UNL Academic Senate Meeting - January 10, 2006



East Campus Union,

January 10, 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

President Beck welcomed back the Senators and hoped that they all had a good break.


2.1  Redistricting of the Senate

President Beck reported that the Senate office is working on the redistricting report of the Senate which determines the number of representatives from each district.  She stated that the report will be presented to the Senate at the February meeting.


2.2  Curriculum Committee Report (Professor Casullo)

Professor Casullo stated that the report summarizes the main activities and priorities of the Committee as well as making recommendations for the Senate to act on.  He reported that the main preoccupation with the Committee this past year has been the implementation of the CREQ system (the on-line system for curricular actions).  He stated that most of the technical problems of the system have been worked out although a few minor problems still exist. 


Professor Casullo stated that it is important for committee members to be appointed in a timely fashion because some training is now required for new members.  He pointed out that the training needs to take place before the September meeting when actions need to be voted on.  He stated that at the end of the report the Committee makes recommendations for Senate actions.  These actions include: distinguishing the voting and non-voting members; eliminating the UNL Graduate Council member; decrease the number of ASUN student representatives from four to two; make the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs or designee a non-voting member; include the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, the Director of the Honors Program, a representative of the Office of Registration and Records, and a Secretary as non-voting members.  He stated that the changes are being suggested to reflect the actual makeup of the Committee. 


Professor Casullo stated that the Committee will have a handbook which will articulate responsibilities of the committee and its operational procedures.  He noted that the handbook will hopefully be completed by the end of the spring semester.  He pointed out that copies of the handbook will be sent to college curriculum committees and it will be presented to the Senate. 


Professor Casullo reported that some of the priorities of the Committee are to complete the handbook and to get more involved in the general education reform.  He noted that Professor Janovy and Associate Vice Chancellor Wilson have been invited to meet with the Committee to discuss the general education reform.  He pointed out that the Senate may wish to consider what role it wants the Curriculum Committee to play in the process of revising the general education program. 


Secretary Shea asked what the rationale is behind the changes being proposed to the Committee.  Professor Casullo stated that the current syllabus does not reflect the current membership.  He noted that there have been some slots in the membership that have been difficult to fill.  He pointed out that there has been no Graduate Council member for the last few years.  He stated that he contacted Executive Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Ellen Weissinger about the position and he stated that she thought it would be better to have a liaison to the Committee to review 400/800 level courses.  He stated that this suggestion was presented to the Graduate Council and they agreed with this idea. 


Professor Casullo reported that for at least the past three years the Committee has not had four ASUN student representatives.  He stated that there is usually only one student.  He noted that he discussed the idea of having only two student representatives with the ASUN President who agreed that it was a good idea to reduce the number of students on the Committee because it is difficult to find students willing to serve. 



Professor Casullo stated that a series of changes occurred to the membership of the Committee several years ago when the Office of Undergraduate Studies was created.  He reported that a distinction was made between the voting and non-voting members and some people were added to the Committee although this did not go to the Senate for approval.  He stated that the reason for having the non-voting members on the Committee is to facilitate communications between the offices that are involved in curriculum changes. 


Professor Casullo pointed out that changing the membership of the Committee will help to resolve the issue of what constitutes a quorum for the Committee when it meets. 


Professor Stick, Educational Administration, seconded the motion to revise the syllabus of the Curriculum Committee. 


3.0    Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman stated that although he only has a few items to address it hides the fact that there is an extraordinary amount of things going on.  He noted that the general education reform, strategic planning, the task force on faculty titles, the NCA accreditation, the task force on international recruiting, and a look at how we administer remissions are just some of the things that are occurring.  He pointed out that the campus has some revenue challenges that need to be faced.  He stated that remissions are a little out of control in some places and both graduate and undergraduate remissions will be looked at. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the administration will be looking at revenue enhancing opportunities that will hopefully spare tuition charges.  He pointed out that he is looking at allowing units to make proposals on possible opportunities. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that strategic planning is a major effort on administration this year as it probably is for the units as well. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that budget cuts are still an issue although they have not been a dominant part of the conversation yet.  He noted that colleges have to give proposed reductions within a couple of weeks.  He stated that he is looking at the non-academic areas for possible budget cuts but they have already been greatly cut and there is hardly any room for further cuts.  He pointed out that there is no spare money on campus at this time and it will be difficult to find areas to cut.  He stated that if anyone has creative ways to deal with the budget cuts they should let him know. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the legislative session has begun.  He noted that the campus has two major priorities this session.  He pointed out that the salaries have already been adopted by the legislature with the approval of the budget last year.  He stated that one of the two priorities is the deferred maintenance bill.  He stated that he is optimistic that there is good support for this bill but he pointed out that it has not been adopted yet.  He stated that this bill would provide significant resources for major building problems that exist on campus.  He noted that the Physics building, Keim Hall, and Sheldon Art Gallery all need significant work on them. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the second legislative priority is the budget deficit request.  He noted that there are two items of particular significance to this which could increase our budget challenges if the bill is not accepted.  He pointed out that the first item is the cost of utilities.  He stated that the campus has worked hard to conserve energy without impacting the campus.  He wanted to compliment the campus for being so cooperative in these efforts.  He pointed out that a lot of buildings on campus could not have the heat shut down for legitimate reasons.  He noted that 35 or 40 buildings did have the heat shut down and hopefully this will amount to about a $1 million savings.  He stated that the total shortfall estimates is $3.6 million for utilities.  He noted that without the help of the legislature the campus will be looking at a difficult budget situation. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the other issue facing the University is the clean up at Mead.  He pointed out that the University is not cleaning up after the army but it is cleaning up after activities taken by UNL and the Medical Center in the early 1970’s.  He pointed out that at the time the University was in compliance with the government concerning waste products but changes in regulations have resulted in an obligation for the University to clean the site up.  He noted that testing will need to be conducted to see how much cleanup needs to be done.  He pointed out that the costs will be in the millions but the University hopes it will be in the low millions. 



Chancellor Perlman noted that later in the meeting there will be a presentation on the results of the quality indicators survey.  He stated that the surveys will be a valuable process which will allow faculty members to express their views on important issues.  He stated that the surveys should be looked at with care.  He noted that the surveys are not only helpful to the Senate leadership but to the administration as well.  He stated that the administration will pay as careful attention to the results of the survey as the Senate will. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the Gallup survey will be conducted again in the spring.  He pointed out that it is still a process that needs refining and he is looking at things with respect to the survey.  He stated that the biggest issue is figuring out what neighborhood you are in.  He noted that there has been a lot of frustration about the neighborhoods but he pointed out that the value of the survey is that it can look at trends within the University over time.  He stated that faculty members can be very frustrated with the idea of neighborhoods because many of them work in different locations than their home department or they have a joint appointment.  He stated that one option being considered is to look at the neighborhood from an administrators point of view in that chairs should be responsible for the climate in a department, regardless of where the faculty member actually conducts his/her work.  He stated that this idea will need to be explored with Gallup. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the campus is in the midst of interviewing candidates for the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.  He noted that this position particularly impacts undergraduate students and it is a significant position on campus.  He reported that all candidates will be interviewed this month and he hopes to make a decision quickly after the interviews have been conducted.  He urged faculty members to participate in the interviews and to attend the public presentation by the candidates.  He noted that he will accept rankings of the candidates in the feedback that he gets on each.  He pointed out that many factors go into the selection process.


Professor Hoffman, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, stated that he understood that the Board of Regents have approved a ten year calendar for the University.  He asked if it is possible that this be put on the University website.  Chancellor Perlman stated that this is a sensible suggestion although he does not know whether they approved a calendar for that long a period of time but he will check it out.


4.0    Approval of 12/6/05 Minutes

Professor Stock moved and Professor Flowers, Psychology, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved.


5.0    Committee Reports

          5.1  Intercollegiate Athletics Committee (Professor Crawford)

Professor Crawford stated that Professor Brenneman was inadvertently left off the membership list and it should be noted that he is an active member of the IAC.                       


Professor Crawford reported that various activities of the IAC are on-going.   She stated that the IAC is assessing the athletic academic support services and the review is presented to the IAC for approval.  She noted that this past year’s report was a review of the life skills program.  She stated that the IAC will be reviewing the tutorial program of the athletic department during the 2005-2006 year. 


Professor Crawford stated that the scheduling oversight committee reviews all athletic schedules for the academic year to make sure that student-athletes do not exceed the maximum allowed missed class days due to athletic competition.  She noted that two teams had to get waivers this year in order to attend tournaments. 


Professor Crawford reported that the transfer appeals committee did deny one request to a student to transfer this past year.  She stated that there have been no scholarship appeals in the past 12 months. 


Professor Crawford stated that one of the more enjoyable tasks of the IAC is to select student-athletes of the year.  She reported that this year Rachelle Simpson from International Studies, French/Gymnastics and Daniel Bruce, English/Baseball were elected. 


Professor Crawford reported that the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, a nationwide group of faculty coordinating an effort for positive reform of intercollegiate athletics, was not very active this year.  She reported that Professor Kay Logan-Peters is the UNL representative to the Coalition. 


Professor Crawford stated that she met with the Senate Executive Committee during the fall semester to discuss the athletics department missed class policy.  She pointed out that the athletics department policy is based on the Senate’s policy.  She stated that as a result of the discussion, it became clear that the policy needs to be posted more widely and suggested that it be posted on both the Senate and Athletic department websites.  She reported that an IAC member will attend the new faculty orientation to inform new faculty members about the policy.


Professor Crawford reported that the IAC is helping members of the NCAA steering committee for accreditation.  She stated that she believes the campus will achieve recertification without any problems.


6.0    Unfinished Business

No unfinished business was discussed.


7.0    New Business

          7.1    Results of Senate Survey on Quality Indicators

Professor Flowers stated that the survey was the first one conducted by the Senate and the Executive Committee is pleased with it.  He stated that the reason for conducting a survey on the quality indicators is because of the discussions and concerns regarding the journal lists that are being used and because the indicators could be used as a tool for evaluating individual faculty members rather than assessing programs which is what they are supposed to be used for.  He reported that during the summer the Executive Committee met with Professor Lee, a member of the local chapter of the AAUP, who indicated that there could be instances where the journal lists were being used for individual faculty evaluations and were influencing faculty members’ decisions, in a negative way, in conducting research.  As a result, the Executive Committee wanted to determine if problems with the quality indicators exist on campus.


Professor Flowers pointed out that there were two themes to the survey:  knowledge of the lists for programmatic assessment and whether the lists were being used for individual evaluations.  He noted that the survey was kept short and allowed for open-ended comments. 


Professor Flowers stated that the Executive Committee was quite pleased with the results having received 491 completed questionnaires.  He noted that the tenure status of respondents is reflective of the UNL population.  He pointed out that the tenure status did not reflect a pattern of responses. 


Professor Flowers stated that on the theme of whether the quality indicators were being used for individual evaluations he noted that there is no rampant problem on campus.  However, 13% of the respondents indicated that it has happened to them. 


Professor Flowers stated that the survey indicated that for most faculty members the journal lists did not cause a problem in influencing decisions on research and collaboration. 


Professor Flowers reported that the pattern of responses changes when responses are broken down by unit.  He stated that the College of Business Administration clearly stands out as using the journal lists for individual faculty evaluations and that the lists are influencing research decisions for some faculty members in that college.  He noted that the other colleges’ responses were very similar in that the lists are not being used for faculty evaluations and are not really influencing decisions on research. 


Professor Flowers stated that in response to the journal lists and whether they are a good fit with a department, some respondents think the lists are a poor fit while others think they are a good fit.  He stated that some responses indicate that there is some dissatisfaction with the journal lists and how well they fit with the research that is being conducted in the department.  He noted that overall the lists do not appear to be a problem but there might be a problem in some local units. 


Professor Flowers stated that 156 open-ended comments were received.  He noted that 30 responses were fairly miscellaneous but some categories were identified.  He noted that 19 statements were supportive of the lists, 9 stated that there were severe problems with the practice of using the lists, 52 negative comments were made about the lists, and 18 comments stated that the lists affected research decisions. 


Professor Flowers noted that some comments were made about the survey itself.  Three statements were critical of the Senate conducting the survey but several statements thanked the Senate for conducting the survey and taking an interest in this topic. 


Professor Flowers stated that in general the process of conducting the survey worked quite well and it is very efficient.  He pointed out that it will be a useful tool to get faculty views on particular issues.  He stated that it


will hopefully improve the communication between the Senate and the faculty and will give the Senate the ability to serve the faculty better. 


Professor Rapkin, Political Science, stated that the Executive Committee would welcome any suggestions from the faculty at large about future surveys they would like to see conducted.  He stated that anyone with suggestions should contact any member of the Executive Committee or the Academic Senate office. 


Professor Flowers stated that the results of the survey will be posted on the Senate website (welcome.htm)  He noted that the Executive committee welcomes any input on topics of interest to the faculty.


President Beck reported that the Executive Committee shared the results of the survey with Chancellor Perlman and SVCAA Couture last week.  She noted that they have the handout of the results and will be thinking and assessing the results of the survey.  She stated that the Committee and the Chancellor and SVCAA had a good discussion on the results of the survey and agreed that if the survey had been conducted several years ago when the journal lists were first being developed that the survey results would have been very different.  She pointed out that the faculty’s worse fears about the lists have not happened for the most part.



The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, February 7th, at 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Patrick Shea, Secretary.