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SenExx-University Senate Executive Committee 3/24/15

March 24, 2015 - 3:00pm
Provost’s Conference Room

I.          Announcements

II.        Approval of minutes from March 3, 2015

III.       Standing Reports

            A.        University Senate President - Jonathan Mayhew

            B.        Faculty Senate President - Jim Carothers

            C.        Student Senate President - Miranda Wagner

            D.        Unclassified Senate President - Amanda Ostreko

            E.         University Support Staff President - Chris Wallace

IV.       Report of the Task Force on Domestic Partner Benefits (Margaret Severson, chair)

V.        Old Business

VI.       New Business



Approved: 4/7/2015

PRESENT: Jonathan Mayhew, Michael Williams, Jim Carothers, Katherine Clark, Lisa Jeremy Martin, Charlotte Goodman, Chris Wallace, Mike Krings, Amada Ostreko, Alex Montgomery, Emma Haling, Michael Walker

 EXCUSED: Lisa Friis

ALSO PRESENT: Molly Mulloy and Kathy Reed, Governance; Amy Smith, Policy Office; Tom Beisecker, Faculty Senate President-Elect;  Sara Shepherd, Lawrence Journal World.      

  SenEx chair Jonathan Mayhew called the meeting to order.

 MINUTES for 3/3/2015 were corrected and approved.


            Jonathan Mayhew reminded members that there is no University Senate meeting this week. The Senate will discuss and hopefully vote on the Social Media Policy (SMP) on 4/9. If the Mikkelson version of the SMP is approved, the latest changes will need to be negotiated with the Provost, and then returned to University Senate if the Provost has further changes. If the Mikkelson motion fails, the SenEx version could be re-introduced. Mayhew clarified that the Board of Regents policy does not cover students, nor are undergraduate students covered in KU’s procedures. However, it is still unclear whether GTAs and lecturers who are also students would be covered by KU’s policy. Mayhew is awaiting a decision about this from the General Counsel’s Office.  

            The Academic Policies and Procedures Committee (AP&P) has approved the request of the School of Engineering to discontinue an inactive Ph.D. program in Mechanical Engineering. The procedure is for AP&P’s recommendation to go to the University Senate for approval before being sent to the Provost.


Jim Carothers reported that FacEx will meet today following SenEx. He is going to recommend to the Faculty Senate on Thursday that they first discuss the general provisions of the Faculty Code as a “committee of the whole” and defer action on any new amendments until after that discussion.


            Miranda Wagner reported that Student Senate is entering its last legislative cycle of the year. A resolution will be sent to FacEx recommending that instructors include language on their course syllabi about their “mandated reporter status” in regard to matters such as sexual assault. Having this statement on a syllabus lets the student know that the faculty member is a “required reporter.’ Jeremy Martin suggested that when this proposal goes to the full Faculty Senate it would be wise to provide information as to whether state and federal laws or University policy requires this statement on the syllabus. Wagner clarified that the resolution is just a request to faculty to include this information on syllabi.

Regarding the proposed tobacco ban on campus, Wagner said that there is no consensus at Student Senate on this proposal, but students, including international students, will be disproportionately affected by the policy.


            Amanda Ostreko reported that her senate has awarded $3300 in Professional Development grants to twelve persons. The annual “Wheat State Tour” is being planned for early May. Some staff recently received notices about changes to their positions related to the Human Resources Reclassification Study.


University Support Staff

            Chris Wallace reported that the transition to a single Staff Senate starts next month.


            Mayhew welcomed Prof. Margaret Severson, chair of the 2014-15 committee that reviewed progress at KU since the report of the 2010 Task Force on Domestic Partner Benefits. Severson said that KU hasn’t made much progress since 2010. However, some other public universities have managed to work through state laws and other barriers in order to offer domestic partner benefits. Though the University of Virginia also doesn’t offer many domestic partner benefits, its president issued a supportive statement to faculty and staff regarding the importance of anti-discrimination policies. Severson thinks it might be beneficial for our Chancellor to come out with a statement that KU values its employees and their partners. She added that all domestic (unmarried) partners of any sex, not just gay and lesbian couples, should receive domestic partner benefits.

            Mayhew said it was his understanding that some of the other Board of Regents universities have found ways to provide tuition benefits to domestic partners. Mike Kring asked if we could reach out to them to see what other benefits they are providing besides tuition reductions. He applauded the task force’s recommendation that Vice Provost for Diversity Nate Thomas be involved in a continuing effort to improve the provision of domestic partner benefits at KU.

Krings suggested that the report be emailed to all faculty/staff/students, and members agreed. Amanda Ostreko suggested that there be a charge to a University Senate standing committee to look at retention and benefits for staff as well as faculty.

            Emma Halling, a member of the task force, wondered if a “decline survey” could be conducted to ascertain how many people have declined employment or left the university because of the lack of partner benefits. Katherine Clark said it may not be appropriate to ask persons who’ve turned down a job here to answer questions about why they didn’t come, but wondered if the University does an “exit survey” when faculty and staff leave.

            Severson said that when the task force reviewed the 2010 report, it was their sense that the initiative to support partner benefits has to come from the top administration, otherwise it’s a waste of time for the committee.  Carothers said this is the right thing to do, and he asked how SenEx could help. Members agreed that might be helpful to have a resolution from University Senate urging the Chancellor and the administration to support partner benefits and to use their administrative power to find solutions. Carothers and Mayhew will draft a resolution, and Emma Halling will send Mayhew a similar resolution developed by Student Senate. Mayhew asked SenEx members to send him suggested wording for the resolution.

The meeting adjourned at 3:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Molly Mulloy


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