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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
Following are the minutes of the special Faculty Council meeting of October 30, 2000.
John R. Durbin, Secretary
MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
October 30, 2000
The first special meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2000-2001 was held in Room 212 of the Main Building on Monday, October 30, 2000, at 2:15 p.m.
Present: Mark I. Alpert, Efraim P. Armendariz, Neal E. Armstrong, Victor L. Arnold, Matthew J. Bailey, Joyce L. Banks, Gerard H. Béhague, Douglas G. Biow, David G. Bogard, Daniel A. Bonevac, Michael J. Churgin, Richard L. Cleary, Dana L. Cloud, Patrick J. Davis, Desley A. Deacon, John D. Dollard, Minette E. Drumwright, John R. Durbin, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Larry R. Faulkner, Dorie J. Gilbert, Lita A. Guerra, Marvin L. Hackert, Von Matthew Hammond, James L. Hill, Martha F. Hilley, Sharon H. Justice, Karrol A. Kitt, Stefan M. Kostka, William S. Livingston, Katheryn Coveley Maguire, Gregory R. Murphy, Melvin E. L. Oakes, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Thomas G. Palaima, Linda E. Reichl, Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, Daron K. Roberts, David J. Saltman, Robert N. Schmidt, Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, Michael P. Starbird, Paul Randall (Randy) Thompson, John W. Walthall, Ellen A. Wartella, James R. Yates, Katy B. Zarolia.
Absent: Christopher O. Adejumo, Anthony P. Ambler, Katherine M. Arens (excused), Joel W. Barlow, Phillip J. Barrish, Brigitte L. Bauer, Harold W. Billings, Lynn E. Blais, Dean A. Bredeson (excused), Cindy I. Carlson, Richard A. Cherwitz, Michael B. Clement, Patricia L. Clubb, Donald G. Davis, Edwin Dorn, Shelley F. Fishkin, G. Charles Franklin, Robert Freeman, Nell H. Gottlieb (excused), Barbara J. Harlow, Thomas M. Hatfield, Sharon D. Horner, Judith A. Jellison (excused), Arlen W. Johnson (excused), Manuel J. Justiz (excused), Elizabeth L. Keating (excused), Ward W. Keeler, Kerry A. Kinney, Robert C. Koons (excused), Richard W. Lariviere, David A. Laude, Steven W. Leslie, Laura E. Luthy (excused), David R. Maidment, Glenn Y. Masada, Margaret N. Maxey, Robert G. May, Francis L. Miksa, Alba A. Ortiz, Bruce P. Palka, Theodore E. Pfeifer, Elmira Popova, William C. Powers, Mary Ann R. Rankin, Johnnie D. Ray, Andrew M. Riggsby, Victoria Rodriguez, Juan M. Sanchez, Dolores Sands, Roberta I. Shaffer, Joel F. Sherzer, Mark R. V. Southern (excused), Lawrence W. Speck, Laura T. Starks, Salomon A. Stavchansky (excused), Ben G. Streetman, Teresa A. Sullivan, Janice S. Todd, James W. Vick, N. Bruce Walker, Barbara W. White.
Distributed through the Faculty Council web site (www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/)
on November 8, 2000. Copies are available on request from the Office of
the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.
October 24, 2000
Members of the Faculty Council
Please let me use this vehicle to report my position with respect to the Faculty Council's action of Monday, October 16, on the proposal to change the character of summer admissions and the Provisional Admission Program.
The essence of the Faculty Council's action was (a) to accept the concept that the capacity for admission of freshmen in the summer be converted from the existing provisional program to a new program of expanded regular admissions and (b) to reject the continuation of the provisional program in any form. The proposal initially before the Council included a transformation of the existing provisional program into a new provisional program of guaranteed transfer involving partnership with other UT System institutions.
Over the past week, I have considered this issue carefully. On Thursday morning of last week, I met at length with the members of the Faculty Council Executive Committee, Professor Dan Wheat (Chair of the Committee on Admissions and Registration), and several administrative officers. The purpose was to discuss how best to proceed.
In that discussion and in the intervening period, I have conceived the situation in terms of three basic options:
1. To accept the recommendation of the Faculty Council and proceed with expansion of regular freshman admissions into the summer, while discontinuing the provisional program.
2. To reject the recommendation of the Faculty Council and to reaffirm the status quo, at least for another admissions cycle.
3. To propose a modification of the Faculty Council's recommendation to include the proposed new provisional program, but with a commitment to undertake thorough local review before continuing the program into a fourth admissions cycle.
October 24, 2000
The first question to be addressed is whether provisional admissions should remain. Our practice in this area appears to be unique among selective American universities, but it is a practice of long standing and has been important in the relationship of the University to the citizens of Texas. By this policy, we have provided a path whereby graduates of Texas high schools could earn regular student status at UT Austin by succeeding in a prescribed curriculum during a summer session. There are certainly problems with this program, and it is clear that the preference of the Faculty Council is to discontinue it. However, my judgment, developed from extensive discussion with people interested in the University from across the State, is that we would be acting against the best interest of the University to choose that path. Abrupt discontinuation is simply too disruptive to our relationship with the public. Accordingly, I cannot support any proposal that does not include a provisional pathway. Thus, Option 1 is not viable.
On the other hand, indefinite continuation of the status quo is also not viable. The rapid growth of the summer provisional program has caused us to lose control of admissions and has resulted in unhealthy consequences, including cancellation of admissions of new freshmen and transfer students in January 2001. Early signs indicate that applications will rise yet again in the admissions cycle just begun, so we can expect a worsening of the problem. There are also educational reasons for seeking an alteration in the existing provisional program. In my view, the program must be changed.
But it is not essential that we change it now. We could, if it were deemed the wiser course, continue in the status quo for another admissions cycle while we undertook a more extensive local review of possibilities.
Many have asked about the possibility of retaining a summer format for the provisional program and limiting its size somehow. This is much easier said than done, simply because the essence of the program is free election to participate by the student. Size could be limited by eliminating the bottom half of the high school class from eligibility, but that step would not reduce participation enough to address the problem. It could be limited by admitting a fixed number of students into the program, but that would remove the essence of the program and would retain an inappropriate fixed curriculum for students who can work above the prescribed level. Or we could be more restrictive about success by requiring a higher GPA for continuation as a regular student in the fall; however this change would greatly increase dissatisfaction among participants and would lead to an unhealthy condition October 24, 2000
October 24, 2000
where we would require a significantly higher GPA for success in the provisional program than we require for continuation in regular status.
Thus, the choice, in my mind, boils down to trying the proposed new provisional program on an experimental basis (Option 3) or keeping what we have while making a commitment to some kind of change one year hence (Option 2). However, in the discussion on Thursday, there appeared to be no sentiment for Option 2. With respect to these two choices, the clear message given to me was that we should move right away to a modified provisional program.
On the basis of these considerations, I am electing Option 3 and will be working immediately with the Faculty Council Executive Committee to see that my concerns with the Council's recommendation are considered in a manner consistent with our rules of shared governance. It is important that our positions on this question be discussed before the Regents' meeting in November, because that is our only opportunity to gain the required regental approval for a significant change in admissions practice for the cycle now under way.
I thank you for your careful review of the issue and will value your advice.