Minutes, Truman Chapter of AAUP
September 4, 2009, 4:30 pm
Meetings are open to all university faculty members.
Faculty present: Betty McLane-Iles (presiding), Taly Alexander, Roger Festa, James Harmon, Mark Hatala, Jason McDonald, Judi Misale, Bonnie Mitchell, David Robinson
1. Minutes of the May 1 meeting were approved.
2. Overview of the previous year’s work.
Our chapter president took us through a remarkable review of the past, very busy year: forums and discussions with Barbara Dixon, Troy Paino, and Darryl Krueger; previous work on Contingent Faculty conditions; research on Domestic Partner Benefits; Services for Disabled or Physically-challenged students, staff, and faculty; members’ participation in Missouri State Conference; legislative watch-dogging; the Ashcroft “events.”
2a. Support for draft bill. In connection with this last issue, the chapter voted unanimously to support a bill drafted by Chet Breed and Dan Mandell, currently being approved at various levels and soon to go before Faculty Senate and Student Senate. The bill would establish a mechanism for choosing and approving candidates for honorary degrees from Truman, one requiring orderly participation and approval by both of those governing bodies. (We did agree, however, that the final sentence should be struck, as unnecessary and distracting from the strong ending of the penultimate paragraph of the draft.)
3. Resumption of the following major issues and concerns:
3a. Conditions for Contingent Faculty. Nothing urgent or particularly new here, but there are plenty of problems, so we remain vigilant.
3b. Domestic Partner Benefits. Our chapter is determined to spearhead some movement here, especially since our research has discovered that many peer institutions, including state universities, extend health insurance and other benefits to same-sex partners and others. One member inquired about this with Interim President Krueger, but his response was less than encouraging. We will need to work on several fronts, and in alliance with several other groups (Benefits Committee, Faculty Senate, Student Senate, possibly the Board of Governors). After a wide-ranging discussion, our chapter decided that working toward an “F plus” plan seemed best: a faculty member could attach dependent family members to their benefits, and that family might include a domestic partner, older child, or other family member(s) who reside in the household. Chapter officers will call on members for help with this one, as needed, and as we connect to the wider university community.
3c. “State of the University” survey. Judi Misale has been heading this effort for years, and since she has recently retired, the torch is passing to Elaine McDuff, another talented specialist in social psychology and survey methods. Judi and Elaine met in May with Betty and David; they composed a survey instrument that keeps many of the traditional questions and adds a few that reflect current issues. Elaine will work with Marc Becker (though he is actually in Ghana this semester) to get the survey loaded into the computer system and out to the faculty, probably in late October.
3d. Evaluation of higher administrators? It has come to our attention that Faculty Senate has delayed the evaluation of higher administrators. We will make inquiries. Several years ago, when these evaluations were not being done regularly, AAUP conducted them and publicized the results. We stand ready to re-establish that service, since regular evaluation of administrators is an AAUP staple.
4. Possible changes in health benefits. Rumors abounded over the summer about the Kirksville Health Initiative, an idea under discussion among representatives of A.T. Still University and Truman, as well as the wider community. While we would, in general, favor ideas to improve health education and health care, we are opposed to the development of any HMO or insurance pool that would limit patient choice, especially in the current context of the national discussion of health care.
5. Report on 2009 AAUP Summer Institute. Our chapter president attended this annual event, this time in St. Paul MN, and her attendance was supported by funding from the Missouri Conference of AAUP. Betty told us about several speakers, seminars, and workshops, and encouraged us to think about attending future Summer Institutes, the major training and “refreshing” gatherings organized by the national AAUP.
6. New Business: Issues with the Student Conduct Code. Roger Festa, an active advisor to student groups, informed us that Student Senate is in the process of examining some problematic issues in the Conduct Code, which was enacted in 2008. A recent attempt to make a change in procedures for reporting rape failed to gain support from the Board of Governors. Student leaders will probably try again. Roger reminded us that there is often an impenetrable firewall between the faculty and “student affairs,” even though AAUP philosophy insists that, ultimately, the faculty should run the university. Our chapter voiced our concern that the Code issues can be resolved in a way that will benefit our community. We will be watching developments.
7. Adjournment, ca. 5:45 PM
Respectfully submitted by David Robinson, acting secretary