UNH Faculty Senate

Summary Minutes from  10 March, 2008

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UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
2007/08 FACULTY SENATE

MARCH 10, 2008 - MINUTES SUMMARY          

I.  Roll – The following senators were absent:  Afolayan, Barcelona, Calculator, Chandler, Charpentier, Dowd, Hamlin, Park, Robertson, Walsh and White.  Excused were Barrows, Chavda, Haskins, Hinson, Lieber and Rebellon.  A guest was Kevin Linton from Student Senate.

II.  Remarks by and questions to the chair – The senate chair said that, when there is a communication of possible importance about a previous senate minutes, the senate chair in consultation with the Agenda Committee would decide whether or not the matter was of sufficient import to be brought to the senate and, if so, then the issue could be dealt with as a separate item in the new senate meeting.  The Agenda Committee agreed that, in the future, the default would be that such communication brought to the senate would be filed as an appendix to the new senate minutes in which the communication was discussed, unless the senate decides that the communication would instead be filed in the senate office.

A selection committee has been formed to recommend an interim vice provost, and Marco Dorfsman will represent the Faculty Senate on that committee.  A professor asked if the university should even have a vice provost.  Another senator said that the search committee should be able to submit a prioritized list of candidates and that the administration should make a serious attempt to hire the candidate highest-ranked by the search committee.

The Deans’ Council has been discussing the expansion of university professorship awards and a new category of presidential chair awards.  An announcement regarding these awards has been distributed to deans, and it discusses nominations for the professorships and presidential chairs for fiscal year 2009.  Should the senate participate in these nominations, during work to rule?  The awards would provide extra recognition and money for faculty who excel in their work.  Many senators said that faculty should participate in the nominations, but senators were concerned about who would decide on the nominees and how much input faculty would have.  Also, a professor suggested that merit pay is a bargainable issue and that this matter might be a back door to that, using funds which might have gone into the merit salary pool.  Other senators said that the funds may come from the UNH Foundation and that, if the senate participates in the nominations, the senate could try to influence the procedure.  The selection committee might decide on the criteria, especially if faculty are on the committee.  Funds for professorships might come with a memorandum of understanding from the donor.  Senators want to know where the money comes from, what the process is for choosing the faculty, and that the process is transparent and proper.  Faculty status is one of the areas over which faculty have primary responsibility, according to the Faculty Senate constitution.  The senate would like to participate, will provide two nominees, and will indicate that it wants to have faculty from several different areas be on the committee.

III.  Motion regarding a retiring dean –  Marco Dorfsman moved and Larry Prelli seconded the following motion: 

Dean Marilyn Hoskin of the College of Liberal Arts will be retiring from the University of New Hampshire at the end of the academic year.  Dean Hoskin came to UNH in 1995 and has been an important member of the university community for thirteen years.  She has worked effectively with multiple university constituencies, and she has served her college very well.  Through her vigorous support of the liberal arts, she now leaves behind a very strong College of Liberal Arts.  She has been deeply involved in fulfilling the university mission; and she has earned the utmost respect of her colleagues, who will also remember her wry humor.  The Faculty Senate would like to thank her for her years of service, congratulate her on her achievements, and wish her the best on her pursuits beyond retirement.

The motion passed unanimously.

IV.  MinutesProfessor Berndtson suggested a clarification of his statement toward the end of item IV in the 1/28/08 senate minutes, to read as follows:

Question #3 contained in the charge to Presidential Blue Ribbon Panel on Research asked “how do we ensure that research activities are integrally connected and supportive of the broader academic mission?”  After some discussion of potential circumstances that could limit integration, one senator stated that tenure track faculty members have responsibilities for teaching, research and outreach.  Those faculty have the opportunity and are likely to integrate these activities.  In contrast, research faculty and contract faculty may have responsibilities in only one of those areas.  The senator wondered if the more narrowly-defined responsibilities of such groups of individuals might be one factor contributing to limited integration of research into the university’s broader mission.

This change to the 1/28/08 senate minutes passed unanimously.  

Professor Greenberg suggested that the second sentence in the last paragraph of item V in the 2/25/08 senate minutes be changed to:  “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.”  This change to the 2/25/08 senate minutes passed with two abstentions.

V.  Motion to retableDavid Richman moved and Mimi Becker seconded that the motion from the 2/11/08 senate meeting, which was tabled until this meeting, be tabled today until the next senate meeting.  The rationale for retabling until the next meeting is because that motion should be discussed after another motion on shared governance is discussed at today’s meeting.  The motion to retable passed unanimously.

VI.  Motion on mediation – Marco Dorfsman moved and Mimi Becker seconded a motion as follows:

The Faculty Senate’s business is shared governance and the academic mission of the university.  It is not the senate’s business to get involved in matters relating to collective bargaining.  The senate is aware that the former is made very difficult by the impasse declared in the latter.  The senate would like to urge both sides, the administration and the AAUP negotiating teams, to approach the upcoming mediation session on March 13 with an open mind and flexibility in order to achieve a fair and just resolution to the current impasse.

After extensive discussion of the pros and cons of such a motion and its purpose and the purview of the senate, the mover and seconder accepted a friendly amendment to delete the last sentence of the motion.  The question was called, and the amended motion failed with twelve ayes, nineteen nays, and two abstentions.

VII.  Shared governance document in preparation for the president’s visit to the senate – The senate chair said that the document presented and discussed in item VI of the 2/25/08 senate minutes has been revised and sent to the senators as follows:

The Faculty Senate maintains its statutory obligation to ensure that the administration and the faculty observe the principles and practices of shared governance on all of those areas over which faculty must exercise primary responsibility.  Shared governance depends upon continual consultation, conducted in a spirit of mutual trust and good will.  To inform is not to consult.  Consultation requires two-way communication. Communication involves informing, listening, hearing and being responsive to issues as they arise.  Administrators at all levels are bound by the principles of shared governance to consult affected faculty on all academic matters before reaching decisions and formulating and implementing policy.  Decisions are taken adversely to the reasoned view of faculty only in exceptional circumstances and for reasons clearly articulated to faculty.

The Faculty Senate may 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 difficult.  Any new policy or decision on matters over which the faculty must exercise primary responsibility will lack legitimacy until the policy has been approved by faculty--in most cases, by the Faculty Senate.  The Faculty Senate will continue to ensure that the previously agreed-upon policies on academic matters are followed.

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 restructuring of the finances of study abroad programs, field trip guidelines, the College of Liberal Arts dean's search, the development of virtual schools, the policy on institutes, the management of the Forestry Program, and earlier stages of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture reorganization.  In such cases, administrators withdrew from shared governance by failing to consult the affected faculty before making their decisions.  The Faculty Senate's most important function is 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.  (In some cases, there were practical reasons not to do so.)   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.  Examples of shared governance that worked properly include the discussion of American Sign Language, some aspects of the development of the Discovery Program, the composition of the Vice President for Research Search Committee and the Research Strategic Plan Steering Committee, which were folded into the Blue Ribbon Panel on Research, and the most recent presidential search.

A senator asked for the background for the last sentence in the first paragraph.  That sentence comes from the senate’s constitution and also the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities (jointly formulated by the American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Education, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges).  A suggestion was made to change the sentence to:  “Decisions should be made adversely to the reasoned view of faculty only in exceptional circumstances and for reasons clearly articulated to faculty.”  Another professor suggested changing the document’s first sentence to begin that “The Faculty Senate reaffirms its constitutional obligation….” and changing the last sentence in the third paragraph to end by saying “function is to participate in and safeguard shared governance.”  A senator said that the purpose of this document is to provide background for an affirming statement that the president might be able to sign on shared governance.

A senator said that, if no agreement could be worked out on shared governance matters, charges might be sent to senate committees to confirm, in preparation for a possible motion of no confidence, whether there have been clear violations of shared governance.  A professor asked what the background is to justify all the items listed in the third paragraph.  An Agenda Committee member said that those items are ones on which the senate has been working during recent years.  References to senate minutes and other documents will be prepared for those items.  A senator suggested that the Faculty Senate should prepare annually and publicize a report on the state of the academe.  He added that faculty morale has suffered enormously as a result of the impasse in contract negotiations and that this affects the academic mission of the university, but he asked how do people outside of the university know that?

A professor said that there are no algorithms for shared governance.  It is not formulaic.  Another professor suggested deleting the last two paragraphs in the document; but a senator said that shared governance is a consultative process, that the third paragraph gives some examples of failed process, and that we need to address those issues.  The fourth paragraph also gives examples of areas where shared governance has worked well.  The document is a working paper and a departure point for discussion.  The document can be useful as background for the president before his visit to the senate.  The senate unanimously approved that the Agenda Committee should revise the document and give it to the president as a draft, so that he will know what the senate has been discussing.

VIII.  Student concerns – Kevin Linton, who is the chair of the Academic Affairs Council of the Student Senate, said that, at a previous Faculty Senate meeting, faculty senators had suggested that students could give a presentation with equal fervor to both the AAUP and the administration, to urge them to agree on a contract, and that he will do so next week.  He added that Student Senate will be working on issues including the Discovery Program, space allocation in the Chemical Engineering Department, charter van service, and work to rule.                   

IXAdjournment – Today’s meeting was adjourned.

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