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The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate

REPORT

 

The Voice of the U.M.K.C. Faculty

(July 31, 1998)

 

*This was a meeting of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. The regularly scheduled Senate meetings for 1998/99 school year began on September 1, 1998.

 

Note: Many members of the faculty have complained that the faculty was not listened to on issues of importance to the University. More damning, the faculty was not speaking out, and had become politically invisible. We had developed a bad case of laryngitis. Hopefully the disease is cured. Several steps have been taken:

 

* At the end of the last Senate session Chair Kathy Loncar wrote a Year End Report in which she outlined some of the issues that she thought the Senate had to address. The major items in that document are covered below. [We will try and post the entire document on the computer, or it is available by request]. Some supplementary suggestions for the agenda items are also listed at the end of this newsletter. The Senate is open to other ideas, and Chair Loncar is very concerned that if we are to speak for the faculty, the faculty has to speak to us, both to suggest agenda items and to comment on actions that we have taken. During this academic year Chair Loncar and/or other Senate officers will go to at least one faculty meeting of each unit to talk about what we are doing, and to listen to what you think we need to do. Also, a list of Senate members, with phone numbers and e-mail addresses, will normally be appended to editions of this newsletter.

 

* A Virtual Faculty Club is being created, and should be fully functional by the end of this calendar year. The club will allow faculty members to easily contact the entire UMKC faculty, faculty members of their own unit, or members of the Senate. We can add a chat facility if people want it. In the meantime we are creating a mechanism through which you can easily contact members of the Faculty Senate.

 

* The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate Report will contain the Senate Minutes (a report on actions that the Senate takes) but it will also report on Senate discussions and other issues of interest to the faculty. Your reporter will try to get copy out the day of Senate meetings, so the Report will be timely. Issues of the Report will also be short, and as lively as a report on the Faculty Senate can be. :-) We will try to post long documents on the computer, or make them available by request, rather than simply copying and appending them.

 

There are other things that need to be done. As many of you have observed, several issues of importance to the campus were not adequately addressed by the faculty or the Faculty Senate last year. This year should be very different.

 

Year End Report: Things to be done

 

At the end of the 1998 academic year Chair Loncar and the Senate issued a report which listed its major accomplishments and made recommendations for future action. Among the accomplishments listed are that the new Senate office was opened; the Senate participated in new faculty orientation ceremonies and in campus planning and governance; it approved a new timeline for Honorary degrees and approved three Honorary degrees; it became a member of the association of Faculty Senates, seated new senators from the Coordinated Engineering Program; changed the requirements for the selection of Senators from the Medical School; and worked with the alumni association and the bookstore.

 

The list isn't overwhelming, but future plans have more grandeur. The Senate reached agreement with the Chancellor on 4 items to be implemented this year:

 

* Budget Review: The Chancellor will present a budget review to the Faculty Senate each Fall. Written information will be supplied on issues of interest to the faculty, including athletic program funds, end of the year cost savings, and continuing education and mission enhancement funds. This information will be circulated to faculty.

 

* NCAA: The Chancellor will share with the Senate the results of the five-year plan that she requested from the athletic program, and the Senate will send two representatives to the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee. The Senate might establish an ad hoc committee to monitor the athletic program.

 

* Deans' Evaluations: Apparently Marvin Querry does not give great weight (or any weight?) to faculty evaluations of deans in his review of their performance. The Senate told the Chancellor it wanted to submit these evaluations directly to her, and she agreed to receive and read them.

 

* Convocation Planning: The Senate will play a larger role in the Fall Convocation. The role of the faculty will be expanded, and emeriti and new faculty will be more fully included in the ceremony.

 

There are some other problems that the Senate Report focuses on:

 

Technology Needs: The report recommends a survey of faculty to determine hardware and software needs, and notes that the best equipped and most technologically advanced building on the campus is the Administrative Center. People there have up-to-date computers while many faculty members have obsolete equipment. The report recommends that the Chancellor report on the academic computing budget, and insure that available funds are spent in an organized and timely fashion.

 

Clerical Support: The report notes that clerical support for faculty has drastically decreased, that clerical positions that serve faculty are often frozen for long periods, and that there is much use of temporary employees unfamiliar with university procedures. It recommends that academic programs be adequately staffed, and that the ratio of faculty to clerical staff should not exceed 5 to 1.

 

Faculty Evaluations: These appear to be erratic. The report recommends that Executive Dean Querry and the Chancellor work with the Faculty Senate and the Executive Council of Deans and Directors to create a set of standards and guidelines for the evaluation of faculty performance and the appropriate use of the evaluations in supporting faculty efforts. Deans and directors should be able to adapt procedures for their units.

 

Campus Wide Service Issues

 

Rewards: Many faculty members serve on campus wide grievance committees, promotion and tenure committees, etc. These take large amounts of time, but this service is not often rewarded, and occasionally faculty are castigated for spending time on these committees.

 

Assignment: The administration often simply appoints faculty members to campus wide committees to represent faculty, and there is a suspicion that these appointees may not adequately represent faculty viewpoints. They are not known to the Senate and do not report to it. The report recommends that the Senate be asked to appoint and/or confirm all faculty who are asked to serve on campuswide committees. Excluded from this are the Grievance Panel and the Chancellor's Committee on Promotion and Continuous Appointment, which already have prescribed procedures for seating faculty.

 

Parking Committee: The report claims that the attitude of the parking committee towards employees and faculty has become "negative, punitive and hostile." It recommends that the committee be reformed, with 3 or 4 Senate appointed representatives, and a similar number of people appointed by the Staff Assembly, the Student Government Association Appointed and the Executive Council. Ex officio members would be the Manager of Parking Operations, The Director of Campus Facilities Management and the Chief of Campus Police.

 

[In a discussion with your reporter Chair Loncar said that communication between the Senate and the faculty has been terrible. Part of the problem is due to the slowness of the campus mail system, and changes have to be made there. However, there were other deficiencies. A major challenge is to create a situation in which faculty is aware of what the Senate is doing, and thinks it is worth contacting the Senate about faculty issues. The creation of that atmosphere is one of the highest priorities, and is a precondition for Senate effectiveness in other areas.]

 

Some additional tasks are set for the Senate in the report: The Senate should revise the Faculty Senate section of the Collected Rules and Regulations, revise the procedures for the evaluation of deans, create written rules for Senate elections [election procedures for selecting Senate officers and IFC Representatives have never been standardized] and revise the guidelines for Honorary Degrees.

 

These issues were enumerated last term. Some new items suggested by Chair Loncar and other Senators and faculty include creating a Senate committee to oversee interdivisional programs like "Fast-Track" and the Cyber-University; establishment of procedures to review critical problems in the schools and divisions, when requested to do so by the unit's faculty; creation of a mechanism for faculty evaluation of the upper administration; establishing a committee to oversee technological issues, so that decisions reflect faculty perspectives; a review of the consequences of merging the scholarship and financial aid offices; and a review of the expansion plans of the University. Obviously this is a partial and unofficial list, but it gives an idea of the issues some faculty and Senators think should be considered. Just contact your Senators or the Senate officers about these issues or other items that you think should (or should not) be on the Agenda.

 

The Senate will meet on September 1, and regularly meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Harris Mirkin

Faculty Senate Secretary

 


UMKC Faculty Senate