonesty is outlined in the section of the Student Code of Conduct.  He noted that the process is not widely used and he believes the process either needs to be strengthened or the policy needs to be changed in order to comply with the process.  He stated that the Student Code of Conduct is clear in terms of what can be done but in practice it does not happen regularly. 


Professor Archer, Anthropology & Geography, asked if academic dishonesty is addressed in freshmen orientation.  Vice Chancellor Griesen stated that it is not really covered during orientation due to lack of time.  He noted that the orientation is not a good forum for educating students on the policies of the university.  Professor Ledder stated that a better forum for instructing students would be during the first day of class in each course.  He pointed out that the student would then hear this information four or five times.  Past President Peterson questioned who would govern this kind of process.  Vice Chancellor Griesen stated that it is not the process that is flawed but the awareness of the faculty.  He noted that Dr. Hecker is trying to meet with individual departments to discuss the issue so that the faculty is better informed. 


Professor King pointed out that the framework is educating the students about what is considered academic dishonesty, the rights of faculty and students, and establishing a mechanism that provides constant expectations.  Dr. Hecker stated that he sees it as a three-legged stool.  The first leg is how we define our standards for academic dishonesty and how we teach this to our students.  The second leg is faculty support and how administratively we can provide the resources and support to combat the issues of academic dishonesty.  The third leg is what is done when academic dishonesty occurs.  He asked what the best and consistent way would be to handle cases of academic dishonesty so these cases are handled consistently throughout the campus.  He pointed out that when colleges and departments handle cases of academic dishonesty differently it causes confusion for the students. 


Professor Hoffman reported that he recently spoke with a new faculty member who had a student cheating in class.  The new faculty member indicated that they would not go through the campus process again because it was so time consuming and in the end the case did not go to the Judicial Board.  He stated that the faculty member stated that they would handle it at the local level by flunking the student and informing other faculty members of the student’s behavior.  He pointed out that there are different methods to handle cases of academic dishonesty.


Professor Archer stated that he is puzzled by the term process.  He noted that it obscures or conflicts the issues of what the standards are and what the enforcement measures are.  He stated that giving the faculty a standard statement that could be used would be helpful. 


Professor Hoffman noted that there is a new program on Blackboard that can be used to check plagiarism.  He wondered how it will be used.  Past-President Peterson reported that the program is called Safe Assignments and he plans on using it in the spring.  He noted that he used the program to check a paper that he wrote but it came back with a 76% rating because there was a conflict with a conference paper that was recently posted.  Professor Flowers stated that the Safe Assignments will keep local papers that have been submitted at UNL as well.  He noted that it is difficult to get less than a 6% rating.  He pointed out that he had no cases of cheating when he informed his students that he was going to be checking their papers on Safe Assignments. 


Professor Hope, Psychology, stated that she liked the three-legged stool approach.  She pointed out that the amount of time needed to pursue cases of academic dishonesty is a real problem because it usually comes up at the end of the semester.  She stated that focusing on the prevention effort is the only feasible thing to do. 


Professor Ledder stated that one thing that is not always clear is what constitutes cheating.  He pointed out that most students do not know the answer to this question.  He gave the example of a student submitting the same paper but for a different course.  Would this be considered cheating?


Associate Vice Chancellor Wilson reported that Academic Affairs is working closely with Dr. Hecker and the Teaching Council as well as with the Academy of Distinguished Professors to work on this issue.  He stated that he is eager to hear from the faculty on what the best way is to move forward on academic dishonesty.


Dr. Hecker stated that the Student Judicial Affairs Office is here to help the faculty.  He noted that he has heard that the process of reporting academic dishonesty is difficult to deal with.  He noted that students do not seem to understand that academic dishonesty is twofold:  academic which can result in failure of a course but there is also the violation of a student code of conduct which could bring other repercussions.  He stated that he would like the campus to come up with a good plan on how to pursue this issue.  He stated that he is very willing to work with individual departments and he wants to give support to the faculty.  He stated that getting feedback from the faculty would be very helpful. 


Professor King stated that the Teaching Council will continue working on the issue and will report again to the Senate. 


President Beck encouraged the Senators to discuss the issue with their colleagues to get a sense of what the faculty is thinking.  She suggested that there could be some workshops on it. 


The meeting was adjourned at 3:56 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, January 10, 2006, 2:30 p.m. in the East Campus Union, Great Plains Room.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Patrick Shea, Secretary.