Governance Council


December 1, 2004 (Emergency Meeting)




Present:  D. Armstrong, G. Battista, R. Collier, R. Hoyt, A. Lyons, G. Marschke, S. Messner (Chair),  J. Pipkin, R. M. Range, H. Scheck, Helen Strother, J. Wessman


            Guests: D. Dewar (Chair, CPCA), Robert Geer (CNSE), C. MacDonald (Senate Chair)


Minutes:  The Minutes of November 5, 2004 were approved.


Discussion of Draft MOU:


Carolyn MacDonald volunteered to take notes during the meeting to facilitate the drafting of the minutes.


This emergency meeting was called to consider a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) pertaining to proposed procedures for promotion and continuing appointment for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) that had been prepared by the joint working group.  The MOU had been distributed to members of the Governance Council and to members of CPCA in advance.  Diane Dewar, Chair of CPCA, and Robert Geer, a member of the joint working group representing CNSE, attended the meeting as guests.


The Chair thanked fellow members of the joint working group for their hard work and flexibility, and invited Robert Geer to address the Council.   Professor Geer commended the members of the joint working group for the tremendous amount of hard work that they had put in to the drafting of the MOU, their candid discussions, and the compromises on both sides that had made the MOU possible. 


The Chair invited Diane Dewar to raise any questions and issues from CPCA.  Professor Dewar proposed the following specific changes to the MOU:


(1) – the Head of the Constellation/Department shall ensure not only that the recommendation is in compliance with the relevant rules and regulations of the Faculty Handbook but that the format of the cases is in compliance as well;


(2) – it would be advisable for CPCA to include representatives from CNSE during the interim period for evaluating cases and revising guidelines so that they include unique aspects of scholarship, teaching, and service relevant to CNSE (this should be incorporated as a recommendation but not as a statutory requirement);


(3) – the Chair of CPCA should be added to the list of those to be consulted by the President as part of the process to certify that CNSE has met the requirements to undertake second-level academic review;


(4) – the reference to “university-wide guidelines” should refer explicitly to guidelines “for promotion and continuing appointment.”


The Council discussed a wide range of issues, including the merits of requiring a substantive review of cases outside of the influence of the “local culture” of any given unit and the need to be responsive to the request of Interim President Ryan to develop structures that allow a degree of autonomy to CNSE in matters such as promotion and continuing appointment.  In the course of these discussions, Council members concluded that the meaning of “teaching faculty” was ambiguous in the MOU, and that this could lead to problems in the future.  It was agreed that the text should be rewritten as needed to clarify that “teaching faculty” refers to those members of the academic staff who have academic rank as defined in the UAlbany Faculty Bylaws.


Members noted that there might be potential inconsistencies between the MOU and Faculty Bylaws and the University Senate Charter.  More generally, some Council members expressed concern about the extent to which acceptance of the MOU would be viewed as a binding commitment.  It was pointed out that no appreciable changes would occur for at least three years, allowing ample time for Senate action if necessary.  There was agreement that the MOU should acknowledge the possibility that the proposed procedures might require revisions of existing legislation and refer explicitly to the need to address this issue through governance.   It was also noted that a binding agreement to changes to the charter could not be made at the upcoming Senate meeting, because that would violate required notice periods and that binding changes to the bylaws would require a full faculty meeting.


Questions arose about exactly what action was being requested from the Governance Council, and how the MOU would be transmitted to the Senate.  There was general agreement that some format needed to be developed to present the proposal to the Senate clearly and succinctly.


D.  Collier moved that the MOU be endorsed by the Council, contingent on CNSEs acceptance of the changes that had been approved by Council members in the course of the meeting, and that an appropriate resolution be drafted to transmit the MOU to the Senate at its next meeting.  The motion passed unanimously.