SENATE From the Senate Office
The following statement is published in accordance with the Senate Rules. Among other purposes, the publication of SEC actions is intended to stimulate discussion among the constituencies and their representatives. Please communicate your comments to Senate Chair Vivian Seltzer or Executive Assistant Carolyn Burdon, Box 12 College Hall/6303, 898-6943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee
Wednesday, April 1, 1998
1. Items from the Chair's Report.
a. The chair drew attention to the Cost Containment Report of the Senate Committee on Administration (Almanac March 24, 1998).
b. There will be a special SEC meeting on April 15 to discuss reports of the Committee on Students and Educational Policy and the Committee on the Faculty. Also, a special meeting will be held April 21 to discuss the report of the Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty.
c. Appreciation was extended to Professor Howard Lesnick and the University Council Ad Hoc Committee on Consultation for their excellent report in record time (to be published in a future Almanac).
2. Report of the Past Chair on Academic Planning and Budget Committee and Capital Council. Past Senate Chair Peter Kuriloff reported that the Academic Planning and Budget Committee examined issues around radiation and environmental health and insuring safety in each school. The committee also reviewed a report on the University Press and continued discussion on cost centers.
Capital Council held no meetings since the last SEC meeting.
3. Further Discussion on report by the Senate Committee on Administration on Cost Containment (Almanac March 24, 1998). Committee chair Professor Louis Girifalco noted differences between the Faculty Senate report and administration response to the committee report: Among other matters, he emphasized that the Senate report was an 18-year analysis. Furthermore, it did not deal with faculty salaries. (See From the Senate Chair, page 2 of this issue.)
A SEC member said the report contained three important items: (a) faculty bring in three times their own salary; (b) faculty compensation as a percent of the total University budget is down to 17%, whereas the non-academic percent of the budget is much greater; and (c) administrative/clerical salaries far exceed educational refinement efforts. Professor Girifalco noted those were the reasons the study was undertaken, and that the broad statements of the report need closer examination.
4. Report by the Subcommittee on Faculty Course Evaluations of the Senate Committee on Administration. Subcommittee Chair Professor Jerry Wind said the subcommitee set out to evaluate the current course/faculty evaluation process, define the parameters for an ideal system, and develop specific action recommendations (report to be published). The subcommittee reported faculty see the importance of these evaluations but change was needed, requiring time and effort. A SEC member noted that evaluations began with student-generated course evaluations that subsequently became included in the administration's faculty performance evaluations. The committee chair emphasized that there are three different audiences for the evaluation instrument: students, reappointment and promotion committees, and the instructor. The SEC member recommended the subcommittee make an explicit recommendation to develop delayed student course evaluations and that a University-wide system be created to feed upwards to the Provost's Staff Conference. Other comments included: the need for a flexible system to adapt to the varied schools and departments; a suggestion to add reference to grade inflation as students give favorable evaluations to teachers who give high grades; the importance of identifying poor teachers and resolving that; and the need to recognize and take seriously the importance of the relationship between outstanding teachers and promotion and tenure. It was accepted unanimously, subject to suggestions by SEC. A motion was made to accept the report.
5. Discussion led by Chair, Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty. Committee Chair Professor Erling Boe asked SEC to discuss a committee proposal that SEC approve a motion calling for public release of more salary information according to school. There was brief discussion on the many sides of open salary information, such as in the California systems. The Senate Chair clarified that the Economic Status Committee is not seeking disclosure of individual faculty salary. A SEC member said such a move can be problematic in an open salary environment, while another SEC member said there is value to openness regardless of the consequences-it will be fair and make things fair. A motion was moved, seconded and adopted with one abstention and will be integrated into the Economic Status Committee's final report to SEC on April 21.
6. Informal discussion with Interim Provost. Interim Provost Michael Wachter addressed questions raised by the Chair. The first matter concerned the implications of the Medical School's recent request for a handbook change regarding the title of Professor. Provost Wachter said much has been done over the years in the Medical School to create a plan for the necessary expansion. A SEC member from the Medical School explained that a significant portion of teaching apprenticeship is done by non-standing faculty which then offers some relief for standing faculty who have clinical responsibilities.
Regarding a point in the Senate's Cost Containment Report that health services are more than one-half of the University budget, Provost Wachter noted there are a number of questions that need to be considered. The administration is working with Dean Kelley on how he plans to address them. He pointed out that the Medical School is the largest contributor to the subvention pool, benefitting less financially strong schools, such as SAS and Fine Arts. A question was asked regarding volatile health costs and whether the University is protected should the $100 million plus become a $100 million minus. The Provost replied that the information he has been given is that the University is not at risk. After a short discussion concerning the current integrity of the faculty, the chair thanked Interim Provost Wachter for his visit.
The discussion with Professor Boe continued for a brief period until
Almanac, Vol. 44, No. 28, April 7, 1998