Minutes of the University Senate meeting November 28, 2007
Present: A. Adell, C. Bengston, G. Berk, P. Boye, H. Briston, C. Cherry, M. Chong*, A. Coles-Bjerre, R. Davies, P. Gilkey, A. Gladhart, N. Gulley, E. Herman, D. Hernandez, J, Hunter*, K. Kennedy, D. Levin, P. Lu, B. Malle, A. Mathas, T. Minner, J. Newton, D. Olson, A. Papailiou, C. Parsons, S. Paul, E. Peterson, N. Rajabzadeh, M. Redford, G. Sayre, T. Toadvine, P. van Donkelaar, L. Vandenburgh. *=non-voting participant
Excused: R. Bramhall, L-S. Chou, D. Falk, P. Lambert, A. Schulz , L. Stephen, N. Tublitz,.
Absent: C.A. Bassett, C. Martinez*, L. Middlebrook, C. Moore, M. Pangburn, F. Pyle, P. Rounds, J. Rowell, A. Taylor
CALL TO ORDER
The last regular senate meeting of fall term was called to order at 3:06 p.m. in 180 PLC. Approval of the minutes from the November 14, 2007 meeting were postponed until the next meeting, January 9, 2008.
STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY
Update on UO programs in Portland. Provost Brady provided a visual presentation of the UO’s activities in Portland (see http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen078/ Brady28Nov07.pdf). She opened her remarks by noting that the UO has been engaged in Portland for a long period of time. The Law School opened in 1884, and the medical school (which is no longer part of the UO) opened in 1887. The UO has been involved in a number of activities in Portland over the years. Portland will provide a new home for many of our programs in spring 2008. One of the reasons Portland is so important to the UO is that eight of the 10 top feeder high schools to the UO are in the Portland area. Further, given the diversity of greater Portland, the Portland high schools are very important in enhancing our diversity. More than 40% of our UO graduates move to the Portland area after graduation – we have over 32,000 alums in the Portland area. The provost explained that the UO has entered a partnership and has an 18 year lease on the White Stage building with an option to purchase it in 2016.
The provost went on to say there are a number of program areas in Portland. Specific criteria were considered in making decisions about how best to deliver programs and what programs make the most sense. Most importantly, whatever the UO does in Portland must be consistent with the institutional mission of the UO as a member of the AAU. She also noted that what we do in Portland needs to be built on our strengths and our particular niches to enable us to offer an array of high quality programs that do not duplicate programs of other institutions, including PSU. Provost Brady said that any program we propose needs to be based on a sound business plan and the ability over a 5 year period to become self supporting and self sustaining. Another reason that Portland is extremely important is that it provides an urban “laboratory” for many of our professional school programs.
Examples of major academic initiatives in Portland include programs in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. The provost noted that the UO has the only accredited architecture program in the state and there is a real demand from the Portland architecture community for our presence there. Another example is the School of Journalism and Communication in which many of their students spend a term of their senior year in internship activities. A new professional master’s in strategic communication is being offered in Portland. We are also collaborating with PSU for the Oregon Executive MBA (OEMBA), which is in great demand. The School of Law offers continuing education classes as well.
Another example of the importance of our presence in Portland relates to research and innovation, such as ONAMI, OTRADI, BEST, ETIC, and OTREC. We also work with OHSU on collaborative activities, and the Material Science Institute is in partnership with PSU. The Center for Housing Innovation is active in Portland; with its commitment to sustainability there are real opportunities for our students and faculty, there.
Social sciences and humanities outreach are also engaged in Portland. The Center for the Study of Women in Society, the Oregon Humanities Center, the Center for Applied Second Language Studies, Center on Diversity and Community, the Institute for Policy Research and Innovation all have programs involving the Portland location. Community service is another dimension of our engagement in Portland, with the Labor Education and Research Center, and the faculty and students in the College of Education heavily engaged in the Portland area.
Emerging opportunities in the Portland area include a new Material Studies and Product Design degree recently authorization by the state board. The digital arts, urban architecture research laboratories, the center for “green” business, the professional master’s in strategic communication, and a securities analysis center are newly offered or under development. Because Portland is one of the financial centers on the west coast, we have received strong support from the business and financial community for these programs.
The provost then listed several redevelopment partners that the UO is working with: the Renaissance of Old Town/China Town Visions Committee, Mercy Corps, Portland Development Commission, and the Portland Business Alliance. Our 10 year vision from the perspective of our goals (i.e., to ensure that we engage a world class university with the needs of a global city) is to emphasize graduate and professional education, link the UO with the business and general community, and enrich the education of students. The UO needs to be a model of sustainability and social responsibility. The provost said that our presence in Portland should be a cultural hub as well, so we will support lectures and community events. She stated that she sees the Portland facility not simply as a building, but as a space in which we can intersect as well as bring educational programs to Portland. The doors of the facility will be open by the end of March 2008 and she expects some classes to be offered in Spring Term, with the full fledged grand opening in Fall 2008. Lastly, the provost said to contact Vice Provost Teri Warpinski if you would like a tour of the Portland facilities.
During a question and answer period, Senator Bertram Malle, psychology, indicated that he has been involved with the UO’s presence in Bend where there are very few resident faculty. He wondered what the structure of faculty residence in Portland might look like in the future. The provost replied that what we bring to Portland is quality. As we think about the kind of academic programs that are in Portland we need to ensure they are of the same quality as those we deliver here in Eugene; otherwise, there are other institutions that can deliver classes. And it would be a major mistake to try to operate academic programs on the backs of adjunct faculty; they can play important roles in professional programs, but part of what we have to figure out is how we can creatively engage full time faculty based in Eugene in the educational programs we offer in Portland. We may need to build in a distance component, that is, literally try to figure out ways to relocate faculty for a term to Portland, engaging our regular full time faculty. She noted that the university does not plan on having an array of undergraduate programs in Portland – if students want a UO undergraduate experience they need to come to Eugene. Faculty engagement in figuring out this element of the Portland presence is a crucial one, and the provost said she’ll look to faculty such as Senator Malle for help understanding the challenges involved.
Senator Christian Cherry, dance, asked if part of the plan is to include the arts. The provost replied that is absolutely the case. She commented that there is a wonderful space for exhibits that can be used very effectively, and a goal is to really think about how we can use the space to engage music and dance as well.
Senate Budget Committee – sub committee report on arena financing. Mr. John Chalmers, chair of the subcommittee, presented a progress report on the arena project financing (see http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen078/ChalmersArena28Nov07.pdf). He noted that committee members (John Chalmers, Dennis Howard, and Gordon Sayre) have been working with Paul van Donkelaar, Frances Dyke, Melinda Grier, Laura Hazlett, and Dave Sparks. The committee has been engaged in an effort to evaluate projected revenues the arena might generate. These are really the crux of the arena review. Unfortunately all of the information has not yet been developed. So far, a set of major donors and long time season ticket holders is being surveyed to assess their sensitivity to potential pricing options for various seating options. Six groups (16-20 people in each) have been completed, two of them in Portland and four in the Eugene-Springfield area, with at least two more groups to be scheduled. These groups provide valuable information, but the committee is still assessing what it all means. Conventions, Sports and Leisure (CLS) has developed a survey (from feedback from the focus groups) that will be randomly sent to a sample of current football and/or men’s basketball season ticket holders to assess willingness to pay what is proposed for new season ticket prices. The committee expects to have a projected revenue estimate report from CSL by mid-December. Mr. Chalmers commented that there is a lot more to be done in the revenue of projected estimates area.
The committee also is looking at arena costs by gathering cost estimates from similar arenas built for college athletics and comparing them with the UO’s plans. Capacity of the arena is not finalized yet, but there is some discussion as to whether seating capacity will be 15,000 or 12,500 seats. The committee also has been exploring legal and tax concerns with some bond and tax lawyers, with one additional discussion planned. Some preliminary analyses have been done, but the committee needs all the information (the projected revenues) to really get to the heart of the matter. Lastly, the committee is considering the capital budgeting philosophy and is evaluating reasons to build the arena, exploring campus building safety issues, and exploring other capital building needs anticipated in the near future (such as new dormitories) in order to study projective debt service to overall budget ratios. All of these issues will be included in the committee’s final report.
Mr. Chalmers then provided a tentative timeline of relevant activities: December 10th -- CSL to deliver revenue estimates; December 16th -- distribute preliminary draft (or soon thereafter) to the president, the working committee, and Senate Budget Committee (for input, corrections, clarification, and comments); December 17th -- plan to update budget committee on findings to date and provide outline draft of final report (and hope to seek provisional adoption of the report); December 27th -- deliver draft final report to Senate Budget Committee and President’s Office with chance to comment on statements of facts; January 7th -- confer with Faculty Advisory Council; January 8th -- issue a final report with the Senate Budget Committee’s adoption or non-adoption. January 9th is the next senate meeting and the committee will present the final Senate Budget Committee report on that date. Mr. Chalmers concluded his report saying that the important dates are January 18-19 when the state legislature’s Ways and Means Committee meets and will discuss the arena project. Lastly, a special session of the University Senate is scheduled for January 23rd to provide an opportunity to debate and discuss the report after everyone has had a chance to digest it.
Preliminary Fall 2007 Curriculum Report. Mr. Paul Engelking, chair of the Committee on Courses, noted only a few minor edits in the preliminary curriculum report: the first involves moving a course to a new position in the report. The course under the College Scholars Program is moved to the College of Arts and Sciences Program. Also, in the listing for EDST 661, the word “From” should be added to the course title so that it reads, “EDST 661: From Reproduction to Resistance”. With no other corrections or objections, the report was approved, as amended, by voice vote. (See http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen078/CurRptF08Fin.pdf for the final version of the Fall 2007 Curriculum Report).
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Charge and Appointments to the Joint Senate/Academic Affairs Ad-Hoc Committee for On-Line Course Evaluations and Implementation. President Sayre announced that he has appointed and charged an ad hoc committee for on-line course evaluation implementation whose membership includes: Paul van Donkelaar, Brad Shelton, Russ Tomlin, Bertram Malle, Priscilla Southwell, Ray King, Kassia Dellabough, Sue Eveland, Zoe Roman, and Gordon Sayre. The general charge is to review and revise as needed the 10 new required course evaluation questions, to review the results of the trial run of the of the initial implementation of on-line evaluations, and draft the appropriate senate legislation to adopt and implement the on-line evaluations for the campus (see the senate committees web page for text of the ad hoc committee’s charge http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen078/comsen078.html).
Mr. Brad Shelton, mathematics, reported that midway through the on-line course evaluation trial process there is a 30% response rate (trial groups were the business school and departments of mathematics and political science), which is very encouraging. Senator David Levin, mathematics noted that there were no junior faculty members on the ad hoc committee, to which President Sayre said he would look into adding a junior faculty member or solicit input. A student senator asked if the students will have access to all 10 required questions. The president replied that would not be known definitely until the committee had done its work and the questions and their implementation was passed by the senate – part of the committee’s charge is to make recommendations on that issue as well as many others.
IFS representative position is open. President Sayre noted that there is an open position on the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate available for a term that runs from January 2008 through December 2010. This is a position elected by the senate, and is open to any member of the voting faculty. The UO has three representatives on the IFS; Mr. John Nicols and Senator Peter Gilkey are the other two representatives. The next IFS meeting will be held on the UO campus the first Friday and Saturday in February 2008.
Lastly, the secretary reminded the senators that senate meetings winter term will be held in 150 Columbia.
Motion US07/08-3 to abolish certain standing University Committees and to change the names of other standing university committees that report to the University Senate. Senator Peter Gilkey, mathematics, brought the following motion to the floor:
Moved that: Effective upon passage of this motion by the University of Oregon Senate:
Senator Gilkey spoke to the motion first by saying that there is no financial impact to the motion, and that it simply seeks senate action to approve officially committee changes which in practice have already been implemented. He further explained that over the years, various bodies in the university have made defacto changes to the nomenclature and existence of certain standing university committees, and that such changes require appropriate sanction by the University Senate. Senate Gilkey noted that some committees no longer function or meet, but haven’t been officially disbanded, others have had name changes through OARs, and so forth. For the most part, the motion is to standardize some “housekeeping” to keep the senate records and web pages accurate and current. (Specific, more in-depth explanations of the changes can be found at the bottom of the web page for the motion at http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen078/US078-3.html.)
Senator Gilkey provide a brief explanation for the proposed abolishment of the International Affairs Committee and the Status of Women Committee, saying that in practice neither committee has had any members nor met for several years. Similarly, proposed name changes (Student Conduct Committee to Student Conduct and Community Standards Committee; NTTIF to NTTF) of committees and their respective charges have changed, as has the charge of the Environmental Issues Committee; the proposed motion formally recognizes these changes.
During a discussion period, a clarifying question was raised regarding the Status of Women Committee. Mr. Dave Hubin explained that three years ago the chair of the committee, Ms. Caroline Forrell, law, had not been clear on the function of the committee or its agenda and charge. The Committee on Committees, who appoints the member, asked the committee to work on this issue; the committee did so and responded to the Committee on Committees that the Status of Women Committee did not have a rational or specific function, and thus they requested that the committee be disbanded. The Committee on Committees agreed and has not appointed any new members, but the request was not formally processed by the senate, which the current motion does. Senators Toadvine and Cherry were concerned that abolishing the committee was too strong an action. Senator Gilkey replied that if there was renewed interest by the faculty for reconstituting the committee, they could do so by bringing the rational for the committee and its new charge back to the senate to be re-established. But for the past three years, the committee has not had any faculty interest or membes, so it is disingenuous to keep a committee on the books that does not actually meet. Although it was suggested that some aspects of the charge may have been subsumed under other committees, such as those dealing with diversity, and that the Committee on Committees did a major review of committees a few years ago, there were several other senators (e.g., Malle and Gulley) who also expressed concern about abolishing the Status of Women Committee.
With the discuss coming to a close, the question was called and motion US07/08-3 was put to a hand vote. The motion passed with 18 senators in favor, and 7 senators opposed.
Motion US 07/08-2 to enable the University Senate to call a meeting of the University Assembly with full legislative authority, set the time of the meeting and establish a quorum and voting requirements. Mr. Frank Stahl, emeritus biology, explained that earlier in the day he had received work of a document from the state’s Department of Justice (dated November 14, 2003) that had made a ruling four years ago whose contents might directly affect the motion he intended to put forward. Considering this circumstance, Mr. Stahl felt is was best to delay any action on his motion. Senator Peter Gilkey then moved to table Mr. Stahl’s motion to a time certain, January 9, 2008. The motion to table was seconded and the senate unanimously passed the motion to table US07/08-2 until the January 9, 2008 meeting. (See http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen078/US078-2.html for the text of US07/08-2).
Resolution 07/08-8 concerning the reduction in the ORP employer contribution rate for Tier 3 employees. Senator David Levin, mathematics, brought the follow motion to the floor:
In July of 2007 the employer contribution level for the members of the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) Tier 3 dropped from 8.04% to 5.82%. By comparison, the employer contribution level for all other ORP members (Tiers 1 and 2) is 16.01% (down from 16.75%). Simply put, the faculty that joined the University of Oregon after August of 2003 receive less than 37% of the employer retirement contribution as those who were hired before this date. In view of this, the decision to significantly reduce (by more than 27%) the contribution for Tier 3 members is a cause for serious concern. As is clear from the numbers, this change has a disproportionate impact upon the Tier 3 employees, who already receive the least benefit. Moreover, in light of recent difficulties in recruitment and retention, this should worry all members of the university community, as all new hires will be classified as Tier 3. Therefore,
Be it resolved,
That the University Senate of the University of Oregon urges the university administration to work with the Oregon University System and the State Legislature to restore the benefits for Tier 3 employees to their previous level.
Senator Levin began his support of the motion by saying that he realizes the issue of benefits is complicated by state laws, and that it may be not a trivial matter to restore the benefits as urged in the resolution. However, he felt strongly that the administration should look into the matter and give this request due consideration. He highlighted in particular the large discrepancy in retirement plan contributions for employees who were hired after 2003 (Tier 3) and who opted for the Optional Retirement Plan, compared with the Tier 1 and 2 employees who made the same retirement plan choice. He remarked that it is very discouraging for the newest (and generally lower paid employees) to be so disadvantaged, and may well hurt future faculty recruitment and retention. Senator Levin noted, too, that he understood that the issue was indeed complex in that the OPR was linked with the PERS rates, and that there is recent legislative history regarding what PERS can and cannot do. But in the end, he opined, the Tier 3 ORP people were being treated unfairly.
Mr. Ernie Pressman, human resources and chief benefits administrator, provided some explanation and history of the ORP, saying the plan was established in 1995 by the state legislature and that OUS is the only state agency with a retirement benefit plan option in lieu of PERS. At that time, the PERS employer contribution rates were tied to the ORP employer rates, and they did not foresee the financial difficulty PERS experiences in 2003/2004, which had to do with PERS ability to fund future employee retirements and caused PERS to undertake a large bond (and its debt). Mr. Pressman noted that Tier 3 people for both PERS and ORP are in a less expensive plan to fund, and that is where employer rates come from. So one of things the legislature did was to say future benefits for people in Tier 3 are going to cost less, and thus the employer does not fund indebtedness for Tiers 1 and 2; that is one of reasons future benefits are going to be less and that reduces ORP rates.
Senator Levin asked if it is a standard actuarial practice to link the ORP with the PERS. In his opinion it does not make any sense. Mr. Pressman answered that he did not know about actuarial practice – he was only reporting was the legislature did and to explain why the rates were as they were. Senator Levin replied that he simply was asking that the inequity be fixed. Mr. Pressman replied that one thing that must be done to fix the problem is to decouple the PERS rates from ORP rates; he noted though, that decoupling the rates was proposed in 2004 and was opposed by the faculty (most of whom are in Tiers 1 and 2). Mr. Pressman noted that the Chancellor had indicated in 2006 that a committee would look into the matter of decoupling. There was general agreement among senators that the issue is a serious one for some faculty members in particular, and that a gap had developed for faculty members in Tier 3 who selected the ORP retirement option.
With the discussion coming to a close, Resolution US07/08-8 was put to a voice vote and passed unanimously.
Notice of Motion concerning the financing of the proposed basketball arena. The secretary, on behalf of Senator Nathan Tublitz, biology, who could not attend the meeting, said that she had received notice from Senator Tublitz of his intent to make a motion regarding the financing for the proposed basketball arena. Senator Tublitz anticipates that there may be necessary senate action after the Senate Budget Committee’s sub committee on arena financing report is distributed in late December or early January. The secretary commented that Senator Tublitz was concerned about timing involved for the senate to be able to read and act on the report, and thus notice of a motion was given now.
With no other business at hand, the meeting was adjourned at 4:35 p.m.
Secretary of the Faculty
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