UO Senate meets Wed at 3PM LIBRARY BROWSING ROOM

Pretty packed agenda. Summer session changes look good. Substitute Senator motion should go smoother the 4th time around. Who the hell knows what’s in the policy repeals except Triplett? The police motion unfortunately comes well short of calling for real reform – starting with replacing Chief McDermed – but it’s a start.

The motion to keep Faculty Advisory Council meetings confidential will get lots of discussion (see below and in the comments) and will I hope then pass. My position?

Any president needs a group of people they can brainstorm with, try out ideas, and discuss things like potential donations and personnel changes, without having to worry it will show up in the papers, or some nasty muckraking blog. If we don’t pass this I assume Schill will stop coming to FAC meetings and set up his own confidential advisory group.

Approving this legislation means we ensure that the faculty (and OA’s) elect the people who give the president confidential advice. Voting against it means that JH will hand-pick them.

I was elected to the IAC in 2010, so I was on it through two of UO’s more disastrous recent years. Now that was an education. (Full disclosure: I was elected again for this year, and I’m also ex-officio as Senate VP.)

So one final reason to vote for this legislation is that anyone can run for the FAC, get elected, and learn how universities function, or don’t. The more faculty who understand universities, the better for the faculty and for the universities. Although the OA’s are probably more important.

Senate Meeting Agenda – November 11, 2015, Browsing Room, Knight Library; 3:00-5:00 pm

3:00 pm    Introductory Remarks, Senate President Randy Sullivan

3:10 pm    1.   Call to Order

3:10 pm    2.   Approval of Minutes

2.1      October 21, 2015

3:15 pm    4.   New Business

4.1       US14/15-40 (Legislation – Returning): To Promote Representative Attendance at Senate Meetings; Senate Executive Committee

Passes unanimously.

4.2       US15/16-05 (Policy Proposal): Proposed Changes to Summer Term Calendar; Frances White (Anthropology), Co-Chair of the Academic Council

Mike Price (Math): Thank you Frances! Passes unanimously.

4.3       US15/16-07 (Policy Proposal): Repeal of IMDs 2.001-015 University System Curricula; Senate Executive Committee

Bonine: Amends to note that the UO Charter gives the faculty jurisdiction over curricula. Board of course has ultimate authority. Amendment and motion pass unanimously.

4.4       US15/16-08 (Policy Proposal): Repeal of OUS 05 Accreditation Reports; Senate Executive Committee

This one goes sideways. Poorly written motion from Triplett requires revision on the floor. Ahlen blows the whistle. Triplett claims the Senate has gotten too specific about motion wording in recent years, no need to give the UO policy number when repealing a policy. (How odd. Last year Triplett was saying we were too loose with the rules.) Effort to postpone to rewrite fails. I point out UO’s accreditation website is out of date. Hubin disagrees, but also says it will be updated shortly. http://accreditation.uoregon.edu/documents-reports/current. Motion to repeal passes.

4.5       US15/16-06 (Legislation): Revision of Faculty Advisory Council’s charge and exemption from Senate Open Meetings rule; Bill Harbaugh (Economics), Chair of Committee on Committees

Lots of good discussion from Stahl and the Senators. Time runs out, we lose the quorum. Discussion will resume Dec. 2.

4.6       US15/16-04 (Resolution): Improving Effectiveness of the UO Police Department; Frank Stahl (Biology, Emeritus) and John Nicols (History, Emeritus), Statutory Faculty

No time.

4:30 pm    5.   Open Discussion

4:45 pm    6.   Reports

4:45 pm    7.   Notice(s) of Motion

4:45 pm    8.   Other Business

5:00 pm    9.   Adjournment

11/10/2015: Frank Stahl’s reasons for open FAC meetings

The agenda for the Wed Sept 11th Senate meeting is here. Among the motions is this, which would allow the Faculty Advisory Council to hold closed meetings with the UO President, on the condition that these meetings not be a substitute for normal Senate and Committee meetings:

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.30.04 PM

I am a co-author of this legislation (along with an ad hoc working group and the Committee on Committees) and I support it, for reasons which I’ll explain in the Senate Wed but which basically involve my belief that the president and provost should able to brainstorm with a representative faculty group in private.

Frank Stahl was one of the supporters of the original open meetings legislation which opened up Senate and University committee meetings. He’s opposed to this move to allow the FAC to continue to meet in secret.

I asked Frank if I could post his reasons for wanting FAC meetings to be open, and here they are. Well worth reading:

SPEECH for November 11

FRANK STAHL, Biology Emeritus.

 I speak in heartfelt opposition to this Motion, which would exempt the FAC from the Senate’s Open Meetings Rule. 

 The problems associated with granting such an exemption have been clearly identified in recent nation-wide studies. These studies have classified University Senates into several types, two of which are of interest to us.

 First, the studies describe the “Influential Senate.”

The Influential Senate can significantly affect decision-making that encompasses a broad spectrum of the university. In addition to curriculum, student conduct, and promotion and tenure, these senates are involved, for instance, in athletics, budget priorities, and the selection of new senior administrators. Influential senates drive issues and promote policy changes that result from their concern for the entire university. They are responsive to the administration, and the administration responds to them. 

 Because an influential senate can create change, it tends to be well perceived by other institutional constituents. At the UO, our Constitution has provided us with all the tools needed to allow our senate to be an effective Influential Senate. That is, unless we allow our senate to remain what the studies call a “Subverted Senate”.

 Subverted Senates are those that are ineffective because they have been subverted by other bodies for shared governance, such as the FAC.

 Before we go any further, let’s explore the often used claim that, because the FAC is strictly advisory to the President, it cannot be viewed as a component of shared governance.

First, when the proposed FAC charge states “…the FAC is not a substitute for other processes of shared governance …” it, in fact, identifies the FAC as a branch of shared governance.

 Moreover, in many institutions, shared governance is exercised through an Advisory Board only.

 Finally, because of the President’s veto power, our Senate, too, is essentially an advisory body, albeit one whose advice is provided in a defined and open manner. It is clearly disingenuous for FAC supporters to insist that because their confidential advice is given informally, it is not governance.

 Now recall that our Constitution gives the authority for shared governance to the Senate and forbids the Senate to delegate any portion of that authority.

 Thus, a confidential FAC is clearly unconstitutional, but is it really a Subverter of the Senate?  You bet it is! It’s very existence fuels the belief, justified or not, that all the important stuff happens when the elected FAC gets together for lunch in closed meetings with the President, the Provosts, and the Senate Officers and plots the future of the University. Of course, if the FAC remains closed and confidential, there will be no way to dismiss this belief. As a result, there will continue to be little interest in serving in the Senate (as noted by the difficulty stirring up candidates for election to the Senate), and faculty participation in Senate meetings will be low (as noted by all who attend Senate meetings). In sharp contrast, the FAC has an abundance of candidates for membership. This is the most conspicuous and quantifiable evidence of subversion of the Senate by the FAC, and it is a serious threat to our Constitutional governance.

 Other ways in which the Senate may be subverted by the Confidential FAC are not so assessable but may be similarly serious. For example:

1. The information gained by Senate officers at FAC meetings can affect the Senate Agenda, 

2. Information gained in confidence by Senate FAC members can distort Senate debates when Senators vote on the basis of information that they will not reveal because it was gained in confidence.

3. Administrators are apt to resent having to appear at the Senate. They will prefer to get faculty input in closed session and in the form of confidential advice that they can ignore at their convenience.

In our Constitution, the processes of shared governance are wisely crafted to promote constructive interaction that is transparent at all stages. Only when governance is transparent can the Statutory Faculty, and the rest of the University Community, judge the effectiveness of that governance.

 The insidious effects of agreements of confidentiality were implied by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) who wrote: QUOTE “Because requiring a pledge of confidentiality as a precondition for participation in any governance activities, other than serving on committees that deal with personnel matters, is incompatible with widely accepted standards of shared governance, faculty members should not agree to preemptive confidentiality mandates or agreements.” END OF QUOTE.     I presume that United Academics of the University of Oregon supports this position of its parent organization, the AAUP.

If the Senate were now to endorse the FAC as a confidential branch of shared governance, it would not only be violating both the spirit and the letter of our Constitution, it would be shooting itself in the foot. 

For the sake of shared governance at the UO, I urge you to reject the Motion before you, and I thank you for your attention.

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16 Responses to UO Senate meets Wed at 3PM LIBRARY BROWSING ROOM

  1. daffy duck says:

    the FAC has little formal role in senate actions. it is a sounding board and brainstorming group for prez and provost. if the senate denies the informality and privacy of these meetings, it will deny faculty an important tool in influencing prez and provost. they will simply rely on other channels of their own choosing. Take your pick.

    • Old Man says:

      Here are the parts of the UO Constitution that appear to prevent the Senate from creating a body, operating outside the authority of the Senate (i.e., in secret), in which the Presidents and the Professors conduct activities pursuant to the charge given the Faculty by the State Charter.
      Perhaps a Constitutional Lawyer will weigh in on this.

      1.1 The University of Oregon recognizes the scope of faculty governance prescribed by Oregon State Law as stated in ORS Chapters 351 and 352 and does not contradict Oregon State Board of Higher Education Internal Management Directives issued prior to the date of ratification of this Constitution.
      1.2 The University of Oregon is governed by the President and the Professors in accordance with the 1876 University of Oregon Charter. ORS 352.010.
      1.3 Sole faculty governance authority at the University of Oregon resides in the Statutory Faculty. This authority extends to all academic matters as commonly understood in higher education. The Statutory Faculty may delegate its authority but must retain oversight responsibility.
      1.4. The Statutory Faculty exercises its governance authority through the Faculty Assembly.
      1.5 The Statutory Faculty of the University of Oregon delegates its governance authority to the University Senate in accordance with SECTIONS 4_–8_.

      7.1 The University Senate shall recognize the responsibilities and limitations of the authority bestowed on it by the Statutory Faculty as described in SECTION 1. The governance authority conferred upon the University Senate may not be delegated in whole or in part to any officer or committee of the University Senate or to any other body.

  2. Dog says:

    yes the FAC has been extraordinarily effective ever since the time of Moseley – just ask anyone that has served on the FAC as they surely are basking in the glow of their influence and accomplishments.

  3. Nathan Tublitz says:

    Having been on the FAC for 5 times in 15 years with 3 different presidents including one year as FAC chair, I have a different viewpoint from that of daffy duck. The FAC has never been a functioning advisory group for the President and Provost because important University decisions have always been made elsewhere in the administration. The FAC has instead been used as a focus group “to test the faculty sentiment waters” as Lorraine Davis once told me. The administration also has used the FAC to avoid discussing issues in the Senate, leading to unnecessary and deleterious tension between the FAC and the Senate.

    I am at a loss to understand how exactly does the current closed FAC help our University function better. For example, did the FAC discuss any of the recent, terribly damaging public scandals? Maybe they did and maybe they didn’t. I was not on the FAC in the past few years so I do not know. However what is clear is that the administration did not consult faculty with expertise in these areas. If they had, these scandals would have been avoided completely or at the very least diminished. This lack of consultation with faculty experts coupled with the reliance on the FAC for after-the-fact “advice” is a serious and continuing problem. A closed FAC may be helping the administration avoid public discourse on important University issues but it is not benefiting the University as a whole.

    The issue at hand is greater than opening or closing the FAC. It is whether we want to have a functioning shared governance system that allows for significant input from all campus constituencies or whether we want the administration to continue to avoid receiving advice from a broad swath of knowledgeable campus stakeholders. Given the rash of poor decisions made by our administration over the past 15+ years and the resultant decline in our academic standing, broad campus input is necessary if we are to make the decisions that will put the University back on the right academic track. Having an open FAC is an essential pre-requisite to a working shared governance system, especially if the UO ever hopes to return again to its previous position of relative prominence among US universities.

    N.B., In the interest of openness, please know that I was one of the co-sponsors of the original Senate Open Meetings legislation.

  4. Cat says:

    Prof. Tublitz says: “Having an open FAC is an essential pre-requisite to a working shared governance system, especially if the UO ever hopes to return again to its previous position of relative prominence among US universities.”

    This is the part that remains essentially unproven. I partly concur with DaffyDuck and the motion, but I’m also partly swayed by what Prof. Tublitz says–until the end. Both Prof. Tublitz and Prof. Stahl are inclined to intone about this or that “key” to “true” shared governance. But there are so many moving parts in the system, and so many ways that both sides miss connecting and really working together, that it seems profoundly naive to imagine that fixing this one thing with change everything.

    The specific question I would ask is: what real difference would it make for the FAC to be open? Would it treat different issues? Would issues be treated differently? Who would raise the issues? How would the Senate receive its deliberation on those issues? The Senate has a habit of ignoring its own committees, or second-guessing them; sometimes that true delegation based on trust, sometimes its dropping the ball–and often it’s the wrong one for the occasion.

    I’d be interested to hear from many other people, and there are many and of many stripes, who have served on FAC before: which way do they incline?

  5. Nathan Tublitz says:

    Dear Cat:

    Two points in response to your excellent comments:

    1) You raise a good question about the impact of opening up the FAC. At the moment, the FAC is treated as a shadow governing body by the administration. The admin brings many issues to the FAC that are rightfully the purview of the Senate. The size of the undergraduate body, the strategic direction of the university, campus police, the establishment of athletic buildings off limits to the rest of campus, and athletics are but a few of many many issues discussed in FAC but not in the Senate. Having an open FAC would force the administration to take these issues to the Senate for an open discussion.These issues affect all of us and should be discussed in public, not in private. We are a public university and should be having public discussions on the future of our University.

    2) I apologize if I implied that opening up the FAC would be THE key to better campus governance. An open FAC is not a magic bullet. It is however one important step in changing the closed and secretive nature of decision-making on this campus. And I am convinced that unless the process of decision-making is more transparent and open, we will continue on our trajectory towards mediocrity.

  6. Cat says:

    I thank Prof. Tublitz for his reply. But I am not swayed, and instead more inclined to vote for the motion–if I were a Senate member, that is, which I am not.

    I do agree that the issues he lists affect us all. I, and surely many others, would love an opportunity to weigh in on them. I would welcome more and better public discussions about them. But I am not convinced that the Senate itself provides such a venue.

    I could give a long list of reasons (this will not be exhaustive):

    1) Senate meetings are not structured for open-ended debates. They follow parliamentary procedures, rightly, pertinent to motions on the floor. That imposes a great deal of limitation on open discussion.

    2) The agenda is always, already full. The second meets for two hours every other week. The FAC meets for two hours every other week. If you shift the FAC agenda to the Senate–which I take it is essentially what Profs. Stahl and Tublitz mean by arguing that the FAC is currently treating secretly what is the Senate’s prerogative to debate openly: will the Senate meet twice as often as before?

    3) If so, who will attend? The Senate currently has a great deal of trouble getting a quorum of its membership to show up.

    4) Senate debates may be open, but they are not always good, thorough, balanced and well-informed discussions. Time pressures, above all, work against that: its many members cannot be expert in every matter, and cannot be expected to come to meetings having done a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of the issue on which they were voting, even were they provided the materials for such discussion in advance (a massive logistical challenge for the logistically challenged Senate). This is the very reason so much is delegated to committees who then make recommendations to the Senate.

    5) The Senate itself is not fully transparent. It tries; I allege nothing sinister. But even in something as simple as its current tendency to suspend its own rules, and to debate items added to the agenda at the last minute, work against a truly transparent, participatory process. In fact, if this (unofficial!) blog did not undertake to announce Senate meetings and publish the agendas in advance, the Senate’s transparency would plummet. How would I ever know when an issue I cared about was up for discussion?

    6) Finally, as any observer of the Senate can deduce, discussions there are not merely “open” as opposed to “secretive”, they are fully public. That changes their tenor dramatically, and changes the dynamic of who talks and how. (Quite understandably, it turns some into grandstanders, and others into churchmice.) This makes discussions different than those of a confidential committee like the FAC but not a priori better–or even one more in line with the wider interests and concerns of the university community.

    I would argue that even though Profs. Tublitz and Stahl are not actually suggesting we disband the FAC and shift all discussion to the Senate that, nonetheless, many of the qualities of the Senate would become qualities of FAC discussions once it became “open and transparent”.

    FAC members are elected. Over the years, though I myself have never served, I have know many who have–and they are people I trust and respect and believe can and would give responsible input on matters brought to the FAC. I don’t need to be there to check on them.

    And if meetings were open and a FAC member did voice an opinion I disagreed with, what would I do? What can I do if “my” Senator (not that these folks are truly representatives) doesn’t voice the opinion I want? Making meetings open doesn’t make the body’s members more responsive or representative of a subgroup of community opinion.

    The Senate as a body is not always good at frankly admitting and cogently analyzing these dynamics. The loaded language of “open” vs. “secretive” itself tends to undermine it. But there are people who are thoughtful about it. And is sounds as if this motion–which results, if I understand it right, from consultation between Senate leadership and the Committee on Committees–is the fruit of just such a deliberation. I am convinced now, and hope that it will be adopted.

    • uomatters says:

      Another comment of the week:

      “it turns some into grandstanders, and others into churchmice”

    • Frank Stahl says:

      I must respond to one bit of Cat’s lengthy discourse: I quote:
      ” And is [sic] sounds as if this motion–which results, if I understand it right, from consultation between Senate leadership and the Committee on Committees–is the fruit of just such a deliberation.” No, there is no evidence of deliberation of any sort. In the redlined recommendation (which is a slightly colorized version of the old charge to the FAC), there is no indication that the ad hoc Committee, which was charged by the Senate with producing a serious appraisal of the role of the FAC, gave any thought whatever to any of the considerations of the sort discussed in my text or in the comments that follow. In fact, we have it in Bill’s own words that the new FAC charge was written by a FAC member (Bill and coauthors) who is a member of the Senate leadership (VP Bill) and Chair of the Committee on Committees (Bill, again). If the document has any value, it is as testimony of what can happen to the human brain when it gets too close to power.

  7. Dog says:

    To Cat and others and to the Dead Horse

    Whatever the chain of decision making has been over the last 15 years and whatever new budget model and then new budget model we have, the bottom line of this evolution is that the UO has an absurdly high TTF to student ratio (about 33 to 1) such that, at the Undergraduate Level, we are simply a processing machine and we have no hope of being a “residential’ campus with this high of ratio. We of course are in complete denial of all of this and therefore have policies and directions which flat out ignore this numerical reality.

    No sensible Academic process, planning, and evolution would ever allow a University to reach that ratio and therefore, collectively, FAC, faculty, admin, etc we have been asleep at the wheel for quite some time. However, we spin this as “efficiency: ….

  8. Sun Tzu says:

    First time watching this year’s Senate on line. If this is the way the Senate will be run this year, then it is no accident that most people have lost faith in the Senate. Slow, ponderous, and non-inclusive with lengthy grandstanding, nearly zero direction or control by the chair, and very little to show for it at the end. The 1+ hr discussion with no action on opening/closing FAC meetings was an object lesson in how inconsequential the Senate has become. Sad.

  9. Hippo says:

    Yeah dood, it was like that ten years ago when I actually volunteered for it. Hours of my life I will never get back. Also 10 years ago 90% of the traffic was from Tublitz and Stahl. I guess not much has changed. When it came to stuff that mattered, e.g. “cultural competence”, the Senate could not be relied upon to make sure the truly crazy shit didn’t go down.

  10. tweetie says:

    Respectfully, I disagree completely. Also my first time watching online this year and I have to say Pres Randy was concise and expedient. It’s incredible that you claimed to have watched.

    There was lengthy debate, as there should have been, over the FAC open meeting issue. Coming down on the side of open FAC meetings and waiting for seriously credible closed meeting justification to change my mind, I have to say that nobody addressed the senator who asked what possibly could need an open meeting forum beyond personal or donor related discussions that already have an exec or closed meeting format provision. Any takers here? Seriously, if Schill needs “to bat issues around”, does ANYONE actually think or even imagine he’d use the FAC for to reveal his wildest innovations?!

    The pertinent issue here is not Senate sanitized and enabled space for JH trial balloons (or maybe it is as UOM doesn’t seem to know when he’s being played?) but it is for credible issues to be discussed and openly regarded through the elected FAC. As Stahl said, roughly, we can all pressume the FAC isn’t “shared governance”, but indeed it is assumed to be such at large. Shout out also to Bonine for slowing the process.

    • tweetie says:

      Correction alert.
      “…I have to say that nobody addressed the senator who asked what possibly could need an open meeting forum beyond personal or donor related discussions that already have an exec or closed meeting format provision.”

      That should read: … a CLOSED meeting forum…

  11. Cat Lady says:

    I’ve always felt that strict adherence to Roberts Rules of Order slowed the process down as we quibble over procedure instead of content. I saw Randy trying to keep the discussed focused to the point at hand and avoiding tangents. If he had not, even less would have been accomplished. The FAC discussion was a good example of reasoned, thoughtful debate.

    • uomatters says:

      I agree, Randy is doing a good job herding cats. Professors like to talk. Maybe we need some sort of time limits? People made excellent comments on both sides regarding the FAC, but it was also sometimes repetitive as someone else tried to make the same point with better language. Maybe just say “Yes to what She said.”

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