UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from  30 October, 2006





I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Afolayan, Burger, Drake, Prelli, Sharkey and Walsh.  Excused were Niser, Robertson and Tenczar.  Guests were Joanne Curran-Celentano, Katherine Steere, and Patrick Cambiasso-Helfer.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair reconfirmed that student government will invite faculty senators to join student senators for a potluck dinner on November 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building. 

III.  Minutes – The senate unanimously approved the minutes of the last Faculty Senate meeting.

IV.  Motion one on senate and administration actions during work to rule – The senate chair presented this first motion on behalf of the Agenda Committee.  He said that the Agenda Committee voted unanimously that the Faculty Senate should meet on October 30 to discuss work to rule and that the Agenda Committee at that time and with prior notice to the senators should present to the Faculty Senate the following motion.

The Faculty Senate adheres to those principles of shared governance agreed upon by the Faculty Senate and the UNH administration and delineated in the motion passed by the Faculty Senate on December 12, 2005.  That motion said in part that:

“The Faculty Senate is the legislative body that reviews and develops policy concerned with the academic mission of the university.  On behalf of the faculty of the University of New Hampshire, the Faculty Senate reaffirms that the central activities of the university are and must be teaching, learning, research, artistry, and outreach. …

The Faculty Senate reaffirms as well its commitment to the principle that the faculty has primary responsibility for curriculum, subject matter, methods of instruction, research, artistry, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.  On these matters, the power of review or final decision lodged in the governing board, or delegated by it to the president, or delegated by the president to other administrative officers should be exercised adversely to the reasoned view of the faculty only in exceptional circumstances and for reasons communicated to the faculty.

We commend the statements… the UNH president has made regarding the importance of giving the faculty its central voice in matters pertaining to teaching, learning, research, artistry, and outreach, the setting of academic goals and priorities, the allocation of resources, and the recruitment of administrative officers.  We expect the principles enunciated by the president to be followed by administrative officers at all levels so as to give the faculty its central voice in these matters….”

The Faculty Senate will take no decisions and no actions during this period of work to rule, and the Faculty Senate expects the university administration to take no decisions and no actions on all those areas over which the faculty has primary or co-equal responsibility.  Should such actions be taken, the Faculty Senate will be prepared to take appropriate action including but not limited to motions of censure and no confidence. 

The senate chair said that, during discussion on motion one, statements will be limited to two minutes and that all senators who wish to speak for the first time will be permitted to do so before any senator speaks again on the same issue.  Because the motion was presented on behalf of a committee, no second is needed and no friendly amendments will be accepted.  Motion one says that the senate will not vote but does not address the issue of whether or not the senate should meet.  Some senators thought that the motion is too vague and asked who would decide whether the administration had taken actions on areas over which the faculty has primary or co-equal responsibility.  A professor said that the purpose of the Faculty Senate is separate from serving as a voice of the administration.  The Faculty Senate has its own voice and its own issues, and work to rule means that faculty should continue to do that work for which they are directly responsible but not work that will support the work of the administration.  Another senator said that the senate should continue to act as a watchdog to make sure that policies previously approved by the faculty are followed.

Although the call to work to rule is not binding on faculty, the call by the UNH chapter of the AAUP urges faculty to participate in work to rule, in order to present a united front in quest of a better contract.  The central mission of the university is education, and faculty have a choice of whether or not to perform governance tasks in the interest of the greater good.  A senator replied that, even though the senators may choose not to vote, it is very important for the Faculty Senate to meet and discuss issues, in order to maintain the central voice of the faculty.  Another senator said that the senate should pass motion one now and could deal later with the issue of whether or not to meet.  She added that the senate needs to reaffirm its right to make the decisions on academic matters and that motion one is a reasonable way to show support for work to rule.

In 1999 and 2000 during the previous period of work to rule, the senate did not vote on any motions but continued to meet and discuss issues of importance to faculty.  However, is it useful to discuss without passing motions?  A senator replied that motion one is functional and should be passed and also that the senate should continue to meet as a watchdog group.  A faculty union member spoke in favor of the motion and added that it would also be helpful in dealing with the press.  The motion passed with thirty-two ayes, four nays, and four abstentions.

V.  Motion two on representatives to ceremonial occasions – The senate chair presented the second motion on behalf of the Agenda Committee.  He said that the Agenda Committee voted unanimously that the Faculty Senate should meet on October 30 to discuss work to rule and that the Agenda Committee at that time and with prior notice to the senators should present to the Faculty Senate the following motion:  “During work to rule, the Faculty Senate should send no representatives to ceremonial occasions, except those occasions that directly affect the university’s students.”  The senate chair said that he plans to attend the potluck supper put on by student senators, because that event directly affects students.  However, he would not accept an invitation from the university speakers’ bureau for an outside speaking engagement, under work to rule.  The faculty excellence awards dinner is coming up soon, and there is usually a request for faculty participation in the UNH legislative days as well.  The previous senate chair stated that there were a great many ceremonial occasions he was asked to attend and that this motion would be a directive to the leadership of the Faculty Senate not to provide representation for ceremonial occasions except those directly affecting students.  Motion two is not related to motion one, and motion one was not intended to prevent the senate from making decisions about its own rules.  Passing motion two would be another indication to the administration that the senate is withdrawing its support of the administration during work to rule.  A senator said that motion two gives direction in one area but that her colleagues would like further direction from the senate on other areas as well.  Motion two passed with thirty-one ayes, six nays and one abstention.

VI.  Motion three on senate meetings – David Feldman moved and Mark Wrighton seconded a motion which, after discussion, stated that “the Faculty Senate asserts its will that university policy under the purview of faculty should be frozen during work to rule and that the full Faculty Senate should cease to meet regularly and that the senate charges the Agenda Committee to call Faculty Senate meetings as the Agenda Committee sees fit.  However, votes by the senate should be conducted by email whenever possible.”  Other senators replied that the senate should meet regularly and its committees also, in order to maintain the voice of the faculty.  The Faculty Senate has its own issues separate from those of the administration.  A committee chair said that senators should look at each senate committee charge and decide in the context of work to rule whether that charge should be processed or tabled.  Oversight on certain matters is very important.  Faculty should oversee and discuss certain charges and not others.  A senator said that the vision seminars this summer brought forth certain issues that faculty want to get done.  We should surge ahead on those.  Another professor added that the senate should also meet to discuss what is going on in the university and communicate with the departments.

If motion three were passed, the Agenda Committee would continue to meet.  Motion three only refers to regular Faculty Senate meetings and not to senate committee meetings.  A senator proposed a friendly amendment, which was accepted, to delete from the motion the sentence referring to email votes, because senators should meet and discuss before voting.  Other senators said that they oppose motion three, because the Faculty Senate has a responsibility to do its own business and should not abdicate that responsibility.  The senate should review and discuss matters but not pass motions on university-wide policy.  However, a professor said that faculty need a clear statement in order not to lead to a demoralizing situation and so she is for the motion.  The revised motion, without the last sentence, failed to pass, with eighteen ayes, nineteen nays and three abstentions.

VII.  Adjournment – Today’s meeting was adjourned.                                                                                                                          _______________________________________________________________________________________________

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