Meeting Minutes: December 11, 1997


Present: Edward Adelstein, Lloyd Barrow, Bruce Biddle, Melvin Blase, Gordon Christensen, Michael Devaney, Jere Francis, Elizabeth Geden, Robert Hall, Edward Hunvald, Thomas Hurley, Nancy Knipping, William Kurtz, Henry Liu, Mark Milanick, Don Miles, Marian Minor, Glenn Pierce, Don Ranly, Don Schilling, Dennis Sentilles, MaryEllen Sievert, Robert Weagley, Paul Weirich, Gilbert Youmans, Russ Zguta, and Wayne Decker (Retirees). Absent: Allen Hahn, William Wiebold, Robert Almony (Librarians), and Mable Grimes (Black Faculty&Staff).

Approval of Minutes

Gilbert Youmans called the meeting to order at 3:40 p.m. in room S110 of the Memorial Union. The minutes of the November 11, 1997, General Faculty Meeting were approved. The minutes of the November 20, 1997, Faculty Council were corrected to note that Donald Miles was present. They were then approved as corrected.

Report of Officers

Youmans reported that the Task Force on Non-Regular Faculty had been appointed and that Edward Adelstein had agreed to serve as convener. Youmans noted that the administration had given him explanations for some of the data which he had compiled for the Task Force. For example, the decline in the service/maintenance category resulted partly from outsourcing of some of the responsibilities. Thus, the most significant reductions have been in one category: tenured and tenure-track faculty. One council member suggested that the data would be more revealing if they included student population by division. Another mentioned that the Council might contact the Graduate Faculty Senate alerting them to data on graduate enrollment, which had declined to a level lower than any year since 1968. Others noted that the attack on tenure was reflected in the temptation to convert tenure-track positions to nontenure-track positions or into temporary positions.

Action Items

Classroom Ambassadors. The Student Affairs Committee moved to support the concept of classroom ambassadors in principle as a voluntary teaching method, especially for large classes, and as an aid in improving instruction at the University of Missouri. The following conditions apply:
  1. The use of student ambassador(s) is voluntary on the part of both the instructor and the students;
  2. At the beginning of the semester, an instructor or a student may suggest that a student classroom ambassador(s) be selected;
  3. If agreeable to both the instructor and the student(s), a student volunteer(s) may become a spokesperson(s) for the class to ask questions regarding the lecture material.

Weagley noted that the motion was response to a memo from the Missouri Students Association. The motion carried. 1999-2000 Academic Calendar. The Academic Affairs Committee presented a revised calendar which delayed the beginning of summer school an additional week to accommodate public school teachers. A move was made to amend the calendar by having the Thanksgiving recess begin at the close of the day on 11/23 and have the fall semester end two days sooner. The amendment was seconded. Considerable discussion ensued. The amendment failed. A motion was made and seconded by Dennis Sentilles that the calendar be approved but the MU Faculty Council strongly recommends and requests that the winter semester begin a week later. The motion carried.

Revised Proposal to Establish an Ombuds Position. The endorsement of the proposal, with the change which included a tri-annual evaluation, was moved and seconded. After discussion, the motion carried.

Discussion Items

Plus/Minus Grading. Youmans noted that members had received a handout reporting the vote which resulted in 56% of the faculty voting for plus/minus grading, and 44% for straight letter grades. It was moved and seconded that the Faculty Council certify the results of the ballot. The motion carried. Discussion about implementation followed. It was moved and seconded that the new policy begin in the fall 1998 semester. The motion was withdrawn. It was moved and seconded that plus/minus grading be implemented beginning in the winter 1998 semester. Youmans noted that to vote on the motion we would need to suspend the rules. It was moved and seconded that we suspend the rules and the motion carried. The motion was then voted on and failed. It was moved and seconded that plus/minus grading be implemented in the fall 1998 and recommended that all departments be notified and strongly encouraged to allow plus/minus grading in the winter 1998 semester. It was moved and seconded that we suspend the rules to vote on the motion, and the motion to suspend the rules passed. The motion on the implementation of plus/minus grading passed.

Standing Committee Reports

Faculty Affairs: Russ Zguta reported for Faculty Affairs that the committee will bring revised recommendations about tenure early in the winter 1998 semester.

Special Projects: Hunvald reported that the Special Projects Committee was working on the grievance procedures.

Student Affairs: Weagley reported that the Student Affairs Committee had met with Charles Schroeder.

Closed Session and Adjournment

Youmans expressed his thanks to the members of the Plus/Minus Task Force and their chair Charles Knowles. The meeting was adjourned at 5:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
MaryEllen Sievert, Recorder