College Governance

CLAS Assembly Minutes

November 15, 2004

PANEL DISCUSSION ON "FACULTY SELF-GOVERNANCE AND RIGHTS"
Minutes prepared by Louise Newman
24-30 people in attendance

The meeting was called to order by Dean Neil Sullivan, who welcomed the faculty and announced that the minutes from the previous Assembly would soon be posted on CLAS’s website and would be brought up for a vote of approval at the next CLAS Assembly.

Dean Sullivan then introduced Maureen Turim as the President Pro-Tempore of the Faculty for 2004-2005.

Maureen Turim acknowledged Louise Newman for her role as the Assembly’s secretary and thanked her for taking minutes of the proceedings. Then she introduced the topic of the Assembly by posing two questions:

  1. What should the faculty's role by in decision-making on campus?
  2. What are the faculty's rights and how can these rights be best protected?

Maureen Turim introduced the three guest speakers: Professor Kim Tanzer, Department of Architecture; Associate Professor Kim Emery, Department of English; and Professor Gary Ihas, Department of Physics.

Professor Kim Tanzer spoke first, identifying her role as someone who could speak to the history and the accomplishments of the Faculty Senate, with respect to its role in shared governance. Professor Tanzer divided her talk into four sections: 1) history of shared governance prior to 1999; 2) current committee structure of the Faculty Senate; 3) an example of a successful instance of shared governance; and 4) some cautions concerning the nature of shared governance.

In discussing the history of the Senate from 1990 to 1999, Professor Tanzer noted that the Senate in its former guise as the University Senate was an advisory body and that over this period of time, university-wide committees were fused, or allowed to lapse, and that all elected committees eventually became appointed ones. Thus, when Charles Young became interim president of UF in 1999, he requested that the University Senate examine the state of shared governance on campus and make recommendations for changes. The University Senate’s first act was to change its name from the University Senate to the Faculty Senate. Then over the next several years (2000-2002), the Faculty Senate appointed a Committee on Committee to recommend other changes. As a result, there now exists a Faculty Senate, led by a Chair and a Steering Committee, who are members of the Senate and elected by the Senate. There are also five policy counsels (including one on Academic Policy, Faculty, Research, Academic Infrastructure) and three standing committees to help the Senate do its business, The Constitution Committee, the Nominating Committee and the Committee on Committees. All additional university-wide committees fall into one of three categories: 1) Presidential committees, including institutional review boards, whose members are appointed by the President of the University; 2) Senate committees, whose members are elected by the faculty at large and who report to the Faculty Senate and 3) Joint committees, which include some appointees and some elective members.

Tanzer then gave as an example of a successful instance of shared governance, the Senate’s role in examining and responding to a proposal to have a new road run through the SW portion of campus, which would have impacted on the national area/teaching labs and on an old growth forest. The Faculty Senate investigated the proposal carefully and put forth a resolution opposing the new road, forwarding its recommendation to President Young, who left it for President Machen. Machen sided with the Senate, encouraging the view that the role of the Faculty Senate would be a “real” one—not just window dressing.

Professor Tanzer then concluded her talk with several cautions:

  1. shared governance means that faculty through the Faculty Senate can have a voice in governing the university, but it does not mean that the voice will always be listened to.
  2. For shared governance to be effective, faculty need to advocate for academic excellence for the university as a whole rather than act out of individual self-interest
  3. tenured faculty members need to speak up forcefully despite any discomfort this may entail; and
  4. members of the Faculty Senate and those elected to university-wide committees needed to guard against complacency and remember that their role is to act as advocates for the collective group that elected them

The second speaker was Kim Emery, President of the United Faculty of Florida. Emery began her talk by describing her personal connections to both the Faculty Senate and UFF. Emery has served on the Senate under three different presidents, Lombardi, Young and Machen, and is currently on the Faculty Steering Committee. Emery became increasingly involved/active with United Faculty of Florida, after having sought assistance from a grievance officer when it appeared that her department was going to count an unpaid leave toward her tenure clock. Then Emery reminded the gathering that UF’s history, stretching back decades, but also recently, has been one of external political interference. Kim Emery also pointed out that the University is currently governed by a Board of Trustees that is comprised of 13 members, of which one is a student representative, one is the Chair of the Faculty Senate, and the remaining eleven are appointed either by the governor directly or by a Board that is appointed by the governor.

Emery went on to compare how University rules can be changed unilaterally, by the Board of Trustees/administration, without consultation with the faculty (although faculty may request a hearing); whereas faculty rights that are secured under the Collective Bargaining Agreement need to be legally renegotiated. Emery described how under Collective Bargaining, faculty sit down with the representatives of the Board of Trustees as legal equals; and the Contract that results from these negotiations, must be sent back to the faculty in the bargaining unit for a ratifying vote. There are thus two protections (bargaining and a ratifying vote) that ensure that faculty rights can not be abridged without faculty consent.

Emery stressed that a strong faculty Union and an effective Faculty Senate are both necessary to preserve academic freedom and promote academic excellence. Shared governance cannot work unless faculty are willing to take risks and speak out; and this can not happen unless fundamental right of faculty are preserved.

Gary Ihas of Physics was the third speaker. Professor Ihas noted that he has been a member of UF’s faculty for 28 years, coming from Ohio State, which had a strong tradition of faculty shared governance—a tradition that unfortunately, but not surprisingly ended one year, when to discipline the head football coach, the faculty voted to prevent the football team from going to the Rose Bowl. Thus Gary Ihas emphasized the need to have a Faculty Senate that is both healthy and strong. But he emphasized as well that a Senate, essentially an advisory body, cannot serve all purposes. His experiences serving in the Senate, on the Senate Steering Committee and on a range of university-wide committees, has convinced him that a union is requisite in maintaining the level of academic freedom we currently have on campus. In short, Ihas agreed with Emery that faculty need both institutions (a Senate and a Union). Ihas ended by encouraging all faculty to volunteer their time to keep both institutions strong and by pointing out that there was a real opportunity for UF to serve as a leader in shared governance nation-wide.

At 4:50, Maureen Turim opened the floor to discussion.

First comment was made by Susan Milbrath, an affiliate faculty member at the Museum {which one?}, who expressed her dismay over the decision to implement People Soft, which continues to require more and more resources (in terms of administrators, support and office space)—and which was not a subject for faculty discussion/input. Kim Tanzer responded by pointing out that the Florida Board of Regents required universities throughout the state to do their own accounting, and at that point, UF selected the package that had the best compatibility and was the least expensive.

Second question from the floor was posed by Hal Rennert of German and Slavic Languages: What progress are we making to give faculty some budgetary power? What financial incentives exist or might be put in place to encourage faculty to become part of the governance structure, especially for the time-consuming positions on the Steering Committee?

Kim Tanzer responded that the Chair of the Steering committee has his/her time bought out at 50% and that the Provost office’s now provides a Secretary, Christy Hennigan, to schedule meetings and take minutes. Kim Emery responded that at various times in the past (although not presently since the Union is currently not recognized by the administration), certain faculty holding union positions have received some course-release time. The discussion also included the observation that service is not always valued, even though it is clearly so instrumental to the university’s functioning, with someone pointing out that service that enhances the academic unit, or brings attention to UF’s academic/research endeavors, is more often rewarded than service involving governance.

A question was raised from the floor concerning the Faculty Senate’s inability to stop having tuition fees charged against faculty research grants. Kim Tanzer acknowledged that she did not know the specifics of this issue, but she reiterated that faculty cannot expect to get their “way” all of the time.

A comment was made by Chris Snodgrass of the English department expressing the view that it was regrettable that Young adopted an either/or strategy in relation to shared governance and collective bargaining, insisting that a Faculty Senate obviated the need for a union. Snodgrass pointed out the Senate and the Union have different responsibilities. The Senate for the most part is not charged with examining the terms and conditions of faculty/staff employment, in the way that the Union is—of the existing 40+ committees, only 7 have authority to make recommendations regarding terms/conditions of employment. In other words, the Faculty Senate has more than enough to do reviewing academic policies, curriculum matters, etc., without also having to deal with the things that UFF has an expertise in doing. Second, the negotiation process engaged in by UFF means that if administration and faculty find themselves in disagreement, they have to seek alternatives to their initial proposals. They have to work together to forge a solution, one that is different than their original proposals.

Joe Glover, who identified himself as a faculty member in the department of mathematics and from the Provost office urged the audience to look at the facts, and declared that two factual errors had been made in the discussion thus far: 1) it was factually incorrect to assert that there had been attempts on the part of the administration to block a [certification] election [by the union]; lawyers on both sides had submitted briefs and were waiting for a ruling from PERC. 2) it was not true that the union and the university always reach an agreement during collective bargaining—they sometimes come to an impasse.

Someone took exception to Joe Glover’s statement that it was the Union against the university—and asked that this misrepresentation be corrected: the union against the administration. Joe Glover acknowledged the correction.

Kim Emery declared her agreement with Joe Glover that one should look dispassionately at the facts, and noted that the faculty’s negotiations with the administration involved conflict and were not always collegial. But she pointed out too that when one party has absolutely authority and can implement that authority efficiently, it does not mean that the process is necessarily more collegial.

Kim Tanzer made a comment that shared governance will work only when we are able to think of senior administrators as our faculty peers with a specialized job, rather than as our “bosses” in a corporate managerial sense.

Maureen Turim closed the session by thanking those in attendance and welcoming ideas for the two remaining assemblies to be held in the spring.

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