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Faculty Affairs Committee Minutes (11-29-07)

November 29, 2007
Faculty Affairs Committee
Present: Stacey Parker Aronson, Bart Finzel, Tom Mahoney, Alex Murphy, Pam Solvie
Absent: Argie Manolis, Timna Wyckoff
Guest: Mary Elizabeth Bezanson

The meeting was called to order at 11:00 a.m.


Bleak Situation for Faculty

Bezanson told the committee that the Consultative Committee had referred her to the Faculty Affairs Committee with regard to her concern with what she perceives as the disengagement of senior faculty members as evidenced, in part, by their attendance at Campus Assembly. The new Constitution will eliminate faculty member from membership if they fail to attend three Campus Assembly meeting. It seems that faculty continue to be committed to teaching and research but not to the place and its governance. This situation is also reflected in the number of people who want to take early retirement or phased retirement (a faculty member can take phased retirement if s/he is within 5 years of retirement).

Finzel expressed his opinion that the campus governance structure has been broken for about ten years. He wondered if the opt-out is a response from senior faculty members who have been frustrated with governance?

Bezanson concurred and noted that the new Constitution will attempt to strengthen committees and therefore will try to reengage committee structure.

Finzel wondered whether the changes in the administration (chancellor, dean) will result in the problems’ solving themselves.

Bezanson suggested that perhaps people have “learned” to be disengaged.

Finzel wondered if there could be a mechanism by which faculty could be given responsibilities commensurate with rank. While this idea may sound somewhat elitist, senior faculty often have nothing to do.

Bezanson suggested that the problem might stem from a cultural shift in higher education in which administrators have become managers. Faculty might be frustrated because they can no longer control their outcomes

Finzel commented that he believed that a disproportionate number of faculty are leaving the institution with bad feelings.

Mahoney suggested that there might be models at other institutions to engage faculty.

Bezanson remarked that faculty do not get enough Semester Leaves and that there is not enough financial support for Sabbaticals.

Solvie asked if it is possible to get faculty engaged if they do not have access to information.

Finzel noted that higher education does not have a career ladder: faculty can be promoted with little or no change in responsibilities.

Mahoney commented on the history of UMM.

  1. Faculty hired during the 1960s-70s had a sense of mission. They fought back against junior faculty who were coming to take their power and influence.
  2. Higher education is not as valued today as it once was.
  3. UMM is experiencing severe financial troubles.

Bezanson suggested that the FAC invite the Chancellor to a meeting and suggest to her that while she has the right to choose her leadership team, she should know that those who came to UMM in the 1980s did not get to assume leadership position. Then, there was a hiring freeze. There has been an idiosyncratic way in which leadership is selected. Does she realize the cost, both in terms of finances and in terms of morale?

Finzel suggested that one should locate initiatives that people can get engaged in and excited by. He also suggested that people should be personally asked to participate in these initiatives. 

Salary Inequity


Bezanson also expressed concern about the salary inequity between males and females. She referred to a female faculty colleagues who believe that her male faculty colleagues receive higher salaries than she does due to the fact that she is female and they, male.

Mahoney suggested that this female faculty member consult with the Equal Employment Office in the Twin Cities.

Bezanson also noted that, on the average, Humanities faculty are paid approximately 20% less than their faculty counterparts in other divisions.

Mahoney suggested that this be an agenda item for the next meeting and that we should invite the Chancellor.

Finzel preferred that we had a concrete proposal to present to the Chancellor. He suggested that FAC consult with recent retirees, those opting for phased retirement and those with at least 15 years’ experience at UMM.

Solvie wondered if we should also talk about the dissemination of information.

Mahoney suggested that committees such as CRPC might be over weighted with administrative responsibilities and therefore could not share information.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Stacey Parker Aronson
Chair, Faculty Affairs Committee