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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of October 16, 2000.



<signed>

John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty

 

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF

October 16, 2000

The second meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2000-2001 was held in Room 212 of the Main Building on Monday, October 16, 2000, at 2:15 p.m.

ATTENDANCE.

Present: Christopher O. Adejumo, Mark I. Alpert, Katherine M. Arens, Victor L. Arnold, Matthew J. Bailey, Joyce L. Banks, Gerard H. Béhague, Douglas G. Biow, David G. Bogard, Daniel A. Bonevac, Dean A. Bredeson, Richard A. Cherwitz, Michael J. Churgin, Michael B. Clement, Donald G. Davis, Patrick J. Davis, Desley A. Deacon, John D. Dollard, Minette E. Drumwright, John R. Durbin, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Shelley F. Fishkin, Dorie J. Gilbert, Lita A. Guerra, Marvin L. Hackert, Von Matthew Hammond, Barbara J. Harlow, James L. Hill, Martha F. Hilley, Judith A. Jellison, Arlen W. Johnson, Elizabeth L. Keating, Ward W. Keeler, Karrol A. Kitt, Robert C. Koons, Stefan M. Kostka, Richard W. Lariviere, David A. Laude, Laura E. Luthy, Katheryn Coveley Maguire, Glenn Y. Masada, Margaret N. Maxey, Melvin E. L. Oakes, Alba A. Ortiz, Thomas G. Palaima, Bruce P. Palka, William C. Powers, Mary Ann R. Rankin, Linda E. Reichl, Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, Daron K. Roberts, David J. Saltman, Juan M. Sanchez, Robert N. Schmidt, Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, Mark R. V. Southern, Michael P. Starbird, Laura T. Starks, Salomon A. Stavchansky, Paul Randall (Randy) Thompson, James W. Vick, N. Bruce Walker, James R. Yates, Katy B. Zarolia.

 

Absent: Anthony P. Ambler, Efraim P. Armendariz, Neal E. Armstrong (excused), Joel W. Barlow, Phillip J. Barrish (excused), Brigitte L. Bauer (excused), Harold W. Billings, Lynn E. Blais, Cindy I. Carlson, Richard L. Cleary (excused), Dana L. Cloud (excused), Patricia L. Clubb, Edwin Dorn, Larry R. Faulkner (excused), G. Charles Franklin, Robert Freeman, Nell H. Gottlieb, Thomas M. Hatfield, Sharon D. Horner, Sharon H. Justice, Manuel J. Justiz (excused), Kerry A. Kinney, Steven W. Leslie, William S. Livingston, David R. Maidment, Robert G. May (excused), Francis L. Miksa, Gregory R. Murphy, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Theodore E. Pfeifer, Elmira Popova, Johnnie D. Ray, Andrew M. Riggsby, Victoria Rodriguez, Dolores Sands, Roberta I. Shaffer, Joel F. Sherzer (excused), Lawrence W. Speck, Ben G. Streetman, Teresa A. Sullivan (excused), Janice S. Todd (excused), John W. Walthall, Ellen A. Wartella, Barbara W. White.

Voting Members:
55
present,
21
absent,
76
total.
Non-Voting Members:
9
present,
23
absent,
32
total.
Total Members:
64
present,
44
absent,
108
total.


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I.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.

There were no questions about the written report (D 819-822).

II.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

A. The minutes of the Faculty Council meeting of September 18, 2000 (D 823-827), were approved by voice vote.

III.
COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT.

A. Comments by the President.

President Faulkner was away from Austin on University business.
B. Questions to the President – None.

IV.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR.

Chair Patrick Davis (pharmacy) reported that the UT System Faculty Advisory Council (SYSFAC) was working on a faculty satisfaction survey, and invited suggestions for the survey.

He also reported on events relating to the UT System accountability proposal of the Board of Regents' Academic Affairs Committee. He said the executive committee of the Council had met with Associate Vice Chancellor Joe Stafford to discuss the proposal, and that SYSFAC and President Faulkner, among others, Had responded to the proposal. President Faulkner's response is included as Appendix A to these minutes (D 865-868).

V.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR ELECT.

Chair Elect Bruce Palka (mathematics) reported on the fall meeting of the Texas Council of Faculty Senates. He said the council discussed the use of standardized tests as instruments of accountability (one of the items in the initial accountability proposal mentioned in the preceding paragraph), fields of study, the plight of non-tenure-track faculty, and the selection and evaluation of administrators.

Palka also discussed an "unsettling" speech given by Ruth Flowers, AAUP director of government relations. Flowers said that the U.S. Department of Education is trying to formulate a definition of "higher education" and that non-academic purveyors of distance education are competing to shape this definition. Flowers also discussed these four topics: shift toward treating higher education as a business, education as a commodity, the growing perception of faculty as mere providers of content, and the conflict between general education and training.

Palka said the council was briefed by John Opperman, executive director of Lieutenant Governor Perry's special commission on 21st century colleges and universities, on the work of the commission. The council had shown concern that there are no faculty members on the commission.

VI.
SPECIAL ORDERS – None.

VII.
PETITIONS – None.

VIII.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS – None.

IX.
REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES – None.


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X.
NEW BUSINESS.

A. Recommendation from the Admissions and Registration Committee on the Proposal to Control Enrollment by Redefining the Provisional Admission Program (D 828-830).

Dan L. Wheat (civil engineering), chair of the committee, moved the adoption of the proposal, and then read its contents and the accompanying rationale. The committee's proposal was essentially the same as that introduced by Provost Ekland-Olson at the September 18 meeting of the Council (D 793-796 and 823-827).

The secretary (mathematics) then moved the adoption of a substitute motion (D 832-837). After it was seconded, he said the substitute differed from the main motion primarily in that it did not recommend an off-campus provisional admission program, it recommended a closer look at the proposed new summer program, and it recommended that students be required to register for nine rather than twelve hours in the new summer program.

The secretary read from the Regents' Rules and Regulations regarding the role of the faculty on important matters of academic policy, including, specifically, admission and graduation. He also pointed out that the Council had been given very little time to consider the proposal in the main motion. Although it apparently had been discussed by members of the administration for six months, it had become known more widely only through a news story in August, and its details had been made available to the Council on September 14.

In addition to the printed rationale for the substitute, the secretary said the off-campus provisional proposal was inconsistent with the following statement on transfer admission, taken from the University’s web site: "No specific grade point average or other qualification by itself guarantees admission." He said the special kind of relationship that would be established with other institutions for the off-campus program deserved long and careful thought. Other institutions have different missions, different admission standards, and differ from UT Austin in other ways. He found it troubling that some members of the Council had told him they would support the main motion because they had heard the regents would insist on some form of provisional program. He said it was not the Council's responsibility to support rumored "done deals." It was the Council's responsibility to support what the members believed to be right and fair for all who want to attend the University, and what is in the best interests of the University.

Chair Davis outlined the procedure for dealing with the main motion and the substitute, by reading from Robert's Rules of Order. The Council would be allowed to amend the main motion and then amend the substitute; it would then vote on whether to replace the main motion by the substitute; and finally, the Council would vote on whichever motion remained.

Daron Roberts (student government) moved that the third item in the main motion be amended to read as follows: "The provisional admission program should exist only on the UT Austin campus." After extended discussion (the substance of which is included in the discussion reported below), the amendment was defeated by voice vote.

On the question of whether students in the new summer admission program should be required to take nine or twelve credit hours (the last item in the main motion), Mark Alpert (marketing) asked for further information on the advantages of each, and Robert Schmidt (theatre and dance) found the statement in the committee's proposal confusing. Larry Carver (associate dean of liberal arts) and David Laude (associate dean of natural sciences) spoke in favor of twelve hours. Laude said that if fifteen was a reasonable load in the fall and spring, then twelve would be a reasonable load in the summer.


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  The following members spoke in favor of nine hours: Bruce Palka pointed out that regularly admitted students would be taking more difficult courses than provisional students had taken. Karol Kitt (human ecology) was concerned with "student saneness" and also wondered who would teach the summer courses. Mel Oakes (physics) thought nine hours would be reasonable, and stated he had not heard a good argument for twelve. The secretary pointed out that if the number of weeks from the first class day to the last day of final exams is taken into account, then a load of fifteen credit hours in a regular session would correspond to about ten-and-one-half hours in the summer. This led him to conclude that a minimum load of nine hours was reasonable and a load of twelve hours was not (especially since the students would have just graduated from high school when they arrive).

The secretary then moved that the last item in the main motion be amended to read as follows: "Students in the summer enrollment plan should be required to take a minimum of nine semester hours." The amendment was approved by voice vote.

No amendments were introduced to change the substitute motion.

In the discussion of whether to replace the main motion by the substitute, the following members spoke directly in favor of the off-campus proposal. The provost thought it unwise to completely do away with the provisional program at this time. He said the UT System schools were the natural place to look for help. Dean Mary Ann Rankin (natural sciences) spoke of the provisional program as a tradition and a public relations tool. She also spoke about political reality, and said that the off-campus plan could make it easier to deal with and "possibly would lead, eventually, to a better opportunity to do away with it without the angst that would develop now." Daniel Bonevac (philosophy) said the plan was something to offer those who were not given regular admission. Dean Richard Lariviere (liberal arts) found the offer of a second chance appealing. Steve Monti (executive vice provost) argued that the substitute motion didn't accomplish the goal of a provisional program. Bruce Walker (director of admissions) stressed that the provisional program honored a tradition. John Dollard (mathematics) thought it was meritorious to have a program that gave a chance to overcome an insufficient high school record or SAT score. Dean William Powers (law) spoke of tradition and the relationship of the University to the people of Texas. He also said there is admission pressure on the ten percent program, and spoke of the provisional program as a safety valve and thought that doing away with it would put the University in a very difficult position with the political leadership and the population of the state.

In addition to the secretary, the following members spoke against the off-campus proposal. Daron Roberts (student government) stressed the advantages of having the provisional program on campus, and the disadvantages of having it off campus. The latter included the problem of controlling enrollment and the likelihood of having to adjust the GPA required of off-campus provisional students. He also pointed out the predicament of students who failed to achieve the required GPA, if they had chosen another UT System school only because of the provisional program. Matt Hammond (student government) said the Admissions and Registration Committee was closely divided on the question of an off-campus program, and the overwhelming opinion of the students was that increasing enrollment was a UT Austin problem and should be dealt with on this campus. Salomon Stavchanksy (pharmacy) said that eliminating the provisional program would help the University control its enrollment, but that the off-campus program would mainly help UT Arlington because of its falling enrollment. Stavchanksy supported the secretary's statements about fairness to all those who want to attend the University. He stressed the importance of focusing on the quality of the institution; and he talked of the logistical nightmare the off-campus program would create. Stavchanksy couched his comments in terms of rewards and punishments. He said he hoped it was not the case that the University would be punished in some way if it decided to eliminate the provisional program,


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which seemed to be implied by some. Other questions about the advisability of the off-campus program are in the report on the September 18 meeting.

In the end, the motion to replace the committee's motion by the substitute motion passed by a vote of 19 to 18. The substitute motion was then approved by a vote of 21 to 15. (A quorum call just before the first vote revealed that 40 voting members were present, with 39 required for a quorum.)

XI.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS – None.

XII.
QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR – None.

XIII.
ADJOURNMENT.

The meeting adjourned at 4:37 p.m.

<signed>


John R. Durbin, Secretary
The Faculty Council



Distributed through the Faculty Council web site (www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/) on November 7, 2000. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.


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APPENDIX A
(return to Report of the Chair)

 

 

September 27, 2000

 

 

Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe
Executive Vice Chancellor for
Academic Affairs
The University of Texas System
OHH 3rd Floor (P4300)

Dear Ed:

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your memorandum of September 6, 2000, outlining a proposed formal accountability system for the academic components. The idea of developing a more effective system is important. This needs to be done, however, with careful attention to implications of how institutions might adjust their programs, for both good and ill, in the face of such a system. After some discussion among the Executive Officers, here are our preliminary thoughts.

Goal A.1, Produce Graduates: This is a very important objective for the state and we are already sensitive to it. The suggested form of accountability is reasonable and is basically in place or within reasonably easy reach. But let me add that if there is to be a strong focus on this matter, there must be parallel accountability concerning the quality of what is produced. Someone once told me that, "It only takes a printing press…" If there is a strong drive to produce more graduates without parallel accountability on quality, we will have K-12 all over again.

Goal A.2, Efficient Production of Graduates: I can be sympathetic to accountability on this point, but the objective and measures need better definition. The measure suggested in the memorandum (getting a degree with minimal credit hours) is so interlaced with alternative interpretations that it is not likely to be of much use. It could be seen as an efficiency measure. It could just as easily be seen as a move to devalue those who shift majors or who actively seek a broad-based education. I personally do not want to put any obstacles in the way of students who want to amplify their education with additional coursework, as long as they move along to graduation on an acceptable schedule.

Goals A.3 and A.4, General Education Competencies and Competencies in Majors: As I commented above, accountability on these points is essential as a parallel for accountability on the quantity of production. The question is how to proceed.


866


Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe
Page Two
September 27, 2000

 

One of the first things to settle is the focus of accountability. Is it to be on the individual student (i.e., on his or her mastery of ideas, tools, facts, procedures, etc.)? Or is it to be on the performance of a program (e.g., the overall teaching effort in basic calculus or the major in accounting)? If the former, then something has to be done to assess each student individually; if the latter, then sampling methods might be used. This is an important question, not least because it will go a long way toward determining cost and flexibility. It also has the potential to alter the basic concept of progress toward a degree. At present, progress toward the degree is determined serially by individual faculty members, who assess the progress of individual students in individual courses. If a new accountability system is imposed on the performance of students as individuals, will it replace the faculty in determining progress toward graduation? In my judgment, we would be making a serious mistake, for many reasons, to go in this direction. I argue here, and will argue in the future, that the focus of accountability should be on the performance of a program.

There are a number of drawbacks, both practical and philosophical, embedded in an explicit testing program:

  1. The cost for major-specific tests would be enormous, and we would not have the talent in Texas to produce all that would be needed ourselves. These expenditures would apparently be competitive with other things that we could do to improve educational quality in the state. My judgment is that we would get greater benefits with the same funds by lowering the student/faculty ratio.
  2. For many fields of study, statewide tests would yield a lowest common denominator, not an indicator of a high level of accomplishment. This can have the effect of trivializing the curriculum.
  3. Depending on the timing of testing relative to the time of taking courses, students could waste time reviewing subjects taken two or three years earlier, with little or no benefit to their careers or learning.
  4. Boutique preparation operations would sprout up with little or no utility.
  5. Professors would be tempted to teach to the test and not to the field of study.
  6. We would be in a worsened position to develop alternative models for teaching that reflect legitimate grounds for debate.

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Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe
Page Three
September 27, 2000

 

For me personally, the biggest issue is the likelihood that a testing program will rigidize the curriculum. In this regard, it is important to recognize that collegiate education differs in fundamental ways from K-12 education. In the K-12 years,

educational goals and course content do not change appreciably over long stretches of time. In the collegiate years, one is much closer to the boundaries of knowledge and professional practice, and the pace of curricular change is, and must be, much greater. In my own field of chemistry, for example, a basic high school course is essentially the same as when I took it in 1961-62, but the collegiate curriculum is very, very different from the one that I went through from 1962-1966. It’s even quite different from what it was in 1990 or 1995. In a world where the pace of change is rapid, the curriculum requires constant editing, even in individual courses. One cannot just keep cramming things into a 120 semester-hour curriculum with the expectation that students can master it all. We do a fair amount of cramming, but some things inevitably become obsolete or of lower relative value and must be deleted. A testing system that can serve the whole state of Texas in almost any field at the collegiate level will be extremely difficult to change. We could not want it to become a barrier to modernization of the curriculum, and faculty members worth their salt would not let that happen. Without great wisdom in design and in the creation of mechanisms for updating, the adoption of a testing program can very easily place us on a road where test performance would gradually deteriorate as the curriculum moves away from the test, even as students become more appropriately educated. The ultimate result will be either ridicule for the testing program or political pressure (probably translated as financial pressure) to keep the curriculum from being modernized. Neither will be healthy.

This is not to say that quality assessment is unimportant or unattainable. Numerous better alternative measures could be utilized to reflect the quality of education produced:

    1. Success rates of our students in getting into medical school, dental school, MBA programs, and other post graduate programs. Overall percentage of students who do so each year.
    2. Student awards in national and statewide competitions (e.g., Truman award, journalism awards, awards received by student-sponsored publications).
    3. Many of our programs (e.g., chemistry, chemical engineering, nutrition, social work, nursing) have their standards set by national organizations and thus already are accountable. We could look to see how these students compare to students elsewhere.


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Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe
Page Four
September 27, 2000

       

    1. Success rate of students in the marketplace.
    2. Success rates of students in obtaining summer internships or being accepted into study abroad and other competitive programs associated with broadening/enriching their undergraduate studies.

Goals B.1 and B.2, Externally Funded Research Volume and Faculty Engagement in Research and Scholarship: These are basically in place.

Goal C.1, Service to the Public: This does not present any particular difficulty, though determining what gets counted might be cause for debate. I note that the focus is on "engagement of the faculty;" yet large, important services are delivered by professionals other than university faculty (e.g., the UT Library Online or the migrant student high school program).

Accountability is indeed an important issue, and we look forward to participating in the further development of these ideas.

Sincerely,

<signed>


Larry R. Faulkner
President


cc: Regent Charles Miller
Interim Chancellor R. D. Burck
Dr. Joseph H. Stafford
Executive Officers at UT Austin
Deans’ Council Members at UT Austin