University of Minnesota, Morris

Campus Assembly Minutes

 

February 27, 2008

 

 

The Campus Assembly met on Wednesday, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the Science Auditorium. 

 

 

I.               Chancellor's Remarks.

 

Chancellor Johnson gave the following remarks, “I’ve spent as much time off campus the past two months as I have on campus, and I have to tell you that I’m awfully glad to be back home for a while.  Just as faculty and students were coming back from the LONG winter break, I was preparing to leave town for a series of meetings and visits.  I’ve really missed being on campus, and while you might not have noticed that I was gone, I have certainly missed being here. 

 

I want to tell you about some of these travels, because I think collectively they capture the excitement and the importance of the work that we are engaged in here. 

 

With Mark Fohl, I attended the NCAA meeting in Nashville early in January—the last of several years of required visits that are part of our probationary period as we move from Division II to Division III status.  I am proud and pleased to say that we have thus far fulfilled all of our requirements and we move toward full status after this year.  20% of UMM students participate in intercollegiate athletics and their dedication continues to impress me.  One result of ending the probationary period is that we will now be eligible to compete in national title championships beyond the conference—it is of course frustrating to our student athletes who win conference titles to not be able to participate in this way. 

 

With Sandy Olson-Loy and Lowell Rasmussen, I attended the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, where we had been invited to present on the sustainable campus.  There is great national interest in the work we are doing here and in the history and legacy that brings us to this point in our evolution.  COPLAC held a strategic planning meeting on the front end of the AAC & U meeting and, with other COPLAC Presidents and Chancellors, I was also able to attend that.  That organization—and we are one of its founding members--is about to move to a next level in its history, working to better claim the distinctive niche that COPLAC schools occupy and to better position ourselves as a collective of institutions that uniquely serve the country’s educational mandate through our commitment to the liberal arts and through our commitment to providing access to this type of institution for a diverse and deserving group of students.  

 

Maddy Maxeiner and Carla Riley and I spent some time in Arizona earlier this month, attending the mid-year reunion of the West Central Agricultural High School alumni and meeting with alumni and other friends of the University and we repeated this type of visit last week as we traveled to Boston for another alumni event and a series of “friends” meetings.  I present this travel log not so that you will be entertained by my winter adventures, but because everywhere I’ve been since I started this travel extravaganza in January I have been heartened by the passion and loyalty that former Morris students and staff members feel for this institution and I have delighted in the recognition accorded by outsiders of the extraordinary work that we are accomplishing here and of the recognition by external audiences that we really are a uniquely distinctive school—by virtue of our legacy; by virtue of our mission;  by virtue of the diverse and talented group of students we serve; and by virtue of our accomplishments as we move toward energy self sufficiency.  (These outsiders by the way included two undersecretaries of agriculture and policy analysts in Nancy Pelosi’s office and a senior policy analyst in Harry Reid-s office—while we had scheduled some meetings on the hill to piggy back with our conference presentation, these last two meetings were add-ons because our work and legacy so impressed another individual—the director of an energy and environmental policy institute that she quickly arranged for these extra visits.)

 

I’ve also been busy in the Twin Cities in a variety of meetings including meetings to discuss our budget—and I do want to say a few words about that.  Some of you have heard me remark that I look forward to the day when I can address the Assembly or the community and not have to discuss the budget—we’re not quite there yet.  I don’t have any new or startling news to share with you.  As long as we keep our spending in line, our budget story is very much as I have described it to you in earlier meetings this year.  We are spending more than we are earning, and there is no question but that we have to address that, and we will before the next fiscal year begins. 

 

We are working with the Twin Cities Finance Office to restructure the debt we have accumulated over the course of the past 5-6 years.  And…we will continue to work as a campus community to ensure that we don’t make our situation worse than it is—that we move into the new fiscal year with an intentionally balanced budget. 

 

That will require several things from us—it’s really pretty simple.  On the one hand, we need to cut expenses; on the other, we need to continue to generate new sources of revenue.

 

It is my job as Chancellor to lead us in this effort.  It is the expectation—I suppose you could say it’s a mandate—from University system officers that I will provide leadership and direction and decision-making in just this way.  And I have and I will do just that.

 

It is also my job as Chancellor to honor and respect the parameters of our campus governance system, in general of course, but I am speaking in particular here, in relation to the budget.  The governance committee aligned with these responsibilities is the Campus Resources and Planning Committee.  It is my obligation, my responsibility, and my desire to work with that committee as we accomplish the task in front of us.  And I have done and will continue to do just that. 

 

Together, we need to confront the challenges we face, we need to respond to them; we need to work in a collaborative and I need to work in a consultative way as we respond.  And we are.  

 

Who’s the we? 

 

I am working with the Vice Chancellors who are in turn working with division chairs, directors and budget managers in their areas to take the needed steps to bring our budget into a balanced mode.  We are working strategically—i.e., in line with our strategic priorities and mindful of the need to make investments even as we cut spending.  We are working with “natural attrition” and with retirements at the top of our budget balancing lists as we determine how to better organize and staff in areas all around our campus.  This doesn’t mean that we won’t staff any positions that come open—there’s no moratorium.  And it doesn’t mean that we will staff every position that comes open.  We began this careful review work last year and it continues to date.  We will also continue our work to develop efficiencies, to reduce redundancy and we will do this without compromising our ability to effectively serve our students. 

 

These strategic conversations, this planning for fiscal responsibility, is currently underway—with Vice Chancellors; with Division Chairs, with Directors and Budget Managers and it will continue over the course of the next several weeks.  Also, in the next near term, I will bring to CRPC for information and for consultation a report and a set of categorical recommendations for cost cutting—all aimed at getting our budget back into balance for the next fiscal year and for the future.  

 

Then, I will come back to the community in the form of a community meeting at the end of March/early April with another and a more detailed update on our situation and actions. 

 

Of course, what I describe above relates to our own peculiar set of circumstances, those that we must address.  None of us know yet the full extent of the State of Minnesota’s financial situation and we await an update on that and how it might impact the overall University budget. 

 

This is a campus that values transparency, honesty, civility, and consultation and it is my intention to continue to respond to those values as we move ahead together—I know that you will do the same. 

 

As we move toward a balanced budget in FY 09, we do so with a strengthened organizational structure in the area of finance.  Earlier this month, I shared with you via e-mail (and in a series of meetings with various leadership and governance groups) my plan to reorganize and bolster our financial area, and that plan officially takes effect on March 1st, when Lowell Rasmussen assumes responsibility as Vice Chancellor for Finance and Facilities.  Among the changes that accompany this reorganization are these:  quarterly meetings with system finance officers; regular meetings with budget managers on campus, beginning with Vice Chancellors to more closely monitor our spending as the fiscal year proceeds and to address problem areas as we proceed.  And of course the system-directed transition from CUFS to EFS. 

 

We have much to celebrate here and in spite of the challenges we face, I believe that we are taking the right steps to respond to them.  Many of you had a chance to hear about the results of our market research and the brand platform that Lipman Hearne developed out of that research and their campus focus groups.  Many of you had a chance to see the first results of that work in the “mood boards” that were presented on campus yesterday and the day before.  I understand that there was heated discussion and strong reaction to the two iterations of Morris that the presented—and I think that’s a good thing.  It speaks to how strongly we all feel about this place. 

 

Each “board” captured in its own way our story:  our personality—outspoken; eclectic; accepting; our “functional” benefit—a Morris Liberal Arts Education is one that is renewable and sustainable; our “emotional” benefit—that we have each been a part of something important and that it has made a difference…in our lives; in the world in which we live. 

 

Our LH consultants are back in Chicago today, working to incorporate the feedback they received from us, as well as that received from prospective students and parents, into a refined version of our message.  This is the first time in our not quite 50 year history that we have engaged in such an effort, and the campus work and the voices captured have really helped me in articulating the value and vision of Morris as I have engaged alums and others in the past few weeks. 

 

We will need to continue to invest more in this effort.  One of the budget meetings I referenced earlier was to discuss our previous COMPACT spending and to review any new spending needs for next year.  Of course we have many, but you’ll recall that the University instituted this year a plan for a biennial COMPACT budget process and we were instructed to only speak to those items that are regarded as urgent.  Salary increases takes first priority.  Additional spending to allow us to continue our marketing effort takes second place.  Additional support in the area of Advancement Development takes third place as we begin to ramp up for the University’s next capital campaign. These priorities are in line with strategic priorities and were consulted through our governance process. 

 

Let me end on a very positive note:  just before December, I received three letters from the IRS.  My heart stopped.  But not for long.  These were letters informing us that we had been “awarded” three CREBs—these are clean renewable energy bonds that will allow us to erect a second turbine on the hill; a third turbine in partnership with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa, and a steam turbine that will use green steam from the biomass plant to generate electricity.  The combination of renewable sources that we will have in place by the spring of next year will allow us to reduce our carbon footprint by approximately 80% by 2010—the goal we have set in our strategic plan.

 

This is a remarkable story.  The University of Minnesota has agreed to issue the bonds for these purposes—a statement of faith in us as an institution and a 5.6M investment.  In addition—the University and the Governor and just last night the Senate Investment Committee have all agreed to include the renovation of the Community Services Building in the State’s capital bonding bill—another sign of faith in us as an institution and our ability to continue to fulfill our mission.  And more…in a meeting with VP Fitz last month, we were given the “nod” to continue our work in designing the Green Prairie Living and Learning Community—a six million dollar project and the first new residence hall on this campus since the 1970’s.  We need to work to ensure that that residence hall is the destination point we imagine it to be, and ensure that it is used not only during the academic year but also during the summer to house researchers, scholars, and others who come to campus to participate in the work that is underway here. 

 

I’ll end with these pieces of awfully good news and thank you all for the extraordinary work that you engage in each and every day.  I know that we have difficult work in front of us but we will tackle what needs to be tackled together and continue to expand our role as a regional, state and national leader in higher education.”

 

II.             Minutes from 11/28/07 Campus Assembly were approved as presented with minor correction.

 

III.           From the Curriculum Committee.  The following course additions were approved as presented.

 

Hist 3361 – An Environmental and Geographic History of the United States

IS 4894 - Global Issues Honors Consortium:  Research and Writing Tutorial

Pol 3355 – Environmental Political Theory

 

IV.           From the Curriculum Committee.  Proposal to eliminate the 48 credit limit.

 

The Executive Committee decided to bring the tabled proposal back to Assembly.  Michael O’Reilly wanted to dispel the notion that the Division of Science & Math is the poster child for this proposal and thinks it is contradictory that a liberal arts college would be prescribing everything for students.   Paula O’Loughlin added we would be better served to think about what we want to have in our curriculum and would welcome a complete overview of our gen ed requirements.  UMM is not a one-size-fits-all campus.  Greg Thorson stated that the proposed policy would increase the number of classes being taken within the major at the expense of courses taken outside the major.  He does not support this shift and opposes the proposed change.  Bert Ahern urged that members defeat the motion and that we have a thorough review of our gen ed requirements.  Jim Carlson likes the proposal because it would give music students more opportunities.  Several students commented that they are very much in favor of the proposal as it would give them the freedom of choice and would allow them to be more knowledgeable in their major.   Nate Swanson called the question.   Motion to approve the proposal passes by show of hands – 55 in favor; 28 opposed; 5 abstentions.

 

V.             From the Scholastic Committee.  Credit maximum policy – presented for information (and action at a later date)

 

The proposed policy is to adopt the same enrollment policy that is in effect at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities:  the maximum number of credits per semester for which a student will be allowed to enroll without approval is 20.  Scholastic Committee approval is required for a student to enroll for 21 or more credits in a semester.

 

Rationale:  Current UMM practice is max 20, but there is no policy.  The tuition band (15-20 credits for the same tuition amount) has changed to an all-University policy of single tuition rate for 13 or more credits, but there is no enrollment ceiling as yet.

 

Adopting the same policy would provide consistency for multi-University student enrollments.  Students are expected to invest 3 hours per week for each credit:  20 credits x 3 hours = 60 hours.  This rule of thumb is for an average student to earn to earn a C in each class.

 

This is an academic progress issue.  Some students may be able to successfully complete more than 20 credits.  Most, however, would find it difficult to commit more than 60 hours to attend classes and doing homework.

 

VI.           From the Executive Committee.  Motion regarding Faculty Affairs Committee – presented for information (and action at a later date)

 

The proposed motion from the Executive Committee recommends an amendment to the May 4, 2005 Campus Assembly motion which approved the existence of a Faculty Affairs committee.  The amendment would simply remove the date of the committee’s termination.  (Original language motion with language to be deleted in bold.

 

The Executive Committee moves that the Campus Assembly approve the existence of a Faculty Affairs Committee, to be constituted in Spring, 2005, and in the absence of action by the Campus Assembly to incorporate it into the By-Laws of the UMM Constitution, *cease to exist at the end of the 2007-08 academic year*.

 

The rationale for the change is simply to insure that the Faculty Affairs Committee continue to exist after this spring even if we do not have a new Constitution.

 

An Assembly member pointed out that the sentence is not grammatically correct if the bolded language is deleted.  Michael Korth thought is was silly to amend and thought the Executive Committee should just make a new proposal. 

 

VII.         Campus Committee Reports.

 

Self-Study Steering Committee

 

Michael Korth reported that the steering committee continues to meet.   He has met with the Curriculum Committee, Consultative Committee and CRPC to discuss the process for our reaccreditation.    There are five criteria that we need to address for accreditation.  He hopes to establish five subcommittees that will address the five criteria and will be looking for volunteers.  The criteria are as follows: 

Criterion One:  Mission and Integrity

Criterion Two:  Preparing for the Future

Criterion Three:  Student Learning and Effective Teaching

Criterion Four:  Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge

Criterion Five:  Engagement and Service

 

Assessment

 

Jim Togeas reported that the progress report had been submitted and reviewed by the Higher Learning Commission.

 

VIII.       All University Reports.

 

Peh Ng encouraged the campus community to attend the State of the U Address on Thursday, March 6 at 3:00 p.m.

 

IX.           Old Business.

 

None.

 

X.             New Business.

 

None.

 

Meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m.