UNL Academic Senate Meeting - December 4, 2001



City Campus Union, Auditorium

December 4, 2001

Presidents Miles Bryant, Tice Miller, and Sheila Scheideler Presiding


1.0          Call to Order

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


2.0          Announcements

                2.1          Fund Raising Drive            

Bryant announced that the Academic Senate was conducting a fund raising drive to help support the Schwartzkopf foundation account and the Friends of the Faculty Senate.  He pointed out that contributions would help keep these funds active.


                2.2          Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee Procedures

Bryant reported that members of the Executive Committee and the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee continue to meet to work on the ARRC procedures.  He thanked Jeff Keown, Jim McShane, Mary Beck, Bob Works, and John Bender for their work on this document.


2.3          Emeriti Association

Bryant reported that the Executive Committee met with Dr. Fleming of the Emeriti Association to discuss their organization.  He introduced members of the Emeriti Association who were attending the Senate meeting because of their concerns regarding the University health plan.


3.0          Professor Nielsen, Chair of Academic Planning Committee

Professor Nielsen noted that the budget framework document can be found on the UNL web page.  He stated that the legislature has cut $19.3 million from the university’s two year budget.  He noted that $8.3 million is being cut from the university’s system for the current fiscal year.  He stated that next year’s budget will have $11.2 million cut from the budget.  He pointed out that central administration has covered $4 million of the $8.3 million budget cut for this year, leaving the campuses to cover the remaining $3.5 million.  He stated that UNL’s share of these cuts is $1.8 million.  He stated that Chancellor Perlman shared the list of budget cuts he has had made with the APC and the Senate Executive Committee. 


Professor Nielsen stated that the second step in the budget framework discusses the budget cutting process for the next fiscal year.  He noted that $5.5 million, or 2.5%, would have to come from UNL.  He pointed out that the time line for the process is available on the web site pertaining to the budget framework.  He stated that the process would follow the guidelines developed by the APC and approved in February of 1993. 


Professor Nielsen stated that all units are being asked to identify up to 5% of their fiscal year 2002-2003 for budget reductions.  These plans are due into the Chancellor’s office by December 21st.   Professor Nielsen noted that the APC originally objected to the 5% scenario, but after discussions with Chancellor Perlman regarding the need to deal with contingencies, the committee agreed to the 5%.  He pointed out that on January 21st the Chancellor will have tentative budget adjustments identified.  He said that further revisions will be made to the list of budget adjustments and a final version will be presented to the APC and made public on February 5th.  He stated that during the month of February, APC will be holding public hearings on the budget reductions.  He noted that APC has not yet determined how these hearings will be arranged.  He stated that they hope to have the hearings and recommendations completed and report to the Chancellor by March 3rd.  He noted that the final budget should be settled by March 15th.  He assured the Senate that Chancellor Perlman has been including the APC in the budget reduction process. 


Professor Gardner, Libraries, asked if some units could receive a reduction greater than 5%.  Nielsen stated that as far as he knew, 5% would be the highest cut.  Professor Kranz, Northeast Research & Extension, asked if there has been any discussion regarding the return of faculty salary increases to help offset the budget reductions.  Professor Nielsen stated that there has been brief discussion about it by the APC.  Professor Kranz stated that he is concerned that the time for faculty to provide input is running out and that the budget plans will be delivered before the Senate meets again to discuss the issue.  Professor Martikainen, South Central Research & Extension, suggested that this issue, and how departments are dealing with the budget cuts, be added to the agenda under new business.  Bryant agreed to have this issue discussed under new business. 


Professor Genoways, Museums, asked if the APC could assure that the overall budget cut is not going to be more than 2.5% or that a budget reallocation is not going to be sneaked into the process.  Professor Nielsen stated that the Chancellor indicated that other contingencies could cause a larger cut but that the goal is to not go over a 2.5% cut.  SVCAA Edwards stated that the call to develop a plan for a 5% reduction in budgets is a planning exercise that should be discussed in each unit.  He pointed out that there needs to be enough options to take care of any contingencies that may arise.  He noted that the legislature still needs to deal with a $50 million deficit and that there could be further cuts to state aided agencies.  He pointed out that the costs of utilities and property insurance have risen and that they will need to be dealt with.  He stated that the budget reduction process laid out in the Bylaws is being followed.  He noted that the Bylaws state that information pertaining to the reductions should remain confidential.  He stated that there has been no discussion in administration in regards to faculty salary increases being used to offset the budget reductions.  He stated that further information is needed before other options are looked at.  He pointed out that the campus has worked hard to obtain salary increases for faculty to bring them to the midpoint of their peers in terms of salary.


4.0          SVCAA Edwards

                4.1          Quality Indicators

SVCAA Edwards stated that the Board of Regents requested that each campus prepare a set of quality indicators that would then be presented to them at a future date.  He noted that UNL is to make their presentation at the December Board meeting.  He stated that the purpose of the quality indicators is to show how faculty on campus are improving. He pointed out that indicators reflect the goals of the campus, the goals established in the 2020 report, and the aspirations of the university and campus.  He stated that the indicators need to be consistent with the vision of the campus and could be used to provide annual information.  He noted that the document would be presented to the Board of Regents as a work in progress and that he would stress to the Board that there needs to be wider discussion on campus about them.  He stated that if the Regents agree that the indicators are moving in the right direction, there will be campus discussions held on the indicators after the winter break.  He noted that departments and colleges have already collected some of the information that is being sought by the indicators. 


Professor Archer, Anthropology & Geography, asked if the indicators would provide a sense of history that would show changes over a period of time.  SVCAA Edwards stated that some of the indicators will have a history because that data has been collected for some time.  He noted that they are trying to avoid creating a large process of collecting data.  Professor Genoways asked if the Board was planning on using the indicators to look at campus-wide progress or to look at individual units.  SVCAA Edwards stated that the report is to look at the quality of the institution and that the plan is not to aggregate by college.  Professor Ford, English, asked if there are indicators measuring student learning.  SVCAA Edwards stated that there are five areas of indicators with two - three primary indicators listed under each area.  He noted that the five areas are: Undergraduate Student Learning and Achievement; Graduate, Professional, and Post-doctoral Education; Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity; Outreach and Engagement; and Other Contributors to a Profile of Excellence.  Ford asked if the amount of time students spend in learning is included in the indicators.  SVCAA Edwards stated that only outputs are listed. 


5.0          Approval of 11/6/01 Minutes

Professor Nielsen, Animal Science, moved and Professor Bender seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved.


6.0          Committee Reports

                6.1          Research Council (Professor Elwell)

Professor Elwell, Chair of the Research Council, stated that one major change that has occurred with the hiring of VC Paul is that the internal funding for research grant has been increased by 24.63% for a total of $292,863 which brings us closer to our peer institutions.  He stated that they hope to have an Arts & Humanities Specialist in the Sponsored Programs office in the near future.  He noted that Professor Sharon Gaber, of Community and Regional Planning, has been appointed this year for that position.  He noted that VC Paul has created a Research Advisory Board.  Professor Elwell reported that he has been appointed to serve on the board as a representative of the Research Council. 


                6.2          University Appeals and Judicial Boards (Rosemary Blum)

Rosemary Blum, Director of Student Judicial Affairs, reported that the boards have been busy this semester with a number of hearings.  She stated that some of the cases have involved submitting of false information and alcohol.  She pointed out that there are still two openings on the Judicial Board for faculty members.  She reported that a brochure has been developed dealing with academic integrity violations.  She stated that the major issue continues to be the use of alcohol. 


Professor Gardner asked how students are chosen to serve on the board.  Blum stated that ASUN appoints students who volunteer to serve on the boards.  She stated that they are trying to make the boards more equitable in membership and they are asking the Women’s Resource Center for help in identifying students.  Gardner stated that she would bring this to the attention of the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women to see if they can help to get more female students to serve on the Board.


Professor Dillon, Electrical Engineering, pointed out that there is a disincentive for faculty to report violations of academic integrity.  He stated reporting these violations can result in lower teaching evaluations, which can have an impact on a professor’s overall evaluation.  He asked if there was any policy to help deal with this situation.  Professor Ford suggested that the faculty member should a send a letter to the personnel committee in his/her department stating that a violation was reported.  Blum suggested that department chairs should be notified as well. 


6.0          Honorary Degrees Election

Professor Ruffo, Chair of the Honorary Degrees Committee, asked the Senate to vote on the nominations provided in the packets.


7.0          David Lechner, Vice President for Business and Finance - Health Care Coverage

VP Lechner reviewed the profit loss statement for the health care plan of the university.  He noted that there should be $10 million left in the trust by the end of the year.  He pointed out that $2.7 million needs to be left as a reserve to pay any outstanding bills.  He noted that the projected health care costs for 2002 will be $67.5 million which is slightly better than the national average.  He stated that sources of funding to the trust include retiree payments which contributed $11,540,000, payments made by auxiliary groups, employee contributions, and contributions from the state.  He noted that even with the increases to employee contributions, the trust will still lose $822,244 next year, thereby reducing the reserve to $922,000.  He stated that the university told the state that employee contributions would be raised to 21%.  He pointed out that rather giving employees a significantly large increase in health care coverage, they are gradually raising the premiums by drawing on the reserve. 


Professor Gardner asked if the trust accrued interest.  VP Lechner stated that it does but that with the balance of the trust being depleted, the interest is becoming less.  He noted that a health care advisory committee is being formed to review the health care plan.  He stated that President Smith should announce the members of the committee in the near future.  He reported that each campus will have two representatives to the committee.  He noted that the committee will discuss the following issues: the structure of the current health plan, ability for people to pay for the plan; retiree issues; rate setting; financial issues; communications; and administration.


Professor Larsen, Advertising, asked why reducing costs are not being considered.  VP Lechner stated that the committee will review this issue.  Professor Genoways pointed out that the quality of service should be included in the review of the health care plan.  He noted that Caremark provides terrible service.  He pointed out that Caremark interferes with the doctor-patient relationship in suggesting alternative medications.  Professor Hodges noted that she objected to the number of letters employees and doctors receive from Caremark.  She pointed out that this creates more administrative costs.  VP Lechner stated that generic drugs could save considerable costs to the health care plan.  He pointed out that Caremark is often more up to date on drugs that are available than some doctors are.  He stated that Caremark will hear of the concerns of the committee.  Professor Prochaska Cue, Family and Consumer Sciences, pointed out that members of the committee should include faculty in the consumer areas, not just from the business area.  Professor Archer stated that he believed the legislature was asked to increase its contribution to the UNL health plan by $4 million.  He asked if the state’s contribution to the health care plan increases, would this offset the reductions to the university.  VP Lechner stated that the university will get a lump sum from the legislature.  He noted that President Smith will then distribute the money.  He stated the health care will need to be looked at carefully.  He stated that he hopes that we will receive a favorable rating from the legislature since we are paying the same percentage as other state employees for health care.  He stated that people should feel free to contact him for further information. 


8.0          Unfinished Business

                No unfinished business was discussed.


9.0          New Business

                9.1          Resolution to Express Appreciation to the UNL Emeriti Association

Bryant reported that the Executive Committee is bringing a resolution to the Senate to express appreciation to the Emeriti Association for their support and efforts in “encouraging the Board of Regents to change the benefits policy regarding the domestic partner benefits so that its is consistent with the University’s non-discrimination policy.”  Bryant stated that he would like to declare this as an emergency motion.  Motion approved to declare as an emergency.  Motion to approve the resolution passed.  Bryant noted that a presentation would be made in January to Rob Brown for his efforts with the emeriti association on this issue.


                9.2          Using Faculty Salary Increases to Offset Budget Reductions

Professor Keith, Entomology, stated that discussions are being conducted in units regarding the impact of budget cuts.  He stated that his department is looking at cutting programs and positions.  He suggested that a possible delay in the salary increases, or a reduction in the salary increases, could be used to proportionately offset the budget reductions.  Professor Kranz stated that it appears that the university would forfeit salary increases as a whole rather than by individual campuses.  He stated that the Senate would need to come forward with a recommendation to administration on using the faculty salary increases.  He noted that time is of the essence.  He stated that a number of units will lose a significant number of employees and that it seems rationale to use at least a portion of the increases to cover the reduction. 


Associate to the Chancellor Howe pointed out that two of the campuses are unionized and that they have a two-year contract in place.  He stated that the Board of Regents has been careful to insure that the same standards hold for all four campuses.  He noted that the goal has been to get salaries to the mid-point of our peer institutions.  He suggested that the Senate should consider the long term implications if the campuses were to decouple.  President Bryant stated that he would like to know what unit cuts are being proposed before any decisions are made on this issue.  Professor Bauer, West Central Research & Extension, stated that the current proposed cuts would result in positions lost and people losing jobs.  He pointed out that there is no excess fat left to cut in units.  He noted that eliminating more people will result in a greater workload for those that remain.  He suggested that the issue should be discussed and possibly voted on at the January meeting.  He reminded the Senate to think about the collective good of the institution.  Professor Martikainen stated that the actual figures pertaining to the reductions need to be reviewed.  He pointed out that everyone should have a 5% reduction in mind.  He noted that there are concerns that if the Senate waits to act, it will be too late to have any input.  Professor Cohn, Mathematics & Statistics, stated that most of the faculty in his department are supportive of a delay in getting the increases.  He noted that they are concerned with being able to recruit good students and to conduct research.  President-Elect Miller stated that most faculty he has talked to are opposed to giving up their salary increase.  He stated that a better case needs to be made regarding the kind of damage the campus will suffer before people will agree to give up their increases.  Professor Nielsen pointed out that we do not yet grasp where the cuts will come from.  He noted that the timing of the process is a problem.  He pointed out that the salary increases will be larger than $5 million and that he is opposed to using all of it to reduce the budget cuts.  He noted that the option of using salary increases should be explored while the APC is looking at the cuts. 


Professor van Roojen, Philosophy, stated that he would need to survey his department before he could vote on the issue.  He pointed out that some faculty have already been promised large increases in order to retain them at UNL.  Professor Brand, Chemical Engineering, pointed out that there are mechanisms which would allow the Senate to call a special meeting if needed.  She pointed out that one of the issues that emerge is how to improve the quality of the institution with receiving fewer resources.   She stated that there needs to be a link between the quality output with the amount of input.  Professor Keith suggested that a good faith resolution could be made stating that the option of using salary increases would at least be discussed.  Professor DiMagno, Chemistry, stated that he strongly objects to approving any motion without adequate preparation on the subject.  Professor Kranz stated that if we wait to hear the details of the budget cuts that it may be too late to provide input.  Bryant noted that there did not appear to be strong enough support to vote on the issue today.  He stated that the Executive Committee would discuss the issue and that the issue would be placed on the Senate agenda for further discussion.  Professor Gardner suggested that other options might be available such as tenure buyouts and early retirement. 


The meeting was adjourned at 4:40 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be on Tuesday, January 15th at 2:30 p.m. in the East Campus Union, Great Plains Room.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and James King, Secretary.