UNL Academic Senate Meeting - February 1, 2005



East Campus Union, Great Plains Room

February 1, 2005

Presidents Wes Peterson and Mary Beck


1.0      Call to Order

            President Peterson called the meeting to order at 2:30 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  Donation from the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association

Professor Zimmers, Southeast Research & Extension Center, presented President Peterson with a check for $1000 for the Schwartzkopf fund on behalf of the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association.  President Peterson thanked the NCEA for their continued support of the Academic Senate and faculty governance. 


3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman reported that the campus is busy with the strategic planning process.  He noted that the administration wants the strategic plan to count in many ways.  He stated that the accreditation process is looming more quickly then he would like.  He reported that he is working on getting a focus accreditation visit which would focus on just a few issues rather than a massive self-study visit.


Chancellor Perlman reported that the campus will be undergoing an assessment of the physical space.  He stated that there is no database on space, the size, amount, and quality of the space on campus.  He noted that a team of people will be going to each building on campus to take measurements and assess the quality of the space.  He stated that once there is an inventory of space the question will be how the space is allocated and whether some of it should be reallocated. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the Office of Research has put together a package on the concerns the campus has about the draft Conflict of Interest policy.  He stated that the package will be sent to Central Administration.  He stated that he believes Central administration will redraft the policy and the campus should probably see a revised version. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that there was very good response on the Teaching Initiative proposals.  He pointed out that if all of the proposals were funded it would require $2.5 million but unfortunately there is only $600,000.  He noted that announcements will be made shortly about which proposals will be funded.  


Chancellor Perlman stated that wonderful things continue to happen on campus and that more faculty accomplishments will be announced soon. 


Professor Stick asked if there has been any thought to combining college and department accreditations with the campus strategic planning.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there are mixed views regarding accreditation processes.  He stated that the accreditations can be a useful exercise and if we did not do them, someone would do them for us.  He noted that the accreditations are encrusted with a lot of history and baggage and it would be nice to be able to streamline them.  He stated that the senior administrative team is trying to do the academic program reviews and the accreditations together with strategic planning but the problem is that separate teams are required to conduct each. 


Professor Hoffman, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, asked what specific issues the accreditation would focus on if the campus is allowed to do the more focused accreditation.  Chancellor Perlman stated that there would need to be campus discussion on which issues should be focused on but one area that needs to be a focus would have to indicate a continuing improvement process.   He noted that if the campus could do this it might allow us to have a third alternative to the accreditation process.  He pointed out that assessment of student learning would need to be included in any of the accreditation processes.  He stated that anyone with further suggestions should contact him.


4.0      Approval of 1/15/05 Minutes

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


5.0    Committee Reports

          5.1    University Curriculum Committee (Professor Fuess)

Professor Fuess thanked the Senate for the opportunity to report on the activities of the UCC.  He reported that one of the major changes this past year was in the way the Committee conducted its business.  He stated that the UCC is now conducting most of its business electronically.  He noted that in the past the Committee met eight times a year and the paper copies needed for the meetings amounted to nearly 200,000 pages.  He stated that Todd Jensen, Project Manager-Instructional Technology from Information Services, helped greatly in developing the on-line process that is now used for reviewing undergraduate courses.  Professor Fuess stated that the members of the UCC can review the course requests by going to the UCC website.  He noted that voting on the requests takes place from the 11th – 15th of the month and results of the voting are reported back on the 16th.  Professor Fuess pointed out that doing the work electronically substantially reduces the amount of time and the cost of conducting the Committee’s work.  He noted that the Committee still meets twice a semester to discuss proposals that are not resolved.  He reported that there have been few problems with the work being done electronically.  Professor Fuess stated that the UCC would like the colleges to have the ability to input their course requests electronically.  He noted that this would help reduce further cost and time. 


Professor Fuess reported that the Committee received 199 course proposals for this past fall.  He pointed out that ¾ of these proposals are to delete or make changes to existing courses.  He stated that the UCC is questioning whether it needs to be involved in reviewing course deletions if the college is planning on deleting them.  The UCC would like to see courses changes be more systematized to help reduce the workload of the Committee further. 


Professor Fuess stated that the Committee is requesting the Senate to update the UCC’s syllabus to reflect the work that the Committee is currently doing.  He noted that the existing syllabus does not reflect the work that the UCC is doing.  He suggested that the Senate state explicitly what the responsibilities of the Committee should be.


5.2    Committee on Committees (Professor Fuller)

Professor Fuller reported that only 74 committee service preference forms were sent in this past year out of nearly 1400 faculty members.  She stated that it is becoming exceedingly more difficult for the CoC to find people who are willing to serve on committees. 


Professor Fuller stated that the CoC is looking at the syllabus for each of the Senate Committees to see if they need to be revised.  She noted that the CoC will address the issues raised by the University Curriculum Committee.


President Peterson pointed out that he has made at least 60 appointments to various committees this past year.  He noted that having only 74 responses to the committee service preference form makes it difficult to find people to serve on committees.  He urged Senators to encourage their colleagues to serve on campus committees.


5.3    Honorary Degrees (Professor Lawson)

Professor Lawson noted that the Honorary Degrees Committee is a wonderful committee to serve on and he recommends it to people. 


Professor Lawson reported that the Honorary Degrees voted and approved by the Senate at the December meeting were forwarded to the Board of Regents by Chancellor Perlman for the Board’s approval.


Professor Lawson stated that the Committee reviewed four applications for the Pound Howard award.


6.0    Pound Howard Ballot

Professor Lawson stated that all four applicants were very capable and should be recognized for the service they have given to the University.  He recommended that the nominees submit an application again next year. 


Professor Lawson asked the Senate to vote on the ballot that was given to them at the meeting. 


7.0    Draft Ballot for Academic Planning Committee, Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee, and Academic Rights & Responsibilities Panel (Professor Fuller)

Professor Fuller stated that the Committee on Committees is presenting a draft ballot for the APC, ARRC, and ARRP.  She noted that the ballot will be voted on by the entire academic assembly after the Senate has approved the ballot at the March 1st meeting.  


Professor Fuller thanked the 32 people who agreed to run for the elections and she encouraged Senators to also thank these people if they know them.        


8.0  Unifnished Buisness

        8.1      Motions to Amend Senate Bylaws

President Peterson stated that there has been some correspondence about motions 2 and 3 and how Roberts Rules of Order applies to them.  President Peterson noted that since the motions do not state specific procedures to follow for recalling an Executive Committee Member or Officer, procedures from Roberts Rules of Order would need to be followed.  He pointed out that these procedures state that removal of a Member or an Officer who are elected for specific terms would require a formal trial and hearings.  He noted that Professor Reichenbach wants to avoid a trial.


Professor Bradford, Law, stated that the procedures in Roberts Rules of Order are confusing in regards to recalling Executive Committee Members and Officers and he wanted to offer amendments to both of the motions to provide some procedures.  Professor Bradford’s amendment for motion 2 is to include the language (in italics) to the last sentence of the motion:  The election of any Officer may be rescinded by a vote of the majority of the members of the Senate and a successor electedin accordance with the usual election procedures.  Motion seconded by Professor Klein, West Central Research & Extension Center.  Secretary Shea asked if the vote would be a simple majority.  Professor Bradford stated that it would be a simple majority.  President Peterson noted that it would take nearly all of those in attendance at most meetings to vote in favor of a recall in order to remove someone from the Executive Committee. 


President Elect Beck stated that she debated whether to speak on the issue because she did not want to appear as being self-serving but she pointed out that the last three meetings were side tracked by these motions which basically allows us to intimidate and get rid of faculty members when someone disagrees with them.  She stated that the time should be used more productively to figure out how to get faculty members more involved with the Senate rather than discouraging them from participation.  She stated that she questions the reasons for recalling a person.  She questioned whether faculty members could be pressured by administrators to have someone recalled.  She asked who should be targeted now or in the past.  She pointed out that one of the most effective Senate Presidents was Professor McShane and many administrators felt that he was difficult to deal with.  She noted that Past President Wunder dealt with difficult situations with the budget cuts and questioned and challenged the administration. 


Professor Fech, Southeast Research & Extension Center, asked if the majority of the vote would be done by a special ballot or at a meeting and whether it would be by voice vote.  Professor Bradford stated that the vote could be taken at a meeting and would not be by voice vote unless specifically requested by the Senate.  Secretary Shea stated that he is concerned with just having a simple majority vote.  He stated that recalling an Executive Committee Member or Officer is a major change in the way the Senate operates.  He suggested that a 2/3 majority vote should be needed.  Professor Bradford agreed that the Senate Rules often calls for a 2/3 majority vote but a vote taken at a meeting would require less total votes although a majority of those in attendance would have to vote in favor of the recall in order for it to be enacted.


Professor Stick asked why the motions are needed if there are procedures in Roberts Rules of Order that could deal with the situation if it ever arises. 


Motion to amend motion 2 approved 39 votes in favor of the amendment and 10 against.


President Elect Beck offered an amendment to motion 2 adding language that states “a request must be made in person and the reason(s) given for the recall.”  Professor Dewey, School of Natural Resources, seconded the amendment.   Professor Reichenbach pointed out that there are no provisions in the motion for secret motions and questioned why someone would need to state in person the reason for recalling an Executive Committee Member or Officer.    President Elect Beck pointed out that the motion allowing constituents to recall a Senator gave elaborate procedures to conduct a recall in secret.  She stated that a person should be willing to stand up and state a reason for the recall.  Motion to amend motion 2 approved 41 in favor and 10 against.


Professor Reichenbach stated that he marveled at the paranoia that people felt.  He stated that the motions are asking the Senate to replace someone and the motions are democratic.  He pointed out that nearly everyone in attendance would have to vote in favor of a recall in order for it to pass.  He stated that the fact that it has taken three meetings to hold a vote on the motions is more indicative of the Senate’s concern of addressing the issue fully than the paranoia that is behind the making of the amendment. 


Professor Bradford stated that he was opposed to the motion.  He noted that the Senate President chairs the meeting and he finds it bothersome that a President could be rescinded for keeping order during Senate meetings. 


Professor Hoffman stated that he remembers all of the unrest during the 1960’s and he witnessed a similar motion being used because of differences in opinion.  He stated that the Senators should think seriously about the motion and under what circumstances it would be used. 


Professor Stick stated that it appears that the Senate is packing in rules that are not really needed.  He stated that recalling an Executive Committee Member or Officer should be a very difficult thing to do.  He stated that he was opposed to the motion.


Professor Dewey called the question.  Motion 2 failed overwhelmingly.  Only 3 votes were cast in favor of the motion.


Professor Bradford moved to add the same language to motion 3 that he suggested for motion 2.  Professor Haller, English, seconded the motion.  Motion to amend motion 3 approved 39 in favor, 13 against.


Professor Beck moved to add the same language to motion 3 that she suggested for motion 2.  Professor Prochaska-Cue, Family & Consumer Sciences, seconded the motion.  Motion to amend motion 3 approved 44 in favor, 9 against.


Professor Reichenbach stated that the reason why he initiated the recall motions was to make the Senate more responsive to the faculty.  He stated that often the Senate is out of step from the opinions of the faculty at large.  He noted that the motions are an effort to make the Senate more democratic. 


Professor Stick stated that he was still frustrated with the motion and did not understand why it needed to be debated.  He pointed out that his constituents will let him know if they feel that he or the Senate is out of step with the faculty at large.  He stated that to presume that people can be removed from the Senate because of being out of step is a wrong presumption to make.  He pointed out that it should not be easy to remove an Officer or an Executive Committee Member. 


Motion 3 failed overwhelmingly, only two votes in favor of the motion. 


8.2      Motion on Teaching Evaluation

Professor Bradford stated that he introduced the motion at the last meeting upon request of the ASUN.  He pointed out that he would not support the original motion as written by ASUN but the motion before the Senate was one that he could support because it only recommends that the language in the motion be put on teaching evaluation forms.  He noted that it would be up to the departments and faculty members to decide whether to include the language.  He acknowledged that for some disciplines the language of the motion might not make sense.  He pointed out that if only one or two students responded negatively to the question it could be considered just the students’ opinion but if there were a number of students who responded negatively then it could indicate that there is a problem.  He noted that he believes strongly in academic freedom and he does not believe that the question interferes with it. 


Professor Owomoyela, English, stated that he is not against intellectual freedom in the classroom but his experiences has made him question what students mean by academic freedom.  He pointed out that he has had students who used academic freedom to write racially offensive papers.  He noted that he referred these incidents to Student Judicial Affairs but there is no recourse that can be taken.  He stated that in classes with cultural diversity students should not be able to use academic freedom as an excuse for expressing racists or discriminating remarks. 


Professor Stick suggested that departments should ask the question during the semester rather than at the end of the semester to see if there are any problems.  If so, they can be corrected during the semester. 


Professor Haller stated that he was impressed that ASUN was persuaded to bring the motion to this level.  He noted that the motion attempts to say that students have the same sense of academic freedom as everyone else.  He stated that he is in favor of the motion.


Professor Hope, Psychology, noted that there is significant tension between the role of the instructor to teach students to grow and for students to keep their cultural identity.  She stated that cases where students feel that their academic freedom is being denied should be handled individually otherwise the issue of academic freedom could backfire.  She noted that departments should discuss how controversial issues can be handled in the classroom.  She pointed out that students can go to the chair of a department if their academic freedom is being violated.  She noted that it is an important issue but she did not think that adding the question to teaching evaluations was the way to deal with it. 


Professor Rapkin, Political Science, stated that he has concerns with “fostering intellectual diversity.”  He noted that he has taught large classes about politics that have often resulted in highly charged discussions.  He pointed out that he states his opinion in class and has received angry email messages from students, which he posts for the class to see after getting permission.  He stated that the students feel he should remain neutral on issues.  He pointed out that he states his opinion in order to generate diverse views in the classroom. 


Professor Leiter, Law, asked what ASUN’s original motion stated.  Professor Bradford stated that he does not remember the details of the motion because it was two pages long.  He noted that the original motion had a statement that students could express any view they wanted in a classroom.  President Peterson noted that the ASUN passed the resolution and then asked the Executive Committee to bring the motion to the Senate.  Professor Leiter pointed out that the motion only recommends that a question be included on evaluations regarding fostering intellectual diversity in the classroom.  He stated that he did not see it as a threat and failure of the motion could send the wrong message to the students. 


Professor Flowers, Psychology, stated that within the College of Arts & Sciences it has been traditional to have a statement on the evaluations which covers the spirit of this motion.  He stated that he does have concerns when the intellectual content of a course starts to be challenged. 


Professor Ledder, Mathematics, stated that it was important to note how bland the motion is and he suggested that Senators consider adding the statement to teaching evaluations. 


Motion failed 27 against, 24 in favor.


9.0  New Business

        9.1      Conflict of Interest Motion

President Peterson stated that the Chancellor indicated that Vice Chancellor Paul’s office was sending a package of concerns to Varner Hall regarding the draft of the Conflict of Interest policy.  President Peterson stated that the Executive Committee felt that the Senate should send a separate letter confirming the concerns and suggesting that the document needed to be totally reworked. 


President Elect Beck stated that she was making the motion on the draft Conflict of Interest policy on behalf of the Executive Committee.  Professor Jackson, Food Science and Technology, seconded the motion. 


President Peterson stated that he was declaring the motion as an emergency motion because Varner Hall wants responses on the document by March 1st.  He pointed out that if anyone wanted to challenge the emergency motion they were free to do so at this time.  No objections were made.


Motion to declare as an emergency passed.  Motion on the draft Conflict of Interest Policy was approved overwhelmingly.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:05 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, March 1st, 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Patrick Shea, Secretary.