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The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate

Report

 

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

 

Senate Meeting on November 17, 1998

[Issues discussed in this Report:

* The appointment and role of committees,

* Agenda setting,

* Unrestricted access to budget accounts,

* The A&S Resolutions calling for a restructuring of the Administration and meaningful faculty consultation.]

Secretary's note: This was a very full agenda. We experimented with setting times for discussion of items (most people seemed to have liked it, and it enabled us to get more done) and discussed issues that were fundamental to the function of the Senate. We also passed a number of resolutions.

 

Your Secretary has tried to structure the meeting into a somewhat coherent narrative, but readers ought to be aware that often the actual discussions were less structured. :-)

 

Preliminaries: The U-News asked permission to cover the Senate meeting. Some thought that meetings were open under the Missouri Sunshine law, but University Council has said that the Senate is exempt, since it is not a policy making body. We decided that our meetings ought to be open to the press, at least on an experimental basis, and that we could go into executive session if secrecy was necessary. We might review the policy if the CBS television lights get too obtrusive. :-).... The Senate Report of Nov. 3 was approved.... We decided to try a new meeting format in which time limits were assigned to items on the Agenda (10 minutes for discussion items, 30 minutes for action items). Extensions of time could be voted, and we could go beyond 5:00 PM if we voted to do so.... An experimental item for reports on activities within units that might be of interest to the whole Senate was included in the Agenda, but no reports were given.

Though it wasn't on the Agenda we approved, without opposition, the following item to be submitted to the Board of Curators:

Whereas: The University of Missouri is a public institution dedicated to serving all Missouri citizens, and

Whereas: The current policy states "The Board of Curators and the University of Missouri-Kansas City are committed to the policy that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, age, national origin, disability, or Vietnam era veterans' status. This policy pertains to educational programs, admissions, activities and employment practices," and [UMKC General Catalog, Aug. 1998, page 1]

Whereas: There is a nationwide movement to include "sexual orientation" in such clauses.

Therefore: The UMKC Faculty Senate, Staff Assembly and Student Senate support the addition of "sexual orientation" into the University of Missouri policy on nondiscrimination.

 

The Resolution has been approved by the Staff Assembly and the Student Government as well as the Faculty Senate. Other campuses are submitting similar resolutions. Chair Loncar said there had not been significant opposition to these resolutions on the campuses, but a few Senators thought there might be some opposition among the Curators.

 

Committee Issues

 

Though a discussion about committees wouldn't seem at first glance to be exciting, decisions about the structure and composition of committees are central to the success of a body like the Senate. We can't discuss all issues as a committee of the whole, and need analysis and recommendations. Therefore the question of who appoints the members of committees, and how the committees ought to be structured, are of crucial importance. [Appointments to committees are not yet completed. A full list of committees will be attached to the next Report.]

 

Standing Committees: The duties of the three Senate Standing committees have been described in an earlier Report. These committees have broad charges and cannot possibly cover all areas. Senators thought that the charges should be narrowed in two ways: either the committee itself would come up with issues that it wanted to pursue, and/or the Senate could charge the committees to examine specific topics. Committees should give regular reports to the Senate and might appoint subcommittees to look at particular issues. Prof. Bruce Wenner (Math) was appointed convener of the Academic Affairs Committee (there was a slight chance that once the committee assembled it might select another Chair), Prof. Barbara Glessner-Fines (Law) was appointed Chair of Administrative Affairs, and Prof. Robert Willson (English) is chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee.

. Though it was slightly out-of-order Prof. Willson thought it important to let people know that the cost of medical insurance was projected to rise 15% next year and 35% by the year 2000. Two options that were under consideration were to increase the co-payment expected from faculty, or to slightly decrease the percentage of insurance that the University covers from the current 70% (with faculty and staff paying 30%) to the more traditional 66.67%.

 

Special Committees: There are two special committees: a Budget Committee and a Neighborhood Committee. Profs. Brian Belt (B&PA) and Tony Manzo (Education) are currently on the Budget committee. The Chancellor suggested that the three Senate officers also serve, but several objections were raised to that:

* It was felt that the Senate, not an administrator, should appoint the members of Senate committees;

* It was argued that the Senate officers were too busy to do a good job; and

* It was suggested that there were other faculty members far more qualified to serve on this committee.

 

Senators readily agreed with these arguments (especially the last) and several names were quickly suggested. Since the people did not know that they were going to be nominated it would be in poor taste to publicize their names in this Report. :-) [One need not be a Senator to serve on a Senate committee, and the faculty members nominated were from outside of the Senate.]

 

The Neighborhood issues committee is chaired by Phil Olson (Sociology) and currently has Profs. Kris Kobach (Law), Robert Downs (Law) and Kemal Sagduyu (Medicine). This is obviously a hot committee at this point, and Prof. Olson and other Senators raised several issues:

 

* This was a special type of committee, since it was designed to call upon faculty who had professional knowledge about the areas under discussion. Who was to appoint the members? [After some discussion it was decided that Prof. Olson and others would nominate people at the Senate meeting on Dec. 1, and the Senate would appoint the members.]

 

* Who should the Committee Report to? Who would give the Committee its charge? Was it a Senate Committee or a Chancellor's Committee? [It was decided that the Committee was a Senate committee that would report to the Senate. The Senate would then make recommendations to the Chancellor. Of course the committee could also talk directly to the Chancellor and advise her, but it was firmly grounded as a Senate Committee that received its charge from the Senate, was appointed by the Senate and would report to the Senate.]

 

* What was the committee supposed to do? [It was to gather information from the people in the neighborhood and from the University. It could make policy recommendations to the Senate. It was not a negotiating committee or an official representative of the University. That job was left to others.]

 

There was some discussion of where the Committee belonged administratively -- was it a special committee of the Senate or did it make more sense to envision it as a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Administrative Affairs? We left that issue for the next Senate meeting.

 

FRS Accounts

Everybody on campus, once they have access to one FRS account (these are budget and research accounts of faculty and administration) can get into all of them -- the research accounts of other faculty, dean's accounts, the Chancellor's account and the President's. Apparently numbers could not be altered, but nasty notes could be left, and knowledgeable people could gain access to information that they might not be entitled to have. This wasn't really the result of a policy decision -- rather it was a computer programming decision not to do the programming necessary to provide adequate security. There was great potential for mischief.

 

Some Senators argued that the transparency was good, since it would allow access to information that was needed and should be public in a state university. Others argued that there were privacy concerns, and said people should not be able to go fishing in other's accounts. Some said that everything should be public, except that which was specifically excluded, others thought that everything should be private except for the accounts that were specifically opened to more public scrutiny.

 

Obviously the issue is a thorny one, and it couldn't be resolved in a 30 minute discussion. We did, however, pass the following resolution. It was directed to Ralph Caruso (chief information officer for the University) and other appropriate people, and passed 20 yea, 4 nay and 1 abstain.

 

Resolved: The faculty at UMKC strongly urge that access to all FRS accounts be restricted to appropriate personnel responsible for the account, e.g. that only Principal investigators (and their supervising administrator) have access to research accounts, e.g. based on social security information.

 

Setting the Agenda

 

The discussion on agenda setting started with a comment that the Senate has sometimes wasted time on trivial issues. The speaker thought we should focus on issues important for faculty welfare. Several Senators thought long reports (like the one on campus planning) were a waste of time for the Senate, and said there were more appropriate forums for these. Some said that Senate Agenda items should normally end with a vote, that action rather than mere discussion, was needed.

 

Sometimes the Chancellor or other administrators wanted to discuss an issue with the Senate, and Senators did not want to exclude that type of discussion. However they did want to maintain the principle that the Senate, and not administration, set the Senate Agenda, and decided on the appropriate amount of time for issues. Obviously administrative requests would be treated with respect. On the other hand some Senators noted that requests for specific information from the administration sometimes slipped by.

 

Several Senators proposed agenda items. It was decided that these should be posted on the Senate e-mail list (together with others that might be added) and that Senate officers would post a proposed Agenda. Senators could comment and the Agenda would be set. It is an interactive process that should work.

 

The College Resolutions

The A&S College passed the following resolutions. Tim Richards, Chair of the A&S Steering Committee presented them to the Senate. He said he wanted to inform them of what the College had done, to engender debate and discussion about the resolutions and to gather Senate support (since the issues affected all faculty).

 

A-The Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences calls for a serious reorganization of the campus administrative structure, specifically:

 

* commitment to the creation of a chief academic officer who, together with the Chancellor, would review all budgets;

 

* establishment of a faculty committee elected by the faculty to study the reduction in size of the UMKC administration.

 

B-The Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences is not opposed to campus expansion. We are, however, appalled and distressed at the manner in which the current plan to expand the campus south of 53rd Street has been handled. We call for a complete re-examination of campus expansion to include a selection of faculty from all divisions of the University, elected by each division.

 

C-This is a resolution calling for meaningful faculty consultation in the construction and renovation of classrooms and laboratories, and the use of space on the campus. Examples given are from the College, and wouldn't be relevant to other units. The resolution ends with the following statement: "These are only the most recent examples of problems caused by an administration which fails to seek meaningful faculty input on matters which vitally affect both the faculty and students at UMKC.

 

"Therefore we demand that the University provide state-of-the-art classrooms and safe laboratories for teaching and research in all Departments of the College." [Examples are specific to the College.]

 

The sense of resolution A was that budget and space allocation ought to be driven by academic issues and decisions, not decided upon separately, that there had been an inflation of administrative positions and titles, and that Vice Chancellors and Associate and Assistant Vice Chancellors had proliferated beyond all reason, and that there should be changes of structure and deflation of salaries.

 

Part B had been largely addressed in our earlier discussion of the neighborhood committee. Part C called for meaningful faculty participation in the design of teaching spaces, so that the space would work and do what it was supposed to do.

 

The reception of the proposals was generally favorable, but people felt that it would be improper to vote to support them until they had a chance to discuss the issues with the faculty of their schools. Several asked Tim Richards if he could come to their faculty meetings and help lead the discussion on the resolutions.

 

The following resolution was proposed:

 

Resolved: That there be a sense of the Senate vote in favor of the A&S resolutions;

That the Resolutions be referred to the individual schools for discussion; and

That the Resolutions be referred to the Administrative Affairs Committee for study and specific recommendations for implementation.

Senators felt that they could only talk for themselves if they voted on the resolution prior to discussing the issue with faculty in their schools. A vote on the resolution was postponed until the Senate meeting on December 1.

 

This Report has not been officially approved.

 

Absent: Brian Belt, Lanny Solomon, Robert Willson, Khosrow Sohraby, Robert Groene, Davis Curtis, Craig Kluever, Ashok Gumbhir.

Excused: Jerry Place.

 

Respectfully submitted

 

Harris Mirkin

Faculty Secretary

 

 

 


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