Senate Minutes 6/00

University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Faculty Senate
Minutes of the Faculty Senate Meeting of 16 June 2000

The UAB Faculty Senate met on 16 June 2000 in the Reynolds-Kirschbaum Recital Hall of the Alys Stephens Center of the university. The agenda adopted by the Executive Committee for this meeting was distributed (Document 1).

Those present were: Officers: Wyss (Chair), Hickson (Chair Elect), Jannett (Past Chair), Schnorrenberg (Secretary). Senators: Ball, Basilico, Cheung, Culver, Fullard, Greenup, Gunther-Canada, Harris, Hutchison, Knowles, Mercado, Paul, Pfeiffer, Price, Sapp, Scripa, Telfair, Watkins, Zahariadis. Alternates: Andrews, Chapman, Fleming, Givan, Jackson, Keitt, Laken, Phillips, Rigney, Tyson. Ex-Officio: O'Neil, Reynolds, Wittig.

The chair called the meeting to order at 1:13 p.m. He asked guests who were present to introduce themselves, and several persons did so.

The chair asked whether there were any corrections to the minutes of the senate meeting of 12 May, which had been distributed (Document 2). Hearing no corrections, the chair ordered the minutes approved as distributed.

The chair presented his report on opportunities and challenges for 2000-01 and the charges to the committees of the senate.

The challenges ahead are childcare, distance learning, retention of students, salary compensation, semester conversion, and an adequate state budget.

The senate and the university did great work in 2000 to achieve increased state funding, but we need to re-engage for 2001.

Faculty and staff salaries must become competitive with national and regional averages. The university must recognize the merit of existing faculty, especially by limiting salary compression. It must successfully recruit new faculty. The administration's 2000-2001 adjustment pool will help do these things.

Distance learning is newly important. We must become aware of the impact of e-learning on students and faculty. What are the consequences of failure to e-compete? We must examine for-profit enterprises at other universities, such as Cornell, Columbia. Maryland, and Temple.

Senate task forces exist or are contemplated for four problems: early childcare (Kay Hogan Smith), financing sports (James Alexander), parking (Thomas McKenna), and salary compensation (to be appointed).

The charge to the task force on early childcare is fourfold. Consider advantages and disadvantages as teaching and research facility and whether this will be a significant tool for recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students. What are the costs? What should be the business plan? Should the facility be privatized? The task force is to make a final report by December 2000.

The chair announced the preliminary list of the membership of the four standing committees of the senate, Curriculum and Research, Faculty Affairs. Finance, and Governance and Operations (Document 3). Chairs have been appointed for Curriculum and Research (David Basilico), Faculty Affairs (Pat Greenup), and Governance and Operations (Jeanne Hutchison). A chair has not yet been appointed for Finance.

The charge to Curriculum and Research is sixfold: Consider the use of part-time faculty. Review the relation between IRB regulations and teaching and student research. Monitor student retention and semester conversion. Consider distance learning and its impact on education at UAB. Consider the infrastructure for teaching and research. Does UAB have modern, well-equipped teaching and research facilities?

The charge to Faculty Affairs is fourfold: Consider the use of part-time faculty. Interpret the findings of the administrator evaluation and provide appropriate feedback. Review the grievance policy. Consider the faculty reward system; what are the incentives for excellence in research, service, and teaching? Review workload, recognition, and the mandate for sabbaticals.

The charge to the Finance Committee is to review and consider compensation priorities, to study the state budget, to review fringe benefits, to consider issues of equipment accounting, and to consider the financial impact of semester conversion and e-learning.

The charge to the Governance and Operations Committee is fivefold: Consider grievance procedures. Consider changes in the constitution and bylaws of the senate. Improve communication between the administration and the faculty, including electronic formats. Facilitate communication among the faculty and between senate and faculty. Increase participation by the faculty in the senate and its committees and task forces.

The chair announced that Wayne Echols was present and would speak to the senate about plans for university appeals for improved state budget. The chair announced that the administration has been able to identify a raise pool of 5% to improve faculty salaries. Some of this is set aside to provide special help. The chair announced that the raise pool for administrative salaries is only 4%.

The chair recognized President Reynolds to address the senate.

The president praised Wayne Echols for his planning of the UAB budget strategy and the work of carrying it out. UAB made a strong case that UAB funding had diminished relative to ACHE standards. UAB secured an increase in state funds of 6.06 %, not including special line items. The university in Tuscaloosa got 5.32% and the university in Huntsville 5.54%. These increases will help, but we shall be asking the Board of Trustees to approve certain tuition increases. The Schools of Medicine and Optometry are not asking for an increase. The School of Dentistry seeks 5%. Undergraduate and graduate tuition will increase 3%. The university in Tuscaloosa is going up more than we are. Auburn is imposing a very high out-of-state tuition.

Our salary increase is a 5% merit pool increase. Because of special needs and repairs and IRB new costs we had to pull extra dollars from other areas to create this pool. We were able to set aside $420,000 for special salary increases. Staff and administration will get only 4% increase pool. Other problems are operating costs for new buildings and graduate stipend issues which are critical. There will be some new costs from our efforts and planning for student retention, especially mandatory freshman orientation.

UAB is not increasing parking fees. The UAB budget provides heavy subsidy for childcare in university facilities (3,000 per child).

We are seeking to provide funds for new facilities. We are seeking a bond issue for new hospital facilities. New student housing is now being built. We have had a gift of 1.5 million dollars for a new floor in the Kaul Genetics Building. We are renovating and enlarging the Professional Arts Building. We have provided a new Hospital Annex Building.

The president yielded the floor to Mr. Wayne Echols.

Mr. Echols thanked the senate for our communication of faculty concerns to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and legislators to help persuade them to support increased funding for UAB. He also thanked the senate for its resolution addressed to the Board of Trustees about the appointment of a new trustee and about the need to have a trustee with a baccalaureate degree from UAB. The board has made a commitment to do this, and such an appointment will pay future dividends.

Mr. Echols said that this summer and fall we shall work on getting more state money based on our differing mission. We shall press to improve the percentage of new funds devoted to mission-based funding. We are going to try to move from a third to a half of new funds to be used for this purpose. We are also excited about a proposal for an Alabama Research Alliance. We need capital funds, and this may be a step in the right direction so that we have state funds for some capital projects in the governor's budget.

Mr. Echols said that we are involving students in our approach to the legislature. We are planning area meetings between legislators and the UAB employees and students resident in their districts.

Finally, said Mr. Echols, we are now two years away from the next general election. We need our friends to raise funds in support of candidates who will support UAB.

The floor was opened to questions. A senator inquired what "mission based" funding is. President Reynolds explained that this is a euphemism for budgeting adequate by ACHE guidelines, which differentiate the needs of institutions in accordance with the costs of their greater or lesser responsibilities.

The chair opened the floor to nominations for two senators to serve on the executive committee. Senator Greenup nominated Stephen Rostand and Linda Harris. There were no other nominations. Senator Schnorrenberg moved that the candidates be elected by acclamation, the motion carried, and the candidates were elected.

The Chair recognized Senator Schnorrenberg to give the report of the Committee on Elections. Senator Schnorrenberg pointed out that 655 of the 1824 faculty had voted, 35.9%. The full text of the report is attached to the original of the minutes as Document 4.

The chair recognized Senator Greenup to give the report of the Faculty Affairs Committee. She pointed out that 38% of the faculty had returned administrator evaluation forms. Further analysis must be done before the results can be communicated to administrators and to faculty. A copy of the full report is attached to these minutes as Document 5.

The chair recognized Senator Burns to give the report of the Finance Committee (Document 6). Senator Burns thanked especially the members of the committee who had attended regularly and taken full part in its deliberations during the year. They were Senators Alexander, Capper, Claude, Hardin, Harris, Reed, and Von Matre and Professor Benditt. Eight members of the committee attended none of the meetings. During the year the committee reviewed the budget process for state appropriation, identified possible alternate sources for funding salaries, planned a review of the financing of the football program, considered whether Blue Cross Blue Shield could continue to be a viable financial alternative as a UAB health benefits option, and discussed the issue of a faculty club.

The chair announced that Senator Gunther-Canada would chair the Arts and Sciences Council, but that there would be no report from the Council at this senate meeting.

The chair recognized Provost O'Neil to make remarks on the report of the Retention Task Force. He thanked the members of the task force for their work. They were Mike Neilson and Virginia Gauld, Co-chairs, Stella Cocoris, Sue McKinnon, John Wittig, Scott Snyder, Robert Holmes, James McClintock, Nancy Walburn, and Jamease Todd (student representative). The task force was charged to discuss all aspects of student retention and to develop a comprehensive plan for improving it.

The provost said that there had been two surveys of retention satisfaction with UAB. The first was of 314 students in 1994. The chief concerns expressed were the ability to get into desired classes, problems of personal finance, and lack of parking. A 1999 telephone survey of 135 students who had not returned to UAB found that the main reasons were personal and financial.

The Retention Task Force arranged for the administrators of the Noel-Levetts survey, a nationally recognized instrument. This was done in January 2000, and 1,994 students responded. Among the chief concerns expressed were (1) parking and security, (2) availability of classes, (3) financing their education, (4) treatment of students as individuals. However, UAB compared favorably to other public institutions in most other areas surveyed.

The task force decided to concentrate on issues of academic integration of students. It made six recommendations:

  1. Develop learning support progress by providing supplemental instruction in some classes. Students will train students. This will be implemented in Fall 2001. There will also be an effort to develop a learning community by moving some groups of students together through a sequence of courses.

  2. There will be mandatory orientation for all new students. This will happen this summer for freshmen and by Winter 2001 for all transfer students.

  3. Improve academic advising.

  4. Begin a freshmen success course, a 1 semester-hour elective.

  5. Provide for assessment of these new ventures.

  6. Enhance current practices for registration, financial, and advising, and other student services to avoid inefficiencies and annoyance to students.

The provost said that he had met with the co-chairs of the task force to discuss their recommendations. He will fully implement the proposals in the Fall term of 2001, the first year of the new semester system.

The chair recognized Senator Jannett who on behalf of the Executive Committee, moved that:

The Faculty Senate approves the recommendations of the Faculty Policies and Procedures Committee that the term of nine-month faculty appointments be from 15 August to 15 May, beginning with the new semester calendar.

The recommendation of the committee appears as part of Document 7.

The motion was seconded, the question put and the motion carried.

The chair reported to the senate on his negotiations with Provost O'Neil and Vice President Margison about the Equipment Accountability Policy, which the senate declined to recommend at its last meeting. He had transmitted the results of these to the Faculty Policies and Procedures Committee. The committee approved the wording changes to the policy (Document 8). Senate Jannett moved:

The Senate approves the recommendation of the Faculty Policies and Procedures Committee to change the proposed Equipment Accountability Policy as follows:

  1. Strike the language "That on an annual basis the President has the authority to change the percentage of original cost penalty for lost equipment" and substitute "That on annual basis the President in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate has the authority to change the percentage of original cost penalty for lost equipment."

  2. Strike the language "that the basis for equipment cost is the original cost of the equipment" and substitute "that the basis for the equipment cost is the approximate real value of the lost equipment, as estimated by the depreciation tables for capital equipment or the estimated street value for non-capital equipment."

  3. Strike the language "that the funds generated by the penalty shall be placed under the control of the Provost" and substitute "that the funds generated by the penalty shall be placed under the control of the Dean of the School from which they were taken. The Chair of the Department that was penalized shall have the right to present a case to the Dean for the restitution of the funds, but the return of the funds or their use for other purposes shall be solely vested in the Dean."

Senator Jannett pointed out that the senate was being asked to approve modifications made by the committee and this was the second review. The chair put the question, and the motion carried.

The chair announced that BellSouth will be the new internet provider for university internet communication services. This should resolve the concerns expressed by the senate in its recent resolution.

The chair presented Past Chair Jannett with a fishing rod and reel as an expression of thanks for his service as Chair of the Faculty. The senate applauded him.

The chair recognized Senator Schnorrenberg who moved the following resolution:

Whereas, Michael J. Neilson, Ph.D.has has been Associate Provost for Undergraduate Programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham since 1998, and

Whereas, Professor Neilson has been a member of the faculty of the university since 1975, and

Whereas, Professor Neilson, prior to his appointment as Associate Provost served as Associate Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 1981 to 1997, Chair of the Department of Geology from 1989 to 1997, and Acting Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 1997-1998, and

Whereas, Professor Neilson is not only Professor of Geology but also holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Justice Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Environmental Health Sciences, and

Whereas, Professor Neilson received the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching for the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 1994, and

Whereas, Professor Neilson has served with patience, courtesy, grace, learning, and rectitude in his work as teacher and administrator, and

Whereas, Professor Neilson has now ended his full-time service to his students, his colleagues, and this university by retiring,

Now therefore be it resolved by the Faculty Senate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham that:

  1. The Senate commends Michael J. Neilson, Ph.D., Professor of Geology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Programs, for his twenty-five years of distinguished service as a teacher and student of the science of geology in itself and in relation to other subjects.

  2. The Senate further commends Professor Neilson for his tireless and excellent work of administrative leadership in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and for the education of undergraduate students of the university in general.

  3. The Senate wishes for Professor Neilson a long and happy retirement from the good work he has done for the university and its students, knowing that he will discover new work to do and that he will do it superbly well.

  4. The Senate directs its secretary to engross a copy of this resolution for the signature of the Chair of the Faculty and to transmit it to Professor Neilson in token of its approbation and esteem for the work Professor Neilson has done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The question was put and the motion carried.

The chair recognized Senator Jannett who moved on behalf of the Executive Committee

Be it resolved by the Faculty Senate that

  1. There be an ad hoc committee of the senate to serve as a task force to devise a specific plan for the allocation of existing financial resources of the university and the securing of new financial resources to improve faculty compensation.

  2. This task force's specific plan shall address the following issues:

    Making compensation of faculty competitive with regional and national averages;

    Rewarding the merit of present faculty through promotion raises, elimination of salary compression, and other equitable ways and means, and

    Enabling successful competitive recruitment of new faculty.

  3. The membership of the task force should be three persons appointed by the President of the University and three by the Chair of the Faculty. The Chair of the Faculty should appoint the chair of the task force.

  4. The task force must make monthly reports to the senate from August through November and a final report in January. Should the task force need an extension of time for making its final report, it may request this extension from the senate in January.

In response to a question the chair asked the provost whether the administration would approve and participate in the proposed task force. The provost said it would.

The question was put and the motion carried.

The chair recognized Senator Schnorrenberg who moved

Be it resolved by the Faculty Senate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham that Standing Rule 1 of the Senate is suspended to permit the senate to meet on October 6, 2000 at 8 a.m., instead of October 13.

The question was put and the motion carried.

The chair recognized Senator Price who moved that

The Arts and Sciences Council shall be abolished.

In the debate which followed Senators Price and Hutchison spoke.

Senator Schnorrenberg was recognized and moved that

The resolution be referred to the Senate Executive Committee with instructions to report the resolution to the July meeting of the Senate.

The question was put and the motion carried.

The chair recognized Senator Jannett, who moved that

  1. Flexible health care benefit plans are important tools in the retention and recruitment of faculty and staff of excellence.

  2. It is, thus, advantageous for UAB to maintain viable and affordable health care benefit plan options. The Faculty Senate of UAB, therefore, reaffirms its past positions on health benefits and continues to support efforts to insure that multiple, comparably priced health care plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield, are available to the faculty and staff of UAB.

Professor Jannett commented on the work of the Fringe Benefits Committee and reported the considerable increases in premiums for health insurance policies other than Viva which are now being proposed. The Fringe Benefits Committee will probably recommend that the university pay 75% of the cost of each plan, but this recommendation may not be accepted. Senator Scripa asked what is viable. Senator Watkins observed that a possible substantial increase in the cost to the university of health insurance would decrease the salary pool. Senator Jannett observed that 40% of the faculty now choose the Blue Cross and Blue Shield option.

The chair put the question and the motion carried.

The chair asked for a two-minute extension of adjournment time to permit a short open forum. There was no objection, but there were no issues raised. Adjournment was moved, seconded, put, and carried. The Senate adjourned at 3:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

John M. Schnorrenberg
Secretary of the Faculty

NOTE: Persons who wish to have a copy of an attached document referred to in the minutes should e-mail a request to Stephanie Belcher. Please name the document you desire. Attached documents exist only as hard copy. They will be sent by campus mail.