UNL Academic Senate Meeting - October 4, 2005



City Campus Union, Auditorium

October 4, 2005

Presidents Mary Beck, Ali Moeller, and Wes Peterson Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President-Elect Moeller called the meeting to order at 2:36 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

            2.1      Approval of Revisions to the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Procedures and Revisions to

                        the Academic Senate Rules of Order and Academic Senate Bylaws

President-Elect Moeller announced that the Board of Regents approved the changes to the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Procedures, the Academic Senate Rules of Order, and the Academic Senate Bylaws on September 17th, 2005.  She noted that the Senate approved the changes during the last academic year. 


          2.2    Initiative for Teaching & Learning Excellence Grants

Past President Peterson reported that an announcement calling for proposals to receive grants from the Initiative for Teaching & Learning Excellence will be sent to Senators soon. 


2.3    Faculty at Five

President Beck reported that free performances will be held at the Lied Center during the academic year.  She noted that the performances will feature local artists.  Before the free events there will be a reception for faculty members at 5:00 and she encouraged faculty members to attend.  She noted that a handout about the reception and free performances is available at the sign-in desk. 


3.0    Chancellor Perlman

President-Elect Moeller stated that the Chancellor and other administrators were unable to attend the Senate meeting because they were participating in the Deans Retreat in Nebraska City.


4.0    Approval of 9/13/2005 Minutes

Professor Bender, College of Journalism and Mass Communications, moved and Professor Fuller, Art & Art History, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved.


5.0    Committee Reports

5.1    Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee (Professor Prochaska Cue)

Professor Prochaska Cue reported that no formal grievances were filed during the last academic year.  She noted that the committee received six phone calls to discuss the procedures to file a grievance.  She stated that three of the callers consulted with the ARRC resource group and two callers attempted informal conciliation.  


5.2    Academic Standards Committee (Professor Gregory)

Professor Gregory reported that the acceptance rate of appeals this past year was a little bit higher than in previous years.  He noted that each meeting of the committee requires attendance of only three faculty members and there is a pool of faculty members who can attend the meetings. 


Professor Gregory reported that in the past 10 years the acceptance rate of appeals has been consistent with 59 – 60% of appeals being accepted.  He stated that this year 82% of the appeals were accepted.  He stated that he believes that the admission standards have helped to lower the number of appeals and dismissals. 


5.3    Grading and Examinations Committee (Professor Woodward)

Professor Woodward noted that the Senators had a copy of the report before them but pointed out that an addendum to the report was handed out at the meeting.  He reported that the grade option appeals rate was down from 128 last year to 94 this year.  He stated that this may be a result of students becoming more familiar with the on-line registration system. 


Professor Woodward stated that the committee has been monitoring the new grading system since it became effective.  He pointed out that there has been little change in the overall grade point average.   He noted that the system seems fairly stable and that the change in grading options has had little effect. 


Professor Woodward reported that the committee worked on several items last year.  They checked with appeals for fraud but could not see any basis for frauds.  He noted that if a student signs up illegally for a course he/she can withdraw before the withdrawal deadline date. 


Professor Woodward stated that the other item the committee worked on was to tighten up the pass/no pass option.  He pointed out that there has been some success with this. 


Professor Woodward reported that there is a new incomplete policy.  He stated that an incomplete report does not have to be filed anymore.  The instructor just needs to submit a grade.  He pointed out that if an incomplete is not completed in a year, it will automatically be turned into an F grade after the deadline date.  He noted that one problem with this regulation could be with visiting professors who leave during that year and who do not remember to turn in the grade change. 


Professor Woodward stated that there has been a change of procedures for grade appeals.  He noted that the change does not require so many letters.  He stated that students must still indicate in a letter why they are appealing a grade but now only the instructor or chair of the department needs to write a letter as well.  Professor Woodward stated that if a grade is being appealed because of medical reasons, documentation from the doctor will need to be provided. 


Professor Scholz, Architecture, asked if the incomplete pertains only to undergraduates.  Professor Woodward stated that the change is only for undergraduates.  President-Elect Moeller pointed out that an incomplete is not removed for graduate students. 


6.0    Unfinished Business

6.1    Motion to Change Senate Rules and Bylaws

President Beck reported that last month a motion was introduced to make changes to the Senate Rules and Bylaws.  She noted that the motion called for language to be included that would allow voting by email.  She pointed out that this would extend the means of communication for the Senate. 


President Beck stated that the other revision calls for changes in the districting of Senate seats.  She noted that one change calls for each department, regardless of size, to have one Senate seat.  The other change calls for colleges that are not divided into departments to have two Senate seats.   A college without departments that has more than 50 faculty members would have three Senate seats. 


President Beck stated that the question was raised last month why colleges should have two seats even if they have less than 25 faculty members.  She reported that the Executive Committee felt that the representation of Senators should reflect that at one time there were departments in the colleges.  She stated that the Executive Committee felt that the representation should be similar to what it was before the colleges were encouraged to merge. 


Professor Bradford, Law, suggested that the motion dealing with the inclusion of language about electronic communication via email should be voted on separately from the change in the districting of the Senate.  President Beck agreed. 


President Beck asked for a vote on section 3.2.3, 3.2.4, and 3.2.5 which included language about electronic communication.  Motion approved, one opposing vote. 


Professor Kranz, Northeast Research & Extension Center, asked how the body would handle discussions if they are done on email.  He pointed out that there is nothing in the language that explains how discussions would take place via email.  Professor Bradford pointed out that there is already a provision in the Bylaws for referenda of the assembly by mail.  He noted that the suggested revisions simply include email as well.  He noted that this would only refer to voting. 


President Beck asked for a vote on section 3.3.5 about constituencies. 


Professor Bradford stated that he feels that the suggested changes to this section are contrary to what the ad hoc committee was trying to do.  He noted that the ad hoc committee was trying to address unequal representation on the Senate and the suggested changes would create more unequal representation.  He pointed out that departments with less than five faculty members should be combined with another department.  It should not have the same equal representation as a department with twenty-four members.  He questioned whether having two representatives for colleges with no departments are a political ploy by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications to keep representatives on the Senate.  He pointed out that the Senate represents faculty, not colleges.  He stated that colleges should be districted the same as departments.


Professor Hoffman, Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, stated that he was on the ad hoc committee as well and he thoroughly disagreed with what Professor Bradford just stated.  He pointed out that he was in a department that was combined with another department and while there was some overlap in the disciplines there were different interests between the two departments.  He stated that his department did not really have a representative to the Senate because the Senator was from the other department that was merged with his.  He pointed out that it is difficult enough to get faculty members to agree within one department never mind trying to get faculty members to agree within two departments. 


Professor Alloway, College of Journalism and Mass Communications, stated that although he was not a representative on the Executive Committee during the time the Committee approved the revisions to the districting, he did not believe any power play was being made by the college.  He pointed out that his college consolidated departments only because it was expressly suggested by the Chancellor that the college should do so.  Professor Alloway noted that at the time the college was assured that consolidating the departments would have no impact on representation of the college on various committees. 


Professor Reichenbach, Computer Science and Engineering, stated that he finds it difficult to understand why a department with only one or two faculty members should have the same representation as a department of twenty-four.  Professor Hoffman pointed out that he does not think there are any departments with less than five or seven faculty members.  Professor Bradford stated that there is one department with five faculty members. 


Changes to sections A and D of 3.3.5 were approved (eight votes were opposed.)


Changes to section B of 3.3.5 were approved, 34 in favor and 8 opposed. 


President Beck stated the next motion pertained to the Rules of Order of the Senate.  The revisions call for additional language allowing voting by email.  Motion approved. 


6.2    Statement Concerning Regent Elections

President Beck reported that the Executive Committee was moving to substitute the original motion with the revised motion written by Professor Bender.


Professor Leiter, College of Law, stated that he has questions regarding the whole idea of the motion.  He noted that he understands the interest in sanctioning or asking for Regent Hergert’s resignation but he believes there is an issue of fairness that needs to be addressed.  He pointed out that a statement needs to be included that states that all Regents violating laws should be sanctioned.  He stated that he is not convinced that violations have not happened in the past or won’t happen again in the future. 


Professor Reichenbach stated that he would like to see the Senate raise a voice of concern if a candidate for the Board of Regents admits to wrong doing.  He stated that the Senate should raise its concern whenever this happens. 


Professor Yonts, Panhandle Research & Extension Center, stated that the issue has been discussed in the Panhandle.  He pointed out that people need to remember that this was an election process and Regent Hergert paid a fine for his wrongdoing.  Professor Yonts noted that the legislative is taking further action.


Professor Yonts reported that Regent Hergert won the election by an 11% margin.  Professor Yonts stated that individuals can speak out about the situation if they like but the Senate speaking out would show bias.  He asked whether it is appropriate for the Senate to speak out.  He noted that the Senates at the other campuses are being unbiased by not speaking out. 


Professor Yonts stated that the Legislative system is looking into the matter and this is being done without the Senate making a statement.  He suggested that faculty members need to put themselves in the middle of the issue and think of the taxpayers who voted for Regent Hergert.  Professor Bradford stated that he hoped that expressing disapproval of a violation of the law is not considered a political view.


Professor Owomoyela, English, stated that the Senate has different standards from those people who voted.  He pointed out that there is no question that former Regent Blank lost the election.  He stated that the Senate has every right to suggest or make a statement regarding the resignation of Regent Hergert.  Professor Owomoyela stated that Regent Hergert should step aside and stop tarnishing the image of the University. 


Professor Prochaska Cue, Family and Consumer Sciences, stated that her department is rather unique because some of the professors are in IANR and others are with Academic Affairs.  She stated that she polled the faculty members in her department and it came out as an absolute split vote.  Consequently, she stated that she will abstain from voting on the issue. 


Professor Hoffman reported that he sent out a message to his constituents and no one opposed the statement.  Professor Eccarius, Special Education and Communication Disorders, stated that all of the constituents who responded in her department were in favor of the motion. 


Professor Alloway noted that the UNL Student Regent did an eloquent job at presenting the ASUN’s call for Regent Hergert’s resignation.  Professor Alloway asked what kind of message we would be sending by not making any comments about Regent Hergert’s actions when we are currently pushing for academic honesty on campus. 


The vote was taken on the motion:  47 approved the motion, 4 opposed it, and there were 2 abstentions. 


Professor Bradford moved to substitute his motion for the one just approved.  He noted that his resolution calls for Regent Hergert’s resignation.  Professor Harbison, Chemistry, seconded the motion. 


Professor Bradford stated that he did not poll the constituents in his department.  He pointed out that the motion is not a motion from the Law College.  He stated that Regent Hergert violated the law and admitted to doing it.  Professor Bradford stated that these admitted violations put a cloud on the Board of Regents and create a negative impact on the University. 


Professor Bradford pointed out that Regent Hergert spent more money on his election campaign and his opponent spent significantly less because Regent Hergert failed to report his spending.  Professor Bradford stated that saying citizens voted for Regent Hergert is not a strong argument because the public did not know Regent Hergert had violated the election laws until after the election. 


Professor Bradford stated that his motion was not made as a political attack.  He stated that he does not even know what Regent Hergert’s politics are.  Professor Bradford noted that politics has nothing to do with the motion.  He pointed out that the State Legislature voted 31 – 0 against Regent Hergert serving.  Professor Bradford stated that this shows that this is not a political issue. 


Professor Bradford stated Regent Hergert’s payment of the fine is a separate issue.  Professor Bradford stated that the Senate’s concern is that the University’s reputation is being tarnished because of Regent Hergert’s illegal actions.  Professor Bradford stated that he made the motion in order for the Senate to stand up for the integrity of the University. 


Professor Bradford pointed out that lots of people violate the law for various reasons, perhaps even some Regents have violated laws, but Regent Hergert violated a law that affected the outcome of the election.  Professor Bradford noted that this was not just a technical violation.  The forms Regent Hergert’s campaign filed with the state election commission included a reminder that campaign spending had to be reported.  Professor Bradford pointed out that it is hard to argue that nobody saw these notices and reminders. 


Professor Bradford stated that the final argument he wanted to address was the one that we should wait for the Legislature to act.  He stated that the State Legislature has already called for Regent Hergert’s resignation.  Professor Bradford noted that it is the State Attorney General who is investigating the case to see if Regent Hergert can be charged with a crime.  Professor Bradford stated that he did not believe Regent Hergert can be impeached and asked why the Senate would have to defer making a statement when the Senate has the same facts as the Legislature.  He noted that criminal charges may be filed but this could take a year and he believed that the Senate should act now. 


Professor Bradford stated that he thinks the Senate should join the courageous efforts of the students and call for Regent Hergert’s resignation because his actions reflect negatively on the University and the Board of Regents. 


Professor Leiter stated that even though Regent Hergert’s campaign people saw the reminders it does not mean that they understood them.  Professor Leiter stated that he agrees in principle with the motion but he will vote against it because it does not address unethical behavior of the Regents.  He stated that he believes a consistent statement should be made in regards to all Regents.  He stated that he feels that the motion is very subjective and that the Senate needs to be more objective in its statement. 


Professor Owomoyela stated that even if past violations have escaped unnoticed it does not mean that the Senate should not take steps now when a person has clearly violated the laws.  He noted that before he came to the United States if a situation like this occurred in any other country he has been in the elected officer would step aside in order to protect the integrity of the office.  He stated that it is time for the Senate to go on record.  He stated that he does not want to keep Regents who will drag the University into the mud. 


The motion to substitute Professor Bradford’s resolution was voted on:  38 approved, 9 opposed, and 5 abstained from voting on the motion.  Motion to substitute approved.


The motion calling for Regent Hergert’s resignation was voted on:  45 approved, 8 were opposed, and 2 abstained from voting on the motion.  Motion approved. 


7.0    New Business

          7.1    General Education (Past President Peterson and Professor Janovy)

Past President Peterson recalled that the Senate had a motion on general education in 2003 but the Senate wanted the Executive Committee to speak with the various colleges to hear what the complaints were with the ES/IS program. 


Past President Peterson stated that the Executive Committee asked former SVCAA Edwards if Academic Affairs could assist in getting revisions made to the general education program.  Former SVCAA Edwards stated at the time that the curriculum was up to the faculty to decide.  Past President Peterson reported that he learned that state statute says that the colleges, which are the degree granting agency,  make decisions regarding the curriculum. 


Past President Peterson stated that the Senate wound up tabling the motion.  He noted that some colleges supported the recommended changes to the ES/IS program while others did not. 


Past President Peterson stated that he discussed the issue with SVCAA Couture when she arrived on campus.  He noted that the idea of revisions was presented to the Deans but they did not agree with it.  Instead the College of Arts & Sciences made a counter proposal.  However, the Executive Committee was never given the opportunity to see the counter proposal.   He noted that an attempt was made to find some common ground between the Senate’s proposal and the Arts & Sciences proposal but none was found. 


Past President Peterson stated that there are 2300 courses on the ES/IS list and some of these are duplicates.  He noted that the matrix of these courses has been moved to the back of the undergraduate bulletin although part of it was left out. 


Past President Peterson stated that there is now a new initiative to revise the general education program.  He noted that the Senate motion can stay indefinitely tabled and he recommended that the process of revising the general education program should start over.  He pointed out that a lot of faculty participation will be needed to revise the program.


Professor Janovy distributed a two-page handout.  The first page gave a summary of the General Education Planning Team and Advisory Committee’s progress to date.  He stated that the second page is a draft listing the ideals of a general education program.  He noted that these ideals come from a variety of sources. 


Professor Janovy stated that the Team is discussing ways in which to approach the task of revising the program.  He noted that it would be impossible to design a program that is simple.  He pointed out that general education programs at other institutions have been reviewed and they all have a proliferation of courses in the program. 


Professor Janovy noted that there are unfunded mandates that will need to be addressed in the revision process.  He stated that instructors who teach freshmen level courses have particular issues that need to be discussed. 



Professor Janovy stated that the Team is thinking that the heavy intellectual work for a major should be handled within a department.  This refers to the IS courses.  He noted that departments will need to participate in discussions in order to revise the general education program.  Professor Reichenbach stated that he thinks it would be a mistake to put all the responsibility of IS courses on each department.  He stated that there needs to be a more top down approach to revising the program rather than having all the departments involved.  Professor Janovy asked that anyone with specific suggestions should feel free to contact him. 


President Elect Moeller stated that she totally disagreed with not allowing the departments to get involved.  She pointed out that she was involved in the revision of a general education program at another university and the faculty members were heavily involved in the process.  Because of the faculty involvement, the revisions were approved and the faculty members were happy with the revisions.  Professor Reichenbach stated that he did not mean that the top down approach should come from the administrators.  Rather there should be leadership from the faculty. 


Professor Janovy noted that if the ideals of the IS program were carried out there would not be concern for the program.  Unfortunately things have changed and the IS courses often do not reflect their original intent. 


Professor Hoffman asked what the plans are for replacing the ES/IS program.  Professor Janovy stated that the intent of the Chancellor’s office is to have a general education program that is simple, elegant, and works. 


Past President Peterson noted that a discussion on revising the program has been started on Blackboard.  He stated that one of the questions being raised is what students should know when they graduate.  He stated that the Team is hoping to have a lot of discussion on this topic. 


Professor Janovy noted that one change the Team is working on is identifying the outcomes of the program.  He noted that two kinds of outcomes are being considered.  These outcomes are experience based or performance based.  President Elect Moeller noted that many universities base their general education program on performance based outcomes. 


Professor Fuller asked for clarification regarding the structure for the Planning Team and the Advisory Committee.  Professor Janovy stated that he chairs both the Team and the Advisory Committee.  He noted that Past President Peterson is also a member of both.   Professor Janovy noted that there is representation from all of the colleges on the Committee.


Professor Janovy pointed out that the general statements made on the program are merely drafts and the Team and Advisory Committee are hoping to have discussions on the draft document.  He noted that the University is a very diverse institution and therefore it is important that the Team and Committee hear from the faculty of this issue. 


Past President Peterson noted that a group of faculty members and administrators went to a workshop this past spring and interacted with faculty members from other institutions.  He stated that a number of the people who went to the workshop are involved on the Team and Committee. 


President Beck suggested that number three of the general statements dealing with numerical skills should be clarified.  She asked if faculty members will be able to see the information that the Team has gathered to help assist them in revising the program.  Professor Janovy stated that if people want access to the information that the Team has, they should contact him. 


The meeting was adjourned at 4:15 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, November 1, 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.