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Southeast Missouri State University

Professional Affairs

Year-End Report

Professional Affairs Committee
2008-2009


Members: Chairperson-Sophia Scott; Kevin Dickson; Rick Althaus; Daniel Macleay; Bruce Mims; Alan Journet; Haohao Wang; Xuesong Zhang; Sofo Seidu; Matthew Olsen; Min Zou

The Professional Affairs Committee met twelve times during the year, beginning on September 10, 2008 and concluding on April 22, 2009. The committee worked diligently to accomplish several items on our agenda. The report will highlight the bills passed, resolutions passed and the agenda items that the committee worked on this Senate session.

Bills Passed

The Committee recommended to the Senate four bills containing the names of five retiring faculty members eligible for conferral of emeritus status. The Senate approved those bills unanimously.

Resolutions Passed:

The committee recommended three resolutions. The Senate approved the following resolutions:

1.Implementation of the Faculty Senate Bill (tenure & promotion) to be granted tenure or promotion if criteria are met prior to the adoption of Bill 08-A-04, granted tenure without promotion, or granted promotion without tenure. The resolution passed and the Provost took the resolution under consideration.

2.Implementation of 08-A-04 to establish a sub-committee to examine the use, administration, and interpretation of student evaluation of instruction. Chaired by Carol Veneziano, members from Professional Affairs, Academic Affairs and others have been meeting.

3.Resolution concerning online waiver procedures. Much debate went into the passing of the resolution asking that procedure of the online waiver be reviewed and updated. The Senate passed the resolution.

In addition, committee member Alan Journet drafted a climate commitment (Resolution 09-01) concerning Climate Commitment to present to the President after approval from the Senate.


Agenda Items:

The committee was tasked with nine agenda items. The items and their status follow:

Item

Status

Notes

To prepare recommendations to the Senate for implementation of the new Tenure and Promotion Policy, and to volunteer to inform various faculty groups about the new provisions

In-progress

·5 Briefings were conducted

·Preparing Q & A after first round of T & P with new bill

As a part of the above, to constitute a Task Force, including various faculty members from CSTL and faculty across the university to explore and evaluate the use of voluntary reporting of Student Evaluation of Instruction data for tenure and promotion

In-progress

Carol Veneziano is the chair; the Task Force has been meeting.

To study and make recommendations regarding possible changes to existing Faculty Development Policy

In-progress

Presented data to the Senate in the form of a table - will address this issue in Fall 2009

To continue to monitor and advocate regarding the Senate's positions on the issues of Student Evaluation of Instruction & Nondiscrimination regarding sexual orientation

*See report to faculty senate on inclusion of sexual orientation in the University statement of non-discrimination

Complete, but will continue to monitor

·Letter sent to the President (Oct. 2008)

·Met with President & university lawyer on Apr. 8, who explained the legal rationale of why sexual orientation should not be added to the non-discrimination statement

Continue the routine processing of recommendations concerning Emeritus status for retiring faculty

On-going

5 faculty recommended for emeritus.

To study and make recommendations regarding possible changes to new Tenure and Promotion policy regarding promoted but not tenured & tenured but not promoted faculty

Complete

Resolution 11/04/08

To study and make recommendations regarding possible changes to existing Faculty Sabbatical Leave Policy.

Complete

Policy good. More links needed.

To study the procedure of hiring interim and/or temporary chairs and deans

Complete

Memo sent to Provost

Suggestions for the Recommendation Form to accompany Tenure and Promotion Document

Complete

Recommendations made and sent. (Oct. 2008)

Respectfully submitted,
Sophia Scott, Chair

Report to the Faculty Senate

On

Inclusion of Sexual Orientation in the University Statement of Nondiscrimination

April 2009

By Rick Althaus, member, Professional Affairs Committee

Several times in recent years, the Senate has gone on record, on at least one occasion unanimously, as calling for the University to include in its official Statement of Nondiscrimination or similar document a statement that the University does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.On this matter, formal Senate actions have included at least the following:

  • Bill 01-A-02,passed March 14, 2001
  • Bill 01-A-03,passed March 14, 2001
  • Bill 02-A-04,passed April 17, 2002
  • Resolution 02-04,passed April 17, 2002

Each Bill was returned by the President without his signature.The Resolution was an expression of Senate sentiment, not subject to Presidential approval.The President most often cited advice of counsel as the reason for his non-approval of the bills.

Over the intervening years, the Professional Affairs Committee has continued to monitor the issue of sexual orientation on college and university campuses in Missouri.On several occasions, members of the Committee and/or the Senate Executives continued to discuss the matter with the President.

In the fall of 2006, the President shared with the Committee a reference to a federal appeals court decision from Illinois that could be interpreted to illustrate a potential legal liability facing a university that strictly enforced a “no discrimination based upon sexual orientation” policy.That was one reason, the President said, why the University attorney advised against including the phrase “sexual orientation” in the Nondiscrimination Statement.During subsequent discussion, members of the Committee wondered whether the attorney could suggest alternative language that might be included somewhere else, outside the Nondiscrimination Statement, that would indicate the institution's openness to potential faculty, staff, and students regardless of sexual orientation.In February of 2007, as Chair of the Committee, I sent a memo to the President asking whether he would be willing to request that the University attorney suggest some alternative language that might pass legal muster.

Having not received a response to that memo, the Committee asked me during the Fall 2008 to renew that request.I did so by memo, and the President responded in kind, agreeing to meet with me and with the Senate executives in December to discuss the matter further.That meeting was later canceled by the President.However, during the Spring 2009 semester, the President informed us that he would be willing to meet with the Committee to discuss the topic.That meeting took place on April 8, 2009.

In addition to the President, also in attendance at the meeting were University attorney John Grimm, Provost Jane Stephens, and Assistant to the President Diane Sides.The President asked Mr. Grimm to take the lead in explaining to the Committee his legal advice not to add sexual orientation to the Nondiscrimination Statement.

Mr. Grimm explained that sexual orientation is not currently a protected class under either state or federal law.Adding that class to our University statement could potentially increase the financial exposure of the University to incurring 1)legal defense costs and 2)financial judgments in lawsuits by individuals alleging that they suffered discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

He explained that the University of Missouri system has its own private insurance to cover the costs of legal judgments, so the UM campuses are only responsible for their own legal defense costs.The other nine public four-year schools in the state have potential judgments covered by a pool administered by the office of the Attorney General.Mr. Grimm had called that office, and was not able to receive assurances that that pool would be tapped to cover judgments against a university arising from a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit.

Mr. Grimm was asked about the four non-UM universities that had added sexual orientation to their nondiscrimination statement or other similar statement.A member of the Committee asked Mr. Grimm whether it was reasonable to assume that those four had simply decided that the potential financial risk of lawsuits from including sexual orientation in their statements was outweighed by their willingness to make a strong stand for this principle.Mr. Grimm explained that he had called the attorneys of several of those universities, but was not able to receive much insight into the analysis that was used to make those decisions.In at least one case, the university had changed law firms since that time.

Mr. Grimm was then asked about the possibility of drafting some other statement of inclusiveness, outside the actual Nondiscrimination Statement. He explained that doing so would make it possible that a court would interpret such a statement as bestowing, in effect, the same rights as would result from including such language in the actual Nondiscrimination Statement.

Mr. Grimm pointed out the possibility that the new Congress, with the new President, might jointly act to include sexual orientation as a protected class under federal law.President Dobbins said that should that happen, he would immediately go to the Board of Regents and ask that the University statements be revised to reflect that change.He also said that he didn't think that discrimination based on sexual orientation was common on this campus, and that he would want to be informed if such incidents were to take place so that they could be addressed individually.

The Committee thanked the President for the meeting, and thanked Mr. Grimm for the research he had done and the explanation that he had provided.

In a subsequent Committee meeting, members of the Committee continued their discussion of the issue. The possibility of further cooperation with the student Gay-Straight Alliance was also mentioned.The Committee agreed to continue to monitor events and to advocate on behalf of the Senate's position, and to recommend that such a charge be transmitted to the 2009-2010 Committee.

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