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The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate

Report

 

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

Meeting on December 1, 1998

The Paradigm is Changing....

Secretary's note: It is interesting to observe the birth or rebirth of groups as they slowly organize to voice to their concerns and have effective input into the decision making process. That seems to be what is happening now. The Faculty Senate is moving towards becoming a body that can define and articulate faculty concerns, and effectively present them to the administration. Other units on the campus seem to be moving in that direction too, both in response to what is happening in the Senate and on their own. Energy generates more energy.

 

Energetic meetings are also difficult to take notes on. :-) We reaffirmed our commitment to Robert's Rules, and Chair Loncar valiantly struggled to keep discussions on topic and to recognize people in proper order. Mostly it worked, though sometimes things got chaotic. We did run over time, and several of the items on the Agenda had to be deferred until the next meeting.

Since we were committed to running by Robert's Rules we needed a Parliamentarian. Robert Willson (English) volunteered. We also needed an effective way of setting Agendas, so that we discussed the issues Senators thought were important. Chair Loncar proposed a method that used the Senate e-mail list. She also suggested that (where appropriate) Senators should write Agenda items in the form of resolutions. These procedures seemed acceptable to all.

 

The Death (and Rebirth) of the Ad Hoc Neighborhood Issues

Committee & The Birth of the Ad Hoc Budget Review Committee.

 

It was noted, without disagreement, that the membership of Senate Ad Hoc committees is to be determined by the Senate, and that these committees are to report to the Senate. The Senate would then pass resolutions (or decline to pass them) based on these reports. The Committees could also work informally with the Chancellor or with other administrators if they wished to.

Budget Committee: Applying these general principles to specific tasks isn't always easy, and the Senate debated the charge of the Senate Budget Committee for some time. [The members of the Committee (people appointed by the Senate who have agreed to serve) are Profs. Belt (Chair, B&PA), Manzo (education) and Ward (Economics). Other members are still to be appointed.]

 

We agreed that the Committee should actively participate in the budget making process and have input into it, and if the Chancellor provided a direct opportunity for that participation we should take advantage of it. At the same time the Committee had to bring information to the Senate so that we could make formal recommendations -- we wanted the committee to "bring prioritized recommendations back to the Senate to be voted upon and, if approved, forwarded to the Chancellor." One Senator argued that we were not only interested in specific issues but in a paradigm shift on the campus, a change towards emphasis on academics as a central mission of UMKC. Still, several specific issues were mentioned:

 

* Cost of athletic program,

* Apparently rising cost of administration as a proportion of the budget,

* Monitoring of continuing education policies,

* North Campus Project, and

* Monitoring of Mission Enhancement money (since it converts to rate money at the end of the enhancement period).

We wanted the Budget Committee to have input on future budgets rather than merely receiving reports on past budgets, and looked towards the budget of the year 2,000 which is beginning to be formulated at this point. We recognized that effective participation in the budget building process will not come quickly -- one Senator said that it was a "multi-year experience in which you are dialoging like hell for several years." Still, we needed to get started now. It was suggested that at some point the Ad Hoc Budget Review Committee will become a permanent subcommittee of the Administrative Issues Committee, or that it be changed from an Ad Hoc Committee and placed in the By-Laws.

Neighborhood Issues Committee: At the beginning of the debate the administrative perspective was presented. It was argued that the University already had a "team" in place, with administrative, faculty, alumni, KC Board of Trustee and student representatives. (The faculty representative is Chair Loncar). This group was meeting with a mediator and with neighborhood leaders, and was reporting to the Chancellor. There have been two meetings and a third is scheduled. It was emphasized that the University team is not a negotiating body. Rather it is engaged in fact finding and will advise the Chancellor, who in turn will make recommendations to the President and the Board of Curators. It was strongly argued that the mediation process be given a chance to work and that the Senate should not be actively involved in the process. Under this arrangement the Senate's Neighborhood Issues Committee would function primarily as a "kitchen cabinet" to the Chancellor, supplying expert advice.

The Chair of the Committee (Prof. Olson, Sociology) thought that under those conditions the Committee should be disbanded, and made a motion to that effect. A heated discussion took place. Some thought it would be useful to have a group of faculty experts discuss the issues with the Chancellor. Others argued that the Neighborhood Issues Committee was a Senate committee that had to report primarily to the Senate so that we would understood the issues, could formulate resolutions and have an independent voice. It was argued that the Committee had to engage in its own fact finding and could talk with many people that distrusted the official university team. Indeed, it was said, many members of the official committee were the people who had originally messed up the issue. The Senate Committee could talk with the Chancellor if it wished, but its responsibility was to the Senate. It was further argued that the Senate Committee should be independent of the University team, and that there should not be overlapping membership.

The Senate voted 19 to 2 against the resolution to disband the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Neighborhood Issues. Prof. Olson agreed to continue serving as chair on the understanding that it was a Senate Committee responsible to the Senate, was not a negotiating committee, could engage in independent fact finding, and would report to the Senate. It can discuss the issues with the Chancellor if the Chancellor and the Committee want to do so.

The College Resolutions

Though Senators seemed sympathetic to the College resolutions they wanted more time before they voted on them. Several schools have the resolutions on the Agendas for their faculty meetings, and Prof. Tim Richards (Chair of the A&S faculty) is scheduled to speak at many of these meetings. Senators also weren't sure of the consequences of some of these resolutions. Were they pro-faculty, or did they especially benefit the College? The Senate voted 18 to 1 to send the resolutions to the Administrative Issues committee, and requested that the Committee have a report in one month.

After this vote the Senate asked College Senators to discuss the logic of the resolutions. Discussion focused on Resolution A. College Senators said there was a sense of unease within the College with decisions taken by the administration. Too much money was going into the sports program, and it was taken from the academic programs. The concept and implementation of the Virtual University was high handed, and there was insufficient consultation with faculty. The College was concerned with the manner in which the neighborhood issues were handled, and was dissatisfied with the obfuscation on the way towards the final satisfactory resolution of the Continuing Education issue. Additionally the College was concerned that academic issues were not adequately considered by the administration in making decisions. The first resolution, therefore, sought to prioritize academics. It called for a reorganization of the upper administration, not the creation of a new position.

Other Senators raised issues about computers, in which a disproportionate share of money went into administrative systems. The high long distance charges on phones were cited as an example in which money was surreptitiously funneled away from academics and towards administrative needs.

The Administrative Issues Committee will consider these arguments and make recommendations to the Senate.

. 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.]

Odds & Ends

There has been a nomination for an Honorary degree and the recommendation was referred to the Academic Affairs Committee... The Senate Report for Nov. 17 was approved with two corrections: Prof. Robert Groene had an Excused absence and Prof. Sagduyu had not been appointed to the Ad Hoc Neighborhood Issues Committee... A question was raised about the timeliness of the Chancellor's response to an important appeal: "What if, on a critical issue, the Chancellor has not responded to a faculty appeal for 9 months?" The issue involved a promotion and tenure case in which the Dean and the faculty P&T Committee disagreed. Those issues go directly to the Chancellor for resolution. Senators agreed that 9 months without an answer on an appeal seemed excessive. The issue was sent to the Faculty Welfare Committee with a request for a report at the Jan. 12, 1999 meeting... The FRS issue (the university accounting system discussed in the last Report) is being studied. There is no decision on how it should be handled. Various administrators disagree... We agreed to ask the Chancellor to discuss the following issues when she meets with the Senate on Dec. 15: the growth of the administration in the last 10 years compared with faculty growth and support, the costs of remaining NCAA Division I, the growth of the North Campus, and the purpose of the $5.6 extra appropriation sought for the medical school.

This Report has not been officially approved.

Absent: Khosrow Sohraby, Charles Cobb, Nelly Ukpokodu, Curt Davis, Craig Kluever, Steve Krantz, Kit Smith, Ashok Gumbhir.

Respectfully submitted,

Harris Mirkin

Faculty Secretary

 


UMKC Faculty Senate