JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY SENATE
The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)
Regular session - April 10, 2000 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102
office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789 FAX: 325-6782
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/
The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Hugh Benson, Chair.
PRESENT: Abraham, Agrawal, Beasley, Bemben, Benson, Brown, Butler, Cline, Cox, Damphousse, DeBacker, Deming, Eliason, Engel, Fleener, Gilliland, Gollahalli, Greene, Gross, Harrison, Hart, Hofford, Houser, Hutchison, Karriker, Kenderdine, Kennison, Kunesh, Kutner, Mau, Murphy, Nelson, Newman, Okediji, Osisanya, Pailes, Patterson, Robertson, Robson, Russell, Scherman, Schwarzkopf, Sutton, Swindell, Trafalis, Watts
Provost's office representative: Mergler
PSA representatives: Morren
ABSENT: Blank, Edwards, Horton, Knapp, McInerney, Van Gundy
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Faculty awards ceremony
Staff awards ceremony
Desmond Tutu convocation
Senate Chair's Report:
Chief Information Officer
Preliminary nominations for councils/committees/boards
APPROVAL OF JOURNAL
The Senate Journal for the regular session of March 20, 2000, was approved.
The faculty awards ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, at 3:00 p.m. in Meacham Auditorium, with a reception following in the Beaird Lounge of the Oklahoma Memorial Union.
The staff awards ceremony will take place Monday, April 24, at 11:00 a.m. in the Oklahoma Memorial Union Ballroom, with a light lunch buffet following.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, will be awarded an honorary doctoral degree by OU in an academic convocation scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, at the Lloyd Noble Center.
SENATE CHAIR'S REPORT, by Prof. Hugh Benson
The starting date for Dr. Dennis Aebersold, incoming Chief Information Officer, is May 15 rather than May 1.
The Executive Committee met with President Boren April 4. Nobody knows what is going to happen with the budget at this stage. The economy is good and the price of oil is high, but a lot of the state funds have been committed already. The Executive Committee reiterated to the President that a faculty salary increase is the highest priority for the sake of recruiting and retaining high quality faculty. President Boren said again that he would do everything he could in that regard.
Prof. Cline moved that the Senate accept the following motion.
The faculty members of the University of Oklahoma, as part of a comprehensive university in the state of Oklahoma, educate the future generations of Oklahomans. We oppose the imposition of political constraints on the methods or results of academic disciplines in public schools at any level. Academic intellectual enterprises should expose theories and opinions to spirited professional review by peers. Requiring disclaimers, provisional acceptances or other restrictions compromises both this intellectual process and the results.
Prof. Benson explained that last month, the Senate voted to table the motion on the floor (see 3/00 Senate Journal). Prof. Schwarzkopf had offered to revise the motion to take into consideration the senators' concerns, that is, make it more general and explain the motivation for the motion. The issue of disclaimers is back in the state legislature. The House approved two amendments to Senate Bill 1139, whose major focus was to reconstitute the textbook commission. One amendment, which says, "The state textbook committee shall have the authority to insert a one page summary opinion or disclaimer into any textbook reviewed and authorized for use in the public schools of Oklahoma," was adopted on a roll call. The second amendment reads, "In adopting science textbooks, the committee shall ensure that textbooks include acknowledgment that human life was created by one God of the universe." The second amendment also was approved, but the bill was sent back to conference committee.
Prof. Beasley proposed some revisions in the motion as a friendly amendment. Following a brief discussion and some other minor language changes, Prof. Cline and Prof. Schwarzkopf, who authored the proposed motion, agreed to accept the following revised motion:
The faculty of the University of Oklahoma at the Norman campus takes very seriously its charge to educate the future generations of Oklahomans. We therefore oppose the imposition of political constraints on the methods or results of academic disciplines in public schools at any level. Academic intellectual enterprises should expose theories and opinions to spirited professional review by peers. Requirements of disclaimers, provisional acceptances or other such restrictions on textbooks or other classroom materials compromise both the intellectual process and the results and therefore are unacceptable.
Prof. Hutchison pointed out that the amendments to SB 1139 were offered by Rep. Reese, the author of the bill mentioned last month concerning conditional approval. The one amendment would allow the textbook committee to insert a statement, opinion, or disclaimer in any book at any level. The other amendment, referring to one God, is unconstitutional. He said he had just been lobbying at the state Capitol with an interfaith group. He said he thought the proposed motion was well worded and succinct and addressed the concerns of the faculty.
Prof. Deming commented that the last sentence was an overly broad generalization that did not follow from the first three sentences. Prof. Hutchison noted that the state Attorney General had ruled that any disclaimers by the textbook committee were unconstitutional. Prof. Cline remarked that part of being an educator was to be free to present works as one wished. Prof. Harrison said it seemed as though the textbook committee could use this in a non-political way to reject, for example, a picture that was inappropriate for grade school children. Prof. Benson said as it presently stands, the committee does not have the authority to make provisional acceptances. Its authority is to approve a list of textbooks funded by state money. It does not have the authority to require that an illustration be changed before adoption. Prof. Harrison asked whether textbook committees anywhere else had that authority. Prof. Benson said there were differences from state to state. Prof. Kenderdine said an article in the Texas Monthly last year indicated that the committee in Texas had dictated that books be rewritten or edited before they were accepted. Prof. Abraham remarked that the state already had a remedy for handling unacceptable content, and that was the committee had the right not to adopt the textbook.
Prof. Cline said the Senate was trying to assure academic freedom, specifically First Amendment freedom. He said, "If you grant that freedom, then you grant it to all, even to the ones that are offensive." Prof. Schwarzkopf said the motion extended beyond disclaimers in textbooks because of the proposed bill that would have granted provisional acceptance authority to the committee. He said he had a far larger objection to changing the text of a book than adding a disclaimer in the front. Prof. Hutchison explained that the committee could only approve texts right now. He pointed out that Alabama had not yet rescinded its disclaimer. Prof. Harrison suggested that the last sentence read, "Requirements of politically-motivated disclaimers." Prof. Houser said he thought it would be difficult to determine what was politically motivated. Referring to the concerns about unduly limiting discretionary power at the state level, he pointed out that decisions are made not only at the state level, but also at the district and school levels.
Prof. Russell said he thought the Senate had been more careful and reserved in its debate this time. He observed that what had sparked the debate was some concerns over the desire to express creationism as an alternative to evolution. He said he had heard that a Harris poll found that the majority of American people believed God created evolution. He said he did not oppose the intent of the motion but had some reservations about inappropriate content for education at lower levels. Prof. Russell said he was somewhat ambivalent about the motion and would abstain from voting.
Prof. Hutchison's motion to call for the question was approved on a voice vote. Prof. Cline's amended motion was approved on a voice vote. On request to the chair, a few abstentions were recorded.
Prof. Benson reported that the Shared Leave Proposal was discussed last month. The Senate was being asked to endorse or not endorse the proposal (see 3/00 Senate Journal, Appendix I, http://www.ou.edu/admin/facsen/minutes/300jrn.htm). Too many compromises have been made at this stage to make any changes. If the Senate thinks some changes are necessary, then it should not endorse the proposal. The essence of the proposal would be to allow individuals who get paid leave, primarily 12-month employees in Norman and at the Health Sciences Center, to share their paid leave with other individuals who had used all of their paid leave and other leave. The only difference between Proposal A and B is that in B, the employee could be the recipient of shared leave only for his/her own serious health condition. In A, the employee also could receive shared leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. There are various restrictions on when employees could donate paid leave. They must have a balance greater than 50% of annual accrual. There also are restrictions on recipients. They or the family member must suffer from a serious, extreme, catastrophic, or life-threatening medical condition. The donation is of hours, not of dollars, to a pool. A central committee would approve the donation and recipient. The HSC predicted that it would not cost more than $25,000 a year for Proposal B. Since the last meeting, Prof. Benson found out from the Human Resources office that 88% of the paid leave gets used, which leaves 12% available for donation. Thirty-three percent of the faculty members are on some form of 12-month appointment, which means they are eligible for paid leave. The Senate was being asked to endorse proposals A and B, and the president will choose. That was a result of a compromise between the two campuses.
Prof. Fleener asked whether the staff also would be sending a recommendation. Prof. Benson said the Staff Senate was involved. Prof. Fleener said she was strongly in favor of something like this, having lost a secretary to cancer. Even if it was not an issue as much to faculty as to staff, it would be a vote of confidence. Prof. Schwarzkopf said the real impact would be to provide a mechanism for the university community to be generous when it needed to under extraordinary circumstances. Prof. Kenderdine said it ought to be possible for faculty who go from a 12-month appointment to a 9-month appointment to donate that leave; otherwise, it gets rolled into a short-term disability account. Prof. Benson remarked that it was not part of the proposal to donate paid leave unattached. Donations must be to a specific employee. Prof. Kenderdine asked about the shared leave pool. Provost Mergler responded that the intent would not be to create a pool of money, but to give leave to someone who had run out of leave. Prof. Hofford said he thought this was a wonderful opportunity to express a sense of community. He said he thought a mechanism was needed for connecting a donor and recipient. Prof. Hutchison remarked that when someone retires, a year of unused leave could be added to one's years of service for teacher's retirement purposes. Prof. Benson stated that donating hours was voluntary, and the only person it would cost was the person who donated the hours.
Prof. Kunesh asked whether this would create a new administrative office. Prof. Benson answered that the HSC, where most of the details were worked out, said it would not require a new office. The paperwork would be handled by a committee without creating a lot more work at the department or administrative level. Prof. Nelson asked whether the hours that a recipient did not use would remain in the pool or disappear. Prof. Benson said they would remain in the pool. Prof. Scherman asked what would happen if a 9-month faculty member needed leave time. Prof. Benson said there was no provision for 9-month faculty at this time. Prof. Scherman asked why the Faculty Senate was being asked to make a decision that would affect a minority of the faculty. Prof. Benson said it was often the case that other governance groups or the President would ask the Faculty Senate for its opinion. Prof. Schwarzkopf clarified a question that was raised earlier. He noted that the last sentence of B.5 stated, "Hours donated that were not distributed to a specific employee will be maintained in the pool, along with any hours donated for general distribution to eligible employees." Prof. Benson said that would mean the donor would not have to designate a particular recipient. Prof. Engel said he thought the figure of 33% sounded high. Prof. Benson said there were 122 (13%) 12-month full-time instructional faculty as of November 1999 on the Norman and Tulsa campuses. When deans, librarians, and researchers were included, there were 372, or 33%. Prof. Kenderdine said he thought that dealing with hours instead of dollars would minimize the administrative task. Prof. Harrison asked whether anyone had any idea as to the upper limit to the cost. Prof. Benson said the upper limit would be 12% of the paid leave hours. The Human Resources office does not have that figure. Before the President approves it, he will know how much it will cost. Prof. Swindell pointed out that the federal government has a system like this for civilian employees that works very well with little overhead. It is taken on as an additional duty by existing personnel. In a system that is bound by many restrictions, it is a way to take care of employees. Prof. Engel mentioned that for most of the group, this is a complete disconnect. Prof. Hutchison said the Senate would be approving this primarily for staff members, who are relatively underpaid anyway. It would help them tremendously. Prof. Russell said he thought the body should recognize the value of the staff and support in principle the shared leave proposal. Prof. Kutner observed that while in theory the donations are voluntary, in practice they are not. The only way to avoid pressure on individuals is to have a campus-wide pool. The proposal does not have adequate protection against that situation. Prof. Benson agreed that there was no protection for people who would be pressured, but donations could be made to individuals even in other departments. Prof. Brown said she agreed that individuals in a department could be pressured to give time to another individual in that department. Prof. Benson said that was one reason they created a university-wide committee. Prof. Schwarzkopf noted that C.4 and C.5 would grant authority to do whatever was necessary to prohibit that situation. How it was executed was another matter.
Prof. Beasley moved that the Senate approve the concept of shared leave for 12-month employees. Prof. Schwarzkopf made a friendly amendment to change the language to "endorse the concept of shared leave as presented." Prof. Beasley accepted the friendly amendment. The motion was approved on a voice vote.
NOMINATIONS FOR COUNCIL/COMMITTEE/BOARD VACANCIES
A preliminary list of Committee on Committees' nominations for end-of-the-year vacancies on university and campus councils/committees/boards was distributed at the meeting and will be voted on at the May meeting. Nominations can be made from the floor with the permission of the nominee.
The meeting adjourned at 4:40 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 1, 2000, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.
Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator
William H. Sutton, Secretary