UNL Academic Senate Meeting - March 2, 2004



East Campus Union, Great Plains Room

March 2, 2004

President Wes Peterson


1.0      Call to Order

            President-Elect Peterson called the meeting to order at 2:35 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  Donation from Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association

 President-Elect Peterson reported that the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association has once again donated $1000 to the Schwartzkopf Fund to help support the office of the Academic Senate.  He stated that the Senate is grateful to the NCEA for their continued support.


2.2  ASUN Committee

President-Elect Peterson reported that the ASUN has created a committee to look into the Library requirement course.  He noted that the committee is being headed by ASUN Member Jeff Schlechte and if anyone has questions or concerns they should contact Jeff.


2.3  Faculty Leadership Summit

President-Elect Peterson reported that the Faculty Leadership Summit on February 28th went very well.  He noted that there were discussions regarding tenure and faculty governance.  He stated that a report of the summit will be provided at a later date.


3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman was out of town on business.  Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he would be happy to answer any questions.  He noted that the big issue for the university is the budget.  He stated that the next few weeks will be critical for the state and the university.


4.0    Approval of 2/3/04 Minutes (Secretary Fuller)

Professor Stick, Educational Administration, moved and Professor Stock, English, seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


5.0    Pound Howard Award Election

Associate to the Chancellor Herb Howe stated that the ballots for the Pound Howard Award were available at the sign-in desk.  He asked that everyone keep the name of the nominee confidential.  


6.0    Unfinished Business

6.1    Approval of Ballot for APC, ARRC, and ARRP Elections

The Senate approved the draft ballot for the APC, ARRC, and ARRP elections.


6.2    Academic Senate Redistribution Report

Secretary Fuller noted that several corrections were made to the draft of the redistribution report.  She noted that the College of Journalism and Mass Communications will still retain three Senate seats because there has been no official announcement that the departments of that college have been eliminated.  Professor Brenneman, Construction Systems, stated that departments are scheduled to be merged to form the School of Architectural Engineering and Construction and he questioned whether they will be losing representatives to the Senate.    Griffin stated that she spoke with Associate Dean Ballard and he explained that the mergers have not been completed yet because they are awaiting approval from the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education.  As a result, the departments scheduled to be merged will retain Senate representation until the next redistribution report in 2006.  Professor Brenneman stated that he believes there may be more faculty members than listed in the departments.  Griffin stated that she would verify with him the names that were submitted to her from the departments.  She noted that department offices provided the number of faculty members for each department in November and December.  She pointed out that any changes in the faculty after that time would not be included in this report but will be reflected in the next redistribution report.  The Academic Senate approved the 2004 redistribution report. 



6.3    Motion on ES/IS Proposal

President Elect Peterson stated that the amended proposal was in the packet sent to Senators.  He noted that the issue at the February Senate meeting was how the proposal would be approved and implemented.  He pointed out that it is the sense of the ES/IS Reform Committee and the Senate Executive Committee that a uniform general education program is needed. 


President-Elect Peterson stated that the Executive Committee is suggesting an amendment or proposal that deals with how the ES/IS proposal will be presented to the colleges and with the approval process.  He noted that the first part of the proposal schedules the colleges, from smallest to largest, for consultation on the ES/IS proposal.   He stated that it is the hope of the Executive Committee that these meetings would be concluded by November. 


President-Elect Peterson stated that the second part of the new proposal deals with the approval of the ES/IS proposal.  He noted that in this section the proposal states that the colleges would need to approve the entire ES/IS proposal and not just parts of it.  He pointed out that all of the colleges would need to approve the ES/IS proposal for any changes to be made.  President-Elect Peterson stated that either the proposed schedule could be adopted as an amendment or just added to the preamble. 


Professor Beck, Animal Science, stated that she understands the need for reform of the general education program and she is aware that transferring students have a lot difficulty because of the current program but she wonders if there might be some other way to go about making the changes.  She suggested that before the Senate votes on the ES/IS proposal it should go to the colleges for discussion.  She stated that feedback can be obtained from the colleges and the proposal can be revised based on the feedback.  She stated that she is concerned that the proposal will not pass in its current state.  President-Elect Peterson noted that one concern is the timing and if agreement can be reached by November it would be possible to get the revised program into the 2005 academic bulletin.


Professor Shea, School of Natural Resources, stated that he has heard concerns from the CASNR curriculum committee that they have not had enough opportunity to discuss the proposal.  Shea stated that if the colleges’ curriculum committees feel that they haven’t had enough time to review and discuss the proposal then it will probably not be approved.  He agreed that discussion needs to occur first at the college curriculum committee level and that input from the committees should then be incorporated into the ES/IS proposal. 


President-Elect Peterson asked if the Senate wanted to wait to vote on the proposal or go ahead and vote on it and then send it to the curriculum committees.  Professor Beck stated that the Senate could vote on approving the principle of the proposal but not actually vote on the proposal.  President-Elect Peterson asked if this was a formal amendment.  Professor Beck moved that the Senate separate the approval process such that discussions are held with the curriculum committees of each college for input and consultation and suggestions made in these discussions be worked into the proposal and then presented to the Senate for a  vote.  Professor Whitt, Sociology, seconded the motion. 


Professor Jaswal, Physics and Astronomy, asked how the current proposal compares to the original procedures that were used to approve the programs that are now in use.  President-Elect Peterson stated that he was not involved in the original efforts to create the ES/IS programs but it is his understanding that the programs were actively being pushed by Academic Affairs.  He noted that in the process the colleges’ curriculum committees reappropriated the general education program by deciding which courses they would accept.  He noted that the Curriculum Committee ended up reviewing IS courses.  He stated that the current system has the ES courses belonging to the colleges while the IS courses belong to the university.  He noted that the ES/IS proposal is just the opposite with the ES courses belonging to the university and the IS courses belonging to the departments. 


Secretary Fuller asked if colleges can currently opt out of the ES/IS program.  President-Elect Peterson stated that this is an ambiguous issue.  He stated that he has heard that if the current programs are not replaced some colleges will opt out of the current programs.  Past President Miller reported that he has heard that some colleges are already opting out of the programs.  He stated that he would like to see the Senate vote on the current proposal today and then forward it to the colleges. 


Professor Stick stated that everybody understands what the ES/IS programs are trying to convey and they understand the rationale for trying to revise it but he suggested that it might be more prudent to take the time to let the curriculum committees review and discuss the proposal.  President-Elect Peterson pointed out that the ES/IS Reform Committee did not want to revise the goals of the programs.  He noted that Professor Hoistad, a member of the ES/IS Reform Committee, stated that many people teaching the IS courses did not know the four goals of the IS program. 


Professor Jaswal stated that he did not see the point of the amendment to postpone the vote.  He noted that each college had representation on the ES/IS Reform Committee and that many hours have been spent reviewing and drafting the proposal.  Furthermore, the Senators represent their departments and should be able to vote on the proposal.  He suggested that the proposal needed to be voted on at this meeting.  Professor Beck stated that the amendment separates the process into two parts.  She stated that she is willing to revise the amendment to say that the Senate would vote on the principle of revising the ES/IS programs.  Professor Whitt noted that the amendment does not state that the Senate is approving the principle of the ES/IS proposal.  Professor Shea called the question.  Motion to approve the amendment approved 37 in favor, 13 opposed.  President-Elect Peterson noted that the motion was approved and that the ES/IS proposal will officially be sent to the colleges’ curriculum committees. 


Professor Cohn, Mathematics, stated that the phrase “where appropriate” should be included in Section C, point 2 after “consideration of diversity.”  President-Elect Peterson stated that this was an important point.  He noted that the proposal is suggesting the departments should make diversity as a goal of their IS courses but it does not have to go into every course.  Professor Harbison, Chemistry, pointed out that including diversity in chemistry courses would be difficult.  President-Elect Peterson stated that the Chemistry department might ask students to take IS courses for diversity outside of their department.  Professor Stick stated that he is not comfortable asking students to take courses in different departments.  He stated that departments should incorporate diversity into their course curriculum. 


Professor Jackson, Food Science and Technology, pointed out that the wording for the diversity issue was approved at the February 3rd meeting.  He stated that a motion would need to be made in order to add any additional language.  Professor Cohn moved that the language “where appropriate” be added.  Professor Harbison seconded the motion. 


Professor Spencer, English, pointed out that the reason why this proposal is not as strong as the current program is because of the IS issue.  He noted that turning over the IS courses to the departments creates a problem with the goal of diversity for some units.  Professor May, Economics, agreed and stated that former SVCAA Leitzel noted that for some disciplines the issue of diversity would be difficult to incorporate into courses.  Professor Lindquist, Agronomy & Horticulture, stated that people were confusing majors with courses.  He stated that every major ought to incorporate diversity into its program.  He suggested that the issue of diversity should be at the major level rather than at the course level.  Professor Harbison noted that many of the ES courses cover diversity issues and could be included in the list for IS courses.  Professor Stick noted that the IS courses do not seem to be working well now.  He stated that different disciplines have different visions to accomplish the IS goals.  He suggested that the units should be allowed to experiment with the IS courses to see what works best for them. 


Professor Beck noted that in a previous Executive Committee meeting she pointed out that in the National Student Engagement Survey UNL students reported significantly higher on questions that might reflect the impact of IS courses than students at peer institutions.  She suggested that something about the IS programs must be working.  President-Elect Peterson noted that there is no way to determine if the IS courses had an impact on the responses to the Engagement Survey.  He pointed out that the IS program is not being eliminated.  It is simply being moved to the units where it could be more effective. 


Professor Jackson pointed out that there is a motion on the floor to add language to the proposal.  Motion failed:  14 for, 30 against.  President-Elect Peterson stated that the proposal will be sent to the colleges’ curriculum committee and a schedule set up for consultation with the faculty members of each college. 


6.4    Proposal to Extend Tuition Remission Benefits to Part-Time Employees

Professor Bradford, Law and Chair of the Employees Benefits Committee, stated that the proposal came from UNOPA.  He noted that not many employees would qualify for the tuition remission if it is extended to part-time employees.  He pointed out that if the proposal was approved it would then proceed to the system level for approval.  Professor Gardner, Libraries, asked if this would include both faculty and staff.  Professor Bradford stated that it would cover both.  Professor Gardner asked how the benefit would work.  Professor Bradford stated that full-time employees receive 15 credit hours per academic year.  He noted that part-time employees at .50 FTE would probably receive 7.5 credit hours. 




7.0    Committee Reports

7.1    Honorary Degrees Report

Associate to the Chancellor Herb Howe stated that copies of the report were included in the Senate packet.  He asked if there were any questions.  No questions were asked.


7.2    Employee Benefits Committee Report

Professor Bradford reported that the committee is working on a search of current benefits that UNL and our peer institutions provide.  He stated the committee will then determine what benefits they want to work on.  He noted that any request for benefits would have to be done at the system-wide level.  He stated that the University’s report on health care for 2003 can be found on the web (http://www.nebraska.edu/hr/2003yer.pdf).


Professor Bradford reported that he has a copy of the study on benefits at other universities but it is only in electronic form.  He noted that if anyone is interested in getting an electronic copy of the study they should send him an email message requesting it. 


Professor May asked who the UNL faculty representative is to the university-wide benefits committee.  Professor Bradford stated that there is some uncertainty about this.  He stated that the rule of the syllabus is that the Chair of the UNL Employee Benefits Committee is to be the representative.  He reported that Chancellor Perlman sent a letter to Central Administration stating that he, as chair of the Employees Benefit Committee is the representative but he has not heard anything from Central.  He noted that the Executive Committee is trying to determine what is going on with the university-wide benefits committee.  Professor Hodges stated that it would be appalling if UNL did not have representation on the university-wide committee since UNL is the largest of the campuses.  Associate to the Chancellor Howe stated that a problem with having the chair as the representative is that the chair changes every year.  He suggested that the Employee Benefits Committee could have a representative on the university-wide committee that can serve as an ex-officio member on the UNL committee.  Professor May stated that there is rationale in doing this because it is important to have a member of the UNL Benefits Committee on the system-wide committee.


8.0    New Business

8.1    Legislative Bill 1202

President-Elect Peterson noted that a copy of the bill was available at the sign-in table.  He pointed out that this is a bill that wants to restrict public access to job application materials for searches being conducted at public institutions.  He stated that the Executive Committee wanted to get a sense of whether the Senate feels that a resolution should be made opposing this bill.


Professor Shea stated that he did not see this as a trivial matter.  He noted that at some point in filling a vacant position the information on the candidates should be accessible to the public.  He noted that LB 1202 calls for all information to be restricted.   Professor Bradford clarified that in section 15 of the bill it states that all information would be restricted whereas the current law allows the names of finalists to be made public. 


President-Elect Peterson suggested that a straw poll vote of the Senate could be conducted to see if the Senate wants the Executive Committee to make a resolution.  He noted that a motion could be made from the Senate and voted upon at the next meeting or someone could call for an emergency motion. 


Professor Shea stated that it is his understanding that an attachment was made to the bill that would make the current Presidential search inclusive.  He stated that the Senate needs to immediately voice its opinion on the bill.  He noted that delaying a vote on a motion could have less of an impact. 


Professor May moved that the UNL Academic Senate strongly objects to the closing of the search process as outlined in item 15 of LB 1202.  Professor Beck seconded the motion.  Professor Jackson pointed out that the motion will need to be declared as an emergency motion in order for it to be voted on.  Professor Whitt seconded the motion to declare it as an emergency.  Professor Bradford objected.  He stated that the motion should be considered but it is not consistent with the previous practice where the vote of no confidence in the Chancellor was not allowed to be voted upon as an emergency motion.  He stated that the LB 1202 motion is not intrinsic to the meeting.  He stated that a 2/3 vote would be needed to declare it as an emergency motion.    The motion to declare the item as an emergency was approved:  38 in favor, 1 abstention. 




Professor Jackson suggested that restriction be used in place of the word closing in the motion.  Professor May accepted the friendly amendment.  Motion approved:  41 in favor, 2 opposed.  President-Elect Peterson stated that a letter will be sent on behalf of the Senate.



The meeting was adjourned at 4:03 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, April 6, at 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Shelley Fuller, Secretary.