Board of Trustees' policy could radically change University Senate powers
University Senate has called an emergency meeting for Wednesday and may be at risk of losing its power to the University of Oregon Board of Trustees.
The agenda for the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting was released Friday, Dec. 5, six days before the Board’s Thursday meeting. Seven pages into the agenda is a resolution that some say violates the UO constitution, University of Oregon School of Law professor John Bonine told the Register Guard.
The Senate Executive Committee met Monday to discuss details of the academic contingency plan in the wake of the strike, but mostly one item on the Board of Trustee’s agenda.
While a resolution titled ‘Adoption of a Policy on the Development and Revision of University Policies’ may sound innocuous, the resolution would have a major impact on the University of Oregon Senate. As it currently operates, the University Senate, which is made up of faculty, student and classified staff, has the power to make legislation, resolutions and policies.
The resolution would “supersede all related and existing university authorities, policies and procedures.” Those procedures are clearly outlined in the Constitution of the University of Oregon.
Section seven of the current constitution gives the senate and the administration the power to propose policies. The constitution also says that all new or revised policy proposed by the administration be sent to the Senate President and reviewed by the Senate Executive Committee, which decides if the proposal will be brought before the University Senate. Essentially, the constitution gives shared power to create and edit policy to the University Senate and administration.
The Senate Executive Committee voted unanimously to approve the convening of a special session of the entire senate to make a motion related to the constitution and the policy on policies. The motion will be drafted Tuesday and voted on by the senate Wednesday. The meeting will be open to the public.
“We are currently in a productive conversation with President Coltrane and the Board regarding shared governance,” University Senate President Robert Kyr said. “The University Constitution, and the newly proposed ‘Policy on Policies.’ I anticipate that we will have some positive news to report at our Emergency Senate Meeting about our discussions. We are committed to working in a cooperative and collaborative way with Chuck Lillis and the board.”
Kyr will present the will of the senate to the board on Thursday. The senate isn’t the only group concerned with the potential changes to the Board’s resolution. The United Academics of the University of Oregon Facebook page invited students to Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting. The event description describes the resolution as a pivotal decision that would give, “ The Board and a new centralized administrative body sole authority over all policies.” So far, the event has over 100 attendees.
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