A MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR OF THE SENATE/FACULTY CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (SCC/FCC)
Professor Colin Campbell serves as the 2015-16 chair of the SCC/FCC
As I approach the end of my first semester as chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee, I've had the opportunity to reflect (briefly!) on the experience so far. I've found the position to be extremely challenging-and extremely rewarding. On the challenging side, I've become more keenly aware of some of the pressing issues our University is facing. Space limitations preclude a full discussion, but I will briefly mention one that is amongst the most important of these. Events on our campus and nationally have highlighted the challenge of successfully managing the inherent tension between freedom of expression/academic freedom, and the objective of creating and maintaining a welcoming and inclusive campus climate for all. The FCC is working with faculty, staff,
students, and the administration to create opportunities through which this timely and important topic can be addressed. I have greatly enjoyed the opportunities to meet and consult with senior administrators and staff, Regents, fellow faculty members, students, and other members of the University community, and would love to hear from you. I am persuaded that more fully engaging faculty in the governance of the University will make us better and I urge you to participate in governance in your unit, your college, and, if the opportunity presents itself, at the University level. We could use your help!
GOVERNANCE WORKING FOR U
The work of the senates is accomplished primarily through their 25 standing committees, as well as numerous subcommittees and task forces. Faculty, academic professionals, civil service staff, students, alumni, and administrators have designated positions on most committees.
FACULTY CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (FCC)
The FCC was successful in getting faculty governance
representation on two administrative committees: Professor Christopher
Uggen, Department of Sociology and member of the FCC, was appointed to
the Board of Regents Oversight Committee, which served as a single
point of contact for the independent counsel reviewing the Athletics
Department, and a member of the FCC was appointed to a seat on the
President's Senior Leadership Team, which will be held by the outgoing
FCC chair. The committee took up a number of high priority issues
facing the campus. It took the lead on and will work in consultation
with the administration and others in the University community to craft a
freedom of expression/academic freedom statement. FCC members feel
strongly that all opinions should not only be heard, but encouraged and
protected. With diversity also at the forefront of the FCC's attention,
the committee heard from a number of students of color about
experiences they have had on campus, and invited
Katrice Albert, vice president, Office for Equity and Diversity, to
speak on diversity hiring initiatives.
P&A CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (PACC)
Patti Dion, director, Employee Relations and
Compensation, Office of Human Resources (OHR), spoke with PACC about a newly
proposed change by the Department of Labor on federal regulations
governing overtime. The current Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states
that any employee who makes under $23,600 annually automatically
qualifies for overtime pay. The proposed change would raise the minimum
to around $50,000 per year. This could impact all exempt employees
with salaries below $50,000 working more than 40 hours per week.
CIVIL SERVICE CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (CSCC)
The CSCC continues to work on filling seats on the committee, including system campus representation. The committee increased their digital presence through their blog and Twitter
account to share updates and announcements. Chair-elect Duane Orlovski stepped in to serve as chair when Gordon Fisher was reclassified as a P&A employee. CSCC focused on employee concerns related to the Job Family Study, parental leave, merit pay, and cost of living adjustments. The Rules Subcommittee looked at and compared the differences between Civil Service Employment Rules and OHR administrative policies. The Office of the General Counsel determined that the Civil Service Employment Rules take precedence over OHR policies because they are voted on and approved by the Board of Regents. The Benefits and Compensation Subcommittee collected data related to the Job Family Study in an effort to understand the study's implications for employees.
STUDENT SENATE CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (SSCC)
The SSCC advocated for expanding the number of gender-neutral bathrooms across campuses, as well as system-wide sustainability efforts, including waste reduction in the dining halls and increasing the use of composting bins. The committee continues to be involved in discussions exploring campus climate and issues of inclusion and equity. SSCC proposed a resolution at the November Student Senate meeting urging the University administration to drop charges against students from the group Whose Diversity? involved in a Morrill Hall demonstration on February 9, 2015. The resolution passed unanimously.
A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE
Human Subjects Research Protection: Whose Business Is It?
Professor Naomi Scheman
Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts
"The essential need is for the faculty senate to be able to engage in a full and open discussion of these issues as a senate. Discussing such issues is central to the purpose and mission of a faculty body committed to constructive governance within the university."
Those sentences come from a letter sent by fourteen senators to the FCC on 20 November 2013. The "issues" concerned the unresolved questions surrounding the 2004 suicide of Dan Markingson, who was enrolled in an antipsychotic drug study at the University, as well as subsequent administrative responses and broader concerns about human subjects research, especially in the Department of Psychiatry and involving particularly vulnerable participants. The senators' letter was prompted in part by another letter, signed by 177 bioethicists from outside the University, expressing these concerns, and urging an independent inquiry. The Faculty Senate did have that discussion and passed a
resolution calling for such an inquiry. (The resolution includes links to both letters.)
The administration agreed to follow the recommendation of the Faculty Senate; and the inquiry, managed by AAHRPP (The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs), along with a separate investigation conducted by the state's legislative auditor, did find serious fault with the policies and practices meant to protect human participants in research, notably in the Department of Psychiatry. Following the presentation of those reports to the Faculty Senate, an implementation team was set up to put in place the recommendations of the AAHRPP panel. It remains to be seen how successful these efforts will be in addressing the concerns that have been raised, and continuing Faculty Senate involvement is definitely called for.
The Senate's acting as a senate is integral to the University's acting as a university
, meaning as an institution committed, in everything we do, to collaborative, critical research, and teaching. One piece of that commitment is providing an answer to the question of what is distinctive about University-based research. The most distinctive feature of such research ought to be that it is--and is widely perceived to be--distinctively trustworthy; and we all have an interest in guarding that reality and that perception. Not only are we all dependent on the University's reputation for the trustworthiness of the research done here, but we are all responsible for the culture that fosters or hinders that trustworthiness. That culture needs to support the highest ethical standards; and, more than that, it needs to be a culture of engagement--across
disciplines and with diverse communities within and beyond the University. The research that all of us do goes out into the world, and we owe it to each other to send it out prepared to engage the critical challenges of all those with an interest in it. We need to start by trusting each other, not by leaving us each alone, answerable only to whatever regulations might be applicable and to our closest disciplinary colleagues, but rather by taking each other seriously and opening ourselves to each other's questions and perspectives.
LEGISLATIVE LIASON'S UPDATE
NOVEMBER 5, 2015 UNIVERSITY & FACULTY SENATE MEETINGS
Faculty Legislative Liaison Gary Gardner reported that University capital requests will be the focus of the upcoming 2016 legislative session and that Higher Education Asset Preservation and Renovation (HEAPR) funding is the largest proposed project, requesting nearly $100 million in state funding. He added that while the University's capital request is large, a large state surplus is expected this year.
In his address, President Eric Kaler said that University involvement in fetal tissue research will be a contentious issue this year at the legislature, and that eighteen states are currently debating this topic. He emphasized that he and the University stand behind all research that it is ethical and legal. Kaler also mentioned that he visited every system campus over the summer and early fall, and talked with legislators about proposed capital requests, as he believes there will be a lot of competition for available state funds.
In response to questions about when a new chief information officer (CIO) would be appointed and what that hiring process might look like, Kaler responded that Bernard Gulachek has agreed to serve as interim CIO for an indeterminate amount of time. It was decided that the Office of Information Technology would be better served by waiting before any additional changes to IT leadership occur.
Provost Karen Hanson noted the success of the five Grand Challenges Forums that took place in October as part of the University's strategic goal of addressing complex problems through interdisciplinary conversation. Hanson felt each session improved upon the prior as participants learned how the format could foster discussion in areas on which the University might have great impact. She mentioned that budget process conversations and strategic priorities included added focus on graduate and professional education, but did not include any new administrative costs. She added that Higher Learning Commission accreditation teams visited both the Twin Cities and the Rochester campuses, and both visits appeared to go well.
SENATE COMMITTEES COLLABORATE ON ISSUES
JOB FAMILY STUDY
The three-year Job Family Study (JFS) process came to a close this year. Fiscal and personnel concerns of the study spanned the jurisdictions of multiple senate committees, including CSCC, PACC, and the Senate Committee on Finance and Planning (SCFP). FCC Chair Colin Campbell presided over two meetings with Kathy Brown, vice president, OHR, and Patti Dion, director, Employee Relations and Compensation, OHR, to discuss employee concerns regarding implementation of the study and communication from OHR to employees during the JFS process. SCFP members also met with Brown to discuss the financial implications of the study.
A full reinstatement of the Regents Scholarship Program for employees has been gaining support in the CSCC, PACC, and FCC. Previously, the Regents Scholarship Program covered 100% of all tuition. In 2009, it was changed to 100% of the tuition cost for eligible employees admitted for a first baccalaureate degree program and 75% of the tuition cost for all other courses. The committees are seeking reinstatement to previous benefit levels.
Parental leave policy discussions have been taking place in the following committees: Social Concerns, Research, Civil Service Consultative, and Equity, Access, and Diversity. Committees have addressed the disparity in benefits between various employee groups, as well as how current policies might adversely affect both the working environment and hiring policies. A resolution previously drafted by the Research Committee is being reviewed and edited for resubmission to the University Senate.
INDIVIDUAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Representatives from the Office of Institutional Compliance and the Human Subjects Research Implementation Team vetted proposed changes to the Administrative Policy on Individual Conflicts of Interest to several senate committees this fall. They also presented the proposed changes at the November 5 University Senate meeting. In addition to clarifying some of the language in the policy, changes reflect regulations imposed by the 2012 Public Health Service requirements for individuals involved in research, as well as recommendations from the Human Subjects Research Implementation Team. The revised policy is expected to come back to a spring University Senate meeting for approval.
PRESIDENT KALER TO GIVE STATE OF THE U ADDRESS
The address will be held on March 3, 2016, 1:00-2:00 P.M., Coffman Theater. Watch for public announcements for more information.
SPRING 2016 UNIVERSITY SENATE MEETINGS:
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