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March 22, 2010


A. Report on College Governance.

Chair Staiger presented a PowerPoint presentation regarding a survey about college and school governance policies and procedures that she conducted following the issues that arose when the College of Liberal Arts proposed changes in the language requirements last fall. See Appendix A for the PowerPoint slides.

Chair Staiger said the results of the survey indicated considerable variation in the policies and procedures used by the colleges and schools in the approval of curricular changes that are forwarded to the Faculty Council for its consideration and action. Because the FCEC has been concerned about how faculty governance operates at the college and school levels and the extent to which faculty members are aware and participate in the review and approval of curricular proposals, the study resulted in the development of the following three minimum standards: an annual college or school faculty meeting, a curriculum committee with some system of faculty governance or protest, and a recent approval of their procedures. Of the eighteen units on campus, eight met all three of the criteria (graduate school, architecture, business, geosciences, information, nursing, public policy, social work); four were only the lacking recent faculty approval of policies and procedures (education, engineering, law, liberal arts); two were exempted for good cause (continuing education and undergraduate studies); three (pharmacy, natural sciences, fine arts) were working toward meeting the criteria but were delayed for various reasons; and one was asked to reconsider its position (communications).

President Powers prefaced his comments by saying that recurring concerns of the FCEC have been the following; (1) ad hoc committees or task forces are frequently appointed to resolve matters that are being or could be addressed by a Standing Committee of the General Faculty and (2) most of shared governance occurs via the administrative channel involving departments and colleges/centers. In either case, he said the administrative channel is involved with issues before they come to the Council and many governance issues such as hiring and tenure do not involve the Council. He said he thought the project initiated by the executive committee to identify governance processes within the colleges and schools was important. Even if the deans do not agree with every suggestion about governance matters, he said he thought determining how governance was occurring should be taken seriously. Chair Staiger thanked President Powers for his support. Professor David Hillis (integrated biology and past Faculty Council chair) said he thought the minimal standards were actually set out in Regents’ Rules and asked what the next step should be to bring the College of Communications into compliance with the minimal standards. President Powers responded as follows:
If it’s an issue of actually not being in compliance to the Regents’ Rules, the provost and I will make sure that people are in compliance with the Regents’ Rules. What I do want to point out, I don’t think people are not remembering when we voted on these processes, it doesn’t mean that somebody’s not in compliance with the Regents’ Rules. I think they are in compliance with the Regents’ Rules, and if they’re not we’ll make sure that they are.
When Professor Hillis said he thought in the case of the College of Communications that the issue was that the unit did not meet any of the three criteria, President Powers replied he did not think lack of compliance with the criteria meant a unit was out of compliance with Regents’ Rules, and he felt the issues could be resolved. Chair Staiger said she thought Professor Hillis was suggesting that the Faculty Council is unable operate in terms of processing legislation from a unit when its governance process is not known.

When Professor Brian Evans (electrical and computer engineering) asked if there were any interdisciplinary degrees or activities falling within two units that could be impacted by the minimal standard, Chair Staiger said she did not think so but assumed both units would proceed to make curricular changes if such a program existed at the undergraduate level. President Powers asked if there could be governance issues at certain research centers that function at the level of a college and report to a vice president. Chair Staiger said she thought most research centers offering curriculum were Chair Staiger located in a college, but she would be willing check on any suggested to her.

Chair Elect Dean Neikirk (electrical and computer engineering) proposed the following motion: Colleges or schools should meet the three minimum standards or the Faculty Council will no longer process approval for their proposed curriculum changes. These minimum standards are (1) The college/school will hold an annual college/school meeting; (2) The college/school curriculum committee will be either elected by faculty, or, if appointed by chair or dean, the unit’s proposed curriculum changes will be circulated to the full college/school faculty for approval on a no protest basis; (3) The college/school governance process and procedures will be approved “recently” by the college/school’s voting faculty. Chair Janet Staiger asked for a second to the motion and there were several voiced.

President Powers asked if a statement could be added to the motion saying the Faculty Council can waive Council consideration in individual circumstances. He said the waiver would prevent an individual Council member, who opposes a proposal, from hamstringing the Council when a majority of the members want a proposal to move forward. Professor Hillis said he did not think the addition to the motion was needed because according to Robert’s Rules of Order a body has the right to waive its own procedures by vote. Chair Staiger asked if there were any more comments or questions. There being none, she called for a voice vote and the motion was unanimously approved. Chair Staiger said her preference was to work with President Powers to gain compliance with the standards.

When Lauren Ratliff (student representative, Senate of College Councils) asked with questions about student participation on approval of curriculum changes had been solicited, Chair Staiger said she had not done this because students are not given a major role in curriculum matters similar to that of the faculty. She suggested that the Senate of College Councils and Student Government lobby to be part of the college/school curriculum committees either with or without a vote. Chair Staiger said the information from each of the colleges/schools would be posted on the Faculty Council web site.

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