Arts and Science supplemental fee proposed at Faculty Council

Thursday, October 3, 2013 | 10:02 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — All colleges at MU charge a supplemental course fee except for one — the College of Arts and Science. Members of MU Faculty Council are looking to change that.

A motion was made at Thursday's meeting recommending the dean of the College of Arts and Science, the provost and the chancellor "pursue the creation" of a "modest" fee. The College of Arts and Science currently has laboratory fees, but the motion argues that students in the college — the largest at MU, with 36 undergraduate majors — would benefit from a supplemental fee.

Most supplemental fees are charged per credit hour and are the same for in- and out-of-state students. Examples include a $42 fee in the College of Human Environmental Sciences and the $82 fee for graduate students in the Trulaske College of Business.

Associate Professor of Political Science Cooper Drury, who helped draft the resolution, said the College of Arts and Science has met opposition from Provost Brian Foster in implementing a supplemental fee in the past.

If a fee is used across all colleges, Engineering Professor Harry Tyrer said, the UM System Board of Curators and the Missouri General Assembly could interpret the fee as a tuition increase.

But Drury said that comes at a cost to students majoring in Arts and Science, putting them at a disadvantage compared to students in other colleges.

"What you're saying is that everybody else should have these fees, and ... all of the students majoring in arts and science cannot benefit from additional fees," Drury said. He said it's unfair to assume that Arts and Science students don't need the same funding as students in Business or Engineering. 

For example, the motion states the fee could be used to fund national and international fellowship programs.

In the spirit of transparency, the motion also calls for the dean to create a committee of faculty and students to provide "advice on (the) most effective use of the fee."

Council representatives from the College of Arts and Science were supportive of the motion and said the dean asked them to bring the issue to council. Other council members said they were worried Faculty Council would be overstepping by recommending actions to the dean.

"We're being asked by individual members of Arts and Science — I'm also on there — and the dean, saying he needs help because every effort to pass supplemental fees through the provost's office has been blocked," Drury said in response to the concerns.

Fiscal Affairs Committee Chairman Sudarshan Loyalka said he will revise the background information in the motion to clarify that the fee request originated with faculty from the College of Arts and Science.

"That college is a pretty special college in that all of our students take classes in that college," Plant Sciences Professor Bill Wiebold said. "And so that could be good or bad in terms of this argument, but I think strengthening the education activities in that college cuts across all of the other colleges."

OTHER BUSINESS: Provost search

Members of Faculty Council also discussed their desire for faculty to be involved in the search for Provost Brian Foster's replacement.

Psychology Associate Professor Dennis Miller, who represents MU on the Intercampus Faculty Council, said he and Faculty Council Chairman Craig Roberts met with UM System President Tim Wolfe to talk about the search. Wolfe said the new chancellor will determine how the new provost is hired.

Faculty Council considered a resolution recommending to the chancellor that the council "have shared authority, in which the faculty participates with the chancellor, in all aspects of the process to hire a new provost."

Health Management Professor Doug Wakefield said he questioned whether Faculty Council can ask for authority in personnel matters. Members decided to reword the resolution to reflect their desire to be involved, instead of dictate the hire.

When Foster was hired the provost search was open. Council members said that regardless of whether the provost search is open or closed, they want faculty to have a voice.

"I want to ensure that there is not another search where there is only one faculty member who is one of a much larger number of people who is involved in the search," said Nicole Monnier, associate teaching professor of Russian. "...Maybe a closed search is the best thing, but what we want are people inside that room who are representative (of faculty)."

The resolution was ultimately referred back to Miller for revision.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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