UNL Academic Senate Minutes - December 5, 2006





City Campus Union,

December 5, 2006

Presidents Ali Moeller, Steve Bradford, and Mary Beck Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Moeller called the meeting to order at 2:39 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1      Diversity Plan

President Moeller noted that last month Professor Moshman, Educational Psychology, gave a presentation to the Senate on his interpretation of the draft diversity plan.  She stated that since then the Executive Committee met with Linda Crump, Assistant to the Chancellor, Equity, Access and Diversity Programs, about the draft plan.  President Moeller reported that the Committee raised the concerns the faculty members have about the plan.  She noted that the Chancellor has requested the Committee develop a process on how to proceed with a possible new plan. 


2.2      Past President Beck’s Departure

President Moeller stated that, as most people have read in the Daily Nebraskan, Past President Beck is leaving the University to become chair of the Animal and Veterinary Science department at Clemson University.  President Moeller pointed out that Past President Beck will be back on campus from time to time to fulfill her responsibilities in the Senate.  She noted that the Senate wishes Past President Beck all the best in her new endeavors.


3.0    Vice Chancellor Owens

Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he was substituting for the Chancellor who was out of town.    Vice Chancellor Owens wanted to congratulate Past President Beck on her new position.  He noted that it was a delight to work with her and he wished her the best.  He thanked her for all of the work that she has done for UNL. 


Vice Chancellor Owens reported that the North Central Accreditation (NCA) team finished up its visit on campus after the last Senate meeting.  He stated that the team was very impressed with their visit.  He stated that Professor O’Hanlon, SVCAA Couture, Associate VC Jacobson, Associate VC Fritz and many others need to be commended for their hard work in getting the self-study report ready for the team’s visit.  He stated that he thinks UNL has a lot to be proud of and that we are a tremendously good university that has been able to stay on top in spite of the difficult times experienced with the budget cuts.


Vice Chancellor Owens pointed out that 46% of the legislature will be new members.  He noted that the university has several agenda items for funding and he believes there will be a funding battle this coming year.  He expressed relief for the defeat of Amendment 423.  He noted that many people realized that the Amendment was the wrong way to solve the problem of overspending but he believes that Governor Heineman will do all he can to control state spending.  Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he has been told that the state budget is quite robust which could possibly result in the legislature reducing taxes.  He pointed out that the legislature will go into session on January 3rd and end May 31st and the university will probably not know its budget until the end of the session.  Vice Chancellor Owens reported that while in Kearney he heard the Governor state that he has great respect for President Milliken and that they have a good working relationship. 


Vice Chancellor Owens pointed out that there is not much we can do to control the price of utilities but there are some things that can be done to help lower the usage of utilities.  He stated that UNL has done well to control costs and it needs to continue to do so.  He pointed out that increasing enrollment will help offset the cost of utilities. 


Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he recently hosted a breakfast for pre-tenure faculty members and there was good discussion.  He noted that it was good to hear what is on the minds of these faculty members and he hopes to continue these kinds of discussions. 


President Moeller pointed out that there was a housing issue with students in the beginning of the semester.  She asked if there was some kind of solution to the problem down the road since there is an emphasis on recruiting more students.  Vice Chancellor Owens stated that Vice Chancellor Franco is working hard to resolve the problem.  He stated that another building is being considered for renovation although this may take some time.  He stated that the plan is to move as quickly as possible to fix the dilemma. 


Past President Beck noted that the focus of the accreditation was on strategic planning.  She stated that overall the process went well but the strategic planning process was handled very differently across the campus.  She asked if the accreditation team looked at the planning process at the department and college levels and questioned if the campus will get any suggestions on strategic planning.  Vice Chancellor Owens noted that the exit report of the team was very brief but he anticipates that we will be getting comments about it in the written report.  Associate to the Chancellor Howe stated that the report from the team has not arrived yet. 


President Moeller noted that the Senate took an active role in the team’s visit.  She stated that the members of the accreditation team were very engaged and knowledgeable and they asked substantive questions.  She pointed out that she and others learned a lot from the accreditation process. 


4.0    Approval of 11/7/06 Minutes

Professor Fuller, Art & Art History, moved and Professor Peterson, Agricultural Economics, seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


5.0    Committee Reports

5.1  Academic Planning Committee

Professor Harvey, Chair of the Academic Planning Committee, reported that there were no recommendations for the Senate to take action on.  He noted that the major work of the APC this year was being involved in a number of academic program reviews as well as approving some degree programs.  He stated that one of the major highlights is the APC’s effort to roll out the idea of a University Academy.  He reported that the Committee has received a lot of feedback from the faculty on this proposal and classes are being developed that will hopefully be offered next fall. 


President Moeller pointed out that the APC met 14 times last year which required a lot of commitment from the faculty members on that committee.  She noted that the campus appreciates the work of these faculty members. 


5.2    University Judicial Board and Appeals Board

Dr. Hecker, Director of Student Judicial Affairs, reported that there are no recommendations for the Senate to take action on.  He stated that the Judicial Board heard two cases over the last 12 months and the Appeals Board heard only one case.  He noted that the appeals case involved academic dishonesty.  He reported that a case in November involved one student who had violations with alcohol, drugs, traffic, and disciplinary problems. 


Dr. Hecker stated that he appreciates the work of the faculty members on the Boards and realizes how busy the faculty members are.  He stated that the faculty input is important in the judicial process. 


Dr. Hecker reported that the campus continues to struggle with the issue of academic dishonesty.  He pointed out that the academic dishonesty case involved a doctoral student and the problem of academic dishonesty crosses all levels of the university.  He noted that he is continuing to work with the Senate and the faculty to find ways to combat this problem.  He stated that one of the things that need to be done is to find better ways to better educate our students about our standards.  He noted that his office hopes to develop a website that will provide a list of resources for students, faculty members, and parents on best practices regarding academic dishonesty.  He stated that before the website is launched he will coordinate with the Senate Executive Committee.  He stated that he wants to seek input from the faculty on how best to deal with the issue of academic dishonesty.


Dr. Hecker reported that the number one code of conduct violation is alcohol and alcohol related issues.  The second is academic dishonesty and acts related to it.  He stated that he sees academic dishonesty as a growing issue and he is grateful to those faculty members who have been diligent about it. 


Professor Jackson, Food Science & Technology, asked Dr. Hecker to enumerate the number of cases that are brought to the Student Judicial Affairs Office that do not involve the Judicial Board.  Dr. Hecker stated that approximately 600 – 700 cases are reported to his office but only two went to the Judicial Board.  He noted that he tries very hard to work with students to resolve the cases.  He pointed out that cases going to the Board are very timely and costly and he tries to minimize the number of cases the Board has to hear.  He stated that he does not know the exact percentages of the violations but he suspects that there are 400 incidents related to alcohol, and 60 – 70 are related to academic dishonesty.  He stated that other violations are vandalism, theft, and traffic violations.  He pointed out that students who are 21 can legally consume alcohol off campus but if they bring alcohol back to campus it becomes a problem for UNL. 


President Moeller noted that in April, Heath Tuttle from Information Services gave a demonstration on the Safe Assignment program.  She stated that she has used the program this year and has really seen a decrease in problems


of plagiarism because the program showed students where they may not have quoted properly.  She stated that she recommends using it and people should contact Heath Tuttle if they have any questions about the program.     


6.0    Honorary Degrees

Associate to the Chancellor Howe asked the Senate to vote on the ballots provided at the meeting.  He requested that the name of the candidates for the honorary degrees be kept confidential because approval is still needed by the Board of Regents.  The Senate voted on the honorary degrees.


7.0    Unfinished Business

7.1    Motion to Combine Commencement and Honors Convocations Committees

President Moeller noted that the decision to merge the committees is an effort to streamline committees and the work of the faculty.  She asked if there was any discussion on the motion.  No discussion occurred.  Motion approved.


7.2    Motion to Endorse the General Education Proposals

President Moeller noted that there was a lively debate on the proposals at the last Senate meeting.  She stated that the handout provided shows how each of the undergraduate colleges will be voting on the proposals.  She asked for senators from each of the undergraduate colleges to discuss how the voting will take place in their college, whether the curriculum committee or the faculty as a whole will be voting on the proposals. 


Professor Fuller reported that in the Hixson Lied College of Fine Arts all faculty members will have an opportunity to vote on the proposals.  She stated that the voting will be done on Blackboard and she believes the voting will continue through December 15th. 


President Moeller opened up the floor for discussion on the motion.  Professor Ledder reminded the Senate that the Senate vote is not an official vote.  He stated that the purpose of the motion is to unofficially endorse the proposals.   He pointed out that the colleges would officially vote on the proposals. 


Professor Kiewra wanted to address the substance of the proposals.  He stated that he applauds the idea of having an outcome driven program but what is missing is the fundamental outcome of information processing.  He noted that students must know how to learn in order to be life long learners.  He stated that the basic element of processing information is missing, regardless of how the information is delivered.  He noted that this is not conveyed in the set of objectives put forth in the proposals.  He pointed out that the general education committee did make some changes but there needs to be more regarding the act of interpreting information.  He noted that outcome 2.C is of particular concern.


Professor Ledder pointed out that the general education committees did rewrite outcome two because of the concerns that have been raised.  Professor Kiewra acknowledged that the changes were in the right direction but he believes they do not go far enough.  President Moeller stated that processing information can be embedded in the content of the course.  Professor Kiewra agreed that this is possible but he questioned how many courses teach these skills. 


Professor Ledder stated that the proposals cannot be amended but the motion to endorse the proposals could be amended.  He stated that the motion could be amended to recommend that the proposals be changed although he did not think this was a good idea.  He pointed out that if the Senate recommends that changes be made to the proposals it could open the flood gates for people wanting to make more revisions.  He stated that there is no mechanism in place for allowing the colleges to recommend changes. 


Professor Lee, Communications Studies, stated that she understands the Curriculum Committee met and changes were suggested as friendly amendments to the proposals.  She stated that it is important for the faculty to know if the colleges are making recommendations to the committees on the proposals. 


Professor Peterson pointed out that he is a member of both the General Education Planning Team and the General Education Advisory Committee.  He stated that there is probably a good chance that the recommendations being made will go back to the committees for consideration.  He noted that outcome two has generated the most concern and some changes may need to be considered.  He pointed out that it does not make sense to view the proposals as things cast in stone.  He noted that there needs to be some flexibility with the program and some issues will need to be addressed as they arise.  He stated that it is important to keep in mind that the general education committees are willing to modify things.  He pointed out that the idea is to wait and see what issues arise rather than trying to anticipate everything that could happen with the program. 


Professor Lee stated that this gives concern about intellectual integrity if the committees are willing to change the program.  She stated that she is not comfortable with voting on this issue.  Professor Peterson pointed out that the idea is to have an outcome driven program but the challenge is that language is needed that applies to the entire campus.  He stated that he believes that we need to try to get the program set up as best as we can but flexibility needs to be maintained.  He noted that the committees did discuss the concerns made by the Communication Studies department but he hopes everyone understands that the committees need to accommodate wide areas of interests with the program.   He pointed out that the committees have not worked out the actual program and the governance of it yet but everyone’s vision is to have something that is dynamic and can be adjusted over time.  He noted that with the current program if a course is designated as an IS course it stays that way forever.  He stated that the committees agreed that there needs to be a program in place that can be modified if needed. 


President Elect Bradford stated that he has concerns if the colleges approve the outcomes and then changes are made to them afterwards by the committees because something could be put into place that has not been approved by the colleges. 


Professor Lee stated that her concern is with the fluidity of the process.  She stated that anything can be put into the outcomes.  She stated that she does not think the proposed general education program will be better than the current program.  She asked for people to name a course that would not fit into objective six besides the physical sciences. 


Professor Ledder stated that the proposals presented in the spring will address some of the concerns regarding how courses fit into the general education program.  He pointed out that he does not know if his course will fit into outcome three and he might need to change the way the course is taught.  He stated that people should not worry too much about approving the first two proposals.  He noted that he is quite confident that nothing can be put into practice until the other proposals are presented.  He pointed out that approving these first two proposals does not mean that the faculty will be stuck with anything new. 


President Moeller noted that it is important to remember that the outcomes are general statements.  She reported that the Executive Committee carefully reviewed the outcomes.  She suggested that faculty members see how the outcomes apply to courses in their departments.  She pointed out that it is still the purview of the faculty to determine how the outcomes will be met. 


A vote was taken on the motion:  30 voted to approve the motion, 8 voted against the motion, and 3 abstained. 


7.3    Motion to Change the UNL Employee Benefits Committee

President Moeller reported that the Committee on Committees reviewed and approved the proposed changes to the Employee Benefits Committee.  She asked for discussion on the motion.  No discussion was held.  The motion was approved unanimously. 


8.0    New Business

8.1    Motion Concerning the University’s Prescription Drug Plan

President Elect Bradford stated that he was presenting a motion calling for the University of Nebraska administration to demand that Caremark’s plan match the minimum prices being offered by Wal-Mart and Target for generic drugs.  Motion seconded by Professor Peterson. 


President Moeller stated that discussion and a vote on the motion will be held during the January 9th meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, January 9th, 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Richard Alloway, Secretary.