Meeting of the University Senate
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Present: J. Axelrod, S. Brownmiller, C. Cherry, D. Close, C. Ellis, A. Emami, L. Feldman, M. Filippelli, L. Freinkel, N. Fujii, S. Gary, S. Holmberg, A. Hornof, H. Lin, R. Irvin, J. Jablonski, P. Keyes, L. LaTour, P. Lu, A. Mathas, C. McNelly, K. McPherson, C. Minson, L. Moses, L. Nelson, J. Newton, V. Ostrik, M. Pangburn, G. Psaki, P. Rounds, E. Scott, E. Singer, J. Sneirson, J. Stolet, P. Swangard, N. Tublitz, J. Wagenknecht, K. Wagle
Excused: S. Cohen, M. Dennis, A. Djiffack, J. Hurwit, L. Karim,
Absent: D. Brown, E. Chan, S. Maier, L. Richardson, G. Sayre, K. Sheehan
CALL TO ORDER
The regular meeting of the University Senate was called to order at 3:10 in room 150 Columbia by Senate President Peter Keyes.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
Minutes from the special March 1 and regular March 8, 2006 meetings were approved as distributed.
STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY
Provost John Moseley remarked briefly about incoming Provost Linda Brady, saying that the transition from current to new provost has begun and was going smoothly. The provost commented that he has enjoyed the 12 years he has served as provost and felt he was leaving the position in the very capable hands of Provost Brady. She will be on campus toward the middle of May and will take over officially the day after commencement.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Frances Dyke followed the provost’s remarks with an update on the Westmoreland situation. She indicated that bids on the property were due May 8th. If no acceptable proposal is received, the university may extend the proposal time period; the administration also has been working with a real estate and land use consultant. The vice president added that if a proposal received is deemed suitable, the state board would have a public hearing on the proposed sale.
Vice President Dyke reported that child care issues raised by tenants were being addressed in part through the purchase of a building module that will be attached to the Vivian Olum Center. It greatly increases capacity and will be open to the children of displaced Westmoreland students (with student rates). For current tenants, an occupancy option will be extended until the end of August 2006. All student tenants have been given the opportunity to apply for other on-campus housing. Transition teams are meeting weekly to deal with issues as they come forward, and a mitigation team is ready to work on those transition issues if and when the needs arise.
Senator Gina Psaki, romance languages, said she had received a complaint about the appropriateness of the housing offered to displaced tenants and wondered to whom she should send the person seeking information. Ms. Dyke responded that generally, for housing issues, contact Karen Logvin, and for financial aid issues, see Elizabeth Bickford.
Senator Nathan Tublitz, biology, asked Provost Moseley to provide information regarding the status of the proposed basketball arena, the recent resignation of Dean Joe Stone, and potential cutbacks in employee benefits plans. The provost replied that he has no new information regarding the arena (there currently is no lead donor in place). He said that Dean Stone had resigned earlier in the week and he will return to teaching. Because it is late in the academic year, an interim dean will be named; Vice President Lorraine Davis is putting that process together. Regarding possible benefits cutbacks, the provost said there was some discussion of restructuring benefits to find more cost savings and be able to channel more money toward faculty salaries. The discussions should not be misconstrued as an attempt to cut total compensation (salary plus benefits). He added that there is no specific proposal in place. Mr. Tublitz remarked that the costs saving for OUS to provide a salary boost for faculty would not be enough to cover the cuts in benefits nor the changing tax implications. The provost replied that that process is not very far along and that any such change is a long way off because it would require state legislative approval. He noted that changes in the benefits package would not occur without considerable discussion.
President Keyes announced that because of the very busy agenda for the regular May meeting, an additional senate business meeting will be added for May 24th dealing primarily with the curriculum report and the diversity plan. The secretary also reminded everyone that nominations for the spring elections are due by April 21, with elections taking place April 27 through May 7.
Grade inflation report announcement. Mr. Ron Severson, Undergraduate Council chair, said that the council has developed a report on grade inflation that soon will be distributed to senators for discussion at the May meeting. It’s intention is to stimulate a campus wide discussion on the topic. Mr. Severson noted that data presented in the report show trends in grades at the UO in undergraduate courses of sufficient size and regularity. As an example of report contents, he commented that between 1992 and 2004 the percentage of “A” grades has increased at the UO. During the same years, Oregon high school GPAs rose 5.2%; SAT scores showed a modest increase in math scores, and no change in verbal scores. Also included in the report are examples of what other universities are experiencing with grade inflation. Mr. Severson asked senators to review the report and send comments and questions to him prior to the discussion in the next senate meeting.
Interinstitutional Faculty Senate (IFS). IFS representative Jeanne Wagenknecht added to comments made earlier in the meeting regarding OUS’s preliminary discussions of ways to create savings by decoupling faculty groups from PEBB, that is, by making benefits packages less expensive and moving money savings into salaries. The IFS was not supportive of such a move. Part of the issue focused on the overall impact on total compensation, and what the effects would be for older, near retirement employees who would not have increasing salaries to compensate for fewer benefits (less medical coverage). She noted that we must keep a careful eye on the progress of this discussion.
Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. Mr. Jim Isenberg, chair of the IAC, reported that the year has been a relatively quiet one for the committee, with few contentious issues. He commented that the committee’s monitoring indicates that the Athletics Department is running a clean, financially and athletically successful program. He explained further that topics the committee considered included: the Academic Progress Report (APR) system newly instituted by the NCAA, progress on the basketball arena, the track and field Olympic Trials scheduled for summer 2008, as well as other new aspects of the track and field program, the evolution of the Faculty Athletics Representative position description, the issue of religion and athletic teams, UO academic services for student/athletes, and a possible new faculty advisor program. Mr. Isenberg concluded his report by noting the UO will soon complete its NCAA re-certification self study and a report would be forthcoming.
Ad Hoc Academic Excellence Committee. Senator Tublitz, chair, reported the ad hoc Academic Excellence Committee met a few times to begin reviewing a good amount of information. He noted the committee met with Provost Brady who indicated that she was very interested and willing to be involved. Data from committee will be shared at a future meeting.
Motion US 05/06-5 -- to formalize emeriti faculty participation in University Senate meetings.
A motion to move tabled motion US05/06-5 to the floor was passed unanimously by voice vote. The motion on the floor for discussion was:
BE IT MOVED, that emeriti faculty of the university have the right to introduce legislation and shall have the right to the floor on any matter under discussion in the University Senate.
Picking up the discussion on this motion from the previous meeting (see March 8th minutes), points were made that members of the University Assembly have the right to the floor of the senate. But because emeriti faculty are not members of the assembly, they do not have participation rights in the senate, which seems contradictory to some information in the Faculty Handbook. Mr. Andrew Marcus, geography, contended that emeriti faculty should be included in senate workings in order to take advantage of the wisdom gained from their long tenure at the university. When it was clarified that only emeriti faculty, about 150 people, are included in this motion, the issue of including other retired faculty, and perhaps others such as non-tenure related faculty, more students, and classified staff, was raised. The question of whether these groups should have the same senate access rights as emeriti faculty was discussed briefly but not pursued because these groups were not part of the current motion. Mr. Marcus said the motion’s intent was to reinstate emeriti faculty who were once part of the assembly membership then excluded when the assembly and senate were reconfigured in 1995.
To a question regarding whether the word “emeriti” was the correct form of the word, Senator Lisa Freinkel, English, moved to amend the motion to change emeriti to emeritus. The motion, as amended, passed by voice vote. With the discussion drawing to a close the motion was put to a hand vote, with 23 in favor and 7 opposed. Thus the 2/3 majority requirement to make changes in senate bylaws was met. Motion US05/06-5, as amended, passed. The amended motion reads:
BE IT MOVED, that emeritus faculty of the university have the right to introduce legislation and shall have the right to the floor on any matter under discussion in the University Senate.
Motion US05/06-8- to amend the Faculty Advisory Council membership to include the senate vice president. President Keyes read the motion as follows:
Be it moved that, the membership of the Faculty Advisory Council be amended to include the University Senate vice president, or designee, as an ex-officio member of the Faculty Advisory Council with full privileges.
President Keyes indicated the motion came from the Senate Executive Committee with the intention of providing greater insight and preparation for the vice president who becomes president the following year. With no one wishing to make an argument in opposition, the motion was put to a vote. Motion US05/06-8 to add the senate vice president, or designee, to the FAC membership passed unanimously by voice vote.
Motion US 05/06-7 -- to refer the proposed revised Student Conduct Code back to committee. The ASUO student senators sponsoring the motion chose not to bring it to the floor at this time because meetings on final revisions were still in progress. Thus the motion was temporarily withdrawn.
Motion US 05/05-6 -- Concerning Lobbying the Department of Defense for UO research Funding President Keyes read the motion as follows:
Whereas the President of the University of Oregon (UO), acting as representative of the University, has endorsed the AAU practice of lobbying Congress for funding for military research, and
Whereas the Faculty of UO has not spoken on this important issue,
Be it moved that:
(1) the UO Senate notify the President of AAU that, in the absence of a University-wide discussion and a vote on the matter by UO Senate, the position of the AAU that Congress should increase the research budget of the Department of Defense (DoD) does not necessarily represent that of the University of Oregon.
(2) the UO President not sign AAU letters lobbying Congress for an enlarged DoD research budget unless and until the UO Senate proclaims its support for such lobbying.
(3) the UO President report to the UO Senate in writing each term on new AAU lobbying activities and advocacy documents urging increased funding for DoD-sponsored research.
(4) the UO President cease enlisting the support of the Oregon Congressional Delegation for the purpose of securing DoD funds for research unless and until the UO Senate proclaims its support for such lobbying.
Senator Gina Psaki spoke in support of the motion, echoing many of the sentiments expressed during the March 1st special senate meeting by those opposed to the letter sent from the AAU, and signed by the President Frohnmayer, soliciting Department of Defense (DoD) funding for AAU member universities to support research fostering a stronger military. As a sponsor of the motion, she opposes the president, on behalf of and as a representative of the University of Oregon, lobbying for DoD research funding that supports and encourages militarism. The motion would limit and restrict the president’s lobbying and signing authority without first consulting with the senate.
A number of issues were raised during the ensuing discussion, which included: that the motion, as written, was too complex; that funding sources are very sensitive subjects to faculty; that moral objections by some faculty may not be objectionable to others; that limits on the president’s signing authority and lobbying may not be within the legislative authority of the senate; and that academic freedom and some faculty members’ research profect would be greatly affected with the DoD excluded as a funding source.
Senator Psaki indicated she was not in favor of silencing academic freedom, yet other senators argued that by eliminating a funding resource for research they do that has nothing to do with support of militarism, per se, would indeed limit their academic freedom. Other faculty questioned whether there was any consensus among various faculty constituencies regarding the motion.
Senator Peter Gilkey raised the question of where the senate drew its authority to dictate what the president could or could not sign. Mr. Frank Stahl, emeritus biology, stated that President Frohnmayer serves as the UO representative to the AAU, and as such he is signing as our representative. Some senators questioned whether the president would need to clear other lobbying efforts through the senate if other types of funding, objectionable to some, were sought.
The discussion then focused on different parts of the motion with possible attempts to remove or amend sections. Senator Tublitz noted that the key impetus for the motion was the AAU letter that appeared to support militarism through DoD research funding. He said that unless section 4 of the motion was removed, he could not support the motion.
Mr. Jim Hutchison, physics, also spoke against the motion saying that letters such as the one from the AAU to the DoD are sent out to many agencies soliciting funding, not just the DoD, as a matter of course. He said the question is whether we want to discuss military funding or militarism and supremacy – he sees these as different issues, since many DoD projects do not directly support growth of militarism. Mr. Hutchinson believes that by censoring research funding from some sources and not others, academic scholarship is threatened. Others in the audience commented that there was a lack of consensus on this topic and that it had not been widely debated, thus such a motion was premature. Senator Freinkel expressed her concern about the split developing over this motion between the science faculty (who may have DoD funding) and faculty in the humanities (who typically do not have DoD funding). She suggested the motion does not aptly address the real issue, which appears to be militarism.
As the discussion was winding down and with no discernable conclusion, a motion to table the motion was made and passed by voice vote. Motion US05/06—6 concerning lobbying the DoD for research funding was tabled.
The senate moved to Executive Session at 4:50 to here from the Distinguished Service Awards and Honorary Degree Committee.
After the executive session, the meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.
Secretary of the Faculty
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