The New UNO Senate Review
Vol. I - - - - - - - - - No. 3
"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider." --Sir Francis Bacon (1625)
Two meetings of the full Senate have taken place since the last newsletter. Because little Senate activity occurred during the holidays and, thus, few reports were generated, the meeting of January 15 was over in record time. During the meeting, the Senate passed a resolution praising Senator Vaughn Johnson, who retired in December, for his long and dedicated service to the Senate.
In the meeting of December 11, the Senate passed Resolution 2657, reaffirming its support of Domestic Partner Benefits. The Senate originally went on record supporting these benefits in April of 1999 (Resolution 2370). On December 14, Senator Sadlek presented the Senate's resolution to the Board of Regents. The Regents heard from three supporters of Domestic Partner Benefits and two who opposed such benefits. No action was taken on this issue at the time, however.
At the January meetings of the board, the Regents took several actions that will be of interest to UNO faculty. I will highlight four of them here. First of all, they voted to modify the Retirement Incentive Program that they passed last year, and you have already received a summary of the changes in a memo from VC Hodgson. Secondly, the BOR also approved a list of peers for the NU system. These peer systems are: Texas A&M University System, U. of Colorado System, U. of Illinois System, U. of Missouri System, U. of Oregon System, U. of Tennessee System, and U. of Wisconsin System. Third, they modified the rules governing Regents' Scholarships. Finally, the BOR voted to approve the new joint Ph.D. program in Information Technology. Congratulations to our colleagues in IS & T!
Don't forget that the Senate President writes a report on each meeting of the Regents. These run to about a page in length, and they are a good way for faculty to keep up on the Regents' business, especially as it relates to UNO. These reports are first published in the agendas of each meeting of the full Senate, and then they are transferred into the minutes, which can be accessed on our web pages.
The Committee on Academic and Curricular Affairs has asked that UNO faculty be reminded of the articulation agreements between UNO and Metro Community College. These articulation agreements specify the courses from Metro that are automatically considered equivalents to various introductory courses at UNO. If you do not know which courses in your department are covered by these agreements, please check with your department chairperson.
The Administration is in the process of naming the new residence halls in Scott Village. They want names that students will find easy to adopt and use. The Faculty Senate has been asked to help with suggestions. If you have any suggestions for what to name these halls, please send your suggestions to either Sue Bishop or Greg Sadlek before February 13, 2003.
No doubt that the big issue of the spring semester will be the next round of university budget cuts. To try to get ahead of events, the Senate Executive Committee and Cabinet met with Chancellor Belck on December 4, 2002. Our goal was to discuss ways in which the Senate could exercise its role in shared governance more effectively with respect to budget cuts. We now know that, if the Governor gets his way and a 10% cut is forced upon the university system, UNO's share would be $6.2 million in AY 2003-2004. Of that figure, up to $4.8 million may come out of Academic Affairs. To put this in perspective, the total amount of cuts in AY 2002-2003 was $5 million.
It seems that even if NU opts for a large tuition increase (and that will be decided later in the spring), the increase will probably pay only for the increases in the university's fixed costs, not the proposed 10% cut to the university's budget. Concerned faculty should contact their state legislators to see what can be done to reduce the proposed 10% cut. They should not, however, use university phones or email to do so.
The process of identifying proposed cuts has moved quickly. The Senate Executive Committee and Cabinet again met with the Administration on January 30th. At that meeting, we discussed in detail the budget cutting process on the UNO campus. A list of cuts is due at President Smith's office on April 1, 2003. During this round of cuts, the Chancellor would like to have more detailed input from the faculty and staff on specific cuts before making final decisions. The Faculty Senate is committed not only to offering feedback on proposed cuts but also to helping to expedite the faculty/administration dialog on this matter. We would, therefore, like to invite all interested faculty to participate in our Senate meeting of February 12, 2003. At that meeting, the Senate will hear reports from the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor Hodgson on proposed budget cuts. Senators and visitors will have the opportunity to offer advice and suggestions. The meeting will take place at 2 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Milo Bail Center.
During the spring semester, faculty will be asked to "weigh and consider" a large amount of information on the cuts. Let us all work together to help steer our ship through this threatening storm. I hope to see you on the 12th.