November 10, 2006

 

Constitution Revision Committee

Meeting # 11, November 6, 2006

 

Present:  M.E. Bezanson (Chair), B. Ahern, M. Korth, T. McRoberts (Secretary), S. Olson-Loy, K. Strissel, G. Thorson and R. Webb

 

Not able to attend— G. Donovan, B. Jasper and G. Rudney

 

The chair reported on her efforts to gain staff support for the committees work.  None is available from the ChancellorŐs office nor from the Division of Humanities.  One member suggested the possibility of an able student to assist with minutes.  The chair said she appreciated that, but was concerned about also having support with matters related to an online discussion board and for the preparations of the forums.  The hope is that somebody would be available for perhaps up to 10 hours of work.  There followed discussion about the availability of a staff member in the Office of Continuing Education.  The chair will follow up on the possibility of employing Cusey for the committeeŐs work. 

 

From there, the chair opened the discussion about the forums and whether or not they should be done in person or online.  How should they be structured and designed? 

 

There followed a discussion about how topics would be addressed at the forum and the number of forums.  Many felt that two sessions would be sufficient.  The next step is to prepare for the forum discussions.  Again, the question is, how should the forums be conducted.  Should there be a panel of members looking for feedback.  The reaction was generally negative to that approach. 

 

The locations included the Cow Palace or perhaps Imholte Hall 1111—that seemed to be the first choice because of the movable chairs in the room. 

 

Returning to a discussion about the best format for the forum.  Should we ask fundamental questions about the constitution and then break up into small groups with plans to report back to a larger group to record the responses.  One member of the committee suggested open questions, though not entirely open.  That same member asked to review the list of issues before we present them to the forums.  The list of issues prepared by the committee include matters big and small and there needs to be further refining of them for discussion at the forum.

 

More discussion followed about how the forums would be organized.  One suggestion was that we have small groups address three or four questions and then gain consensus around these issues.  Another suggested not using small groups.  Others suggested that we not try to gain consensus in the forum simply because we are not at that point yet.  Rather, our goal is to get their reaction to important constitutional questions. 

 

There seemed to be agreement that we draw the issues/questions for discussion in the forums from our discussion list and the categories that we identified.  We need not disclose our entire list of issues or questions, but we should frame questions to the forum that get at the kinds of issues we have been discussing over the last six months. 

 

There followed a discussion about some of the critical issues that we need to address.  Those included:

  1. the role of a Steering Committee;
  2. continuation of the current Assembly membership or some different entity;
  3. the role of committees;
  4. the relationship or authority of the Chancellor (or senior administrators) in relation to the Assembly.

 

Some think that we take the forums to our individual constituencies  and discuss it with them, but it seemed that most felt that would not work very effectively. 

 

Other issues included the relationship between the role of governance and the budget, the process of changing the constitution and bylaws and the last item would be the parameters of authority.

 

Still another issue was membership on the Assembly and how would one be removed for not participating.  One member noted that some people are being under represented in the Assembly and that issue needed to be addressed.

 

There followed discussion about how the Assembly responds—who should be on the Assembly and the relative role and authority of the administration and the Assembly.

 

Another member suggested the questions that he felt should be addressed in the forums:

  1. Is the Assembly responding to important issues confronting it?  Related to that, who should lead and coordinate the work of the Assembly?  And, what structure would facilitate this?
  2. Are committees successful at doing the work of the Assembly?  Related to that, are their current practices and jurisdictions most efficient?
  3. What should be the relative roles of the administration and the Assembly?  In which ways should their powers be separate and which ways should they overlap?
  4. Are the interests of the entire campus being balanced properly in the composition of the Assembly?  If not, what are some alternatives?
  5. How difficult should it be to change the constitution?  What procedures should there be for amendments and changes in the bylaws?

 

When should the forums be held?  The general view was that one should be held as early as next week (on November 16 at 3:00 pm, probably in Imholte Hall).  The second one would be held on November 29, 4:00-5:00 pm, again in Imholte Hall.  Between times, there would also be an opportunity to respond online to the above questions for those unable to attend any of the in-person forums. 

 

Following the forums, we hope to have at least two meetings in December, one on the 4th and another on the 11th where we digest the information from the forums and online contributions and then decide how we will go about writing a new constitution.  One recommendation was that we form a smaller writing group that would draft the new constitution.

 

The committee will continue the discussion of these matters at its next meeting on Monday, November 13 at 3:30 pm in the same location. 

 

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