Meeting Minutes: October 24, 1995The meeting was called to order by Chancellor Charles Kiesler at 3:40 p.m. in the Reynolds Alumni Center. Chancellor Kiesler began by introducing himself and stating that the order of speakers would be reversed. He then introduced the Chair of the Faculty Council, Pat Plummer. Pat began with a few announcements. First, she encouraged faculty to attend the Faculty Forum which was to be held on October 25, 1995, for which the main speakers would be our own Provost Ed Sheridan, and the current President of the AAUP. These two individuals spoke on the topic "Outside Funding and Its Impact on the Academy." Pat proceeded then to talk about a few of the projects being worked on by Faculty Council this year. The first one is the work being done to create a Web page for Faculty Council.
Pat began the main portion of her remarks by quoting from Dickens in stating, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." Since many faculty members commented very favorably on Pat's remarks at this meeting, they are quoted in their entirety here.
"Considering the bad news first, if we believe what we read on every hand, the Academy is under attack on all sides. Even though we regard it as "foolishness", from the perspective of much of the public, tenure is solely a means to give lifetime job security to faculty who seldom see a student outside of the classroom and only see them in the classroom with several hundred others for 6-9 hours a week. And the students who attend those classes graduate without being able to write or think critically. We are struggling to appear credible as to the "value added" to our "products", especially as the costs of higher education increase faster than any other sector of our economy with the possible exception of health care. We are asked to "prove" that we are a better value than instruction provided at community colleges or from a television classroom. The 1990's have seen increasing pressures to apply practices from business to the academy (downsizing, total quality management to name but a few). Faculty have been accused of being autocrats and self-indulgent, out of touch with reality.
So--if these represent the perception of our activities, how can these be "the best of times". I contend that they can because they offer a tremendous opportunity to preserve the essential core of values and infrastructure to support the learning, scholarship and public service components of our mission while shedding any "trappings" which have served only to hold us back. We are freed to explore new ways to deliver education to an increasingly diverse group of learners. We are freed to cross discipline boundaries, to join with others outside of this institution, to expand both knowledge and access to that knowledge.
Starting with Chancellor Kiesler's arrival at MU and continuing through Governor Carnahan's appointment of the most recent additions to the Board of Curators and the hiring of a new head of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, we are moving toward becoming "a University that is nationally competitive in the quality of its teaching and research". A major distinguishing feature of this period contrasted with those which immediately preceded it is the degree to which the faculty have had input and influence into the decisions which have been made and to the processes by which the decisions are being implemented. The "we" and "they" mentality is rapidly disappearing. The Board is beginning to view the faculty as having something substantial to contribute to the planning process and as being willing to consider and institute change. The faculty is beginning to view the Board and the administration as willing to listen, consider and even to alter course in response to reasoned arguments.
Some examples of the recent changes which have resulted from faculty initiatives, augmented by administrative and Board action, include: 1) an Executive Order to permit the Chancellor, with the advice of faculty, to delay tenure decisions; 2) the elimination of a University of Missouri GPA and the freedom of each campus to set its own grading scale; 3) the adoption of a new faculty grievance procedure; 4) the computers many of you received recently began with an IFC position paper stressing the need to provide for the faculty the "infrastructure for teaching and research". The ideas expressed struck a responsive cord in the President, Legislators and the Governor. The result was the special appropriations which provided the computers for faculty desktops, and it is anticipated that future state budgets will provide ongoing support of technology.
Specifically at MU, the Faculty Council has adopted a proactive stance on improving the climate for teaching, research and public service. For 1995-96, we, through our Committee on Student Affairs, are working closely with Vice Chancellor Schroeder and the Standing Committees of the Campus which advise on Student Affairs, to continue to improve the educational climate for all our students and to provide them with increasing opportunities to develop as ethical citizens of the world community. We are examining the structure and charges of the other standing committees and the administrative offices which they advise, to improve their effectiveness and to insure that faculty input and expertise is provided on all issues.
Faculty Council is working with the policy committees of the divisions to improve the usefulness and effectiveness of evaluations of chairs and administrators.
Our Academic Affairs Committee will be monitoring the impact of plus/minus grading and, together with the student groups and Student Affairs, is examining a revision of our "Stop Day" policy.
Academic Affairs is also working to implement a Campus-Wide Curriculum Committee and is cooperating with Admissions and the divisions on developing enrollment management policies.
The changing environment and positive movement have been noted outside the Academy as well. This is reflected by the fact that our applications for admission were up in a year in which we had the lowest number of students graduating from high school in many years. The failure of Proposition 7 last fall and greater support from the legislature and the Governor also indicate confidence in our endeavors. However we must continue to adapt, evolve and make the necessary changes to keep the University healthy in the present environment.
William Danforth, in a recent editorial in Science, says that the preservation of the research university will require individual faculty members to "take personal responsibility for the success of their institutions."
Thus if you, as a member of faculty, wish to have an impact in shaping the future of MU, insuring its success and that of higher education in Missouri as we move into the new millennium--this is indeed "the best of times".
To the new faculty I extend a most sincere welcome--you have arrived at a most opportune time and I urge you to bring your perspectives and expertise to our deliberations.
I now turn the meeting over to Chancellor Kiesler to introduce the new faculty and to report on the state of MU."
Chancellor Kiesler began his remarks by stating that when he originally came to MU almost three years ago, he was convinced that this was a far better university than many people seemed to be aware of at the time. Chancellor Kiesler stated that the principle element that has led to our success over the last few years is the courage of our faculty to face up to the need for change. The Chancellor then gave some examples of how we are currently enjoying a new level of support from the state of Missouri--its legislatures, its students, etc. as a research institution. He then moved on and gave, basically, a State of the Campus report. Since this report was given in depth in the November 9, 1995 copy of Mizzou Weekly, it will not be given again here. After his State of the Campus report, the Chancellor then presented a listing of some of our outstanding faculty's achievements of the last year. We all have many good reasons to be proud of the accomplishments of our peers.
Finally, the Chancellor briefly introduced new faculty and recently tenured faculty, before proceeding to a faculty reception in the Alumni Center.
Respectfully reported, Robert Almony, Recorder