Academic Staff Executive Committee Minutes 10-01-20
2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Thursday, October 1, 2020
Members Present: Donna Cole, Jenny Dahlberg, chair; Tim Dalby; Stephanie Elkins; Mallory Musolf; Leslie Petty; Deb Shapiro; Lindsey Stoddard Cameron; Bill Tishler
Guests: Kayla Armstrong, Rebecca Blank, Lesley Fisher, Kevin Jacobson, Alyson Kim, Angela Kita, Matt Mayrl, Matthew Mitnick, Noel Radomski, Rachel Spahnn
The meeting was called to order at 2:32 p.m.
The minutes of September 24 were approved with one correction.
Guests: Matthew Mitnick, ASM Chair; Kevin Jacobson, ASM Shared Governance Campaign Director
Matthew and Kevin introduced themselves to ASEC as the new ASM Chair and Shared Governance Campaign Director respectively for the 2020-21 year. As Shared Governance Campaign Director, Kevin will be focused on the various campaigns ASM will be running throughout the upcoming year. As Chair, Matthew will be focusing on how to expand student shared governance. At its last meeting, ASM issued a vote of no confidence in the UW Police Department. ASM’s proposals for reforms within UWPD have been a big focus, as well as how Canvas can be more accessible and safe to use. The vote of no confidence was brought forward by a number of leaders on Student Council regarding the presence of UWPD at protests over the summer. ASM is continuing to meet with UWPD and Chief Roman over the coming weeks to push for proposed reforms. There are also concerns surrounding Honorlock, specifically around privacy and equity, and ASM passed legislation regarding these issues as well. Legislation was also passed regarding academic support during COVID, particularly regarding international students who may not have the same access to synchronous learning. ASM passed a similar resolution on fair trade to the one the Assembly passed at its September meeting, and ASM would like to find opportunities for collaboration where possible, including working together on a shared governance role for planning around the spring semester.
Jenny Dahlberg, ASEC chair, mentioned that there were comments from the Chancellor at the Grants Administration Conference regarding the potential for future furloughs. Jenny also reported on a grant program from OVCRGE for grants that were negatively affected by the pandemic. There are questions around how this program was communicated, and Jenny will let ASEC know more as she finds out more.
Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff, reported on an initial meeting with the other secretaries and chairs of the employee governance groups with Paul Seitz regarding the report of the Revenue Innovation Study Group. This was a group formed by Vice Chancellor Laurent Heller and Chancellor Blank to look at a series of questions around the evolution of funding for the university. Vice Chancellor Heller and other members of the group will come to a future ASEC meeting to present the report, and the Vice Chancellor has also expressed interest in presenting this to the Assembly as well. Jake inquired with ASEC if they would like to hear from Kevin Niemi, currently serving as an academic staff representative to the University Research Council, about the work of that committee. ASEC indicated that they would.
Tim Dalby reported on the ASM Student Council meetings over the last two weeks. He observed the debate on the no confidence vote and the discussion of Honorlock, as well as the resolutions on academic support and the support of the BIPOC Coalition.
Deb Shapiro attended the L&S CASI meeting, which has a university staff member as chair this year. The CASI received a report from Dean Wilcots, who discussed L&S successes in teaching and research, as well as how COVID has emphasized a number of existing climate issues. Tina Nielsen was introduced as the new Associate Dean for Operations.
Jenny Dahlberg will be meeting with the co-chairs of CEBC on Friday to discuss the committee’s work on a variety of issues.
· October Assembly Agenda
Motion to approve the October Assembly agenda (Stoddard Cameron). Seconded. Approved.
· Topics for Guests
Chancellor: budgetary issues and how to ensure equitable budget cuts among employee categories; questions about Spring 2021 and how instruction will proceed; how she sees the pandemic shaping the future of higher ed in general
ASEC recessed at 3:44 p.m.
ASEC reconvened at 3:55 p.m.
Guest: Rebecca Blank, Chancellor
Chancellor Blank expressed her appreciation for the work that ASEC has been doing. The university faced a big spike in infections at the end of the first week of the fall semester. Campus responded quickly and aggressively with a shift to remote instruction and quarantine protocols. Over the last week and a half, infection rates have been much lower. The testing lab at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab is now online and moving to weekly testing in the dorms, with increased emergency testing capacity if necessary. There has been further de-densifying of the dorms as well. Campus is moving forward with restarting some classes in-person. There are fewer than before, but many instructors will still have in-person components to their courses. Plans for spring semester are still being discussed.
Turning to the budget, because of operational issues in the last month, there have been delays in budget work and administration is now turning toward projections for this fiscal year. There is no question that there is a budget crisis, with issues in the auxiliaries as well as state funding. There was a $20 million lapse in the last fiscal year from the state, and there will be a $20-25 million lapse this fiscal year. These are one-time lapses, but we go into a budget debate this spring as well. Some of these budget issues are short-term cash flow issues related to COVID, but the university won’t know for certain what the state budget looks like until next summer. There have been few layoffs, and furloughs were used to address some of these budget shortfalls. All of the data and projections aren’t available yet for planning beyond the last round of furloughs in October.
UW-Madison has also been doing a lot of work on voting through social media and virtual outreach. There were voter registration events this week, and UW is part of the All-In Initiative as well. There is work happening to make sure polling spaces where students are voting aren’t impacted by voter ID issues.
On the topic of post-pandemic higher education, Chancellor Blank pointed out two things that won’t change. First, there is no replacement for high quality residential educational experience. Instructors have become more proficient at teaching online, and she hopes there will be reflection on how this might change their teaching in the future, with cross-campus conversation on these impacts. She does expect to see more interaction between the technological and the in-person components of teaching. The other thing that she expected would not change is the expansion of the footprint for online degrees. UW-Madison has been growing its professional masters programs, as well as growing undergraduate programs for older students. COVID will speed up this process. On the operations front, she talked about three areas for further thought: 1) the increased use of telework, 2) how space is organized given possible increase of telework, and 3) rethinking how meetings and travel are used.
Meeting adjourned at 4:47 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Jake Smith, Secretary of the Academic Staff