Report of the Chair of Faculty Council: November 5, 2003

The Chair of Faculty Council recognized the following individuals:

Finally, I would like to ask all of the members of Faculty Council that are present to stand up and be recognized.

My visual aid is this glass of Coca Cola. In the movie, Groundhog Day, the protagonist Bill Murray, finds himself reliving the same day — Groundhog Day — over and over again. Every morning he wakes up, it is February 2nd, the dead of a cold dark winter, and he is in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania — the middle of nowhere — and he can't escape. Instead he has to relive the same day over and over again, Groundhog Day. The pivotal moment comes when Bill Murray realizes his fate. Sitting in a bar, drowning his troubles with a glass of beer, and complaining of his misfortune to anyone who will listen, a barfly turns to him and says: "Some guys would look at this glass and they would say: 'That glass is half empty.' Other guys would say: 'That glass is half full.' I think you is a glass is half empty kinda of a guy." Bill responds by saying: "What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?" "What if there were no tomorrow?" The barfly responds: "No tomorrow. That would mean there would no consequences, no hangovers. We could do whatever we wanted."

A light turns on. Bill realizes there are advantages to his predicament; there are ways he can exploit his circumstances. The glass maybe half empty, but it is also half full. As the movie progresses he takes advantage of the situation, reinventing himself, and forging a richer, more rewarding life than he had thought possible.

So being a glass is half empty kinda of a guy, what do we do if we're stuck in Columbia Missouri, stuck in a state that's bleeding red ink, stuck with diminishing support for our academic programs. Stuck with problems that don't seem to go away? Does anything we do as a Faculty really matter? Will there be a tomorrow for MU?

Well, as it works out, the glass is half full and we can do whatever we want. We have a beautiful campus, smart students, a talented faculty, and a new President who wants change. President Floyd wants us to excel as a University. So 2003 finds MU motivated to improve. Not only is MU motivated, the Chancellor, the Provost, and the Vice Provost are asking the faculty for leadership and the energy to create a new university.

It is true that wealth breeds complacency and conservatism. Many of our problems are old problems; perhaps we could afford to do nothing. But times have changed. We now have hard times, but challenging times. Now appears to be a time to try out new ideas, new approaches. There appears to be now the resolve to fix longstanding problems. This is what I have to report to you today.

In response, the Faculty Council has embarked on an ambitious program to tackle a number of longstanding issues. I would like to describe these to you and obtain some indication of your approval or disapproval of our direction.

The first concerns academics. As it works out, our student body includes a group of undergraduate students that equals or surpasses any other student body in Missouri, including Washington University. So one question is, do we offer a high quality education that challenges this group? On a related issue, we have been criticized for having large undergraduate classes and for having inadequate contact between senior faculty and undergraduates. Can we develop new ways to enrich the educational experience for our students.

As it works out, under the principle of "shared governance," the Faculty has primary authority over the curriculum and instruction. That makes addressing these concerns about the quality of our instruction our responsibility. The Administration can�t do this for us. Instead, they are looking to the Faculty for help in enriching the MU academic environment. In response, the Academic Affairs Committee, under the leadership of Bill Lamberson, has begun considering various proposals to strengthen the Honors Program, perhaps even to urge that the Honors College become a separate academic unit. After a presentation by Dr. Palonsky on the Honors program, one of our members, Frank Schmidt, has suggested that we might develop some program to increase contact between senior faculty and the undergraduates by encouraging more faculty to convene one hour seminars.

Question: How many here would favor strengthening the Honors program? [Response: The majority of the audience raised their hands]. How many would oppose? [Response: No opposition.]

Question: How many here would favor an independent Honors College? [Response: About half of the audience raised their hands]. How many would oppose? [Response: About half of the audience raised their hands.]

Question: How many here would consider providing an extra one hour seminar for Freshman or Sophomores, particularly if such a class were rewarded by extra salary support? [Response: Nearly everyone in the audience raised their hands]. How many would oppose? [Response: No opposition.]

As you know, dispute resolution has been a persistent problem on this campus.

To address this, the University Administration established a "Campus Mediation Service" under the direction of Art Hinshaw in the School of Law. He has asked me to pass on the following message to you:

The Campus Mediation Service has averaged one mediation or departmental facilitation per month since its inception. In the 2002-2003 academic year, 5 of the 6 faculty mediations resolved in the process. This year there are several faculty issues that have been mediated, and others that the Campus Mediation Service is working with that look like they are destined for mediation. Please specifically say that Art Hinshaw would not give you any details on about the mediations. Art does not want the Faculty to think that by virtue of my position as Chair of Faculty Council I am privy to otherwise confidential information.

I would like to add that the Faculty Council has actively aided this process by getting some faculty issues to mediation.

In his address to Faculty Council, Art told us that for mediation to succeed, both parties have got to be willing to work with the other and settle for less than what they want. Mediation doesn't work if it is perceived to be one's "day in court" or if one is unwilling to compromise. As a result, some disputes can not be mediated and must be addressed through the grievance process.

From the Faculty perspective, this campus has a problem with grievances. We do not perceive this to be an effective and fair process. Although Faculty Council regularly reviews the statistics on grievances, we really don't know if it is truly an effective and fair process. For understandable reasons we do not have access to the confidential details of the cases that would enable us to make a reasonable conclusion. To address this issue, University Administration has agreed to empower a Task Force to review past grievances to answer this question. The Task Force has just been convened, it consists of Mel George, and Al Hahn and it is Chaired by Ed Hunvald. We greatly appreciate their willingness to take on this job and we look forward to their report.

In the meantime, two groups of Faculty have convened to review and revise the Grievance process. The first group, led by Judith Goodman, critiqued the current process. A second group, led by Sudarshan Loyalka, recast the critiques into a revised grievance procedure. We are grateful for the hard work of both of these groups. The revised procedure has been reviewed by Faculty Council a number of times and it is posted on our website. Comments and questions can be sent to me, I will pass them onto Dr. Goodman and Dr. Loyalka, who will respond, and we will post their responses on our website. Finally, on December 1st and another date yet to be selected, we will convene a Faculty Forum in the Conley House second floor conference room at 3:30 PM so that any member of the Faculty can critique or question the proposed policy. After this, we expect to submit the policy to the Faculty for a vote of approval.

The Faculty Council is worried that even a revised grievance procedure will not fix the problems inherent in the system. We are also concerned that the University does not have a larger view of the issues that prompt grievances in the first place or effective mechanisms to recognize and stop emerging problems before they become grievances. At the same time, both the University administration and the Faculty Council recognize that grievances — particularly the difficult unresolved disputes we call "chronic issues" — damage us. They hurt faculty and staff morale, they consume tremendous amounts of time and energy for both Faculty and Administrators, they are costly, they create a bad public image, and they expose the University to legal expense. Finally, both the Faculty Council and the University leadership perceive a value in having someone who can intercede on behalf of the Faculty at a high level within the University. In discussions with the Chancellor and the Provost on this issue, we have decided to revisit the Ombuds proposal. We believe that an Ombuds program can address each of these concerns: oversight of the grievance process, recognition of programmatic issues that create problems, and intercession on behalf of the Faculty. The Chancellor in particular has been very anxious to develop a better mechanism to dispel these difficult issues, so he has given his support to reconsidering the Ombudsman program.

Several years ago, under the leadership of Dennis Sentilles and Al Hahn, the Faculty Council proposed establishing an Ombudsman program. At that time, the Faculty had concerns about the cost of this program and whether or not it would truly work on behalf of the Faculty. For these reasons, the Faculty voted down this proposal. Since then we have developed a number of difficult issues that might have been addressed by an Ombudsman. With this history in mind, the Special Projects Committee, under the leadership of Bruce Cutter, is reconsidering the earlier proposal to see if we can reformat the proposal in a way that addresses Faculty concerns. Dr. Cutter tells me that his group is considering proposing an Ombuds program that would use several people in this function. He anticipates holding a Faculty Forum on this issue next semester.

Straw-vote: How many here would favor reconsidering an Ombuds program? How many would oppose? [Response: The majority of the audience raised their hands]. How many would oppose? [Response: No opposition.]

A persistent challenge for this campus has been the increasing number of non-regular faculty. This ugly term is the name the University applies to people who perform faculty functions but who do not hold a tenure or tenure track position. The rights and responsibilities of the non-regular faculty do not appear to be clearly stated in the University's Collected Rules and Regulations. As a consequence, multiple concerns arise, for example:

In considering this situation, many members of the Faculty fear that converting regular faculty into non-regular faculty creates a shrinking group of faculty with faculty privileges — the "haves" and a burgeoning group of faculty without privileges — the "have nots." We worry that this diminishes our institution. For this reason many members of the Faculty would like to address this situation by extending some of the faculty privileges to non-faculty. This group, to which I belong, perceive the appointment of President Floyd as an opportunity to address this problem, since President Floyd did extend faculty privileges to non-faculty at Western Michigan University. On the other hand, many other Faculty worry that any extension of faculty privileges to non-faculty will diminish the value of tenure and so should be avoided. The Faculty Affairs Committee, under the leadership of Dr. Philip Johnson, is studying this issue and hopes to convene a Faculty Forum on this issue next semester. I would like to note that the American Association of University Professors has drafted a document on this issue, which they call contingent faculty. Interested readers can access this document through our website. Finally, the Provost has told us that he looks to the Faculty for leadership on this issue. My understanding is that the Provost will respect our position on this important issue. Once again, our future is in our own hands.

Straw vote: How many of you would consider some extension of faculty privileges to non-regular faculty? [Response: The majority of the audience raised their hands]. How many would oppose? [Response: No opposition.]

Intercollegiate athletics is the last subject of my report. As all of you know, the conduct of intercollegiate athletics has become a hot topic. Like other conferences, members of the Big 12 Conference have experienced terrible incidents. Controversy has even fallen on MU. Many factors have created this situation, factors that transcend individual schools and even individual conferences. Big money and big public expectations have placed tremendous pressures on our athletic programs. There is concern that students who participate in intercollegiate athletics have been exploited. There is concern that the education of our students has not been our first institutional priority. There is concern that we, the Faculty, have failed to meet our responsibilities by not exercising effective oversight of our athletic programs.

These are national concerns, but they do impact upon MU. On a national level, educators have launched a national reform movement to address the national culture of intercollegiate athletics. In particular a group loosely associated with the American Association of University Professors, known as the "Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics" has formed. This group has drafted a resolution that attempts to address the national issues by setting national standards for intercollegiate athletics. These standards address academic integrity, the welfare of athletes, faculty governance and oversight, as well as financial support for athletic programs. It is my understanding that this resolution has been passed by the Faculty Senates of the Big 10 and the PAC 10 and is under consideration by the SEC. In the first meeting of Faculty Council for this year, we passed a version of this resolution. Apparently we were the first member of the Big 12 to consider and pass this resolution.

In the process of considering and passing this resolution, a great thing has happened. Chancellor Wallace, Athletic Director Mike Alden, and Intercollegiate Athletic Committee Chair MaryEllen Sievert have all met with Faculty Council about this resolution and they have all endorsed it. The Administration, the Athletic Program, and the Faculty are of one mind: MU honors the principles captured in the resolution and MU has a program that reflects these principles. Notice, I have stated this in the present tense. Mike Alden and MaryEllen Sievert have briefed the Faculty Council on their programs. NCAA investigations not withstanding, they have convinced me that MU runs a clean program. My understanding is that if problems do exist, they will be discovered and fixed.

That is just my opinion. To increase faculty oversight of the athletic program beyond what is already provided by the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee, both the Student Affairs Committee, under the leadership of Barbara Townsend, and the Fiscal Affairs Committee, under the leadership of Charles Sampson, are exploring issues relevant to intercollegiate athletics. With support from Chancellor Wallace, Dr. Townsend attended a meeting organized by the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics and the American Association of University Professors on the issue of the national reform movement for intercollegiate athletics.

The Chancellor has asked the Faculty Council to take a position of leadership for the Big 12 on this issue. He asked — and we are complying with his request — for us to organize a meeting of Big 12 faculty representatives with the purpose of reviewing and adopting the resolution proposed by the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics.

The MU Faculty and students must be active participants in this process. So we have tentatively reserved Jesse Wrench auditorium for January 26 & 27 for a Faculty and Student Forum on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Straw vote: How many here favor greater faculty oversight and reform of intercollegiate athletics? [Response: The majority of the audience raised their hands]. How many would oppose? [Response: No opposition.]

A few closing announcements:

Dr. Floyd would like to meet with the Faculty in an open session to discuss the melding of the MU Chancellor position with the UM President position. The Faculty Council office will arrange this meeting.

The Council has reviewed and approved a workload policy that sets a goal of 9 credit hours per semester, subject to departmental polices and faculty service and research activities. This policy has been approved by the Interfaculty Council and will be forwarded to the University System and the Board of Curators.

Dr. Franz has asked members of the Faculty Council to assist in the "Program Viability Audits." We are grateful for this opportunity to participate in this process; ten members of Faculty Council have volunteered for this activity.

Finally, we would like all Faculty to be mindful that it is possible that E-mail messages can be made public. Charles Davis in the School of Journalism has counseled me that: "So long as it is related to the conduct of university business, [He] would certainly say that any such e-mail is quite clearly a public record. [On the other hand, he also pointed out that] E-mail, like other forms of correspondence, is only public so far as there is a link to the conduct of public business�"

That ends my report. Thank you for your attention.