University of Iowa

FACULTY SENATE

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

3:30 p.m.

100 Phillips Hall

 

Members Present: J. Aikin, J. Berg, C. Berman, D. Bills, P. Chang, B. Fallon, V. Grassian, J. Gramata, R. Hamot, R. Hurtig, S. Kurtz, S. Larsen, R. LeBlond, P. Lloyd, C. Lynch, K. Marra, J. Menninger, P. Muhly, W. Nixon, T. O’Dorisio, G. Parkin, J. Polumbaum, M. Raymond, C. Ringen, J. Ringen, H. Seaba, L. Snetselaar, C. Sponsler, S. Stromquist, K. Tachau, L. Troyer, R. Valentine, E. Wasserman, R. Weir, P. Weller, J. Westefeld

 

Members Absent: K. Abdel-Malek, J. Altman, Z. Ballas, N. Bauman, T. Boles, R. Bork, H. Cowen, C. Dungy, L. Dusdieker, R. Hegeman, , P. Heidger, L. Hunsinger, J. Jew, P. Kutzko, J. P. Long, A. McCarthy, R. Miller, S. Moorhead, J. Moyers, B. Muller, I. Nygaard, A. Qualls, P. Rubenstein, R. Slayton,  S. Vincent

 

Members Excused: S. Armstrong, D. Brown, J. Cowdery, D. DeJong, K. Diffley, V. Kumar, D. Manderscheid, T. Mangum, C. Porter, W. Stanford

 

Faculty Senate Officers in Attendance: Amitava Bhattacharjee, President; Jeff Cox, Vice President; Carolyn Colvin, Past President; Erin Irish, Secretary

 

Guests:  Heather Woodward (Press-Citizen), Jim Jacobson (Gazette), Jessica Brady (Daily Iowan), Mary Sue Coleman (President), Downing Thomas (Government Relations), Jon Whitmore (Provost Office), Kathryn Wynes (Provost Office), Tom Dean (President’s Office), Colleen Krantz (Des Moines Register), Lee Anna Clark (Provost Office), Elaine Farley-Zoucha (Public Health), Julie Thatcher (Faculty Senate Office)

 

 

I. Call to Order

 

The meeting was called to order at 3:35

 

II. Approvals

 

A.     Agenda

Prof. Menninger moved and Prof. Muhly seconded the following:

 

MOTION:  To accept the agenda.  The motion passed.

 

B.     Minutes: Faculty Senate, January 29, 2001

 

Prof. Tachau proposed amending the minutes and distributed copies of a page specifying her changes, which were designed to get the correct financial data and what she actually said into the record. 

 

Prof. Berman moved and Prof. Aikin seconded the following:

 

MOTION:  To accept the minutes as amended.  The motion carried. 

 

III.                Reports

 

A.  Report of the University President (Mary Sue Coleman)

 

President Bhattacharjee welcomed President Coleman to the Senate, noting that in this difficult year for the university, President Coleman has provided considerable leadership on the issue of threats to higher education. 

 

President Coleman addressed the Senate on the theme of the threat to public higher education.  This threat is not only here, but also across the country.  This year has brought difficulties and tragedies to us:  terrorist attacks, anthrax scares, a waning economy, the war.  On this campus we lost our dome, the Executive Dean of the College of Medicine, Dean Nelson, and Phil Hubbard. Nevertheless she is proud of how university has pulled together, how the university community has supported each other and the university with considerable grace, compassion, and unity.  Our bonds give us the strength to pull ahead-- we need to be open to optimism of new possibilities.  One of these challenges is maintaining the public character of the University of Iowa.

 

President Coleman spoke of Iowa’s greatest point of pride: its staunch support of public education.  She made the point that public universities are foundational to a democratic society, precisely because they are public.  Public institutions are expressions of our collective will, what we hold in common for the greater good. There is a reciprocal relationship between a public university and its citizenry, who trusts that education will lead to a greater society. The citizenry is responsible to provide resources for the university to accomplish the missions with which it has been charged.  To illustrate the public good done by the university for the citizens, she gave the example related by Frank Conroy about the Writer’s Workshop, which receives a constant stream of inquiries from ordinary Iowans who send in their writing requesting feedback. The faculty and staff are happy to oblige.  In Conroy’s words, “The Workshop …belongs to the people of Iowa.”  President Coleman expanded this view to, “This University belongs to the people of Iowa.” Its history has been of staunch support, yet recently we are seeing a widening gap between funding from state and funding we raise ourselves.  Research dollars and private gifts are welcome, but state support is at the core of our mission.  Public institutions can meet the needs of a populace of a just society.  In Iowa, about 80% of high school graduates go on to college. In a recent survey, 77% of respondents said that a college education is more important than it was 10 years ago.  More than 80% believe that public universities bring economic benefits to their home states. Some 69% nationwide said that if their governor were looking to save money, they would oppose cuts to their state university. 

 

President Coleman thanked the faculty and staff their efforts to make the University of Iowa a beacon of excellence.  She has tried to protect the academic core as much as possible but warned that the outlook is not good.  The state legislature won’t take up the budget for a while, but the numbers don’t bode well.  Some see another shortfall for this year.  More cuts would be chaotic for the university, as we have nothing left to cut.  The legislature is considering alternatives for funding.  Regarding what we can do as faculty of the university during these troubled times, she urged us to perform our jobs with excellence, and to stand with the university for the long haul.  Secondly, we can reinvigorate ourselves as intellectuals.  We can give public lectures and provide service to the citizenry, and make our efforts concrete to the public.  She urged us to start if we don’t do these already, and suggested we contact the Speaker’s Bureau, or volunteer to speak at the public schools.  President Coleman thought we would be amazed by how receptive citizens are to faculty input.  We might address an Iowa community, or even make a presentation at the State Fair. Face to face, human contact goes the farthest.  Finally we should step up our engagement with our legislators, both state and federal, and get to know them, such as by taking Joe Bolcolm up on his invitation to shadow him for a day.  She spoke of the success of last week’s presentation by Profs. Kate Gfeller and Don Gurnett to the Education Subcommittee.  Predicting that we may have bottomed out for state support, she thought that we could enhance our public character by being engaged with the public that supports us.

 

Prof. Lynch asked President Coleman what her view was regarding a faculty representative on the Board of Regents.  She responded that whereas she had served in such a role when a faculty member at the University of Kentucky, it was quite different from here.  At Kentucky, there was a big Board of Regents, with 22 members, including alumni as well as faculty, and it served a single institution. Prof. Lynch continued that newspaper comments from the Board of Regents didn’t seem supportive of this proposal.  President Coleman answered that she didn’t know the current Board members’ views, as she has never discussed it with them.  President Bhattacharjee added that the comments from the various Regents came after a reporter, Heather Woodward, sought out individual Regents for their opinions.  Addressing what effect the state budget might have on the university, she reported that what the Revenue Estimating Conference is observing right now, as was reported yesterday, is revenue running 1% less compared to last year’s revenues, yet budgets were built on the assumption of 1.5% growth, which is what they thought they would have last November.  This leaves a 2.5% gap that has to be filled.  The State, by its own constitution, cannot end the year with a deficit.  Maybe there will be another across the board cut, which would amount to another $6 million from the University of Iowa.  Or there may be some other solution.  She was told yesterday that the REC, which normally meets in March, might meet next week.  The legislature and the Governor rely on their analysis to build budgets. 

 

A senator inquired about the 19% of the budget that comes from the state, wondering whether there is a formula such that if we get more grant money, the state would match it.  President Coleman answered that there is no such formula for funding here; rather, we have a flexible budget, and historically have been treated well by the state.  There is no formula for how many students we enroll, etc.  We present a budget, and the state funds us based on what we say we need.  We are lowest among the three state universities with regard to percentage of our budget that comes from the state, but that is because we are more complicated than the others.  We have a bigger research operation, a big hospital and athletics program.  Income from those makes our total budget much bigger.  What she is worried about is an inexorable decline in funding.  In this legislative session the highest budget priority for our university is full funding of salaries because it is understood that to remain competitive, we must make investments in the people who are here.  Prof. Aikin asked President Coleman to comment on the reports of increases in applications despite the increased tuition each student will be charged next year.  She responded that it is very hard to predict enrollment from application rates, yet we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility that more students will come.  Provost Whitmore has an active committee that is managing enrollment.  The worst thing would be to get a flood of students to whom we can’t deliver a good educational experience.  She has not abandoned her revitalization program for the CLAS that she brought forth last fall.  Prof. Menninger brought up the statistics showing that a college education is correlated with higher incomes for graduates, and asked why shouldn’t students pay more.  President Coleman responded that this is a public university that serves not just the students but also the people of Iowa. Here is a case of a private good that is a far greater public good. 

 

Prof. Tachau thought it was important that when we talk about full funding of salaries we mean not only that we get paid, but also that faculty lines need to be maintained or restored.  President Coleman agreed with her absolutely, and added that for the first time in the six years she has been here, she has been hearing from students about the sizes of classes.  Prof. Tachau asked whether the line that is called “faculty salaries” include support for TA’s, thinking that it is important to couple them.  Provost Whitmore explained the complication that they can’t be coupled simply because graduate student raises are negotiated, but nonetheless, graduate students who are TA’s are counted as faculty.  President Bhattacharjee added that Vice President True had reported at the last Senate Budget Committee meeting that we have met budget cuts with attrition; that is, we are losing lines, which will be bad in the long run. President Coleman confirmed this, reporting that we have lost 3% of our FTE’s, or 130 positions this year.  This number will be 260 by end of the year, which had started with our being pretty thinly staffed.  Prof. Lynch asked how effective she judges her efforts to be in talking to communities, urging people to go to their state representatives to push for continued support for the university. President Coleman responded that they are effective.

 

B.     Report of the Senate Governmental Relations Committee (Downing Thomas)

 

Prof. Thomas reported that, with a lot of support and direction from President Bhattacharjee and from Jim Torner, who was the chair of this committee last year, he has sought to improve communication with Des Moines.  This is a tough year, but he thought it was just as important that we think of five or ten years from now.  He reported on some of the initiatives from his committee this year.  They have established ties with the Staff Council Governmental Relations Committee.  He has also stirred up faculty participation in outreach programs, including a recent meeting between a few faculty and Representative Mary Kramer and her colleagues.  His committee has held discussions on the possibility of a faculty PAC to support candidates for election, like a trade group would.  CLAS Faculty Assembly has been discussing that proposal. His committee will cosponsor a forum with the Johnson County legislators on the last Saturday of April.  Whereas this will be after the end of the legislative session, this will give us the opportunity to confront actual voting records instead of promises.  So, there are a couple of major directions that the committee is looking at, the fac-PAC and working more closely with the Office of Government Relations in Jessup Hall, working on outreach through that office. 

 

Prof. Tachau, realizing that most of our attention is paid to the state legislature, asked about outreach to our federal representatives.  Prof. Thomas answered that there is not much done there, but President Coleman added that her office does have some connections to federal representatives, handled by Derek Willard.

 

President Bhattacharjee filled the Senate in on the meeting of January 28 when a few faculty went to the Iowa state legislature.  Iowa Senator Mary Kramer had met with a number of faculty last fall, and had at that time invited us back to visit her, to meet with the education subcommittee.  A small group of faculty went to talk about the value of research to the university.  Don Gurnett (Physics and Astronomy) and Kate Gfeller (Speech Pathology and Audiology) gave presentations on their research, and Ed Wasserman (Psychology) made concluding remarks. The presentations were very well received--there was not a single sleepy face in a full room. It was a really good affair; maybe if we do this enough times we will convince the legislature that research is central to the university.

 

President Bhattacharjee then brought up the proposal that a faculty member be added to the Board of Regents, first giving a little history.  When the budget crises came, the UI Faculty Senate had met with local legislators.  After this meeting, similar meetings were held at ISU and UNI.  As a result of the ISU meeting, Representative Barbara Finch from Ames made the proposal that a faculty member be added to the Board of Regents, in a manner parallel to the current student member.  Since then, both UNI and ISU faculty senates met and quickly passed this resolution.  Our Faculty Council was more hesitant about this proposal. He reported back to Rep. Finch that we had a list of concerns and questions. As a result, Rep. Finch has made a number of changes to her proposal that might address the concerns of the council. At present, a three-person subcommittee is considering the proposal.  Rep. Finch expects it to pass either 3-0 or 2-1.  The Regents have come out against proposal.  President Bhattacharjee has not brought it to the Senate because the Council has not completed its deliberations.

 

Turning to the initiative for a faculty PAC, he reported that there have been some interesting discussions.  He felt that the idea is not so clear-cut that we will jump and say, “let’s do this.”  There are both pluses and minuses.  Nonetheless he had a vision statement drawn up, which was distributed. Seeds of this idea were planted during the special meeting of the Senate last fall.  Both this and the proposal to add a faculty member to the Board of Regents are manifestations of the urge to have faculty voices heard.  He will set up a committee that will seek input from the whole faculty.  Prof. Tachau suggested that a mailing go out to DEO’s to ask them to discuss this proposal in a faculty meeting.  President Bhattacharjee thought that was a great idea.  Prof. Hurtig brought up the fact that we actually had a similar proposal in the past, called “PROPS,” and suggested that we take a look at what was behind that, which had very quickly withered on the vine.  Before we invest time and money, we should appreciate the dynamics of PROPS.  Prof. Menninger suggested that before a questionnaire goes out, a committee should give advice on its format.  Prof. Kurtz added that we should find out whether it is legal.  President Bhattacharjee said that he checked with General Counsel Schantz, who said it is okay.  Prof Raymond couldn’t believe that it would be appropriate for a fac-PAC to be run by Faculty Senate.  President Bhattacharjee agreed that that would be wrong, but a PAC need not be run by the Senate to represent faculty.  Prof. Menninger pointed out that the questionnaire refers to the PAC of Faculty Senate, which does not exist.  Prof. Hurtig thought that with strong faculty governance, we are devoting a lot of energy already.  By creating a new body, there may be confusion in Des Moines regarding input from the Faculty Senate vs. President Coleman vs. a putative PAC.  We may create more ambiguity. Prof. Menninger clarified that the essence of this proposal is to speak to legislators with hard cash.  President Bhattacharjee thought that a pac may be a double-edged sword, as faculty are already too often perceived as paid too much for doing too little.  Prof. Berman was concerned that both proposals are presented as ways for forestalling unionizing the faculty, which might not be such a bad thing.  President Bhattacharjee made sure that we knew he did not wish to propose the establishment of a fac-PAC. Prof. Kurtz suggested that he have a committee look at this questionnaire. 

 

C.     Report of the Faculty Senate President (Amitava Bhattacharjee)

 

President Bhattacharjee reported on the budget.  Very little is known firmly: the Governor did recommend full funding of salaries and a flat budget for the university, but nothing is certain yet, which is the nature of the process at these early stages.  Vice President True and Provost Whitmore are meeting to build the budget, but have to proceed on the basis of certain assumptions. 

 

 

IV. Unfinished Business: Creation of a University Flag

 

President Bhattacharjee reported that last summer Prof. Kurtz had sent President Coleman a proposal to establish a flag.  Faculty Council has endorsed this proposal.  Prof. Kurtz explained that he thought it would be a very nice idea if we had a flag.  Why should we have one?  We could bring it out for ceremonial occasions, such as graduation or convocations, and it could be lowered when a faculty or student passed away.  It might be more appropriate to have university flag rather than US flag for those occasions, as it would be more connected to life at the university. Also, having these kinds of events with a juried competition is a happy event, which can give us an opportunity to come together.  Prof. Aikin commented, as someone having an office that overlooks the flag, that she had trouble imaging two poles as described in the proposal.  President Bhattacharjee suggested we separate the ideas of having two poles vs. having a flag.  Prof. Kurtz explained that his proposal is really for having a flag, and that he hadn’t thought too much about how it would be displayed.  Prof. Seaba humorously suggested having a Flag Etiquette and Protocol Committee, and then asked whether there is evidence of an old flag?  President Coleman answered that no one could find any.  Prof. Hurtig brought up two issues. First, the Old Capitol is an historic building, so we can’t change its design.  If the Senate is to consider this, we should separate the idea of a flag from how it’s displayed.  President Coleman reported what is happening now, when we would like to fly the US and state flags but the dome and its flagpole are gone.  She had asked FSG to find a new place for a flagpole.  They will put one someplace on the Pentacrest for the interim.  Prof. K. Ringen asked how much a university flag would cost.  She would be absolutely opposed to this proposal if it prevents a faculty member from going to a conference or supporting a graduate student.  Prof. Kurtz anticipated that we could find some alumnus who might support this.  Prof. Ringen also feared that this might turn out to be a PR issue at a time when we under siege:  it might seem frivolous.  Prof. Kurtz responded that this is a perfect time: symbols are important.  Prof. Hurtig thought we could turn this into a fund-raising opportunity. When times are tough, there is not a better time to do something positive.  This could help boost morale.  Prof. Nixon appreciated the idea but suggested that a flag as an icon might be looking backward, as we have had flags for thousands of years.  He suggested an alternative, such as a 3D hologram, which would set us apart. Prof. LeBlond humorously added that since universities are feudal organizations, a flag would be most appropriate!  He believes in symbolism of a flag, and felt that they can have tremendous value.  Prof. Westefeld liked the idea of the outcome of the proposal.  If it’s a competition, the process can include people from outside the university, and bring them in.  Prof. Tachau had agreed with Prof. Ringen, but the idea of inclusion swayed her opinion.  Associate Provost Clark reported that the Emeritus Faculty Council voted strongly against the proposal.  They thought it was silly.  Prof. Berman responded that she likes to get up in a cap and gown and read the names of students who are graduating.  It is one of our responsibilities to the state to provide a symbol of the importance of higher education.  President Bhattacharjee reported that he had gotten a suggestion from a design colleague to keep the design of a flag out of the hands of amateurs.  Prof. Gratama volunteered to be on committee if the idea is accepted. 

 

Prof. Raymond called the question to vote on the amended proposal.  The motion carried.

 

Prof. Kurtz moved and Prof. Tachau seconded the following:

 

MOTION: To accept the amended proposal.  The motion carried.

 

IV.  Adjournment

 

The meeting was adjourned at 5:08.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Erin Irish, Secretary