Faculty members voiced concerns about the priorities outlined in the Campus Strategic Plan – and their potential impact on institutional quality and campus units’ budgets - when the Urbana-Champaign Senate met April 24.
Richard Schacht, chair of the General University Policy Committee and Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, presented the GUP’s response to the January 2006 version of the Campus Strategic Plan. The response questioned the plan’s focus on being No. 1 in published rankings, an emphasis that the GUP believed could harm academic quality. The GUP also was concerned that the three strategic initiatives outlined in the plan were so narrowly focused that they excluded much of campus and could have a “distorting influence upon many units” if
they were to attempt to tailor faculty efforts to “benefit by association with these initiatives.”
Charles Zukoski, vice chancellor for research, said that while much of the plan focused on research, many of its goals were associated with education as well as the university’s missions of economic development and community service.
Of particular concern to the GUP were the fiscal reallocations outlined by the plan and their potential impact on campus units. The GUP recommended conducting a cost-benefit analysis and that the campus “proceed with all new initiatives and goals only on an as-feasible funding basis, with new commitments and investments being made only as resources can be obtained externally or gathered internally without detriment to existing quality.”
The GUP suggested that the plan’s initiatives be regarded as proposals rather than commitments and that administration “not be wedded to them as our top priorities,” Schacht said. “We need to continue to reflect upon our priorities for investment. … The rushed pace over the last year has not allowed some people to be consulted. We should slow down and take time to decide what to pursue” and how to allocate funding.
The GUP suggested that a process be developed for deans, department executive officers and faculty members to advise Provost Linda Katehi and Chancellor Richard Herman on identifying and prioritizing campus goals and initiatives.
Katehi said that administrators intend to gather input from the campus community, including determining the assessment tools that will be used to measure the initiatives’ success. However, the university’s budgetary constraints “will require some difficult decisions along the way,” such as reallocations, said Katehi, who encouraged senators to submit comments about the plan to her.
Senators suggested that the campus streamline the faculty promotion process, provide more support for research in the arts and include faculty members from the College of Education in planning the integrated health initiatives.
After discussion, the senate members voted unanimously to endorse the recommendations and concerns proposed by the GUP.
Linda Beale, chair of the University Statutes and Senate Procedures Committee and professor of law, presented several proposed amendments to the USSP that were approved, including an amendment requiring programs or other units being used to provide tenure homes for tenured or tenure-track faculty first be approved in accordance with the senate procedures by which departments are approved. A tenure home is the academic unit that provides the specific standards for promotion and tenure decisions affecting a faculty member and whose tenured faculty comprise the group eligible to vote on promotion and tenure decisions within the unit.
Beale noted that 30 tenured or tenure-track faculty members hold appointments in 10 units that have not been approved in accordance with senate statutes.
The senate also approved revisions to the USSP governing multi-year contracts and dismissal procedures, which allowed appointments of up to three years for certain academic staff member positions and required written notice of non-reappointment in the final contract year, except for appointments that were not salaried, were part-time or conditional upon non-appropriated funds. Academic staff members being dismissed for cause would be afforded hearings before the provost or the provost’s designee. Each campus chancellor would develop implementation procedures with the advice and consent of their campus senate that would include establishing a binding ceiling on the proportion of multi-year contract appointments and assigning oversight responsibility to an appropriate senate committee.
In other business, the senate approved:
- a prefiled resolution sponsored by Mark Roszkowski, professor of business administration, calling for the university to take action to eliminate the Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day celebration, prevent other alcohol-related events from occurring on regularly scheduled instructional days and establish a commission of students and faculty staff members to advise Herman on promoting campus safety and eliminating disturbances.
- a proposal for the creation of an institutionally supported student policy debate team, which was remanded to the SEC for disposition.
- a revision to the U-C Senate Bylaws releasing the chair of the Committee on Educational Policy from academic duties for one-half time appointment, similar to the release-time provision provided for the SEC chair. The provost agreed to provide the funding for the appointment.