Minutes of the University Senate meeting January 10, 2007
Present: C.A. Bassett, H. Briston, A. Coles-Bjerre, M. Dennis, A. Emami, P. Gilkey, O. Guerra, N. Gulley, J. Hurwit, R. Irvin, P. Lambert, A. Mathas, T. Minner, C. Minson, K. Mourfy, J. Newton, D. Olson, V. Ostrik, A. Papiliou, C. Parsons, G. Psaki, P. Rounds, G. Sayre, A. Schulz, A. Sherrick, J. Sneirson, J. Stolet, N. Tublitz
Excused: S. Brownmiller, N. Fujii, B. Malle, K. McPherson
Absent: C. Bengston, G. Berk, C. Cherry, M. Chong*, S. Cohen, J. Daniels, A. Djiffack, C. Ellis, S. Gary, S. Holmberg*, L. Karim, L. LaTour, P. Lu, Corlea (Sue) Martinez*, M. Pangburn, F. Pyle, L. Richardson, K. Wagle
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
The regular meeting of the University Senate was called to order at 3:04 p.m. in Columbia 150 by Winter Term senate president Suzanne Clark. Minutes of the November 29, 2006 meeting were approved as distributed. President Clark thanked Jeff Hurwit, who served as senate president Fall Term, for his leadership and guidance, and reminded senators of the importance of exchanging information about senate issues with their respective constituent faculty members.
[Note: Because President Frohnmayer and Provost Brady were delayed in their attendance, President Clark asked for and received consent to proceed with committee reports until such time as the president and provost arrived.]
OUS Advisory Committee on Retirement Plan Changes. Joe Stone, economics, reported that a series of meetings for the advisory group, with representatives from all OUS campuses, is set for Winter Term with hopes to have their work completed in early spring. The initial focus is on the tax deferment options, then on the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP). It was noted that Larry Dann, finance, has agreed to serve on the committee as well. Mr. Stone provided a packet of retirement plan related materials (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen067/dirJS-10Jan06/JS.html for copies of materials) including the OUS letter to the representatives on the committee, the charge to advisory committee, a background article from OUS from a finance magazine, an OUS outline of their thoughts concerning the retirement plan’s direction, and a commentary regarding turning investments over to the experts. He indicated that the objections and questions raised by the UO faculty have had a positive effect in providing an opportunity for individuals to opt out and continue with their current investment companies. Still, there are a number of questions remaining that need attention: What are the minimum steps required to meet the new federal regulations? Do they apply equally to various plans? Why should we expect a single provider to provide improved investment options and returns? Why should we expect transparency? What are explicit fiduciary requirements? What are our options if answers are not fully satisfactory? Mr. Stone invited interested faculty to contact him or Mr. Dann with their concerns about the proposed changes to the retirement plan.
Senate Budget Committee (SBC). Committee chairman David Frank, Honors College, reported that the budget committee is pursuing four agenda items in an effort to fully fund the White Paper developed in 2000 concerning faculty salaries and compensation. The SBC (1) aspires to work with the administration to achieve 95 % parity with our comparator group in the next 5-7 years; (2) plans to address salary compression and inversion, perhaps modeling the U. of Washington plan; (3) plans to continue discussion on the proposed changes in the retirement program; and (4) will try to pursue arrangements that the proposed salary increases offered by OUS not be tied to cost of living and not be across the board, and instead engage in a conversation as to how the money should be distributed.
During a question period Senator Nathan Tublitz, biology, commented that because the original White Paper is 7 years old it would be a good idea for the university to reaffirm the concepts in the White Paper, and that salary enhancement is the number one priority. He suggested that the SBC could bring an updated White Paper, with the administration’s full support, back to the senate. Senator Ali Emami, finance, noted that non-tenure track instructional faculty are not included in the White Paper, to which Mr. Frank replied that NTTIF are accommodated in a separate process which was encouraged in the White Paper.
STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY
Remarks from President Frohnmayer. The president opened his remarks saying that he had just returned from meeting with the Campaign Leadership Council in Portland, and the campaign is more than 80% toward its goal (of raising $600 million) and right on target. Further, the president commented that the working assumption is that the White Paper is the document of record on faculty salary goals; he is committed to it. He reported a substantial effort is being made to raise faculty salaries: the governor’s budget for OUS includes $8 million for salaries, $6.9 million to reduce student-faculty ratios, and $14.6 million to help compensate for increased enrollments. Overall, the budget represents a 17% increase over the last biennium and would be a welcome step in a ten year period needed to rebuild higher education. The governor’s budget is not enacted, but there are indications of support for these major thrusts of the budget, and it contains $30 million bond for new science buildings, which is a testament to the strength of sciences at the university. He agreed, too, that the sense of urgency in addressing changes to the retirement system is felt mainly on our campus so it is doubly important to connect with other campuses on the matter.
The president then turned to the progress in the search for a new Athletics Director and the proposal for the creation and endowment of an academic learning center. In talking to the Athletics Director search team, he emphasized the following points. (1) The progress of the UO seen on a national scale has increased in visibility and stature over the past 10 years. (2) The UO athletics department has had financial stability and self-support over past 4 to 5 years, which is good, but is dependent on upon football and television revenue. The UO should try to be less dependent on a single source of revenue. (3) We need to maintain parity in the league and should proceed with plans to build a new arena to replace Mac Court. (4) He recommends our program continue to maintain close ties with other major sports programs and with NIKE, and (5) recommends senior leadership be addressed given the departure and retirements of certain people related to fundraising. And last, (6) the president noted the positive, caring atmosphere in the athletics department, with an overt engagement and dedication to the academic mission of the University. President Frohnmayer indicated that he may be looking for an interim position for 2 years or may find someone to be visionary over a longer, 10 year period.
President Frohnmayer remarked that although there has been a proposal for an academic learning center, there is no present commitment to build. He noted that the current academic learning center on campus in Esslinger is one of the worst facilities among the 120 Division I universities. The substandard conditions of the building have needed to be replaced for a long time, and it was planned to be part of a new arena. The president indicated the university has a commitment in 6 figures for a new academic learning center (ALC). The ALC envisioned would have a multiple use component, such as a 160 seat auditorium and well as other amenities and gathering places for alumni and the general student population. A possible location would be at Agate near Oregon Hall. It could be part of a larger set of considerations of a “neighborhood” development of student service in close proximity to and including Oregon Hall. Close to an alumni center already have a commitment to. This raises the possibility of having a variety of services located in that Oregon Hall neighborhood.
Remarks from Provost Brady. The provost began her remarks by reinforcing President Frohnmayer's comments about the positive Campaign Leadership Council meeting and she reaffirmed the positive outlook for the governor’s budget. She commented that it appears we will have an opportunity to move forward to redress the cuts that have occurred over the past decade; it’s a good first step. The provost, like the president, stated her support for the work of the Senate Budget Committee on improving faculty salaries. She also expressed recognition that research infrastructure is equally important in attracting and retaining the best faculty.
Provost Brady then noted the importance of turning our attention to issues of access and student success as part of her agenda for academic quality. She cited recent reports examining the record of flagship universities regarding the extent to which they serve the needs of minorities and low income students. The reports indicate that a wide range of institutions, including premier universities, receive grades of “D” or “F” in these areas. The changing demographics and nature of the future population that will be seeking admission to the UO have lead the provost to begin conversations about the feasibility of a program to enable the UO to ensure that any well qualified student who wants to attend the UO has an offer to attend, regardless of ability to pay. The provost will be talking about such a program over the next month or so, and believes a program of this type that supports strong students would reinforce our commitment to academic excellence.
The provost commented that a second element of the focus on academic excellence relates to student success, and how we might enhance it. She spoke highly of the new opened living learning center. Thinking about residence life and the kinds of environments in which students learn presents and opportunity to redefine what it means to be a residential campus. As the university pursues the long range student housing plans, the intent is to explore how a range of living environments for students impacts on learning. A strategic housing planning committee formed from an array of constituent groups -- faculty, students, administrators, members of the community – will be developing such a plan winter and spring terms.
Lastly, the Provost Brady commented on the possible academic learning center and its potential to be the first step in an effort to create a “neighborhood” related to academic learning and student success. She said that the university has a commitment to and appreciation of student athletes’ successes on the playing fields, and is also committee to providing the kind of academic support that enables them to be successful academically. The provost remarked that she has expanded her thinking on how the university might look at the Agate/Oregon Hall area to establish a gateway to the university dedicated to academic learning and student success. An alumni center and career services center might also be located in this neighborhood area, as well as some other academic learning services groups from across campus, all with a focus of advising, mentoring, and supporting students and student athletes academically. She expressed interest in thinking creatively about how the university might incorporate the residence halls on the East part of campus with this idea. She concluded her remarks by saying the she was supportive of this concept, and I looks forward to working faculty to find ways to better serve the academic excellence agenda for our students.
During a question and answer period, Mr. Frank Stahl, emeritus biology, asked President Frohnmayer why there was no written report from the paid consultant who was brought in to assess the athletics department. President Frohnmayer replied that he had an oral report and thorough debriefing with the consultant, the content of which the president reported on earlier in the meeting. The president said that a written report would be superfluous since the oral report and debriefing provide the major contours of the program and confirmed needed action.
The president then clarified, in a question from Vice President Gordon Sayre, English, that recent new academic buildings on campus have been paid for by a combination of private and state funding, citing the examples of the Law School (half from private donors), the Lillis Complex ($39 of $42 million from private funding), and the proposed Music School building (half from private funding sources).
Mr. Andrew Marcus, geography, raised a question related to the neighborhood concept of academic learning services, and the appearance that the proposed ACL project would be for student athletes primarily, and not for all students. The provost responded that the neighborhood concept was trigger by concerns to develop the entire area as a residential campus with support services for both student athletes and general students; the plans for such are at a very early stage. She plans to work with the FAC, students, and senate to develop the concept further, but it has just emerged in the past few weeks.
Senator Nate Gulley, ASUO, pursued the question of whether the proposed ACL would be opened to all students, or only student athletes. Provost Brady answered that the neighborhood concept would capture footage in a number of buildings in the Agate Street/ Oregon Hall buildings to serve a broad range of students -- international students, student athletes, students of color, freshmen new to campus in residential hall, and other diverse populations on campus with distinctive needs. She does not envision that any one particular building could serve all those needs, and thus is exploring co-location of a number of buildings providing a range of student services. President Frohnmayer added that the current facility for student athletes services is in dire need of upgrading; the philanthropic opportunity presented in building a new ALC would meet those needs plus provide numerous other amenities -- a small library, a lecture hall, a small café – for the campus as a whole.
Senator Tublitz also expressed his disappointment that the proposed ACL would be for student athletes only, citing the relatively small number of student athletes compared with the rest of the student population, and that it is not consistent with our mission to educate all our students. He noted, too, that the search committee for the new athletics director had only two faculty members and was chaired by the vice president for advancement. He suggested that the plans for the new ACL be revisited to include all students, and that the AD search team have more faculty members added to it. Senate President Clark advised the senators that both she and FAC chairman Michael Moffitt serve on the AD search team and would welcome senators’ thoughts and opinions regarding the AD search in order to represent them on the committee.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Joint Senate/Academic Affairs Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty and Course Evaluation. President Clark announced the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty and Course Evaluation, appointed jointly by the Senate President and Vice Provost Russ Tomlin in Academic Affairs to examine the content of on-line course evaluation forms and faculty evaluations. The committee is asked to report no later than the final meeting of senate in May 2007.
Motion US06/07-7 -- to establish time periods for students to complete on-line course evaluations. Brad Shelton, mathematics, put the following motion on the floor:
At such time as the University of Oregon implements an on-line course evaluation system, the window of opportunity for students to fill out course evaluations will be Monday of Dead Week through the Monday following finals week.
1. This rule does not apply to the School of Law. The faculty of the School of Law will establish a similar window of opportunity that suits the needs of their academic calendar.
2. This rule does not apply to summer session. The rules for summer session courses will be established after a course evaluation instrument has been chosen.
After being seconded, the motion was open for discussion. Mr. Shelton reminded the senators that the motion deals only with the administration of the on-line course evaluation instrument under development, not the content of the evaluation instrument. The basic change being proposed is that evaluations could be done during both dead week and finals week. In other words, with the proposed change, students will have the opportunity to do evaluations after having taken the final exam, but before receiving their grades. Mr. Shelton also stated that his committee has discussed this proposal at great length and knows it is not without some controversy.
Mr. Jared Axelrod, ASUO president, was recognized to speak. He asked who the software vendor would be. Mr. Shelton said the vendor was not firm yet, but that he has seen one product demonstration being used at Stanford University that appeared very good; it was easy to use and administer, and was very flexible, two important criteria. Because the content of the evaluations is likely to change over time, it is important to be able to do so easily. Also, there is a desire to have better student access to evaluation information.
Senator Emami asked if there would be a trial period, and if we could revert to the old system if this was unsatisfactory. Mr. Shelton said yes, as long as the ability to process paper forms is available. Senator Tublitz brought up the issue of some faculty members posting grades prior to the final exams week. If students want final grades prior to the end of finals week, can they get them? Mr. Shelton responded that he hoped faculty didn’t post grades until after the end of exam week. He noted there are two different ways to post grades: one is to turn in grades to registrar, those grades are posted and students can access through DuckWeb; another way is to post in hard copy on one’s office (using random numbers for identification. Mr. Shelton said he preferred that faculty not use the latter means (faculty are not supposed to be doing this type of posting). He said that students could access their grade after they have finished the evaluation process at the earliest (assuming the faculty member has posted them electronically with the Registrar). Filling out the evaluation form is the incentive for getting grades as early as possible, but it would still be possible for a student to opt out of doing evaluations and then getting his the grades.
Senator Gulley asked if universities using online evaluation systems hold grades until evaluations are filled out. Mr. Shelton replied that the standard incentive for filling out evaluations is to have grades as soon as grades are posted; if the system has no incentive, then completing evaluations rate is 35%. If there is a good incentive, the response rate has been as high as 80%. Mr. Shelton indicated that setting dates for the availability of grades is not really the issue of the motion in question; rather, the issue is whether students would be able to fill out course evaluations after they have taken their final exam. For example, a faculty member might have less incentive to give a particularly hard final exam if the student will be filling out an evaluation form after the exam. On the other hand, one could argue that the final exam is part of the course experience and students ought to have an opportunity to evaluate the entire course, including the final exam experience, prior to completing an evaluation form. By extending the window of opportunity to complete evaluations after the final exam we are changing the system currently in place. Mr. Shelton and his committee feel that in the long run it is in the faculty’s and students’ best interest to do evaluations after final exams, and consequently, the is the motion on the floor.
President Clark called for a hand vote on the motion which resulted in 13 voting in favor of the motion, 8 opposed to the motion, and 2 abstentions. Thus motion US06/07-7 carries.
Motion US06/07-8 concerning changes in the mechanisms to create a pool of candidates for Distinguished Service Awards and honorary degrees. Mr. Dave Hubin moved to replace the awarding of honorary degrees legislation from Senate meeting May 22, 1991 with the following:
The University of Oregon shall offer the following criteria for the awarding of Honorary Degrees.
a. To an individual or individuals who has/have shown outstanding scholarship or artistic achievement in their lifetime;
b. To an individual or individuals who has/have performed extra-ordinary public service or distinguished service in their lifetime.
No honorary degree shall be granted by the University of Oregon to any person(s) who is/are currently employed by the Oregon State System of Higher Education, or to any person(s) currently holding elective office within the United States.
PROCEDURE FOR THE SELECTION AND GRANTING OF AN HONORARY DEGREE
1. The Distinguished Service Award Committee shall include the following:
The President of the University of Oregon or his/her designee
Chairperson of the Faculty Advisory Council
President of the University Senate
Chairperson of the Graduate Council
Chairperson of the Undergraduate Council
Representative of the Vice President for Advancement
Director of the University of Oregon Alumni Association
Five (5) members of the teaching faculty
President of the Student Senate
President of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon
2. This Committee shall in early October commence the eliciting of applications from the University community as well as from the broader community of the State of Oregon the names of individuals who have met the criteria given in a. & b. above.
a. The Committee shall screen applications, ask for more information about the nominees, and investigate, to their satisfaction that the nominee(s) meet the criteria given above.
b. It is the responsibility of the Committee to judge each nominee and to determine whether it is appropriate to send the name to the University Senate
c. The Committee shall do all of its work on honorary degrees in the strictest of confidence.
d. The University Senate, in Executive Session, shall discuss the candidates presented by the Committee. Members of the Committee shall make the presentations in support of the nominee(s) separately.
e. The University Senators shall discuss, ask questions of the presenters from the Committee if necessary, and shall vote separately on each nominee. A vote of two-thirds is necessary for the nomination to be approved. Approval of a nomination will place a name into a pool of approved nominees.
f. The President of the University Senate shall formally inform the President of the University of Oregon of positive votes of the Senate only. Nominees failing to get the two-thirds vote shall not be forwarded to the University President. All documentation on successful nominees shall be turned over to the University President by the President of the University Senate.
g. The Distinguished Service Award Committee will review, on at least an annual basis, the pool of approved nominees to ensure that it remains appropriate.
h. From among the group of candidates approved by the University Senate for an Honorary Degree, the President will forward up to two nominees to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. When the State Board of Higher Education has approved of name(s) submitted by the University of Oregon for this honor the President of the University shall formally notify the candidate(s) and invite them to take part in the honoring ceremony. Names of successful candidates must be forwarded to the State Board of Higher Education at least 90 days prior to the awarding of the degree(s).
Mr. Hubin explained that motion changes the procedures for awarding service awards and honorary degrees by creating a pool of eligible candidates, rather specific candidates for a particular graduate ceremony. The pool of worthy candidates for these awards would be brought to the senate for approval, and then the timing of the award worked out in deference to the awardees’ calendar. In the past, the timing of the award with graduation has been a problem with high profile individuals who have extremely full calendars. The new procedures would serve to mitigate this problem. With no further questions being advance from the senators, the senate voted unanimously by voice vote to pass Motion US06/07-8. (See http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen067/US067-8comp.html for a comparison with previous legislation.)
Notices of motion. Mr. Andrew Marcus gave notice of a motion to change the criteria for persons who would be eligible to run for vice president and president of the University Senate. Rules Committee member Senator Peter Gilkey, mathematics, noted that there was some question regarding the appropriateness of the senate acting on the motion, rather than the University Assembly (when convened with full legislative authority) since the proposed change involves the Enabling Legislation Section of the governance legislation. Mr. Frank Stahl gave notice of two motions, one to align the University Senate’s Enabling Legislation with prevailing practice concerning the University Assembly, and the other to amend previous senate legislation to enable University Assembly members who serve off the Eugene campus to attend an assembly meeting called by petition to convene with full legislative power. Because these motions in part involve changes to the Enabling Legislation, the university general counsel will be contacted for a clarification of whether the governance legislation can be changed by senate action on these motions.
With no other business at hand, the meeting was adjourned at 4:58 p.m.
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