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The U.M.K.C. Faculty Senate



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


Meeting of Nov. 3, 1998

[We Get E-Mail: The Senate Report is posted to all Senators before it is sent to the faculty. The original intent was to insure that the Report was accurate. An interesting development is that Senators have used their comments on the Report to amplify and add to arguments that were made at the Senate meeting.

The e-mail comments are often more interesting than the debate itself. :-) Still, it would be misleading to include these comments as though they were a part of the actual debate. So I will indicate e-mail comments, usually putting them in footnotes, sometimes enclosing them in square brackets or text boxes.]

[Meet an Officer: Kathy Loncar (chair) and the other Senate officers can be scheduled for one of your unit's faculty meetings. Let us know your concerns. Tell us what we are doing wrong -- or right. Just call Kathy at 1027.]

Secretary's Note: Though the Chancellor was present at the meeting she did not speak much, except to introduce the person who drew up the Campus Plan. The Agenda consisted of two reports: one by Barbara Head, Interim Vice Chancellor for Development, who discussed strategies for raising money, the other by Becky Zahner on the campus plan. Neither report called for action by the Senate. Both did a good job, but after the meeting several Senators questioned whether this was a good use of Senate time. Some thought it was a good agenda, and a discussion of agenda issues and the agenda setting process will be scheduled. Faculty is never completely silent, of course, and there were suggestions and questions for the speakers during both reports. The structure of the meeting didn't encourage questions to the Chancellor.

The Development report was, in part, a plea for faculty involvement and cooperation -- at least in this area. If nothing else you can remember the University in your will. The University Master Plan report was a presentation of the physical plan, but not a discussion of the assumptions that underlay it. Basically the plan seemed to represent a compilation of the wish lists of the various segments of the university. The claim is that it was meant to be the opening gambit -- an initial recommendation that people could comment on. Of course the planning process didn't unfold that way. It "went bad." (The passive voice was always used.) Since we were discussing physical plans rather than policy, the decisions that led to the bad result were questioned but not examined.

Development: Last year the university received $15,000,000 in gifts, and there are several large gifts on the horizon. People usually give money for specific projects, and because of special professors and programs, so faculty cooperation is essential. Faculty can identify potential donors and talk with them, but need to eventually involve the Development Office. Some donors might want to leave money to the university in their wills, or we might want to do so ourselves. Development can provide information about the best way to do that. We can work with the central development office or with the unit development offices, though there needs to be some coordination. If central development says that a particular donor is off limits (because they are trying to get a larger gift from them) they will try and identify an alternative person or group within 24 hours.

One Senator said that if faculty felt alienated from the decision making process they were unlikely to participate fully in fund raising. The speaker agreed, but said resolution of that issue was out of her hands. Another raised the question of University Development taking credit for all money raised, even if the contacts and work had been done mostly by others. The speaker agreed that it was poor policy to do so. There was an assertion that Vice Chancellor French had said faculty had no role in cultivating donors. Head said that she didn't think so but would check

There was a question about money with strings -- would the university accept that? Barbara Head said that we had recently turned down a rather large gift because it came with too many strings attached. On the other hand, people that give money have some expectations as to how it is going to be used. It is a fine line that needs to be walked with care.

The Development office has contact with a number of financial planning experts and is willing to offer seminars for faculty and staff on financial and estate planning. They will get in contact with us.

Campus Plan: The presentation was largely visual, and the university will explore putting the architectural drawings on the web. Becky Zahner (from Mackey Mitchell Zahner Associates, the firm that drew up the plan) started with a brief history of the various plans for the campus and the assumptions behind them. At one time it was believed that the campus might expand up to 59th street, but that was considered unrealistic for the foreseeable future, and this plan only assumed expansion up to 55th street. There were several elements/issues:

* The plan assumed the desirability of a campus in which the major elements were within walking distance of each other. It also tried to create spaces (oases) in which people would congregate. Ample parking was needed, and if there were adequate garages some of the huge areas that are now needed for parking could be replaced by other facilities or by green spaces. The plan focused on the outside of buildings -- it didn't attempt to design offices, decide how many seminar rooms, lecture halls, etc. were needed.

* A student base of 15,000 was assumed. Several questions were raised:

* Even if the student base grew, could we assume that it would consist of traditional students, or would more students take courses off-campus, in high school or by computer? We now have about 12 or 13 thousand students, but 2 thousand do not have class on the campus. [However, an e-mail note observed that many of these students do use the library and other campus facilities.]

* The needs of the campus for recreational space would be very different if it grew in the graduate/professional area or in a residential undergraduate direction. Weren't decisions about academic plans necessary before we could make decisions about physical plans? Were decisions made in this area? What were they? On what basis were they made? Where were they discussed? It seemed that if plans were made in this area the faculty was not involved in the decision.

* Which groups wanted the large playing fields? [An e-mail note said that "the architecture firm heard from student groups that this was something that they considered a priority...."] If we rethought our commitment to Division I athletics, thus freeing up Swinney among other things, would that change the plan? And could some of the already existing park and recreational facilities near the university be factored into the plan?

* If students were housed in Twin Oaks dorms were there plans for getting them over Oak street without getting killed? If there was no thought given to this there surely would be a tragedy in the future.

1. An e-mail note argued that this overstates, since the campus plan was developed on the basis of a Strategic Plan and comments from focus groups. These both included faculty input. It is true that there was no faculty evaluation of the final result, but that was because the contemplated process of approval was aborted. [See discussion later.]

2. This statement led to an exchange of notes. One Senator observed that the statement about students getting pushed out of Swinney is false. "As a person who uses Swinney almost daily and in a variety of ways (basketball, squash, aerobic training,weights) I know from personal experience that normal students are virtually never displaced in order to make room for university teams. The fitness room, the swimming pool, and the squash/racquetball courts are ALWAYS available to the general student population. And as far as basketball is concerned, during the few hours that the varsity team practices, 2 other courts are available....

"A second problem... is that the uses for large playing fields DO NOT OVERLAP with the uses of Swinney. Therefore, it is fallacious to suppose that Swinney offers any sort of substitute for the proposed playing fields. (Right now, students have to travel a minimum of 2 miles to reach public playing fields, often to find that other Kansas Citians are already using them.)"

This argument was countered with the following observations: ""I, too, use Swinney, and I have talked with staff there over the last 2 years; my point is not that students are bumped from using the existing facilities, but the staff available for students is being transferred to the athletic program, offices are being reassigned to athletic staff, and some of the potentially usable space for students is being reallocated for athletic use. There is some very bitter and deep rancor among the staff of Swinney and the student athletic class faculty over this issue.""

The rejoinder:

"1. What potentially usable student space are you talking about? Are you implying that some of the office space at Swinney should be converted into more racquetball courts and exercise rooms? Most of the courts are empty all day long. And the fitness room is certainly huge enough as it is.

"2. You speak of a need for 'staff available to students.' In what sense? Most students go in, work out, shower, and leave. No staff involvement needed, other than checking IDs and handing out towels. There are people available if you have any questions about how to use a weight machine--and usually those people are sitting around chatting because they have little to do."

There were some other questions. The plan could be modified, and was in the process of being changed. The neighborhood was certainly being consulted at this point. :-) The size of the recreational areas could change. In any case the University only had the money to take small steps in the near future. [Probably the most important comment made in the e-mail discussion messages was the dismay expressed over the fact that the plan was supposed to be the first step in a longer process, and that this process had not gone forward as hoped. The speaker also made this point. Unfortunately the format of the Senate discussion did not allow for exploration of the question of why the process was aborted, and by whom.]

The Report of October 20th was approved. (This Report has not yet been officially approved.)

The clock struck 5:00 and the Senate disbanded.

Respectfully submitted,

Harris Mirkin

Faculty Secretary


UMKC Faculty Senate