Faculty Senate Minutes - March 6, 2007





Campus Union,

March 6, 2007

Presidents Ali Moeller and Steve Bradford, Presiding


1.0      Call to Order

            President Moeller called the meeting to order at 2:40 p.m.


2.0      Announcements

2.1      National Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week – April 2-6, 2007

President Moeller announced that the graduate students are in the process of forming their own organization but asked the Senate to recognize National Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week which is April 2- 6, 2007.  She asked that professors acknowledge the work of the graduate students and suggested faculty members do something special for their graduate students during this week. 


3.0    Vice Chancellor Owens

Vice Chancellor Owens noted that Chancellor Perlman was out of town on university business.  Vice Chancellor Owens stated that he wanted to discuss the university budget.  He pointed out that the Appropriations Committee of the Legislature was currently in session and President Milliken, along with private supporters, will be testifying on behalf of the university.  He stated that he hopes the testimonies go well because the Governor is still being very consistent with his message of limiting the university budget.  The Governor is stating that the university is filled with bright people who should be able to deal with the budget that he wants to give to them. 


Vice Chancellor Owens stated that there is some sympathy with the members of the Appropriations Committee but the final budget is a long way off yet.  He pointed out that any faculty or staff member that knows any particular legislator or have friends who know them should make contact with the legislator to thank them for their work and ask for their help. 


Vice Chancellor Owens stated that if the Governor’s budget for the university sticks it will be a very tough time for the university.  He pointed out that he thinks we can build a strong case on how supporting the university will be an investment in the future of Nebraska. 


President Moeller noted that the legislature is full of bright people and she hopes they will make the right decision regarding the university budget.  She stated that she recently read an article that stated that the majority of governors across the country are supporting their state university because they realize that putting investments in the university is helpful to the state’s economy. 


President Moeller reported that the Executive Committee recently met with Michelle Waite, Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Relations, to discuss what faculty members can do to help contact legislators.  President Moeller pointed out that there are 23 new legislators and anything the faculty members can do to let these legislators know the good work that is being done by the faculty would be very helpful. 


4.0    Approval of 2/6/07 Minutes

Professor Stock, English, moved and Professor Nickerson, School of Biological Sciences, seconded approval of the minutes.  Motion approved. 


5.0     Committee Reports

5.1     Graduate Council (Executive Associate Dean Weissinger)

Executive Associate Dean Weissinger wanted to thank the faculty members who serve on the Council.  She noted that they are very experienced, wise, and reasonable faculty members.  She noted that there are two open seats on the Council, one from business and one from the physical sciences.  She stated that she hopes faculty members from these areas will consider running for the Council and asked the senators to urge their colleagues to do so. 


Executive Associate Dean Weissinger reported that the Council approved a number of graduate structures and policies this past year as well as new specializations, graduate certificates, and a new major in Architectural Engineering.  She noted that after the Council makes these approvals they will go to the Academic Planning Committee, then to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Provost and finally to the Board of Regents and the Coordinating Commission for Secondary Education. 


Executive Associate Dean Weissinger reported that a name change was approved for the master’s major and doctoral specialization in Family and Consumer Sciences.  The new name of the degrees will be Child, Youth and Family Studies.  She noted that this is to coincide with the name change of the department.


Executive Associate Dean Weissinger stated that on Thursday the Council will look into approving a master’s degree in Art & Art History.  She noted that there is currently a master’s of fine arts degree but the department wants to offer a master’s of arts degree as well. 


Executive Associate Dean Weissinger stated that efforts in recruiting and retention have resulted in a 10% increase in graduate student applications in every category.  She stated that the largest gains are domestic applications in doctoral programs.  She noted that she is hearing that the number of graduate applications is up and the quality of the applications is also up.  She stated that many departments are in the process of finalizing admittance into their graduate programs. 


5.2     Honorary Degrees (Professor Walklin)

Professor Walklin stated that it is an interesting set of circumstances to find highly qualified people for honorary degrees and the Pound/Howard Award.  He noted that the members of the committee are very helpful.  He stated that he would be glad to respond to any questions.   No questions were asked.


5.3     Parking Advisory Committee (Professor Arth)

Professor Arth stated that the primary responsibility of the committee is to act in an advisory capacity for the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance.  He pointed out that the committee does not set or create parking policies.  He stated that it is an excellent committee and they have met four times during the fall semester and will have two more meetings this semester. 


Professor Arth reported that the committee reviewed homecoming strategy plans particularly those dealing with parking and preparations for the homecoming parade.  The committee is also looking into having parking spaces and passes for motorcycles.  Professor Arth noted that students have been appealing for motorcycle parking.  Currently there is parking for motorcycles only where there is space available and people do not pay for the space.  He pointed out that faculty and staff members are also using the motorcycle spaces.  He stated that there will probably be a minor fee for a motorcycle space and the committee is considering providing a decal for a permit holder if they have both a car and motorcycle.  The decal could be used on either vehicle. 


Professor Arth stated that the committee is concerned with the continual loss of parking spaces due to construction.  He pointed out that there needs to be reimbursement for the loss of these parking spaces.  Professor Arth stated that the idea of having a reduced permit for part-time employees is still being debated. 


Professor Arth reported that the issue of littering of parking lots, particularly the lot next to Andersen Hall, continues to be a problem.  He pointed out that that there is a lot of littering after the bars close in some of the university lots.  The committee has looked into putting up a gate for the Andersen lot but these usually get broken.  He stated that the committee is still discussing how to deal with the littering problem. 


Professor Arth stated that parking for emeriti faculty members is still being discussed.  He pointed out that this is an emotional issue and a recommendation has been received from the Emeriti Association but no decision has been made at this time.  Professor Arth reported that the committee is considering changes in its bylaws. 


Professor Ford, English, stated that last year he raised the issue of faculty members not having places to park during the weekend or in the evening because of the lots being used by people in the community.  He noted that there is no patrolling of the lots after 5:00 p.m.  He pointed out that he was informed that the patrolling of the lots after hours was not a financial issue and ticketing of illegally parked cars would cover the cost of having patrols.  He stated that he asked the committee to address this issue and report back to the Senate but this has not been done.  He stated that he would like to review the request and he would like to see the Senate act on this issue.  Professor Arth stated that he would be happy to bring the issue back to the committee.  He stated that he is aware that this is a problem that needs to be discussed. 


Professor Arth urged senators to extol the value of serving on this committee.  He pointed out that it is an excellent committee to work on. 




6.0    Unfinished Business

6.1    Motion Concerning the University’s Prescription Drug Plan

President Elect Bradford reported that the motion was referred to the UNL Employees Benefits Committee to review and this committee met about two weeks ago with people from UNL and Central Administration who deal with health insurance.  At the meeting the person who negotiates with Caremark for the university reported that he has already raised the Target/Walmart generic drug program in his negotiations with Caremark.  President Elect Bradford noted that his motion is asking for the same thing that is already being done and as a result he wants to withdraw the motion.  He reported that the UNL Employee Benefits Committee decided not to take action on the motion because the issue has already been raised with Caremark.  The motion was withdrawn. 


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

          & Responsibilities Panel Ballot

President Moeller stated that the ballot, once approved by the Senate, will be sent to all faculty members.  Professor Chouinard, Mathematics, wanted to verify whether the people who are on the ballot meet the requirements for serving on the committees.  He noted that there are restrictions regarding who can serve on the committees.  Coordinator Griffin stated that the Committee on Committees was careful to ensure that the people nominated were qualified. 


Professor Ledder, Mathematics, asked if there is a restriction on which college members can serve on the Academic Rights & Responsibilities Panel.  Professor Peterson, Agricultural Economics, pointed out that there are 36 people on the panel.  He stated that only six people serve on a hearing committee and these people are selected so there is diversity of representation across the campus. 


Professor Moxley, Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences, asked if the people on the panel must be members of the Senate.  President Moeller stated that they do not have to be a member of the Senate.


The motion on the ballot was approved. 


6.3    Motion to Change the University Curriculum Committee Syllabus

  President Moeller stated that the changes are to provide a clarification of duties and responsibilities between the UCC and the colleges’ curriculum committee.  Professor Peterson pointed out that the motion was proposed by the University Curriculum Committee (UCC).


Professor Shea, School of Natural Resources, asked what the purpose and intent of the changes are.  Professor Peterson stated that there has been a history of confusion regarding the responsibilities of the colleges’ curriculum committee and the UCC.  He noted that the changes provide additional language that more specifically clarifies the duties of the UCC. 


Professor Shea asked if he understands correctly that the changes gives the UCC significant empowerment of what currently exists.  Professor Peterson stated that he does not think this is the case.  He pointed out that the UCC has had the responsibility of trying to police duplication of courses.  He noted that the changes specifically states that the UCC looks at courses that cut across colleges.  He stated that by default the UCC has had to take on the responsibility of approving integrated studies courses because there was no other committee that could do this.  He pointed out that it makes sense to have it written in the UCC committee syllabus that they have the responsibility of approving these courses. 


President Moeller stated that the language particularly clarifies that the UCC will deal with courses that cut across colleges.  She noted that this is important in light of what will be happening with the proposed revisions to the general education program.  Professor Ledder pointed out that the changes to the syllabus are consistent with the college curriculum decisions as stated in the colleges’ bylaws.  He stated that college curriculum committees deal with courses in their college while the UCC deals with those courses that cut across colleges. 


Motion to change the UCC syllabus approved. 


7.0    New Business

7.1    Syllabus Policy

President Moeller stated that the Executive Committee has been working with ASUN to establish a syllabus policy.  Professor Ledder stated that he is presenting the draft syllabus policy and introducing a motion to approve it.  He pointed out that a correction needs to be made in the date of the draft in the resolution; it should be 03/05/07 instead of 03/01/07. 


Professor Ledder stated that the rationale for the policy is that the Regents’ Bylaws require that instructors inform students of requirements for courses but the students have requested that there be a policy for all courses to meet these standards.  He noted that the challenge of the policy is to include enough information to provide students with some structure without tying an instructor’s hands.  He pointed out that there are some cases where all the information cannot be provided because the course can change during the semester.   He asked people to let him know if there is anything that doesn’t seem reasonable in the policy or if anyone wants to offer an amendment. 


Professor Ledder stated that the policy calls for course documentation being disseminated either electronically or by print by the end of the first week of class.  He pointed out that the policy is for classes taught in the traditional setting and it only addresses standard courses, not a practicum. 


Professor Ledder noted that the policy states that the documentation must include the following information:  name of instructor, contact information, required materials, course prerequisites, attendance policy (if any), special policies, and a list of papers, exams, and other assessments that will contribute to the students’ grades.  He pointed out that the special policies can address whether collaboration on take-home exams is permitted, whether calculators can be used on exams or whether there are penalties for late work.   Professor Ledder stated that having a syllabus can be a back up resource for an instructor should a student try to argue differently about the course requirements. 


Professor Ledder stated that the last requirement for the syllabus could be a concern.  He noted that ASUN wanted an even more structured list of what assessments will contribute to a grade as well as the exact or approximate value of these assessments.  He pointed out that this is not practical for many courses and is not needed on every syllabus.   He stated that the students compromised in agreeing to state approximate value of the assessments. 


Professor Zorn, Finance, stated that he has migrated away from the syllabus to Blackboard.  He asked for clarification of whether the policy would require a syllabus or whether the information could be listed under an announcement page on Blackboard.  Professor Ledder stated that he just used the term syllabus policy because it is generally the term used but the policy is really a course documentation policy.  He noted that an instructor could provide the necessary information under several announcements.  He pointed out that the information does not need to be necessarily provided in one document or in a particular form. 


Professor Zorn stated that sometimes he will give general requirement information about a course in the beginning of the semester but provide more specific information later.  Professor Ledder stated that more specific information would probably go beyond the minimum requirements of the policy and can be distributed later. 


Professor Chouinard suggested using the term course standards policy rather than a syllabus policy.  He pointed out that syllabus means a list of topics for a course and does not include a grading policy.  Professor Ledder stated that this has not been discussed and believes that the students prefer the term syllabus policy.  President Moeller pointed out that over time syllabus has become the most common term that students and faculty members understand.  Secretary Alloway pointed out that Blackboard has a tab called Syllabus. 


Professor Eccarius, Special Education and Communication Disorders, stated that the university is getting more and more distance education programs and similar information will be needed for these courses, however some of the information does not apply to these courses.  She asked if there will also be a policy that applies to distance education courses.  Professor Ledder stated that this was an excellent question and the policy may need to be amended to include a sentence that states that distance education courses should have as many items as are meaningful for the course. 


Professor Eccarius asked if the policy would apply to both graduate and undergraduate courses.  Professor Ledder stated that it would be for both. 


Professor Thompson, Economics, suggested that the special policies section might fit more appropriately under the where applicable section.  He pointed out that some of the items listed in the special policies sections cannot be stated in the beginning of the course.  Professor Ledder stated that he became interested in working on the policy because of his interest in academic dishonesty.  He pointed out that when students do something that can be judged to be dishonest it may be because they did not understand what the rules are but this is not the same for having rules for a course.  He stated that if students cannot use calculators in a class they should be told this so they do not go out and purchase an expensive calculator for a course.  He stated that he did not think that complete detail is necessary in the special policies section but an instructor could say that if work is not delivered on time it could be penalized.  He noted that this section should include reasonable things that students should know about the course. 



Professor Zorn stated that one thing that concerns him with the policy is the possibility for gaming.  He stated that he is all for disclosure, but there are a few students who use legalese to try to catch an instructor at something.  He noted that the campus needs to be careful that the policy does not lead to litigation or that we get a lot of appeals on grades because things were not exactly spelled out for the students in the syllabus.  Professor Ledder admitted that there could be a danger here.  He stated that there may be a need to have further discussion on this next month.  He encouraged people to send suggestions for word changes. 


Professor Moxley stated that he uses projected assignments.  He pointed out that some people who read the policy might think that there needs to be dates for these assignments.  Professor Ledder stated that this is not the intent of the policy.  He noted that this would be up to the instructor’s discretion to give this information. 


Professor Stock suggested that penalties have its own section.  He noted that some instructors have penalties for late work while others do not. 


Professor Shea stated that an issue that could be important in the long term is whether this should be called a syllabus policy.  He stated that if this is going to be called a syllabus policy it should be defined and should be listed under a syllabus heading.  He asked what do we intend by the syllabus.  Professor Ledder stated that language could be added to clarify whether this is a syllabus.  Professor Chouinard pointed out that we do not want to cause students to complain if the course documentation is listed in the wrong place on Blackboard.  Professor Ledder agreed.  President Moeller noted that Blackboard has a special designation for a syllabus and if we change the name of the policy we will have to adjust the Blackboard designation. 


Professor Ledder moved for approval of the written motion.  Professor Stock seconded the motion.  The motion will be voted on at the April 3rd Senate meeting. 


7.2    Status of Senate Name Change

Professor Shea asked what the status is of changing the name of the Academic Senate to the Faculty Senate.  President Moeller stated that it is on the Board of Regents agenda and will be voted on at the April Board meeting. 


7.3    Resolution in Support of Professor Ari

Professor Garza, History, wanted to inquire about the possibility of the Senate reiterating its support of Professor Ari, an instructor who was hired by the History department but has not been given a visa by the State department.  Professor Garza noted that there is a lot of movement concerning the case and UNL has joined a lawsuit against the government to have them make a decision on Professor Ari’s visa. 


President Moeller noted that Professor Ari and the university have never received an answer as to why he has not been given a visa.  She pointed out that he was hired in 2005 and the university sought a response to the delay in the visa but has never been given a response. 


Professor Garza stated that the lawsuit is being lead by Georgetown University and UNL is not incurring any costs.  He stated that the lawsuit gives the government a specific time period for making a decision. 


President Moeller asked if Professor Ari is still interested in the position.  Professor Garza stated that Professor Ari is still very interested in the position.  He asked if the Senate should reiterate its previous statement or create a new one. 


Professor Ledder asked what the deadline is for the government.  Associate to the Chancellor Howe stated that the lawsuit has set a 60 day deadline.  Professor Ledder suggested that a motion be written for the April meeting and ruled as an emergency motion. 


The meeting was adjourned at 3:48 p.m.  The next meeting of the Academic Senate will be held on Tuesday, April 3, 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.