Senate Minutes 11/01

University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Faculty Senate
Minutes of the Faculty Senate Meeting of 13 November 2001

The UAB Faculty Senate met on 13 November 2001 in Rooms 412-413 of the Hill University Center. The agenda adopted by the Executive Committee was distributed (Document 1).

Those present were: Officers: Hickson (Chair), Heaven (Chair Elect), Schnorrenberg (Secretary). Senators: Basilico, Eleftherious, Givan, Greenup, Hutchison, Lemons, Liber, Mercado, Mulvihill, Pfeiffer, Sapp, Swanson, Telfair, Than, Tyson. Alternates: Bodon (for Weaver), Martin (for Beard), Pezzementi. Guests: Rosalia Scripa, Theodore Benditt, Terry Tatum.

The Chair of the Faculty called the meeting to order at 7:45 a.m. He introduced Charles A. Nash, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the University of Alabama System to report to the Senate on the proposed set of Strategic Initiatives. The Chair reminded the Senate that these initiatives had been distributed to the senators as an attachment to a memorandum from the chair on 7 November on the Senate Listserv. A copy of the initiatives is attached to these minutes (Document 2).

Dr. Nash summarized the process by which the Strategic Initiatives had been developed and information about them distributed. The trustees approved implementing the initiatives at their meeting on 17 November 2000. Dr. Nash sought responses from the campuses to the initiatives in a memorandum of 4 January 2001. Dr. Michael Wyss, then Chair of the Faculty at UAB responded to the initiatives in a letter written in January. Dr. Nash said that the Chancellor's office has not asked campuses to implement the initiatives, but it hopes to come to closure on the process. The initiatives fall into three groups: Strategic Collaboration in Academic Programs among UA System Institutions, Strategic Collaboration in Administrative Operations among UA System Institutions, and Improving the Overall State of Teaching and Learning in Alabama--P-16.

Dr. Nash said that he would respond to questions or comments about the Initiatives.

Senator Eleftherious asked if there was a study of goodness or badness of our system relative to other institutions. Dr. Nash responded that our system was good in smaller ventures, but we have not worked together well as a system as a whole. There had been no planning for this. We had just come out of the 1997 7 1/2 percent cut and two years of flat state support. So our focus was on how to become more efficient in the use of resources. Is there overlap that can be reduced by cooperation? We discussed dependence on community colleges and high schools.

The Chair asked whether any thought has been given to where money comes from to meet costs. Dr. Nash said that campuses are taxed to support system costs. So money comes from the campuses. The Chancellor's office has talked about grants to support collaborative efforts on K-12 and similar cooperative projects. The university in Tuscaloosa is looking at ways to cooperate with math and science instruction in high schools. In Georgia such ventures are easier to support because state appropriations go to the office for the whole system.

Senator Greenup asked when movement toward the initiatives will go forward. Does the new Chancellor buy into this? Dr. Nash responded that the proposal for initiatives have been approved by the Board of Trustees. The new Chancellor will wish to do what the Board asks.

Dr. Scripa asked whether the proposed deadline of 15 February 2002 was still in place for further input from faculty and the several campuses. Dr. Nash responded that the Chancellor's office would take whatever it gets. Dates are challenges rather than mandates.

Senator Greenup asked how the initiatives proposed by the third group on the overall state of teaching and learning in Alabama related to the responsibilities of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Dr. Nash responded that ACHE is the higher education planning authority for the state. The opportunities and limitations of ACHE limit its opportunities. Part of the problem is that higher education in Alabama has eleven separate governing boards. Dr. Nash said that Chancellor Meredith and he and others have been working for three years to create a P-16 council for Alabama. There is a resolution to create such a council on the Governor's desk. He has committed to do this. Meanwhile, the University of Alabama system should plan strategic initiatives because it is the most important and largest higher education system in the state.

The Chair thanked Dr. Nash for his remarks.

The Chair asked if there were corrections to the minutes of the meeting of the Senate on 9 October 2001 (Document 3). Hearing none, he ordered them approved as distributed.

The Chair gave his report. He asked Dr. Scripa to speak about the work of the Awards Committee. She said that the committee had met two weeks ago for the second time. A subcommittee is close to a final draft of a policy. The whole committee will meet in about two or three weeks to consider the proposed policy. The Chair said that he and Senator Wyss are serving on the committee.

The Chair announced the election to the Board of Trustees of two new members who are undergraduate alumni of UAB. He also announced that the term of the new Chancellor of the university would begin on 1 January.

The Chair recognized Senator Hutchison to give the report of the Governance and Operations Committee. She said that the committee had spent most of the time at its recent meeting developing a process and schedule for senate elections for next year. The senate will no longer depend on the faculty affairs committees for the schools to make nominations from the schools. It has been hard to find out who are the chairs of some of these committees. Therefore the committee has decided to ask the senators and alternate senators from each school to be the nominations committee for that school. The Secretary of the Faculty has sent memoranda to these new committees asking them to undertake the work of providing nominations.

The Governance and Operations Committee considered whether alternate members of the Faculty Policies and Procedures Committee should be officially chosen. The committee resisted making this change.

The committee also considered the question of how to call additional meetings of the senate, but reached no conclusion.

The committee will review the budget of the senate and make recommendations about the allocation of these funds.

The Chair reported on the planned recreation of the Fringe Benefits Committee. President Reynolds had written him on 26 October to respond to the Senate resolution about creating such a committee. She will "broaden the responsibility of the ad-hoc committee and change its name to the UAB Fringe Benefits Committee." (Document 4)

The Chair recognized Senator Bodon to give the report of the Faculty Affairs Committee. The committee has been considering issues relating to the Grievance Policy. The Provost had sent a memorandum on 23 October to the Chair of the Faculty about Grievance Procedure. (Document 5) Senator Greenup commented on the grievance procedure. She had just seen the memorandum of the Provost. The Executive Committee of the Senate has been concerned about the grievance process for the last two years. The issue is who makes the decision to appoint a grievance panel or not. If a faculty member requests such a panel, then one must be formed. The Faculty Handbook appears to say that a grievance panel can be formed to deal with almost any matter not specifically excluded. The Provost's memorandum appears to say that a faculty senate member cannot be acceptable as an advisor in the grievance process. The Faculty Policies and Procedures Committee has appointed a subcommittee chaired by Senator Wyss to address the grievance issue.

Dr. Scripa did not wish to comment on the memorandum but said that some issues must be resolved at the School level.

Senator Wyss asked Dr. Scripa how many request for a grievance panel there had been. She said that there are now two termination for cause hearings in progress. No grievance hearing is in progress. There is no estimate of how many requests there may have been. Dr. Scripa said that it is a nightmare to try to schedule grievance panels.

Senator Eleftherious said that scheduling panels is a problem. Failure to have or schedule panels downgrades the rights of those who seek help. Yet the institution cannot demand that faculty serve on panels.

Senator Tyson said that he was alarmed that there were schools, which had no grievance procedure in place. Should the Senate urge that a process be in place in each school?

Senator Mulvihill said that schools have to put procedures in place but these have to be in tune with the handbook. In her school a faculty grievance is rare. When one arose, we had to create a procedure.

Senator Telfair said that we should create a procedure in each school. He asked that the Executive Committee work on discovering what progress each school makes to develop a procedure. What is the procedure at the school level?

Senator Tyson asked whether we are saying that the real issue is whether the Provost has the right not to call a grievance panel. This is still in question.

Senator Greenup said that she strongly solicited the help of all senators to work on the policy. The issue needs to be addressed.

Senator Bodon said that the memorandum of the Provost was unsatisfactory. It must be answered. There is no provision for the relief of a grievance if the Provost refuses a panel. So the faculty member must then go to the newspapers or file a lawsuit.

The Chair called for new business.

Senator Liber asked for consideration of three issues: Is there an attendance policy for students at UAB. What process is there for the removal of disruptive students from the classroom? Why are health insurance premiums at UAB double those at the University of Alabama?

Senator Eleftherious said that UAB employees pay 122% of the insurance premiums of employees at UAH or UAT. This is because Blue Cross/Blue Shield will not accept the same rate for Birmingham as for Huntsville or Tuscaloosa. This is bacause the young and healthy employees favor the VIVA plan.

Senator Liber asked whether UAB should not reconsider the issue of VIVA. What would Blue Cross/Blue Shield rates be at UAB if VIVA did not exist?

The Chair said that there is no university-wide attendance policy at UAB. He said that the Vice President for Student Affairs should be notified about disruptive students.

Dr. Benditt said that an attendance policy can be stated by each faculty member.

Senator Schnorrenberg said that a department might create a departmental attendance policy.

Dr. Benditt said that if you have an attendance policy, you must take roll regularly and keep your record.

The Chair referred the question of a possible attendance policy to the Curriculum Committee.

There was a brief discussion about the Strategic Initiatives. It was asked that the Executive Committee consider this matter.

There being no further business, the Chair adjourned the meeting at 9:22 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

John M. Schnorrenberg
Secretary of the Faculty

NOTE: Documents referred to in the text are attached to the original of these minutes. If you wish to have a copy of an attached document, e-mail your request to Stephanie Belcher. Please specify the date of the Senate meeting and the number of the document you desire. They will be sent by campus mail.