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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of October 20, 2004.
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
OCTOBER 20, 2004
The second regular meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2004-2005 was held in the Main Building, Room 212, Wednesday, October 20, 2004, at 2:30 p.m.
Present:Lawrence D. Abraham, Dean J. Almy, Jacqueline L. Angel, Peter R. Antoniewicz, Gerard H. Béhague, Patrick L. Brockett, Cynthia J. Buckley, Douglas C. Burger, Brent Chaney, John D. Dollard, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, James L. Erskine, Lester L. Faigley, Larry R. Faulkner, Kenneth Flamm, Richard R. Flores, Wolfgang Frey, Alan W. Friedman, William P. Glade, Linda L. Golden, Michael H. Granof, Sue A. Greninger, Marvin L. Hackert, John J. Hasenbein, Susan S. Heinzelman, James L. Hill, Neville Hoad, Archie L. Holmes, James O. Jirsa, Martin W. Kevorkian, Desiderio Kovar, Dominic L. Lasorsa, Desmond F. Lawler, Daniell J. MacDonald, Erik D. Malmberg, Rachel C. McGinity, Paul A. Navratil, Roth A. Nelson, Edward W. (Ted) Odell, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Alba A. Ortiz, Irene Owens, Anthony J. Petrosino, Theodore E. Pfeifer, Linda E. Reichl, Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, Victoria Rodriguez, John J. Ruszkiewicz, Pauline T. Strong, Alexandria K. Wettlaufer, Paul B. Woodruff.
Absent:Ricardo C. Ainslie (excused), Efraim P. Armendariz, Patricia C. Avant (excused), Matthew J. Bailey, Hans C. Boas (excused), Pascale R. Bos, Teresa Graham Brett (excused), Patricia L. Clubb, Miles L. Crismon, Janet M. Davis, James W. Deitrick (excused), Andrew P. Dillon, Edwin Dorn, Maria Franklin, Jeanne H. Freeland-Graves (excused), Robert Freeman, Thomas J. Garza, George W. Gau, John C. (Jack) Gilbert, Philip A. Guerrero, Donald A. Hale, Roderick P. Hart, Thomas M. Hatfield, Fred M. Heath, Kevin P. Hegarty, Martha F. Hilley (excused), Joni L. Jones, Manuel J. Justiz (excused), Robert D. King, Robert C. Koons (excused), Nancy P. Kwallek, Richard W. Lariviere, Steven W. Leslie, William S. Livingston, Noah S. Lowenstein (excused), Glenn Y. Masada (excused),1 Dean P. Neikirk (excused), Thomas G. Palaima, Bruce P. Palka (excused), Marcus G. Pandy, William C. Powers, Mary Ann R. Rankin, Juan M. Sanchez, Dolores Sands, M. Michael Sharlot, David W. Springer, Patrick N. Staha, Janet Staiger (excused), Frederick R. Steiner, Michael B. Stoff (excused), Ben G. Streetman, Daniel A. Updegrove, Angela Valenzuela, James W. Vick, N. Bruce Walker, Gwendolyn Webb-Johnson, Barbara W. White, Karin G. Wilkins.
Voting Members: 45 present, 31 absent, 76 total. Non-Voting Members: 6 present, 27 absent, 33 total. Total Members: 51 present, 58 absent, 109 total.
1Attendance record corrected November 15, 2004.
I. REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.
The written report appears in D 3545-3547. There were no questions or comments.
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES.
The minutes of the Faculty Council meeting of September 27, 2004 (D 3550-3555) were approved by voice vote.
III. COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT
A. Comments by the President.
President Faulkner commented on the Report of the Commission of 125, focusing primarily on the recommendation regarding the need to revise the core curriculum. He said commission members highly valued the role The University of Texas played in the development of leadership for Texas and perceived the core curriculum as the area that had the greatest potential for contributing to leadership development and citizen participation in society. He said that commission members were concerned that the core curriculum was receiving less attention than other areas and that its quality control needed to be strengthened. In addition, President Faulkner pointed out that both the Task Forces on Enrollment Strategies and Racial Respect and Fairness had recommended that the core curriculum be re-examined. President Faulkner said he and Provost Ekland-Olson recognized that the curriculum was owned and should be defined by the faculty, and they wanted to use the normal channels of faculty governance in the process of developing and approving any changes to the core curriculum.
Noting that there would be a report later in the meeting from the Faculty Grievance Committee, President Faulkner commented that he was well aware of the “mechanical and philosophical problems” that exist in the grievance process and was committed to the effort to “cooperate in getting us to a better state.” He said his schedule had been extremely intense in recent weeks, but he wanted Council members to know that he was receiving information about the situation and was “committed to trying to move forward on this in the immediate term.”
B. Questions to the President.
Question: In your State of the University Address, you mentioned that you believe the process of reviewing and possibly updating the core curriculum will take about two years. Can you provide some additional information on how this process will involve significant faculty input, both from the Faculty Council and the faculty at large — Archie Holmes (chair, Educational Policy Committee, associate professor, electrical and computer engineering).
Response: President Faulkner said he expected the process would take approximately two years based on his past experience because it takes time to define, discuss, and deliberate the issues involved in revising the core curriculum. He said he did not think it would be practical to layer this additional work on top of the normal business of the Educational Policy Committee. He thought an ad hoc committee was needed whose sole function was to develop a proposal to present to the Faculty Council and faculty at large. He said that he and the provost were in discussions with the Faculty Council Executive Committee to develop a mechanism for establishing the ad hoc committee and asked for advice from Council members regarding the committee.
Professor Marvin Hackert (chemistry and biochemistry) recommended that a sub-fraction of the Educational Policy Committee be included on the ad hoc committee since its members had “given a lot of thought to related issues.” When asked by Professor Gerard Behague (music) if an
expansion of the core curriculum were anticipated, President Faulkner said the appropriate size of the core would need to be determined during the process, but he would be surprised if it could be enlarged. He said that the Commission of 125 wanted us to reflect upon how the core curriculum “marks or defines or is essential” to a University of Texas education.
Professor Paul Woodruff (philosophy and Plan II) recommended that representatives of the steering committee of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers be included on the ad hoc committee. Professor Larry Abraham (curriculum and instruction, kinesiology and health education) suggested that the committee’s charge be to first focus on goals and objectives of the core curriculum rather than the specifics of programs, courses, and the structure of classes; individual colleges could then construct degree plans and courses to meet the goals specified for the core curriculum. Professor Archie Holmes (electrical and computer engineering; chair, educational policy committee) said he felt it was important that each college that educates undergraduates have at least one representative on the ad hoc committee to assure that the issues pertinent to that college be considered in the development of the core curriculum.
IV. REPORT OF THE CHAIR.
A. Chair Linda Reichl (physics) emphasized the importance of the Faculty Council’s involvement in the revision of the University’s undergraduate core curriculum. After reading the list of what students need to learn from the revised core curriculum, she said she thought the development of interdisciplinary courses would probably be necessary. In view of the Coordinating Board’s efforts to standardize courses and core curricula to facilitate transfer credit between institutions of higher education, Chair Reichl said UT Austin’s revised core would be relevant to other universities throughout the state. She then asked Faculty Council members to submit names of individuals to serve on the ad hoc committee on slips of paper available at the meeting or to send the names to the following email addresses: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. B. Chair Reichl thanked President Faulkner for addressing the situation involving the grievance process issues. She said that it was very important that the Grievance Committee and administration get together to work out the issues and that she hoped it could be done in the next month.
C. Chair Reichl reported it had been recently discovered that some past legislation, from back in the 1980s that had been approved, was not in the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP). She said the Faculty Council office would assist standing committee chairs if questions come up regarding whether or not the information in the HOP is complete concerning important committee business.
Vice President Patti Ohlendorf (institutional relations and legal affairs) said there is a printed version of the HOP and two electronic versions, one that is being reformatted and the older version. She said, for the most part, the paper version is up-to-date. Although the rules regarding the current Faculty Council are not in the electronic version, they are being followed and should be added to the reformatted electronic version by President Faulkner’s staff in short order. She said she had discovered that the grievance process information in the HOP was missing the procedural steps passed during the 1980s when she was recently asked a question about a particular case. She said this could easily be updated now.
When Chair Reichl asked if there were other comments or questions, one of the student representatives said he thought it was important to have student involvement on the ad hoc committee on core curriculum revision. Eric Malmberg (graduate student assembly) asked about the status of the recommendation that graduate research assistants be included in the charge of the Responsibilities, Rights, and Welfare of TAs and AIs Committees. Chair Reichl indicated that the recommendation had been referred to the Committee on Committees.
V. REPORT OF THE CHAIR ELECT — None.
VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS. — None.
VII. REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES.
A. Report on the Office of Legal Affairs memorandum concerning ownership of course instructor surveys.
Executive Vice President and Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson shared information he had received from the Office of Legal Affairs regarding ownership of course instructor survey forms. He said that most of the issues had arisen due to evolving state and federal laws defining open records and protection of information through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The main point, according to the Office of Legal Affairs, is that course instructor survey forms are official government documents because the public and other faculty members have a significant interest in knowing student opinion about instructor performance at state-supported institutions. Furthermore, the surveys meet the definition of a completed report, audit, evaluation, or investigation made of, for, or by a government body.
Provost Ekland-Olson reported that Legal Affairs said that the act of delivering the original forms to individual faculty members did not make the forms personal property. The rationale is that if a governmental body could withhold records relating to official business simply because they are held by an individual then the body could easily and with impunity circumvent FERPA. Once the original forms have been delivered to an individual faculty member, the University has the legal right to require that the faculty member return the original documents when requested to do so. The rationale is that the documents are the property of the State of Texas regardless of where they are stored, and the University has the absolute right to determine the location or repository where the documents will be stored. According to Legal Affairs, even in the case where a university officer retains the original form and a copy of the form is delivered to the faculty member, the nature of the copy that the faculty member has does not change from a government document to personal property. Assuming, in the case involving the original being retained by the University and a copy being supplied to the faculty member, when the retention period has passed, the faculty member is then free to dispose or retain his or her copy without consequence. If the faculty member chooses to retain his or her copy of a record beyond the record retention date, then he or she could be required to produce the record in response to an open records request or subpoena directed to the University.
Regarding the implications for the FERPA privacy rights of students when individual faculty members have physical custody and unrestricted access to course instructor survey forms containing personally identifiable student educational records, Provost Ekland-Olson said the current lack of a central record repository is problematic and in need of review. To the extent that the completed surveys contain FERPA protected information, access to these documents must be controlled to protect that information from disclosure to third parties and from re-disclosure to faculty members when the faculty member does not have a current legitimate educational purpose to access that information.
Provost Ekland-Olson summarized the Legal Affairs opinion with the following points that are fundamental to the initiation of a policy review regarding the surveys:
(1) The course instructor survey forms are government documents and must ultimately be managed by the University in terms of distribution and storage. (2) Course instructor materials should be retained in the departmental or dean’s office of non-departmentalized schools for at least seven years to be
-- used by the department or school for annual reviews, three-year reviews, promotion and tenure reviews, and post-tenure reviews -- copied for faculty who request them -- treated as FERPA documents
When asked by Professor Kenneth Flamm (LBJ School) about the issue of personally identifiable information, Provost Ekland-Olson said that the only issue had been if a person’s handwritten comments might be identifiable, especially in small classes. Professor Flamm said that since he would have trouble delivering all the government documents sent to him over the past six years he would welcome a system where the University was responsible for maintaining the records and giving him a copy. Provost Ekland-Olson said there were a number of issues similar to that one needing to be addressed in follow-on policy revisions. When Eric Malmberg (graduate student assembly) asked about supplemental evaluation and assessment tools developed by individual instructors, Provost Ekland-Olson asked Vice President Ohlendorf if these might be considered personal communications. She said she thought the argument could be made, but the Attorney General might regard the items as governmental records if state resources were used, especially if an open records request were made. She recommended that faculty members take appropriate steps to protect student privacy because the matter was “an open question.”
When asked by Professor Doug Berger (computer science) if consideration had been given to informing undergraduates that their comments were discoverable under open records, Provost Ekland-Olson said “no.” When Professor Berger asked if there was a plan to do this, Provost Ekland-Olson said, “Looks like it.” In response to Professor John Hasenbein’s (mechanical engineering) question about the desirability of utilizing an electronic format to reduce paper, Provost Ekland-Olson said that would be included in the follow-on policy discussions.
Chair Linda Reichl said that the Committee of Council on Academic Freedom and Responsibility had been asked to look at the issue. She said it was important for faculty members to realize that noncompliance with an Open Records Act request was a serious matter.
B. Report on change in the way grades are assigned in the Graduate School.
Dean Victoria Rodriguez (graduate school) gave an informational report on a proposal approved by the Graduate Assembly last spring to include pluses and minuses in the grading system for graduate courses. The rationale was that grading at the graduate level is so compressed that in effect only two grades can be assigned. She reported that the new system was widely supported by the faculty and deans. During the protest period, only four protests were made, and those dealt with whether use of the system was required, which it is not. Dean Rodriguez said that Vice President Patti Ohlendorf’s research indicated the proposal needed no further approval beyond that of President Faulkner for implementation. Once President Faulkner approves the proposal, the goal will be to implement the new grading system in the fall 2005 semester.Professor Marvin Hackert asked if a graduate student would end up on academic probation based on the new system if the student received five Bs and one B-. Dean Rodriguez responded that was correct because the straight Bs would be the equivalent of a 3.0 and the B- would be the equivalent of a 2.67.
C. Report on UT System Electronic Media Standards Task Force.
Professor Marvin Hackert (chemistry and biochemistry), past chair of the UT Faculty Council and member of The University of Texas System Electronic Media Standards Task Force, reported that the task force had been asked to evaluate current policies governing Internet use and make recommendations regarding changes that might be needed. Chancellor Yudof made the request following incidents at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in which ten staff members had accessed adult entertainment Web sites using university computers. Although the full forty-page report has been posted on the Faculty Council Web page, Professor Hackert
distributed a summary handout to Council members that highlighted current policy and prohibited practices.
Professor Hackert summarized current policy by saying (1) unauthorized use is prohibited, (2) usage may be subject to security testing and monitoring, and (3) abuse is subject to criminal prosecution. Section 2054.001(a)(3) of the Texas Government Code says all individuals are accountable for their actions relating to information resources, and the resources shall be used only for intended purposes as defined by the agency and consistent with applicable law. Professor Hackert said the law states it is a criminal offense for state employees to intentionally or knowingly misapply any “thing of value” belonging to the government that is in their custody or possession as a result of their state employment in order to obtain benefit or to harm another person. He said work time is considered a “thing of value” belonging to the state.
According to the law, telephones and e-mail are to be used for institutional purposes; however, “incidental personal use” for local calls or messages not interfering with work responsibility is not considered a misapplication of state resources. Likewise, access to the Internet via institutional computers is for institutional use, but “incidental personal use” that does not interfere with work responsibility is not a misapplication. Improper or illegal use of the Internet, however, may subject employees to disciplinary action. Professor Hackert said that incidental personal use does not extend to family and friends, must not result in direct costs to the UT System, and must not interfere with normal performance of work duties. He also said that no personal messages should be sent or saved that might cause embarrassment to the institution. Because storage of personal email, including attachments and files, on the UT System Administration Exchange mail server must not exceed one megabyte of space, employees should remove personal messages from the Exchange server as soon as possible. All messages are owned by the UT System and therefore may be accessed and are subject to open record requests.
Professor Hackert said that the law requires that information resources systems must provide a mechanism whereby authorized personnel can audit and establish individual accountability for actions that affect confidential information, updates to mission critical information, and changes to automated security or access rules. Depending on security risk assessment, a sufficiently complete transaction history is to be maintained in order to permit an audit of the information resources system by logging and tracing the activities of individuals through the system.
Professor Hackert said the task force had developed the following recommendations:
(1) handle abuse with strong management controls rather than blanket Web site filtering; (2) re-emphasize that authorized use of information technology resources is limited to the University’s mission and incidental personal use; computing resources cannot be used for commercial and illegal activities; (3) clarify that the First Amendment does not protect all forms of expression (e.g., obscenity, child pornography, harassment, etc.); (4) continue criminal prosecution and employee sanctions for use of information technology for illegal activities (e.g., unauthorized use, intentional misuse, theft, obscenity, child pornography, sexual harassment or creation of a hostile work environment); (5) clarify limits on privacy for use of state-owned information technology resources (i.e., users should not expect any right of privacy in the use of University information technology systems) (6) require users to sign or otherwise acknowledge a use agreement containing notice of responsibility of proper use;
 Abuse may include accessing and using adult entertainment Web sites, playing computer games, buying and selling on eBay, or other non-work-related activity undertaken during work hours in ways that impair work performance.
(7) clarify sanctions process of computer misuse (e.g., by providing for graduated penalties, adequate notice of alleged infractions, opportunity to respond to allegations, and opportunity to appeal to adverse decisions); (8) offer illustrations of prohibited conduct; (9) seek adoption of above recommendation for system administration and circulate to components (e.g., solicit input from management and Faculty Senates); (10) update current policies to reflect changes in state law (e.g., change references from “pornography” to “obscenity,” etc.).
Professor Hackert said that Chancellor Yudof has asked for feedback from the faculty governance bodies of all UT System institutions. He said that he and Alba Ortiz (chair elect, special education) are on a committee chaired by Vice President Patti Ohlendorf that is studying this issue at UT Austin and will be preparing a response to the Chancellor’s request. Professor Hackert asked that faculty members send their comments regarding the task force’s recommendations to the Faculty Council office at email@example.com.
When Professor Kenneth Flamm asked if the implication regarding ownership of messages sent through email implied that copyrighted material could somehow be transferred from the individual to the University, Vice President Ohlendorf responded negatively, saying that the institution was not trying to claim ownership of scholarly work. She said the institution had waived rights to scholarly works in Regents’ Rules. When Professor Flamm said that scholarly work was not the same as copyrighted work, Vice President Ohlendorf said Regents’ Rules specifically refer to scholarly works but scholarly works can take many forms and would need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. She said that the University had typically not turned over research data and draft research reports prior to publication under the Open Records Act, saying the University does not claim ownership because these are scholarly works. She said she thought her committee tends to prefer strong departmental management controls to the installation of blanket Web site filtering or monitoring systems on servers. On the matter of requiring users to sign an acknowledgement, she said her committee was concerned that users might not read a lengthy electronic policy statement and hoped to boil the policy acknowledgement statement down to “one page of the critical elements.” She said that the committee would appreciate input on these matters. Professor Flamm commented that the ownership issue needed to be carefully and precisely spelled out, and he suggested that intellectual property scholars from the law school be included on the committee.Danny McDonald (Student Government representative, history and government major) asked if the policies being discussed applied to students, especially those living in dormitories. Vice President Ohlendorf said the policies involved employment relationships with the institution. She said that student use, especially in the dormitories, involved contractual provisions that the student users have with the institution, such as not using the resources for commercial purposes. She said that the University had used information technology resources to monitor usage in cases where there are allegations of fraud, such as the case involving social security number acquisition and illegal downloading of movies and data. When Eric Malmberg asked how graduate student employees and undergraduate work-study students were being informed of the rules, Professor Hackert said that information had been disseminated via the Faculty Advisory Committee Council and Staff Advisory Council. Vice President Ohlendorf said that the supervisors of student employees should work with individuals and explain what was acceptable and unacceptable. When Eric Malmberg asked if student input at UT Austin were wanted in implementing the policies and informing students, Professor Hackert said the committee would welcome student input.
D. Report on Grievance Process.
Professor Alan Friedman (English) read a statement from the Faculty Grievance Committee for Chair Sue Heinzelman, who had to leave the meeting due to her teaching schedule. Professor
Friedman thanked President Faulkner and Provost Ekland-Olson for their willingness to work with the committee to resolve the problems in the grievance procedure. He said the committee had reluctantly decided to suspend the process after serious deliberations. He said it was the view of the committee that “there was no longer a viable procedure that we could implement in good faith.” He said the committee had had one “very fruitful” meeting with the president and provost and expected another meeting to follow fairly soon. According to Professor Friedman, committee members were optimistic that the situation would be resolved near term and that they would have progress to report at the November Faculty Council meeting. However, the committee believed the three grievances that had been filed prior to the decision to suspend the process should proceed if the grievant in each case wanted to continue despite the procedural difficulties. Professor Friedman said the request of the Faculty Council Executive Committee that the Grievance Committee consider suspending the three previously filed grievances until November 15 would be discussed at its next meeting.
VIII. NEW BUSINESS — None.
IX. ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS — None.
X. QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR — None.
Adjourned at 3:45 p.m.
Distributed through the Faculty Council Web site on November 11, 2004. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.