Minutes of the University Senate May 24, 2006
Present: J. Axelrod, S. Brownmiller, E. Chan, C. Cherry, D. Close, S. Cohen, M. Dennis, C. Ellis, A. Emami, L. Feldman, M. Filippelli, L. Freinkel, N. Fujii, S. Holmberg, A. Hornof, H. Lin, J. Hurwit, R. Irvin, J. Jablonski, L. Karim, P. Keyes, N. Kinsey, L. LaTour, P. Lu, S. Maier, A. Mathas, C. McNelly, K. McPherson, C. Minson, L. Moses, L. Nelson, J. Newton, V. Ostrik, M. Pangburn, G. Psaki, L. Richardson, P. Rounds, G. Sayre, E. Scott, E. Singer, J. Sneirson, J. Stolet, N. Tublitz, J. Wagenknecht
Excused: P. Swangard, K. Wagle
Absent: D. Brown, A. Djiffack, S. Gary, T. Piering, K. Sheehan
CALL TO ORDER
University Senate President Peter Keyes called the second May regular business meeting of the senate to order at 3:05 p.m. in 150 Columbia. Because a large number of students, faculty, and staff were present in addition to the senate members, President Keyes asked that members of the University Assembly who might wish to speak on the agenda item concerning adoption of the Diversity Plan to place their names on a sign up sheet with the secretary.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
Minutes of the May 10th senate meeting were approved as distributed.
STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY
Remarks from University President Dave Frohnmayer. President Frohnmayer made brief remarks on several topics: faculty achievements and awards, arrival of two new academic administrators on campus, the proposed sale of Westmoreland housing, recent reactions to materials appearing in the student publication The Insurgent, and the university’s Diversity Plan that will be acted on later in the meeting.
The president acknowledged that the members of the faculty and students received a number of awards during the year. He congratulated chemistry professor Geri Richmond on her election into the National Academy of Sciences, and journalism associate professor Scott Maier as a recipient of the Sigma Delta Chi Award. The president noted that the university also had three Guggenheim Fellows and a Marshall Scholar this past spring. And President Frohnmayer added a welcome note to the campus arrival of new Senior Vice President and Provost Linda Brady as well as Vice Provost for International Affairs and Outreach Chunsheng Zhang.
President Frohnmayer announced that an agreement had been reached with a buyer to sell the Westmoreland Housing Complex on terms that were described as very favorable to the university. The fair market price of $18,000,000 after brokerage fees would make funds available to the university. The available funds would be used in part to allow for construction and renovation of residence halls for which the university otherwise would have had no funds. The president indicated that the university will take the matter to the July meeting of the State Board for confirmation.
The President concluded his remarks by discussing recent media coverage of a student publication, The Insurgent, which had limited circulation around campus, but whose contents were particularly offensive to some people who picked up a copy. He noted that the courts have made it very clear that although the publication of the material might be regarded as blasphemous, it is protected by the First Amendment.
Commenting on the subject of diversity relevant to the discussion scheduled for the latter part of the meeting, the president noted that he had a full page letter in the May 24, 2006 Oregon Daily Emerald presenting his views. He remarked that more than 1,000 faculty, staff, students and community members had provided input and labored on the current draft of the Diversity Plan, and that he hoped for a favorable vote on the matter later in the meeting.
The president then took some questions from the floor and presented some additional information on the Westmoreland sale. He noted that the purchaser was Michael R. O'Connell, Sr., a local real estate investor who is also a commercial real estate broker who was acting for himself and other investors. The president said that eligible student tenants will receive financial aid to cover the difference between the current rental rate and the new rental rate. This financial aid to eligible students could come in the form of cash grants to the student or direct payments to the landlord, and will probably end June 30, 2007.
State of the Athletics Department report. This item of the agenda was postponed as Athletic Director Bill Moos had been called to jury duty and was therefore not able to be present.
Committee on Courses. Paul Engelking, chair of the Committee on Courses, presented the Spring 2006 Preliminary Curriculum Report. He noted several minor technical corrections to the report which had been distributed previously. He moved on behalf of the committee to have the report accepted by the Senate. The motion to approve the report passed unanimously. (See http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen056/CurRptS06.html for the final corrected report.)
Notice of Motion to extend full rights in the senate to classified staff participants. Senator Nathan Tublitz, biology, gave notice that he intends to put forth a motion that would provide full senate membership, including voting rights, for classified staff participants.
Motion US05/06-10 to adopt the Diversity Plan.
As prelude to the discussion of the Diversity Plan motion, Senate President Peter Keyes made a brief introductory statement recalling the history involved. He noted that the current plan was the result of over two years of effort. The plan had been circulated widely, revised several times, and this spring there had been ample opportunity for comments that included three town hall meetings and various small group meetings. He echoed President Frohnmayer’s remarks that comments had been received from over 1,000 individuals. Noting the large number of people in attendance, President Keyes emphasized that this was a meeting of the University Senate and he reminded all of appropriate meeting decorum. He instructed that individual comments would be limited to two minutes, and that at 4: 45 p.m. he would close the debate and move to a vote.
Senator Chris Ellis, economics, rose to make a point of order concerning the requirement for a financial impact statement. He opined that the costs of the plan were not made clear. Senate President Keyes noted he had circulated a long memo to the Senate on the subject and ruled against the point of order (see http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen056/Keyes23May06.html). Senator Ellis then made a motion to appeal the senate president’s ruling; the motion to appeal was seconded by Senator Tublitz. The senate voted 7 in favor and 29 against the motion to appeal and thereby sustained the President Keyes’ ruling.
Introduction of the Motion. President Keyes then called upon Senator Matthew Dennis, history, to introduce the motion. Senator Dennis recalled that the Declaration of Independence set basic principles on which our country was founded: equality, opportunity, and pluralism. He then went on to say that the plan is a means to fulfill the promise of the university mission statement which links diversity with academic quality. Senator Dennis then commented on the general framework of the plan, saying it was intended as a critical tool to help the university fulfill its mission, and was supportive of a broader shared responsibility to cultivate a safe, inclusive climate across campus. He acknowledged that aspects of the plan have been controversial and have fostered healthy debate, but he also said the process of formulating the plan has involved a great deal of consultation and multiple revisions that yielded a product of compromise in responding to all serious critiques. He noted that there had been good will and generosity both from those who have supported it from the beginning and those who have critiqued it. Senator Dennis remarked that the plan was not a top-down approach, but rather started with self examination at the local level, and where problems were identified, asks unit to begin making plans to find reasonable solutions. He noted too that the administration had promised financial transparency, and was committed to finding additional resources and the avoidance of unfunded mandates. He then moved that the Diversity Plan for the University of Oregon dated May 14, 2006 is adopted by the University Senate. (Full text of the Diversity Plan may be viewed at: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen056/14May06DivPlan.pdf.)
University President Dave Frohnmayer spoke in support of the plan. He noted that the plan flowed from the UO Mission Statement and that it faithfully embodied our highest aspirations. He called attention to a letter he sent in June 2001 to the university community explaining why diversity was an imperative issue to address. He noted that in 35 years of association with the University he had never seen such a concerted effort over such an admittedly difficult and some time divisive topic. He rejected claims that the plan had found its genesis in a legal settlement, referring to a document from Provost Moseley in May 2001 indicating a desire to tackle diversity issues. The president also stated that there was not a dichotomy between diversity and quality – that enhancing quality was at the heart of our mission – and that we should not, and need not, sacrifice quality for diversity. Lastly, he noted that in response to some questions raised regarding the plan’s possible violation of discrimination laws, he received an opinion from the General Counsel that stated there is nothing in the plan that violated or recommended violations of laws against discrimination. (Copies of the legal opinion were given to secretary.) President Frohnmayer concluded by thanking the audience for their attention and then urged adoption of the motion.
Senate President Keyes then asked for members of the senate to speak who wished to the motion. Senator Ellen Scott, sociology rose to speak first. She supported the plan and felt it fitted with the broad mission of the University and that it continued the hard work of reversing marginalization and exclusion. She noted that the plan asked units to create goals and to be accountable for progress towards those goals. Further, she commented that the language of the document was “should” rather than “must”. She stated that the plan provided guidance and empowered units. Regarding the fiscal implications, she opined that putting resources toward attracting and retaining underrepresented faulty would make the university more competitive when hiring top quality faculty. Next, Senator Lisa Freinkel, English, spoke in favor of the plan. However, she highlighted a couple trends worthy of concern: a growing division between the humanities and the sciences on the diversity issue, and increasing franticness about academic excellence, somehow implying its dilution if diversity is increased. She suggested we should not lose sight of the deep underlying problems that had driven us apart and that this plan hopes to address. Daniel Close, education, spoke next to support the plan. He discussed demographic changes in our community and our state. He and colleague Pat Rounds canvassed their constituent groups (including faculty, staff, and students) and reported support for the plan, but with the sentiment that it still needed refinement regarding issues of sexual orientation and persons with disabilities. Nevertheless, he felt that a delay in adopting the plan was unwarranted. Senator Anthony Hornof, computer and information science, spoke next and echoed some of Senator Freinkel’s concerns (about the issue being a divisive one) by stating: that he was in favor of the Diversity Plan and was am opposed to the Diversity Plan, that there were 100 reasons to pass the Diversity Plan and 100 reasons not to pass it. He quoted from recent campus visitor Bell Hooks, who said it is important to be a good listener, with integrity, and like Ms. Hooks, he expressed a hope the meeting would be a context where we could engage in open and critical dialogue with one another and where we could hear and know one another in the complexity of our experience.
Senator Chris Ellis, economics, then rose to oppose the motion. He felt everyone in the room believed diversity was a good thing because they cared about some of the underlying problems in our society. However, Senator Ellis felt that the current plan was fundamentally and logically flawed, and as such, could not achieve its goals. He noted that there was a large body of literature on the economics of education and he introduced some issues raised in that literature. One issue is that economically disadvantaged people historically do poorly in education, and Blacks and Hispanics have been historically poor, thus there are not enough persons in these underrepresented groups to fill the “pipeline” to become college undergraduates and graduates from which to make hires. He suggested the proposed plan does not address the pipeline issue. He concluded by noting that there is a large bureaucracy with a large budget devoted to diversity already, and he was concerned about resource questions. He proposed putting our resources into resolving the pipeline issue.
Senator Huaxin Lin, mathematics, also spoke against the motion. He was concerned that an unintended consequence of the Diversity Plan might be a reduction of the Asian presence on the campus, a group that is overrepresented in some areas. He said a diversity plan should not discriminate against males in overrepresented groups, and that without equal opportunity for all, this plan would discriminate against some. He urged a vote against the plan. Senator Jeanne Wagenknecht, finance, was the last of the senators was the final Senator to speak. She spoke in favor of the plan and returned to the mission statement. She expressed her belief that diversity is one of many drivers of academic excellence. She stated that bold and creative visions of change seldom came from nickel-and-dime-ing ourselves. Her goal was to seek higher horizons of academic excellence.
All the senators having spoken who wished the floor, members of the Assembly were given the opportunity to speak. Mr. Alexander Kleschev, mathematics, rose to speak against the motion, feeling the question of cultural competence could be totalitarianism reborn. He urged removal of the portion on cultural competence before adopting the motion. He warned about historical lessons and asked sensitivity to those coming from backgrounds who, in his words, “went through this hell”. Mr. Gordan Hall, psychology, spoke in favor of the plan. He identified himself as an Asian American and spoke of this history of his parents who were in internment camps during WWII. He felt the plan might not be perfect, but urged the senators not to sacrifice the good of the plan in service of the perfect. Mr. Charles Curtis, mathematics, was a neutral speaker. He reiterated the concern of Mr. Kleschev concerning cultural competency and suggested those sections be deleted, especially if used for evaluation.
Mr. Martin Summers, history, supported the plan. He noted he had worked on the first draft but felt the current version did not go far enough. He also took issue with earlier characterizations that poor people are primarily Hispanics and Blacks, saying there are poor white people, too. However, he said the pipeline issue does need to be addressed, but that it is disingenuous to suggest that pouring all resources into the pipeline will result in Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities being hired at the UO 20 years down the road. He felt there were well –qualified minority persons available currently. He spoke briefly about the importance of having a critical mass of faculty in one’s area of research and teaching, saying that he was leaving the university to go to the University of Texas primarily because the African American Studies program there had 30 professors in it, and he felt the intellectual climate at Texas was better. He felt it was possible to commit resources to diversifying the faculty at the UO without sacrificing quality. Mr. Mike Kellman, chemistry, then spoke against the plan. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee he was concerned about financial matters, in particular the lack of progress on faculty salaries. He commented that the impact of the plan would be at least $4 million a year. He noted that the UO was the only campus in the university system with a balanced budget and is in danger of losing funding in order to rescue other campuses. He referred to a letter sent to President Frohnmayer by House Education Chair Linda Flores, raising her concerns about the costs of the Diversity Plan as it relates to the issue of low faculty salaries. He concluded that adoption of the Diversity Plan would place the UO in financial, academic, and political jeopardy and urged its defeat.
Mr. Michael Garcia, ethnic studies and English, spoke next in favor of the plan noting there are sound reputable economic arguments in favor of using race as a criterion for diversity in addition to socioeconomic status. Mr. Boris Botvinnik, mathematics, spoke against the plan supporting the previous testimony of Senator Lin, agreeing that the plan sends a message that certain people are not welcome. He also echoed the concerns expressed by Mr. Kleschev concerning cultural competency. Mr. Greg McLaughlin, sociology, spoke in favor of the plan. He dismissed the argument that there was a competition between diversity and quality and noted that the top universities in the country have aggressive diversity plans. He asserted that diversity enhances academic quality.
Mr. Bill Harbaugh, economics, then spoke against the plan, saying he was one of the individuals working on the alternative diversity plan, which he suggested is a good plan that Oregon could live with for a long time. He said he had serious legal questions about the Diversity Plan that President Frohnmayer is putting forward. Mr. Harbaugh quoted from correspondence he received from a concerned UO alum who offered an opinion of the plan, saying that it failed in every way to meet the legislative requirements spelled out in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that deals with affirmation action and public employer hiring provisions when giving preference to minorities. Mr. Harbaugh asked President Frohnmayer if it was his considered opinion that the plan he put forward was consistent with Title VII and other such laws, and if he was prepared to defend that statement with rebuttal of the specific points raised in the correspondence alluded to earlier. Or if not, he asked the president to explain to the senate what his objective was by putting forward the plan to the senate with the potential legal issues raised. President Frohnmayer replied that the plan has been reviewed by competent legal counsel Melinda Grier, who has nationally recognized credentials in the area of employment issues. He reiterated that it is her view, which was entered into the records earlier in the meeting, that the plan is not subject to any legal objection under Title VII. The president refuted the notion that the plan gives preference to individuals based on category or gender; rather, it says that for those qualified, the pool should be adequately canvassed to make sure that qualified persons are considered. There is no mandate requiring preference in the plan. He continued that in his view, as an attorney, the plan is consistent with the laws of the state of Oregon and was constitutional, and that he was prepared to defend it in the courts if it should come to that.
Senate President Keyes then noted that it was 4:47 p.m. A motion was made, seconded, and passed to allow the remaining four persons on the signup sheet to speak. Ms. Julie Novkov, political science, then spoke in favor of the plan, noting that diversity at the UO fulfils a compelling state interest and is part of the core mission of the university. She noted that the core of our mission is to reach a student population that is becomingly increasingly multicultural and diverse. She urged action now. She suggested that the UO needs to be a leader in hiring and retaining the faculty of color that are available. Mr. Arkady Vaintrob, mathematics, spoke against the motion. He was concerned about a narrow definition of diversity, saying that we should not mix up diversity with the Diversity Plan. He noted that he came from a different part of the world – he was concerned that the present document was interested in diversity but that some kinds of diversity were more equal than others. Ms. Sangita Gopal, English, then spoke in favor of the motion, noting her Asian background and that she came from a country with a caste system. She commented on the impact of “set asides” there for underrepresented classes. She urged more global thinking, and passage of the motion. Finally, Mr. Chris Phillips, mathematics, who was the last speaker on the list, noted the lateness of the hour and declined to speak.
The Senate President then heard a motion to call the question which was seconded. The motion to call the question passed. Motion US05/06-10 to adopt the University of Oregon Diversity Plan was voted on and passed with 32 in favor and 6 opposed.
At that point Senator Jon Jablonski, science library, asked the senate to suspend the rules so they could consider a motion he wished to introduce concerning the sale of the Westmoreland property. The motion to suspend the rules was seconded and passed. He then moved
“Be it Resolved: The Senate is opposed to the sale of Westmoreland Family Housing; the Senate directs the President of the Senate, or her representative, to present the Senate's opposition to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.
Senator Jablonski then spoke briefly to the motion. He felt there was still a compelling need to retain Westmoreland and that without campus owned affordable housing for non-traditional students, international students, or for poor students who need below market level housing, the university would lose a certain amount of diversity. Senator Renee Irwin, PPPM, spoke against motion, feeling there was little new or constructive in the motion. Senate President Keyes called for the vote. The count was tied, 14 in favor of the motion and 14 opposed. With a tie vote, the senate president casts the deciding vote. He did so voting in favor of the motion, which then passed 15 in favor and 14 opposed. (See http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen056/US056-11.html.)
With the hour growing late and with no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:06 p.m.
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