2008-2009 - January 28, 2009
Faculty Senate Minutes
JANUARY 28, 2009
Present: Daniel Belknap, Sandy Berkowitz, Jessica Bloch, Douglas Bousfield, Tom Brann, Rod Bushway, Joe Carr, Ted Coladarci, Bob Dana, Michael Eckardt, Catherine Elliott, Sue Estler, Janet Fairman, James Fastook, Todd Gabe, Per Garder, Michael Grillo, William Halteman, Dianne Hoff, Dana Humprhey, Sue Hunter, Blake James, Kirsten Jacobson, Mel Johnson, Scott Johnson, Al Kezis, Michael Kinnison, Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, Irving Kornfield, Karl Kreutz, Judy Kuhns-Hastings, Larry Latour, Stuart Marrs, Craig Mason, Owen McCarthy, James McClymer, Mick Peterson, Bob Rice, Dylan Riley, Joyce Rumery, Dan Sandweiss, Aislinn Sarnacki, Fred Servello, Kathryn Slott, Touradj Solouki, Claire Strickland, Shihfen Tu, James Warhola, Stephanie Welcomer, Teresa Johnson (for Mark Wells), Nate Wildes, Ross Wolland, Vivian Wu.
Absent: Carla Billitteri, Fei Chai, Steve Cohn, William Congleton, Raphael Diluzio, Cynthia Erdley, Susan Erich, Jacques Ferland, Saundra Gardner, Duane Hanselman, Cary Jenson, Deborah Killam, David Morrison, Lisa Neuman, Ngo Vinh Long, Tina Passman, Howard Patterson, Justin Poland, Huiji Xue.
Senate President Dianne Hoff opened the meeting at 3:15 pm.
Due to stormy weather and the need to expedite the meeting, Committee Reports were postponed until the next senate meeting.
Resolution in Response to the Chancellor’s Plan
The Faculty Senate of the University of Maine applauds the efforts of the Chancellor and Board of Trustees to create a stronger and more stable financial base for the University of Maine System. We understand that transformational change is needed to meet the challenges of the current and future financial realties. We also recognize that we owe the citizens of this state our best efforts to be fiscally responsible, while at the same time, upholding our important role in educating students, creating new knowledge and innovation, providing service, and solving the challenges of our state, our nation, and the world.
While we support the spirit of change outlined in the Chancellor’s plan, we have concerns about the process for determining change and the organizational direction suggested therein. Specifically, we believe that the concept of centralizing “back-room” functions at the system level contains serious flaws, further moving the university system in directions that have already damaged the campuses’ abilities to fulfill their missions. In particular:
1. The proposal violates both the spirit and the language of UMS’s original charter in ways that will undercut the system’s effectiveness in governance. That charter calls for “oversight” of centralized functions. It neither calls for, nor implies, that the system office should carry out these functions for the campuses.
2. Experience to date with centralization of services at the system office has taught us that it does not save money. Just as the efforts in this direction by former Chancellor Westphal were based on promises of savings that never materialized, there appears to be little or no solid evidence or analysis behind claims that these “transformations” will save millions of dollars, as projected.
3. Past history has shown that this path toward centralization and homogenization is not advantageous to the campuses. It weakens their identity and damages their prestige, which negatively affect recruitment of top students and faculty members. It adds a level of bureaucracy that slows efficiency and adds costs. It extracts employees from campuses to serve at the system office at higher salaries, leaving the campuses to back-fill (at additional cost) in order to provide needed services locally that are not provided by the newly centralized services. It treats all campuses as the same, when in fact, the strengths of the different campuses are in their unique missions, strengths and reach around the state. It creates a “majority rules” environment, which has led to overly simplistic solutions, technical inefficiencies, and numerous frustrations for faculty, staff, and students alike. Problematic for all campuses, it specifically undermines the University of Maine, where the complexity of our research, service, and educational programs fits poorly with a one-size-fits-all approach.
We are also concerned that although claiming to lay out a process, many aspects of the “New Challenge, New Directions” plan are well under way and are proceeding before substantive input can be sought.
Therefore, be it resolved:
That, on behalf of the Faculty of the University of Maine, the Faculty Senate supports the commitment of the Chancellor and Board of Trustees to transform the University of Maine System to make it more financially sustainable, but only if such steps focus on the vitality of the campuses, not the growth of the system office. Proposed steps, such as those to centralize services at the system office, are unacceptable, fiscally unjustifiable, and will be opposed. Instead, we suggest the following course of action:
A. Buttress the Land Grant/Sea Grant, doctoral, and research functions of the flagship campus and reaffirm the important metropolitan and regional missions of the others. This should happen within a context of fiscal responsibility, eliminating unnecessary duplication across the system, streamlining operations, and emphasizing the unique roles each campus performs.
B. Where centralization of any operations would actually benefit the system and would be financially justified, designate the centralization of these services to one or another campus suited to the task.
C. Put an end to the practice of making system policy related to centralized services based on each campus having one “vote.” Although not written anywhere in the policy manual, this non-proportional voting is frequently used for system office projects, especially since MaineStreet was introduced. It leads to decisions that do not fit the various campuses well, and it ends up costing money as the campuses scramble to make adjustments to “retro-fit” for their individual campus needs. Instead, decisions related to centralized services should be made through proportional representation on committees, which should be charged to find flexible solutions that will work for each campus.
D. Dramatically downsize the system office and reaffirm its core functions of oversight and governance. The system’s strength depends not on the size of the system office, but on the reputation of the flagship university and the diversity and statewide coverage provided by all of the campuses within the system.
We believe the steps above will streamline operations, save resources, strengthen the campuses, and bring about the kind of positive transformation the Chancellor seeks.
A vote was called. The resolution passed unanimously.
Proposal to Establish Energy Grant Designations for Leading Public Research Universities
Submitted by the Faculty of the University of Maine
On behalf of the faculty of the University of Maine, the Faculty Senate has developed an innovative idea to address the critical energy demands of the 21st Century. To accomplish this, we are proposing the creation of Energy Grant Universities, similar to the Land Grant, Sea Grant, and Space Grant designations that have enabled universities to tackle key challenges this country has faced over the past 150 years. It would be important, forward-thinking legislation with the potential to stimulate the economy, enable our country to make huge strides in energy innovation, and leave a lasting ecological legacy for generations to come.
The proposal emerges from the realization that our nation’s dependency on fossil fuels has created numerous problems, including exhaustion of fossil fuel resources, harmful effects on the environment, the real risk that our nation will fall behind other countries in developing alternative energy sources, and the threat to our national security. Our dependence on fossil fuels is so entrenched in our culture, that, until now, society has not felt a sense of urgency to perfect new technologies or test these in real world settings. However, recent world events and the hope inspired by a new President have raised our collective consciousness about the need for change.
Universities are in a unique role to lead the country forward – as they did after Civil War (through Land Grant legislation, 1862) to educate citizens and develop agriculture and mechanical technology; as they did (through Sea Grant legislation, 1966) to explore and find ways of saving and taking advantage of ocean resources; and as they did (through Space Grant legislation, 1989) to assist the exploration and exploitation of space. Universities have the knowledge base and research power to develop new technologies and serve as microenvironments in which to test these innovations. Energy Grant legislation would expand their capacity to conduct this important research and create models of sustainability, the knowledge from which could be transferred to the broader society. It will prepare the Unites States for the future, shift current and future energy demands, reduce emission of green house gasses, and create models of innovation nationwide. It will also serve to create employment and manufacturing capacity, while supporting state and local economies.
The proposal suggests designating Energy Grant status at leading public research universities across the country. This would catapult research and create model sustainability sites across the country. Each state has unique access to various alternative energy sources they might research and develop. The University of Maine, for example, is conducting cutting edge research on on-shore and off-shore wind, geothermal energy, tidal energy, and renewable forest-based energy. Universities across the nation are working on other alternative energy innovations, and a unified focus through Energy Grant Institutions would foster competition, collaboration, and cross-testing that would otherwise be very difficult to achieve. Further, each state would benefit through the creation of research and manufacturing opportunities that the research would engender. The idea is innovative, affordable, and very likely to change the course of our nation.
President Barack Obama has asserted a commitment to doubling alternative energy production during his first two years in office. He declared in his inaugural address, “We will restore science to its rightful place. . . . We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.” This proposal is a cost effective way for the entire country to move in that direction.
Specifically, Energy Grant Universities would:
- Conduct research to discover scientific principles and technologies that would unlock new energy sources and perfect ways of rendering promising energy sources and technologies economically feasible;
- Work on the technologies themselves to bring them from promising concepts to workable ideas;
- Assist private industry in energy technology development;
- Serve as test beds for promising technologies by implementing them campuswide as replacements for old energy sources and old technologies;
- Serve as model communities of sustainability, where energy conservation, energy recycling, computer control of energy use, and application of new energy sources and technologies would be combined to make universities able to operate at high levels of efficiency. Develop such models so that they could be transferred to communities at large;
Participating Universities would benefit with increased enrollment of students interested in being part of transforming the energy landscape for the next century and through building enhancements as facilities are retrofitted to test new energy solutions.
The federal government would:
- Provide grants and support to develop projects and underwrite campus model energy programs;
- Enter into agreements with participating universities to provide return on investment by sharing the income from patents and licensed products.
The suggestions in this proposal are consistent with recommendations made by the American Physical Society Energy Efficiency Study Group (http://www.aps.org/energy efficiencyreport/report/aps-energyreport.pdf). The creation of Energy Grant Institutions could also be a key focus for President-elect Obama’s proposed “Agency for Energy Innovation.”
Time is of the essence, and the nation needs big ideas and big initiatives, not incremental nibbling around the edges and imaginary twenty-year goals. The Land Grant movement was the biggest single event in the history of higher education, and its impact was a huge step in the great leap forward America made after the Civil War toward becoming a leading nation. Times call for world leadership again; and the nation(s) that grab hold of their energy policies and transform them to independence, renewability, and sustainability will be the nations that lead the rest of the twenty-first century. This proposal to create Energy Grant-designated universities will lead to improvements in energy creation, storage and use, while training the next generation of scientists, engineers, policy makers, and consumers for rational long and short term energy decisions.
Therefore, Be It Resolved:
That the Faculty Senate, on behalf of the faculty of the University of Maine, supports the Proposal to Establish Energy Grant Designations for Leading Public Research Universities. We further support efforts by Senators and other campus leaders to solicit broad-based national support for the proposal, in order to propel it forward at the federal level.
A vote was called. The Resolution passed unanimously.
Motion to Recommend the Elimination of the Undergraduate Academic Degree in Information Science and Engineering
On the recommendation of the faculty of the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering, the PCRRC regretfully recommends the elimination of the
Undergraduate Academic Degree in Information Science and Engineering. The PCRRC concurs with the faculty of the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering that the elimination of the program represents a lost opportunity for the State of Maine, a loss which could only be remediated through substantive investment in the field. We highly recommend that every member of the UMS Board of Trustees read comprehensively the uncontested full report of the concerned faculty entitled, BS Information Systems Engineering Degree Elimination, publicly accessible at /facultysenate/PCRRC before voting to eliminate this program.
A vote was called on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:20 pm.