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SEC Report                                                                October 1, 2007

Welcome to the first Senate meeting of the year.

I am Nick Burbules, Chair of the Senate Executive Committee. I have a few brief comments to introduce today’s discussion.

In particular, I want to address an item included in your packet under “Reports” (p. 31)

The SEC, working with Chancellor Herman, developed a proposal to establish a provisional and ad hoc committee to work with him in reviewing the “Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Fund,” which has been in the news quite a bit lately.

SEC acted because we were dealing with some time-sensitive issues, and there was not time to wait for the next full Senate meeting. This ad hoc committee is only established for one year.

The committee is now in place. Its members are: Tom Ulen, Chair; Barclay Jones, Robert Fossum, Joyce Tolliver, Matt Finkin, Bill Maher, Kathy Young, and Justin Randall. That is a very strong membership, and it has been an exemplary process of shared governance to work with Chancellor Herman in its formation.

This is a temporary committee, and any proposal to establish a permanent committee will certainly have to come back to the Senate for formal review and approval.

One other thing.

I believe that this is going to be one of the most important issues we deal with this year. How we deal with it will say a great deal to the campus, the local community, the donors  -- and for that matter the country – about the kind of institution this Senate is.

I know some people disagree with how I and the SEC have dealt with this issue, and such disagreements are certainly fair to raise here today, and in other venues.

But here is where I am coming from on this issue:

1. Individual faculty are entitled to their own political views, of course. But the Senate should stake its positions based on principles of academic governance and due process.

2. Any approach that seems to be selectively targeting a particular initiative because of its political or ideological bent is wrong. We cannot appear to be applying standards to this initiative that we would not (and do not) apply to other programs at this university.

Our principles should consistently reflect a commitment to quality, academic freedom, and respect for multiple points of view.

3. Having said all that, it is true that this initiative needs to be brought under appropriate review and shared governance. It has gone too far, in my view, in unilaterally defining its identity, purposes, and agenda.

Working in partnership with the Chancellor, that is what we are trying to do. Establishing this advisory committee is an important first step – but it is only a first step in this process.

Nick Burbules
SEC Chair