DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
Following are the minutes of the regular
Faculty Council meeting of October 16, 2000.
John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL
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.
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.
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
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.
|REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.
||There were no questions about the written report
|APPROVAL OF MINUTES.
||The minutes of the Faculty Council meeting
of September 18, 2000 (D
823-827), were approved by voice vote.
|COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT.
||Comments by the President.
President Faulkner was away from Austin on University
||Questions to the President None.
||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).
|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
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
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.
|SPECIAL ORDERS None.
|UNFINISHED BUSINESS None.
|REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS,
AND COMMITTEES None.
||Recommendation from the Admissions and Registration
Committee on the Proposal to Control Enrollment by Redefining
the Provisional Admission Program (D
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 Universitys 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.
||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
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
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
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
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
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
a program that gave a chance to overcome an insufficient
high school record or SAT score. Dean William Powers (law)
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
as a safety valve and thought that doing away with it would
put the University in a very difficult position with the
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
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
of focusing on the quality of the institution; and he talked
of the logistical nightmare the off-campus program would
Stavchanksy couched his comments in terms of rewards and
punishments. He said he hoped it was not the case that the
be punished in some way if it decided to eliminate the provisional
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
|ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS None.
|QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR None.
The meeting adjourned at 4:37 p.m.
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.
(return to Report of the Chair)
September 27, 2000
Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe
Executive Vice Chancellor for
The University of Texas System
OHH 3rd Floor (P4300)
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.
Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Boutique preparation operations would sprout up with
little or no utility.
- Professors would be tempted to teach to the test and
not to the field of study.
- We would be in a worsened position to develop alternative
models for teaching that reflect legitimate grounds for debate.
Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe
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. Its
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
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:
- 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.
- Student awards in national and statewide competitions
(e.g., Truman award, journalism awards, awards received by student-sponsored
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.
Dr. Edwin R. Sharpe
September 27, 2000
- Success rate of students in the marketplace.
- 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
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.
Larry R. Faulkner
||Regent Charles Miller
Interim Chancellor R. D. Burck
Dr. Joseph H. Stafford
Executive Officers at UT Austin
Deans Council Members at UT Austin