UNL Academic Senate Minutes - February 6, 2007


East Campus Union,

February 6, 2007

Presidents Ali Moeller and Steve Bradford, Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Moeller called the meeting to order at 2:35 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1  The Big Event 2007

Elaine Norton, ASUN and Co-Chair of the Big Event, stated that the event is a one day service project which enables students, faculty and staff to come together to thank the community of Lincoln.  She noted that last year was the first time the event took place here.  She stated that the Big Event originally started at Texas A & M University in 1982 and has since spread throughout the country. 


Norton reported that last year over 800 people and 45 community agencies participated in the event.  She stated that activities include basic construction and painting, moving and lifting of furniture, cleaning paths and roadways, sorting donations, cooking and serving meals, neighborhood cleanups, and assisting persons with disabilities and the elderly. 


Norton stated that the goal this year is to have 1500 students, staff and faculty members participate in the event.  Community goals are to increase the number of agencies and neighborhood associations to 75. 


Norton stated that students who live both on and off campus are being sought to volunteer for the one day project.  She stated that student organizations are being asked to help and ASUN is trying to get faculty members to encourage students to participate.  She noted that the Athletics Department is pushing to get volunteers. 


Norton stated that she is working with the Mayor’s office to coordinate the project.  She pointed out that the clean up areas are not only where students live but in other areas of the city as well.  She noted that food and equipment is provided to all of the volunteers.  She stated that more information can be found on the web (http://involved.unl.edu/bigevent/about.php).  She asked if anyone can help with getting more community agencies on line to contact her. 


2.2  Update on Diversity Committee

President Moeller reported that the Senate Executive Committee has identified a process to assist the administration in looking at the original diversity plan that was submitted in the fall.  She noted that several faculty members have agreed to serve on the Diversity Committee along with Linda Crump.  She stated that the Committee will get started by the end of the month.


3.0    Vice Chancellor Owens

Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he was speaking today for Chancellor Perlman who was out of town raising funds for the university.  Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he would be happy to answer any questions anyone may have.


Vice Chancellor Owens stated that the early actions of the State Appropriations Committee are encouraging.  He noted that the Governor, in an attempt to keep state spending at a 3.8% increase, recommended that the university receive only a 1.1% increase in its budget.  He pointed out that the university’s budget request was for 6%.  He reported that the Appropriations Committee is recommending a 4.2% increase for the university which is good news.  He stated that it would be impossible for the university to operate with only a 1.1% increase. 


Vice Chancellor Owens reported that the utilities costs for UNL and UNMC are very significant because they are the campuses most intensively involved in research which results in more energy consumed.  He pointed out that as new buildings are built on the campuses the energy costs to operate them must be covered.  He stated that reasonable salary increases are needed as well in order for the university to stay competitive with other institutions.  He suggested that if any faculty members know any legislators personally, they should be


thanked for the hard work they are doing.   He noted that the Regents’ budget request of 6.5% was not unreasonable.  He stated that a 4.2% increase would be helpful but the university is not out of the woods yet. 


President Moeller reported that the Senate Executive Committee is working with the Chancellor’s office to communicate ways that the faculty helps the state of Nebraska.  She noted that the committee is working with Michelle Waite, Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Relations, to get faculty members involved in meeting with the legislators.


President Moeller asked that people contact her if they know of any individual faculty members who can meet with a small group of legislators to let them know the good work that is being done here. 


President Moeller reported that the Executive Committee will also be meeting with Assistance Vice Chancellor Currin, Human Resources, to discuss the on-line application form for people seeking faculty positions at UNL.  She stated that if anyone knows of problems with the on-line form to please let the Executive Committee know so that it can be addressed with the Chancellor and with Assistance Vice Chancellor Currin.  She pointed out that we do not want to have any obstacles for potential candidates. 


4.0    Approval of 1/9/07 Minutes

Professor Ledder, Mathematics, moved for approval of the minutes.  Motion seconded by Professor Moxley, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.  Motion approved. 


5.0     Committee Reports

           5.1     Convocations Committee Report (Professor Baldwin)

Professor Baldwin stated that in the report is a request for an increase in funding.  She stated that the Convocations Committee conducted a funding analysis looking at the number of applications received and the amounts requested and the amount awarded.  She noted that thirteen departments requested funding with some departments submitting several requests.  She pointed out that the guidelines for submitting applications states that not more than one award will be given to a department in a semester.  She stated that the Committee violated this rule greatly in order to accommodate some of the requests.  She noted that in future announcements about the application deadline it will be pointed out that a department will only be funded once in a semester. 


Professor Baldwin stated that funding requests totaling $21,299 were received for the 2006-07 year.  She reported that the total amount of funds granted was $11,061.  She pointed out that the Convocations Special Events fund each year of $4,006.  She reported that the remaining $7,005 came from the interest on the Avery Palladian Lectureship Fund through the Foundation.  She pointed out that the requests have been for good speakers and the committee is requesting an increase in the funding to ensure that quality speakers can still be brought to campus.


Professor Baldwin stated that in order to fund all of the requests, an additional $10,168 would be needed.  She pointed out that the Committee had to cut back on the requests.  She stated that the applications that came from a department that submitted numerous requests were given only a minimum amount of funding or no funding at all. 


President Elect Bradford asked for further clarification on providing funding for several requests made by members in the same department.  Professor Baldwin noted that the Committee was presented with this situation this past fall.  She stated that the Committee could have sent back all of the requests made by the same department but instead selected some to receive limited funding and others not to receive any funding.  She pointed out that this goes against the guidelines but it is within the purview of the committee to make that decision. 


5.2     Committee on Committees Report (Professor Peterson)

Professor Peterson reported that the essential work of the Committee is to get people to volunteer to serve on the various committees across campus.  He pointed out that the major drama with the committee is the declining number of people volunteering to serve on committees.   He noted that the Committee is aware that everyone is busy but volunteers are needed to serve on committees in order to ensure shared governance. 


Professor Peterson stated that in an effort to get more volunteers to serve on committees a new approach is being taken by the Committee on Committees.  He noted that multiple mailings are being sent to the faculty.  In the mailings requests are being made for volunteers for specific committees with more information being provided about the responsibilities of the committees.  He stated that the Committee is hoping that these mailings will increase the willingness of faculty to participate in committee service.  He pointed out that it is too early to tell how well this strategy is working.  He reminded the Senate to encourage their colleagues to serve on committees. 


6.0    Pound Howard Award

President Moeller asked the Senate to vote on the Pound Howard ballot.  Associate to the Chancellor Howe asked that the name of the candidate for the award be kept confidential.  He noted that the Senate office will notify the candidate of the outcome once the ballots are tallied. 


7.0    Unfinished Business

7.1    Motion Concerning the University’s Prescription Drug Plan

Professor Chouinard, Mathematics and member of the UNL Employee Benefits Committee, stated that the Committee met over a week ago to review the motion.  He reported that another meeting has been set up with Professor Bradford, Keith Dietze, Director of University Wide Benefits, Greg Clayton, UNL Director, Benefits & Risk Management, and Larry Lockhart, Chief Pharmacist, University Health Center.  Professor Chouinard stated that the Benefits Committee should have an answer to the Senate by the March 6th meeting. 


8.0    New Business

          8.1      Academic Planning Committee, Academic Rights & Responsibilities Committee, and Academic                              

                     Rights & Responsibilities Panel Ballot

President Moeller stated that the ballot will be voted on in March.  She noted that once approved by the Senate the ballot will be mailed to the entire faculty body.


Professor Ledder asked what the difference is between the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee and the Panel.  Professor Peterson stated that the Committee is an oversight committee which receives complaints and selects the hearing committees to investigate the complaints.  He noted out that the investigation is carried out by a group of faculty members from the Panel. 


Professor Ledder asked if there are expectations that the Panel is constructed from people across the campus.  Professor Peterson stated that the procedures for the ARRC were recently rewritten and it is clear in the procedures that there is representation from diverse areas across the campus.  He pointed out that there are a total of 36 people on the Panel and only five people are selected to be on a hearing committee. 


8.2      Motion to Revise University Curriculum Committee Syllabus

President Moeller stated that the Committee on Committees is recommending the changes to the syllabus as suggested by the University Curriculum Committee in its annual report to the Senate.  She noted that since the motion is being made by a Senate committee, a second is not needed.  The motion will be voted on at the March 6th meeting. 


8.3      Carryover of Vacation Time for 12 Month Employees

President Elect Bradford stated that he is not presenting a motion to the Senate but he wants to provide information, particularly for those who are on 12 month appointments.   He stated that recently the Nebraska Supreme Court limited employers from capping carryover vacation pay.  He noted that prior to this decision the university’s policy stated that an employee can only carryover one year’s worth of vacation time.  He pointed out that this has been changed beginning in 2006 so if an employee had more than a year’s vacation time they could carry it over into 2007. 


President Elect Bradford reported that the Board of Regents are going to make changes to the university’s policy on vacation time so people cannot earn more than a certain amount of vacation time.  He stated that for people who have forfeited vacation time in the past the university’s position is that they do not have to cover the lost vacation time.  He stated that he has looked at the Nebraska Supreme Court case and personally thinks the university is wrong on this point.  He noted that employees are entitled to their vacation time although there is a four year statute of limitation on these cases.  He stated that employees who may have forfeited vacation time in the past might want to think about their options.  He noted that it might be possible for some employees to get previously forfeited vacation time restored, but they’re going to have to sue to do so.  He pointed out that this is particularly important for anyone who is retiring because employees get paid for unpaid vacation time. 


Professor Zorn, Finance, reported that some institutions, such as banks, require that people take vacation time during the year.  He pointed out that this allows the banks to conduct audits during the time the employee is gone.  He suggested that the university might take this into account.  President Elect Bradford stated that the Nebraska State Supreme Court decision does not affect such policies. 


President Elect Bradford pointed out that he does not think the Senate can do anything to change the vacation policy.  He stated that it will be up to individual employees to pursue the issue. 



The meeting was adjourned at 3:06 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, March 6th, 2:30 p.m. in the East Campus Union, Great Plains Room.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator, and Richard Alloway, Secretary.