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International Programs and Studies Committee

The International Programs and Studies Committee is asked to advise the Faculty Council and the associate vice president for international programs on policies and procedures related to international programs at the University.

Liability issues for faculty members who take students abroad on faculty-led programs dominated the committee's deliberations this year. (This issue comes up whenever faculty members take students off campus.)

On November 21, 2001, the committee chair and representatives from the International Office met with a delegation of lawyers from the UT System Office of General Counsel and from the UT Office of Legal Affairs, including Associate Vice President Susan Bradshaw, to discuss the general issues involved. The two legal offices prepared a document entitled "University Study Abroad Programs: A Guide to Faculty Liability Issues" which Susan Bradshaw presented in an April 5, 2002, meeting to a number of administrators representing different offices. The committee and the International Office subsequently organized an information meeting where Susan Bradshaw presented the document to interested faculty and discussed general liability issues. All faculty members who are involved with a study abroad program were invited to the meeting. All documentation pertaining to faculty liability issues will be posted on the Web.

UT faculty members will be represented by the attorney general if sued for actions performed as part of their employment as director of a study abroad program, and are generally indemnified by the state for damages up to a limit. This only applies to faculty members who are on UT payroll during the period of the program.

It is understood that liability issues cannot be divorced from risk assessment and risk management issues. It also has become very clear that managing information about study abroad programs given to students (and parents) and managing student expectations are crucial elements of an overall strategy to reduce exposure to liability. Faculty members and the Study Abroad Office (SAO), therefore, are urged to revise their program literature accordingly.

In the course of our deliberations, the question was raised if faculty members receive full health and other staff benefits while directing a UT program abroad. (This question ultimately is relevant for any faculty member and graduate assistant off campus on University business.) The committee chair sent an official inquiry to Faye Godwin, assistant director of benefits, to inquire about the benefit status of faculty members and their families under these circumstances. The committee will have to pursue the issue in fall 2002 to ensure full health and other staff benefits for faculty while abroad.

In light of the events of September 11, the committee felt that the University community needed to expressly confirm its commitment to international studies and programs at the University. A resolution to that effect was presented by the chair to the Faculty Council on January 28, 2002. After numerous objections were voiced by members of the Council, the chair withdrew the resolution to revise it in committee. The committee agreed on the following text, which was forwarded to the Faculty Council chair for action in fall 2002:


Passed by the International Programs and Studies Committee (4/26/02)

Recent events have underscored the renewed significance of international knowledge and awareness. The Faculty Council would like to underscore the University's role in helping to shape and educate globally informed citizens among its students, faculty, and staff, as well as among the extended

University community. To that end, the Faculty Council offers this resolution of support, commending the University for its commitment to its programs in foreign languages, literatures, and cultures, its on-campus international area studies, the education of international students, and opportunities for all UT students for study and experiences abroad. Despite the current challenges to the University's resources, the Council also affirms the importance of such existing programs, as well as for initiatives that will allow UT to keep pace with global changes and to secure its position as a premier institution for international and foreign area studies.

The committee discussed a range of other issues during the year without taking action. They are:

1. intersession programs (no concrete proposals yet);
2. the impact on HB 1641 on international students (effectively dealt with by Vice President Sullivan's HB 1641 Task Force);
3. strategies to enhance international faculty exchanges (no time to pursue, to be addressed in 2002-2003);
4. evaluation of existing study abroad programs (existing SAO evaluation sufficient; each program needs to conduct its own evaluation due to greatly varying circumstances).

  Peter Hess, chair

This document was posted on the Faculty Council Web site, www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/ on July 29, 2002. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.

  Last updated:July 29, 2002
  Comments Welcome.
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