MU Faculty Council wants Deaton to conduct audits for nuclear engineering programs

Thursday, April 25, 2013 | 8:56 p.m. CDT; updated 9:32 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 25, 2013

COLUMBIA — The MU Faculty Council will ask Chancellor Brady Deaton to conduct an audit of the Nuclear Engineering Program and the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute, as well as restore the institute to its previous state before MU administrators decided to split it up.

The council passed the resolution Thursday by a 14-8 vote. 

Faculty were concerned that the institute had not been audited, a procedural step necessary to dissolve it. 

The council recommended that the institute be returned to its previous state until an audit is completed.

In January, the council asked Deaton to open admissions for and maintain the academic and research functions of the institute.

Deaton responded by saying he would reopen admissions to the nuclear engineering graduate programs and make sure the institute's curriculum wasn't changed in the next five years.

A second resolution to analyze the administration's decision process after fall 2011, when institute status and grant contract conditions were changed, was tabled because it was not clear who would perform the analysis.

The council discussed a motion from Galen Suppes, professor of chemical engineering, that called for administrators to follow the Collected Rules and Regulations concerning faculty authority. Suppes believes administrators did not follow protocol when they did not involve faculty in decisions regarding the new nuclear engineering program. 

For example, Suppes said, College of Engineering Dean Jim Thompson and Nuclear Engineering Program director John Gahl inappropriately hand-picked faculty for the Nuclear Engineering Program. Faculty should have selected a committee to identify qualifications for potential program faculty and another to then select final candidates and work with Deaton to appoint them, he said.

The motion also called for faculty to be appointed to programs following appropriate processes, and for the Nuclear Engineering Program to be reconstituted following those processes. 

Deputy Provost Ken Dean said he did not think the Collected Rules and Regulations regarding faculty authority had been violated. 

The process of creating the Nuclear Engineering Program was the same process used to create other programs that are not departmentally based, such as the neuroscience program, Dean said.

Whether the program had been approved was disputed at the meeting. Dean said he was told April 18 it had received approval from the Graduate Faculty Senate and the appropriate committees, but Suppes said that as a member of one of those committees, he knew it had not been approved.

At the meeting, the council also discussed:

  • A motion to add a supplemental fee to all courses in the College of Arts and Science, which would benefit fellowship programs and other student activities. Because the college is the only one that doesn't charge supplemental course fees, if fees were charged, the least expensive college-specific fee would then be counted in MU's tuition and fees, Dean said.
  • University of Missouri System health care reform with the Intercampus Faculty Council. Beginning in 2014, employees who average 30 hours a week will qualify for medical-only benefits.

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Ellis Smith April 26, 2013 | 4:35 a.m.

For the record, and because some matters seem nearly impossile to track, in Missouri's version of a public university "system" you may only study for and receive a BS degree in Nuclear Engineering at MS&T, but you may study Nuclear Engineering at graduate level and obtain an MS or PhD at either the Columbia or Rolla campus.

In practice, while you can't study for a BS degree at MU, most of the System's Nuclear Engineering graduate study takes place in Columbia. It has been suggested* that MS&T limit its Nuclear Engineering program to undergraduate study and to research.

This also "squares" with the considerable difference in nuclear reactors being used (one at each campus).

The proposal seems to have merit, but suggests cooperation between campuses. We most certainly can't have THAT. Each campus must always act as if the other three campuses don't exist!

*- We have demented people who believe public universities should show signs of organization.

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