Daryl Kelley, UNK Faculty Senate President
This report is part of the Executive Committee’s initiative to improve communication across campus. Herein I will summarize what the Faculty Senate has accomplished during the fall semester and what we hope to complete yet this academic year. In May I will submit a report that includes what was accomplished this coming spring and the goals that the Executive Committee establishes for next year.
Leadership—The Executive Committee
Daryl Kelley, Sociology, President
Rick Miller, Psychology, President-elect
William Wozniak, Psychology, Past President
John Damon, English, Secretary
Deborah Bridges, Economics, Senate Representative
Bob Young, Accounting and Finance, Parliamentarian
Glen Powell, Teacher Education, had originally been elected President-elect but he resigned his position and Senate seat when he accepted an administrative post.
Fall Activities and Accomplishments
The primary concern in the fall was handling the third round of budget cuts. Because we had already trimmed the budget twice, the third cut entailed difficult choices. The campuses had been directed by the Board of Regents to make permanent vertical, namely programmatic, cuts. The Faculty Senate hosted two fora where the Chancellor and VCAA gathered reaction to their proposed budget reductions. The Executive Committee summarized the dialogue from the fora and disseminated the information to the Senators. A special meeting of the Faculty Senate was held to discuss the proposed cuts. The Senate requested that the German position be maintained and the cut to the library’s budget be restored. In his final deliberations the Chancellor decided to rescind the faculty position cut and reduced the cut to the library.
On November 1, we hosted a faculty club, and led a discussion on academic organization. Ann Young reviewed the organizational changes that had taken place at KSC in the past. Bill Wozniak and Chuck Peek shared possibilities for reorganization which generated a lively discussion.
Throughout the semester the Executive Committee received updates on the search for a permanent Sr. VCAA. The Executive Committee decided that the full Senate should have input into who should represent the faculty on the search committee. A straw vote was taken at the December Senate meeting to guide the Executive Committee in creating a slate of faculty representatives for consideration by the Chancellor. The Executive Committee was satisfied with the final selections made by the Chancellor.
Some Ongoing Issues
- Strategic Planning. Former Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Jim Roark chaired a large Strategic Planning Committee that had a broad based constituency. The committee is not currently active. Some senators and administrators perceived that the committee is probably too large for efficient long term planning and there is a need to redesign the committee. The Senate made a proposal that would ensure faculty have a primary role in strategic planning. In the coming semester we will continue to work with administration in devising a shared planning mechanism that will ensure faculty have a strong voice in future planning.
- Workload. Last summer Sr. VCAA Roark asked William Wozniak, Dale Zikmund, and Roger Davis to review and comment on the existing workload documents. The committee collated the documents they could find and provided a history of the documents. The document was referred to the Welfare Committee for further study and will return to the Senate this spring. Our hope is to clarify many of the misunderstandings attached to the workload.
- Y1@UNK. Y1@UNK is UNK’s version of a first year program that provides incoming students with academic orientation. The Senate has had a long standing commitment to creating an academic orientation program to enable our students to succeed at UNK. A Faculty Senate ad-hoc committee was established to recommend a structure for orienting incoming students. Under the leadership of Stan Dart and Kate Benzel the committee has moved forward in initiating a pilot program. This spring the Senate will review the progress that has been made by the First Year Experience Committee.
- Chancellor’s RIF Advisory Committee. The union contract specifies that a Reduction in Force Advisory Committee to the Chancellor will be created if there is a need for a reduction in force. The Faculty Senate Executive Committee in cooperation with the UNKEA Executive Committee plans to provide the Chancellor with a list of nominees early this semester so that we will be prepared to form a committee if needed. The Executive Committee will seek nominations and guidance from the full Senate in creating a slate of nominees to the committee.
- Minus Grades. The UNO Senate has questioned the usefulness of minus grades. The Faculty Senate Student Affairs Committee was instructed to review the practice and make a recommendation to the Senate.
- Student Code of Conduct. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Denise Schlake created a committee to update the student code of conduct. The Faculty Senate Student Life Committee is currently reviewing the edited version and the full Senate should receive a recommendation early this semester.
- Alcorn State Exchange Program. Last summer administration contacted the Faculty Senate Executive Committee to see if there is any interest in an faculty exchange program with Alcorn State, a small predominately African American university in rural Mississippi. Several questions were raised by the committee and the project appeared to have been dropped.
In the fall Bryan Samuel became a Presidential Equity in Opportunity Administrative Fellow and the exchange program became one of his assignments. Mr. Samuel met with some members of the Executive Committee and later arranged for a visit between President and President-elect with representatives from Alcorn. We discussed the general purpose of the exchange program. If the exchange program is pursued it will be strictly voluntary and the arrangements will have been provided in detail.
Reflection and Shared Governance
With change in top administration and the short time line to make significant budget cuts, the Senate was faced with many challenges this past fall. However, budget cuts have not deterred the Senate or its committees from making progress in keeping UNK the premier teaching institution in Nebraska.
The Senate is the representative body of the collective faculty. A strong Senate requires an active faculty. The Faculty Senate meetings are open to anyone who cares to attend and time is reserved for faculty comments. Please feel free to contact the members of the executive committee with concerns. You can also keep your Senators informed of your views.