Meeting Minutes: February 25, 2016

Attendance

Members present: Roger Cook (for Andre Ariew), Sheila Baker, Joe Parcell (for Anna Ball), David Bergin, Tina Bloom, Cooper Drury, John Gahl, Trent Guess, Richard Guyette, Jung Ha-Brookshire, Berkley Hudson, Art Jago, Teng Lim, Tony Lupo, Camila Manrique, John Middleton, Nicole Monnier, Peter Nabelek, Jeffrey Rouder, Angela Speck, Anne Stanton, Marty Steffens, Mary Stegmaier, Ben Trachtenberg, Vitor Trindade, William Wiebold, Robert Winholtz, Flore Zephir, Rebecca Graves (Librarians), Don Sievert (MURA), Galen Suppes (AAUP), and Rebekah Hart (Council Secretary). Members absent: Naresh Khatri and Mahesh Thakkar.

Approval of Minutes

Chair Trachtenberg called the meeting to order at 3:30 p.m. The minutes of the 02-11-16 Faculty Council meeting were approved as presented.

Report of Officers

The Chair recognized the reappointment of Dr. Patrick Delafontaine as the School of Medicine Dean.  Stephanie Shonekan, chair, department of black studies, and Assoc. Prof., School of Music, has been selected to serve on the UM System presidential search committee.

Trachtenberg, speaking for himself only, said that Board has made a bad decision in the firing of Professor Click.  The Board has created its own process; and, this was not due process set forth in the Collected Rules, the content of which was repeatedly brought to the Board’s attention.  Among other problems, the lawyer hired by the Board to conduct the investigation into Prof. Click declined an offer by Trachtenberg to put him in touch with witnesses, some of whom were suspicious of the investigation and hesitant to come forward. In addition, one of the Curators opined publicly before the investigation even began (in a Washington Post op-ed) that Prof. Click should be fired; he then voted to fire her.  Further, the Board did not allow Prof. Click to speak directly to the Board before it voted to fire her; instead, she was interviewed by the Board’s lawyer.

Under the legal arguments used to defend the Board’s authority to take this action (for example, a CRR and a state statute providing that all university employees serve at the pleasure of the Board regardless of the terms of their appointment), the entire tenured faculty of all four UM campuses, and other faculty and staff too, could be terminated at any time at the whim of the board.

Discussion Items

Guests:  Hank Foley, Interim Chancellor & Christina Wells, Professor of Law and Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR).  Foley made no statement, went straight to questions.  Questions centered around curtailment of free speech, Board and administration by-passing due process, concern that Legislature is using withholding of money to control/punish university, concern that faculty will have to self-censure their speech and behavior.  It was also said by someone in the audience that the attacks on Prof. Click were proxy racism. 

Foley defended the Board’s actions and reiterated that he found Prof. Click’s behavior at the Homecoming parade to be appalling.  Noted that there was no grievance filed against Prof. Click and that the Board perceived this as inaction.  He predicted that this would not happen again and denied that this was about money.  He noted that the Board made decision upon Click’s behavior.  Foley also advised faculty to remember that we are always being recorded.

Wells was appointed October 2015 by Chancellor Loftin.  She described position which has three focuses: student athlete welfare, academic integrity, compliance with rules.  The FAR is considered to be an independent faculty voice, and Wells wants to work with FC to be better representative.  She has attended a squad meeting for every team; and, students have already come to her.  Will be participating in student exit interviews which hasn’t been done before. 

Questions were raised regarding the football team strike, salary line, and how FAR is evaluated.  Wells noted that prior NCAA rules allow scholarships to be taken away for non-performance.  She noted that her position is ½ time and that share of salary if from Chancellor’s office.  Evaluation still being defined, student retention will be a piece of it.

Rules of Order proposed changes - Monnier, Lupo, Wiebold.   Postponed to next meeting.

Curators’ Professor Nomenclature – Lupo.  Postponed to next meeting.

Nominating Committee – Monnier.  [Recorder’s Note:  this item was added to the agenda at the meeting.]  Proposed moving up the election schedule by half a month to avoid voting in June.  This would mean that nominations and ballots for the First Stage Election will be prepared by March 24th.  Second Stage Election ballot will be prepared by April 21st.  Motion passed.  Those interested in running should speak to the Nominating Committee. 

Standing Committee Reports

Academic Affairs (Jago).  Considering a proposal to start Spring Semester 2019 (for AY 18-19) a week early, i.e., the week prior to Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Diversity Enhancement (Speck).  Moving on diversity courses.  Discussing actions to improve diversity/retention of faculty.

Faculty Affairs (Lupo).  Committee will be sending out proposals to FC to review.

Fiscal Affairs (Gahl).  The Faculty Grant and Contract Incentive Plan (GCI) is likely to be changed.  Open forum on 03-07-16.  Changes are practical as administration of those grants cost more than some of the payments.  Will send documentation.

Adjournment

Council went into closed session at 4:45 p.m. to discuss personnel matter. While in closed session, Council unanimously approved a vote to send a statement to the board of Curators regarding their firing of Professor Melissa Click. The statement has been released to the public and posted on the Council’s website.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:17 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Rebecca Graves, Recorder