Minutes of the University Senate Meeting October 8, 2008

 

 

Present: C. Bengtson, L-S Chou, C. Ellis, A. Emami, P. Gilkey, M. Henney, E. Herman, J. Hunter, J. Hurwit, R. Illig, M. Jaeger, C. Jones, D. Levin, S. Libeskind, H. Lin, C. McNelly, D. Miller, C. Moore, D. Olson, E. Peterson, S. Plummer, R. Rejaie, M. Redford, L. Stephen, T. Toadvine, N. Tublitz, P. van Donkelaar, L. Vanderburgh

 

Excused: L. Middlebrook, S. Paul,

 

Absent: N. Butto, R. Davies, D. Falk, K. Lenn, J. Rowell, T. Analisa,

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. in 110 Fenton by Senate President Paul van Donkelaar. The president welcomed everyone to the first regular senate meeting of the academic year.

 

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES

 

Senate Vice President Peter Gilkey moved that the minutes of the May 14, 2008 meeting be approved. The motion was seconded and the minutes were approved as distributed.

 

STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY

 

Remarks from University President Dave Frohnmayer. President Frohnmayer welcomed everyone to the fall term of a new academic year. He noted a number of new faculty have joined the university, all with outstanding credentials, and commended Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Russ Tomlin who organized a particularly effective orientation for the new faculty and their families, which adds to the sense of community at the UO. Similarly, the fall Convocation ceremony also welcomed new faculty, students, and their families to the campus and academic year.

 

The president went on to say that earlier in the day Provost Jim Bean announced the salary increments that will be implemented the first of November. He commented that the economic disquiet that is echoing around the world currently is a matter of intense concern to everyone, and the hope is that by implementing cost of living increases now it will bring some degree of economic reassurance during the coming year. He continued that the administration is putting together a budget for the academic year which reflects an all time high student acceptance rate. Although the university offered admitted to exactly the same number of students as the previous year, nearly 800 more students accepted. He opined that the reputation of the university is very strong and students voted with their feet to attend the UO. Consequently, there is a sudden burden on those who teach our courses, provide student services, and advise. He noted, too, that an enormous amount of selfless effort by a substantial number of people has enabled the university to weather our swelled student numbers with a remarkable degree of calm and order. The president expressed continuing gratitude to faculty and staff whose personal time has been stretched and who labor under these circumstances. He commented that the extra number of student tuition dollars has helped cushion our chronic budget shortfalls, and enabled the university to make decisions regarding salary levels with assurance. Lastly, the president said that the bonds for the new basketball arena have been sold (they were sold in June), and that those funds are sitting in the treasury. He indicated the challenge is to build a facility to last 75 years that stays within the limits of our resources, and he commented that the administration is extending an extraordinary effort to make sure the budget matches the project.

 

During an open question period, Mr. Frank Stahl, emeritus biology, asked when the draft opinion from the Department of Justice (resulting from a letter sent by former senate president Gordon Sayre about the workings of the University Assembly) might be finalized. President Frohnmayer responded that he did not know the time frame and that such things take time. Senate President van Donkelaar added that he had written to the Department of Justice about it.

 

UO Presidential Search Update by Chancellor George Pernsteiner. Chancellor Pernsteiner began his comments thanked the assembled members for their contributions to the current strength of the university, saying that its reputation has never been higher nationally and internationally, due in no small part to the leadership of President Frohnmayer. He remarked that the President Search Committee is on schedule with the intention to hire someone by April 2009. The chancellor commented that the Search Committee is a large, well-integrated committee comprised of 24 people, 6 of whom are faculty members. The others include representatives of the UO’s constituencies. The committee is chaired by state board member John von Schlegell with Kirby Dyess as vice chair. A Dallas search firm, R. William Funk and Associates, has been selected to assist in the process. The chancellor commented that Bill Funk has been the search consultant for the majority of sitting presidents at public AAU universities. The search firm will be screening potential candidates over the course of the next couple months.

 

The chancellor indicated that he continues to consult to get faculty and staff ideas about the qualities sought in a new president, which he will convey to the search committee. He noted that it is clear that the committee is seeking someone with leadership quality, a recognized scholar, who has experience and shares values of shared governance, is centered on learning and student success, can raise money, and represent the university in the halls of Salem, with the state board, and in councils of universities around the country and around the world. In acknowledgment of President Frohnmayer’s remarkable tenure as president, the chancellor said the search committee cannot find a replacement for Dave Frohnmayer, but they strive to find a worthy successor, a candidate who can do the job and who will be a good fit for the campus and for the state. Further, the chancellor said he would provide updates each month throughout the search process with as much information as the committee is at liberty to say in a confidential process.

 

During a question and answer period, Mr. Stahl, referring to the chancellor’s earlier mention of shared governance, noted that the UO charter says that the faculty governs the university, and he wondered with whom governance is shared. The chancellor clarified that under ORS 351 and 352, the president of the university is delegated by the State Board of Higher Education to govern the campus on behalf of the state board, and that the president shares governance with the faculty.

 

Raising another issue, Senator Lisa Redford, linguistics, asked who is on the list to be screened, and why the process is a closed search. The chancellor answered that possible candidates are solicited or suggested by the search consultant firm, members of the search committee, through advertisements run, and by the chancellor. He indicated that although he has not seen the complete candidate pool, most of the candidates have significant experience in universities in a leadership role either as provost, president, or leader of faculty, but there are a few candidates who deviate from the academic norms. Regarding the closed nature of the search, the chancellor indicated the search was closed to protect the privacy of candidates who do not wish their employers to know they are considering another position. He commented that when talking with people who withdraw from searches at the last moment, it frequently is due to fear of jeopardizing their current position if they were known to be looking at another job opportunity and were not selected for the new position. A number of persons in positions similar to the chancellor’s have indicated a better candidate pool is created if the candidate names are kept confidential; consequently, in the interest of creating the broadest, deepest candidate pool possible, the decision was made to have a closed search.

 

Mr. Stahl asked if it was desirable to hire someone who was afraid of an open search; and Senator Nathan Tublitz, biology, questioned if there was data supporting the notion that closed searches attract a better pool of candidates. Chancellor Pernsteiner defended the decision to have a closed search acknowledging that the reasoning was based on anecdotal conversations and experiences. But he felt that an open search would yield a different candidate pool, one that was not as deep. Ultimately, the chancellor felt it was most important to have the very best candidate pool possible, and that an open pool would effectively limit some possible applicants. Mr. Tublitz suggested that because the UO is a public university that traditionally hires through an open search process, the same should apply for the presidential search. The chancellor replied that the trend for very high-level searches, such as for presidents, is for them to be closed for the reasons previously stated. He concluded that the system needs the very best president possible for the UO, and in his opinion the closed search provides a better opportunity for the pool to be as deep, broad, and as full of quality candidates as it can be. He noted that the Search Committee will interview the candidates a second time and will invite candidates back to meet with the Search Committee in subcommittee mode; the subcommittee should consult with those they represent to determine appropriate questions so they can bring that flavor to the second round of interviews. Eventually, one candidate would be brought to campus for rounds of interviews.

 

Senator Tublitz questioned why the campus would only have an opportunity to interview one of the finalists rather than bringing three finalists to campus for interviews. Chancellor Pernsteiner said that if all the finalists are willing to have their names made public, then the search would be opened for the three finalists; but if even one says no, the search would proceed as previously described. Ultimately, he noted, the choice is up to the State Board of Higher Education, and they will have met with all the finalist candidates. Senator Carla Bengtson, art, asked if this search style was non-traditional. The chancellor reiterated that the trend for presidential and even some dean searches is toward closed searches; this president position is crucial, and the state board wants the candidate pool as deep as possible. Mr. Stahl opined that the university appears in a “rush to the corporate model”, to which Chancellor Pernsteiner replied that there could be a discussion about the openness of the search process with the candidates – that could be part of the overall conversation. In effect, the chancellor continued, the university is selling itself to the candidates and them to the university – both the candidate and the chancellor want to feel it is the right fit.

 

Senate President van Donkelaar asked if all three final candidates agree to go public, would all three be brought in for campus interviews, and with whom would they meet. The chancellor said if that were the case, it’s likely all three would be brought to campus and the interview would be structured over a couple days. The candidates would meet with faculty and staff groups as well as other constituent groups, and in open forums. However, the Search Committee could ask to have it structured differently. It was noted that faculty, staff, and student input can be sent to newpres@uoregon.edu. Messages and information sent to this address will go to Susan Weeks in the Chancellor’s Office, and forwarded accordingly. Also, information is available at www.newpres.uoregon.edu.

 

Remarks from Provost Jim Bean regarding the Academic Plan. Provost Bean began his remarks explaining that the Academic Plan (AP) is a description of what the core functions of the academic portion of the university should be. It is an exercise that should be done in order to communicate to the presidential candidates who we are academically and who we want to be. He began the process of developing the AP in July with the academic deans, who reviewed plans of institutions similar to the UO, mostly AAU public universities. Various leadership groups worked on a structure for the plan, considering strengths, weaknesses, barriers, and so forth. Although considerations included notions of what types of programs might attract fund-raising possibilities, the provost emphasized that the plan was not a development function; rather, it is for the academic core and how we will pay for, through funding and grants, what we want to be academically.

 

All the accumulated AP information was given to a drafting committee (professors Singell, Durant, Holmes, Irvin, and Friestad) to distill and draft a description of quintessential Oregon. The idea was to provide a basic starting document of what the UO is about: our strengths, challenges, goals, and strategies for how to get to where we want to go academically. The provost is interested in faculty participation to develop some “big ideas” or themes. For example, if human performance were a theme, perhaps we could commit ourselves to the idea of how do humans perform optimally, which would encompass a number of segments of the university (human physiology, music and dance, and psychology, among others). The Drafting Committee was charged with coming up with a document to begin a broader discussion on goals and big questions. The draft document was discussed with deans and department heads and is now posted on the provost’s web page as a blog to encourage widespread discussion among the faculty over the next several weeks (see http://academicplan.uoregon.edu). In November there will be open forums to discuss the ideas generated; in mid December, the provost will have a committee to select perhaps five or so of the big ideas, and then have an approval and voting process to get larger community input and buy-in. Then it will be submitted to the senate to ratify. Lastly, the provost said to be successful, the big ideas need to be BIG ideas, and not limited to a particular discipline. He commented that what we have not had before was a road map – a shared vision – of what we want to be and how to get there, so we ended up investing in nothing in particular.

 

Remarks from Senate President Paul van Donkelaar regarding restructuring internal governance. President van Donkelaar alerted the senate members of a potential for restructuring faculty governance. He noted three issues have arisen which have prompted faculty leaders to consider the possibility of restructuring. First, when a new university president assumes office, internal governance is subject to review and modification, and that provides an opportunity for us to revisit governance. Second, the number of vacant seats on the senate suggests change is required to re-engage faculty in the internal governance of the university. Third, a draft of a Department of Justice opinion received over the summer regarding a question posed about quorum and voting requirements of the University Assembly recommends that the statutory faculty have a mechanism to vote or meet. President van Donkelaar remarked that these three issues suggest the need to think about our internal governance structure in order to interact productively with the incoming university president. He provided an outline of a mechanism for statutory faculty to meet or vote, with the following suggestions, all of which are open for discussion and debate. First, statutory faculty are defined as full time tenured and tenure track teaching professors, career NTTF, and the University President. Second, meetings can be convened by the University President, the University Senate, or a petition of 10% of the statutory faculty (about 750 faculty members). Third, he suggested that a minimum quorum of 20% of the total statutory faculty membership must be in attendance for motions or resolutions to be considered, that is, about 150 faculty present, and motions would pass by a majority vote of the members present. Fourth, he said that voting on motions or resolutions might also occur via a web-based mechanism, with minimum quorum and voting requirements the same as for physically present meetings.

 

President van Donkelaar reported that the idea of whether and how to change internal governance has been discuss by various groups, and that one idea put forth was to create a faculty senate which would be a small representational body of the statutory faculty. The faculty senate would consider only issues directly related to academics, such as promotion and tenure, faculty salaries, student conduct, the academic plan, and so forth. He said the University Senate would continue to exist and communication between the two bodies would be preserved by the faculty senate president and vice president also serving in those roles in the University Senate. The University Senate would consider issues of broad concern to the UO community, such as parking, athletics, campus planning, and so forth. Representation on the University Senate would be reapportioned by reducing the number of faculty seats and increasing the number of officers of administration, classified staff, and students.

 

President van Donkelaar explained that he wanted to have these internal governance ideas considered during the academic year. He would like the senate to consider the pros and cons of creating a faculty senate or maintaining the status quo. His goal is to provide a draft document of revised internal governance to the incoming new president in spring, to which the new president and faculty can provide feedback, and then ratify the new document by the end of the academic year to take effect in fall 2009. He added that the opinion from the Department of Justice is only a draft opinion and that he hopes to receive a final opinion soon that can help guide our internal governance decisions.

 

During a discussion period, Mr. Stahl stated that the University Senate has never been properly constituted, saying that only the teaching faculty can create the senate. He noted that later in the meeting he would give notice of a motion that will call for a meeting of the statutory faculty. Senator Lynn Stephen, anthropology, asked whether the governance structure at other universities have two senates. President van Donkelaar replied that most other universities have faculty senates, to which Vice President Gilkey added that Eastern Oregon University has a governance structure much like the two senates described.

 

Remarks from ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz. ASUO President Dotters-Katz reported on the ASUO voter registration campaign saying they have registered over 4,000 students so far; he thanked the faculty and staff for providing avenues for voter register information dissemination. The ASUO president also thanked the university community in general for any inconveniences caused by the annual street faire, saying that it was a big fund-raising mechanism for student government. He mentioned a new event planned for the EMU that focused on students of color, called weaving new beginnings. Also on the ASUO agenda for the year is a revision of the way students are put on committees; a new web site will facilitate much greater outreach to students. And, ASUO is working with central administration to revise the primary governance document that speaks to what student government is. Lastly, Mr. Dotters-Katz indicated that ASUO is working diligently to produce budget recommendations.

 

REPORTS

 

Interinstitutional Faculty Senate (IFS). IFS Representative Peter Gilkey reported that the IFS met October 3-4 at Southern Oregon University. Among the topics discussed were learning outcomes and assessments on the campuses, financial situation of OUS and future funding strategies, the sustainability conference in Eugene, semesters versus the quarters system, ballot measures impact on OUS, and the dual credit report. Mr. Gilkey noted that in the interest of saving time, notes of the meeting are posted at http://www.uoregon.edu/~ifs/dir08/IFS-3-4Oct08SOU.html.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE FLOOR

 

Scholarly Communications. Mr. Dev Sinha, mathematics, announced that he has become aware of a number of students complaining about textbook prices. From 1994-2004, the wholesale price of textbooks went up 62% and general books went up 25%. The UO’s OSPIRG student group has been recommending for faculty to use open source and open access textbooks whenever possible. He noted that faculty can modify or add sections of text that become part of the text (Mr. Sinha provided a more detailed explanatory paper handout). With the ever-increasing price of textbooks in mind, Mr. Sinha asked for the creation of an ad hoc sub-committee to consider textbook pricing issues and to provide the senate with some recommendations. Mr. JQ Johnson, library, is willing to be a member of the committee which Mr. Sinha would chair. The intent is to produce a White Paper that makes the issues clear. On a final note, Mr. Sinha opined that faculty produce academic materials, research, and literature, and then have to pay too much to have access to what they have produced. President van Donkelaar indicated that he would move forward to form such a committee. In brief, the committee would produce a White Paper summarizing our understanding of this area for the UO community; identify examples of best practices regarding textbooks, both on our campus and other campuses; consider ways to encourage use of lower-cost textbooks; consider whether it would be worthwhile to devote any university resources to this area; consider the capabilities of the Duck Store to help ease the adoption of lower-cost textbooks; and consider reaching out to other campuses, presumably through their faculty governance structures, in order to coordinate efforts and save costs.

 

Classified Staff. Senator Tublitz commented that today’s meeting was the first time the classified staff have full voting privileges in the senate. He recognized Mr. Ed Singer and Ms. Carla McNelly as being instrumental in bringing about the change in voting status.

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

Motion US08/09-1 concerning mechanisms for making appointments to fill vacancies in the University Senate. Vice President Gilkey highlighted the salient elements in a new procedure for filling senate vacancies, including asking elected advisory or personnel committees in the relevant school or college to identify persons to serve for a year, or using a random selection process when no such advisory or personnel committee exists. Text of the motion follows:

 

Moved that,

 

Effective upon passage of this motion, Section 3.8 of the enabling legislation is amended to read:

 

Section 3.8 The Secretary of the Faculty shall arrange the filling of vacancies by notifying the next eligible candidate, determined in descending order of the number of votes received in the most recent election for the represented unit. If no eligible candidate is available to fill the vacancy, the following procedure will be followed:

 

Section 3.8.1 If the vacancy is for an Officer of Instruction Senator or for a Library System Senator, the Secretary of the Faculty shall ask the Dean's Advisory Committee or a similar elected body for the appropriate College, School, or Library System to appoint an eligible replacement senator from the constituency in question. If, following such a request, a suitable replacement is not appointed within 2 calendar weeks during which the University is in regular academic session, the Secretary of the Faculty shall appoint an eligible replacement Senator selected using a random process from the constituency in question.

 

Section 3.8.2 If the vacancy is for an Officer of Administration Senator or for a Classified Staff Senator, the Secretary of the Faculty shall appoint an eligible replacement Senator selected using a random process from the constituency in question.

 

Section 3.8.3 Appointments made by the Secretary of the Faculty using a random process pursuant to Sections 3.8.1 and 3.8.2 may be declined; however, if 5 such appointments are declined for a given position, the position will be declared vacant until the next election. Senators appointed under Sections 3.8.1 and 3.8.2 serve until the end of the academic year and are eligible to stand for election.

 

Section 3.8.4 If the vacancy is for a Student Senator, the Secretary of the Faculty shall ask the President of the Student Senate for an appointment of an eligible replacement student Senator to fill the vacancy.

 

During a discussion period, a senator asked if non-tenured related faculty would be considered in the random selection process. Mr. Gilkey replied, yes, that anyone eligible to serve in the position would be included in the random selection process. Senator Tublitz questioned whether the senate should vote to change the enabling legislation when there was some question, based on the Department of Justice draft opinion, whether the senate was a legitimate governance body. More discussion regarding the draft opinion ensued, with an comments by Parliamentarian Paul Simons that the Department of Justice did not have all the available and pertinent information available, and that the opinion was still in draft form. President Van Donkelaar noted that only a few people had seen the draft opinion document and that it had not been circulated or posted because it was not a final document. After some further discussion, Senator Stephen suggested that the senate proceed with a vote on the motion at hand, and there seemed consensus to do so. President van Donkelaar put motion US08/09-1 concerning procedures for filling senate vacancies to a vote and it was approved with all voting in favor of the motion, and there were three abstentions.

 

Notices of motions. Mr. Stahl gave notice of a motion aimed at removing the ambiguity just discussed. He said that the existing university governance system has never been officially ratified and that his motion would call for a meeting of the teaching faculty to formalize the legal governance responsibilities of the teaching faculty. The meeting would be held at 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday no later than January 2009. In addition, he will circulate a proposed governance document within the next week or so.

 

Senator Tublitz gave notice of two motions that relate to the university president search. The first is a motion directed at the state board, objecting to the closed nature of the search and asking that it made open as early as possible. The second motion is to establish a different search committee to be run by the University Senate to allow the entire faculty to have input into the search process and final selection.

 

Remarks from the Distinguished Service Awards (DSA) Committee chair. Prior to moving into Executive Session, DSA committee chairman Dave Hubin updated the senators on the committee’s work over the past year. In response to senate legislation from a year and half ago, the committee has worked to generate a pool of honorary degree recipients, soliciting the university community on an ongoing basis for names of possible honorary degree recipients. A developed pool of potential recipients enables the president to interact with possible recipients in a logistically amenable fashion. Since 1992 we have given four honorary doctorates: Helmuth Rilling, Corazon Aquino, Marian Wright Edelman, and Mark Hatfield. Under the new legislation, awards can now be made at times other than at commencement. Before going in to executive session Mr. Hubin highlighted the membership of the DSA committee and asked the members of the senate to be thinking about the possible recipients for future honorary degrees.

 

Executive Session. The Senate moved to executive session to consider the report of the DSA.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

The senate returned from Executive Session at 4:56 p.m. and with no other business at hand, moved to adjourn the meeting.

 

 

Gwen Steigelman

Secretary of the Faculty


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