Two academic programs may soon become departments within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The Urbana-Champaign Senate approved separate proposals from the Senate Committee on Educational Policy to reorganize the African American Studies and Research Program to the department of African American studies, and to reorganize the Program for the Study of Religion as the department of religion.
The African American Studies and Research Program, which began in 1969 as the Academic Committee of the Committee on Afro-American Concerns, has grown ten-fold in the past six years in terms of student enrollment and course offerings. The unit offers 56 primary and cross-listed courses and has 20 courses in various states of development. From 296 students during the fall semester 2000, enrollment has grown to more than 2,500 students, and 18 faculty members, an assistant director/teaching associate, an Afro-American bibliographer and nearly 40 affiliates distributed across seven colleges and schools.
Likewise, the Program for the Study of Religion has 13 tenured and tenure-track faculty appointments, offers an undergraduate major and a minor, and teaches scores of students through its general education courses. The program was formed as an academic unit about 30 years ago.
The senate also approved a proposal to establish the Center for Human Resource Management as a permanent unit. The CHRM, which was created in 1991, was granted temporary approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and officials now are seeking permanent approval from the IBHE. The Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations and the College of Business at the Urbana campus and the College of Business Administration at the Chicago campus jointly sponsor the CHRM, which plans to begin offering a certificate program called Illinois HR Excellence in collaboration with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. Officials plan to offer a series of workshops – and possibly online workshops – at various venues around the state, including the Urbana and Chicago campuses, the UI Alumni Center in downtown Chicago and at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s facilities.
In other business, a program for offering multiyear contracts for eligible academic staff members – a concept that has been under discussion for many years – was brought closer to implementation by the senate’s endorsement of proposals from Chancellor Richard Herman and the Senate General University Policy Committee. In a Feb. 22 letter to Nicholas Burbules, chair of the Senate Executive Committee, and John Prussing, chair of the GUP, Herman proposed establishing a “binding ceiling” on the number of multiyear contracts at 15 percent of full-time equivalent employees on campus, and proposed granting the Senate Executive Committee oversight responsibilities for the program.
The senate approved the document contingent upon Herman and the senate renegotiating the provisions for administrative hearings available to employees who are dismissed for cause prior to the end of their appointments. According to the document that the senate reviewed, the hearing officers for colleges organized as departments would be the associate deans of the colleges, and the college deans would hear any appeals of their decisions. In colleges or units not organized by departments, an associate provost would be the hearing officer and the provost would hear any appeals.
However, senator Belden Fields, political science, was concerned that the procedures did not offer adequate due process for staff members not protected by tenure. Fields and Ann Reisner, human and community development, suggested that hearing officers outside of each academic unit adjudicate the cases to lend fresh perspectives and reassure staff members that they are receiving fair treatment.
Herman agreed to further negotiation of the policies with the senate, and the proposal that results from those discussions will be brought to the senate for approval.
Andreas Cangellaris, chair of the Promotion and Tenure Reform Committee, discussed the committee’s final report and its recommended clarifications and revisions to current policies, which included greater recognition of interdisciplinary scholarship and public engagement activities and units developing specific definitions of translational research for individual disciplines.
The committee chaired by Thomas Ulen, law, charged with renegotiating the agreement with the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government sent a final proposal to the donors sponsoring the academy and is awaiting their response. A revised agreement will be brought to the senate for approval, Herman said. Fields expressed concerns about a lack of openness in the process as well as conflicting information about the committee’s activities and the status of the agreement.
Herman told the senate that plans for rehabilitating Assembly Hall are being discussed, and added that he would be bringing the matter of Assembly Hall’s future before the senate soon.