Minutes of the University Senate Meeting November 8, 2006
Present: G. Berk, H. Briston, S. Brownmiller, C. Cherry, M. Chong*, S. Cohen, A. Coles-Bjerre, C. Ellis, A. Emami, O. Guerra, N. Gulley, S. Holmberg*, J. Hurwit, R. Irvin, L. Karim, P. Lambert, P. Lu, B. Malle, , A. Mathas, K. McPherson, T. Minner, C. Minson, K. Mourfy, D. Olson, V. Ostrik, M. Pangburn, A. Papiliou, C. Parsons, F. Pyle, L. Richardson, P. Rounds, G. Sayre, A. Schulz, A. Sherrick, J. Sneirson, N. Tublitz, J. Wagenknecht, K. Wagle. *non-voting participant
Excused: C.A. Bassett, C. Bengston, M. Dennis, N. Fujii, P. Gilkey, L. LaTour, J. Newton, G. Psaki, J. Stolet,
Absent: J. Daniels, A. Djiffack, S. Gary, Corlea (Sue) Martinez*
CALL TO ORDER
The regular meeting of the University Senate was called to order by Senate President Jeffrey Hurwit at 3:05 p.m. in 150 Columbia.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
Minutes of the October 11, 2006 meeting were approved as distributed.
STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY
Remarks from Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Rich Linton. In response to an invitation from President Hurwit to update the senate on research and technology transfer at the university, Vice President for Research Rich Linton condensed a lengthier prepared presentation by highlighting core objectives for the UO’s research excellence and shared a number of concerns he is in the process of addressing. Core objectives included for research excellence include: supporting the diversity of scholarship, growing resources supporting research, strengthening collaborative research, fostering interdisciplinary research initiatives, building research capacity and infrastructure, promoting responsible conduct of research, connecting research to outreach and service, improving performance metrics and impact, enhancing strategic communications, and integrating with academic priorities. The vice president spoke about sponsored research funding and interdisciplinary research centers as well as technology transfer performance and partnerships with government, the university and industry. In FY 2006 research expenditures reached a record $96 million dollars, with direct personnel costs accounting for half of those dollars. The amount of federal dollars coming to the university was greater than the amount received from the state support. Further, Vice President Linton reported that in 2006, sponsored research programs provided more that 3,000 jobs and reflected a 67% increase in awards since 2001.
The vice president also noted a number of concerns affecting sustainability of research at the UO: faculty retention and faculty incentives, increasing the graduate student “pipeline” and enrollment (from approximately 4,000 to 6,000 graduate students), ever-increasing competition for federal grant money, research infrastructure needs, the state’s investment in research universities, funding for scholarships in the arts, humanities and professional schools and colleges, and the administration of compliance and regulatory issues in a decentralized university. (Contact the secretary for a copy of the full presentation.)
During a question and answer period there was some discussion regarding the desire to increase the number of graduate students. Senator Bertrand Malle, psychology, suggested it might be better to increase funding for the current number of grad students. He implied that the university is not getting the top graduate students now because we cannot offer them attractive financial support. Vice President Linton replied that moving toward the projected target goal (to increase the percentage of grad students from 19% to 25%), each department and program should address the kinds and qualities of graduate students that appropriately fits the department. It is a balancing act between quantity and quality of graduate students. Senator Nathan Tublitz, biology, asked what percentage of incoming sponsored research dollars goes back to the system and departments, and should we be renegotiating the percentages to the UO’s advantage? The vice president answered that 4% comes of the top and goes back to OUS; 6% goes to UO’s indirect costs, such as renovating spaces. He indicated that he has raised the issue of 4% going to OUS and it continues to be a point of discussion.
Proposed changes to OUS retirement and benefits structures. Associate Vice President of Human Resources Linda King spoke about the OUS proposed retirement program redesign and changes to the OUS tax-deferred investment (TDI) program and Optional Retirement Plan (ORP). (See OUS Announcement #2) Associate Vice President King indicated that although the retirement system changes have been under discussion for a year or so, only recently have the details of the proposed changes been made available. Further, neither the UO administration nor the Office of Human Resources has embraced the proposed changes; rather, it is their opinion that the process is moving too quickly with insufficient time for thorough consideration of the impact, especially negative impact, the changes would have on faculty and staff employees. The inclination at this juncture is to slow the process down, and if warranted, stop it all together. The associate vice president explained that OUS considers the TDI and ORP investment opportunities too numerous, somewhat onerous, and expensive for the system to manage. Consequently, OUS proposes retaining a single external record keeper for both TDI and ORP programs, who will manage the individual TDI and ORP accounts and also will advise on the investment opportunities available (which likely will be different from current, and in some cases, long-held investment products). Whereas the OUS sees advantages in management cost savings for the system and consolidation of investment statements into a single investment and/or retirement statement, the UO has among its concerns questions about the quality of investment advice and selections, frequency of changing fund choices, and the administrative costs for the record keeper and fund administrative fees that are passed along to the individual faculty and staff members..
During a discussion period, additional questions were raised from Senator Chris Ellis, economics, wondering if faculty in finance or economics were included in thinking through the proposed changes. He pointed to the lack of evidence that employing an investment manager (the record keeper) improves investment outcomes, especially when balanced against fees charged for the advice and service; further, he suggested that incentives for financial “consultants” are completely wrong, and not in the best interest of faculty and staff. Senator Malle agreed, adding that the structure of the proposed setup is not transparent. Senator Tublitz noted that the movement to decouple the ORP rate from PERS and the likely increase in health benefits in the not-too-distant future means that cost savings for the system will be borne by faculty and staff.
President Hurwit commented that although he has contacted his counterpart at OSU (to see if they shared our concerns), he has had no response to date. He also sent a letter to President Frohnmayer and Chancellor Pernsteiner sharing the faculty’s concern over the proposed changes and perceived negative impact on current faculty as well as future faculty recruitment. President Hurwit indicated he would pursue further conversations with OUS on the matter.
USA Patriot Act Annual Report. General Counsel Melinda Grier reported that there have been no subpoenas issued under the auspices of the UAS Patriot Act at the UO this past year. She reminded senators that should they received a subpoena for any reason, they should contact her office immediately.
Motion US06/07-2. Senator Tublitz withdrew his motion to establish full University Senate membership, including voting rights, for classified staff senate participants, citing the incompatibility of current contract language bargained by the classified staff’s union (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen067/US067-2.html for text of the withdrawn motion). Senator Tublitz suggested he would put forth the motion at a later date after the next round of contract negotiations are complete. Senate participant Star Holmberg, computer science, asked for clarification between classified staff senate participants having a voice in the senate, and being able to vote in the senate. Ms. Grier replied that having a voice meant providing input on various matters, but that voting in the senate meant actually making policy or legislation; the classified staff’s union retains the right to speak as the classified staff’s representatives.
[Note: At this juncture President Frohnmayer was recognized and spoke briefly about the results of the previous day’s election in which two measures that would have had substantial negative impact on the university were soundly defeated (Measures 41 and 48). He indicated that the state board will request of the governor a 26% budget increase for higher education, with a substantial portion earmarked for improving faculty salaries and student enrollments. On an earlier matter the president indicated his full agreement with concerns voiced by Associate Vice President King and Senate President Hurwit regarding proposed changes to the OUS retirement programs.]
Motion US06/07-3. Senate President Hurwit called on Mr. Frank Stahl, emeritus biology, to present motion US06/07-3 to amend earlier legislation, US03/04 10, in order to facilitate the collection of signatures that would call for the convening of a University Assembly meeting with full legislative authority. Mr. Stahl moved as follows:
Moved to amend the legislation US03/04 10 – Enable the University Assembly to Convene with Full Legislative Authority, as follows:
CHANGE: (h) An annually updated list of the Voting Faculty with campus addresses shall be maintained and linked from the University Assembly Web site. The list shall be headed by the criteria for membership as specified by the charter and the list shall be updated annually, as early in the Fall Quarter as is feasible.
TO: (h) An annually updated list of the Voting Faculty with campus addresses shall be maintained and linked from the University Assembly Web site. The list shall be headed by the criteria for membership as specified by the charter and the list shall be updated annually, as early in the Fall Quarter as is feasible. A printed Voting Faculty membership list with campus addresses, organized by departments, shall be made available to petitioners by the Secretary of the Faculty upon submission of a petition endorsed by 40 assembly members as specified in US03/04 10 (a).
Mr. Stahl explained that providing a departmentally organized printed list of voting faculty members to valid petitioners would facilitate the gathering of signatures to convene an assembly meeting, while also guarding against possible misuse of such data being easily mined from the web page posting of the Voting Faculty list. With virtually no dissension or further discussion, motion US06/07-3 passed by unanimous voice vote.
Notice of Motion regarding availability of Affirmative Action Plans and Summary Data. Senator Peter Lambert, economics, indicated that his colleague, Mr. Bill Harbaugh, was having difficulty obtaining copies of previous and current Affirmative Action Plans, as well as relevant university summary data. Senator Lambert said the motion is intended to require that the materials be made available in library archives as well as posted on the web. Senator Lambert indicated that some preliminary progress had been made to this end, and that the motion would be withdrawn once the materials were provided as requested.
Notice of Motion to create a senate committee on Academic Excellence. Senate President Hurwit stated that the Senate Executive Committee has given notice of its intent to create a Senate Committee on Academic Excellence which will address issues affecting academic excellence such as improving faculty salaries and academic freedom conflicts.
Motion US06/07-4. Senator Ali Emami, business, was called on to speak to his motion opposing military actions against Iran. Senator Emami read the motion as follows:
WHEREAS, Iran does not represent a clear and present threat to the United States of America, and
WHEREAS, military action against Iran would constitute an act that is illegal under our Constitution, and
WHEREAS, military action against Iran would be viewed by most of the World as unjustified military aggression, and
WHEREAS, untold numbers of people will be killed or mutilated by an armed attack on Iran,
WHEREAS, military action against Iran could provoke armed conflict that would further endanger U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and could escalate into a World War,
Be it Moved that,
The University Senate of the University of Oregon opposes military actions against Iran and petitions the President of the United States to adhere to diplomatic avenues for resolving perceived disagreements between Iran and the United States.
The discussion opened with Senator Malle asking for clarification on whether it was appropriate for the University Senate to vote on a motion the clearly dealt with US politics. Senate President Hurwit replied that taking political positions has not been the model of the senate (referring to similar motion in 2002 opposing the war in Iraq that did not come to the floor due to a senate vote that the matter was not within the purview of the senate). Senator Hurwit opined that although one could argue that national politics affect the university, the senate could get bogged down in endless political statement making to the detriment of the proper work of the senate. He suggested one could make political protestations in other ways. Because the president’s remarks were in opposition to the motion, he stepped down momentarily from chairing the meeting and asked Vice President Gordon Sayre to preside while the matter was on the floor.
Vice President Sayre took over chairing the meeting and recognized Senator Tublitz, who stated that the first issue to decide was whether the motion was in the purview of the senate; he then asked the chair for a ruling. Vice President Sayre ruled that motion US06/07-4 to oppose military action against Iran was not in the purview of the senate. To open a debate on the chair’s ruling, Senator Tublitz moved to contest the ruling. The debate contesting the chair’s ruling began with Mr. Frank Stahl speaking in opposition to the ruling. He stated that the university is already involved in the national political scene citing examples of the university lobbying for department of defense monies for research that he said supports war. He stated his belief that the university is involved in American militarism, and consequently the motion to oppose military action against Iran is in the purview of the senate. Senator Ellis spoke in support of the chair’s ruling, saying that if we go forward with this motion, it is difficult to draw a line with other similar motions; he doubts that there is much gained by such activities but there are ways that the university can lose. He, too, suggested that there are other avenues to register one’s political opinions. Senator Chris Minson, human physiology, agreed with Senator Ellis and said he did not think the motion was in the purview of the senate, as did Senator Karen McPherson, romance languages. Mr. Stahl re-emphasized his belief that such issues are within the purview of the senate by referring to the interest generated in 2003 to convene the University Assembly (with full legislative authority) after the senate found the motion opposing the war in Iraq was not in the senate’s purview. (As an aside, Mr. Stahl indicated that in 2003 there was a ruling from the state Department of Justice regarding what constitutes a quorum in the Assembly, and he asked President Frohnmayer for a copy of the ruling, to which President Frohnmayer replied he wasn’t certain if the ruling was verbal or written.)
The question was called, and the chair’s ruling that the motion was not in the purview of the senate was put to a hand vote. The motion contesting the chair’s ruling was defeated by a vote of 7 voting against the chair’s ruling and 17 in support of the ruling that the motion was not in the purview of the senate. Motion US06/07-4 was not debated or voted.
With the business at hand completed, the meeting was adjourned at 5:04 p.m.
Secretary of the Faculty
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