FACULTY SENATE MEETING
September 9, 2008
Present: Chair Martin, Secretary Kellner, Chair Elect Overton, Parliamentarian Corbin, Provost Nielsen; Ambaras, Anson, Auerbach, Bernhard, Boone, Domingue, Edmisten, Fahmy, Fleisher, Franke, Genereux, Havner, Headen, Hemenway, Hergeth, Hudson, Khater, Kocurek, Kotek, Levy, Lindsay, Muddiman, Murty, Poling, Roberts, Ting, Tu
Excused: Senators Carver, Honeycutt, Lindbo, Poindexter, Scotford
Absent: Senator Ristaino
Visitors: Bob Brown, Dean of Natural Resources; Betsy Brown, Provost Office; P. J. Teal, Secretary of the University; Suzanne Weiner, Library Administration; Kelli Rogers, Student Senate President Pro-Tempore; Marcia Gumpertz, AVP, Faculty & Staff Diversity; Fowler, Athletics Director; Marc Okner, Director, Employee Relations; John Ambrose, Interim, Dean DUAP; Eric Ferreri, News and Observer; Chris Allred, Editor, Technician; Katie Perry, Senior Vice Provost; T. Greg Doucette, Member/Ex Officio, UNC Board of Governors; McQueen Campbell, Chair of the Board of Trustees; Mike Kulikowski, News Services; Eric Ferreri, New and Observer; Terri Lomax, Interim VC Research & Graduate Studies; Donn Ward, Food Processing and Nutrition Science; Marc Okner, Director of Employee Relation; Mark White, Associate Professor, ECE
1. Call to Order
Chair James D. Martin called the second meeting of the fifty-fifth session of the North Carolina State University Faculty Senate to order at 3:00 p.m.
2. Welcome and Announcements
Chair Martin welcomed Senators and Guests.
The General Faculty Meeting will be Wednesday, October 15 at 3 p.m. Please forward any ideas for the General Faculty Meeting to Chair Martin or a member of the Executive Committee.
The Budget 101 Plus (University Budget Forum) will be Wednesday, October 22 at 2 p.m. and another session on Thursday, October 23 at 10:30 a.m.
The campus daycare center was officially opened on August 4 and there will be a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, September 10 from 7:45 to 9 a.m.
3. Approval of the Minutes, Meeting No. 1, August 26, 2008
A motion passed to approve the minutes as corrected.
4. Remarks from Provost Nielsen
Signs on Shared Offices—Provost Nielsen stated that Charles Leffler has assured him that the rule will be changed in regards to not having individual names on an office that houses more than three people.
Millennium Seminar-- Stewart theatre was full and there was an estimated 250 people in the lobby listening to the presentation by former Senator Bill Bradley about US and Russia relations.
Provost Nielsen announced that the next Millennium Seminar will be October 13 at 6 p.m. and the speaker will be Myles Brand, the retiring president of the NCAA.
The date of the third seminar for the year will be January 26 or 27th.
Provost Nielsen announced that they are in talks with the representative of the Dalai Lama about his commitment to give a Millennium Seminar in 2010.
Tuition and Fees
Provost Nielsen reported that conversations have begun about tuition and fees for the 2009-2010 academic year. The Tuition Committee has met twice. The Fee Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday at 3 p.m. and recommendations from the two committees are due by October 1. They will then go to the equivalent of a conference committee to make recommendations to the Chancellor and then the Chancellor will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
Provost Nielsen stated that he has met for the first time with the committee for the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dean Ira Weiss is the Chair of that committee.
Provost Nielsen reported that members of the search committee for the Dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs have all agreed to serve. He explained that there are different prescriptions for how the search committees for a dean’s position in an academic college are put together, because in this case since there is not a college to go to a different style and composition is used in searching for the dean of an academic college than is put together for the dean of the undergraduate academic programs. Provost Nielsen noted that there are three Senators on that committee and the other representatives are staff members of DUAP. Provost Nielsen noted that both of these searches are on a schedule that is intended to end with the selection of the person, and that person will be coming in next summer.
Secretary Kellner: The last search was several years ago and it had a very unusual job description, to the effect that the person who qualified for the position would either have worked in or would be familiar with the North Carolina University System and its regulations, a description which largely eliminated about eighty or ninety percent of the possible applicants for the job. I was wondering if you were going to take the same position in describing the position this time.
Provost Nielsen responded, no and explained that the rationale for a decision like that is the feeling that knowing and understanding the way that this network of people work in an institution and the system works is really important relative to the functioning of the job. He noted that that was one of the prevailing reasons for doing it that way the last time. This time I believe there are two things that I’m very concerned about in terms of undergraduate experience -- that we need, I think, some fresh eyes. Internal candidates will be accepted from NC State, but I wanted to expand it all the way out to anybody in the country because of the two issues that I think are particularly vexing right now in undergraduate academic programs. One of those is the first year experience for our students. Everyone knows that the first year is the most important year, and that the first year experience is very important. I would like particularly to see some people that have experience in conducting effective first year experiences for students. It’s a little bit problematic the way we do things: the vast majority of the students we accept at NC State go right into majors and, hence, go right into colleges, so there is not a common first year experience for our students here. Generally, I think the case is there are strong first year experiences for students in situations where they don’t get dumped into majors right away.
The second aspect of this situation for undergraduates that is particularly vexing is entry university transfers from one major to another. We have a situation where students oftentimes can’t transfer into a major that is their preferred major. We set up some barriers to transfer from one place to another and we have to solve that problem.
The number of students that apply for the First Year College is going down and part of the
reason for that is there is a feeling out there that you may not be able to get out of the First Year College into the major of your choice, so if you have any option to get into a major as an incoming student, take it, even if you are not sure that is what you want to do, because you know that you will be in a major. I don’t think that is a good situation for our students. I would like to look at candidates who have some ideas relative to that situation.
Provost Nielsen encouraged the faculty to think about and nominate candidates for Honorary Doctoral Degrees.
Secretary Kellner asked if the candidates needed to have a close link to the State of North Carolina.
Provost Nielsen responded no, but one of the things that counts favorable in a candidates’ consideration, is their connection to North Carolina State University. He noted that they are interested in people who have made a significant impact to the State of North Carolina.
Senator Fahmy: How many Honorary Doctorates does NC State give each year?
Provost Nielsen's response was NC State usually give three per graduation, which is six per year.
Senator Ambaras: On the First Year College I wonder what the latest assessments of its effectiveness, weaknesses, etc., are and if these are available publicly on your website?
Provost Nielsen responded that he doesn’t think there is anything on the website about the First Year College but in general it is extremely successful.
Interim Dean Ambrose stated that the information is on the First Year College website.
Senator Fleisher: Could you elaborate on the barriers to entering a major? There is this perception that if you go into the First Year College you might not have as good a chance to get into a particular major. What exactly is the nature of those barriers?
Provost Nielsen responded that for internal transfers within the university many of our degree programs have grade point averages, qualifications, you know you have to have a 3.0 to transfer in or in some cases a 3.5 to transfer in and so if you come in as a first year student in Forestry and you maintain a 2.1 average you can graduate in Forestry but if you start in the First Year College and you have a 2.8 average and we have set up a 3.0 barrier into transferring in, then you can’t get in. That strikes me as a problem and one of the consequences of that is that certain majors become the transfer major of choice. It’s an issue that needs attention.
5. New Business
Election of Representative to Athletics Council
A ballot was handed out to choose one person to fill a one-year term on the Athletics Council.
Senator Keith Edmisten was elected.
Part I: in recognition of the contributions of First Lady Mary Easley to North Carolina State University
Part II: of concern with respect to the need for University Leadership to understand, respect and adhere to the policies, rules and regulations of the University
Chair Martin stated that it is not easy and it is our goal in every thing we do in this body to look out for the best interest of this university and to work in as responsible fashion as we can.
In the process of listening to and working on these issues I did hear the quote from Al Gore in his talk to the Democratic Convention, what he said, “Inconvenient truth must be acknowledged if we are to have wise government.” Part of what we are about today is to recognize that some inconvenient truths have come before us. We did not create the issues but issues have been raised of concern; how we deal with issues of concern has a lot to do with how wisely we attempt to govern. On this specific issue of the appointment related to Ms. Easley, and things related to that appointment, I have received comments both in person, written comments -- anonymous, not anonymous -- from many people on this campus and outside of this campus across the state. Concerns that range from, ‘ignore it, no big issue’, to ‘how could we ever do such a crazy thing.’ Concerns have focused on policies and procedures. Concerns have focused on dollars. Concerns have come from staff, concerns have come from the faculty, and concerns have come from administrators. And in fact, messages from both faculty and administrators have requested that the Faculty Senate consider this matter. It is before us, we therefore need to give it consideration. The question is how do you consider a matter such as this? Given the diversity of opinion and the reality that every faculty member is probably underpaid, it has been my decision, supported by the Executive Committee, that we not spend a lot of time thinking about the dollars of the salary. There are those who recognize that almost every single one of us could move into the private sector and double our salary. The amount of training that we go through to become faculty members is probably equivalent to the training to go through medical school and a residency, yet our salaries don’t reflect that of a physician, so we all recognize that salaries are matters that really do need to be addressed for the profession of the economy. Nevertheless, others have told me that we can’t get beyond the dollars when looking at this situation. That comes, I believe, both from personal considerations, and I have also been informed by development officers and administrators who have been out in the state of North Carolina and have been told by potential donors that, if you have money to do stuff like then I’m not going to give you an extra dime. That complicates the issue for a donor. It complicates the issue if the faculty needs to cancel a program and then the questions are asked, where did money come from for new programs? It is for reasons like these that we have vetting processes, that we have policies and procedures to ensure that the decisions that we make are appropriately vetted so that when we cancel programs or establish programs, they are appropriately vetted and considered. These are all real issues that have been brought before our attention. I have tried to the best of my ability to look at policies related to this and I have provided these policies to the Executive Committee, as well as summaries of other pertinent matters. We have some of that here for your review. With all that said, we want to also clearly establish that in no way do we want to diminish the impact that Ms. Easley has brought to our campus, particularly through the Millennium Seminar series. I have been to many of these meetings and I would concur with the comments that these seminars have been some of the best that we have had on campus. We want to strongly celebrate the role that Ms. Easley has played in bringing that to fruition.
In the context of those diverse issues, and after I noted to you last week that this was a matter that had been brought to our attention, the Executive Committee discussed the matter extensively at our last meeting. Out of that discussion a resolution was drafted and was then significantly edited. On Friday we sent a copy of that draft of the resolution to Chancellor Oblinger, Provost Nielsen, and Chair of the Board of Trustees, McQueen Campbell. We did that because we wanted to make sure the information was not just introduced in this session. We also invited any of them to meet with us before anything was brought today. The Executive Committee did meet with Provost Nielsen today at lunch and I think we had a frank and really constructive conversation related to this. In light of that conversation there are a few revisions to the draft of the resolution that you have before you. We do not want to send it out to all senators until we have gone through that editing process. The timing that we are faced with is unfortunate. One department head expressed some dismay that such decisions were made over the summer, when the Senate was not in session. In reality, that is when reappointments are made, so I don’t think we can argue with that too much. Nevertheless this Friday the Board of Governors will be addressing the matter to some degree as well, so there are timing issues that require expediting conversation. We have been working to the best of our ability to try to have an objective and open approach to dealing with this matter, so that is where we are.
The Executive Committee agreed that we should bring this draft resolution to you today. It is our strong recommendation that we do not exercise the option of voting to forgo a second reading and take action today. The recommendation from your Executive Committee is to present this information in a first reading because it is a resolution that has been considered by committee so that we may have discussion today. We will try to limit that discussion, but it is our recommendation that we don’t proceed with any action today and that we take the normal process -- there will be a first reading, and then a second reading before there is a vote.
Chair Martin presented the resolution for its first reading and opened the floor for discussion.
Senator Fahmy wanted to know if the Executive Committee would make some changes to the resolution.
Chair Martin stated that he was the initial author but the Executive Committee heavily revised the resolution.
Senator Headen wanted to know the implications of the first whereas under Part 2.
Chair Martin stated the implications of the first whereas come from recognition that the major issue of concern related to this whole matter is an issue of process. There is no implication that the actions that actually occurred may or may not have actually occurred had there been the appropriate review. This is a matter of concern and this is sorting through a lot of the personal feelings of, “I didn’t get an 88% raise” -- sorting through most of that, it seems that everything boiled down to an issue of concern that we do have procedures in place to appropriately vet many things. That these are respected and followed is probably the greatest issue of concern for the person who is out in the state and says, “Hey, wait a minute, what happened?” Because that person should know that we did have an appropriate vetting process, it was determined that this initiative is in the best interest of the university. So that is the implication of that first whereas. It’s a process and procedure issue more than picking at an individual. There is a strong intent to not have names named in the second component of the resolution.
Senator Khater: While related to that comment I’m just curious as to the purpose of this resolution. Is it simply to register our displeasure with the procedures that were not followed or are we actually passing this resolution with a notion that we will have a role to play in overturning the decisions or questioning the decisions or reinstituting the procedures, as they should have been instituted in the first place. I’m sort of curious about the wording because at this point it sounds as if we are simply unhappy with this and that is fine, but I’m just curious as to what that leads to.
Chair Martin: This is exactly one of the major points of discussion. What do you do when things appear to have gone wrong? What should be done? As a Senate I don’t see that we have any authority in making personnel decisions. We do have authority over advice with respect to policy on both its construction and its application. In that respect, we are limited in authority to commenting on policies, procedures, and the application thereof.
Secretary Kellner: The Executive Committee met with the Provost earlier today and he spoke very effectively about the need that an administrator sometimes has to make decisions and to take steps in an active way and how working from the bottom up is sometimes a good way of getting nothing done and missing many opportunities. I think that brought a lot of things into focus and I certainly agree with it. At the same time, since we agreed that we are not talking about money here, I was reminded that faculty have to face all the procedures, and with their hands tied, frequently feel the weight of procedures, policies, rules and regulations. I think that is part of the issue here that we have to follow regulations; our department heads and deans have to follow regulations very closely. In a sense, the broadest issue here is the tension between the need to get things done effectively, to take advantage of opportunities when they arise and a vast world of policies that one can bump into at almost any time with perfectly legitimate interpretive. It seems to me that in the long run the Senate might do well to speak up for simplifying and streamlining procedures. It doesn’t seem to happen much, but here we see the administrator running up against the regulations that we also feel shackled by or even discouraged by. That is the broader issue here, I would say, that we have a lot of policies out there. I wonder if they were all scrupulously followed all the way up and down if anything would get done. This is not to say that one should be cavalier, but there we are.
Senator Genereux: Hans, do you mean that about both the issues in part two? It seems like for a center it takes a long time, but for an appointment it doesn’t seem like it takes that long.
Secretary Kellner: I think your question is very pertinent. These are things that need to be sorted out.
Chair Martin stated that there is a difference in perception to what degree the center was or was not established, or is going to be, or not going to be, established.
Provost Nielsen: I think it is wonderful that the first part of the resolution has recognized the contributions of Ms. Easley for the university over the last three years and I agree completely that her addition to our NC State family has drawn great returns for us, and I’m delighted that three years ago when the opportunity arose to hire her that I did, and that we had this successful Millennium Seminar series. Should things develop, I think we will find the future of the Millennium seminars and the future of the other aspects of her proposed position to be just as valuable and good.
Because of this proposed appointment of Ms. Easley to the university is awaiting active consideration by the Board of Governors, we are in a situation where the details of that appointment cannot be shared. They are protected and personnel items cannot be shared so there are details about the process, content, etc., that we can’t talk about. That is a burden that an administrator like myself bears. Most times, it is quite easy for someone to write a letter to the newspaper or express an opinion that the administration can’t respond to, as we are restricted by rules.
Incidentally that was Han’s paraphrase of my statement earlier. I did not actually say that if we allow things to follow the procedures that we would never get anything done.
The second part of the resolution on page 2 there are three whereas clauses on that and I would like to comment on each of those.
The first whereas talks about the formation of the proposed center. Let me assure you that I know and understand that there are processes that have to be followed to create a large Center or a large Institute at the university, and that it has always been my intention that those procedures. Those policies will be followed in the process of doing this. I now also understand that a formal Director of a Center cannot be hired and named until there is such a Center, but the reality is that if this appointment were to be made, that one of the major job responsibilities for Ms. Easley would be to work through one process that would lead to the formation of a large Center of this nature. Then it would be my intention to submit her name as the director of that Center. The intention is to go that way, but I understand it was always our intention to follow that and if you were able to see the position description, you might understand that is the case.
The third whereas suggests that the position that is proposed for Ms. Easley is an SAAO (Senior Academic Administrative Officer) Tier position.
Chair Martin stated that it does not state that, that the whereas that stated that has been removed, that it simply says faculty or SAAO.
Provost Nielsen stated that it goes on further to say that an appointment may be only done in such time as compensation policies and salary ranges have been approved by the Board of Governors, having been submitted to them at least thirty days prior to a regularly scheduled meeting, and that restriction is valid only for SAAO’s.
The second whereas is the whereas that relates to the fact that we have had this interpretation at the university for the past six years, that when an individual on a fixed term appointment ended a contract and then was given a new contract that the salary did not need to be approved by the Board of Governors because we considered that to be a new appointment, not a raise, and we have consistently followed that over the last six years. When this story broke in the newspaper about the change in Ms. Easley’s salary, the General Administration asked us why we had not submitted this for approval through the Board of Governors. We explained our interpretation and they said they disagreed with it, that that is not the interpretation that they use. We are embarrassed about that and regret that this interpretation has happened. We have corrected that situation and we have put together a task force that has made a series of recommendations to the Chancellor about how to do all of these processes and we will now be following that new process so that anybody at the end of a fixed term and the salary change is greater than 15% and $10,000 to submit that (change) for approval by the Board of Governors.
Comments from McQueen Campbell, Chair of the Board of Trustees
What I would like everyone to consider is the bigger issues and I guess the purpose of Senator Khater’s comments is just to consider this, what is the purpose of the overall resolution here today? The dialogue that I have heard here today: Does this decision need to be vetted? Does it need to be heard and received appropriately by the Provost and the Chancellor? In my eight years of serving, I can say that both Provost Nielsen and the Chancellor, in my opinion, have done everything (maybe there is always more that we can do), but I know that in my eight years I feel like that we have done a lot of hard work, including with the Faculty Senate, trying to improve the relationship that we all have as an NC State family to come together and work on the common goal. We have to make this place the very best and it doesn’t mean that there doesn’t need to be a vetting process -- that is vital and healthy to every organization. I think we need that. I can vow on behalf of the Board of Trustees to do whatever I can to help make sure that your concerns of any magnitude are heard.
I served two years as chair of the Academic Affairs and Personnel Committee and I worked very close with Larry in that facet. I worked with the Chancellor, both as Provost and as Chancellor, and I can tell you that they value and appreciate your input. I just want everyone to think and make sure that this resolution is the right way to address the concern. I definitely think there is a time and place to do it, and would ask everyone to consider: is this the best venue and the best way to do this? Because I think we have worked very hard to improve the relationship between the faculty and administration. I think that is something that we need to work harder as a family to try to take care of these issues, give each other the benefit of the doubt, because in this scenario we have been privy to all the detailed information and it was clearly an innocent misinterpretation and it’s nothing more than that so I would just ask everyone to take that into consideration.
Senator Fleisher stated that he has no problem with the first resolution but he does have problems with the second resolution. The problem I have is, it condemns people and it will raise demons that do not exist. Do we want to do that? I think you need to think very seriously about the second resolution. It’s going to demonize individuals who I don’t think ever intended to do anything wrong, that some of the wording here would suggest they did. I think the Provost gave a very clear explanation for his prospective on what happened. I hear that there is other information that I’m not privy to. I totally support trying to keep Mary Easley on the faculty and I’m not comfortable with the second resolution.
Senator Khater: Regardless to whether we go with the resolution or not, it seems to me that the amount of anger that was unleashed by this decision seems to me to indicate that there is very much a problem between the faculty and the administration. While I agree that we have tried to report to a certain extent, it appears to me that the amount of anger that was unleashed by this decision is reflective of the lack of communication, lack of trust, lack of understanding of the whole process. It seems to derive, to a certain extent, from such things as the Chancellor’s presentation at the last meeting, a very, very wonderful talk about how much money we raised with the capital campaign. But at the same time we are being told that we are in a serious budget crisis, so basically we have this schizophrenic existence at this point. By the way, it affects the faculty; we are being told on one hand that we want to be a comprehensive university, which is great. We want our faculty to be research oriented. We want graduate programs, while at the same time it seems that in a budget crisis, there is more money going toward undergraduate education, and we are searching for a dean for a person who doesn’t really run a college. Now none of the things are necessarily by themselves but I think we are getting mixed messages in which we are not quite sure what to make of them and ultimately it does affect the morale of the faculty. For example, right after I heard that we have a great capital campaign, I was told that my spring leave was canceled because we have no money and then at the same time I was told that I should be doing research. I’m speaking of me as an individual, but the point I’m trying to raise here is that what is really touching a raw nerve among the faculty, from the conversations I have had with a great variety of people from across the college, is that it appears to us that either we do not understand where the administration wants us to go with all of this, because we are confused about all of this, or, at the same time, we feel that we are not being heard or communicated to effectively in this regard. I agree it is not the eighty thousand dollars; that is an issue that is not that important. I understand that sometimes you have to make decisions quickly, but it seems to me this is not about this issue only. This is about an accumulation of relationships and it seems to me that this should be a lesson for us on how to move forward. Now whether we adopt the resolution or not, it is very important that we understand the lessons of this issue because if we don’t, then its going to happen again and again, and then we come back to passing a resolution that may do little except to release demons. Ultimately that is not in my mind the biggest issue. We do need a better relationship but it has to be premised on respecting the faculty enough to ask us ahead of time, not to rubber stamp things, and also to provide open communication and to actually follow rules and procedures where they can be followed and that is critical.
Chair Martin: I think you just stated the intent of the language of the resolution particularly the first whereas. I think that was very well stated.
McQueen Campbell: I was saying that a lot of work has been done up to this point that has vastly improved the relationship between the administration and the faculty. It just appears in this one instant that there is a disconnect and I agree with you one hundred percent. We need to figure out whatever it is in this one issue that has provided that disconnect, and figure out a way so that it doesn’t happen again. There is a vetting process; there is a way that everybody can be more inclusive in each and every decision going forward. I just question whether this particular resolution was the solution to solve those issues.
Chair Martin stated that the Center was not evaluated by the resolution, and that is why all resolutions about the Center are tentative. Because we are all supposed to be putting forward ideas for centers, to make sure that we have the right mission, that it is the right group of faculty, so the idea of the language was that the channels are there, and if it goes through the appropriate channels, then it would be endorsed, as opposed to trying to make an evaluative statement ahead of time.
Terri Lomax, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies: The responsibilities for Centers and Institutes are delegated to the Vice Chancellor’s office by the Chancellor, and I think the relevant thing here is that it is very common practice for us to bring someone on board in the hopes they will create a Center. The best example right now is Alex Huang, who was hired in the hopes that he would get an Engineering Research Center, and that has come to fruition. He was not brought in as Center Director; it was defined by him and the faculty what the content of that was. In fact, by the regulations that you are talking about, a Center Director cannot be appointed by the Chancellor until after the request is established. Again I have not had any paper work come through my office to make this a Center Director, so I don’t think that’s an issue here. You bring someone in with the intent that they may develop one and you bring them in at the level to do that kind of thing, but you don’t bring them in as a Center Director unless one is already in existence.
Senator Edmisten: Provost Nielsen mentioned a position description. I’ll assume that would be available since he indicated that the position description sort of reinforces what we just said -- that she might have been hired to start a Center, instead of run the center. Aren’t position descriptions available?
Chair Martin: Normal position descriptions are advertised, but what we have here is a non-advertised position. There is a process for establishing positions that is part of the EPA policy.
Edmisten: So there is no position description for this job.
Provost Nielsen: Yes there is a position description, but it is not available until after a decision by the Board of Governors has been made.
Senator Havner: I have a question for Dean Lomax. You were saying that we hired Professor Huang hoping that he would establish a Center. Was he not hired as a Professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering? Did he not have outside letters speaking to his qualifications? Did he not have all of that? Was he hired in the Provost Office?
Dean Lomax: He was not; he was hired by the College of Engineering. People can be hired either as a faculty or professional so it can go either way. Ms. Easley already worked here and generally when people already work at the university we don’t ask for letters and things.
Senator Havner: Larry, as I understood you at the meeting today, when you were telling Jim that this was not an SAAO position, but rather it was a teaching and research position, and that you can hire someone, particularly at a salary like this, into such a position in the Provost’s Office. Is that correct?
Provost Nielsen: Yes
Senator Havner: My personal opinion is that it is absolutely terrible policy at this university if it is true that someone can be hired by the Provost Office at a very high level and not be hired by an academic department at this university and go through all of the evaluations and reviews that are done when someone is hired in an academic department.
Senator Headen: I am trying to sort through what the problem is and it sounds like if you had used different language or a different hiring procedure, we wouldn’t be here. Am I correct?
Chair Martin: Issues have been raised to me by external people -- one of the biggest ones raised specifically by a department head in writing -- was this non-reappointment/reappointment issue. The department head and another hiring official in one of the colleges said, this is not a question. If somebody is here, we look at the June 30 salary and if it’s raised $10,000 or 15% beyond that, it needs to go for review.
Senator Headen: If he wants to hire someone to run a Center, are there ways to have done that without generating this? I’m asking are there mechanisms that could have done that without generating this degree of tension?
Chair Martin: I believe that the tension could have been resolved if a document about the Center, desire to plan the Center had been initiated. Everyone who has talked to me about planning a Center has said this is the first thing you do. That document very clearly spells out that you need to early on establish who are the core faculty, who are collaborating. You need to establish what departments will be involved, what colleges will be involved, all of these kind of things.
Senator Headen: My question is can you hire somebody to develop that document?
Chair Martin responded, yes.
Senator Headen: Had the person been hired to develop such a document with the anticipation of becoming the developer of that with a different title than as a faculty member, would we still be having this discussion?
Chair Martin: I can’t say.
Senator Williams: One of the problems in sorting all of this out is how much of this is people’s understanding what transpired from reading the newspaper, as opposed to knowing what really transpired. The reason that I think this last resolution is so ambiguous is because part of this resolution proclaims to the world out there reading the newspaper, believing that there is grossing eptitude at this institution, about it doesn’t know how to follow policy – well, that is just wrong and this resolution in the last part basically says this is an anomaly, and what the facts of that anomaly are, who knows? I feel it is necessary to proclaim to people that NC State University is pretty well run. This is kind of a family issue. Unfortunately because of the notoriety of the person involved it suddenly becomes everybody’s business.
Katie Perry: I would like to add that if you do go with any of this (and I hope you don’t), but please get the facts right on the SAAO part and understand that it is not an SAAO; it is an EPA non-faculty position. Please get that right or I think the Faculty Senate will embarrass themselves because it would be clear that you don’t understand the EPA appointment policy, that we do have the misinterpretation of the hiring of those separate ones. I think we are zoned in on a particular type here and I would just like for you to think about all the people. The Provost Office consists of many units. It’s Enrollment Management and Services, it’s the OEO Office, it’s Diversity and Inclusion. There are many people who are EPA non-faculty and some with rank and some without, so rank is the sanctity of academic departments. If you are hired in an EPA non-faculty position or an SAAO, the awarding of rank is still the purview of those academic departments.
Hans Kellner: I am today perfectly willing to believe that this is indeed an innocent misinterpretation because I can defend the logic of the administrative interpretation and understand the interpretation was being followed before the decision under discussion here today.
Senator Williams’ comments strike me as crucial here -- this final resolution says, this is a pretty well run university from top to bottom. I have been in a number of other universities and there are few major issues here that we cannot deal with easily. This is a place that follows regulations, by and large. There are times when I just can’t understand what on earth these regulations mean, and that takes me back to what I said earlier. These are matters that human beings have to deal with at every turn. The policies are extraordinarily complex and most of the time people do very well with them.
Chair Martin: I encourage everyone to read the policies.
Senator Anson: I am trying to get clarity on the Center for Public Safety Leadership and whether or not that has been established. In the context of what Dean Lomax was saying is it something that is anticipated to be established, subject to the hiring of Ms. Easley in this position, in which case that’s true, it is not established. Then I think there are some problems with the resolution, including the first whereas under the authorization and having been authorized when it, in fact, was not submitted for authorization, when it will be submitted for authorization. If we are going to go forward with any version of this, that would need to be struck from the resolution because it has no relevance.
Chair Martin: Part of the problem with this is some declarative statements were made in various settings earlier and as reactions have been raised, questions have changed and though you are absolutely correct, what’s exactly going on is a challenge and I think it gets back to Senator Khater’s comment that we are not dealing just with nuances, but policy
Senator Anson: The second point I wanted to make is it seems to be the operative verb in the first resolve; is the verb “overlook” correct, keeping what we know about the processes that were followed or not followed. Given the evidence of misinterpretation, that verb might need to be rethought. And then I’m not sure what the point of the resolution is.
Senator Boone: I am unclear about the information and I’m not informed enough to make a proper decision. I need some help figuring out what the real information is, what really happened, and who can tell us.
Provost Nielsen stated that the position description calls for Ms. Easley to become the Director of this Center for thirty-five percent of her appointment but it also in the details talks about the fact that the first job is to conceive it and do all these things and then to transform it into a Center, covering all the rules and procedures of the UNC policies and the NC State policies. In the hiring of Ms. Easley it is my intention that she would create and make happen this Center, and would be appointed the Director of this Center when we got to the point there was a formal Center, to become the Director.
If it turns out that this gets approved at some point by the Board of Governors and the position description as prepared becomes public, you will see those words in there.
Senator Levy: It is my understanding that this misinterpretation has been put to rest so in the future there aren’t going to be any misinterpretations. The question that I would have and I don’t have any data on this is, was this misinterpretation occurring on other campuses? Was it occurring in other units on campus in colleges and departments? I haven’t been able to get a handle on both the source and the application of the misinterpretation. I’m absolutely convinced, unless someone has evidence otherwise, that it was misinterpretation but I’m also hearing that the colleges have not misinterpreted the policies, so why has there been mixed information? I think that is basically one of the things that we are trying to get at.
Provost Nielsen: Hypothetically, if a department has an appointment where they are going from one fixed contract to another and the salary is of a certain level, they would ask their college, do we have to send this for approval by the Board of Governors? The college would then ask someone at the university level. The university interpretation has been that it didn’t need to go forward, so that work would have gone down back to the college, and not to the department, that it didn’t need to happen. Things only get to the Board of Governors when they have passed through the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees. A department would not have had the opportunity to make a judgment by itself that this had to happen. They would have conformed to the university’s interpretation that it didn’t have to happen. Can I explain that people might have been sitting out there in departments thinking that -- gosh that is not the way I would have interpreted that, but we will go with what the university says?
Senator Levy: Basically what I have heard is that the college for the most part avoid getting involved in this scenario because of the paperwork involved, so they have done other things.
Bob Brown: I understand that in order for to go to the Board of Governors it has to be $10,000 and 15%, not or fifteen percent. I asked my financial person, how would we ever have something like that. We have had it in the past and we hadn’t sent it forward to the Board of Governors. Particularly in CALS or Natural Resources where you have a lot of federal money, somebody might be on a nine-month appointment and then you move them to a twelve-month appointment. Well, you have covered their summer and suddenly they have a ten thousand dollars increase for that year and these things can happen that are not just giving someone a big bonus or something of that nature.
Also, as a Dean having been the department head for nineteen years, I don’t know all the rules. I don’t think any Department Head or the Provost or anybody knows all the rules. The fact of the matter is you ask somebody. You ask your Accountant, your Chief Financial Officer or you call Katie Perry more times than not. If somebody asks someone who will say I don’t know, so ask someone else, they finally get to a point where someone has read the appropriate rules and they interpreted it in some fashion. I think personally that is what happened in this case and the whole university is embarrassed that we haven’t been following those rules. This is not a one-time event. Personally I wonder why GA didn’t bring this up before. Why is it that NC State has never given a $10,000 and 15% raise when other campuses have and these have gone to the Board of Governors? Why have we never got one from NC State?
Chair Martin: NC State has submitted them and your nine-month to twelve-month provision is covered under the exceptions in the policy. If you change the time of the appointment from nine month to twelve month that does not need to be reviewed.
Senator Kocurek: I think we all agree process is important; no one would say it’s not. We can follow rules and regulations literally to the letter and not make a move or decision until they have been checked by every person who is familiar with them including Legal. We don’t run organizations like that. On the other hand, people will bend rules, to look at a rule and say I think we can do this. Then the question becomes, is it done in good faith or is it done by conspiracy? You have to try to measure that. I think we do things in good faith. We think we can get something done and we do it. It can’t happen through interpretation that someone looks at that as -- no you have bent it too much, the rule has been broken and we don’t permit it. Then we go and we adjust it. There isn’t a department anywhere that hasn’t made an offer to a faculty member and forgotten to fill in a form and submit it. We do it, we go back and we correct the situation. So I agree, I don’t think this resolution implies that things were done conspiratorially. I do agree that if this resolution were to be moved forward, it does need to be changed to recognize that things were done in good faith. And that they were reviewed, the process was followed, and the process was corrected. As long as it doesn’t seem to be a great pattern of something like that, then I think you give people the benefit of the doubt.
Senator Fahmy: I am totally against that Provost Nielsen inadvertently did not follow the rules, and that was done as an honest mistake. Had he followed the rules and with the approval from the Board of Governors, would we be sitting here now discussing all of this and the appointment of the Center Director when there is no Center and all these other things. Are we here discussing the merits of appointing Ms. Easley and the procedure of doing it or arguing the fact that Provost Nielsen did not follow the rules?
Chair Martin: I think the issue as raised, which was trying to make sense of what has been communicated, is, yes, we are talking about process. And I think as Senator Khater pointed out, that maybe one shouldn’t use just one issue. It is not an isolated occurrence of communication issues and I think that was well stated earlier. The process, I think, is what is being talked about.
Senator Fleisher: Perhaps we even need a third resolution of support for the Provost. As I said earlier the way this is worded the implication is that something was done wrong. Perhaps it doesn’t say what was done for intentional reasons or not, but the implication is still there, and I don’t think that Larry Nielsen intentionally tried to beat the system. Sometimes the system is very hard to understand and sometimes you do things and you make a mistake and it wasn’t your intention. I think that is what happened in this situation, based on the information that I have. We don’t have all the information.
Senator Genereux: I’m still a little confused about this first whereas on page two when it says no Center Director can be named or hired. As a question to the Executive Committee who wrote this, was there some evidence that a Center Director had been named or hired? Was there a press release or something from the Provost Office that said Mary Easley is now the Director for Public Safety Leadership?
Chair Martin: We have to go back and look at specific quotes of things that were there. There have been press releases and there have been quotes many places.
Senator Ambaras: Procedurally, where do we go from here and what are our options in terms of revisiting the language or having the Executive Committee revisit the factual elements here. It seems to me while there are issues that are being discussed there is also a widespread concern that this draft that we have here won’t stand as it is currently worded. So rather than continue to discuss this draft, is a motion to table in order? Is a motion to return to committee in order? What are the options available to us rather than simply talk it out and run out the clock and wait for a second reading?
Senator Ambaras moved that the resolution be sent back to the committee.
Senator Hergerth: I think it was an important point that was raised, that maybe looking forward as a Senate we could also look at what kind of appointment should be made.
Senator Auerbach: My general point was there was a bunch of factual claims in here that we have no access to and some of which in the more anodyne portion of it where we were praising Mary Easley, we will never have access to but on the crucial negative chastisement part we really need a source.
Senator Hergeth: I was thinking of the comment that you made about maybe the Senate looking at what kind of appointments should be made, looking at maybe changing policy.
Chair Martin: We don’t have lots of means for action. We have resolutions, we have policies, and we can have discussions. So in many respects a resolution is simply a venue in which to try to articulate ideas. Maybe there is a better way to address the matter. I don’t think I have heard much of any discussion that says that there aren’t things related to this process that are matters of concern. That is the issue that I have heard across campus. No two people will say the same thing, so the question then is, what is the appropriate mechanism to address matters of concern?
The motion passed to send the resolution back to the committee. There was one abstention.
Lee Fowler: When the information became available in the paper I called my HR person to see if Athletics had any of these issues in our Department. She thought that it was okay to do the same way Provost Nielsen did when he made this maneuver. I can promise you I have worked with the Provost and the Chancellor every day and no one over there is doing anything that they are trying to get by with. So I think this group hopefully wants what is best for the university and I’m glad to see it moving forward. Because of what’s going on with the Board, that is not a good thing at this point but we do need to talk more about it.
Secretary Kellner: Along the same lines as Lee Fowlers’ comments, I think that the discussion is made clear that the administration did follow the rules, as they understood them.
Resolution on Equitable Office Signage
Senator Anson stated we might entertain the idea of passing the motion, bringing it to a vote as a symbolic gesture to support those who were most affected by the signage problem which are non tenure track faculty.
Secretary Kellner stated that the context of this resolution is a space problem in certain departments in which a large number of faculty were moved into less desirable office situations than they had before. To top this, adding insult to injury, many were told that they could not have the same sort of official name signage outside their office because of a policy in the university sign producing facility that they not produce signs for office space with more than three people. A number of people were quite upset. It seems to me that this resolution is a kind of statement of solidarity: we can’t produce more space to find people’s office in, but we can assert that faculty do deserve and need professional facilities.
Secretary Kellner presented the resolution for its first reading.
Secretary Kellner stated that consideration of this resolution is very important to a number of people.
Senator Hudson stated that she had nothing to do with this resolution, writing it, initiating it, having it move through committee or bringing it here. It originated in her department but she had nothing to do with. She also supports the resolution.
A motion passed to suspend the rules to forgo a second reading and move toward action on the resolution.
A motion was made and seconded to accept the resolution.
Senator Hudson suggested striking the words “must” and “be” from the third whereas and replacing them with “is”(“Office space is sometimes shared”, rather than “Office space must sometimes be shared”).
A motion passed to call the question.
The motion passed unanimously to accept the resolution.
A motion passed to adjourn the meeting at 4:59 p.m.