March 27, 2006

 

Constitutional Revision Committee

Meeting # 4, March 20, 2006

 

Present: M.E. Bezanson (Chair), R. Heyman, M. Korth, T. Lindberg, T. McRoberts (acting secretary), G. Rudney, K. Strissel, G. Thorson, R. Wareham and R. Webb

 

The Chair began with an announcement.

  1. McRoberts will continue as secretary. Ann Kolden will provide other committee support.

 

  1. In response to a question from a committee member about the documentation verifying that some action was taken on the UMM constitution at the all University level, the chair reported that the answer may reside in the archives. Ann Kolden will look into the archives. The committee member indicated that he was trying to determine what action, if any, was taken by the University Senate with regard to the creation of an Assembly on the Morris campus.

 

The point being, was our constitution ever approved/ratified. And, related to that, who (which entity) was empowered to approve our (UMM) constitution (where does the power to approve reside).

 

  1. The committee returned to the discussion of article 3‹Campus Assembly.

 

Section 1 organization and membership‹there followed lengthy discussion about the whole constellation of issues associated with the definition of each of the staff ³categories² (faculty, P&A, civil service/staff members and students) and further, what constitutes membership in the Assembly. There was unanimous agreement that this whole area needs to be clarified. One thread of discussion focused on the evolution of the academic professional (P&A) category and how staff has been incorporated into our constitution. There was a suggestion that perhaps faculty and P&A should be separated in the constitution. There was an immediate resistance to that suggestion. It was noted that there are a considerable number of P&A appointments that are actually instructional by nature‹Teaching Specialist and Lecturers, including some coaches who teach courses, and separating P&A staff from faculty is not an easy or clean cut process.

 

      As for the P&A vote‹as it stands right now, a P&A staff member who has one third appointment is eligible to vote in the Assembly.

 

      There was a lengthy discussion about the kinds of appointments that are being made at UMM. Certain categories such as Teaching Specialists and Lecturer are in the P&A classification rather than faculty appointments. Instructor, assistant, associate and (full) professor are faculty appointments. The hiring practice in recent years for those teaching at UMM is not entirely clear. How this complicates membership in the Assembly is not entirely clear but at least the committee needs to be mindful of it as we look to revising the constitution.

 

      When the central UMM administration was asked to clarify its appointment practices, the response was that those hired to teach in ongoing positions are able to teach a variety of courses in the discipline, and have an advanced degree, are typically hired as faculty. Those who may or may not have an advanced degree, and are hired to teach only specific courses in the discipline, would likely be hired as either Teaching Specialists or Lecturers. The latter are usually temporary, part-time appointments with no expectation of tenure.

 

      Here again there was considerable confusion about who gets to vote for certain kinds of situations. For example, only faculty are to vote on Scholars of the College. Does this include a Teaching Specialist or Lecturer who teach, but are not teaching faculty?

 

      Frequently, it was observed, we don¹t know who is eligible to vote and therefore there is much confusion over knowing who should vote and what constitutes a quorum.

 

      The inclusion of Admissions Counselors as P&A staff has raised a question too. Should they be included in the Assembly, as they are now?

 

Another matter that caused considerable discussion was voting by members of committees that report to the Assembly. The constitution notes that any committee member could actually vote on business that was brought to the Assembly by a particular committee even if they were not regular members of the Assembly. There was mixed response in the committee on the appropriateness of a voting privilege to non Assembly members.

 

There was considerable agreement that there needs to be careful review of section 1 in terms of the membership in the Assembly. One member suggested that the term Civil Service/staff member in the constitution should be changed to USA (United Staff Association) because that designator encompassed all of those who are civil service and bargaining unit members‹AFSCME, both clerical and technical, and the Teamsters. By identifying them as USA, though it is not a formal University job classification, helps clarify who is in this category. There was considerable discussion about what constitutes sufficient percentage of employment to be eligible to vote or participate in the Assembly.

 

As it stands right now, there is one representative in the Campus Assembly for every 50 staff members identified as a part of USA representation.

     

      Students‹students only need to be registered for 8 credits to be eligible to serve in the Assembly. As it stands right now, there should be one student representative for every 100 students (in the student body). There is considerable discussion (and confusion) at what point the number of students for the Assembly is determined in a given year.

 

      Under Civil Service/Staff‹there are certain titles that are included in the civil service/staff members that no longer are appropriate and need to be changed.

 

In summary, it is apparent that there is considerable uncertainty and confusion over certain definitions of appointments, on what constitutes a sufficient appointment to be a member in the Assembly, and who is eligible to vote on what matters. Further, there is antiquated language in the constitution that no longer is applicable to the current circumstances. And, there is belief in the committee that there is a need to accurately describe the various staff categories. Although there are differing opinions on how P&A and faculty need to be differentiated, there was strong opinion among some that they should be kept together in the constitution.

 

      The final item of discussion was whether or not we take one of possibly two paths with our constitution. Do we have a broadly inclusive Campus Assembly or go with a Campus Senate which would be a smaller body, with elected representatives from all faculty, staff and student constituencies. This issue was not resolved at this meeting, but it is one that those who are drafting the constitutional revisions needs to keep in mind.

 

      At the next meeting, the committee will take up the discussion of Article 3 Section 3 (Officers of the Campus Assembly). The next meeting will be on Monday, March 27 at 3:30 pm in the usual location.

 

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