The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate
The Voice of the U.M.K.C. Faculty
August 31, 1999
Note: During the first half of the meeting we met with Interim Chancellor Lamb and Interim Provost Smelstor, and during the second half we discussed a variety of issues, including some that had arisen in the first half of the meeting.
The meeting with the Interim Provost and Chancellor did not go particularly well. It is possible that the Interim Provost had received mis-information on some issues, but she was clearly unwilling to discuss them. She also had to leave early. On the bright side, the Interim Provost said unequivocally that she intended to read the Dean Evaluations and take them seriously. The Interim Chancellor also wasn’t terribly forthcoming, and was not willing to discuss the campus plan that was to be submitted to the Board of Curators on Sept. 2. He did urge that the faculty become involved in a discussion of “core values” that seemed to be implicit in the Strategic Plan, and will hold several meetings around this issue. Some Senators had trouble understanding the purpose and value of these discussions.
The Interim Provost said that she intends to use the evaluations in her own conversations with the deans and in her evaluations of them. Of course they were only one source of information, but they were an important one. She will use the evaluations that were submitted last spring as well as those that are to be submitted later this year.
Humanities Teaching Fellowships
At first this seemed like it was primarily a College issue, but Senators thought it raised questions of importance to the University and reflected on some of the values that the Interim Chancellor wanted to discuss.
Last year six Humanities Teaching Fellowships were awarded to Ph.D. students in English, History and Religious Studies. They carried a stipend of $12,500 and an obligation to teach one course. Both the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the Dean of Graduate Studies supported these Fellowships. This year, a few days before the term began, the teaching load was raised by one course. The timing was terrible. Agreements had been signed in March. In some cases other fellowships had been turned down. Notification of the requirement to teach an additional course was made as late as the Friday before classes began, and students were not prepared to teach a second course on a few days notice. It violated the purpose of the Fellowship, which was to allow time to do graduate work while gaining some teaching experience. Finally, it might be illegal and definitely was unprofessional to change signed agreements. The change it seemed certain to generate bad publicity and ill feeling. The Interim Provost seemed surprised by the variety and intensity of the arguments. (Two Senators were supervisors of students affected by the change.) She said that increasing the course load was a compromise that she had suggested as one way of meeting the budget crisis and the changed CE formula. She had been assured by the College Dean that the students were eager to take on the challenge of a second course, and did not object to the last minute change. In fact they were enthusiastic. The Interim Provost did not seem eager to continue the conversation. She also had to leave.
After the Interim Provost & Chancellor left the Senate continued to discuss the incident. One problem was that Smelstor had gotten all of her information from the Dean, and had made no attempt to contact faculty or the students involved. This approach, in which administrators only talk with administrators, had led to trouble before. After some discussion the Senate unanimously adopted the following resolution which was to be conveyed to the Interim Chancellor, the Interim Provost and the College Dean:
Much of the discussion centered on the budget.
Core Values and the Strategic Plan
The Interim Chancellor thought there should be meetings with faculty, students and staff to discuss the implementation of the Strategic Plan. He thought the core values implicit in the plan were not well expressed, and hoped these could be formulated. The proposal was vague, so it was difficult to see where Lamb wanted to go with this.
At the meeting on August 24th the Interim Provost had assured us that sports was not a black hole, and that it had not exceeded its budget, but no details were provided. How much money was the sports program taking and generating? And could we use one of the standard measures of sports program performance (like the Sears Cup) to determine how we rank compared to similar schools?*1
Several Senators thought that the Interim Provost did not understand the needs of the graduate programs. Senators hoped that she would be able to come to the next meeting, and would be able to stay at the meeting long enough to discuss the issues and hear the arguments…. Appointments were made to the standing committees and there was a general hope that faculty members who were not on the Senate would volunteer for some of the committees…. Several Senators wondered whether U.M.K.C. was appointing an increasing percentage of non-tenure track professors. We agreed to ask the newly appointed institutional researcher to supply information on this…. There was some discussion of the idea that open faculty positions are to go back to the Interim Provost to be reallocated. Several Senators thought that this was a bad idea and would have unfortunate consequences. We intended to discuss this with the Interim Provost at the next meeting…. One faculty member wrote to the Senate e-mail list (Senate@umkc.edu) to suggest that the Senate implement “an academic priority list to guide present and future administrators.” The Senate thought that this was an interesting idea and we referred it to the Academic Affairs Committee. We thought it would be useful to get general faculty input, and that the list could be useful in administrative searches…. Some Senators thought that salary compression had become a problem…. The Report of Aug. 24, 1999 was approved.
Volunteers for Standing Committees needed. Call Kathy Loncar, Faculty Senate Chair, if you are willing to work with the Academic Affairs Committee, the Administrative Affairs Committee or the Faculty Welfare Committee. The Senate phone number is 1027. Senate e-mail list: If you want to send e-mail to the entire Senate address it to Senate@umkc.edu.
*1 After the meeting Kathleen Schweitzberger, Library Senator, did some research and wrote the Senate MailList:
I just looked at the Sears Cup information from the NCAA website. UMKC is listed in the 1998-1999 final tally with 10 points for its 33rd place finish
in Tennis. Their rank is 214 which is the last rank but there are many institutions with that same score and then there's Stanford… in 1st with 970 points.
Quite a difference. I can't find UMKC listed on any of the earlier lists. So I guess you could say there's some improvement in the program.
Respectfully submitted, Harris Mirkin,
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