20, No. 17, April 5, 2001
Senate votes to establish committee to advise on research policy
News Bureau Staff Writer
(217) 333-2894; firstname.lastname@example.org
For years, various
committees and commissions of the Urbana-Champaign Senate have recommended
that the senate should have its own committee on research policy.
It finally made a move in that direction at its March 19 meeting.
The new Research Policy Committee, approved by a 55-35 vote, will not
be a senate committee. Instead, it will be a campus committee appointed
by the vice chancellor for research but mostly from senate nominations
or after consultation with the senate.
The committee will advise the chancellor, the vice chancellor for research,
and the senate on matters of research policy.
The votes that established the new committee came in the context of
more than an hour of debate, in which senators voiced their support
or opposition to two alternative proposals and various proposed amendments.
One proposal, from the senates Committee on University Statutes
and Senate Procedures (USSP), would have established a senate committee
on research policy. But it was a substitute proposal, sponsored by Senate
Council chair Robert Rich, that the senate approved.
The debate started with several senators voicing their opposition to
the substitute proposal, among them H. George Friedman and Geneva Belford,
both professors of computer science. Friedmans argument was that
past cases of forming committees that report to both the senate and
administration showed that they simply didnt work well.
But a number of senators also voiced their support for the substitute
proposal, among them Emily Watts, a professor of English, and Nancy
OBrien, a professor of library administration. One point made
by several supporters was that the committee could be a positive example
of shared governance between the senate and the administration.
Rich said one reason for offering the alternative proposal was that
he thought the campus committee rather than a senate committee
would give the senate a more effective role in deliberations
over research policy.
Wes Seitz, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics, noted
that there was general consent that a research policy committee was
needed, and he thought the substitute proposal was the better of the
two. But he also pointed out that the committee could always be changed
at a later date if the senate did not feel it was working.
The makeup of the new 16-member committee:
- A chair appointed by the vice chancellor in consultation with
- A representative from the Campus Research Board, appointed by
the vice chancellor, who will serve as a liaison between the board
and the committee.
- The dean of the Graduate College.
- Eight faculty members, serving two-year terms, appointed by the
vice chancellor from senate nominees. Four will be chosen each year
from eight names approved by the senate.
- Two graduate students appointed in the same manner, also with
alternating two-year terms. Student senators will be consulted on
- Two faculty members appointed directly by the vice chancellor,
also with alternating two-year terms.
- One undergraduate student with a one-year term, nominated and
selected in a similar fashion to the graduate student members. (The
slot of an undergraduate student was not part of Richs original
proposal, but was approved as an amendment.)
In other business,
action was suspended on a vote taken Feb. 12 regarding the Campus Research
Board. Chancellor Michael Aiken, in his role as chair of the senate
meeting, agreed to have the senate reconsider that vote at its next
meeting after Peter Loeb, a professor of mathematics who voted
for the motion raised concerns that several senators misunderstood
what they were voting on at the time.
That 50-46 vote called for moving the Campus Research Board from the
Graduate College to the province of the vice chancellor for research,
along with several other changes.
The senate also voted to eliminate its Committee on External Affairs,
through a proposal from USSP. The proposal noted that the Committee
on External Affairs had recommended its own elimination in a 1990 report,
and had not even reported to the senate since 1995.
During question and discussion time prior to the senates main
agenda, Harry Hilton, a professor of aeronautical and astronautical
engineering, raised an objection to the chancellors recent e-mail
to faculty and staff members warning against contact with prospective
student-athletes. The e-mail was sent after reports that critics of
Chief Illiniwek were considering contacting student-athletes to inform
them about the Chief controversy and maybe suggest they consider going
Hilton said the e-mail "puts a chilling effect on all we hold dear,"
including academic freedom and freedom of speech. He urged Aiken to
revoke the message or tone it down.
In a prepared statement, Aiken responded that the university "values
and defends the principles of free speech and academic freedom"
and was not seeking to interfere "with the expression of views
regarding matters of public concern."
But he also reiterated concerns raised in the e-mail and urged that
faculty and staff members use numerous other means available to influence
university policy. "We expect members of the university community
to express their viewpoints without violating NCAA rules concerning
contacts with prospective student-athletes," he said.
In the wake of the chancellors e-mail, the American Civil Liberties
Union was expected to file a suit this week challenging the universitys