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The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate

Report

 

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

Meeting of Feb. 16, 1999

An absent President, a cryptic Interim Chancellor & a concerned Senate:

Reading Tea Leaves

Secretary's note: This was the Senate's first regular meeting with Interim Chancellor Lamb. He listened to us, and responded on occasion, but mostly he didn't show his cards. Interpreting silence is, of course, largely a creative act & after the meeting Senators had divergent interpretations. He did indicate that he was interested in restructuring the upper administration, and -- at this time -- he was leaning towards a Provost model. He did want to do something in this area, and thought the new administrative structure should be in place before the final round of interviews with Chancellor candidates. Other issues were brought up by Senators, thereby laying out a preliminary list of faculty concerns.

 

President Pacheco is even more Sphinx-like, since so far he has refused to meet with the Senate. One possible reason is that he believes the campus should iron out its own problems, and doesn't want to undercut the Interim Chancellor -- but assessing reasons in a void is as creative an act as is interpreting silence. :-) In any case the Senate wants to discuss some long term issues with him, and also needs to discuss the search process for a permanent Chancellor. We appointed a committee to draft a formal letter laying out the reasons for meeting.

 

Meeting with Interim Chancellor Lamb

Interim Chancellor Lamb does not hold the position of Provost (as Chancellor Schwartz did) and does not believe the new Chancellor should hold that office. He does, tentatively, think that a Provost (or Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs) position should be created. Since it would be a new position (even though it was replacing a current one) Presidential approval would be needed. Lamb wasn't sure whether the office should simply be created, or whether it should be created and filled, or whether an interim position should be created and filled with an interim person.

 

[ Some of the white haired Senators remembered when there was a Provost on this campus, but that was long ago and Lamb still thought the President would have to approve the creation of the Provost position as a new one. ]

Senators opined about the role of the Provost, though Lamb rarely commented. Generally we were concerned that the s/he be above the other Vice Chancellors, so that academics were recognized as the dominant purpose of the University. We thought it important that control of the budget be centered in the Provost's office. Some thought it was important that administrative titles and salaries be deflated. The Interim Chancellor said he wanted to discuss the issue with the Deans, the Vice Chancellors, and others. Some Senators thought we needed to settle questions of administrative structure before we advertised for a Chancellor, but Lamb thought it only had to be done before candidates were selected and interviewed, so there was a longer time frame. He also said that no advertisement had gone out to fill the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs position, and indicated that the position was not going to be advertised till issues of structure were settled.

 

Authoritarian Deans: Though several deans view themselves as agents of needed change, the faculty perspective on many of them is different. In some units an atmosphere of fear and intimidation seems to exist, and faculty feel vulnerable when complaining about, or arguing with, their deans.. The Education School faculty recently passed a motion of no confidence in their dean. Clearly faculty/dean problems were a festering sore on the campus. The Senate had a process for dean's evaluations, but Marvin Querry had stated that he didn't take these seriously (though he did claim that he took faculty discontent into account, and said that he knew when faculty were really upset with their dean). Senators claimed that the current structure was inadequate.

 

Lamb played this issue very close, and neither he nor Senators wanted to go beyond generalities in the full Senate meeting. He said he was willing to talk with faculty from units that were experiencing problems, and would look into each case individually. [Senators later briefly discussed possible Senate mechanisms for dealing with this problem.]

 

Neighborhood problems: An agreement had been hammered out by the University and neighborhood negotiating groups and was recommended to Chancellor Schwartz who had forwarded it, with minor modifications, to the President. He will forward it to the Board with his recommendations and it all should become public before the Curator's meeting.

The Interim Chancellor has met with a variety of people, including Senator Wiggins and Representative Campbell, with Richard Miller (the leader of 49/63) and with the leaders of other neighborhood associations in the area. He was less interested in the history of the conflict than in the question of how to move forward from here. He wanted to establish a communication process that was "open and constant and forever." One possibility was to put out a U.M.K.C. newsletter to all the people in the neighborhood. He also was interested in establishing a facilities and land use planning committee (by some name) that would be appointed by the Chancellor after nominations from various groups and that would include 2 community people. This group could comment on various University expansion plans.

 

Sports: Lamb said he had already called for an audit of the sports program. We needed to know the sources of income and the amounts generated from sales (including corporate sales), student athletic fees and from general university funds. He thought the University had not raised the kind of outside funds that were needed, and argued that a reasonable subsidy of the program from the University had to be decided upon and stabilized. He thought the program had value and was worth subsidizing to some extent. Senators agreed in general terms, though there was probably some difference in the amounts of subsidy that would be considered reasonable. We all agreed that an audit was a necessary first step.

 

Other issues: A metro-wide tuition was briefly discussed. Lamb noted that not everyone agreed with this idea, but thought it should be examined.... The possibility of raising more scholarship and study abroad money for the campus was raised, and a plan for raising the college readiness of inner-city students was proposed by one Senator, but Lamb was non-committal. He did think we needed to attract more students and was trying to put a plan together. He was also speaking with community leaders about the value of the University to the area..... The Interim Chancellor thought we had to serve the North Kansas City area but didn't know much about the issue yet.

 

Nominations for the Chancellor Search Committee are still needed. Call Tony Manzo (2478)

The Absent President

The Senate had asked to speak with the President, but he didn't seem interested in speaking with us. We thought that it was crucial that he become aware of faculty concerns, since these would be important when the President appointed a new Chancellor. After some discussion Senators seemed to conclude that there was a kind of cultural conflict. The administration had moved away from a model that included faculty as professionals and partners, and treated us simply as employees. We thought of ourselves as members of the team, whereas in the culture of the campus we were often ignored and thought of as adversaries. That autocratic culture needed to be challenged and changed. Some of the deficiencies in the administrative structure were probably symptoms of this problem rather than causes of it.

 

We were afraid that the President had too rosy a view of the campus, and didn't want him to appoint a Chancellor for the campus that he thought existed. On a campus that was rife with problems, some could be resolved by the Interim Chancellor. But other, longer term problems, would important in choosing a Chancellor. A committee was appointed to draft, for our next meeting, a letter explaining this perspective, and a motion to re-invite the President passed with one abstention.

 

Other Issues

The President will meet with the Senate officers and other groups to discuss the Chancellor Search Committee on March 8. Some thought that he should meet with the whole Senate. Chair Loncar thought that this was only a first step and said that she was sure that the President intended to work with the Senate on the appointment of faculty members to the Search Committee.... The Senate made nominations to a committee to select a Chief Information Officer (in charge of technology -- the name might change). We nominated Jakob Waterborg (BLS), Anthony Manzo (Ed.), Gary Ebersole (A&S), Jerrold Stach (CST), Mohsen Guizani (Engineering) and Patrick Peebles (A&S). We also nominated Gerry Barker (Dentistry) for the Safety Committee.... Faculty members were appointed to the Medical school dean search committee.... The Report for the Feb. 2, 1999 meeting was approved. This Report has not yet been officially approved.

Respectfully submitted,

Harris Mirkin,

Faculty Secretary

 

 


UMKC Faculty Senate, stanceln@smtpgate.umkc.edu