UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from  25 February, 2008

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2007/08 FACULTY SENATE

FEBRUARY 25, 2008 - MINUTES SUMMARY        

   

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Barcelona, Calculator, Dowd, Hamlin, Huang, Lane, and Park.  Excused were Afolayan, Givan, Graham, Haskins, Howey, Robertson, Sample and Slomba.  A guest was Kevin Linton from Student Senate.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair announced that Alan Ray has been named president of Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, and will take office on July 1.  The senate expressed its congratulations to Dr. Ray.  Vice President Canon’s meeting on field trip guidelines was postponed to March 28.  Vice Provost Ray and the senate chair are exchanging emails on the subject of transportation to field sites for students with disabilities.  The Agenda Committee has again invited President Huddleston to come to a senate meeting to discuss shared governance.

President Huddleston recently gave a report to the USNH Board of Trustees, including the following information.  Peggy Sullivan has been named interim president of the UNH Foundation.  Roy Torbert, who is the director of the UNH Space Science Center, has been named interim director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space.  The search for a dean of Liberal Arts is proceeding well, and finalist interviews on campus are expected in late March.  The university’s fiscal year 2008 budget is on track, with undergraduate net tuition slightly ahead of budget and graduate tuition slightly less than budgeted.  Further information on the budget may be found on the website of the Central Budget Committee.  Salary expenses are expected to exceed budget due to the Separation Incentive Plan offered to 215 staff.  The plan is expected to pay out approximately four million dollars in FY 2008, with a one-year payback and long-term savings from twenty percent of these positions.  Total giving to UNH for the first half of FY 2008 was seven million dollars, which is up from $4.7 million in the first half of FY 2007.  Preliminary figures place spring student enrollment above target at approximately 11,235.  For the first half of the 2007/08 academic year, both student conduct cases and arrests are down significantly.  Mediation in the faculty contract negotiations is scheduled for February 25, with additional dates planned in March as needed.  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and also the United Auto Workers are engaged in efforts to interest staff in forming a union at UNH.  The university has introduced an emergency text alert system called Roam Secure.  The system, capable of sending out 18,000 text messages within seconds, will add to the tools available to inform the UNH community in an emergency.  All faculty, staff, students, parents and friends of UNH will be invited to register voluntarily on the system, and more than 3,000 community members have subscribed.  Please register at https://alert.unh.edu.

III.  Minutes – The senate chair recently received an email from the provost saying that he thought a number of the comments expressed in the last senate meeting and reported in the minutes were erroneous.  The senate chair suggested that one sentence from the provost could be added to the chair’s comments and that the provost’s other concerns might be appended at the end of the minutes.  David Richman moved and Barbara White seconded approval of the 2/11/08 Faculty Senate minutes with one sentence added to the middle of the second sentence of item II.  The additional sentence is as follows:  “Automobile insurance policies for the personal vehicle are the primary and only policies covering for injuries to the employee and others, as well as damage to their vehicles or other vehicles.”  Then a professor asked that the last sentence in the second paragraph of the chair’s remarks be deleted, and the senate chair agreed.  The professor also suggested that the second and third sentences in item III of the 2/11 senate minutes, regarding the 1/28/08 senate minutes be changed to:  “However, the university has promoted research and institutes and may increasingly rely on contract faculty to teach courses.  These former groups of individuals typically have responsibilities in only one of those three areas.”  Then the original speaker defended his wording and concerns.  A motion to approve the minutes with one sentence added from the provost and with one sentence deleted as described above was approved unanimously, with the proviso that the Agenda Committee and the two senators will prepare a proposal to the senate on item III for approval at the next senate meeting.

IV.  Communications about the minutes – David Richman then moved and Jeff Salloway seconded that the provost’s letter be added as an appendix at the end of the 2/11/08 senate minutes.  However, professors expressed concern about the precedent which this would set.  A senator said that, since some of the facts of the matter may not be entirely agreed upon, such an appendix might not be appropriate.  A senator suggested that the discussion in today’s senate minutes might cover the matter sufficiently.  Senators said that each set of minutes is intended to be an accurate reporting of the discourse which actually occurred at that meeting and that the integrity of the minutes must be safeguarded.  After the senators discussed the pros and cons, the mover and seconder of the motion withdrew it.  The senate voted with twenty-two ayes, five nays and three abstentions that the senate’s discussion of this matter will be in a “communications” section.  The provost’s email will be kept on file in the senate office.  The provost’s email has already been sent to all the senators.

V.  Student concerns about a summer school boycott – Kevin Linton, who is the chair of the Academic Affairs Council of the Student Senate, said that the UNH Student Senate has passed a motion as follows:  “Be it resolved by the Student Senate of the University of New Hampshire to strongly encourage the UNH chapter of the AAUP not to boycott 2008 Summer Session and be it further resolved to implore both the administration and the faculty to keep not only the status of the Summer Session but also the best interests of the students in mind during the upcoming contract negotiations.”  The Faculty Senate chair pointed out that the boycott proposal comes from the AAUP and not the Faculty Senate.  Kevin Linton said that he understands that not everyone in Faculty Senate is a member of the AAUP but that the Faculty Senate is an important forum for the student request.  He added that the student motion is directed at the summer session issue.  He said that the students are not taking a side in the contract negotiations but only responding to how students are affected by work to rule and the proposed summer session boycott.  Students also hope that faculty will post their book lists two weeks before the start of each semester, so that students will have more options of where to purchase their textbooks.  He said that students are neutral and might be willing to look into the dispute about laboratory and office space for the Chemical Engineering Department.  Students want the contract negotiations and work to rule to be resolved.

Professors responded that the students should also present to the administration the students’ important concerns about the resolution of these matters, since the administration could resolve the contract dispute.  Faculty senators thanked the student for coming to express his views, and one professor said that the delay in the implementation of the Discovery Program, which was introduced for faculty adoption in the spring of 2001, is significantly due to concerns about the financial support of the program.  Summer school affects the ability of some students to finish their degrees on time, and students should pursue their self interest.  However, item nine of the Faculty Senate constitution states that collective bargaining issues may be discussed, but no official action may be taken.  A professor said that the boycott is an AAUP issue and thus is not the domain of the Faculty Senate.  Although he appreciates the student concerns, another professor said that the proposed boycott is a labor action, that there are very few ways that the union can bring pressure to conclude the negotiations, that any action is likely to affect students, and that faculty are eager for a conclusion to the contract negotiations.  A professor suggested that students should give a presentation with equal fervor to both the AAUP and the administration, to urge them to agree on a contract.

VI.  Bill of particulars on shared governanceThe senate chair said that the Agenda Committee drafted a document listing recent situations where shared governance has and has not worked well and that the Agenda Committee has invited the university president to speak with the senate on shared governance matters.  The proposed document is as follows:

Shared Governance Particulars

The Faculty Senate has not withdrawn from shared governance.  The senate will continue to insure that the administration observes the principles and practices of shared governance on all of those areas over which faculty must exercise primary responsibility. The Faculty Senate will not be able to act as promptly as the administration might like on new policy during a time when mutual trust and the spirit of collaboration have become so difficult.  Not all faculty would participate in considering new policies during work-to-rule, and it is not possible to have a full vetting of new policies during this time; but faculty will continue to see that the previously agreed-upon policies on academic matters are followed.

Shared governance, in part, consists of consulting the affected faculty before a decision on an academic matter is reached and deciding adversely to the reasoned view of the faculty only in exceptional circumstances and for reasons communicated to the faculty.  Over the past few years, the administration has attempted to institute new policy in a number of areas without appropriate shared governance.  The areas where shared governance was lacking include the policy on institutes, the management of the Forestry Program, earlier stages of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture reorganization, restructuring of the finances of study abroad programs, field trip guidelines, College of Liberal Arts dean’s search, the development of virtual schools, etc.  It was the administration that withdrew from shared governance by failing to consult the affected faculty before making the decisions.  The faculty will continue to safeguard shared governance. 

Frequently in the issues listed above, faculty have pointed out the violation of shared governance, and the administration has promised to discuss the matter further; but the administration has not reverted to the originally agreed-upon policy during the interim (on occasion for good reason, however).  These discussions may last a long time. Sometimes, steps have been taken to rectify a lack of shared governance, such as when the administration changed the co-chair of the search committee for the Liberal Arts dean to include a senior faculty member.  Positive examples of good shared-governance were the discussion of American Sign Language, some aspects of the development of the Discovery Program, the composition of the Vice President for Research Search and the Research Strategic Plan Steering Committees, which were folded into the Blue Ribbon Panel on Research, and the most recent presidential search.   

A senator suggested deleting the last sentence in the document’s first paragraph, because there might be some new policy on which faculty would like to take a stance.  A professor expressed disapproval of the entire first paragraph as not reflective of the senate’s words or actions.  Another senator defended the paragraph, saying that new policy could not have the full review that it needs during the current upheaval over contract negotiations and that the paragraph is just a statement of how difficult normal relations are in the current unusual circumstances.  A senator pointed out that some of the administration’s violations of shared governance listed in this document occurred prior to the beginning of work to rule.  As a former senate chair, he said that he has frequently explained to the administration the requirements of shared governance:  that faculty have the primary responsibility on academic matters and that, before making any decision on new policy, the administration should consult with the affected faculty and decide contrary to the faculty recommendation only in exceptional circumstances clearly stated to the faculty.

One senator suggested deleting just the first sentence.  Since some senators wanted to put the first paragraph of the document at the end, some wanted to delete that paragraph, and some wanted to keep it, the Agenda Committee will reconsider the document and bring the matter back to the senate at a later time.  A senator said that the Faculty Senate sets its own agenda, which may not coincide with the priorities of others.  A professor said that the middle paragraph of the document is the most important, as it contains the examples of where shared governance has not worked well and needs revisiting.                              

VII.  Adjournment – Today’s meeting was adjourned.

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