UNL Academic Senate Meeting - October 1, 2002



City Campus Union, Great Plains Rooms

October 1, 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  Executive Committee Goals

President Miller reported that a copy of the Executive Committee’s goals for this year were included in the Senate packet.  He noted that 8 goals were identified by the committee in a retreat held on August 21st.


2.2  Donation to Schwartzkopf Fund

President Miller reported that the Senate’s Schwartzkopf Fund received a $9500 donation from the Hazel L. Smith estate.  He noted that Mrs. Smith was a student in 1923 and she and her husband Cloud Smith were strong supporters of higher education.  


3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman reported that the recent announcements of the two large research grants awarded to faculty members on campus is a confirmation of the faculty and their view of the 20/20 report.  He pointed out that the grants are indicative of the excellent faculty members at UNL.  He noted that the grants also make UNL nationally competitive.  He stated that he hopes to report the award of more grants in the future. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that he met with the Academy of Distinguished Teachers to discuss their report on improving teaching on campus.  He noted that the report contains interesting ideas and that the Academy will continue to work on identifying ways to improve teaching.


Chancellor Perlman stated that the Gallup survey process is continuing.  He noted that many people have participated in the survey.  He stated that he is continually amazed how the results of the Gallup survey relate to issues that many faculty members have asked him to address. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that the Executive Committee has expressed concerns over the consistency of the faculty evaluation process.  He reported that two of the questions from the Gallup survey relate to the annual evaluations and he hopes to be able to make the evaluation process more consistent.  He stated that the plan is to incorporate the findings of the survey regarding faculty evaluations into a workshop that will be held for department chairs and unit heads.


Chancellor Perlman reported that the Noel-Levitz consultants recently gave their exit report on recruiting.  He noted that Associate Vice Chancellor Kean and Dean Cerveny will be presenting the findings of the study to the full Senate at the November 5th meeting.  Chancellor Perlman reported that overall enrollment is up this year with first time freshmen students increasing enrollment by 4%.  He noted that UNL is seeing an increase in out-of-state students as well.


Chancellor Perlman reported that the Academic Planning Committee is in the process of holding budget hearings on the proposed reductions.  He stated that he is waiting for APC to give him their recommendations.  He encouraged people to contact the APC if they want to attend the budget hearings.


Chancellor Perlman stated that he has asked the APC to delay discussion on the closing of the sciences branch libraries until November.  He pointed out that the closing of these branch libraries does not contribute as a budget reduction now, but in the future.  He stated that the branch libraries will not be closed until a storage facility can be built to house all of the materials.  He noted that there is consideration of creating a science library in the future that would house all of the science library collection.


Chancellor Perlman reported that the Executive Committee was given a distribution of the faculty salary increases for this year.  He noted that the increases were based on merit.  He pointed out that there were no unexpected numbers and no major differences in gender or race.  He stated that 21% received a 6% or greater increase, 46% received over 4.5% increase, 80% received over 3% increase and 20% received less than 3%.


Chancellor Perlman stated that members of the Executive Committee delivered a report to him on administrative staffing.  As a result, he stated that he is taking a careful look at administrative growth over the past 10 years.  He noted that he has some disagreements with the report but that he wants to take a hard look at the implications of it.  He pointed out that there has been some shift in the classes of employees over the past 10 years, particularly in B and C line positions.  He noted that there has been a decrease in tenure-track faculty but an increase in non-tenure track faculty.


Professor Sherrard, Civil Engineering, stated that there have been rumors that there are plans to combine some departments.  He asked if this is true.  Chancellor Perlman noted that he did mention this in his State of the University Address.  He pointed out that merging departments does not really save much money but the reduction of chairs would increase the number of faculty teaching.  He noted that fewer chairs would result in more support to the remaining chairs.  He stated that in reviewing all of the departments, it can be seen how small departments could be merged.  He stated that he intends to pursue discussion on this issue further.

Professor Hoffman, Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, asked what is considered to be a small department.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he is hesitant to just throw out a number.  He noted that questions need to be addressed in each case and that it is important when combining departments to keep the integrity of each. 


Professor Hoffman asked if a longitudinal study has been done on the faculty salary distribution to see if the same people are getting large increases each year.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he did not know if a longitudinal study has been done.  He pointed out that since the salary increases are based on merit, it was possible for some people to get large increases each year.  He noted that the point of a merit system is to encourage people to be more productive.


4.0      Approval of 9/3/02 Minutes

Professor Diffendal, Conservation & Survey Division, moved and Professor Bender, Journalism, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved.


5.0      David Lechner, Vice President for Business and Finance and Keith Dietze, Director Risk Management and Benefits – Changes to Health Insurance

Vice President Lechner reported that he just received the information he is going to present this morning.  He

Reported that the national inflation rate for health insurance is 15 – 18%.  He stated that he had good news to report.  He stated that the administration looked at long term planning when reviewing the health care insurance for the employees.  He pointed out that the University contributes a large amount to the cost of health insurance for employees.  He stated that the University’s health plan for the first time in recent years was in the black because the amount of income now matches or exceeds expenses.  He stated that part of the reason for this was because our medical expenses were below the national level. 


Vice President Lechner stated that pharmacy costs are continuing to increase.  He noted that this is due to three reasons:  utilization of drugs, purchasing the newest and most expensive drugs, and price inflation. 


Vice President Lechner stated that price increases for health insurance next year will only be 5% for active employees which will result in a $2 - $6 increase, per month, depending on the plan.  He noted that trends for retirees remain high so they will see a 13% increase. 


Vice President Lechner reported that pharmacy prices will change.  He stated that generic drugs will drop to $10, formulary medications will increase to $25, and name brand drugs will cost $40.  He noted that there will be a one time, annual deductible on pharmacy charges of $50 per person.  This will begin on January 1st. 


Past President Bryant asked if questions have been raised regarding Care Mark.  Vice President Lechner stated that Care Mark is evaluated every year and that the overall response is that they are doing a tremendous job.  He reported that Care Mark has helped save the University over $213, 000.  He pointed out that Care Mark also tries to influence legislation to the benefit of the consumer. 


President Miller asked if separating retirees from the health insurance has been discussed.  Vice President Lechner stated that it has not yet been discussed.  He pointed out that eventually there will be two retirees per active employee on health insurance. 


Professor Kranz, Northeast Research & Extension, asked how many open positions it would take for there to be an influence in the cost of health insurance.  Vice President Lechner stated that the number of people insured through the University health plan actually increased last year.  He pointed out that open positions result in benefits savings at the department level.


Professor Fech, Southeast Research & Extension, asked why the change in the cost of generic drugs was only decreased by $1.  He pointed out that a larger decrease would give people more incentive to use them.  Vice President Lechner stated that this was examined but it was decided that the University should stay comparable with other health insurance plans. 


Professor Hoffman asked for clarification regarding the $50 pharmacy deductible.  Vice President Lechner stated that the first prescription would go towards the deductible and that the co-payment must be made.  President Miller stated that everyone would be receiving the packet of information regarding health insurance soon.  Past President Bryant asked if there are any significant changes in the coverage.  Vice President Lechner stated that nothing substantial was changed.  Professor Hoffman asked if any changes were made to COBRA.  Vice President Lechner stated that it is a mandatory insurance plan and that no changes were made to it. 


6.0      Committee Reports

            6.1  Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee (Professor Keown)

Professor Keown thanked the members on the committee and the panel for their time and service.  He reported that the procedures are being revised and that he hopes to have a draft of the changes to the Senate by the end of the semester. 


Professor Keown reported that more cases were being investigated this year than last year.  He noted that there were two on-going cases, two to be reviewed, and two more that need to have a report written.  He pointed out that the panel consists of five different hearing committees. 


Professor Keown stated that he will suggest to the Executive Committee that a change be made regarding the election of members to the committee.  He stated that the proposed change would be to accept the runner up in an election, should the winner be forced to resign due to a promotion to an administrative position or other reasons. 


7.0      Unfinished Business

            No unfinished business was discussed.


8.0      New Business

No new business was discussed.


The meeting was adjourned at 3:24 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, November 5, 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.