Meeting Minutes: December 5, 1996


Present: Lloyd Barrow, Gordon Christensen, Leonard Forte, Jere Francis, Elizabeth Geden, Allen Hahn, Peter Hall, Hildegarde Heymann, Nancy Knipping, William Kurtz, Fred Springsteel for Henry Liu, John Miles, Marian Minor, Alex Pickard, Patricia Plummer, Michael Porter, Don Ranly, Robin Remington, Ray Rothenberger, Dennis Sentilles, Mary Ellen Sievert, Robert Weagley, Gilbert Youmans, Russ Zguta, Robert Almony (Librarians), and Rod Kabrick (Retirees [for Wayne Decker]). Absent: Edward Adelstein, Charles Knowles, Mike Middleton, Beryl Ortwerth, and Mabel Grimes (Black Faculty&Staff).

Approval of Minutes

Chair Dennis Sentilles called the meeting to order at 3:40 p.m. in Room S110 of the Memorial Union. The minutes of the November 14, 1996 meeting were approved.

Report of Officers

The chair reported on a Big Twelve Meeting of Provosts and Faculty Chairs. He stated that this is a start of an attempt to make the Big Twelve Association more than an athletic conference by promoting academic interaction between Big Twelve Universities. Dennis noted that, led by Provost Sheridan of MU, all provosts agreed to promote "a faculty exchange" program consisting of two parts. [1] Immediate activation of a "Visiting Fellows" program that will support visits by a faculty member from any institution to any other, for a period of two weeks, in the amount of $2500 to cover expenses. Each campus will support six such fellows per year according to its own standards. The fellow will initiate the application. This is meant to be a flexible, open program of intellectual interaction between institutions at the individual faculty level. The program will commence on January 1, 1997. [2] The provosts also agreed to encourage semester long exchanges/swaps between individual faculty at two institutions, pledging to minimize the bureaucracy and to take an active role in smoothing the way for such exchanges that grow out of shared faculty interests.

Next, Dennis reported that the most frequently mentioned topic at the meeting was "post-tenure review" and the accountability of institutions to societal demands. The new Chancellor of Texas Tech, John Montford, and recent chair of the House appropriations committee of the Texas legislature, welcomed participants and when asked: "If proponents of post-tenure review were entirely successful in their efforts, how would they know it?" He answered, "They would see that the 1 or 2 or 3 percent of faculty who are simply not doing their jobs dismissed." Dennis then asked Council, "if that is all post-tenure review is about, can that not be accomplished using what already exists, and do faculty not have an interest in seeing this much accomplished without undertaking what could be an insidious undermining of the most fundamental value in any university? And if so, then how should we go about it?" Dennis also noted two comments of other faculty chairs. "While proponents of post-tenure review seem most concerned with the professor as teacher, it is already becoming clear that faculty are seeing it as most focused on research--the thing we believe we can measure." With another chair asserting, "what I feel is that 3 or 4 years from now they will see that this didn't work either, and what will they then force on us?" Concern was also echoed later by the provosts and more than once it was said, "they want to see changes in behavior--that is faculty attitude toward the full spectrum of purposes of the institution." Dennis further stated that he sees individual faculty again being caught in a conflict between the values of their discipline and department and the needs of their institution.

Reporting on the meeting of the General Officers, Dennis mentioned that Curator Hall has also expressed an interest in the concept of a faculty ombudsman, and there seems to be support for such a position if we as a faculty can define it. President George is putting together an active orientation program for incoming board members, of which there will be two or three, early in 1997. Furthermore, Dennis stated that our timely actions on the problem of English proficiency continue to accrue to our credit. Finally, Dennis urged faculty to start paying attention to admission statistics and discussions commencing in January of 1997, as the new standard seems to be having an effect.

Dennis reminded Council that we will be having breakfast with the Board of Curators on December 13. "The idea is to have a substantive discussion between faculty and the Board of Curators, moderated by President George, that takes place apart from any issue, and seeks to identify a short list of basic, common interests, that both the Board and faculty share, as values that underlie what we both seek to support in our separate roles in the university community, with the hope that this short list and our common understanding of it, can serve as a set of axioms, or points of reference, for future discussions that do center on particular issues." In other words, the discussion can help us identify what we both agree on, and what we may simply disagree on, so that we are aware of both.

Action Items

AY '98-'99 Calendar. Gilbert Youmans, Chair, Academic Affairs, presented the proposed academic calendar for 1998/99 that will include a week off during Thanksgiving and which would place Spring Break during the last week of March in 1999. The proposed academic calendar was moved, seconded, and passed as presented.

Discussion Items

Representation on Council Report. A copy of the current representation on Faculty Council, based on data dated 10/31/96, was handed out for Faculty Council perusal. It was noted that the School of Library and Information Science has moved to the College of Education. It is hoped that Faculty Council would allow Professor Sievert to keep her position on Faculty Council until the end of her term. There was further discussion on the meaning of "full-time, regular faculty." This will continue to be a discussion item.

Course Repetition and the GPA. Gilbert Youmans handed out a proposal dealing with a proposed change that would allow students to repeat a course and have only the last grade in a particular course count in the calculation of their GPA. The committee will continue to work on this proposal to clarify several issues.

Course and University Withdrawal Dates. Gilbert Youmans presented another proposal that would consider allowing students to withdraw from individual courses as late as they can now withdraw from the university. After much discussion, it was decided that the committee needs to do additional work with this proposal.

Proposal to Eliminate WF&WP Grades. Gilbert Youmans presented a proposal from the Academic Affairs Committee that would eliminate WF and WP grades in the future. After discussion, it was decided that the committee needs to check with the Financial Aid Office and others as to its possible impact.

Class Start Time. Michael Porter, Council's Vice Chair, brought to Council's attention that at some time in the future, we may be considering a change in the class starting time on this campus. He encourages everyone to discuss this proposal with their various faculties to determine if it would be best to change class starting times to the half hour or on the hour. Mike will also be doing additional research on this idea himself for a future presentation to Faculty Council.

Faculty Ombudsman. Al Hahn, Chair, Special Projects, reported that Fred Hall, President of the Board of Curators, has also developed independently an interest in this position. He noted that this position does seem to exist on many other campuses. In addition, the conflict resolution staff in the School of Law at MU are interested in this and will gather additional information for us from other institutions. It has been noted that the faculty would need to control this position, and that the position would represent the needs of the faculty.

Standing Committee Reports

Faculty Affairs. Russ Zguta reported that they are still working on the tenure document.

Special Projects. Al Hahn noted that the Promotion and Tenure document is available on the Faculty Council Web Site. Furthermore, President George's address to the University's Faculty Forum is also now on the Faculty Council Web Site.

Other Business

It was reported that John Miles will be the Faculty Council Representative to the Retired Faculty Group in discussing their concerns regarding MU's current retirement program. In other business, the AAUP chapter has developed a resolution which was presented by Dr. Fred Springsteel, for Faculty Council consideration.

Closed Session and Adjournment

Faculty Council moved into closed session at 5:10 p.m. and adjourned at 5:50 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted

Robert Almony, Recorder