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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

 

Following are the minutes of the special Faculty Council meeting of October 30, 2000.

<signed>

John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty

 

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.

ATTENDANCE.

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.

 

Voting Members:
39
present,
37
absent,
76
total.
Non-Voting Members:
8
present,
24
absent,
32
total.
Total Members:
47
present,
61
absent,
108
total.


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I.
PRESIDENT FAULKNER'S RESPONSE TO THE COUNCIL'S LEGISLATION CONCERNING THE PROVISIONAL ADMISSION PROGRAM, APPROVED BY THE COUNCIL ON OCTOBER 16.

At its meeting on October 16, 2000, the Faculty Council took action on the University’s provisional admission program that differed in part with proposals from the administration and the Admissions and Registration Committee (D 860-868). The primary difference was that the administration and the committee proposed an off-campus provisional program, while the Council opposed such a program.

In a letter dated October 24, President Faulkner informed the Council of his decision to propose to the Board of Regents "a modification of the Faculty Council’s recommendation to include the proposed new provisional program, but with a commitment to undertake a thorough local review before continuing the program into a fourth admissions cycle." The president’s letter is attached as Appendix A (D 872-874).

As a result of the president’s letter, the Council’s executive committee called this special meeting in light of the following statement from the Rules and Regulations of the Council:

"Should the President object to any recommendation of the Faculty Council or of the General Faculty that requires the approval of the U.T. System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs or the U.T. System Board of Regents, he or she shall make those objections known either directly to the Council or through the Executive Committee so that the objections may be answered and the Council may have the opportunity to modify, withdraw, or reaffirm the proposed legislation before it is transmitted by the President to the U.T. System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. The final version of the legislation that is approved by the Faculty Council or by the General Faculty shall be transmitted by the President to the U.T. System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and, if necessary, to the U.T. System Board of Regents, along with such recommendations as the President and, if necessary, the U.T. System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs may choose to make."

The president began the October 30 meeting by reviewing the contents of his letter. He said it was part of his responsibility "to work the interface between the University and the outer world," and his decision was made with that responsibility in mind. He then left it to the Council "to talk it over and decide whether you want to support this, or express your displeasure with it, or remain neutral and remain with what you had before."

II.
DISCUSSION.

Chair Patrick Davis (pharmacy) said his interpretation of Robert’s Rules of Order was that the Council could either take no action, or it could rescind or ratify or renew its previous action.

Mark Alpert (marketing) moved that the motion be renewed so the Council could discuss whether it wanted to modify it in any form. The secretary said the position taken by the Council was a recommendation to the president, and he respected the procedure allowing the president to make decisions taking other factors into account. He then asked if there was a quorum. A count revealed that 36 voting members were present, with 39 required for a quorum. (Remark: The official attendance shows 39 present, but some members arrived late and some left during the meeting.)

Chair Davis said he thought it would be useful for the Council to discuss the issues even though there was not a quorum. Marvin Hackert (chemistry and biochemistry) wondered if the Council had considered proxy votes. John Dollard (mathematics) said that he favors the provisional admission program. Mel Oakes (physics) said he thought that the provisional admission program, as it previously existed, was laudable. However, under the new proposal, a transfer student not in the provisional program could be denied admission in spite of performing at a much higher level than another student


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enrolled in the provisional program. He thought it would be hard to explain that unfairness to parents, students, and the faculty.

Michael Starbird (mathematics) said that he thought it in the best interests of the University to eliminate the provisional program in the long run, but he thought it important to take into account outside realities, as the president had done in his recommendation for an experimental off-campus provisional program in the short run. John Walthall (student) liked the idea of a provisional program, but given a choice would prefer it to be on campus. Gerard Béhague (music) asked for clarification of whether the proposed new summer admission plan at UT Austin (as opposed to the off-campus provisional program) was in any way a provisional program. The answer was "no." Béhague said he thought that the University could not be a flagship institution without being selective in its admission process.

Thomas Palaima (classics) asked the president if the proposed provisional program would be limited to UT Arlington during the three-year trial period, or if it would be extended to other UT System schools. The president said the program might include three or four of the UT System institutions. He pointed out that some of the areas of the state, such as Houston, do not have UT System four-year academic institutions. Katheryn Maguire (student) favored extending the program to include institutions in the System in addition to Arlington.

Daron Roberts (student) moved that the meeting be adjourned, but the chair ruled that the motion was out of order since there was no quorum. (After the meeting, a check of Robert’s Rules of Order showed that a quorum is not required for the adoption of a motion to adjourn.)

Linda Reichl (physics) said that, independent of the current issue, it was important for the University to get the very best students it can, just as it tries to get the best faculty it can. Elizabeth Richmond-Garza (English) said the discussion of the provisional program, and the president’s letter clarifying the issues and calling for a three-year assessment, had been very useful. Oakes said he was a product of a junior college system, and he thought it was very important for Texas to strengthen its higher education institutions, other than UT Austin, so more students could benefit from the result.

The secretary said he did not think it would benefit the University to discuss all of the questions raised by the off-campus provisional proposal. He did not think it wise to revisit every issue on which the president disagreed with the Council based on outside considerations, and mentioned intercollegiate athletics as another example. Matthew Bailey (Spanish and Portuguese) expressed support for the provisional program, especially in light of consternation among parents over the state’s ten percent rule.

Hackert related his experience with the University Interscholastic League science contest, and noted that students from smaller schools have a very hard time competing successfully in such a competition. He said that was unfortunate, and urged the University to work hard to find policies that would admit talented students and then make sure that they succeed.

Martha Hilley (music) said she hoped there would be broad faculty input in planning for the summer program in light of the new plan for summer admission. The provost said his office was working with the deans, especially in liberal arts and natural sciences, and they were to be working with individual departments.

At the end of the discussion, the president requested that the chair write a commentary representing what had taken place.

III.
ADJOURNMENT.

The meeting adjourned at 3:10 p.m.

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.


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APPENDIX A
Return to President Faulkner's response.

 

 

October 24, 2000

 

Members of the Faculty Council
The University of Texas at Austin

Dear Colleagues:

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.


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October 24, 2000
Page Two

 

 

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


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October 24, 2000
Page Three

 

 

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.

Sincerely,


<signed>

Larry R. Faulkner
President

LRF/sts

cc: Members of the Deans' Council
Executive Vice President & Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson
Vice President James W. Vick