UNL Academic Senate - April 27, 2004



East Campus Union, Great Plains Room

April 27, 2004

Presidents John Wunder and Wes Peterson Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Wunder called the meeting to order at 2:31 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  Chancellor Perlman

President Wunder reported that Chancellor Perlman would be unable to attend the meeting due to several conflicts involving the E.N. Thompson Forum and the memorial service for student Jenna Cooper. 


President Wunder asked for a moment of silence in recognition of the death of Jenna Cooper.


3.0      Senate Elections

            3.1  Election of President-Elect

Professor Mary Beck, Animal Science was elected as President-Elect for 2004-05.


3.2  Election of Secretary

Professor Patrick Shea, School of Natural Resources, was elected as Secretary for 2004-05.


3.3  Election of Committee Members

Professor Dennis Alexander, Electrical Engineering; Professor Mary Bolin, Libraries; Professor John Flowers, Psychology; Professor Sloane Signal, Advertising; Professor Gordon Scholz, Community & Regional Planning; and Professor Robert Stock, English were elected to the Executive Committee.  All were elected to a three year term except for Professor Bolin who was elected for a one year term.


3.4  Election of Committee on Committees Members

Professor James King, Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication and Professor David Rapkin, Political Science was elected to three year terms on the Committee on Committees.


4.0      Recognition of New Senators

President Wunder recognized each of the new senators.


5.0    Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman apologized for missing so many meetings and stated that there was enough of a break in his schedule for him to be able to address the Senate.  He stated that he wanted to thank and applaud President Wunder on his work as President this past year.  Chancellor Perlman noted that he and President Wunder agreed on a vast majority of issues but admitted that they did disagree on a few issues.  Chancellor Perlman stated that President Wunder did an extraordinary job of representing the faculty during difficult times.   Chancellor Perlman stated that he felt that he could always have frank discussions with President Wunder no matter how stressful the situation. 


Chancellor Perlman thanked the Senate for the hard work they did during the past year and he urged them to continue working on issues that affect the core of academics.  He stated that the ES/IS proposal is one such issues and he encouraged the Senate to continue discussion on revising the ES/IS program. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that President Peterson is a skillful advocate for the faculty and he congratulated all of the new Executive Committee Members and officers. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the legislative session was over and the budget situation for the university results in a ½ % less for the university budget.  He stated that this translates into a $1 million budget cut for UNL.  He noted that he believes the campus can absorb the cuts without directly impacting the academic units.  He pointed out that there may be a reduction in some services which might have indirect impacts for the academic units. 


Chancellor Perlman stated the administration was involved in planning for the next biennium.  He stated that the circumstances with the legislature were cloudy right now and the revenue and expenses for the state resulting in a shortfall will need to be addressed at some point but he did not think it was worth worrying about right now.  He stated that the most important thing is for the campus to move forward.  He reported that he is encouraging Deans to begin hiring new faculty members because it is important to replenish the faculty. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the Board of Regents will be presented with the biennial budget at the June meeting.  He noted that President Smith will be suggesting a 3.4 – 3.7% increase in the budget.  However, this does not include an increase in salaries and tuition rates.  Chancellor Perlman stated that the salary issue and tuition rates will be discussed at a later date. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that he is in the final part of the search for a new Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  He noted that there have been very good and interesting candidates and he appreciated all of the evaluations he received regarding the candidates.  He stated that he wanted to fill the position quickly and hoped to make the decision in the near future. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that he wanted to acknowledge that he received a request to consider informal benefits for domestic partners from the Executive Committee.  He noted that he is checking with Richard Wood, General Counsel, and with Varner Hall to see what authority he has in providing some of these informal benefits.  He stated that some of the informal benefits are common courtesies and not necessarily benefits.  He urged everyone on campus to extend courtesies to people who are important to the faculty and the campus community. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that there seems to be some misunderstandings about the Presidential search.  He reported that there is no state law that prevents a member of the search committee from having an informal meeting with potential candidates.  He noted that names of individuals will be disclosed if a formal interview is held.  He urged all faculty members to meet the candidates when they are brought to campus for interviews. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that there is no happier event on campus than commencement.  He urged faculty members to come and enjoy and celebrate the good work that the faculty and students do. 


6.0    Approval of 4/6/04 Minutes (Secretary Fuller)

Professor Stick, Educational Administration, moved and Professor Flowers, Psychology, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved.


7.0    Unfinished Business

7.1    Motion on Dissolving Human Rights Committee

The Senate approved the motion to dissolve the Human Rights Committee by a vote of 48 for and 9 against.


7.2    Dead Week Proposal

President Peterson reported that the Dead Week Committee consulted with Academic Affairs to see if making changes to dead week and finals week could be done at UNL.  He stated that Interim Associate Vice Chancellor Latta contacted Professor Spann, chair of the dead week committee, to inform him that she believed that any changes would need to have approval of the Board of Regents. 


Professor Harbison, Chemistry, pointed out that there has only been three weeks to consider the proposal.  He moved that the motion be postponed until the departments have enough time to fully review and consider the impacts of the proposal.  Motion seconded by Professor Grange, Theatre Arts.  Motion failed 20 in favor, 36 against. 


Professor Osterman, School of Biological Sciences, asked to address the Senate.  He stated that the faculty members of his department are concerned with the implications of the proposal, particularly in regards to the amount of coursework that can be covered during the semester.  He noted that currently they having to eliminate some coursework and shortening the semester by two lectures would require even more elimination.  He stated that the proposal was ill-considered and that more time is needed to explore the full impacts of the proposal. 


Professor Woodman, School of Biological Sciences, asked to address the Senate.  He noted that there are over 100 lab sections in the School involving 75 – 100 teaching assistants.  He stated that observing fall break and the Martin Luther King holiday required that the lab schedules had to be changed.  He stated that the proposed changes would result in a loss of a week of lab classes.  He noted that the present policy in the School is for


teaching assistants to be involved in administering the practical and final exams for the courses but they also have to take their own exams. 


Professor Stick, Educational Administration, stated that shortening the semester could have a very negative impact for some courses.  He noted that there are two separate issues in the proposal.  One is the problems associated with dead week and the other is the problem with the final exam schedule and turning in grades.  He suggested that the term and definition of dead week should be eliminated.


President Peterson stated that the students have been raising concerns over the dead week policy for many years now.  He stated that students often report violations of the dead week policy. 


President Peterson stated that the other issue was the timing of the finals during finals week.  He noted that the proposal tries to shift the exam period so that professors have adequate time to report final grades for graduating seniors.  He noted that the proposal may need to be split into two separate motions to deal with the separate issues.  He suggested that the Executive Committee could be charged to revise the motion.


Professor King, Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication, pointed out that one week of courses would be lost with this proposal.  He suggested that there could be a potential amendment requiring coursework to be submitted by the end of the 14th week of classes although he noted that some elements of a course are not complete until the 15th week of classes.  He stated that a solution to the final exam problem might be to hold graduation on the Sunday after classes. 


Past President Wunder noted that the Executive Committee was informed that the campus could make changes to the schedule within the 15 weeks of classes but they could not tamper with either the beginning or end dates of the semester. 


Professor Spencer, English, stated that he was contacted by some of the student members of the dead week committee and they suggested that all graded materials should be submitted by the Friday before finals week.  He offered the suggestion as an amendment to the proposal.  Amendment seconded by Professor Stock, English.  Professor King stated that the amendment takes away some of the flexibility for the instructor.  Professor Kulik, Computer & Electronics Engineering, stated that the colleges should decide how to deal with the problems presented in the proposal.  He pointed out that for the College of Engineering and Technology, the proposed schedules would be a disaster.  The amendment to the proposal failed overwhelmingly. 


Professor Flowers called the question.  Proposal failed 23 in favor to 32 against. 


7.3    Motion on Changes to Senate Rules

Professor Bradford, Law, moved that the motion to approve changes to the Senate Rules be postponed until the September meeting.  Motion seconded by Professor Harbison.  Motion approved. 


8.0    Committee Reports

Due to lack of time, the Senate agreed to not hear the committee reports.  Any questions pertaining to the committee reports should be addressed to the chair of each of the committees.  The Teaching Council report will be given at the September meeting. 


9.0    New Business

No new business was discussed.


10.0  Academic Freedom Award

Professor McShane, Chair of the Academic Freedom Award Committee, noted that the committee worked hard and long on deciding who should receive the award.  He stated that the committee unanimously decided to give the award to Professor Ann Mari May, Economics because they felt she eminently deserved it.


Interim SVCAA Brinkerhoff stated that it was a great honor and privilege to present the most distinguished award on campus for a faculty member because the award was decided by the faculty members.  He then presented the award to Professor May.


Professor May accepted the award.  A copy of her acceptance speech will be included in the September Senate packet and will also be available on the web (mayAFAspeech.htm).


The meeting was adjourned at 4:20.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, September 14th at 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Patrick Shea, Secretary.