UNL Academic Senate Meeting - September 3, 2002



City Campus Union, Great Plains Rooms

September 3, 2002

Presidents Tice Miller and Miles Bryant, Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

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


2.0      Announcements

President Miller welcomed the Senators back to campus.  He reported that the Executive Committee met throughout the summer.  He noted that the main topics of discussion were the special session of the legislature, the impending budget cuts to the university, and the involvement of the Academic Planning Committee in the budget cutting process. 


President Miller then introduced the members of the Executive Committee and urged senators to read Professor Wolf’s acceptance speech of the James A Lake Academic Freedom Award. 


3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman stated that he hoped to address the positive things that were happening on campus rather than just focusing on the budget cuts.  He noted that many opportunities are ahead for the campus, in spite of the budget cuts.  He reported that overall enrollment is up by 2.8%, first time freshmen enrollment is up by 4.1%, and out of state freshmen enrollment is up.  He pointed out that these increases in enrollment have financial implications for the campus. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that he is following the 1993 Procedures to be Invoked for Significant Budget Reallocations and Reductions and as a result, has created a general budget framework which is available on the web (http://www.unl.edu/pr/chancllr/20020904budget/).  He noted that the APC has reviewed and approved the budget framework.  He reported that he will announce the budget cuts on September 10th. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that the procedures for dealing with the budget cuts vary from campus to campus.  He stated that he hopes to have APC’s recommendations on the budget cuts by the end of October.  He pointed out that departments need to be prepared because of the seriousness of the cuts.  He stated that it is important for the campus to be completed with the budget cutting process by the end of the semester.  He stated that he would like to make his final recommendations public on November 10th or 11th if possible.


Chancellor Perlman pointed out that UNL has already received a $9.8 million cut this year and is now being cut another $7.5 million.  He stated that two problems need to be resolved this year:  1) the base budget must be reduced by $7.5 million, and 2) there is now a cash flow problem because we have $7.5 million less with which to pay bills for this year.  As a result, he may have to tell the campus to delay expenditures for this year.  He pointed out that the economy of the state does not look optimistic for the near future.  He noted that the Governor is already planning to hold the University budget in check for the next two years.  However, bills for utilities, insurance, and other items will continue to increase leaving less money for the general operation of the campus. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that if the University had received a $20 million budget cut, there would have been no way he could have protected all academic programs    He stated that, because of this possibility, he felt the faculty had the right to know that there was a prospect that tenured and tenure-track faculty could  be eliminated.  He noted that he was troubled by the email messages he received accusing him of taking the firing of tenured faculty lightly.  He pointed out that the future of the university depends on the preservation of the core academic programs of the university. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the budget cut of $15 million instead of $20 million renewed the effort to get through this budget process without touching tenured faculty members.  He stated that he is reasonably sure that this can be done by doing some creative and proactive things.  One of these things is the approval by the Board of Regents of an early retirement plan.  He noted that the retirement package allows a faculty member to teach part-time and retain health insurance coverage.  He stated that the package calls for the faculty member to be 59 ½ or older.  It requires the faculty member to relinquish his/her tenure but allows him/her to work .3 - .5 FTE.  Health insurance would then be covered through ages 65 – 68.  He pointed out that this can be a renewable contract.  He stated that he hoped some faculty members would be interested and that it would help generate some resources for the campus. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that three other issues were still being worked on aside from the budget reductions.  He reported that the quality indicators, as mandated by the Board of Regents, were still being dealt with.  He stated that it is hoped that the indicators will create an instrument that will allow the campus and university to track over time whether the university is improving.  He noted that seven measures have been used in the indicators.  He reported that the analysis has been completed and that a report should be issued soon.   (Now available on the web at:  http://www.unl.edu/svcaa/quality/report2002.pdf)


Chancellor Perlman stated that the climate survey results have been tabulated and that a number of facilitators have been identified and will be trained to facilitate discussions within departments regarding the results of the survey.  He reported that he has seen some of the results from the survey.  He stated that there is room for improvement in many areas.  He stated that the process is important for improving the quality of the institution.  He pointed out that this is a perfect time to do the survey and that he hopes that it will help the university to move forward.  He stated that data at the department and college level will be made available to the departments during the third week of September.


Chancellor Perlman stated that another issue that must be dealt with this fall is the U.S. Patriot Act passed by Congress.  He noted that the act has serious implications for the university because it must comply with all of the requirements.  Some of these requirements are that all biological agents must be inventoried, foreign nationals must be tracked, restrictions will be placed on laboratories, and security will have to be tightened on campus and in buildings. 


Past President Bryant asked if the Chancellor could bring the Senate up to date on the Noel Levitz report regarding recruiting and retention at UNL.  Chancellor Perlman reported that the admissions report is finished and the recruiting report should be completed soon.  He stated that he will share the recommendations of the consultants with the Executive Committee.  He pointed out that the consulting team helped to transform the thinking on admissions, recruiting, and retention of students. 


President Miller asked whether there are indications that the state economy is doing better.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there are some signs of improvement but there is still a great deal of uncertainty.  He noted that the sales tax was doing well but the income tax was down.  He pointed out that the drought will have serious economic impacts on the state.


Professor Lindquist, Agronomy and Horticulture, asked how much of a surprise the budget cuts will be to the campus.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he would like to give everyone as much notice as possible but things change by the hour.  He stated that units receiving cuts will be notified before the media.  He pointed out that he does not know if each individual will be notified before the public announcement is made.


4.0      SVCAA Edwards

4.1  Announcements

SVCAA Edwards stated that a handout was available listing faculty awards that will be given out this year.  He noted that the handout indicates the deadline dates for submitting applications for these awards.  He asked the senators to publicize the faculty awards with their constituents.


SVCAA Edwards announced the call for applications for the Willa Cather and Charles Bessey professorships.  He reported that it is expected that ten Cather or Bessey Professors will be named this fall.


4.2  Possible Merger of Teachers College and the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences

SVCAA Edwards stated that the proposal to merge the two colleges came from Dean O’Hanlon and Dean Kostelnik.  He stated that the timing is right to create a new entity that would focus on children, school, families, and the community.  He noted that merging these two colleges would bring together considerable areas of strengths across the campus.  He stated that in reviewing the proposals for priority programs, it became apparent that there were similar interests in various units within the two colleges. 


SVCAA Edwards stated that a statement will be written trying to outline the possible dimensions, purpose, and explanation of the timing of the merger.  He stated that discussion among the faculty of the two colleges will be encouraged.  He noted that the Academic Planning Committee will review the proposal first, then the Chancellor would need to review and approve the merger, and finally approval must be given by the Board of Regents.


Professor Gardner, Libraries, asked if, and how, savings would occur with the merger.  SVCAA Edwards stated that the primary rationale was to put UNL in a stronger position in these areas.  He noted that the new college could be organized and mobilized to be a strong unit with national recognition.  He pointed out that there could be administrative savings, particularly because there would be one less dean. 


Past President Bryant asked how the SVCAA envisions the academic core of the two colleges meshing together.  Dean Kostelnik stated that the College of HRFS already has programs which focus on enhancing the lives of individuals, families and communities.  She noted that the college currently has cooperative programs with the schools.  She pointed out that schools are the heart of many communities and that teachers are working hard to enhance quality of life for students.  She stated that the two colleges have complimentary programs, not duplicate programs. 


Dean O’Hanlon pointed out that merging these two colleges has been a topic of discussion for sometime, not only within the university, but outside in the public.  He stated that merging the colleges would bring the faculty together to work on similar projects. 


Dean Kostelnik stated that the merger is not one college absorbing another college, but a coming together of ideas.  She stated that she hopes that the merger will be a participatory process and that faculty will be involved to help shape the final entity. 


Past President Bryant noted that for all practical purposes the merger will take at least 12 months to complete, yet it is expected that something will be done by May.  He pointed out that merging the two colleges will take a great deal of faculty effort and that a reasonable time frame is needed.  SVCAA Edwards stated that they do not want to enter into this hastily.  Bryant noted that asking the faculty to participate in the process is creating an additional workload for faculty members who are already overwhelmed with work.  Dean Kostelnik pointed out that merging the colleges is not starting from scratch because there are already on-going programs.  She stated that the concept of a merger has been developed, but that actual details need to be worked on. 


Professor Alexander, Electrical Engineering, asked if other structural changes within the university are taking place that the faculty members are unaware of.  SVCAA Edwards stated that there are none to the degree of this merger.


Past President Bryant stated that one of the concerns is the implication the merger will have on faculty.  He asked whether the merger will create an opportunity for budget reductions to occur at the expense of faculty positions.  SVCAA Edwards stated that he is talking about a process that neither insulates nor makes the faculty more vulnerable.  He pointed out that the merger is not a result of the economic times.


5.0      Approval of 4/2/02 Minutes

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


6.0      Committee Reports

            6.1  Commencement Committee (Professor McShane)

Professor McShane stated that the Commencement Committee has been working well during the past year.  He noted that a copy of the report was available as a handout at the meeting. 


            6.2  Executive Committee Summer Report (President Miller)

President Miller reported that the Executive Committee met during the summer.  He stated that the committee met with the faculty members of the APC twice during the summer months to discuss the procedures to be used for budget cuts that eliminate academic programs.  He noted that there are some discrepancies with the procedures, but the Executive Committee is continuing to work on resolving these discrepancies. 


President Miller reported that the Executive Committee met with the Chancellor several times over the summer and discussed the various topics listed in the report.  He noted that the interests of the faculty are strongly represented by the Executive Committee members. 


President Miller reported that he and Professor Whitt, Sociology, met with the Presidents from the other three campuses during the summer.  He stated that they discussed the budget cuts and the need for strong leadership during these stressful times.


President Miller urged all Senators to contact their state legislator, particularly in January to support the university.  He pointed out that the university needs stronger lobbying efforts.  He emphasized that all faculty members should contact their state legislator on their own personal time. 


Professor McShane, English, pointed out that in the past the Senate hired a full-time lobbyist with funds from the Friends of the Faculty Senate.  He suggested that the Executive Committee look into doing this again.  Coordinator Griffin stated that there is not enough money in the Friends of the Faculty Senate to hire a full time lobbyist.  President Miller noted that some of the funds from the Friends of the Faculty Senate went to some state legislators as campaign contributions.  McShane suggested that a part-time lobbyist could possibly be hired. 


7.0      Unfinished Business

            No unfinished business was cut.


8.0      New Business

8.1  Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee Ballot

President Miller reported that there are currently two open positions on the ARRC.  He noted that this is an important committee that needs to be fully staffed.  He stated that the Committee on Committees will recommend people for the ballot but there is a need to approve the ballot as quickly as possible.  He stated that the Executive Committee suggested waiving the traditional means of approving the ballot and doing it by email instead.  Professor Bender, Journalism, moved that this format for voting on the approval of the ballot be accepted.  Motion seconded by Professor Sawyer, Curriculum & Instruction.  Motion approved.


The meeting was adjourned at 3:45 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, October 1, at 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and James King, Secretary.