UNL Academic Senate Meeting - January 11, 2005




City Campus Union, Auditorium

January 11, 2005

Presidents Wes Peterson, and Mary Beck Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Peterson called the meeting to order at 2:36 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  Collective Bargaining Teleconference Meeting

President Peterson reported that the teleconference meeting with faculty members from Rutgers University scheduled for this meeting has been postponed because Rutgers is on break.  He stated that the Executive Committee hopes to be able to schedule it for the February or March Senate meeting.  He noted that the teleconference meeting will be scheduled for the end of the Senate meeting and all faculty members will be welcome to attend it.


3.0      Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman welcomed everyone back.  He stated that this spring semester will be a very busy and important semester because the strategic planning process will culminate in March and April.  He noted that the first iteration of the plan will drive the University and he is looking forward to hearing the plans for each of the colleges.  He stated that he hopes the college plans will be consistent with the university’s plan. 


Chancellor Perlman noted that the Legislature will be in session this semester.  He stated that the outlook is better than it has been in the past two or three years.  He pointed out that although state revenues are better than originally predicted, many claimants will want the additional revenue.  He stated that the University will need to continue to work hard to get the support it needs to move forward. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the University has three major priorities that it is focusing on with the Legislature.  The first is the Board of Regents budget which provides funding to continue programs for   diversity and need-based scholarships.  He noted that the Regents’ budget provides increases that will allow the University to sustain its momentum towards excellence but no salary request has been made at this time.  Chancellor Perlman reported that the state budget proposes to give state employees a 3% salary increase in the first year of the biennium and a 3.5% increase in the second year. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that collective bargaining is beginning with the UNO and UNK campuses.  He noted that the agreements made in the collective bargaining process have implications for salaries at UNL.  He stated that he believes that salaries should be a high priority for the University.  He stated that UNL has slipped in comparison to its peers in faculty salaries.  He stated that in order for the University to sustain its momentum towards excellence significant improvements need to be made in faculty salaries.  He stated that he will work hard to improve salaries at UNL.


Chancellor Perlman stated that the University is working on supporting LB1100-2 which is a bill continuing the deferred maintenance program.  He noted that LB1100, the deferred maintenance bill, brought life back into many of the old buildings on campus.  He pointed out that with LB1100 UNL received most of the funding but that will not be the case with LB1100-2 because the other campuses have needs as well.  He reported that the physical science buildings, Kein Hall, and the Sheldon Art Gallery are at the top of the list for renovation.  


Chancellor Perlman stated that the University is supporting an initiative for the state to match private donations that would create distinguished professor endowments.  He pointed out that UNL knows how this can be successful because of experiences with the Othmer fund.


Chancellor Perlman stated that he does not want to limit either the Senate or any individual’s interaction with the Legislation but he does encourage people to talk to Michelle Waite, his assistant on community relations, who serves as UNL’s liaison with the Legislature.  He noted that anyone with questions about Legislative issues should contact her. 



Chancellor Perlman stated that the proposals for the Programs of Excellence are being evaluated by the Academic Planning Committee.  He noted that it is unlikely that the programs selected could spend all of the Programs of Excellence funds for this year and he is hoping that the funds could be used as one time funds to invest in our priority of undergraduate education by improving classrooms.  He stated that the Academic Planning Committee has agreed with this idea.  He stated that he is waiting for a response from Varner Hall to see if the funds can be used for this purpose. 


Chancellor Perlman wanted to congratulate the UNL campus for its success with the Combined Campaign fund.  He stated that UNL was very successful and is the second largest contributed in Lincoln and the largest public institution contributor.  He pointed out that the generosity of UNL shows how much the employees care about the Lincoln community. 


President Peterson asked the Chancellor if he was aware of Professor Bryant’s efforts to raise the retirement cap for University employees.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he is aware of it but he is a little indifferent to it at this point because the University has not reached the cap on what it can contribute to retirement benefits.  He pointed out that he does not see any merit in having a cap but he noted that the University is below the cap in terms of contribution to the retirement plan.  He stated that at this time he does not see it as a high priority issue because he feels efforts need to be made to improve salaries.  He noted that his office has tried to provide Professor Bryant with as much support as possible. 


Professor Reichenbach noted that California universities have benn able to attract top researchers after the initiative on stem cell research was approved.  He asked if there are any plans in the Legislature to seek public support for stem cell research at the University.  Chancellor Perlman stated that while he doubted a stem cell initiative would be successful in Nebraska, he will use California as an example of a state recognizing that university research is important for economic development.  He noted that it is important for people to realize that the world economy is knowledge based and the success of the state depends on the success of its research institution.  He stated that in order for the University to be competitive the Legislature will need to contribute to the University’s research programs.  He cited the Tobacco Settlement Fund as an example.  He noted the University is hoping that the Legislature will increase the amount of money it receives from the Tobacco Settlement Fund.  He pointed out that the original agreement with the Settlement Fund was that the University would receive $14 million but instead the University settled for $10 million with the understanding that the amount of funding would increase to $12 or $14 million.    Chancellor Perlman noted that President Milliken believes that distinguished faculty members make contributions to the state’s economy and he is very committed to making the Legislature understand and support this. 


4.0    Approval of 1/11/05 Minutes (Secretary Shea)

Professor Klein, West Central Research & Extension Center, moved and Professor Kranz, Northeast Research & Extension Center, seconded approval of the minutes.  Professor May asked that a sentence be deleted in the last paragraph under section 7.2.  Motion approved.


5.0    Committee Reports

          5.1    Intercollegiate Athletics Committee (Professor Shoemaker)

President Peterson noted that the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) held a conference in the beginning of January and Professor Logan-Peters represented UNL at the meeting.  President Peterson stated that the COIA drafted a statement on academic integrity which may come before the Senate for a vote. 


Professor Shoemaker noted that the IAC conducts annual procedures pertaining to assessing academic support services, scheduling oversight, transfer appeals, and athletic scholarship appeals.  Reports from some of the subcommittees that deal with these procedures will be forthcoming. 


Professor Shoemaker stated that the NCAA wants universities to review their Life Skills Program to see if it complies with the NCAA rule requiring life skills programs for student athletes.  He noted that the NCAA upped the eligibility requirements and is requiring a report on the progress student athletes are making towards degree completion.  He stated that the University must comply to the NCAA regulations by August 1, 2005. 


Professor Shoemaker reported that three applications were received for transfer appeals but one of these was denied.  He noted that one scholarship appeal was denied. 


Professor Shoemaker reported that the IAC awarded student athletes of the year to Ann Gaffigan, a computer science major who is a track and field athlete, and Judd Davies, a Communication major who is a member of the football team. 


Professor Shoemaker reported that the IAC conducted a review of recruiting procedures at UNL in light of the recruiting violations which occurred at Colorado.  He stated that the IAC interviewed Athletic Department personnel involved with recruiting and was satisfied that UNL is in compliance with NCAA standards. 


Professor Shoemaker noted that 44 of the 117 Division I schools belong to the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics.  He stated that the COIA is working on a position statement and information on it can be found on their website (http://www.math.und.edu/~jmc/COAI/COIA-Home.html)


Professor Shoemaker reported that Athletic Director Pederson has decided to have an internal team conduct the Title IX audit.  Professor Shoemaker stated that Steve Willborn, Dean of the College of Law, will be chairing the team. 


Professor Ledder, Mathematics, asked if the policy on missed classes addresses the situation of a student athlete who is a member of a national team.  Professor Shoemaker stated that the IAC is currently looking at this issue.  He stated that for now the policy only covers UNL sponsored events. 


President Peterson thanked the Chancellor for agreeing to cover half of the cost for Professor Logan-Peters attending the COIA conference in Nashville. 


6.0    Unfinished Business

          6.1    Resolutions on Amendments to the Bylaws of the Academic Senate (Recalling Senators and Senate Officers)

President Peterson noted that the resolution to amend the Bylaws was postponed from last month’s meeting and was open for discussion.  Professor Bradford stated that he has concerns with the wording in Motion 1, 3.3.13 Recall of Representatives because it allows a Senate seat to remain open if there are no nominations.  He offered the friendly amendment to include the language “and receipt of a consent form from at least on eligible constituent agreeing to run for one vacancy resulting from a recall” in the first sentence.  Motion seconded by Professor Alexander, Electrical Engineering.  Motion approved.


After discussion of the required number of votes needed to pass the resolution a vote was taken.  Motion to approve Motion 1 amending the Senate Bylaws to include section 3.3.13 Recall of Representatives approved, 30 in favor, 12 opposed.


Professor Archer, Anthropology & Geography, stated that motions 2 and 3 were extraordinarily vague because they do not state the required number of votes that would be needed to enact a recall.  He pointed out that no threshold of votes needed is stated.  Professor Reichenbach stated that Robert’s Rules of Order defines how recalls can be conducted.  Professor Jackson, asked Professor Reichenbach to clarify exactly what Robert’s Rules of Order recommends.  Professor May, Economics, stated that Robert’s Rules of Order states that recalls should only be conducted for extraordinary and unusual circumstances.  She noted that the Rules recommend setting up elaborate procedures that require investigations and hearings.  Professor Reichenbach stated that his motion tries to avoid the elaborate procedures and the need for a trial.  Professor Jackson stated that he is not against the philosophy behind the motion but he is concerned with the lack of absolute procedures.  He pointed out that he is not in favor of allowing only 50% of the vote to recall an officer. 


Professor Ledder moved to table the motion until the February meeting.  Professor Harbison, Chemistry, seconded the motion.  Professor Bradford stated that as a point of order the motion to table applies to Motion 2.  Motion to table Motion 2 approved. 


Professor Bradford pointed out that Motion 3 has the same problems as Motion 2.  He moved to table the motion until the February meeting.  Professor Ledder seconded the motion.  Motion approved. 


7.0  New Business

7.1      Motion Relating to Teaching Evaluations (Professor Bradford)

Professor Bradford distributed a revised copy of the motion.  He noted that two or three months ago the ASUN officers met with the Executive Committee to discuss academic freedom in the classroom.  The ASUN officers reported incidents where students feel intimidated in the classroom.  Professor Bradford stated that he had serious reservations about the resolution ASUN presented and drafted a resolution that he felt was more acceptable.  Motion seconded by Professor Stock, English.


Professor Bradford stated that he made it clear to the ASUN officers that he would only support a motion that recommends language be included on teaching evaluations.  He stated he would not support a resolution that tried to mandate the inclusion of the question.  He suggested that the Senate read the statement of purpose carefully.  He pointed out that there can be reasonable disagreements in the classroom but he is aware that there could be some issues of academic freedom.  He noted that if an instructor receives only one teaching evaluation which indicates there is a problem with academic freedom than it should probably be disregarded.  However, if 80% of the class state that there is a problem with academic freedom than an instructor might have a problem.  He stated that anyone with questions or concerns should feel free to contact him. 


Professor Harbison asked if the resolution could be put on the Senate website so his constituents could read it.  He stated that he would like to discuss the issue with the members of his department. 


7.2      Open Forum Discussion – Proposed Conflict of Interest Policy

President Peterson noted that the draft policy is for the university system.  He stated that campus responses on the policy are due in Varner Hall on March 15th.


It was suggested that everyone should read the policy because it deals with outside consulting, business conflict of interests and academic conflicts of interest.  It was pointed out that the document is overly complex and drafted so only lawyers can comprehend it.  The faculty member felt that lists should be made instead that specifically state what can and cannot be done. 


A comment was made that the document leaves too much discretion up to the administration on what constitutes a conflict of interest.  It was pointed out that the issue of discretion could allow an administrator to target an individual faculty member. 


Several comments were made urging that the document be revised.  It was pointed out that there is no information regarding how the draft policy changes the existing conflict of interest policy.   A faculty member wanted to know what the motivation was to create the proposed policy. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the intention behind the policy is honorable.  He stated that the policy is a way to protect both the University and an individual in this expanding technological world.  He noted that the policy also relates to conflict of commitment.  He stated that while the intention behind the policy is good, he did not think it was a good draft.  He pointed out that if faculty members are overly worried about administration having too much discretion it will result in establishing an elaborate set of rules.  This will result in a long, complex document.


Chancellor Perlman pointed out that it is not possible in advance to articulate all situations of conflict of interest.  He noted that the policy is not to prohibit people from doing outside consulting or other work but is meant to help manage a faculty members time so it allows the professor to fulfill her or his University obligation.  He stated that policies managed at the department levels can be done inconsistently and this policy is particularly needed to insure that there is a system-wide policy that is adhered to.


Chancellor Perlman agreed that the document would be better if it was not so complex.  He stated that the University of California at Berkeley and the Harvard Medical School have policies that list specific cases of conflict of interest. 


Chancellor Perlman urged the faculty members to read the document carefully.  He noted that it can be perceived to be threatening to faculty members.  He pointed out that there was no individual case that precipitated this document.  He noted that the majority of universities in the country are developing a conflict of interest policy. 


It was pointed out that the UNL committee to review and comment on the policy met today.  The suggestion was made to have someone come to the Senate and go through the document after it has been revised. 


A member of the UNL review committee stated that committee members expressed the same concerns as the Senate.  He stated that the committee feels the document needs to be simplified.  He noted that parts of the document were puzzling.  He stated that most other universities have a much simpler policy.  He stated that the committee is being chaired by Associate Vice Chancellor Crockett.   The committee is going to address specific concerns.  One of these is with the confidentiality statements.  Another concern is that the document needs to be fair.  An example is the exclusion of the athletics department from the policy when using University facilities to conduct summer camps.  It was pointed out that a major concern of the policy is with the use of University computing facilities.


President Peterson noted that UNL’s comments will be coordinated by Vice Chancellor Paul and the campuses need to respond to Varner Hall by March 15.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he will respond to Varner Hall and he will indicate that faculty members are very concerned with the document, particularly with its complexity and vagueness.


It was suggested that the Executive Committee should meet with Vice Chancellor Paul to express its concern with the document.


The meeting was adjourned at 3:53 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, February 1st, 2:30 p.m. in the East Campus Union, Great Plains Room.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Patrick Shea, Secretary.