Jeff Newcomer, 2007-08 Senate President called the Senate to order at 4:04 pm. Senators accepted Senate minutes of March 10, 2008 and Standing Committee minutes. Senators welcomed Randy Stegmeier, Director of Public Safety, who expressed appreciation for the invitation, and spoke about safety initiatives he is planning in collaboration with the Bellingham police.
§ Newcomer reported: 1) a faculty volunteer is needed to speak at welcoming convocation; 2) that Policy 5400.08 on background checks will go through the full open comment process; 3) new campus bicycle and skateboard policies are posted on the Senate website along with the appropriate WAC code for public review.
§ President Morse confirmed that background check policy is on the agenda of the Executive Policy Committee.
§ Morse reported that administration forwarded a new proposal to UFWW on March 26th.
§ Bill Lyne, UFWW President, reported that the bargaining team is taking some time to review the proposal and will have its counterproposal ready tomorrow or the day after. Lyne compared salary information in the proposal to that in the contract signed by Eastern, where salaries are somewhat lower than Western to begin with, and both are far below the 75th percentile.
§ Provost Murphy reported that 34 of 60 vacant positions have been filled with tenure or tenure track faculty of which 13 are net new and 21 are replacements due to retirements. Murphy will prepare a thumbnail sketch of new hires, and added that the continued progress is attributable to the work of the excellent search committees.
§ Senators reviewed a timeline which requires a May 30 draft committee report on a state performance agreement that aligns higher education goals and accountability measures with the 2009-2011 operating and capital budget processes as set forth in HB2641. The bill is an attempt to stabilize higher education funding, but there is considerable emphasis on focusing on degrees to meet employers’ needs. Murphy suggested this can be an opportunity to address the State’s mandated limit on tuition increases, or to ask for increased financial aid. Responses from Senators suggested that 1) emphasis on increasing degrees ignores the considerable benefit to the State from people who have some college education yet no degree; 2) part-time educators may not be as fully vested in the idea of why Higher Education matters; and we must find ways to reach down the K-12 pipeline; 3) there are many formulas with the financial aid piece that include e-learning and adult and returning students; 4) there are waiting lists to get into certain degrees and all we need are more faculty and increased space; 5) Senators will contact constituents on the issues for feedback to the committee in the next eight weeks.
§ Senators reviewed the recently passed Academic Coordinating Commission charge in anticipation of future discussion.
§ Senators moved to a faculty caucus at 5:37 pm. At 6:40 the Senate President included the report in the record from the faculty representatives on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and Senators adjourned at 6:41 p.m.
APPOINTMENTS AND ELECTIONS – Mick Cunningham, Officer
Senate ballots are due in the Senate office by Monday, April 14th. Senators viewed a list of faculty vacancies on the Academic Coordinating Commission, University Planning Council, Senate Library Committee, and Academic Technology Committee.