College Governance

CLAS Assembly Minutes

October 4, 2006
Reitz Union Auditorium

CLAS Assembly meeting was called to order at 3:05pm by John H. Moore, CLAS President Pro Tempore.  The Assembly was convened by CLAS Steering Committee in response to petitions received from more than a hundred faculty members to discuss the budget shortfall in CLAS.  CLAS Steering Committee consists of Michael Binford, Hana Filip, Anna Peterson, Nicky Piquero, Kitty Williams, as well as Anna Peterson, who was absent.  John Moore introduced James Keesling, Parliamentarian, who also took part in the Assembly meeting. 

  1. DISCUSSION
    Discussion of the consequences of the existing Five-Year Plan for recovering CLAS budget shortfall (see on line).  Each speaker was allotted one minute.  What follows is the list of the speakers with short summaries of the main points they raised:
    1. Krishnaswami Alladi, Chair, Department of Mathematics
      The external review of the Department of Mathematics was highly favorable, and yet the existing Five-Year Plan ignores it and goes against its every recommendation; the data collected regarding the Department were incorrect or incorrectly interpreted at the local University administrative levels.
    2. Judith Page, Department of English (member of the existing Faculty Finance Committee)
      The existing Faculty Finance Committee did not discuss or draft the existing Five-Year Plan.  It was presented to the Committee on August 30, 2006.  The Committee did not vote on it, did not give it any explicit endorsement.
    3. Marilyn Thomas-Houston, African American Studies and Department of Anthropology
      The existing Five-Year Plan will have an adverse impact on the African American Studies, because it will set the program back to the situation in which it only had one director, while it now has seven faculty members.  The proposed cuts will make it hard to fulfill the promises made to the faculty and students.
    4. Pamela Gilbert, Department of English
      The Department of English was highly ranked two years ago, the same was true for its Chair.  Yet now, the Chair has been notified that he would be removed, and accused of mismanagement.  It is unclear who initiated this action, the Dean or the Provost.  Why were these decisions made?  Whose plan is it?
    5. Michael Perfit, Department of Geological Sciences
      Against the background of his 23 years at the University of Florida, he mentioned all his efforts and efforts of others who have been dedicated to teaching, graduate mentoring, raising of funds, and generally to building this University.  Yet, CLAS Faculty was not included in designing the existing Five-Year Plan.  The President’s and the Dean’s plans for the future of CLAS do not agree.  The Plan does not provide for enough resources to carry out teaching and research in the College.  We need better direction for the future.
    6. Maureen Turim, Department of English & Film and Media Studies
      MT read the letter that she sent to Dean Sullivan, as a response to the meeting at which the existing Five-Year Plan was presented.  MT is worried about the retention of the key faculty and irreparable damage that the existing Five-Year Plan would cause.  In this connection, she drew comparisons to similar budget cuts at SUNY Binghamton and their aftermath there.  We should not make mistakes of historical proportions.
    7. Vasudha Narayanan, Department of Religion, Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions
      The impact of the existing Five-Year Plan on the Department of Religion and Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions will be devastating.  It started a PhD program three years ago, the first set of PhD students has just taken their qualifying exams.  To cut the funding to this program at this stage of its development is a sure way to destroy it.  Its reputation has already been tarnished at the University of Florida and nationally.  The public is reluctant to donate funding, which impedes our fundraising activities, because it believes that something is wrong with CLAS.
    8. Melvyn New, former Chair of the Department of English, former UFF President
      MN read a letter in which he expressed his support for the existing Five-Year Plan and Dean Neil Sullivan’s restructuring of the Department of English.  Several copies of his letter were distributed among the audience.
    9. David Leavitt, Department of English, Co-Director of the Program in Creative Writing
      DL disagreed with Melvyn New, in particular with regard to his point that the Department of English suppresses any dissent.  He is worried about the impact of the existing Five-Year Plan on the national reputation of the Department of English.  The imminent downsizing and changes in the Department of English have become nationally known and as a result its reputation tarnished; there is going to be ‘a feeding frenzy’ of other universities ‘going after the best faculty in the Department of English’; at least four faculty members have already been approached by other universities; it is to be expected that other faculty members will seek to leave due to the general spirit of demoralization.
    10. Krishnaswami Alladi, Chair of the Department of Mathematics
      The overall reputation of a given University is determined by the quality of its core Colleges and disciplines.  If they are not supported here, the reputation of the University of Florida will plummet.
    11. Scott Nygren, Department of English
      CLAS needs to address underlying budget issues, and among other things, explore funding allocation models, we may take a look at how other Universities (e.g., Michigan, Wisconsin, Berkeley) allocate funding.
    12. Malini Schueller, Department of English
      The administration has not explained to the faculty academic consequences of the budget problems.  Will it take responsibility for the academic consequences?  How are the financial resources allocated?  How are the various centers funded that do not belong to any College and are directly responsible to the Provost, for example?  Why is there funding for beautifying the campus, while at the same time, the key Departments like Mathematics and English are underfunded?
    13. Hal Rennert, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies
      HR addressed the issue of financial responsibility, given that certain financial decisions were made that make no sense.  It is financially irresponsible to dismiss a Chair of the GSS, who had just been hired, and appoint an Acting Chair at additional expense; no reason for dismissing of the regularly hired Chair was given, no reason was provided in writing why the GSS is in receivership.  The Acting Chair is not in the field of the Germanic and Slavic Studies.  What happened in the GSS makes no sense.
    14. Neil Sullivan’s response:
      The history of the existing Five-Year Plan goes back to July 10 or 11, when the Faculty Finance Committee was appointed to design the budget for the academic year 2006-7.  CLAS faced 2% deficit, the normal deficit was 1%-1.5% in the past years.  The deficit is due to the fact that the rise in student population was not accompanied by the corresponding rise of the budget.  Moreover, during the spring of 2006, the new Provost and the new budget officer took charge of CLAS finance planning.  The past over-expenditures were forgiven, but the Provost asked the Dean to draft a new Five-Year Plan to reduce the future deficit, and ‘we were under the gun’ to draft the plan by September 1, 2006.  It was Neil Sullivan and Allan Burns (Associate Dean) who drafted the existing Five-Year Plan, and without much input from CLAS Faculty, due to the time constraints.  They had two meetings with the Faculty Finance Committee.  There were two main constraints on the existing Five-Year Plan: (i) to balance the books by the academic year of 2008-9, and (ii) to make it ‘differential and specific,’ as far as the departments in CLAS were concerned.  In the future, more input from CLAS Faculty is desired.
  2. MOTIONS
    1. The first motion was offered by Michael Binford:

      “WHEREAS CLAS Faculty have not been kept informed concerning the budget-making process over the past several years, and
      WHEREAS CLAS Faculty were not satisfied with public and published accounts of this process and the resulting budget crisis,
      THEREFORE the College Assembly directs the Steering Committee to appoint a committee (to be named the “CLAS Faculty Committee to Investigate the History and Causes of the College Financial Situation”) to investigate and determine the causes of the present budget emergency and to report their findings to the faculty.  The Committee will consist of nine faculty equally drawn from the three electoral groups of the College:  Humanities, Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and Behavioral and Social Sciences, as defined in the Constitution of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Article IV.C.2  This committee will cooperate with efforts of CLAS Faculty Senate Task Force and the special University Task Force in accomplishing its objectives.  Faculty are free to nominate other faculty members of CLAS, or nominate themselves to this Committee by contacting any member of the Steering Committee.”

      The motion was seconded by James Keesling.
      1. Discussion of the motion
        1. Question
          Geraldine Nichols (Department of Romance Languages and Literatures):
          How are the committee members to be chosen? 

          Answer
          Michael Binford:
          This will be decided by the Steering Committee together with CLAS Faculty.
        2. Question
          Jeffrey Needell (Department of History):
          What will be the practical impact of the committee?  Will it reverse the Five-Year Plan?

          Answer
          Michael Binford:
          Knowing the facts, summarizing them in a report that will be published and accessible to everybody, all are crucial to proposing new solutions.
      2. Comments by Geraldine Nichols (Department of Romance Languages and Literatures):
        It is standard to collect facts first and then make decisions based on the facts.  She made two main proposals: First, we do not have a lot of information about the College accounting office.  We need some help of an external auditor to understand the budget accounting in the College.  Second, the members of the committee ought to be elected.
      3. The proposal to amend the motion was discussed.
        1. Question
          Christine Sapienza (Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders):
          There is a disconnect between the timeline that the faculty perceives it has versus the timeline the upper Administration will give us.  What is the timeline for nominations, reports, investigation?

          Answer
          Michael Binford:
          CLAS Faculty is in charge of the time line.
        2. Question
          Michael Perfit (Department of Geological Sciences):
          What’s the purpose of this committee?  We need facts.  Will the proposed committee solve the problems over a five-year time period?  How did a budget shortfall happen?  How did it involve the Dean, the Provost and the President?  The President’s and Dean’s plans do not agree with each other.  How is it possible?  The two plans must agree.  How do we convince the President that CLAS needs more funding?  The President must do more than just raise 6 million dollars for athletic scholarships.
      4. Friendly amendment submitted by Geraldine Nichols (Department of Romance Languages and Literatures):

        “THEREFORE the College Assembly directs the Steering Committee to seek nominations for members of a special committee to determine, with the help of an external auditor, the causes … “
        1. Danaya Wright (College of Law) proposed to modify the wording of the friendly amendment:
          “THEREFORE the College Assembly directs the Steering Committee to seek nominations for members of a special committee to be elected to determine, with the help of an external auditor, the causes …”
        2. The friendly amendment was moved, seconded, and a discussion followed.  It involved Mike Bowen (Department of History), Pamela Gilbert (English Department), John Yelton (Department of Physics and member of the existing Faculty Finance Committee).  John Yelton proposed that it was not necessary to have an external auditor.
        3. Question
          Amie Kreppel (Department of Political Sciences and Center for European Studies):
          Who in this room is eligible to vote?  How do we know?

          Answer
          John Moore: It is based on the honor system.
        4. Vote on the friendly amendment:
          ‘yes’ 34, ‘no’ 46, ‘abstain’ 12. 
          The friendly amendment failed.
      5. John Moore invited the audience to discuss the main motion.
        1. Richard Yost (Chemistry Department) suggested the following modification of the motion: omit “the help of an external auditor” in the friendly amendment, and leave in “the committee be elected”.
        2. John Moore read the motion with the new amendment:

          “THEREFORE the College Assembly directs the Steering Committee to seek nominations for members of a special committee to be elected to determine the causes…”
        3. Vote on the friendly amendment:
          ‘yes’ 78, ‘no’ 12, ‘abstain’ 8.
          The friendly amendment passed.
      6. Discussion of the amended motion.
        1. Richard Yost (Chemistry Department): The issue of timeline was raised.  CLAS faculty need to make concrete proposals for changes to the existing Five-Year Plan, given that the Provost has created a committee to explore finance allocation models and see whether CLAS is underfunded, with the goal of fixing possible problems.
        2. Vote on the motion with the friendly amendment:
          ‘yes’ 69, ‘no’ 8, ‘abstain’ 6.
          The motion passed.
    2. The second motion was offered by Hana Filip (read twice):

      “WHEREAS the Faculty were not kept informed of methods being developed by the Administration to solve the budget crisis, and
      WHEREAS CLAS Faculty are not satisfied with public and published accounts of this process and the reasons for the recommended solutions to the budget problems incorporated into a Five-Year Plan,
      THEREFORE the College Assembly directs the Steering Committee to appoint a Faculty Governance Committee to determine who decided that the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences would bear the brunt of the cutbacks to solve the crisis, and why certain budget items were cut instead of others.  The Committee will be named 5-year Plan Commission.  The 5-year Plan Commission will consist of nine faculty members equally drawn from the three electoral groups of the College:  Humanities, Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and Behavioral and Social Sciences, as defined in the Constitution of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Article IV.C.2.  This committee will cooperate with efforts of CLASFaculty Senate Task Force and the special University Task Force in accomplishing its objectives.  Faculty are free to nominate other faculty members of CLAS, or nominate themselves to this Committee by contacting any member of the Steering Committee.”
      1. Discussion of the motion followed. It was proposed that the motion ought to be amended so that the committee members be elected.  Rahul Shrivastav (Communication Sciences and Disorders) asked whether the two committees proposed so far could not be merged.  Richard Yost (Chemistry Department) also suggested that we do not need two committees, we need to move forward, rather than dwelling on the past.
      2. Vote on the friendly amendment containing “elected”
        ‘yes’ 58, ‘no’ 9, ‘abstain’ 17.
        The friendly amendment passed.
      3. Vote on the main motion:
        ‘yes’ 18, ‘no’ 64, ‘abstain’ 9.
        The motion did not pass.
    3. The third motion was offered by Kitty Williams.  It consisted of three parts, organized as follows:  If the first part passed, the second motion would be offered.  If the second passed, the third would be offered.
      1. The first part of the motion: 
        “WHEREAS CLAS faculty desire to retain strong faculty input into issues which directly affect them, and
        WHEREAS the present faculty finance committee was appointed entirely by the administration,
        the faculty assembly asks the Dean to dissolve the existing Faculty Finance Committee.”
        1. Discussion of the first part of the motion:
          1. John Yelton (Department of Physics): Before dissolving the existing Faculty Finance Committee, we should have its report.
          2. Alan Dorsey (Department of Physics and member of the existing Faculty Finance Committee): The existing Faculty Finance Committee was appointed in June, and started meeting in July, met 10 times, each meeting taking between 2 to 5 hours.  Its work might be taken into consideration.  However, having an elected committee is a good idea, provided that we also include people who have budget expertise.
          3. Judith Page (Department of English and member of the existing Faculty Finance Committee): JP is in favor of a new elected committee.
          4. Charles Frazier (Department of Criminology, Law and Society, member of the existing Faculty Finance Committee): CF suggested having some committee members appointed, people with relevant budget experience, the Deans or departmental chairs might appoint such people.
          5. Richard Yost (Chemistry Department): We should not tie our future planning solely to budget questions, and instead look at the big picture where CLAS is heading, and how do we achieve our goals with the resources we have.  RY suggested an alternative,: namely, establishing a long-term planning committee to explore the functioning of CLAS in its entirety, rather than just its budget.
        2. Vote on the first part of the motion, on dissolving the existing Faculty Finance Committee:
          ‘yes’ 63, ‘no’ 11, ‘abstain’ 14.
          The motion passed.
      2. The second part of the motion:
        “To provide guidance to the Dean concerning financial and budgetary matters within the College, CLAS Assembly directs the Nominating Committee to create a new Faculty Finance Committee of nine faculty, consisting of nine persons equally drawn from the three electoral groups of the College:  Humanities, Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and Behavioral and Social Sciences, as defined in the Constitution of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Article IV.C.2.  This committee will cooperate with efforts of the Faculty Senate and the special University Task Force in accomplishing its objectives.  Faculty are free to nominate other CLAS faculty members, or to nominate themselves to this Committee by contacting any member of the Nominating Committee.”
        1. Discussion of the second part of the motion.
          1. Danaya Wright (College of Law):  As a result of her discussions with the President and the Provost about their plans, it became clear that they intended to keep the existing Five-Year Plan until a better plan was proposed.  The Provost has just appointed a budget allocation committee, it consists of four Deans, four finance officers and two faculty members, one is from CLAS, David Richardson (Chemistry Department).  The committee should answer the question whether CLAS is underfunded.  The answer may come next spring.  Therefore, CLAS needs to provide a better plan, which means that we need a committee that will propose a better plan that addresses the deficit.
          2. Christine Sapienza (Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders) tried to propose an amendment changing “This committee will cooperate with efforts of the Faculty Senate …”  to  “This committee will seek to cooperate with efforts of the Faculty Senate …”, but it was found not grammatical/legible by John Moore in the way in which it was presented.
        2. Vote on the second part of the motion:
          ‘yes’ 69, ‘no’ 1, ‘abstain’ 14.
          The motion passed.
      1. The third part of the motion: The Faculty Finance Committee will consist of six members selected by the Nominating Committee and three selected by the Dean.  In both cases, the three electoral groups of the College must be equally represented.  These are Humanities, Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and Behavioral and Social Sciences, as defined in the Constitution of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Article IV.C.2.  This committee will cooperate with efforts of the Faculty Senate and the special University Task Force in accomplishing its objectives.  Faculty are free to nominate other CLAS faculty members, or to nominate themselves to this Committee by contacting any member of the Nominating Committee.
        1. Vote on the third part of the motion:
          ‘yes’ 67, ‘no’ 5, ‘abstain’ 12.
          The motion passed.
    4. Motion from the Floor.
      John Leavey (Chair, Department of English)

      Whereas the Faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences did not have meaningful participation in the structuring of the Five-Year Plan, as called for in shared governance, therefore it be resolved that Faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences calls for setting aside that plan and then calls upon the Faculty Senate to support the resolution now before it regarding the procedure used in developing the Five-Year Plan 2006-2011, the resolution that request that the University and College administration set aside the current Five-Year Plan until fact finding based on collaborative participation of faculty from CLAS departments and Faculty Senate Councils in the decision and policy making process is completed, as called for in shared governance.”

      In simple terms, the question arose whether the principle of shared governance was adhered to in setting up the existing Five Year Plan.  If the faculty of this College say that they were not consulted in setting up the Five-Year Plan, it will provide additional support to the Faculty Senate to argue that the Plan did not follow the principle of shared governance, and do something about it, i.e. rescind it.
      1. Vote on John Leavey’s motion to rescind the existing Five-Year Plan 2006-2011:
        ‘yes’ 53, ‘no’ 9, ‘abstain’ 14. 
        The motion passed.
    5. James Keesling (Department of Mathematics, Parliamentarian, Member of the Constitutional Revision Committee): JK invited the Faculty to provide the Constitutional Revision Committee with their suggestions.
    6. The meeting was adjourned at 4:50pm.

The minutes submitted by
Hana Filip
Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies
Center for European Studies, Linguistics
CLAS Assembly Secretary & Member of CLAS Steering Committee

Archive of Minutes

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