SenEx Minutes September 28, 2021

University Senate Executive Committee – SenEx

September 28, 2021

Approved: October 19, 2021

Jessica Chilcoat, Camden Baxter, Nate Brunsell, Mary Morrison, Hollie Hall, Patricia Gaston, Kyle Velte, Teri Chambers, Nick Syrett, Remy Lequesne, Hossein Saiedian, Ethan Roark, Ani Kokobobo

Acting University Ombuds, Ada Emmett, Associate Ombuds Mike Rozinsky, Vice Provost, DEIB, D.A. Graham,
UDK, Alyssa Wingo

Approval of minutes from September 14, 2021 – approved


Report from the University Ombuds Office:
Ada Emmet was introduced. 
Emmett reported that she became the Acting University Ombuds December 15, 2019.  D.A. Graham has been the ambassador for the office for several years.   The office also has a part-time Ombuds, Associate Mike Brzezinski.
The Ombuds Office is a confidential off the record space to have a conversation that is informal, that looks at the problems and situations that people may be facing. We serve students, graduate students, staff, and faculty. 

People can't be required to come to the Ombuds Office.  When people come to the Ombuds Office, they're invited to fill out an intake form and to share demographic information. Often visitors don't share parts of that demographic information.
Governance sends out a survey each spring.  It goes to all faculty, staff, and students.  There are a small number of responses received. 
The Ombuds Office saw about the same amount of people during the pandemic, as they did before.  There is a lot of misunderstandings and confusion amplified by strained relations between people, sometimes across campus. Interdepartmental conflict with faculty and staff, or between staff and staff, or students and faculty. 
People are really struggling and they're looking for options of how to manage situations. Graduate students and advisor relationships are complex, and they're weighty in both parties because they're intertwined in their missions and destinies.

Is there a plan moving forward to make sure the office is well staffed? 

Right now we have not lost in terms of administrative staff.  Once the search for the Vice Provost of DEIB is completed, we would expect to have a full-time person and possibility of two in the office.


The interpersonal relationship issues that are coming to the ombuds office have been a concern of mine for a very long time.  Often a Chairperson is put in a position and they have no training. 



One of the responsibilities of the Ombuds Office is to regularly provide what we call upward feedback to senior administrators about what we're noticing. There are hopes for training.  There is so much put on the shoulders of the chairs.   There is a need for understanding how to manage people, and how to manage conflict.


Is there any discussion about the possibility of bringing a dedicated pandemic ombuds? 


That is an interesting observation.  The pandemic has amplified tensions between people and policies.

At some schools is the Ombuds Office more of a student-centered office? 


We don’t advertise our service to undergraduates.  We do have some students that come to the office.  Many of the questions are about, withdrawals, financial aid, conflicts with instructors. 


Is there anything that SenEx could do, to help support the Ombuds Office?


I think we have some hopes for encouraging and getting support for developing a more robust mediation program. 

SenEx thanked Ada and D.A. for attending.

Student Senate Vice President Report:
The students have some amendments to the Student Senate Rules and Regulations.  Some things that we're seeing that technically aren't working in the current document that we think should be fixed with more immediacy.  
We are looking at an amendment for the Graduate Vice President, to either become an ex-officio non-voting member of Senex or make the Graduate Student Position, the Graduate Student Vice-President.

We are meeting with student housing to review how they are handling the most recent incident of sexual assault.  Student engagement had been going up. At least that's what we had been seeing. We are now seeing a period of burnout for a lot of students and student organizations.  It's very visible in terms of attendance at some events.


Staff Senate Report:
Jessica Chilcoat reported the Staff Senate had their monthly meeting with the KBOR University Support Staff and Unclassified Professional Staff.  There has been good collaboration and sharing across our institutions.  Mask mandates are still hot topics for all the KBOR schools. Some schools don't have them, some schools do.
The KBOR Staff will be doing a Climate Survey for all staff at KBOR schools.  It will go out in early April of 2022.  This will collect data from all institutions, which will be presented to KBOR Council of Presidents.
We did talk to the other regent schools about how they communicated to their constituents.  The answer from every school was they have absolutely no restrictions. Their messages do not get censored or edited or anything by anybody, and they have access to send to all staff on their own from their own account. We have collected that information.  Spencer and Chilcoat are planning on meeting with David Cook and the Provost Office.

The last item is the feedback on the letter that was sent out from the leaders.  It was generally good, some thought it may have been perceived as a pat on the back, and we didn't acknowledge how complicit we are in the violence and the system of violence that we have on campus.


Faculty Senate President
Lequesne reported that the provost spoke at the Faculty Senate meeting last Thursday, she was asked about KU’s response about sexual assault, and how key leaders are prioritizing hearing from students and the student organizers of the protests. That's consistent with what I heard from the chancellor's office. Lequesne has been copied on a lot of correspondence related to the Visual Arts Education Program that seems to have really struck a nerve with a lot of the arts education community in Kansas. We have statements from a state organization, a lot of members and I expect more statements will be coming.  The statements are added to the governance website, as they are received. 

There is a draft amendment to the University Senate rules and regulations relating to absentee policies in classes. The recommendations are for how faculty deal with absent requests from students. The policy has been apparently in some form, moving around various groups.  The FRPR committee is reviewing it now.  Depending on the recommendations, will probably bring it to Senex at some point this year.
I have been reviewing the new program that will be taking the place of Pro.   There are definitely some problems with the rollout and some frustration.

Are there any questions:



Is there any discussion of a climate survey for faculty?



We have not discussed that.  There was a climate survey done in 2017. 



University Senate President Hossein Saiedian

There have been several situations in which we needed the support of our colleagues from the Staff Senate leadership, and they were very supportive, very collaborative, and I would like to acknowledge their support, we need to be as collaborative as possible. I would like to publicly acknowledge the support that they have expressed for our efforts here.

  • Saiedian noted that several student appointments were missing for the University Senate Committees. 
  • In regards to Dependent and Spouse Tuition, the Provost stated that she would like to see the same plan for employees, be followed for employee dependents.
  • The KBOR is looking at accepting as many as 75 credit hours, from junior and community colleges.   KBOR may not make is a requirement, but KBOR schools will have the option to change their rules.
  • AP&P will be holding program discontinuance hearings.    The process:  AP&P holds hearings, they make recommendations to University Senate, University Senate votes, and makes final recommendations to the Provost and Chancellor.  The Provost and/or Chancellor have the option to veto the Senates recommendations.  
  • The first hearing was held September 29, 2021, the next dates:
    • October 6, 2021
    • October 13, 2021
    • October 14. 2021


  • Provost Bichelmeyer will be attending the September 30, 2021, University Senate Meeting
  • Jeff DeWitt will be attending the November 4, 2021, University Senate Meeting


Unfinished Business




New Business


Currently, there is not a Student Vice President or Vice-Chair for University Senate and SenEx.  In case the current University Senate President is unable to attend the next meeting, an alternate person is needed to be ready to lead the University Senate Meeting.  Kokobobo volunteered.    


Ethan: discussion, student appointments, is has been difficult to obtain volunteers.  Student Senate is working with Student Affairs, perhaps sending an email to all students.  The Student Senate is open to recommendations.


Discussion of amendment to University Senate Code, regarding the Graduate Student Body Vice President.  The students need to move on this first. 


Meeting adjourned