Return to Faculty Senate Homepage

 

 

The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate Report

 The Voice of the U.M.K.C. Faculty

Meeting of September 1, 1998

 

No Longer an Oxymoron?

Feisty Senate Meeting

Note: This reporter thought that from Chair Kathy Loncar's opening welcome to the close of the first Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year the same theme dominated: the Senate and the faculty had been largely ignored and it was time to end that status. Senators who spoke objected to both the poor decision making process at the University and to the poor decisions. Some focused on deficiencies in the Senate while others focused on the perceived arrogance of the administration. Many saw problems in both areas. They argued that important academic decisions had been implemented without effective faculty involvement -- and some speakers thought they had been implemented poorly. The change of focus from a commuter campus to a more residential campus had also been taken without adequate discussion or thought. Changes had been made in the mission and composition of the Biological Sciences and the Medical School. These had economic consequences for the whole campus, but had not been discussed with the Senate. Most of those who spoke wanted changes to be made so that the Senate and faculty would play a more important role in the governance of the University.

 

[The Senate is not a secret organization. Meetings are open to any faculty member that wishes to attend. They are held at 3:00 on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, in the Chancellor's large conference room on the third floor.]

[Professor Larry Simkins (Psychology) recently died. He was just about to begin his retirement.]

Your reporter is aware that the Senate is a large body with faculty from many different divisions. Not everybody spoke, and some Senators strongly disagree with this interpretation of the mood of the meeting. It should be an interesting year.

Standing Committees: Though some good work had been done in the past year, and a few Senators thought there were no problems in this area, most of the speakers thought the standing committees had not functioned well. As a result the Senate often had to act as a committee of the whole, making decisions without adequate preparation or study, and had been re-active rather than pro-active. The Senators who thought the standing committees had done an adequate job felt that the committee structure did not need to be changed; others presented possible modifications:

* More ad hoc committees, either as a replacement for, or as a supplement to, the standing committees;

* Specific assignments, with due dates for reports, to be given to standing committees;

* More use of non-Senate faculty on the standing committees; and

* More follow-up studies to be done by standing committees, so that decisions taken and agreed to weren't simply lost in the ether. It was not adequate to make recommendations and then forget about them.

We agreed that the committee problem is central and should be revisited at our 3rd meeting. (Our second meeting is with the Chancellor.)

Budget: For the first time in her stewardship the Chancellor is going to make a budget report to the Senate. That was, of course, viewed as a positive step. But several Senators noted that we had to be involved in the formation and creation of the budget -- we needed to be involved in the setting of priorities in the new budget rather than simply reacting to priorities that were already enshrined in this year's budget. There were several general questions that needed to be addressed:

* The Athletic Program.

1. I am sorry that this report is late. It was distributed to the Faculty Senate via e-mail, and some Senators raised strong objections to its tone or style or content. Others strongly supported it. Chair Loncar thought we should do a straw poll before distributing the Report. Only a minority of Senators objected, and so the Report is being distributed. The disagreement seems to largely reflect a difference of opinion about the role of the Senate. One Senator suggested that it might also (somewhat) reflect a split between newly elected Senators and those that have previously served.

Let us know what you think. Contact Chair Loncar or me or your own Senator. Letters to the editor will be reprinted (with permission).

* Continuing Education Budgets: how were they to be divided between the units and the central administration?

* How are the matching chairs funded? They are supposed to be funded equally by the state and UMKC but many said that this was not happening. Also several Senators wanted to examine the funding of endowed chairs.

* Mission Enhancement: Budget priorities determined the growth pattern of the university. These decisions shouldn't simply be made by the administration. They had neither adequate information or understanding.

Senators requested that Chair Loncar ask that the Chancellor give them advance copies of the items she was going to discuss, so that we could more adequately participate in the discussion.

Evaluation of Deans: Five deans are up for evaluation this year. There was some discussion of Marvin Querry's statement last year that he didn't seriously take the results into account, and several Senators disputed the validity of the reasons he supplied. In any case we wanted to make the faculty evaluation of deans more effective. The forms will be delivered directly to Chancellor Schwartz this year, and she has promised to read them. A committee has reviewed and modified the evaluation form, and will ask some of the people on campus who are professionally involved in the construction of questionnaires to examine their proposal. There was an argument that the Senate did not have to go to the administration as supplicants: we could do the evaluations and publicize the results on our own. Senators hoped that the administration would cooperate.

Neighborhood Battle: Everybody knows of the battle that has pitted UMKC against the people in the neighborhood that the university has tried to expand into. A mediation process has now been set up, involving diverse members of both communities. One Senator proposed that the faculty take more of a leadership role, since we had a stake in the issue and there were faculty experts in many of the areas involved, including housing problems, development issues, real estate values and mediation. We didn't vote on any particular plan, but will obviously revisit the problem in the future. We agreed that if a new master plan is drawn up faculty should be heavily involved.

Academic Computing: There was a hot dispute over the administrative structure of computing and technology for the campus. Some thought that a Vice Chancellor for Technology should be appointed while others argued that there should be coordination of policy but not another Vice Chancellor position. A few speakers said that the administration was already far too large for a campus of this size. A plan was drawn up over the summer by an ITEC committee that had some academic input, but there was objection to the plan and it has not yet been formally submitted to the Chancellor. The feeling of many of the Senators who spoke was that the faculty and Faculty Senate needed to get organized so that its perspectives on computing needs were built into plans and were implemented. The structures advocated ranged from Senate Committees composed entirely of faculty to faculty cooperation on administrative committees. The issues were raised but not resolved at this meeting.

 

Miscellaneous: A faculty convocation is coming up. Several faculty who have received awards in the areas, will make short speeches on the value of teaching, research and service. Three Curators and the President will be at the Convocation. Faculty is urged to attend... The IFC has examined the UM grievance procedures. UMKC is out-of-step with the rest of the system because we have more non-regular faculty involved. The new UM procedures leave discretion on this issue to the campuses. The proposed procedures looked OK, but we asked the Standing Committee on Faculty Welfare (Wayne Simpson, Nancy Weatherhold and Robert Willson) to examine them. The IFC also discussed the interaction (or lack of it) between the President and the IFC... If faculty want to reward Honorary Degrees in December nominations have to be made soon... Geral Thompson has been named as the new bookstore manager, and Chair Kathy Loncar (who was part of the search committee) thinks she will be excellent... One Senator claimed that there were problems with the purchasing department and asked the Senate to examine the issue...The University is in the process of hiring an institutional researcher so that we will have more systematic information about UMKC... The Minutes of April 21 were approved with a minor capitalization change.

[Note: In the interest of speed this Report is issued without formal Senate approval. Formal approval and corrections will be made at the regular Senate meeting on Sept. 15.]

Absent:Craig Kluever, Wayne Simpson, Steve Krantz, Ashok Gumbhir.

Respectfully submitted,

Harris Mirkin

Faculty Secretary

 


UMKC Faculty Senate