UC Chair N. Rothfels attended the recent UW-System governance reps. meeting and reported that: 1) D/F/W grade rates are a big concern across the System, however a quick consultation with VP for Student Success D. Clark suggests UWM does not have an issue in this area; 2) Discussions are continuing about adjusting student experience terminology, such as “undecided” versus “exploring”; 3) Concerns are surfacing about ordering issues in the new Shop@UW+ system; 4) Some discussion occurred about advocating for state law changes, so that classes could start before Sept. 1st and allow a full week fall recess; and 5) The Board of Regents appears interested in talking about ways to strengthen governance, which merits further discussion. On the UWM campus, Rothfels attended the recent International Committee meeting, and urged the committee to carefully review its Charter to see whether it might strengthen its governance role. After discussion, the UC remains concerned about the efficacy of this committee if there is little substantive discussion and never any opposition to proposals coming from administration. Additionally, the AAUP made an inquiry about availability of minutes from a specific faculty governance committee. After discussion, it was agreed Rothfels will send them a detailed response.
ASC Chair N. Oswald reported that their committee is working on a TTC appeals procedure but is concerned that this process will involve many academic staff and only result in recommendations to AVC T. Danielson for any changes. The UC then engaged with her in a detailed discussion about concerns regarding the upcoming TTC Teaching Professor academic staff title. A committee-of-the-whole discussion at the December Faculty Senate meeting was suggested as the next logical step.
Member E. Bornstein reported that the AAFE committee met and had a good discussion about what the committee can accomplish. It was noted that the tasks include retention as well as hiring, and there is a need to gather more information (including existing policy in this area) in order to figure out how best to proceed. Further, the committee looks to work directly with the new VC in this area (when hired). Member J. Snethen reported the APC met and that several policies will be coming to the next Faculty Senate meeting for consideration. Member D. Misra reported that the most recent APBC meeting was cancelled due to lack of business, and the University Relations committee will meet this week.
Finally, the UC reviewed the revised procedure for securing academic staff voting rights at the School/College level, and agreed by consensus to forward it to the Codification committee.
UC Chair N. Rothfels reported that: 1) a replacement faculty senator has been appointed to serve the remainder of the Fall semester; 2) there will be a special graduation ceremony on April 10, 2022 for all those who were not able to attend one earlier due to the pandemic; 3) he attended a Space Planning committee meeting where the Union closing during summer 2022 for renovation was discussed; 4) a TTC special meeting was held that included the three governance chairs, along with Chancellor M. Mone, Provost J. Britz, AVC T. Danielson, and VC R. Van Harpen; 5) Assoc. VCs D. Venugopalan and T. Danielson will share position descriptions of the Teaching and Research Professor academic staff titles with the UC soon; and 6) implications of student athlete’s new ability to profit from their “image and likeness” was discussed at the most recent Chancellor’s expanded cabinet meeting.
Member G. Rodger noted that the International committee will be meeting next Monday. Discussion ensued about the need for this committee and its usefulness. Rothfels will look to join the meeting. Member D. Misra noted that the APBC has begun budget meetings with individual campus units, and that a total of 22 will be held. Also, a new master’s in data science degree proposal is under development. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, it will be housed directly in the Graduate School.
Finally, VC R. Van Harpen, AVC M. Spadanuda, as well as Profs. J. Jordan and J. Berkowitz joined the meeting to discuss campus building ventilation with respect to COVID concerns. While there is no evidence of spatially related COVID outbreaks on campus so far this Fall (as defined by the CDC), it was agreed that making available campus ventilation information more robust, along with providing direct contacts that individuals can approach with concerns (or for more information) would be worthwhile to strive for.
UC Chair N. Rothfels reported that: 1) he attended the remaining UWM police chief candidate interviews; 2) VC R. Van Harpen, AVC M. Spadanuda, as well as Profs. J. Jordan and J. Berkowitz will join the UC meeting next week to discuss campus building ventilation with respect to COVID concerns; 3) UW-Lacrosse faculty have passed a TTC resolution like ours, and the ASC will also be considering one soon; and 4) a faculty senator needed to be appointed to fill a vacancy for the Fall 2021 semester. Additionally, the campus faculty workload “action group” is engaged in discussions, and while much more needs to be considered, ultimately what can be accomplished remains unclear.
Chancellor M. Mone reported that: 1) campus vaccination rates are up to 79% for faculty/staff and 87% for students, implications of the federal vaccine mandate are being considered, COVID positive test rates remain low at 1% for faculty/staff/students, and work continues on improving positive COVID case reporting and communication; 2) GPR base budget discussions will take place at a special BOR committee for governance issues meeting in December; 3) VC searches underway (D&AR and DEI) are going well, and after receiving input from an external agent regarding roles and responsibilities of the position, the search for the University Relations VC is expected to commence in November; 4) students continue to express pleasure at being “back on campus” this year; and 5) UWM police recently helped apprehend a group of criminals that were victimizing both UWM students and others on the East Side.
Member E. Bornstein is participating in TTC-related discussions about the Teaching and Research Professor academic staff titles. It is anticipated that these conversations will be controversial, and that the UC will become involved at some point to initially review any proposed new procedures.
Finally, the UC approved a draft resolution to dissolve the Economic Benefits committee, which will now be transmitted to the Codification committee for further consideration.
UC Chair N. Rothfels reported that he is still working on various committee appointments and has attended two of the UWM police chief interviews. After a brief discussion with the entire UC, it was agreed to allow a Faculty Senator to take leave from the body during the Fall 2021 semester, due to a class schedule conflict with the monthly meeting time. Concerns have been raised about COVID-related building ventilation system issues, and the UC will invite VC R. Van Harpen and Prof. J. Jordan to attend a future UC meeting to discuss. Rothfels noted that the recent announcement of free 30-minute parking on campus (only after 8pm on weekdays and anytime on weekends) was facilitated by a long advocacy campaign from member M. D. Schwartz. Lastly, UW-Whitewater faculty have passed a resolution urging UW-System to consider revisions to processes and language that are considered detrimental to the student experience. More discussion of this matter seems warranted.
Provost J. Britz reported that: 1) there are no matters of special concern expected at the Board of Regents meeting this week; 2) the Freshwater Collaboration is still waiting for funding to be released by the State legislature; 3) Details are being worked out on School/College reorganizations, with considerable progress having occurred; 4) UWM’s 4- and 6-year graduation rates have shown considerable improvement in recent years; and 5) Strategies will be explored in the next year to increase UWM’s yield of undergraduate student enrollment from applicants.
Assoc. VC D. Venugopalan discussed the issues raised in relation to granting of School/College voting rights to academic staff by the Faculty Senate. A process is being considered that will direct requests from departments first to the Codification committee for discussion, prior to placement on the Senate agenda.
Member E. Bornstein noted that problems are continuing with student COVID reporting and other related logistics in classes, as well as that she will be participating in an “action team” discussion in relation to the adoption of Teaching and Research Professor academic staff titles for use on our campus. The UC feels it may be productive to meet directly with the ASC for a discussion about this matter.
Member D. Misra reported that the APBC met last week and heard a report from the Provost, as well as the committee chair’s comments regarding progress on the logistics of planned unit budget meetings. Additionally, he reported that the Economic Benefits committee (EBC) met and voted to discontinue operation and (if necessary) transfer any functions to other faculty committees. The Sec of U will work on creating a faculty document to implement this action.
UC Chair N. Rothfels attended the in-person Faculty Reps. meeting in Madison last Friday. At the meeting an informative update was given by UW-System legislative liaisons, but Rothfels was surprised by unexpected resistance during discussion about the library book return issue (see earlier posts). Fortunately, there may be a path forward with further dialog, and the proposed changes will likely not affect UWM’s internal policy options on the matter. Associate VC Dev Venugopalan has developed a discussion paper on the Academic Staff voting rights issue which surfaced at a Faculty Senate meeting last year. Rothfels will share this document with the rest of the UC. There will still need to be additional work to develop any policy revisions. New appointees are needed for the Arts and Humanities Divisional Committee, nominees for the Chancellor’s appointments to the Information Technology Policy Committee, and the Student Government Finance Committee.
Academic Staff Committee Chair N. Oswald thanked the faculty for passing the TTC resolution at the September Senate meeting. Both the Academic Staff Committee and the University Staff Committee are considering passing similar statements. Some specific concerns beyond those previously mentioned are the removal of the pay progression system, and lack of detailed information on the appeals process (as well as any sense of how likely appeals are to be successful).
Member D. Misra reported that the APBC is starting to schedule 2023 budget planning meetings with individual campus units (these will all have one APBC chair and one other committee member in attendance).
The UC also discussed concerns raised about: 1) COVID reporting procedures; 2) Building ventilation concerns in relation to COVID; and 3) DEI training for graduate students. Lastly, Rothfels will investigate inviting organizers of the gathering (at the fountain) last week concerning campus racial climate to attend a future UC meeting.
UC Chair N. Rothfels presented an additional modification of SAAP 10.12 (COVID), which extended the mask requirement through Nov. 26th, and it was unanimously approved. He reported that the ITPC vacancy had been filled, the status of the UC ex-officio rep. to the GFC is still in process, and that the change of name from “Thanksgiving” to “Fall” Recess is moving forward. A brief discussion also ensued about the visit by Regent Robert Atwell to the most recent Chancellor’s Expanded Cabinet meeting. Rothfels discussed our concerns about the Council of UW-Wisconsin Libraries proposal to limit borrowing between campus libraries with UWM Libraries Director M. Doylen, who is optimistic that there may be ways to build in flexibility to deal with this issue. The borrowing proposal will also be on the agenda for discussion at the upcoming Faculty Reps. meeting in Madison.
Provost J. Britz reported that a listening session for the System President Search and Screen committee was just held on our campus. The committee has Feb./Mar. 2022 as a target for determining finalists. He is also working on ways to ramp up the System-wide presence of UWM online degrees. Britz mentioned that a recent report shows UW-System campus’ share of college students has dropped from 33 to 29% over the past 5 years, and that strategies are being considered to address that decline. The Freshwater Collaborative will be receiving $2.5M in funding this biennium, and there is optimism the UWM may receive some Federal COVID funds that are being distributed by Governor Evers. Lastly, Britz will check on the status of UWM’s COVID vaccination dashboard, as so far (unlike UW-Madison) our employee data has not been released.
Member D. Misra reported that at the most recent APBC meeting the Provost announced expected 3.5% reductions to School/College budget planning for 2023, and that the committee determined its representatives for other campus committees
Rothfels presented the revised statement about the Title and Total Compensation (TTC) process and after a few minor edits, it was unanimously approved. He will now send it to the Faculty Senate by email, and the statement will be introduced for consideration by that body at the Sept. 23rd meeting.
UC Chair N. Rothfels reported that some additional membership changes to the Arts & Humanities Divisional Committee have occurred, due to several resignations. He met with Assoc. VC for HR Tim Danielson and shared the UCs concerns about the Title and Total Compensation (TTC) process. Campus meetings about scheduled 2% pay plans (in both January 2022 and January 2023) have started, and the Chancellor has indicated he will not seek to set aside any of the funds this time. The Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JOCER) still needs to meet and approve these plans. The UC discussed the need for campus Executive Committees to designate faculty as “solid performers” to be eligible for these pay increases. There is considerable confusion about how this process will proceed among different units and this needs campus-wide clarification as soon as feasible. Rothfels will serve as the UC rep to the campus Space Planning committee and will work on needed appointments to the Information Technology Policy and Graduate Program Review committees.
Chancellor M. Mone mentioned there is considerable enthusiasm among students for being physically back on campus, and that many have indicated that they are really looking forward to being able to make new friends. UWM’s overall Fall 2021 enrollment is down 2.8% from 2020, which is near the UW-System average, and our dorms are at about 95% of capacity. Vaccination information for all UW-System campuses has been collected and is expected to be released shortly, and Mone expects UWM’s numbers to be encouraging. VC searches for Development/Alumni Relations and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are underway, with a goal of both being completed by Fall semester break. Additional consideration is taking place as to how to move forward with the duties of retired VC T. Lulak, so no search will start in that area yet. The Chancellor anticipates that the campus mask mandate will continue to be extended (from the current Sept. 30th expiration date) in approximately 30-day increments unless conditions improve. Lastly, he is looking forward to the next Town Hall, scheduled for Sept. 28th.
Member E. Bornstein reported that the Affirmative Action in Faculty Employment committee had its first meeting of the year and engaged in conversation about how best to move forward effectively. Member G. Rodger convened the first meeting of the International committee and noted they elected a chair. Member D. Misra reported that the University Relations committee had met and elected a chair, and that he will work to convene a meeting of the Economic Benefits committee soon. Both these committees need to discuss their on-going status and possible dissolution.
Rothfels presented a revised statement about the Title and Total Compensation (TTC) process and again invited discussion from the rest of the UC. He will send the current draft to the UC by email, with the goal of finalizing it at our meeting next week, in preparation to introduce the statement for consideration at the Sept. 23rd Faculty Senate meeting.
UC Chair N. Rothfels reported that Sandra Pucci (Linguistics) has been appointed to fill the vacancy on the Arts & Humanities Divisional Committee. He will also serve as the UC rep to the Graduate Faculty Committee–though elimination of this ex officio position will be considered at the next GFC meeting. Rothfels attended a “pre-season” meeting of the faculty reps., and will attend the first formal meeting, which will be in-person (in Madison) on September 24th. VP for Research Mark Harris has convened several “Research Group” meetings in relation to the 2030 planning effort, including: 1) “Faculty Workload/Effort”, 2) Graduate School Support; and 3) Research Infrastructure. Lastly, responses to the UC’s vaccine statement were generally positive.
Member D. Misra reported that the APBC held its first meeting of the year, elected a co-chair, but did not agree to a proposal to take on the calendar-setting function of the APC. The UC will continue to consider other ways of consolidating committee functions. APBC will continue to meet using a hybrid format. Misra also reported that the Nominations Committee elected a chair and set their next meeting date in February 2022. Member M. D. Schwartz reported that the front page of UCNews has been successfully updated.
Provost J. Britz has made getting the message out to students to “sign up” with their vaccination status a top priority. There are many ways for students to do this, and it is now a link on the main UWM home page. Data on percent of faculty/staff/students vaccinated will be available and shared soon. The UC noted that penalties for not wearing a mask on campus, as well as not getting tested (for non-vaccinated individuals) should be consistent and explicit. The Provost will follow-up on this issue. Britz reported that: 1) International student enrollment is back up to 2019 levels, 2) Overall enrollment this semester is down 2.9% from Fall 2020, and 3) Enrollment (FTE) this semester at our 2-year campuses (Waukesha and Washington County) is down 17% compared to Fall 2020. Further, Britz commented that the System President search process is moving forward quickly, with listening sessions being held now and expected to be mostly over by early October. He anticipates that the actual search will be well underway by early 2022.
Rothfels presented a draft statement about the Title and Total Compensation (TTC) process and invited discussion from the rest of the UC. He will consult with Tim Danielson (UWM HR) and Chancellor Mone about UC’s continuing concerns about the process, as well as asking who it would be most effective to present these concerns to. Rothfels will continue to work on the draft statement and report back to the UC at our next meeting.
UC Chair N. Rothfels reported that he had met with Sue Weslow regarding changes to SAAP 10-12 “COVID-related Health and Safety Rules” (which was considered and recommended for approval at the special meeting yesterday).
UC members found the Provost’s COVID-19 information meeting held this morning useful and informative. A recording of the meeting is available at this link:
Due to a vacancy, the UC needs to appoint a new member to the Arts and Humanities Divisional Committee as soon as possible. Several potential individuals were suggested, and Rothfels will contact them in the order established during discussion.
The UC discussed the advantages of a campus vaccine requirement, and then unanimously approved this statement: “With respect for current scientific understanding of COVID-19 and guidelines from the CDC, it is clear that having as many people as possible vaccinated on campus is the best way to control the spread of COVID-19. Thus, we strongly endorse adopting a vaccine requirement for the campus community.” This action will be officially reported at the Faculty Senate meeting on September 23rd at which time the Senate will be asked to ratify the statement or take other appropriate action.
The dogged way that UW-System administration has pursued (and campus administration acquiesced to) changes in academic and university staff titles as part of the “Title and Total Compensation (TTC)” process in the name of “standardization” is frustrating. UC members feel faculty governance must continue to question this process in support of our staff colleagues. Rothfels will draft a statement for discussion and consideration at our next meeting.
This special meeting was called to consider revisions to SAAP 10-12 “COVID-related Health and Safety Rules” which are needed immediately. The changes seek to clarify and provide flexibility in the policy’s implementation moving forward. After brief discussion the revised document was unanimously approved.