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Senate communications

May 5, 2017

Report of the Faculty Senate Chair

Senate Executive Committee, May 8, 2017
Zoe Barsness, Associate Professor, Milgard School of Business, UW Tacoma

Please take the time to review the agenda and supporting materials.

Continuing projects:

We anticipate wrapping up our discussion of the Faculty Code interpretation with respect to Chapter 29 Amendment of the Faculty Code. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, in the spring of 2016, the SEC made an official request for an interpretation of the Faculty Code relating to the SEC’s role in review of Class A legislation submitted to the SEC for transmittal to the Senate. Historically, it has been the SEC’s practice first to review and discuss any proposed Class A legislation submitted by the faculty councils. The SEC’s established practice has been to (A) sometimes recommend that such legislation be returned to the council for additional development, (B) other times to amend the proposed legislation (either by adjusting language to achieve better clarity or address issues of substance) before then passing the legislation onto the Senate for action, and (C) other times to forward the legislation without amendment directly onto the Senate for action. In reviewing Chapter 29 of the Faculty Code, the “Code Cops” indicated that the existing code language could be interpreted to support either of the following scenarios:

  1. Historical SEC practice as described above. In short, the SEC has the power both to amend and to turn back proposed legislation (which can then be reworked before re-submission to the SEC for review and transmission to the Senate for consideration as redrafted by the originating body or proposed directly from the floor of the Senate for consideration in its current form).
  2. The SEC’s role is purely one of transmission and the SEC has neither the power to amend the legislation nor turn it back. The SEC, if it preferred different language or wished to change the substance of a proposal, would instead submit an alternative version of the proposal—reflective of such changes—along with the proposing body’s original draft legislation to the Faculty Senate for review. (This would be consistent with the process outlined in the code and currently adhered to in practice when Class A legislation returns to the SEC for second review after the President requests changes or amendments to the proposed legislation as initially approved by the Senate).

This fall, after some substantive discussion of these two alternative interpretations of the code, the SEC delegated review of these approaches to the SEC’s role to a sub-committee and requested they work with the Code Cops to draft two possible amendments to Chapter 29 of the Faculty Code:  one that would explicitly articulate the SEC role in regards to the Class A legislation to be consistent with its historical conduct (approach #1 above) and a second that would explicitly articulate the SEC role to be consistent with approach #2 as described above. As requested, the sub-committee has worked with the Code Cops to produce two sets of Class A legislation designed to clarify the existing code language and make explicit the SEC’s role such that it is consistent with either scenario 1 or scenario 2. Furthermore, the sub-committee has recommended amending Chapter 29 language to bring the SEC role in line with that described in scenario 2 because they feel such a role is more consistent with existing code language.

Today, it is our task to return to the issue of interpretation and established practice, consider the recommendation of the sub-committee in regard to the two alternative interpretations of existing code language, and determine which conceptualization of the SEC’s role in the faculty legislative process best serves our legislative process and enhances the quality faculty governance. Class A legislation supporting the code interpretation we choose to adopt, as drafted by the Code Cops, will then be brought forward for SEC and Senate action in Fall 2017.

 New Business

Finally, there are three pieces of important legislation. The first is second consideration of Class A legislation that addresses clarification of roles for faculty members with instructional titles (Exhibit J). This legislation comes to the SEC with no changes since its first consideration on April 3. The second two are Class B legislation sponsored by the Faculty Council on Academic Standards. The first piece proposes the addition of interdisciplinary concentrations (Exhibit K), and the second proposes changes to priority registration (Exhibit L). Both polices reside in the Student Governance and Policies section of the UW Policy Directory. Each of these pieces of legislation deserves careful review.