The FCC and the MN Daily co-sponsored a "Community Forum on Faculty Unionization" in April. The intent of the event was to provide an objective venue for discussion on how a unionized faculty might affect the Twin Cities campus. Panelists included professors, instructional staff, and a graduate student, and topics ranged from how unionizing might affect salary and recruitment of faculty to how the current governance system might change. Professor Aaron Sojourner, panelist and expert in labor economics, referred attendees to his
website, which has many links to external resources.
RECOGNIZING OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO UNIVERSITY SENATE GOVERNANCE
The Outstanding Service to University Senate
Governance Recognition honors faculty, P&A, and civil service
employees who have made a significant impact on University Senate governance.
Left to right: Donald Cavalier, Naomi Scheman, and Ann Hagen.
Donald Cavalier is the director of the Career Development and Counseling Department at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Don has been an active participant in University Senate governance for more than 15 years. He played a pivotal role in shaping the Civil Service Consultative Committee and continues to serve on the Civil Service Senate.
Ann Hagen, assistant program director in the Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training Program and the Graduate Program in Oral Biology, is described as the model of an actively engaged University of Minnesota employee. Since 2006, Ann has demonstrated her commitment through her service as the P&A Senate chair-elect, chair, and past chair and as a P&A senator from the School of Dentistry.
Naomi Scheman, professor, Department of Philosophy and Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, has made outstanding contributions to faculty governance since she began her employment at the University in 1979. Her service includes chairing and serving as a member on numerous University Senate committees as well as serving as a University and Faculty senator. She is credited with making faculty governance more effective, meaningful, and deliberative.
The governance service records for this year's recipients are available here.
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 Faculty Consultative Committee took up a number of high priority issues facing the campus this year, one of which was free speech. After much discussion, on March 10, the FCC provisionally approved a two-page "Free Speech at the University of Minnesota: Four Core Principles
" statement, pending consideration and consultation by the Academic Freedom & Tenure Committee, the Office for Equity and Diversity, the Student Senate, the provost, and the president. Subsequently, the committee solicited input on the statement from University senators. Then, at its April 21 meeting, the FCC discussed the statement's supporting documents, an "Addendum" and "Recommendations
," and passed a motion that these supplemental documents not only be distributed to the aforementioned parties but the broader University community in order to encourage even further dialogue. Given the University's commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom, FCC members feel strongly that diverse opinions should not only be heard, but encouraged and protected. Ultimately, the goal is for the University of Minnesota to have a free speech statement that its community can support.
P&A CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (PACC)
The Professional and Administrative Consultative Committee spent time this semester discussing several human resources issues presented by the Benefits and Compensation Subcommittee (B&C). The first issue was a summation report of the work done by B&C during and after the Job Family Study process. The subcommittee felt that it was important to memorialize the work that was done and the comments that were received from P&A employees. Additionally, B&C completed a survey of nine-month and ten-month contract employees regarding vacation and work outside contract months. The results were then presented to the P&A Senate for discussion. The P&A Senate also spoke with Police Chief Matt Clark. Lastly, the Professional Development and Recognition
Subcommittee (PD&R) presented the 2016 Outstanding Unit Award to the Kathryn A. Martin Library, Duluth. This annual award recognizes units of the University of Minnesota that are judged to be exemplary in their support of P&A employees and the critical role P&A employees fulfill in supporting the University's mission.
CIVIL SERVICE CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (CSCC)
The Civil Service Consultative Committee Rules Subcommittee devoted most of this academic year to revisions to the Civil Service Employment Rules
. As amendments have not been proposed in over five years, this year's process focused on the following topics: paying out unused vacation accrual in to a health care savings plan if applicable, providing parental leave at a comparable rate with other employee groups, reviewing the use of sick leave, and the addition of verbal and written notice of performance issues during the probationary period. The process entails the Rules Subcommittee working with the Office of Human Resources to consider the appropriate language changes. Those changes were then brought to the Civil Service Senate for review and comment, and were approved by the CSCC. The final part of the consultation process involves two scheduled
public hearings during which time civil service employees can ask questions and make comments. The proposed amendments are scheduled to be presented to the Board of Regents at their meetings on June 9-10. If approved, the changes will take effect on June 10, 2016.
STUDENT SENATE CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (SSCC)
The Student Senate Consultative Committee (SSCC) spent considerable time this semester focused on restructuring the membership and bylaws of SSCC to more effectively reflect its role as a governing body for all system campuses. The proposed structure would be composed of one representative each from the system campus governance organizations; one representative each from the Minnesota Student Association (MSA), Council of Graduate Students (COGS), and Professional Student Group (PSG); the chair; vice chair; and an at-large representative of the Student Senate. The goal is to have an executive committee equally representative of all student bodies on each of the campuses to more effectively represent the entire University system.
A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE
Director, Professional Education, College of Pharmacy
The Senate Committee on Student Affairs charge asks that it be "concerned with all issues dealing with the welfare of students at the University of Minnesota." Given my role as chair of the committee, it felt important to ask the following fundamental questions to assure that all students were included in the committee's work:
Who feels welcome on campus?
Who gets admitted, and who gets to graduate?
Does the diversity we have on campus contribute to students' education?
What are our goals with regard to diversity and inclusion? How do we know if we are making progress?
Seeking answers left room for - if not actually alarm - acknowledgment of the need for further effort by the University and the University Senate and its committees. In conjunction with Rob Stewart, chair of the Student Senate Consultative Committee, I have looked closely at the issue of campus climate over the past year. The two of us met with people who lead diversity and inclusion initiatives from the Offices of Admissions, Equity and Diversity, and Student Affairs. We found that in addition to the individual work of these offices, there are also systems in place at the upper administrative levels to coordinate efforts among units. There is a campus climate initiative that is reaching all corners of the University to make inroads on diversity and inclusion.
In other words, we discovered that there are some truly great people doing truly great work.
But still, after reviewing University efforts on diversity and inclusion we are left with these questions. We are by no means experts in the field, and we understand there is much we don't know about this topic. We also acknowledge the large numbers of students, faculty, and staff on campus making positive contributions to increase diversity and inclusion throughout the University every single day. Inclusion is a point of pride in many areas of the University.
But years from now, we might consider this time in our country to be the "post-Ferguson era." Issues of race, diversity, gender, religion, equality, and inclusion are at the forefront of media coverage, especially on college campuses. On our own campus, students have come forward in several forums clearly stating that we do not provide a welcoming environment to all identities. We have been fortunate not to have been a powder-keg on this issue like our friends in Missouri. But could we? Might we need a ground-shaking event to establish a clear institutional direction on this topic?
Our concerns lie not just in anecdotal evidence. The data supports the need for action. It seems to show that, at least on the Twin Cities campus, we are moving backwards. SERU (Student Experience in the Research University) results show that campus climate from 2012 to 2015 has worsened when parsed by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, disability, and social class. While the president has identified campus climate as one of his priorities, the strategic plan of the University and Twin Cities campus in particular have no clear goals on inclusion, diversity, or campus climate. Without clear goals, all we are left with are questions. My hope is that the University Senate and its committees will continue to work with administration on
this important issue.
MARCH 3, 2016 UNIVERSITY & FACULTY SENATE MEETINGS
Professor Will Durfee brought a revised Administrative Policy on Individual Conflicts of Interest to the University Senate for discussion, after consulting with many groups over the past few months. Many senators spoke about the need for a "transparent policy which protects patients and promotes ethics." However, some senators felt that the draft was still too complicated while other senators expressed concern that the draft policy does not go far enough in addressing potential issues. Professor Durfee said that these comments would be used when making any further modifications.
APRIL 7, 2016 STUDENT SENATE MEETING
Two resolutions, one to promote the use of reusable bags at the University Bookstore and a second calling for restrictions on free rental of TCF Bank stadium, were approved. Senators also debated the FCC's "Free Speech at the University of Minnesota: Four Core Principles" statement at some length in addition to proposed changes to the Senate bylaws regarding Student Senate Consultative Committee membership.
The Administrative Policy on Individual Conflicts of Interest was brought before the University Senate by Professor Will Durfee for action. Concerns included the definition of "investigator" and the restrictions posed by the "no income" standard. This policy has been sent to senators for an electronic vote. The FCC's
"Free Speech at the University of Minnesota: Four Core Principles" statement was also presented and continued to provide fodder for vigorous discussion. Chair Colin Campbell stated that the purpose of releasing the provisionally-approved document was to hear from the University community. The FCC will continue to work on the statement and solicit feedback, he said.
MAY 5, 2016 STUDENT SENATE MEETING
Proposed changes to the Student Senate bylaws and membership were passed. The Student Senate also reviewed and approved revisions to the Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code
. The primary concern for the Student Senate revolved around how medical amnesty would work in practice. The Student Senate also passed a resolution requesting that University administrators make student mental health a priority. Elections for the 2016-17 chair, vice chair, and at-large representative took place, and Trish Palermo, Colin Wray, and Cheniqua Johnson were chosen, respectively.
MAY 5, 2016 UNIVERSITY & FACULTY SENATE MEETINGS
In his report, President Eric Kaler shared that support is still needed for the University's bonding bill at the legislature. He stated that the proposed merit increase for University employees for the 2016-17 academic year would be 2.5%, and that a tuition increase of 2.5% was being proposed for in-state Twin Cities campus students. The tuition increase for out-of-state students was still under discussion. Both of these items were to be presented to the Board of Regents (BOR) in the upcoming week, he added. Kaler also said that the details of the MHealth and Fairview Health Services merger are being worked on, and he hoped for a June approval by the BOR. Provost Karen Hanson, in her report, said that the Twin Cities campus
Strategic Plan is beginning to move forward. She also said that now that the Higher Learning Commission accreditation team has given their report, the University will have more time to devote to other matters, such as refreshing the general education plan. She added that the commission's report was terrific and noted the University's commitment to shared governance and academic freedom.
SENATE COMMITTEES COLLABORATE ON ISSUES
Restroom and Locker Room Access
The Equity, Access, and Diversity Committee; Social Concerns Committee; Student Senate Consultative Committee; and P&A Senate endorsed the "Resolution to Implement System-Wide Restroom and Locker Room Access." The resolution aims to support access to these facilities for transgender and gender non-conforming persons, individuals who need the assistance of a caregiver of a similar or different gender, and parents or guardians who need to help a child of a different gender.
Retirement Plan Fiduciary Governance Structure
Representatives from the Office of Investments and Banking and the Office of Human Resources engaged a local investment consulting firm, Jeffrey Slocum & Associates, in the spring of 2015 to review the University's current retirement plan governance structure to determine whether modifications should be made to better align the governance framework with fiduciary best practices. The consultant's recommendations were shared with the Retirement Subcommittee as well as other University Senate committees. In addition to continuing to refine the retirement plan objectives, the recommendation was made to establish the cross-functional Retirement Plan Committee charged to serve a fiduciary role over the entire Retirement Program. Membership of the Retirement
Plan Committee will include the chief financial officer, the vice president of human resources, the chief investment officer, the chair of the Retirement Subcommittee, and a presidential appointment. This new fiduciary governance structure is scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2016.
Order of Status Quo Limits Some Committee Work
Several committees have been involved in ongoing discussions and initiatives that, due to the Bureau of Mediation Services Order of Status Quo, are on hold until a faculty vote on whether to unionize takes place. Examples of such initiatives include parental leave equity and discussions focused on the Regents Scholarship.
A message from Colin Campbell, chair of the Senate/Faculty Consultative Committees
Spring semester has been a busy time for the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC). We identified candidates and selected finalists that will shortly be standing for election to fill FCC positions for the next academic year. The FCC consulted with University staff and administrators on a number of matters including, but not limited to, the Administrative Policy on Using and Leasing Outdoor Space: Twin Cities, the Board of Regents: Student Conduct Code, proposed changes to the Office of Institutional Compliance, and pending graduate education policy changes. The FCC met with Chief of Police Matt Clark to discuss campus safety. In addition, the committee met regularly with the president and provost, discussing, amongst other topics, the current legislative session, the Grand Challenges, and
the Strategic Plan. The FCC also devoted considerable time and effort to crafting a document entitled "Free Speech at the University of Minnesota: Four Core Principles." Finally, on April 25, the FCC, in conjunction with the MN Daily, sponsored an informational forum on the potential implications of a Twin Cities faculty union.