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The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate



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


October 6, 1998

Senate Endorses Revised Report Format, Recommends a Slightly Modified ITEC Plan to the Chancellor, and Supports the Proposal for a Center of Interdisciplinary Studies.


[Senate Meetings are open to the faculty. Our next meeting will be with the Chancellor on Tuesday, Oct. 20th. We usually meet on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM in rm . 359 AC.]

[Secretary's Warning: The Senate recognizes that speedy distribution of this Report is a priority, and in order to expedite distribution the Report is circulated prior to receiving formal Senate approval. Though every reasonable effort is made to assure accuracy, it is possible that some mistakes will be made. Any corrections will be noted in the next edition of the Report.]

Secretary's Note: This was a lively and fractious meeting, with several important issues discussed and voted upon. Chair Loncar kept reminding the Senate that the clock was ticking, and we had to hasten our deliberations. Still we kept debating and adjourned well after the clock had chimed our normal leave time. In your reporter's opinion this was a good meeting. Major issues were discussed, and conflicting viewpoints were presented. Some conflicts remained, but the lopsided votes indicated that a general consensus was reached on each issue.

The News in Brief:

--Committee appointments were made.

--Agenda items for meeting with Chancellor proposed

--Debate on title and position of ITEC director. Consensus that position had to respond to faculty needs.

--Broad support for interdisciplinary studies plan. Need for faculty and financial support emphasized.

--Discussion of Senate role combined with observations on Report style.

There were two important documents distributed at the meeting: The ITEC Plan and the Proposal for a Center of Interdisciplinary Studies. Your Secretary thinks it would be expensive and depressing to append these to this report, but a simple phone call or e-mail message to your own Senator, to the Secretary or to the Chair will get you a copy. If there is interest the documents can also be posted on the Web.

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


This Report represents an obvious, break with the format and style of previous Minutes. Though the Senate had voted for expeditious circulation, Chair Loncar and some others felt a discussion of the new format was needed and held up distribution of the previous two reports until the Senate could discuss the issue. Some questioned the Chair's right to do this. Loncar said she had tried to act in the best interest of the Senate.


The discussion of the Report was tied in with a general discussion of the role of the Senate. Some thought that the reports, and some of the new Senators, were too confrontational and dismissive of the accomplishments of previous Senates. Issues had been discussed and responded to. Opposing Senators thought that the upper administration had been dismissive of faculty on important issues and needed to be confronted. Some members of the administration had apparently expressed discomfort with the Report. Did that matter? Some thought it was good while others were more reserved.


A few Senators noted that there were sharp conflicts in the Senate, and thought that the conflicts should be reported to the faculty and that the Senate Report should reflect the diversity of opinions in the Senate. Others preferred drier Minutes and didn't want to be implicated in general statements about a 'feisty" Senate when they did not feel feisty. (Some thought it was a good characterization of the meeting.) There was some objection to your reporter's observation that the Chancellor looked tired at the end of her meeting with us and thought it sounded condescending and sexist. A few Senators disliked the "Secretary's Note" at the beginning of the Report, while others thought the Secretary was a "curmudgeon" and enjoyed that part of the Report the most. :-) There was an interesting minidebate on the question of what constituted accurate reporting.


A few Senators said that they thought the Report could be the basis for a faculty newsletter that would allow us to communicate with each other, and thought a forum like that was urgently needed. That idea might be discussed further. Your secretary noted that a previous Report had said that "Letters to the Report" would be welcomed and printed (with permission). There was general agreement that the reporting on Senate discussions should be as bias free as possible.


At the end of the discussion the Senate accepted the two suspended reports and did not make any changes. They have been distributed to faculty. E-mail distributions of Reports to Senators often lost formatting and were confusing to read, so future issues will be faxed to Senators so that thev'11 have a few days to read and comment on them prior to general distribution.


ITEC (Information Technology Executive Council) Proposal


There was general agreement on the ITEC proposal. Senators felt that the information technology structure on the campus had to be reorganized so that conflicts among the administrative divisions of the university could be minimized and sound decisions could be made and implemented.


The discussion in the Senate centered around the Committee's proposal for a new Vice Chancellor. Many preferred a "Chief Information Officer" that would report to the Chief Academic Officer (Marvin Querry). Others said it was important that the new IT director be on an equal footing with the other Vice Chancellors. Some observed that Vice Chancellors quickly lose their faculty roots and look to other administrators as their peers and mentors. If we created an information Czar s/he would compete with faculty and pull money out of the various units.


A motion was made to support the ITEC proposal with the following change:


*replace all references to the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology with the phrase "Chief Information Officer;"


*note that the Chief Information Officer had to have an academic background and have an active academic appointment; and


*appoint the Chief Information Officer for a term not to exceed 5 years. The term would be renewable one time.


This proposal passed by a vote of 16 to 4.


There were other issues with the ITEC report, like Virtual University proposal, but there wasn't time to discuss them. We were only making a recommendation to the Chancellor, so we could discuss issues at future meetings. Additionally the proposal recommended an advisory committee (with faculty, staff and administrators) to discuss and approve policies. There were also issues of funding. Some funds were already in the budget. It was noted that Marvin Querry had said (in the previous Senate meeting) that money for the new IT structure would come from reallocations of existing IT funds.


Proposal for a Center for Interdisciplinary Studies


This was an ambitious proposal that the Senate didn't have much time to review since it was distributed at the Senate meeting. The purpose for the Center is to "establish a national model for public universities in encouraging true interdisciplinary studies and research opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate level in and among all schools and divisions."


Gary Ebersole (A&-S, History and Religious Studies) who presented and largely developed the plan, said that the purpose was to create a center, not located in any school or department, that would be 100% faculty run. Any faculty member engaged in interdisciplinary activities could take advantage of the center. People would be able to brainstorm about programs, courses, grant proposals and research ideas. Some money for the Center would be generated from the overhead on grant proposals, other money would be directly allocated by the University.


There was a discussion about whether we should move in this direction or towards strengthening the departmental academic base that is already underfunded. Ebersole didn't see a conflict between departments and the Interdisciplinary Center, and argued that the Center would create a voice and focus for faculty and joint appointments. He had discussed the proposal with many faculty, departments and deans. Only the dean of the School of Biological Sciences would not return his phone calls.


The Senate did not discuss the proposal in detail, and hadn't studied it closely. But Senators thought it was interesting and well thought out. The Senate voted 14 to 2 to endorse it. 4 Senators abstained.



Committee Appointments


The Senate made some committee appointments:

* Robert Downs (Law), Kris Kobach (Law) and Phil Olson (A&S) were nominated for the Neighborhood Advisory Group.

*Charles Cobb (Dental), Kathleen Schweitzberger (Library) and Robert

Willson (A&S) were nominated for the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee.

*Brian Belt (B&PA) and Tony Manzo (Education) were nominated as

Budget Reviewers.

* Phil Olson (A&S), Tim Richards (A&S) and Dan Tira (Dental) were nominated for the Diversity Board.

* Chair Loncar (Education) volunteered to serve on the Campus court Warming Advisory Committee.


Respectfully submitted,


Harris Mirkin, Faculty Secretary


UMKC Faculty Senate