University Senate discusses delegation of authority policy, motion on academic freedom

At their regular meeting Wednesday, members of the University Senate passed several motions, including a policy on academic freedom. The Senate also discussed the mechanism for providing input on the proposed delegation of authority policy under consideration by the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon. The policy was discussed during the board’s March meeting and is designed to foster governing efficiency for the university’s new governing board.

Senate President-Elect Robert Kyr, who conducted the April 9 meeting in President Margie Paris’ absence, reported that an ad hoc committee was formed and has met twice to discuss recommended policy language. The ad hoc committee plans to share its initial thoughts about the policy with the campus community as well as solicit additional input. The committee will share its recommendations and all the input received with the board by April 30.

“The function of the committee is to guide the campus community,” said Kyr, who is chair of the ad hoc committee. “We thank the board for including us and we look forward to more collaborative endeavors.”

Prior to the discussion, President Michael Gottfredson spoke on the board meeting actions, expressing his regret that the timing of the board meeting had not allowed for adequate comment and reflection on the policy from the campus community.

“This policy is intended to maintain the principal delegation practices of the State Board of Higher Education and apply them to our new board,” he said. “We look forward to the input from campus, and encourage you to participate in this process to share your insight with the board.”

A part of his regular university update, Gottfredson also spoke about funding the “Clusters of Excellence” initiative and the plan for updating the university’s mission statement. 

The Senate also had a significant discussion on the academic freedom policy, which was approved including two amendments from the floor. The approval represented the near-end of a lengthy process, which has spanned three administrations. The approved motion will be forwarded to President Gottfredson for his consideration. The president said he welcomed the opportunity to review this new senate version of the policy.

Provost Scott Coltrane addressed the Senate, providing details on the process for gathering input on the university mission statement. “The goal of the process is to update our mission statement and somehow capture what is our essence, to honor our historical legacy, to align with the needs of the state higher education coordination process, to differentiate our mission from those of the other public universities in the state and to prepare our campus to take advantage of new opportunities moving forward,” Coltrane said.

The provost also provided a requested update on actions related to the recently released report on the Office of Research, Innovation and Graduate Education (RIGE).

Among these action items are plans to formalize appointments to the Research Advisory Board that include a broad nominations process and the development of reporting lines and evaluation procedures for research centers.

In other action, the University Senate:

  • Approved the Senate Liaison to the UO Board of Trustees motion, requiring the senate president to provide a University Senate report, approved by the senate, at each meeting of the Board of Trustees and then provide a report to the senate following each UO Board of Trustee meeting;
  • Approved a motion clarifying senate procedures for the election of the president-elect;
  • Approved a motion directing the United Academics president to select a liaison to report to the University Senate Executive Committee;
  • Approved a motion requesting that President Gottfredson conduct an open search for a new Faculty Athletics Representative and include provisions for regular “360 degree” reviews in the job description; and
  • Approved a motion amending senate bylaws to require a five day period for the text of new motions to be made available prior to senate meetings.

Time did not allow for discussion on:

  • A motion making meetings of the University Standing Committees and the Senate Budget and ad hoc committees open except during discussion of confidential records of individual employees or students; deliberation on honors, awards or grants to individuals; or if a person is called to give testimony and requests that the testimony be confidential; and
  • The proposed establishment of an ad hoc "Student-Athlete Success working group.”

These items will be considered at a future senate meeting.

As part of the agenda, online reports from the Faculty Athletics Representative, the chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee and Senate President were made available for review.

The complete senate agenda, where full details on motions can be viewed, is available here.

The senate will next meet at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, in Lawrence Hall Room 115.

- Tobin J. Klinger, Office of Public Affairs Communications