UNL Academic Senate Meeting - March 1, 2005



City Campus Union, Auditorium

March 1, 2005

Presidents Wes Peterson and Mary Beck, Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

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


2.0      Announcements

2.1  Senate Elections

President Peterson stated that elections for President Elect, Secretary, and at least two members of the Executive Committee will be conducted at the April 26th meeting.  He stated that anyone interested in running or nominating someone for these positions can either contact the Committee on Committees, members of the Executive Committee, the Senate Office, or himself.  He noted that the Board of Regents has not yet reviewed and acted on the changes to the Senate Rules regarding elections so the Senate is still operating under the old rules. 


2.2  Conflict of Interest Policy

President Peterson reported that a letter was sent to President Milliken from the Executive Committee regarding the concerns of the faculty with the draft conflict of interest policy.  President Peterson stated that President Milliken responded in a letter that he would instruct members of his staff to redraft the policy and it will be distributed to the campuses for consultation. 


President Peterson thanked Chancellor Perlman for giving the Academic Senate the opportunity to review the draft policy. 


2.3  Teleconference Call on Collective Bargaining

President Peterson noted that the teleconference call with faculty members from Rutgers University has fallen through due to logistic difficulties.  He stated that the interest in having further information presented to the Senate on collective bargaining seems to have waned.  He noted that if faculty members are still interested in having a teleconference call, they should contact him or the Senate Office and the Executive Committee will try to arrange a teleconference call for the fall.


2.4  Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA)

President Peterson stated that a draft of the COIA’s document on academic integrity has been sent to the Senate for consideration.  He noted that the Senate voted to join the COIA in the fall of 2003.  He stated that currently Professor Logan-Peters is the UNL representative to the COIA. 


President Peterson reported that the COIA is working on several documents but the academic integrity document is the only one being voted on at this time.  He noted that the COIA originally requested member institutions to vote on this document by February 28th but this date has been postponed because it did not give the universities enough time to consult with their faculty.


President Peterson stated that the Executive Committee met with Professor Shoemaker, Chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee (IA), and Professor Logan-Peters, member of the IAC, to discuss the academic integrity document.  President Peterson reported that the IAC is not supportive of the document.  He noted that Professor Potuto who is UNL’s NCAA representative reviewed the document and has many objections to it because it conflicts with changes that the NCAA has made or is in the process of making. 


President Peterson stated that the section on academic advising raises considerable concern.  He noted that the document calls for moving academic advising of athletes out of the athletic department and into administration.  He pointed out that UNL does a good job with academic advising of student athletes.  He stated that the Chancellor believes that the academic advising should remain in the athletic department because it makes the department responsible for the success of the student athletes. 


President Peterson stated that while the Executive Committee endorsed the general thrust of the document, it did not endorse the entire document.  He pointed out that the question has been raised as to how you can endorse part of the document.  He noted that the vote is to be a yes or no vote but there is the possibility that the Senate could vote to abstain.  He stated that there are some politics involved.  He noted that not voting in favor of the document could give the impression that UNL puts athletics above academics.


President Peterson asked the Senate to review the document and to let him know how the campus should vote on the document. 


3.0    Approval of 2/1/05 Minutes (Secretary Shea)

Professor Barnes, Music, moved and Professor Fuller, Art & Art History, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved. 


4.0    Committee Reports

          4.1    Convocations Committee (Professor Voeltz)

Professor Voeltz reported that the committee granted 13 awards for visiting speakers.  He stated that an announcement will be made shortly calling for applications to bring in guest speakers in the fall semester.  He noted that the Committee will be meeting on April 15th to decide which applications should receive funding.


4.2    Graduate Council (Executive Associate Dean Weissinger)

Executive Associate Dean Weissinger thanked the Senate for having the opportunity to update them on the efforts being made by the Graduate Council.  She acknowledged and recognized former Dean Lawson and thanked the members of the Graduate Council.  She noted that there are currently two open seats on the Council, one seat in Fine Arts and the other in Engineering. 


Executive Associate Dean Weissinger stated that no new degrees or majors have been created although six specializations were approved for existing majors.  She stated that the Council’s first priority is to continue efforts in recruiting graduate students.  She noted that Professor Rosson, from Civil Engineering has now been made Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and a full time graduate recruiter has been added to assist recruiting efforts. 


Executive Associate Dean Weissinger reported that there was a precipitous decline in graduate school applications last year.  She noted that this is a continuing trend.  She stated that UNL is down 20% in international applications.  She pointed out that this 20% decrease is close to at the domestic mean in regards to the decrease in international graduate applications.  She reported that domestic applications are up 12% this year and have increased 17% over a three year period. 


Executive Associate Dean Weissinger stated that the decrease in international applications is a result of the State Department’s regulations.  She stated that she believes these regulations will eventually be changed.  She pointed out that the government did not realize what a problem it created when the regulations were enacted.  She stated that Graduate Studies is working hard to assure students that UNL is a safe place to go to school. 


Executive Associate Dean Weissinger reported that she has been visiting departments to discuss with them how the Graduate Studies Office can better serve them.  She stated that she has met with nearly all of the departments.   She noted that a theme amongst the departments is that they need resources in order to increase graduate recruiting. 


President Peterson stated that changing the visa requirements would help with recruiting international students. 


4.3    Parking Advisory Committee (Professor Pitts)

Professor Pitts reported that the Committee reviewed the campus parking master plan which calls for more garages in the future.  He noted that the campus is on track for getting more garages.  He pointed out that the need for more garages is because the campus is now landlocked.  He reported that the Antelope Valley Project is taking away many existing parking spaces.  He stated that the removal of former fraternity houses on 16th street has provided some parking spaces.  He noted that the 14th & Avery Street garage will be undergoing expansion beginning in May. 


Professor Pitts reported that Tad McDowell, former Director of Parking and Transit Services, has been replaced by Dan Carpenter. 


Professor Pitts stated that the Committee is looking into creating a car pooling network.  He noted that the idea of having a website where people can find others willing to car pool is being considered.  He stated that Vice Chancellor Jackson wants the Committee to ask various campus groups how they feel about providing such a service.  Professor Pitts noted that people involved in car pooling could share the cost of a parking permit. 


Professor Ledder, Mathematics, stated that the car pooling information and sharing of the permit may have to be a more formal process.  He noted that those involved in car pooling would have to notify Parking Services.  Professor Radcliffe, Mathematics, stated that the shared parking permit would have to allow several different cars to be registered so people car pooling could take turns driving.  Professor Archer, Anthropology and Geography, asked how three people sharing car pooling would be debited for the parking permit.  Professor Pitts stated that this would have to be worked out between the people car pooling. 


Professor Haller, English, asked how the parking permit would work if all the parties involved in the car pooling wanted to attend an event on campus but they wanted to bring their own vehicles down for it.  The question was asked about security and how could Parking and Transit services ensure that people would not be car pooling with a potentially dangerous person. 


Professor King, Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication, stated that he thinks the campus should encourage people to use the buses. 


President Peterson stated that the car pooling idea was interesting.  The Senate agreed and stated that the Parking Advisory Committee should pursue the matter further. 


5.0    Unfinished Business

          5.1    Motion on Draft Ballot for APC, ARRC, and ARRP

Professor Fuller, Chair of the Committee on Committees, reminded that Senate that the ballot was presented at the February meeting.  She asked for a vote on the ballot.  Motion approved.


6.0    New Business

          6.1    Motion on 15th Week Policy

President Peterson stated that an ad hoc committee was formed to review the current Dead Week Policy.  He reported that Professor Alexander, Electrical Engineering, chaired the committee and members included both faculty and students. 


Professor Alexander reported that the ad hoc committee looked at two issues when reviewing the current policy.  He stated that the first issue was to revise the dead week policy and the second was to address the problem with final exam week.  He moved, on behalf of the Executive Committee, to revise the current Dead Week policy.  He pointed out that changes to the policy include changing the name from dead week to 15th week, requiring projects and practical and laboratory exams to be completed by the Wednesday of the 15th week of classes, and a change in the way in which violations of the policy are reported.  He noted that requiring all projects to be completed by Wednesday would provide students with several days of study time for final exams. 


Professor Alloway, Broadcasting, pointed out that classes in Journalism require projects which are due right up to final exam time.  He asked if this would still be allowed with the new policy.  Professor Alexander stated that the projects would need to be completed by Wednesday of the 15th week of classes. 


Professor Ledder stated that under the old policy a course project could be given in lieu of the final exam.  He questioned whether the course project would have to be completed by Wednesday of the 15th week under the new policy.  He pointed out that if this is the case the course would have to end before final exam week.  Professor Alexander stated that if no final is given and the project due date is stated in the syllabus then it is possible that a course could end that Wednesday before finals week.  Professor Shea stated that a project being considered in lieu of the standard final exam would just be considered a different type of exam.  He noted that the project’s due date could be the same as the scheduled final exam.  Professor Ledder suggested that the wording should be made a little clearer in the section of the policy dealing with this issue.  President Peterson pointed out that the motion can be amended. 


President Peterson stated that if the proposed policy is approved at the April 5th Senate meeting then the old policy will be replaced.  He noted that there have been some questions regarding laboratory exams.  He pointed out that these exams are allowed during the 15th week but if the exam meets only once a week the laboratory exam needs to be completed by Wednesday or on the day that the lab meets.  He stated that there are some labs which meet twice a week but they would need to follow the policy new policy.  He noted that the language is a little ambiguous in this area.  Professor Moeller, Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, stated that the language is very clear.  She stated that the policy states that projects, papers, and speeches scheduled for completion during the fifteenth week of classes must have been assigned in writing by the end of the eighth week.  She noted that a problem arises when a faculty member adds something and it is not in writing or the instructor tries to add something after the 8th week of class. 


Professor Ledder pointed out that many students are unaware of the policy and do not know that a faculty member is violating the policy if they move the final exam into the 15th week of class.  President Peterson stated that the Executive Committee has discussed violations of the policy with SVCAA Couture and Associate Vice Chancellor Jacobson and worked out the procedures stated in the proposed policy.  He noted that SVCAA Couture has stated that her office will help disseminate information to the campus if the policy is approved. 


Professor Alexander stated that faculty members wishing to change the time of the final exam can change it only if the change is mutually agreeable to all parties concerned.  He stated that faculty members should obtain this information by an anonymous method because students should not be put on the spot if they disagree with a majority of the students in the class. 


Professor Bradford, Law, noted that the Law College is exempted from the policy because it holds final exams for the last two weeks of the semester. 


Professor Barnes, Music, asked if anyone has expressed concerns with dropping the term dead week.  President Peterson and Professor Alexander both stated that they have heard of no concerns.   Professor Nickerson, a member of the ad hoc committee on Dead Week, stated that everyone on the committee unanimously and enthusiastically supported eliminating the term dead week. 


Professor Alexander stated that the second motion is to recommend changes to the scheduling of final exams.  He noted that the recommendations call for final exams to be completed by noon on the Friday of exam week and to have extended exam times for two evenings of the week.  He pointed out that this change would provide faculty members with a chance to complete grading of exams by the 4:30 p.m. deadline.  He noted that this would alleviate problems for faculty members who have graduating seniors in their classes.  Professor Alexander stated that the recommendations have been discussed with Earl Hawkey, Director of Registration and Records, and Hawkey feels that the changes can be made. 


Professor Hodges, Agronomy & Horticulture, stated that she would have a problem with starting an exam at 8:30 p.m.  Professor Radcliffe pointed out that it is a bigger problem for students to start an exam at 7:30 a.m.


President Peterson noted that this motion is to recommend changes only.  He stated that the Senate does not have the authority to make the change but can suggest it to Academic Affairs. 


Professor Radcliffe asked why grades have to be submitted by 4:30.  Professor Alexander pointed out that grades for graduating seniors must be submitted by this deadline.  President Peterson stated that if a final grade is not submitted by the deadline the preliminary grade given on the degree roster will stand even if the student should get a lower grade.  He noted that 15 – 20% of graduating students must have their grades cleared in order to graduate.


President Peterson thanked the members of the ad hoc committee for their work on such a complex issue.


6.3    Open Forum – Academic Dishonesty

President Peterson noted that Dr. Hecker reported to the Senate in December that there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of academic dishonesty.  President Peterson stated that the Executive Committee met with Dr. Hecker to discuss the issue further.  From that discussion three ideas emerged.  The first was to set up a task force to address the issue.  The second is that a clear definition of academic dishonesty and plagiarism should be taught early in a student’s college career.  He stated that SVCAA Couture wants to look at the general education program and perhaps make changes to it.  President Peterson noted that the changes could include teaching students about academic dishonesty at the freshmen level.  The third idea is that faculty members need to be better informed about the policy on academic dishonesty. 


The question was asked whether any data are available regarding the actual number of reported cases.  President Peterson stated that Dr. Hecker probably has the numbers.  President Peterson noted that 15 – 20 cases of academic dishonesty went to the Judicial Board but most of the cases are handled by Dr. Hecker. 




One professor indicated that he has not necessarily seen an increase in the number of cases of academic dishonesty but he believes it is now easier for students to plagiarize because of the internet.  However, because of the internet it is easier to catch the students plagiarizing. 


It was pointed out that there is a cross-cultural problem with plagiarism.  Many Asian students do not have to write papers often in their native country and plagiarism is not concerned problematical. 


One Senator commented that students do not seem to understand that taking language or papers off the internet is considered plagiarism.  Freshmen need to be taught about intellectual property rights because there is a lack of awareness of what constitutes plagiarism. 


A comment was made that distinction needs to be drawn between plagiarism and academic dishonesty.  There is the matter of degrees of academic dishonesty as well.  Students do not seem to know the difference between lifting a paragraph out of a paper and using the entire paper. 


Changes in technology have allowed an increase in cheating.  Exams can be passed around easier through electronic means and answers can be obtained through text messaging.  Calculators and pda’s can be programmed with answers to exam questions. 


A professor stated that the University needs to create a policy banning cell phones during exams. 


It was suggested that the one hour library course should focus on what the rules are regarding academic dishonesty and plagiarism rather than how to use the library.  Library 110 is incorporating a section on plagiarism.  Foundation courses should also include a section on academic dishonesty. 


A Senator indicated that there is a website called turnitin.com which can check papers for plagiarism.  It was suggested that the University could purchase a site license from this website so professors could use it.


It was generally felt that the students were not necessarily trying to put something over on their professors but were just not aware what constitutes plagiarism. 


A Senator noted that courses in the department of Modern Languages & Literature clearly clarify what academic dishonesty is.  The better approach to dealing with the problem is to make students aware of what is considered academic dishonesty rather than to punish them. 


Vice Chancellor Griesen stated that academic dishonesty is the second most frequent violation committed by students.  He noted that approximately 100 cases were reported this past year.  He stated that Dr. Hecker handled most of the cases.  He pointed out that if the student admits wrongdoing and accepts the punishment then Dr. Hecker deals with the case. 


Vice Chancellor Griesen urged faculty members to report cases of academic dishonesty because it will provide the University with the opportunity to identify chronic cheaters.  He stated that according to the Code of Conduct faculty members are required to report cases of academic dishonesty.  He pointed out that if the case of academic dishonesty is severe enough to downgrade the student then it needs to be reported. 


A Senator stated that typing a sentence into the google search engine provides a source for papers so that faculty members can identify if a student has committed plagiarism. 


The question was raised as to how the Senate works with the faculty to deal with this issue.  Faculty members as well as students need to be made aware of the rules.  It was suggested that students should be notified in class about academic dishonesty and that cases will be reported. 


A Senator pointed out that professors teaching large sections may not know all of the students by face, particularly if the professor uses Blackboard with the course.  He suggested that pictures of the students should be provided to the faculty member so that they can be identified when taking exams.  He noted that someone else can easily come in and take an exam for another person in large classes.  Vice Chancellor Griesen stated that there has been discussion on this before.  He noted that he will look into the matter to see if it is possible to do.  He pointed out that a student picture is not part of the directory information and that security measures would be needed to disseminate the pictures to the professor.  He suggested that faculty members could also use a digital camera to take pictures of each student. 


The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, April 5th, 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.