Meeting, February 8, 2007

Meeting, February 8, 2007
Gallagher Business Building, Room 123

Approved 3/8/07

Members Present:

L. Ametsbichler, C. Anderson, T. Atkins, L. Barnes, D. Beck,  R. Bendick Kier, N. Bradley-Browning, F. Cardozo-Palaez, B. Cochran, J. Crepeau, A. Delaney, B. Douma, J. Eglin, L. Frey, J. Gannon, F. Glass, J. Glendening, S. Gordon, L. Hayes, K. Hill, M. Kupilik, B. Larson, G. Larson, S. Li, J. Lopach, J. Luckowski, S. McCann, J. McNulty, M. Monsos, N. Nickerson, M. Neilson, D. Potts, L. Putnam, B. Reider, Y. Reimer, T. Seekins, D. Shively, P. Silverman, R. Skelton, G. Smith, F. Snyder, J. Sommers-Flanagan,  S. Stiff, R. Stubblefield,  D. Swibold, A. Szalda-Petree, H. Thompson, M. Tonon, E. Uchimoto, K. Unger, A. Ware

Ex-Officio Present:

President Dennison, Vice President Duringer, Associate Provosts Staub and Walker-Andrews, Dean Alexander, Registrar Micus, ASUM President Helling

Members Excused:



Members Absent:

B. Allan,  K. Canty, M. DeGrandpre, P. Dietrich, W. Freimund, C. Hand, L. Knott, S. Justman, D. McCrea, C. Nichols, A. Sondag, D. Stolle, N. Tuleja, N. Uhlenbruck 

C. Lawrence


Emeritus Professor Russ Madora


Chair Ametsbichler called the meeting to order at 3:10 p.m.
Registrar Micus called roll. 

President Dennison

The President provided an update on the legislative session.  The hearing on the joint budget committee went well.  There were only two changes to the Governor's recommended budget for higher education. The tribal schools' budget for non-beneficiary students was reduced by $40-50,000.  The other change was to the equipment and program development pools that are available to campuses on a competitive basis. These were reduced to 3.5 million with a dollar-to-dollar match on .5 million and 1.25 million with a dollar-to- dollar match on .25 million.  So now there is a 7 million-dollar pool with the matching money.   The match won't be difficult with regard to equipment, but is problematic for program development.  This will likely change when it goes to the Senate.  Everything else was approved by unanimous vote and will go to the House Appropriations Committee approximately mid-March.

There is speculation that the appropriations bill, HB 2 would be disaggregated into 8 segments to be considered as separate pieces of legislation in the house.  This would allow for more voter discretion.

The long-range building proposals made it through committee still intact.   Funding for the Law School and differed maintenance is included in these proposals.

The President will testify at the hearing for HB 525 which looks very much like Horowitz' Academic Bill of Rights. 

Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, and Roger Bowen, general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, will be debating Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy next Wednesday, 2/14/07, at 8 pm in the University Center Theatre.

HB 13 carries the pay plan.  The Governor has negotiated a 3.6% increase for all state government employees.  A similar arrangement would likely be applied to the state contribution for public higher education with twenty percent reserved for merit, promotion, etc.   The Regents still have to negotiate so the university pay plan remains open.

HB 95 is designed to address some of the disparity between the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) and the defined contribution retirement plan (TRS) is being watched very closely.  Around1993, membership in the ORP was mandatory. The total contribution to TRS is 14.62% per employee and 12.0% for ORP. 

Senator Jacobs requested clarification regarding HB 525.

President Dennison responded that the Bill would require a new set of reporting requirements.  Faculty would have to be identified on the basis of their political affiliation.

Senator Thompson asked where the matching funds would come from with regard to the equipment and program development pools.

The President responded that anyone who submits a proposal would have to identify where the matching funds would come from.  With regard to equipment there could be a discount from the vendor. 

ASUM President Helling was scheduled at this time but was detained at another meeting and addressed the Senate after the chair's report. 

UFA President Kupilik
The legislature heard HB 95 this morning.  He testified in favor, as did other professors from MSU and Great Falls, Erik Burke from the MEA-MFT, and a student lobbyist.  Allen Olsen, a republican representative from Roundup carried the bill.  No one testified against the bill, but the Commissioner's Office notified the committee that it neither supported nor opposed the bill, but it wasn't a priority this year.   He spoke to the three republicans on the committee and they were in support of the bill, so there is a good chance the bill will pass this year.

In January, the InterUnit Benefits committee met to evaluate the RFPs for a third party administrator.  The procedure was very transparent.  All the meetings were open to the public and the scoring was quantitative.  Points were given to each section of the 30- page proposal and there was an algorithm.  The discount portion of each company was analyzed by Mercer.  Allegiance scored the highest; therefore the committee recommended that the Commissioner's Office enter into negotiations with the company. The health care plan will be different.  Nothing will change for employees on HMO's.  Employees on the individual or family plan who choose the steerage program out-of-pocket costs shouldn't change.  Employees on the indemnity program that elect to remain will see costs increase. 

The executive board of the University Faculty Association voted to oppose HB 525 and put their name on a petition going to the house education committee, along with many others, including the Commissioner's Office.


Chair's Report
Chair Ametsbichler informed the Senate of ECOS' meeting with Associate Provost Staub and Bill Muse, Director of Budget, Planning and Analysis regarding the operating plan data required of academic departments. The plans are a work in progress and are designed so that the budget process is transparent and rational.

There is one finalist for the Provost position.  Dr. Pratt and his wife are invited back to campus to determine whether he will be a good fit for UM and whether UM will be a good fit for him.

There will be a panel discussion this evening with representatives from the campus's various governance bodies and the President regarding his proposed Code of Ethics.  Faculty are encouraged to attend and participate.

The senate preliminary ballot will be sent around 2/20 and the ballot around 3/1.  Please consider running if your term expires this year and encourage your colleagues to participate.

The Montana University System Faculty Association Representatives (MUSFAR) would like the faculty governance organizations of the campuses to make a consolidated statement opposed to HB 525.   ECOS didn't have time to take action on the item, but MSU has passed a resolution opposing the bill.  Chair Ametsbichler believes the bill would limit faculty's freedom of speech and require costly monitoring of faculty.

Senator Kupilik moved that the Faculty Senate oppose HB 525.The hearing will be held on 2/16 and a consolidated stand from MUS is desired.

Senator Frey objected that this would require a suspension of the rules and senators have not had adequate time to review the bill.

President Dennison indicated that most of the language is what currently exists.  There is only a small change that would require reporting of faculty members' political affiliation.

Senator Mayer asked how the bill proposes to determine faculty members' political affiliation when Montana doesn't have partisan registration.  The President did not have an answer.

In accordance with Robert's Rules of Order, once a motion is on the floor and under debate, it can be put to a vote. The motion was approved with 1 against and 3 abstentions. 


ASUM President Andrea Helling
ASUM President Helling apologized for being late.  She was at an ASUM transportation meeting. ASUM is looking at a strategic way of apposing HB 525. UM is often considered a liberal student body, so they are waiting for student governments east of the mountains to respond first. Early next week, the Montana Associated Students will consider a resolution to oppose HB 525.

ASUM has a lobbyist in Helena and they have had many students involved in giving testimony. The only way that student involvement in extracurricular activities can be successful is if there is support from the student's instructor.  She requests that faculty be flexible in allowing students to make up missed lectures or course work who have participated in legislative activities.

Senator Smith commented that students should have the same opportunities that academics do to attend activities off campus.  Faculty members attend conferences that are a part of selling the university's image on a national basis and considered as documentation for advancement.  It is beneficial to have the UM perceived as an engaged organization. 

Senator Eglin remarked that students should be reminded to talk to their instructor in advance of the event.  Most of the problems occur when students come to the instructor after the fact.

Senator Thompson recommends that a communication go out to faculty reminding them of the University's policy on sanctioned events and request that they support the students' involvement in extracurricular activities by providing flexibility to make up course work as necessary.

Senator Beck asked whether ASUM sends out notices similar to Athletics.

Helling responded that ASUM tries to send out notices when time allows.

Committee Reports:
ASCRC Chair Allen Szalda-Petree

Senator Szalda-Petree presented the curriculum follow-up list.  It was unanimously approved.

He also provided an update on the committee's efforts related to a new general education model DRAFT.  At this point, ASCRC is having discussions with programs that have concerns about how the model would impact their students.  The committee will then try to come up with some adjustments to the model that will accommodate all programs.

Senator Lopach asked about the general goals of the revision.

Senator Szalda-Petree responded that any revisions should be simpler in terms of understanding and advising.  One of the major issues being discussed is the foreign language/symbolic systems requirement.  Many feel that foreign language should be required, but programs argue that they do not have room in their curriculum due to accreditation requirements. Another goal is for the courses to be foundational and offered at either the 100 or 200 level. Ethics was moved under "departmental specified" to allow departments flexibility in how to best meet the needs of their students and provide for choices at the upper-division level. There has also been attention paid to the size of the program and the elimination of the credit variability in the perspectives. 

Senator Ware indicated that the requirement of all courses being at least three credits is problematic for labs.  

Senator Bradley-Browning remarked that this would also be problematic for Drama/Dance.

Senator Shively asked whether there had been discussion related to difficulty associated with transfer students from quarter systems.

Senate Szalda-Petree indicated that the ASCRC did compare the model to the MUS core.  All aspects of the model are up for discussion at this point.

Graduate Council Chair Louis Hayes
The graduate curriculum items were presented and approved by unanimous consent. 

Senator Hayes provided a brief update on Graduate Council's work for the semester.  It continues to be very busy with program reviews (Journalism, Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science, Geosciences, Communication Studies, EVST, History, Mathematics, and Political Science), research awards (51 applicants for 10 awards of $500 each), and workgroups looking into a structure for the MIS and a better procedure for distribution and review Bertha Morton awards, which are coming up in March/April.  It created guidelines to facilitate a more meaningful program review.  These were posted to the agenda as information.

Yesterday the Graduate Council met with interim Provost, President Denison to discuss the 3-credit graduate student continuous-enrollment policy scheduled for implementation fall 2007.  The Council is not clear what the problem is that the policy is meant to solve. It is concerned that the policy may make matters worse. There was no consultation with the Council regarding the issue prior to the announced policy change.  This raises the question whether this is consistent with the rules of the Faculty Senate or the Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

Senator Lopach asked whether the Council conducted an analysis of the Graduate School data and whether this supported the President's decision.

Senator Hayes responded that the Council received the data only last week and identified three issues related to graduate programs: retention, completion, and financial -adequate funding for the program and cost to the students. It was suggested that the university is loosing money and that faculty are giving away the public good. This implies that the issue is one of infrastructure - how to provide resources for a quality education.

The President indicated he is willing to listen, but unless there is a compelling reason not to change the policy, it will start next fall.  There will be provisions for exceptions for students that document extraordinary circumstances.

Senator Szalda-Petree looked at the data this week and would like to know where the numbers come from.  It is not clear whether the graduation percentage is from the original incoming cohort, or whether it has been adjusted for dropouts and suspensions.   The master's level data is on a positive trajectory, but the PhD data is awful.  And there is no compelling evidence that adding two more credits will change the trajectory in terms of completion.

Senator Hill remarked that many of the ABD students are working full-time and would likely not complete given the proposed policy.

It was questioned whether a comparison had been done with other schools.  It seems the policy could reduce enrollment.  

The following resolution proposed by Senator Frey was approved unanimously.
The Senate recommends that the 3-credit continuous registration policy be suspended until adequate discussion can take place.

Unfinished Business: None



New Business:

Approval of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute came to the Senate as a seconded motion from ECOS.  Dean Alexander provided a brief background of the Institute that offers short non-credited courses for individuals over 55 and has been very popular. Emeritus Professor Russ Madora reported that the courses connect the seniors to campus.  Seniors are very engaged students and teaching them is a pleasure.   The Institute was approved unanimously.  Faculty interested in teaching courses for the institute should contact Dean Alexander.


There was no time for discussion of the proposed Code of Ethics due to the need to proceed to executive session and the consideration of 5 candidates for honorary degree.

Executive Session:

The candidates for honorary degree were presented by faculty in the associated departments.  Each candidate was unanimously approved. 

Good and Welfare:

Senator Frey remarked that there are a number of things that are problematic about the President's proposed Code of Ethics.  A similar code was disavowed by the Federal Court in the Shippensburg (PA) Case 2003.  She urged senators to read the language so that an informed discussion can take place at the next Senate meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 pm.