Today: Senate to elect new VP, awards, remarks from Pres Schill, reception

After informative statements from both candidates, and questions, the Senate elected Chris Sinclair as VP and President Elect.

Video from last week’s meeting is here: https://youtu.be/5dU4fTgPmww

Senate Meeting Agenda May 25, 2016. 

Browsing Room, Knight Library; 3:00-5:00 pm

3:00 pm    Introductory Remarks, Senate President Randy Sullivan

3:00pm    1.   Call to Order

3:05 pm    2.   Approval of Minutes 2.1      May 18, 2016

3:05 pm    4.   New Business

3:05 pm          S.1      [Suspension of the Rules] Report: “Academic Continuity;” Academic Integrity Taskforce

3:20 pm          4.1      US15/16-30: Addendum to Spring 2016 Curriculum Report: Minor Changes to the MA/MS in Folklore:Public Folklore track; Frances White (Anthropology), Chair of the Curriculum Committee

3:25 pm          4.2      US14/15-40: To Promote Representative Attendance at Senate Meetings; Senate Executive Committee

3:35 pm          4.3      US15/16-31: Announcement and Confirmation of Spring 2016 Committee Appointments; Committee on Committees

3:45 pm          4.4      Election of the Senate President-elect (Vice President) for 2016-2017

Chris Sinclair
Associate Professor
Mathematics
csinclai@uoregon.edu
Rich Margerum
Professor/Dept Head
Planning, Public Policy & Management
rdm@uoregon.edu
Candidate Statement Candidate Statement

After informative statements and questions, the Senate elects Chris Sinclair as VP and President Elect.

3:55 pm          4.5      Year – end remarks by President Schill

Thanks to Randy Sullivan for doing the difficult job of Senate VP so well. Generally pleased with the progress over the past year.

4:15 pm          4.6      UO Senate Award for Shared Governance, Transparency, and Trust: Bill Harbaugh, Professor (Economics)

4:25 pm          4.7      UO Senate Classified Staff Leadership Award: Dorothy Attneave, Campus Planning, Design &  Construction

4:35 pm          4.8      UO Senate Wayne Westling Award: Robert Kyr, Professor (School of Music & Dance)

4:45 pm          4.9      UO Senate Officer of Administration Leadership Award: Kimberly Johnson, Office of Academic Advising

4:55 pm          4.10    Passing of the Gavel to the Incoming Senate President Bill Harbaugh (Economics); Randy Sullivan (Chemistry), Outgoing Senate President

4:55 pm    5.   Open Discussion

4:55 pm    6.   Reports

4:55 pm    7.   Notice(s) of Motion

4:55 pm    8.   Other Business

5:00 pm    9.   Adjournment

5:00 – 6:00 pm          Senate Awards Reception – same location

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11 Responses to Today: Senate to elect new VP, awards, remarks from Pres Schill, reception

  1. Old Man says:

    Chris Sinclair’s platform is interesting. There is but one plank regarding which I have questions.
    “Senate leadership should be on the president’s leadership team (in addition to the FAC) to interject on behalf of the Senate when relevant.”
    Does Chris intend that membership of Senate leadership on the FAC and University President’s leadership team would result in presentation of Senate views? That would certainly be inappropriate for two reasons:
    1. The Senate Leadership has no way of knowing the Senate position on anything until the Senate has taken a vote. By that time, the Administration is well aware of the Senate’s view.
    2. Asking the Senate Leadership to present Senate views when the Senate has not spoken would violate Section 7.1 of the Constitution:

    “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.”

    On the other hand, Chris may intend only for the Senate Leadership to speak up when the President’s leadership team appears to be overlooking its obligation to bring academic matters to the attention of the Senate. That would be OK.

    In either event, two problems with the plank remain:
    1. Closed meetings between the President and the Senate Leadership undermine the important principle of open meetings (embodied in the UO Constitution).
    2. Judging from my experience of more than a dozen years of watching and participating in Senate meetings, confidential interactions between Senate Leadership and the University President can result in a Senate Leadership that carries the mail for the President when it should be facilitating the work of the Senate as the body charged with developing and formalizing the Faculty’s views.

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    • cdsinclair says:

      The more information the Senate (and her leadership) have, the more effective it can be as a deliberative body. This theorem remains true even if the information is regarded as confidential.

      If included in such meetings I would anticipate listening far more than speaking, though I would freely speak up if the discussion turned to topics which the constitution determines be decided by the faculty. If asked for my personal opinion I would give it, but I would not presume to speak on behalf of the entire faculty/Senate.

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  2. cdsinclair says:

    I had a difficult time writing my candidate statement. I really didn’t want to present any “planks” per se, instead I wanted to suggest courses of action which might make the Senate a more effective body, and areas where I think legislation may be warranted. As Old Man says above, the job of Senate Leadership is to facilitate the Senate in formalizing the views of the faculty (and her other constituencies). As such, I’d be happy to take direction from the Senate (and Senators) as to whether any of my planks actually serve the best interest of the Senate/faculty.

    One might question the malleability of someone willing to be swayed on central planks of their candidate statement. Here is my pledge: I will work with the administration on issues that they raise as being central to our academic mission. I will press for Senate oversight of all academic matters (as defined by the Senate, not Johnson Hall). I will stand up for the constitutional prerogative of the Senate to comment on any and all issues it sees fit. And, I will facilitate the work of the Senate and her committees, doing my best not to unnecessarily insert my own opinions into arguments in front of the Senate.

    I’m not volunteering for this position to get in good with the administration or any “faction” on campus. I’m volunteering because it is an important job, where I feel like I could make a (perhaps small) difference in the academic future of our university. If the Senate chooses to go another direction, I will celebrate the prospect of a slightly less stressful upcoming biennium. Otherwise, I’ll roll up my sleeves and get to work.

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  3. Old Man says:

    cdsinclair writes: “The more information the Senate (and her leadership) have, the more effective it can be as a deliberative body. This theorem remains true even if the information is regarded as confidential.”
    Perhaps cds will explain how the Senate is made more effective by information that cannot be revealed to it.
    On the other hand, the Senate can be badly hurt by Senate Officers who choose to control the agenda and debate in a manner that thwarts actions that are opposed by the President.
    I am not accusing cds of having such intentions, but it is unwise for the Senate to set a stage that facilitates such behavior. I repeat: Senate Officers and other Senators should not be members of closed bodies that meet with the Administration.

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  4. cdsinclair says:

    The primary statutory power of Senate President is setting the agenda of Senate meetings (of course the job is much more than this, but official powers are limited). Imagine a situation where an agenda item would be made irrelevant due to an upcoming, but so far unannounced, decision of the administration. Should the Senate spend time debating such an agenda item? The answer is not automatically “no”, but certainly such information can inform the agenda, even without revealing anything confidential. Any debate could, for instance, be postponed until after an announcement by administration, leading to a more informed discussion.

    I strongly disagree with the statement that “Senate Officers and other Senators should not be members of closed bodies that meet with the Administration.” Indeed, I think this rule would be antithetical to an effective legislative body which wants to work on relevant, topical legislation. Is the Senate and her leadership supposed to read the tea leaves as to what is coming down the pipe? Perhaps we should get all of our information from Around the O. Or UOMatters.

    I think the results of the recent vote on the Senate floor on Senate Pres and VP being on the FAC have provided clarity: The current Senate thinks it important for her leadership to be on the FAC. We might extrapolate from that a desire for Senate leadership to be more involved with, or at least privy to, discussions/decisions coming out of Johnson Hall. At this point, however, this is completely hypothetical: there is no commitment from the Administration to include Senate leadership in the presidential leadership team, and there is no Senate legislation which either demands (or bars) Senate leadership from participating.

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  5. Old Man says:

    In response to candidate cdsinclair, I offer a few quotes from the UO Constitution. I then explain the importance of these quotes as applied to shared governance. I then offer my take on the consequences of cds’s view of the role of the Senate President.

    Quotes from the Constitution are in quotation marks.
    “3.1.1  ORS 352.010 Status of faculty. The president and the professors constitute the faculty of each of the state institutions of higher education and as such have the immediate government and discipline of it and the students therein”
    This section of the Constitution is State Law. It requires the President and the Professors to share the governance of the University. It does not grant a greater role to one than to the other. (In a later section, the Constitution recognizes the reality that the power of presidential veto was a prerequisite to gaining presidential ratification of the Constitution.)
    “7.2  Effective execution of the authority delegated to it requires that the University Senate express its views on University issues through appropriate Legislation, Policy Proposals and Resolutions.”
    This section establishes a proactive responsibility for the Senate in governance. In other words, the Senate is expected to recognize needs of the University and to deal with them by formulating “appropriate Legislation, Policy Proposals and Resolutions.” This “Oregon” concept of shared governance grants to the Senate the right and responsibility to initiate change, not to merely debate proposals delivered to it by the President.
    7.1 “ 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. “
    This section puts in question the kind of thing cds is calling for. He would allow a Senate President to delay/block changes that the University President says (in confidential closed meeting) that she has an interest in. Such an inhibition would leave initiative for change in the hands of the University President, and the best the Senate could do would be to play defense. That is not the kind of shared governance called for by Oregon Law and the UO Constitution.
    Note: neither the Constitution nor the Senate Bylaws confer on the Senate President any authorities or responsibilities other than those of setting the agenda for each Senate meeting (in consultation with the Senate Executive Committee) and of conducting the meetings (in accordance with the Constitution, Senate Bylaws, and Robert’s Rules).

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  6. cdsinclair says:

    All of this is academic. *If* I win VP/Pres, and *If* President Schill thinks I am worthy enough to be on his leadership team, and *If* the Senate does not pass legislation barring me from doing so, then I will happily attend such meetings and speak up if any decision looks to fall under the purview of the Senate and not the Administration.

    Otherwise I won’t. Either way, I don’t think shared governance as we know it is in any real danger.

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  7. Informed citizen says:

    Congratulations Chris.

    I’d like to point out that you truncated the quote from the Constitution about academic matters. The full statement is:

    “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. ”

    Commonly understood in higher education…not commonly understood by the UO community.

    This implies that there is a standard for what is an academic matter that can be intuited by looking more broadly at the landscape of higher education. It is further implied that it is not solely up to the senate or the administration to decide that.

    Rather, it was left vague so as not to create a limited list of matters that are academic but rather encourage the parties to determine through dialogue what is academic.

    I submit that the dialogue has been missing for matters not so clearly one or the other. Perhaps there is room for dialogue on this between senate and administration to at least agree on some principles to guide the decision, and a process to follow when there is disagreement.

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  8. Old Man says:

    Let me add my congratulations to Chris to those of “informed citizen.”. And while I’m here, let me comment on “Informed citizens” suggestion regarding “academic matters”, viz. “I submit that the dialogue has been missing for matters not so clearly one or the other. Perhaps there is room for dialogue on this between senate and administration to at least agree on some principles to guide the decision, and a process to follow when there is disagreement.”
    The Governance Committee that formulated the Constitution recognized the impossibility of deciding, in advance, the academic relevance of all matters. Consequently, they focused on a process for determining the manner in which disagreements between the Senate and the President regarding the substance of individual borderline issues, as they arose, could be debated and settled. That process is detailed in Section 7.2 of the Constitution.

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    • Can We Get Along? says:

      Dear Old Man and Informed Citizen (and one can hope that Chris, the Senate president-elect and Bill, the new Senate president are reading this):

      Old Man is certainly correct that borderline disagreements about “academic matters” between the Senate and the UO President are to be debated and settled as they arise. Informed Citizen’s suggestion that some principles be agreed to guide a decision on what is “academic” would result in rewriting the UO Constitution, to create a definition that nobody was able to create in 2011 — and with good reason. As Old Man points out, a process was devised instead of a principle. The process is dialogue on a specific borderline issue when it arises. It depends upon good faith on both sides, on a willingness to avoid conflict if possible, on a recognition of each other’s interests. Note the word “interests.” Negotiating on the basis of “positions” (which would be needed if there were an effort to create a “principle”) is often doomed to failure. Negotiating on the basis of “interests” often leaves room for each side to recognize the other’s interests, even if neither wants to accede to the other’s position. That allows a search for creative solutions that satisfy all interests. And that search allows everyone to “save face” instead of battling things out.

      Section 7.2. of the Constitution is a process that one hopes will lead to each side to pull back and discuss whenever it appears they will be at loggerheads.

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  9. cdsinclair says:

    Thanks to Informed Citizen and Old Man for the congratulations (and to all who voted for me).

    I fully appreciate the fact that the framers of the constitution spent far more effort in crafting it than I have interpreting it. I will exercise any authority I may have (which, really is not much) within its bounds.

    I also submit that Informed Citizen is correct on the bounds of what is “commonly understood”: “Commonly understood in higher education…not commonly understood by the UO community.” I anticipate that the solid majority of all issues brought before the Senate (as legislation/policy) will be mutually agreed upon as academic by both the Administration and the Senate. In those instances where there is not immediate agreement I look forward to a collaborative resolution, and failing that we will settle the matter using the processes outlined in the constitution.

    I really do want to give the Administration an opportunity to present a slate of legislative priorities before the Senate. I’d like the Senate to work with the Administration whenever possible. However, I also would like the Administration to heed the voices of the faculty on issues where there is disagreement. Some scandalous decisions by previous administrations could have been avoided by engaging the Senate/faculty and heeding their advice.

    At any rate, time to roll up my sleeves, and do what I can to help pull the university forward.

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