Time: 3:15 p.m.
Place: Hulman Memorial Student Union 227
Present: Chairperson S. Lamb, Vice Chair V. Sheets, Secretary Sr. A. Anderson
V. Anderson, B. Evans, B. Frank, C. Hoffman, J. Hughes, S. Shure
Ex-Officio: Provost Maynard
I. Administrative Report
Provost Maynard addressed:
1) the committee for the College of Education Dean search will be completed by early next week; serious consideration is being given to use the services of an outside search firm specialized in recruiting for this type of position;
2) The Task Force on Prioritization of Academic Programs has been named. The charge to the Task Force includes: a) Develop processes in sufficient clarity for the campus to implement. The processes must provide opportunities for input at the department, college, and university levels, b) Recommend Criteria for decision making, and c) Ensure the alignment of all processes and criteria with University Mission and Strategic Plan. Graduate Council and CAAC will be asked to provide appropriate review and input. This committee has highly competent members who will represent the campus well. A Web site will be developed to provide information on the task force’s work. The process and procedures should be developed within the next six weeks. After the process and procedures are accomplished, any proposed merger, abolition or action which affects a program will have to be considered by the appropriate subcommittee, either the CAAC or Graduate Council.
II. Executive Session
Motion to move into executive session. (Hoffman, Sheets 8-0-0)
Motion to move out of executive session. (Hoffman, Frank 8-0-0)
III. Chair Report
Chair Lamb reported:
“As you know, the Provost’s Office has informed us that we are doing a very limited number of faculty searches, just 15 or so, due to the financial stress the institution is under. This is about one-third the number we had last year.
I would suspect that this would lead to a permanent reduction in tenure track faculty lines and resources flowing into that domain. Hopefully, it is only temporary. However, I have had conversations with the Provost about the reduction of funds going to faculty tenure track positions as well as the loss of the number of tenure track positions.
If the total of tenure track faculty suffers a 3% loss of funding, it should be that EAP has the same degree of reduction if not greater. After all, it is instruction that this institution is engaged in as its primary product. All avenues of cost savings should be examined before embarking upon the reduction of our ability to deliver essential instruction.
I would think that the institution is aware of the percent of its budget going to faculty positions, as well as the percent of its budget going to EAP positions. This ratio should be under scrutiny at this time period.
The Provost has assured me that the cuts from EAP will, at minimum, be proportional to those from the faculty domain, and more than likely be a higher percentage than those from the faculty domain. This assurance is necessary and appreciated.
I hear some level of frustration from AAC as to the difficulty in performing its advisory authority as to administrative reorganizations. When they are given minimum time to perform their duties, it certainly gives some credence to the belief that their advice is little more than perfunctory. I plead with the administration to allow AAC to adequately perform their role, and if plans are being considered, allow AAC to have the earliest input possible.
IV. Fifteen Minute Open Discussion
1) Admonition to maintain the Fifteen Minute Discussion period at Senate meetings within agenda guidelines—fifteen minutes.
2) Difficulties forming a graduate committee for a student within the Department of Educational and School Psychology were expressed; efforts are underway to stabilize the department.
3) Exception taken with the tone of the Provost’s memo to faculty regarding attendance at the upcoming fall commencement—interpreted as a “scolding”; Provost Maynard expressed his intent was not to “scold” but to encourage faculty participation; the provost asked for faculty cooperation in encouraging colleagues to attend in honoring our students’ graduation; confirmations for attendance this fall are low.
V. Approval of the Minutes
Minutes of the October 18, 2005 meeting were approved. (Frank, Anderson 9-0-0)
VI. Old Business
1) Life Sciences Department MOU
Jim Hughes read the following statement:
“The primary issue I would like to discuss with this committee is whether the University should be required to honor a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which contains a written promise to provide the Department of Life Sciences with a new chair. I believe that this is a critical faculty issue, because it could serve as a precedent to invalidate virtually all MOUs at the University. Indeed, if the University can simply “reinterpret” its own wording, then future MOUs will have to become lengthy documents created and signed by lawyers.
Most on this committee already know about the problems in the former Department of Life Sciences, but I would like to provide a little history to place the chair agreement in context.
For more than ten years, there was a concerted effort by the chair of the department of Life Sciences to eliminate cell and molecular biology. Despite complaints to the College, the chair was allowed to do just that. As a result, the cell-molecular faculty in the Department of Life Sciences was reduced to a single individual. And, even that individual considers himself to be a geneticist rather than a cell-molecular biologist. The college was so willing to allow the destruction of molecular biology that the chair was permitted to hire an ecologist without a search, for a position that did not exist.
The chair’s actions finally led to total dysfunction within the Department, and the obvious dysfunction led to the split. The split was a lengthy process that involved an expensive AAAS report, a vote of no-confidence, considerable stalling, and an incredible investment in time. It is difficult to calculate how much time was lost in MOU meetings and in preparing for MOU meetings. Finally, A MOU was developed that outlined separation of the department or at least separation of faculty from the former chair.
One, the two most critical items in the MOU was the guarantee of a new outside chair. The MOU would not have been accepted by Life Sciences without the guarantee, because the department could not hope to succeed in cell and molecular biology with the minimal expertise that remained after the purge. In fact, the faculty considered the chair to be a poor compromise. Life Sciences had asked for two new faculty, pointing to the near nonexistent cell-molecular biologists and the recent loss of faculty. The Dean’s answer was a flat “no.” She stated that a chair was the only option because in her opinion, the department could not thrive without new leadership.
The Dean trumpeted the chair at every level of approval, including to the Senate. She reemphasized that the chair was critical and stated that the chair would be revenue-neutral because the chair merely replaced two recently lost faculty. In one meeting, the Dean actually claimed that the chair was the choice of the faculty.
The faculty of Life Sciences signed the MOU based on promises made by the College. Promises made in MOU meetings. Promises repeated to many committees. Promises made to the
full Senate. The complete MOU was not actually available at the time of the signing, but the College asked us to “have faith” that the MOU would mirror verbal agreements and would be honored.
In the 2004-2005 academic year, Life Sciences was not considered for new faculty positions because the College had determined that the chair was critical. Life Sciences was allowed to initiate a late chair search. The search failed—probably for many reasons in addition to the lateness of the search. In view of the failed chair search, we were surprised that the University did not automatically hold money for a second chair search. We were even more surprised when the University filled four faculty positions that were not even on the original approved list.
In the 2005-2006 academic year, the chair promised to Life Sciences was not even among the 12 positions that the College forwarded to the Provost. This is the same College that trumpeted the need for a chair less than a year ago. This is the same College that determined a chair was absolutely critical for the survival of the department. Suddenly, the college did not recognize the relevance of the chair or a signed contract.
Yes, the University’s financial situation has worsened. But despite its financial situation, the University has managed to hire a new assistant baseball coach and to initiate searches in many other areas. The current financial situation, which has been building for several years, should not be a blank check for invalidating contracts. The University has a moral obligation to begin the restoration of cell-molecular biology and a legal obligation to honor the MOU. What weight will MOUs hold in the future, if it is known that the University can and will “reinterpret” its promises?
We understand that the University is in a financial crisis, but the University’s image and future will not be strengthened through broken promises and invalidated contracts. The University’s future as a quality educational institution also will not be strengthened by pretending that we have a department of cell and molecular biology.”
Chair Lamb noted that the MOU was the basis for acceptance by the departmental faculty and the Faculty Senate of the departmental split, “It was very rational for both of these departments, as well as the Faculty Senate, to conceive of the MOU as binding. Many a faculty member, as well as many an administrator thought this issue should never have been brought to the Senate in the first place. The issue was very divisive. Now, for there to be the appearance that the administration is not committed to the MOU is most distressing. I plead with you, Provost, to give this greater consideration.”
Provost Maynard responded that he will meet with Dean Sauer for discussion and report back next week.
2) Approved by consensus a Graduate Council recommendation, “interested parties should once again sit down to address the Satisfactory Academic Progress financial aid policy.”
Provost Maynard indicated that plans for a meeting were already in the making.
VII. New Business
1) FAC Select Committee Recommendations
Distinguished Service Award Committee nominations. Approved (Hoffman, Sheets 9-0-0).
Caleb Mills Distinguished Teaching Award Committee nominations. Approved (Sheets, A. Anderson 9-0-0).
Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research and Creativity Award Committee nominations. Approved as modified (V. Anderson, Hoffman 8-0-1).
2) FAC Charge: Consider and make subsequent recommendation on the proposed Faculty Award for Civic and Community Leadership. Approved (Sheets, V. Anderson 9-0-0).
VIII. Standing Committee Reports
Executive Committee liaisons provided updates on respective standing committee activity.
The meeting adjourned at 4:42 p.m.