Meeting Minutes: March 18, 2015 Spring Semester General Faculty Meeting
Call-to-Order The Spring Semester General Faculty Meeting was called to order at 3:30 p.m. by Chancellor Loftin in Jesse Wrench Auditorium, Memorial Union.
Opening Remarks & Introductions – Chancellor Loftin
Loftin welcomed those in attendance and announced the agenda. The meeting was then turned over to Faculty Council Chair Craig Roberts.
Report from Faculty Council – Craig Roberts
With the aid of a Powerpoint presentation, Roberts summarized the topics that have recently been addressed by Faculty Council: the work of IFC; Title IX; race relations; the School of Medicine Fact-Finding Committee, ACCORD (raise distribution); follow-up on library response to mold outbreak; the proposed Senate Bill 465 regarding public access to faculty syllabi; and “Looking to 200.”
IFC consists of three faculty members from each of the four campuses. Topics addressed last year included workload policy (led by Tony Lupo); Title IX policies (led by Dennis Miller); and re-titling of faculty. The latter will need to be revisited. Because of the committee’s heavy workload generated primarily by time spent on Title IX changes, the task of examining post-tenure review (and tenure itself) had to be postponed.
The spotlight was cast on Title IX following the CNN report on Sasha Menu Courey, the victim of a “perfect storm” of sexual misconduct, alcohol abuse, and mental illness. Roberts recounted the orders enacted by President Tim Wolfe, who responded personally as MU was between chancellors. Executive Orders were issued, including EO40 – Mandatory Reporters (with no initial faculty input) and EO41 - Student Violations (with limited faculty input). Due to the rushed manner in which these orders were presented to the Board of Curators, many questions were left unanswered. The most recent rule, however, regarding Faculty Violations has been considered with continuous faculty input. A unique clause has been added that permits amendments with consensus for a two-year period. Additional information is still being sought to adequately inform faculty, including informational sessions with Title IX attorney Gina Maisto Smith on April 7. Her charge will be to help educate the faculty on Title IX concepts.
Race Relations: Roberts related his experience in an open session / open mic gathering on race relations held December 1, 2014. Most students speaking were those of color telling their stories, the incidents they described meeting with general agreement from classmates in attendance. Roberts urged that faculty must instigate change using a methodical long-term approach. A committee on race relations is being formed by Faculty Council, but it will take time to populate in a manner that will be able to effect change. Roberts announced that the committee membership will be half white, half of color; students, faculty, and staff, within an overall faculty that is more than 70% white. He added that Faculty Council wants to help but to help logically.
School of Medicine Fact-Finding Committee: A public statement was published by the Columbia Tribune pointing out issues that limited the shared governance and research productivity of the faculty in the School of Medicine. As a result, Faculty Council appointed a fact-finding committee, four months in its formation. The members were: Art Jago, Cheryl Heesh, Sarish Nair, and Carlos Wexler. The main points of their findings were that the teaching and clinics were excellent, but the structure of the faculty reward systems (researchers vs. clinic) resulted in unfortunate circumstances, including inconsistent application of research standards for promotion and tenure. Managerial practices of some departmental chairs and the predominance of administration were also areas of concern.
ACCORD – raise distribution: A committee was formed to examine the results and faculty response to special merit raises, notably the Midyear High Performances Raises with an emphasis on research and the Regular Period High Performance Raises. Roberts affirmed that this is the most upsetting issue for faculty at the moment. Data from a recent survey provides evidence to support this statement. Not surprisingly, those who received raises rated the process much more highly than those who did not. Numbers were provided for select questions: “Faculty were treated fairly in raise process” (agree – 80; disagree – 245); “raises were good for faculty morale” (agree – 67 / disagree – 296. However, “It is important for MU to stay in the AAU” (agree = 288 / disagree = 104). Some of the more significant problems with the method of awarding high performance raises were that some units were not transparent in their selection process; the system did not allow for consideration of faculty with different types of appointments; and the mean numbers communicated to the Board of Curators did not reflect the reality of the faculty benefitting from raises.
Library mold: Roberts noted that the resolution was an example of what not to do and why shared governance is important. Decisions were made without honoring input of faculty, who could have provided needed expertise.
Senate Bill 465 regarding treatment of faculty syllabi as open access material: This does not appear to be a serious concern and is only in a preliminary discussion stage.
The meeting was turned back over to Chancellor Loftin, who invited new faculty to introduce themselves. Only three responded. Loftin announced that Columbia police had released to the public their report on the case involving MU student Sasha Menu Courey. MU began their Title IX investigation last year. They have not yet come to a conclusion as they were waiting for the police report. Initiating from a showing of the film “American Sniper,” a student who made hurtful comments to another student has been found, questioned, and suspended from the university. The Boone County District Attorney is investigating for possible criminal activity.
Loftin next reported on budget decisions from Jefferson City: MU system meets all the criteria for a 1.3% increase in the allocation to education. (MU has requested a 5% increase.) A total of 111 faculty took the voluntary separation option allowing an impressive opportunity for renewing faculty. Over $19 million of rate money is now available and will be put back into the faculty. Loftin cautioned that the worst thing we can do is to hire someone just like the person who left without considering the needs of the university. Twenty signature faculty hires will be made and other new hires must be complementary to them. There are also twenty-eight faculty who are eligible to retire through the normal process. The signature hire effort (mid-career faculty) is ahead of schedule and is meant to augment present strengths. Shared hiring with the Danforth Center in St. Louis (Plant Science) will be implemented for some of the signature faculty.
Loftin then submitted the two scenarios for the FY ’16 budget. The least attractive is 1.3% through the entire process; we requested $3 million. The second is the better option in which the state contribution would be $11.5 million instead of $3 million. Loftin stated that if the low number results, all investment will be in faculty; if other than the lowest number, most will go to faculty with small amounts to the operating budget.
A summation of leadership changes was offered, noting Garnett Stokes as Provost, Ellen Eardley as Title IX Administrator, Mack Rhoades as Director of Athletics, and Brian Millner as liaison with system and legislature, local businesses, and local government. Some searches are still ongoing: for Dean of the Journalism School, and Dean of the Engineering School. Searches will begin for: Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Vice Chancellor for Human Resources (vice chancellor represents a raise in the level of this position).
The meeting was then opened for questions, most of which centered on the Race Relations Committee, mainly challenging the make-up of the committee. Roberts noted that a committee was trying to be formed that would communicate well with white faculty, thus half white. Another group of liaisons being formed as part of this response will be balanced differently. Roberts attempted to assure those posing questions that the committee was being formed carefully to include members who were interested, knew what the problems were, and could address them effectively. A student thanked Loftin for the monthly event on the issue of race relations held the preceding evening and encouraged him to be “out in front of the problem all the time.”
In response to a statement from the audience who questioned the level of fairness and transparency in the last series of performance raises, Loftin noted that the process would not be repeated until administration had an opportunity to examine it closely. He acknowledged that the process must be transparent and that deans and chairs must be held accountable for consistency and clarity in how raises were to be awarded.
A concern was expressed that some avenues of student access to news media was being cut off. This appeared to be a new decision about which the Chancellor only just learned.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:20 p.m.
Judith Mabary, Recorder for the Faculty