UNL Academic Senate Meeting - February 7, 2006



City Campus Union, Auditorium

February 7, 2006

Presidents Mary Beck, Ali Moeller, and Wes Peterson Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Beck called the meeting to order at 2:33 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  Suggested Revisions to Academic Program Review Guidelines

President Beck reported that the Senate Executive Committee recommended some changes to the APR guidelines that are being revised by a subcommittee of the Academic Planning Committee.  She noted that one suggestion is to have a single academic program review for all of the research and extension centers rather than having four individual reviews.  She stated that this suggestion will need further discussion. 


President Beck reported that another suggestion made to the revised guidelines is to include some consideration of governance structures within units.  She stated that the suggestions do not call for a lot of detail about the governance in units but does ask for the processes used in promotion and tenure and faculty evaluations. 


President Beck pointed out that the subcommittee has agreed to the suggested revisions but the Executive Committee has not yet seen a draft of the document with the changes. 


2.2  Academic Senate Restructuring

President Beck reported that the Executive Committee is just discussing the idea of restructuring the Senate back to the Faculty Senate rather than an Academic Senate.  She noted that no action has been taken at this time.  She pointed out that the other three campuses have a Faculty Senate.  She stated that she would be happy to hear the Senators’ thoughts on the subject.


President Beck stated that the Executive Committee is also starting to look at the UNL committee structure.  She noted that there are quite a few committees which require the service of faculty members and it is getting exceedingly more difficult to find faculty willing to serve on these committees.  She stated that this year less than 100 faculty members volunteered to serve on committees.  She reported that the Executive Committee might charge the Committee on Committees to evaluate some of our committees to see if they can be streamlined. 


2.3  Evaluation of Administrators

President Beck reported that the Executive Committee has been discussing with SVCAA Couture and VC Owens ways to clarify and make the evaluation of administrators more uniform across the colleges.  President Beck noted that administrators are to be evaluated annually and have five year reviews conducted.  She stated that discussions have included how faculty evaluations are collected.  Of particular concern is the requirement of a signature on evaluations.  She pointed out that some kind of signature is needed to ensure there are no duplicate evaluations being made.  She stated that the Vice Chancellors are looking at ways to separate the evaluations from the signatures so that the evaluation is anonymous and names are not included in the summarization of the comments.  She noted that good progress is being made in making the procedures more uniform.


2.4  Call for Nominations for Executive Committee Elections

President Beck reminded the Senate that a call for nominations for the election of Executive Committee officers and members was sent out by the Committee on Committees.  She stated that the elections will be held at the April 25th meeting and people are needed to run for the positions of President-Elect, Secretary, Extension Educator committee member, and one other committee member.  She noted that the Colleges of Business Administration, Law, and Fine Arts do not have any representation on the Executive Committee.  She stated that anyone interested in running should either contact the Academic Senate Office (2-2573), Professor Hoffman, Chair of the Committee on Committees (2-1389), or herself (2-6439).


3.0    Vice Chancellor Owens

Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he was speaking for the Chancellor who was out of the country. 

Vice Chancellor Owens reported that President Milliken will be testifying in front of the Appropriations Committee on Thursday.  Vice Chancellor Owens stated that of particular interest is LB 605 which is the bill on deferred maintenance on a number of buildings on campus.  He stated that the bill refers to the Sheldon Memorial Art Galley, the Physical Science building, Animal Science and Keim Hall.  He pointed out that getting these buildings renovated is critical for the future of the university because their renovation will help us to be more competitive with other universities. 


Vice Chancellor Owens stated that the other legislative bills that will have big implications for the University deals with the deficit request for utilities and the clean up of Mead.  He noted that if the legislature does not help with these costs the University will be in trouble financially.  He pointed out that the utility deficit budget is not entirely clear yet because of the fluctuations in the temperature.  He noted that the University is asking that the funding is added permanently to the University budget.


Vice Chancellor Owens stated that the funding request to help clean up Mead is a one time request.  He noted that the Mead site is a large agricultural research center and was a former munitions plant during WWII.  He pointed out that the University is not responsible for cleaning up waste from the munitions plant but it is responsible for cleaning up certain low level nuclear wastes and chemical wastes from the University’s use.  He stated that originally the standards allowed the dumping of these wastes but the standards have since changed.  He noted that the cost of the clean up could be $6.9 million.  He reported that the Governor has endorsed the bill and is asking $3 million from the Environmental Trust Fund to help cover the cost of the clean up. 


Vice Chancellor Owens stated that the administrators are still looking at the proposed budget reductions.  He noted that the Chancellor estimates that announcements on the budget cuts will be made in the next two or three weeks. 


Vice Chancellor Owens stated that the next Gallup survey will be sent out in early April. 


Vice Chancellor Owens reported that Dr. Juan Franco has been asked back for further in depth interviews for the position of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. 


Vice Chancellor Owens announced that Dr. Rolando Forest will begin his position as Head of the Food Science and Technology department on March 1st.  Vice Chancellor Owens noted that Professor David Jackson has done an excellent job serving as interim chair. 


President Beck asked if other state universities have had to deal with similar clean up situations such as Mead.  Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he does not think the Mead cleanup is a unique situation although he does not know how often it has occurred.  He noted that there are some real concerns with the pollutants at the site.


4.0    Approval of 1/10/06 Minutes

Professor Stick, Educational Administration, moved and Professor Meyer, Biological Systems Engineering, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved. 


5.0    Committee Reports

5.1    Convocations Committee Report (Professor Voeltz)

Professor Voeltz stated that the committee meets twice a year to approve funding for visitors coming to campus the following semester.  He noted that April 14th will be the deadline for applications for funding guest speakers during the fall semester.  He stated that $14,950 was awarded to 21 recipients this past year.  He pointed out that the number of departments seeking funding has increased.  He pointed out that the application form and guidelines can be found on the Senate webpage (welcome.htm)

He stated that anyone with special needs after the deadline date should contact him.


5.2    Honorary Degrees Committee Report (Professor Hitchcock)

Professor Hitchcock stated that the committee sent an email message to faculty members calling for nominations for the Honorary Degrees and for the Pound Howard Award.  He noted that the Honorary Degrees were voted on by the Senate in December and three applications were received for the Pound Howard Award.  He reported that the committee voted unanimously to forward one of these nominations to the Senate for a vote.


6.0    Pound Howard Award Ballot

Associate to the Chancellor Howe asked the Senate to vote on the ballot and requested that the Senators keep the name of the nominee confidential.


7.0    Unfinished Business

7.1    Revisions to Curriculum Committee Syllabus

President Beck stated that the Curriculum Committee moved to revise the syllabus so it coincides with the current members on the committee. 


Professor Lawson, Geosciences, stated that he objected to the deletion of a liaison from the Graduate Council to the committee.  He noted that when he was Dean of Graduate Studies he found it helpful to have a liaison to the committee.  He stated that he recognizes that faculty members are busy with committees but he feels that the Graduate Council should have a liaison to the Curriculum Committee.  Professor Lawson moved to amend the revisions by including a liaison from the Graduate Council as a non-voting member.  Professor Harbison, Chemistry, seconded the motion.  Amendment approved by the Senate.


Motion to revise the Curriculum Committee syllabus was approved by the Senate.


8.0    New Business

          8.1    Special Election Ballot for Academic Planning Committee

President Beck stated that the reason for the special election ballot is to replace Professor Minter who resigned from the Academic Planning Committee due to being made Vice Chair of the English department.  President Beck stated that it is very important to bring the Academic Planning Committee up to full membership.  She asked that the ballot be considered as an emergency motion.  Motion seconded by Professor Arth, Teaching, Learning, & Teacher Education.  Motion to treat the ballot as an emergency item approved.


Motion to approve the special election ballot was approved.


8.2    Academic Senate Redistricting Report

President Beck stated that the report was being presented today and will be voted on at the March meeting.  She stated that if anyone has questions about the report they should contact the Senate Office to speak to Karen who will be happy to go over the list of names of faculty members that was sent by the department chair.


Past President Peterson noted that the Senate approved changes to the Senate Bylaws electoral constituencies.  He asked if the report reflects these changes.  Griffin stated that it does reflect the changes.


Professor Flowers, Psychology, seconded the acceptance of the report.  The report will be voted on at the March meeting.


8.3    Ballot for Academic Planning Committee, Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee, and the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Panel

Professor Hoffman, Chair of the Committee on Committees, asked Senators to encourage their colleagues to volunteer to serve on committees.  He pointed out that last year 120 positions on committees needed to be filled but only 80 people volunteered to serve.  He noted that this is a turn down rate of 1 to 5 from faculty members and the net result is that it is getting more difficult to find anyone to serve on committees.  He stated that the Committee on Committees will look at the charge from the Executive Committee to see if committees can be merged or eliminated. 


Professor Hoffman stated that the ballot for the APC, ARRC, and ARRP elections is being presented to the Senate and will be voted on at the March meeting.  He pointed out that these are positions elected by the faculty body and the people on the ballot have agreed to run.  Professor Alloway, Journalism, seconded approval of the ballot. 


Coordinator Griffin pointed out that there is an open slot on the APC ballot.  She noted that the Committee on Committees contacted numerous faculty members to see if they would be willing to run for election but all of them turned down the offer.  She stated that if any faculty member from the Physical Sciences (Chemistry, Computer Science & Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematics, Statistics, Physics & Astronomy, and all departments in the College of Engineering) is interested in running on the ballot they should contact Professor Hoffman (2-1389), President Beck (2-6439), or the Senate Office (2-2573) to let them know.  Associate to the Chancellor Howe pointed out that if the funding from the legislature fails for the utilities deficit and the Mead cleanup, the Academic Planning Committee may be very busy in dealing with the budget cuts.  President Beck encouraged people to serve on the APC because it is a critical committee that is very important.  She stated that anyone interested in making a difference on campus should consider running for election. 


8.4    Proposed Revisions to the Faculty Compensation Advisory Committee (FCAC) [Past President Peterson]

Past President Peterson stated that the revisions are being proposed by the FCAC and would be voted on by the Senate at the March meeting.  He noted that the Committee of Committees reviewed the revisions and approved the changes.  He stated that the origin of the changes is that the current syllabus states that the President-Elect of the Senate will serve as chair of the FCAC.  Past President Peterson pointed out that this is a difficult task for the President-Elect to do since the person has never served on the committee before and is unaware of the work and procedures of the committee.  He stated that it made sense to restructure the leadership of the committee so the person who is chair has some experience on it.  He pointed out that the revisions include the President, President-Elect, and Past President of the Academic Senate being members of the committee but only the Past President would be a voting member and this person would serve as chair of the committee.  He stated that there are five faculty members and five administrators on the committee. 


Past President Peterson noted that the revisions include adding the Associate to the Chancellor and the Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Relations to the list of non-voting administrative support people.  He noted that also included is language allowing the SVCAA and VC of IANR to designate someone to the committee if they cannot attend a meeting. 


Past President Peterson pointed out that the committee makes recommendations to the Chancellor on how salaries should be distributed.  He noted that the committee also monitors gender equity in salaries and looks into benefits, particularly retirement benefits. 


Professor Kranz, Northeast Research & Extension Center, stated that the term “Cooperative Extension” needs to be changed to “Extension.”  He questioned whether Vice Chancellor for Agriculture and Natural Resources refers to the Vice Chancellor of IANR or whether it is supposed to be someone else.  Associate to the Chancellor Howe stated that former VC Omtvedt told him that the title is Vice Chancellor Agriculture and Natural Resources.  Past President Peterson stated that the word Cooperative will be removed and he will check on Vice Chancellor Owen’s title.


9.0    General Education Revision Process

President Beck stated that an update on the general education reform is being prepared.  She noted that sometime in the spring the objectives of the revised program should be finalized and student outcomes will be proposed as well as an update of the structural criteria.  She stated that the committee hopes that everyone will feel comfortable with the proposals by the time the committee begins determining what courses and activities will fulfill the objectives.   She stated that she did not know how much people were paying attention to the process but there is information on the web about it and there is also a Blackboard discussion.  She noted that Past President Peterson has been the Senate’s representative to the committee. 


Past President Peterson stated that the template for action for the first year is approving two proposals:  outcomes and structural criteria.  He stated that one of the problems is that the committee does not know what the structural criteria are but they are working on this.  He reported that two proposals will eventually be sent to the colleges for them to approve.  He stated that next year the actual proposal for the revised program will be unveiled and the fourth proposal on assessment will be made later.  He noted that the committee is trying to decide on the learning outcomes. 


Past President Peterson noted that the discussion on Blackboard about revising the general education program is very interesting.  He stated that it is mostly student discussions.  Some of the comments are well thought out and others feel that making students take courses outside of their field is a waste of time and money.


Past President Peterson stated that the committee realized that they have been trying to decide the goals of the general education program.  He noted that these include developing intellectual and practical skills in students, build knowledge of diverse people and culture, exercise individual and social responsibilities, and the ability to integrate these skills.  He stated that the committee would like to get input from the faculty to see if these goals are what they believe a general education program should accomplish.


Professor Hoffman asked if this will be a replacement for the current ES/IS system.  Past President Peterson stated yes.  He noted that the current system has been in place for about ten years and needs to be updated. 


President Beck pointed out that there may be a major shift in which departments offer courses that will be in the general education program.  She stated that some transfer students may already meet the institutional objectives and will not have to take all of the required courses.   Past President Peterson pointed out that more students will be coming in as transfer or non-traditional students and a system will need to be in place that can accommodate these students.


Professor Alloway asked how the new program will be implemented.  He asked whether students who entered the University under the old system will be forced to adhere to the new program.  Past President Peterson stated that the new program will have to be phased in and students entering under the old system will need to be kept under that system.


Associate to the Chancellor Howe suggested that the committee needs to address the attention to the individual colleges.  He pointed out that state statute declares that colleges must approve the curriculum.  He strongly encourages that faculty begin discussions within their departments and colleges on this issue rather than waiting until later on.  Past President Peterson noted that the Senate can be helpful with the revision process but it is ultimately the colleges that must approve the changes.  He stated that one issue that needs to be addressed is if all of the colleges do not approve the revisions.  He stated that discussing the issues early may help to avoid problems later on.


President Beck reported that an issue on the horizon that needs to be watched is changes to the graduate tuition remission program.   She stated that a proposal is being looked at to have departments come up with tuition for summer courses that graduate students may take.  She asked Senators to discuss this in the departments and to give feedback to the Executive Committee. 


The meeting was adjourned at 3:33 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, March 7, 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.