UNL Faculty Senate Minutes - October 3, 2006



East Campus Union, Great Plains Room

October 3, 2006

Presidents Ali Moeller, Steve Bradford, and Mary Beck Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

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


2.0      Announcements

2.1  Results of Committee on Committees Election

President Moeller announced that Professor Peterson, Agricultural Economics, and Professor Lawson, Geosciences, won the election to the Committee on Committees. 


2.2  “Becoming a University Ambassador Cards”

President Moeller stated that Central Administration is asking for the help of faculty members and is initiating a University Ambassador program.  The program is designed to identify faculty members who know or have contact with state legislators.  She pointed out that there are a number of new state senators that need to become acquainted with the university and the faculty and Central Administration is hoping that faculty members can assist in educating these state senators.  She encouraged faculty members to sign up for the program by following the instructions on the cards.   


2.3  General Education Revisions

President Moeller noted that the Senate discussed the institutional objectives for the proposed general education program.  She reported that comments from the discussions were given to the General Education Planning Team.  She stated that at the November Senate meeting the outcomes for the program will be discussed. 


Professor Thompson, Economics, stated that one of his colleagues had a conflict with two final exams being scheduled simultaneously for some of his students.  He noted that Friday afternoons are no longer an option for holding final exams.  He pointed out that the Senate supported the change to the exam schedule but he wondered if efforts are being made to avoid this conflict in the future.  Professor Nickerson, School of Biological Sciences, stated that exams were moved to two evenings to replace the Friday afternoon time slot.  Senate Coordinator Griffin stated that she spoke with Dr. Hawkey, Director of Registration and Records, about the conflicts.  She reported that Dr. Hawkey stated that there have always been some conflicts with final exams because of the sheer number of courses that have finals.  She noted that Dr. Hawkey stated that there are actually now fewer conflicts with final exams than before when exams were held on Fridays.  President Moeller suggested having Dr. Hawkey come and speak about the final exam schedule.  


3.0    Chancellor Perlman

Chancellor Perlman wanted to thank all of the faculty members who have participated in the creation of the self study report for the upcoming accreditation.  He noted that the NCA accreditation team will be here in early November.  He pointed out that NCAA accreditation is also taking place this fall.  He stated that there has been a lot of faculty effort for both  accreditations and while the work is not the most rewarding, those working on it have learned a lot about the university and what is going on here.  He noted that the accreditation report is focused on strategic planning.  He stated that some people are still frustrated with the strategic planning process but it is important for the campus to have a plan in place that will move the university forward.


Chancellor Perlman stated that the Deans’ retreat was held last week.  He noted that the overall university strategic plan is not completed yet so it is difficult to see how relevant the college plans will be.  He stated that he appreciates the colleges that conducted the strategic plans from the bottom up.  He reported that the senior administrative team will be developing the overall plan for the campus and everyone will have a chance to look at it. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the draft diversity plan is now on his website (http://www.unl.edu/ucomm/chancllr/pdfs/200609stratplan_diversity.pdf).  He pointed out that the campus is committed to diversity and a plan is needed that will enable the university to move forward.  He stated that he


hopes that individual faculty members and the Senate will review the plan and will let him know what they think of it. 


Chancellor Perlman reported that the Gallup survey results are coming in soon.  He noted that the scores are positive.  He stated that a slide show presentation was made by Gallup on the results and he hopes that this will be available on the web soon.  He noted that unit scores will not be available on the web but they will be sent to the units for them to review and work on.  He stated that recently a study was published that shows evidence that the attitude of others has an impact on how a faculty member teaches and engagement at the faculty level has an impact on engagement with students.  He stated that he hopes everyone will take the Gallup study seriously in order to make the campus a better climate for all. 


Chancellor Perlman stated that the one black cloud on the budget is in regards to the cost of utilities.  He pointed out that the utility costs are a significant number.  He noted that he is impressed with the small steps that everyone can take to help keep the cost of utilities down.  He reported that last year approximately $1 million was saved when the utilities were cut back in the evenings and on the weekends in many campus buildings. 


Professor Nickerson, School of Biological Sciences, asked the Chancellor to comment on the university’s criteria for hiring departmental chairs.  He asked whether chairs should be 100% administration or have some faculty responsibilities as well.  He pointed out that he has heard concerns from departments about having a chair who is 100% administration and who cannot appreciate research talent in junior faculty members.  Chancellor Perlman stated that he does not know of one single chair who believes that they have an appointment of 100% administration.  He pointed out that we are a research university but there is a balance that chairs must maintain between administrative and faculty responsibilities.   He stated that in large departments there are more administrative responsibilities for a chair and this needs to be considered when evaluating a chair.  He pointed out that being a chair is more than doing administrative paperwork, it is about taking a department to the next level. 


4.0    Approval of 9/12/06 Minutes

Professor Peterson, Agricultural Economics, moved and Professor Flowers, Psychology, seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved. 


5.0    Committee Reports

          5.1    Academic Standards Committee (Professor Gregory)

Professor Gregory noted that the report is relatively brief and obvious.  He asked for any questions. 


5.2    Grading and Examinations Committee (Professor Woodward)

President Moeller noted that Professor Woodward was unable to attend the meeting.  She stated that the report was included in the Senator’s packet and anyone having questions should contact Professor Woodward (gwoodward1@unl.edu).


5.3    Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee (Professor O’Hanlon)

Professor O’Hanlon stated that it was a quiet year for the Committee as indicated in the report.  He asked for questions. 


5.4    Commencement Committee (Professor Vigna)

Professor Vigna reported that the number of students registered to graduate in December needs to be corrected to 1,409 students in the report.  She pointed out that this number is up from last year.  She asked that the Senate take note of the poll of the members of the Commencement Committee about merging the Committee with the Honors Convocation and Honorary Degrees Committee.  She stated that the Committee does not feel that it should be merged with the other two committees and noted that the argument for not merging the committees is outlined in the report. 


6.0    Unfinished Business

6.1    Motion to Combine the Commencement, Honors Convocations Committee, and Honorary Degrees Committee

President Moeller stated that the Executive Committee, who originally made the motion to combine the committees, will discuss the Commencement Committee’s recommendations at their meeting tomorrow.  She noted that the motion will either be voted on or withdrawn at the next meeting. 




6.2    Motion to Endorse the Institutional Objectives

President Moeller reported that 529 faculty members completed the Senate’s survey on the Institutional Objectives.  She noted that overall the faculty agreed with the objectives.  She stated that complete results of the survey can be found on the Senate webpage (InstitutionalObjectivesSurveyResults.htm).


Professor Ledder, Mathematics, stated that he wanted to make a change to his motion.  He recommended that rationale number one be changed to read “The Institutional Objectives statement identifies educational goals with broad support from across the academic community.” 


Professor Ledder stated that he believes that the main reason for the Senate to consider passing the motion is because there is no formal role in the general education revision process for the Senate yet it is the only body that formally represents the faculty across the colleges.  He noted that one of the Senate’s roles is to advise the colleges as well as the administration and the Senate should take a lead on the Institutional Objectives. 


Motion approved by acclamation. 


7.0    New Business

7.1    Emergency Motion to Approve Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee Ballot

Presdient Moeller stated that there was an oversight in the election of faculty members to the committee resulting in two committee members being from the same college.  She noted that the syllabus of the committee states that no two members can be from the same college.  She stated that Professor Chouinard has graciously resigned from the committee to resolve this problem but an election needs to be held to replace him.  She stated that she wanted to declare this as an emergency motion.  Professor Wristen, School of Music moved that the motion be accepted as an emergency motion.  Professor Prochaska-Cue, Family and Consumer Sciences, seconded the motion.  Motion approved.


Professor Wristen moved that the ballot be approved.  Professor Ledder seconded the motion.  Motion approved.


7.2    Motion on Spending Limit Bill

President Elect Bradford, Law, stated that he was making the motion as an individual Senator, not as a motion coming from the Executive Committee.  He stated that motion calls for the Academic Senate to express strong opposition to Initiative 423 and to urge all Nebraska citizens to vote against it.  He pointed out that the amendment would limit state government spending to the previous year’s level plus an adjustment for inflation and population growth. 


President Elect Bradford asked that the motion be declared as an emergency motion.  Professor Ledder seconded the motion.  Motion approved.


President Elect Bradford pointed out that the motion includes a discussion about the reason for opposing the initiative.  He noted that he is opposed to big government spending and he would support a spending limit but Initiative 423 is not the right one.  He pointed out that the Initiative is being presented as a freeze on government spending but it is misleading because there is no distinction between discretionary and federally mandated, non-discretionary spending.  It limits all state government spending.  He pointed out that the cost of the federally mandated non-discretionary funds is increasing faster than the inflation rate.  He stated that in order for the state to cover the cost of these funds it will have to make cuts in other funds.  The result is a budget cut, not a budget freeze on spending.  He pointed out that funding to schools and higher education will be cut. 


President Elect Bradford stated that there would be at least two bad consequences if the Initiative was approved.  He stated that tuition rates would need to go up considerably in order to make up for budget cuts to the University and this would result in more lower-income students being priced out of higher education.  Further, more young bright students will choose to go out of state to lower costing schools.  He noted that many students who leave the state do not return and the brain drain of Nebraska will be even worse.


President Elect Bradford pointed out that state aid to local school districts will also be decreased.  This in turn will cause property taxes to increase as local schools try to make up for the loss of the state funding.  He urged the faculty to take a firm stand against Initiative 423.  He pointed out that he has heard talk about faculty members making six figure salaries.  He noted that many of these faculty members would receive considerably


more money if they went to work in the private sector.  He stated that the Initiative would basically be a disaster for the state, particularly to education. 


Professor Wristen asked how the information can be sent to the public if the Senate adopts the motion.  President Elect Bradford stated that the Senate cannot publicize as a body. 


Professor Weiss, Textiles, Clothing, and Design, suggested that a paragraph be included that explains why the Senate is voting on the motion.  President Elect Bradford noted that the motion includes the entire explanation of why the Senate should vote against it. 


Professor Ledder suggested a friendly amendment.  He suggested that the language “The supporters of Initiative 423 simply haven’t thought through the consequences” be removed.  He pointed out that it is not necessary and is combative.  President Elect Bradford stated that he would accept this as an amendment. 


Professor Chouinard, Mathematics, stated that he agrees that the Initiative is not good for Nebraska but he is somewhat leery of passing the motion.  He stated that he does not see any evidence in the motion that will sway votes against it and he believes that it will further typecast faculty members.  He noted that the motion could be used by those proposing the Initiative and it could worsen the university’s good will in the state.  He stated that on balance he agrees with the resolution but he thinks it is the wrong resolution at the wrong time. 


Professor Nickerson stated that he is definitely in favor of the resolution.  He pointed out that at least 25 organizations throughout the state have grouped together to vote against it but the university has not yet mentioned it.  He noted that he attended a meeting last week in Omaha and two people were there from Colorado where a similar initiative was approved.  The Coloradoans stated that the results of the spending limit have created a registration fee of $200 for a child to attend public schools as well as $500 in textbook fees.    He stated that the Senate should add its name to the other worthy organizations opposing this initiative. 


The motion passed by a majority of the votes with 1 opposed and 2 abstention votes. 


7.3    Accreditation Presentation (Professor O’Hanlon)

Professor O’Hanlon stated that the decision was made to have an accreditation process that was not as intrusive to the university as it was during the last accreditation 10 years ago.  He noted that the self study report is not a large report and was written in a story format.  He stated that the report is an attempt to bring together who we are as a university and what we value. 


Professor O’Hanlon reported that the accreditation team will be visiting the campus November 6, 7, and 8th.  He stated that a virtual resource room has been established which will house various reports and information for the team to review. 


Professor O’Hanlon stated that the first chapter of the report is about whom we are and what has been happening on campus for the past ten years since the last accreditation.  He noted that the first three chapters are a narrative and the next five chapters respond to the criteria being asked by the team.


Professor O’Hanlon stated that the administration decided that the self study report was to focus on strategic planning as the special emphasis.  He noted that North Central Accreditation selects the visiting team based on the special emphasis topic and the members of the team will act as consultants to the campus in strategic planning. 


Professor O’Hanlon stated that the longest chapter is the one on teaching and learning.  He noted that an area that the campus needs to address is the issue of assessment. 


Professor O’Hanlon stated that chapter 7 is about the growth in research and international experiences and the use of information technologies on campus.  Chapter 8 is about outreach and taking seriously the notion of applying skills to practical problems.  Chapter 9 is about what the campus learned by doing the self study.  Some of the things learned are:  diversity has always been a priority, results come from unified planning efforts, communication with stakeholders is important, and the prioritization process has guided the success of the campus.  He noted that the report identified that UNL was one of the first universities to have services for students with disabilities and the campus has won national awards for this. 




Professor O’Hanlon stated that a tentative schedule of the accreditation team’s visit will be distributed soon.  He noted that the team will meet with about 150 faculty members in small groups.  He pointed out that the team will want to affirm that the self study report is accurate. 


Professor O’Hanlon suggested that faculty members might want to read the chapters mentioned today.  He stated that the report can be found on line at http://www.unl.edu/svcaa/documents/self_study/self_study_book.pdf.


Professor O’Hanlon stated that there are several key message points to discuss with the accreditation team.  These include how teaching and research match each other here at the university and the important relationship that exists between the state and the university. 


President Moeller noted that the Executive Committee read the draft chapters during the summer and provided feedback to the committee writing the self study report. 



The meeting was adjourned at 3:39 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, November 7, 2:30 p.m. in the City Campus Union, Auditorium.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Rick Alloway, Secretary.