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May 2, 2013 Volume 34, No. 29

Council passes resolution to audit MU nuclear engineering programs


NSEI faculty member contends that admissions were never reopened

Faculty Council approved April 25 a resolution asking Chancellor Brady J. Deaton to conduct an audit of Mizzou’s Nuclear Engineering Program (NEP) and Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute, which administrators say is within NEP. 

The resolution, passed 14–8, asks that the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute (NSEI) be returned to its status prior to its announced closing March 12, 2012.

The idea of restructuring NSEI began in 2010 when a study by external reviewers suggested the need. George Justice, dean of the Graduate School, said last February that NSEI needed to be closed because of the restructuring. Restructuring NSEI meant removing it from the Graduate School and placing it within the newly created NEP in the College of Engineering. NSEI’s closure came with the proviso that it would remain intact until currently enrolled students graduated.

But some MU engineers balked at the move, and Faculty Council on Jan. 24, 2013, asked Deaton to open admissions to NSEI and keep its academic and research functions intact. Deaton agreed to both in a Jan. 30, 2013, letter. A month later, Jim Thompson, dean of the College of Engineering, told council that graduate student applications were being accepted into the program.

Deputy Provost Ken Dean said last week that the Faculty Council resolution “misses the point of what has happened” and reiterated that Deaton had re-opened nuclear engineering admissions.

But Faculty Council member Sudarshan Loyalka, one of four NSEI faculty members, said Monday that NSEI faculty were prevented from recruiting for the fall 2013 semester and from setting its curriculum. “NSEI admissions were not reopened,” said Loyalka, Curators Professor of Nuclear Engineering. Deaton “granted admissions only to NEP.” 

Loyalka contends that NSEI and NEP are separate entities.

A second resolution presented to Faculty Council April 25 asked for an “analysis” of the MU administration’s decision process to closing NSEI. The analysis committee would be similar to the Ad Hoc Root Causes Analysis Committee that examined the announced closing of the University of Missouri Press in March 2012, said Stephen Montgomery-Smith, a mathematics professor and council member. 

Having a committee decide the NSEI matter would enable MU to “go forward in an informed and clear way,” Loyalka said. This resolution was tabled.

Council also discussed a motion presented at the April 9 General Faculty Meeting by Galen Suppes, a professor of chemical engineering.  The motion states that the Collected Rules and Regulations governing faculty appointments to programs such as NEP need to be followed. 

Suppes, Loyalka and others contend that Thompson and John Gahl, director of NEP, chose the NEP faculty. The proper procedure should have been creation of a committee to identify and hire faculty with input from Deaton, according to a document circulated by Montgomery-Smith at the meeting.

Suppes, who is not on Faculty Council, told council members that the collected rules show that faculty have a role in hiring other faculty at MU programs offering degrees. “That is where faculty authority kicks in,” Suppes said. “Faculty are in charge of curriculum.”

In an April 26 email interview, Suppes said that the “faculty group who appointed themselves to NEP received no external (to the group) faculty verification of their credentials and appointment… . The only verification was self-verification by the group.”

MU Libraries

In other business, Noah Heringman, chair of the MU Library Committee and associate chair of the Department of English, presented findings of a faculty library survey to which 357 faculty responded in April 2012. 

The survey indicated that faculty view MU Libraries as important to teaching and research. Ninety-seven percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the libraries “should keep faculty informed and solicit their input on decisions concerning changes to journal subscriptions.” Nearly 

87 percent agreed with the survey statement that “MU Libraries are central to my research mission.”

The survey was concluded weeks prior to nearly $500,000 in cuts to MU Libraries to help balance the university's fiscal 2013 budget. As a result, more than 450 journal subscriptions were canceled, as were library projects and other proposed book purchases, Heringman said.  

Last year’s six-figure cuts brought urgency to Heringman’s questions to council:

• How can shared governance be implemented among librarians, faculty and administrators before reductions occur?

• How can faculty improve communication with library staff?

In a March 7, 2013, letter to Deaton and Provost Brian Foster, Heringman urged administrators to spare the library from cuts for the fiscal 2014 budget.

“The voices of student and staff representatives on [the MU Campus Library Committee] — or simply a walk through the library on any given day — provide further evidence that the Libraries serve the campus in the most democratic fashion. They can’t do it without adequate materials budgets.”

Heringman also wrote that a robust libraries system would help improve MU’s status in the Association of American Universities.

Council members briefly discussed Heringman’s questions, but no decisions were made.