Faculty Council creates Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute panel, requests records from UM Press

Thursday, September 19, 2013 | 10:25 p.m. CDT; updated 7:34 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 20, 2013

COLUMBIA — Members of MU's Faculty Council discussed Information Technology, the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute, the chancellor search, the University of Missouri Press and Mizzou North at their meeting Thursday.

DISCUSSION ITEM: Information Technology

Gary Allen, vice president for Information Technology, gave a presentation about the MU Campus Cyberinfrastructure Plan.

He said information property theft is a growing issue for academic institutions. To combat that and other issues, Allen is talking to several campus groups to get a sense of the IT services they want and need in order to develop a funding request to sustain those services. 

Information Technology does not currently have a line-item allocation in the general budget.

"I'm not saying how big that ought to be, but I'm advocating that it ought to be something," Allen said.

DISCUSSION ITEM: Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute committee

Council members discussed an ad hoc committee created with the mission to "develop a succinct history of the administrative structure affecting the NSEI" and "its current status." 

The NSEI is in the process of being dissolved into the College of Engineering, but questions about the administrative process of reaching that decision are still unanswered.

The committee will present information to the Faculty Council to help inform its decisions concerning the NSEI. None of the committee members is from the institute, the College of Engineering or MU administration. 

"Faculty Council is not set up to present two sides," said Craig Roberts, Plant Sciences professor and council chairman. "We are Faculty Council. We are not Faculty 'and administration' Council, so we don't really investigate the full picture. That's what this is about."

DISCUSSION ITEM: MU chancellor Search

Plant Sciences Professor Bill Wiebold, the council representative on the chancellor search committee, said the search process is "in the quiet phase."

"Applicants are being asked to apply, and so I don't really have much to say except my understanding is it's going pretty well," Wiebold said. "Actually, Mizzou has a pretty good reputation, and so that's helpful."

Wiebold said the search committee has met to discuss the search. Forums were held over the summer to get public input.

To rumors that the search process is all "smoke and mirrors" to hide that Brady Deaton's successor has already been chosen, Wiebold said everything he's heard "would say that that's not correct."


Council members discussed a resolution they passed last spring requesting financial information from the UM Press. The council still hasn't seen any data from the press, Roberts said.

"The press got in trouble because of financials," Roberts said. "And if we don't look at financials, what are we doing?"

There was some discussion about waiting for the press's director search to settle down, but that timeline is still unclear.

Roberts will be requesting financial data from the press again. He is asking for information from the last three years.

DISCUSSION ITEM: Mizzou North/Space Committees

The council revisited the question of how the decision was madeto use the former Ellis Fischel Cancer Center on Business Loop 70 West, or Mizzou North, as substitute space while Pickard, Swallow and Jesse halls are being renovated. Nicole Monnier, associate teaching professor of Russian, spoke about the university committees that deal with space allocation. The status of some of those committees is still unclear, however, as some might be defunct.

Deputy Provost Ken Dean was present to answer council members' questions about the decision. He said he would welcome suggestions and recommendations from the council about future campus planning issues.

"There is a really unique opportunity right now, going forth, (for Faculty Council) to participate in that process and reengage and connect with the campus administration in a way that will be much more productive than what it's been in the past," Dean said.

He said the administration decided to capitalize on the free space on Mizzou North in order to renovate buildings on Francis Quadrangle.

"There was a real fear for some time that we would have to shut that museum (the Museum of Art and Archaeology) down," Dean said. "This presented a unique opportunity."

Dean said he does not know when or if Pickard Hall will be inhabitable again, "but our goal is to make it inhabitable."

The fall semester general faculty meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2; the Faculty Council's next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 3. 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey

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Ellis Smith September 20, 2013 | 6:40 a.m.

The University's OTHER research nuclear reactor is under administration and operation of their Nuclear Engineering Department; no outside contractor has been involved in its operation.

There is a significant difference (by design) in size and output of the two reactors, but nuclear physics is nuclear physics, and nuclear safety is nuclear safety, regardless of a reactor's size or intended purpose.

The other reactor sits in a building LESS THAN 100 FEET from the campus' main administration building; it is less than 2 city blocks from the chancellor's residence.

Perhaps not surprisingly, chancellors at the campus in question take an active interest in reactor operation. That's a good situation.

Ours is the oldest nuclear facility in Missouri, having operated both successfully and safely for 52 years! What's the real problem in Columbia? Remember, having "too many cooks" has on occasion been been known to ruin the broth.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 20, 2013 | 12:30 p.m.

Ellis, my minimal understanding is that the discussion about NSEI has more to do with the nuclear engineering program (not sure I have quite the right name) that was proposed to be dissolved a couple years back, as opposed to the reactor itself.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 20, 2013 | 3:39 p.m.

@ John Schultz:

On reflection I think you are correct; however, my comment concerning too many cooks spoiling the broth could still be appropriate.

I believe I am correct in assuming that only one of the two campuses (MS&T) awards a bachelor's degree in Nuclear Engineering, while both offer advanced degrees. These matters can be confusing, and offering advanced degrees at both campuses could be considered redundant.

(Report Comment)

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