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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of September 19, 2005 .

<signed>

Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

 

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
SEPTEMBER 19, 2005

The first regular meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2005-2006 was held in the Main Building, Room 212, Monday, September 19, 2005, at 2:15 p.m .


ATTENDANCE.

Present: Lawrence D. Abraham, Seema Agarwala, Peter R. Antoniewicz, Efraim P. Armendariz, Matthew J. Bailey, Jeri Baker, Susan N. Beretvas, Teresa Graham Brett, Patrick L. Brockett, Elizabeth Ann Brummett, Douglas C. Burger, Lorenzo F. (Frank) Candelaria, Patricia A. Carter, Miles L. Crismon, Diana M. DiNitto, Philip Doty, Janet M. Dukerich, Lester L. Faigley, Larry R. Faulkner, Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Kenneth Flamm, Jeanne Freeland-Graves, William P. Glade, Linda L. Golden, Juan C. Gonzalez, Sue A. Greninger, Charles R. Hale, James L. Hill, Lori K. Holleran, Archie L. Holmes, James O. Jirsa, Joni L. Jones, Robert C. Koons, Nancy P. Kwallek, Dominic L. Lasorsa, Desmond F. Lawler, Julia Mickenberg, Karl H. Miller, Omar A. Ochoa, Edward W. (Ted) Odell, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Melissa L. Olive, Alba A. Ortiz, Bruce P. Palka, Theodore E. Pfeifer, Kenneth M. Ralls, Wayne Rebhorn, Linda E. Reichl, Clare E. Richardson, Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, Peter J. Riley, Christine E. Schmidt, David W. Springer, Michael B. Stoff, Pauline T. Strong, Janice S. Todd, N. Bruce Walker, John M. Weinstock, Alexandria K. Wettlaufer, Erica L. Whittington.

Absent: Pascale R. Bos (excused), Joanna M. Brooks, Cynthia J. Buckley, Patricia L. Clubb, James W. Deitrick, Andrew P. Dillon, Richard B. Eason, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Stanislav Emelianov (excused), James L. Erskine, William L. Fisher, Richard R. Flores, Robert Freeman, Thomas J. Garza, George W. Gau, Jessica L. Geier, John C. (Jack) Gilbert, Oscar Gonzalez, Donald A. Hale, Roderick P. Hart, Thomas M. Hatfield, Fred M. Heath, Phillip Hebert, Kevin P. Hegarty, Martha F. Hilley (excused), Bobby R. Inman, David Justin, Manuel J. Justiz (excused), Desiderio Kovar (excused), Richard W. Lariviere, Janice Leoshke, Janice Leoshko, Steven W. Leslie, William S. Livingston, Glenn Y. Masada, Charles C. McDowell, Kate Nanney, Yolanda C. Padilla (excused), William C. Powers, Mary Ann R. Rankin, Victoria Rodriguez, John J. Ruszkiewicz (excused), Juan M. Sanchez, Dolores Sands, M. Michael Sharlot, Frederick R. Steiner (excused), Ben G. Streetman, Daniel A. Updegrove, Angela Valenzuela, Barbara W. White, Karin G. Wilkins (excused).


Voting Members:
52
present,
23
absent,
75
total.
Non-Voting Members:
8
present,
27
absent,
35
total.
Total Members:
60
present,
51
absent,
110
total.1

1Attendance records corrected on November 29, 2005.


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Chair Alba Ortiz (special education) called the meeting to order and noted that the year’s beginning had been marked with sorrow, including the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, casualties in Iraq, and memories of the lives lost on September 11. In addition, Chair Ortiz noted with sadness the loss of an outstanding member of the Faculty Council, Professor Gerard Béhague, who died on June 13 following a long illness. Describing him as a “prolific scholar and dedicated teacher,” Chair Ortiz said Dr. Béhague joined UT faculty in 1974 and had played a major role in establishing UT’s graduate program in Ethno Musicology. She said he was recognized worldwide as the leading scholar of Latin Ethno Musicology, particularly the music of Brazil. She said Professor Béhague’s dedication to his work was demonstrated by his continuing to travel, write, teach, and meet with his students until just days before his death. Chair Ortiz concluded her introductory remarks by saying, “We will miss his voice at our council meetings this year and we will miss a great colleague and friend,” and then asking the Faculty Council to join her in observe a moment of silence in memory of Professor Béhague and these events.

I.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.

The written report appears in D 4126-4131. There were no questions or comments.
II.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

The minutes of the special Faculty Council meeting and the regular Faculty Council meeting of May 9, 2005, (D 3977-3978) and (D 3979-3989), respectively, were approved by voice vote .
III.
COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT

A. Comments by the President.

President Larry Faulkner commented on the following four topics: fall admissions and enrollment, presidential search process, curriculum review, and legislative outcomes. Based on twelve-day roster data, the president said the incoming freshman class numbered 6,908 and was comprised of 5% African American, 17% Asian American, 18% Hispanic, and 55% Anglo students. University enrollees totaled approximately 49,300 plus an addition 450 displaced students admitted for one semester due to Hurricane Katrina. President Faulkner said the University was successfully improving the student-faculty ratio by expanding faculty positions while reducing student enrollment about 1,000 annually toward the goal of 48,000.

Describing the presidential search for his replacement as “off to a good start,” President Faulkner said UT Austin offered the strongest opening among public universities at this time. He said he realized that some individuals felt the process might be being pushed along too quickly; however, he said the chairman of the Board of Regents felt strongly that the process should be completed in a shorter timeframe than the fourteen month period experienced in the last presidential search. He said Vice Chancellor Teresa Sullivan had attempted to streamline the process so the UT search would move forward ahead of searches by competing institutions. President Faulkner described the implemented changes as “healthy” and said he perceived the process was on schedule and moving toward the goal of naming a new president by early December.

President Faulkner said he expected that the report of the Task Force on Curriculum Reform would be released by its target date of October 31 since the “star-studded” committee appointed last year was “moving forward aggressively.” Based on his past experience with curriculum reform, President Faulkner said he expected the recommendations of the task force to generate much interest and active debate among faculty members regarding what should be required in UT’s core curriculum.
Describing the legislative outcomes this spring and summer as a “mixed bag,” President Faulkner said he was pleased that local control of tuition and recovery of indirect costs were

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  preserved. However, he said the 1.4% annual growth in general revenue-based appropriations fell short of the annual 1.8% that had been typically provided by the legislature over the past twenty years. Saying action on the tuition and revenue bond legislation was greatly needed for the University to proceed with renovations to the Experimental Science building, President Faulkner said he thought the legislation might still have a small chance of passage if the legislature reconvened later to deal with school finance issues.

B. Questions to the President.

From Linda Ferreira-Buckley, associate professor, English. “Faced with decreased state funding and rising expenses, the Administration has worked to reduce expenditures by making purchasing and services more efficient and cost-effective. One measure has been to outsource services such as Central Receiving and University Supply. Does the University require that these contractors provide their full-time employees with health care benefits? If not, would the Administration be willing to make this a requirement for contractors who wish to do business with the University? Which services are provided by contractors rather than University employees? To be sure, faculty appreciate the need to control costs, but not when doing so entails working conditions many of us consider unethical.”

President Faulkner asked Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, to respond to Professor Linda Ferreira Buckley’s question. See Appendix A for Vice President Hegarty’s official report. Professor Ferreira-Buckley commented that she thought there was “fudge room” in a policy that says UT Austin wants vendors who demonstrate ethical practices but does not define what those practices are. When she asked who was appointed to vendor selection teams, Vice President Hegarty said membership varied based on the type of transaction with an effort made to include individuals with expertise in the business area being addressed. Saying that the determination of ethical business practices is subjective, Vice President Hegarty said he was concerned that a binding set of practices might deter firms from bidding on UT work opportunities. He said he felt it was a better policy to let everyone bid and then make the award based on what each vendor offered. Professor Ferreira-Buckley concluded by asking that representatives of the Faculty Council and Student Government be placed on vendor selection committees in the future.

President Faulkner said he had not produced a catalog of UT services currently being provided by contractors. He said there had been only a couple of major transitions impacting UT employees during his administration, but the range of services contracted out had increased over a long period of time and was relatively large, especially when building renovation and repair activities were included.

President Faulkner then introduced Dr. Juan Gonzalez, the new vice president for student affairs, and Dr. Greg Benson, the new vice provost for inclusion and cross cultural affairs.

IV.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR.

A. Chair Alba Ortiz (special education) introduced the members of the Faculty Council Executive Committee as follows: Sue Greninger (human ecology), secretary; Linda Reichl ( physics), past chair: Linda Golden (marketing administration), chair elect; Martha Hilley (music), representative from the Faculty Welfare Committee; Archie Holmes (electrical and computer engineering), representative of the Educational Policy Committee; Pauline Strong (anthropology), representative of the Faculty Budget Advisory Committee, who replaced Ted O’Dell (mathematics); and Janet Dukerich (management), chair of the Graduate Assembly. Chair Ortiz announced the names of the recently elected faculty representatives to the Presidential Search Advisory Committee: The representatives are Douglas Laycock (law), J. Strother Moore (computer science), and Gretchen Ritter (government and women’s studies).

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  Chair Ortiz asked members of University committees to review the timelines and procedures for presenting their reports and recommendations to the Faculty Council. She also reminded Council members that the Office of the General Faculty has moved to WMB 2.102, which is next door to the University Post Office.

V.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR ELECT.

Chair elect Linda L. Golden announced that the joint meeting with the Texas A&M Faculty Senate would be held this coming spring semester, probably in February, at Texas A&M University. She said representatives from Texas A&M had been “singing the praises” about the meeting Chair Ortiz organized and implemented here at UT Austin last year. Chair elect Golden said she will meet with representatives from Texas A&M during October to discuss preliminary plans for next spring’s meeting. She invited Faculty Council members to submit suggested topics for breakout sessions to her via email.

VI.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS. — None.

VII. REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES.

A. Update from the Faculty Grievance Committee.

Professor Sue Heinzelman (English and past committee chair) gave a brief overview for new Faculty Council members of the reasons last year’s Faculty Grievance Committee had suspended its formal grievance procedures. She reported that President Faulkner had agreed to the legislation regarding disciplining and discovery and forwarded the legislation to the UT System for review. Although formal approval of the legislation has not been received, she reported that last year’s committee had met and voted to reinstate the formal grievance procedures. She said the grievance process is now available and in the hands of this year’s committee chaired by Professor Lorenzo Sadun (mathematics). Professor Heinzelman thanked President Faulkner, Executive Vice President and Provost Ekland-Olson, Vice President Patti Ohlendorf, and members of last year’s Faculty Grievance Committee for their commitment and support in resolving the difficult grievance situation and issues.

When asked by Vice President Ohlendorf what procedures were being used during the current interim period, Professor Heinzelman said the committee was proceeding in accordance with the terms mutually agreed upon by the administration and the grievance committee and “using the procedures that were in place with the exception of the legislation on disciplining and discovery.” She clarified that the committee had “to operate under the previous system” while waiting for system approval of the disciplining and discovery legislation. She concluded by saying that she hoped no grievances were filed with the committee before approval had been received from the UT System’s office.

B. Report of the Faculty Ombudsperson.

Professor Stanley Roux (molecular cell and developmental biology and Faculty Ombudsperson) reported on his first year of activities in the new ombudsperson position. See Appendix B for his official report. Professor Roux’s report covered the number of faculty served, general reasons faculty sought his services, and time requirements fulfilling the new position.

Chair Ortiz expressed appreciation to both Professors Roux and Heinzelman for their work in addressing faculty issues and concerns. She said there was approximately a two-year window of time to assess whether the Faculty Ombudsperson position merited on-going support. She said she thought Professor Roux’s report provided ample evidence that the position was needed.

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C. Update from the ad hoc Committee on Course Instructor Surveys (D 4133-4135).

Professor Marvin L. Hackert (chemistry and biochemistry and committee chair) introduced members of the Ad hoc Committee on the Course-Instructor Survey and thanked them for the work they had done on behalf of the faculty. Committee members are Professors Michael Granof (accounting), Janet Staiger (radio-television-film), Michael Sharlot (law), and Marilla Svinicki (educational psychology). Professor Hackert provided background information regarding the course-instructor survey at UT Austin and changes resulting from recent legal interpretations regarding ownership, handling, and storage of survey documents, See D 4133-4135 for the ad hoc committee’s formal report and recommendations.

When Professor Archie Holmes asked for clarification regarding ownership of the written comments, Professor Hackert said, if the proposed recommendations were adopted, it was his understanding that the written comments would be the private property of the faculty member, who could choose whether or not to release them to other parties. He said that the comments would not be subject to an open records request until a faculty member made them “official documents” by choosing to release them. When Professor Holmes asked if faculty members had the right to say that they did not want any written comments, Professor Hackert responded that faculty member had the right to deny the written comments going forward to the administration; however, if they chose to submit the written comments, they would have to submit all of the comments. When Professor Holmes asked if a faculty member, who did not want to receive the written comments, could stop them from being sent to the faculty member, Professor Hackert said this would be a procedural issue that needs to be considered in consultation with staff at the Measurement and Evaluation Center. He said his committee’s recommended procedures would greatly reduce the number of documents currently being stored and copied by departments across campus.

When Professor David Springer (social work) asked if the proposed procedure would allow the forms with comments to go directly back to faculty members, who would then own and be responsible for the forms, Professor Hackert said yes. He again cautioned that voluntary submission of the forms, such as for promotion and tenure consideration, would require release of all forms and make them “official documents” that could be subject to open records requests.

Professor Larry Abraham (curriculum and instruction and kinesiology and health education) commented that he was surprised by the interpretation that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) would prevent professors from seeing the written comments of students unless the students had waived their FERPA rights. Professor Hackert responded that Helen Bright (UT System attorney and section manager for general law) had rendered that opinion at a recent meeting of the UT System Faculty Advisory Council. When Professor Abraham asked if anyone could see the written comments from students without the students first waiving their FERPA rights, Professor Hackert said he thought the administration had the right to see the comments. Professor Abraham asked that the issue be further examined because he thought there could be broader consequences than just those pertaining to student comments. He said the interpretation seemed inconsistent with how other student information and records were being handled, e.g., transcripts, grades. He said he thought members of the University community “with the right to know” currently could have access to FERPA-protected data for administrative purposes. Professor Hackert replied that different lawyers had provided slightly different interpretations, but the committee’s consensus understanding was that faculty members had the “right to access only that information that is necessary to carry out their immediate job.” Professor Abraham said it was difficult for him to see how a faculty member’s review of recommendations for students being considered for program admissions was any different than a faculty member’s review of the student comments from a course. He concluded by saying that he thought the Council would have a difficult time acting on the proposed legislation given the unclear and inconsistent interpretation of FERPA.

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Professor Karl Miller (history) asked if the committee had discussed the potential problems resulting from a two-tiered system based on faculty rank. He said faculty members seeking tenure and/or promotions would have little choice about public disclosure of their student comments while full professors would be protected from such disclosure. Professor Hackert replied that the committee had discussed the matter but felt the issue would be better handled by staff and experts than the current ad hoc committee. He said the committee was trying to deal with the broader issues of ownership, increased costs incurred by the University, and lack of access by faculty to timely student feedback to improve instruction.

When Professor Nick Lasorsa (journalism) asked if the objective answers to preset survey questions would be counted for the students who did not waive their FERPA rights, Professor Hackert said the objective answers would be counted from all students and be made available to faculty, staff, administrators, and students in a timely manner. When Pauline Strong asked if she had correctly understood that the committee felt the implications of student comments for promotion and tenure decisions fell outside the purview of the ad hoc committee, Professor Hackert said “not entirely.” He said committee members were concerned that written comments could not be substantiated and might be receiving higher weight than they deserved in administrative decision-making. That concern is what led the committee to recommend that all student comments had to be included when a faculty member chose to release them. Professor Strong said she had questions about this recommendation because she did not think some faculty members, such as those being considered for tenure and promotion, actually had a choice regarding the submission of the survey comments.

Professor Linda Reichl said there was a “question of the use of written comments for promotion because there is no scientific basis” for these random comments. She recommended that the surveys be redesigned to include additional questions regarding specific aspects about instructional quality and instructor characteristics to meet administrative evaluation needs. Professor Hackert said the committee had discussed enhancements to the objective portion of the survey and alternate tools that could provide useful feedback to faculty members.

After being granted permission to address the Council, Professor Janet Staiger said that a major aspect of the proposed recommendations was that the written comments would no longer be part of the official process. She stressed the importance of keeping the written comments apart from the official document in order to avoid the problems related to FERPA regulations.

Professor Crismon (pharmacy) asked Professor Hackert to clarify whether or not students would be required to check a box on the survey form to waive their FERPA rights when the committee’s written document stated that the act of writing a comment would actually serve as the waiver. Professor Hackert said the wording in the proposed document did indicate that writing the comment would serve as the waiver, and this method had been included because the committee did not want to require students to sign the form. Since the committee’s document had been turned in for dissemination to the Faculty Council, Professor Hackert said there had been some concern that students might not understand that they were waiving their rights by merely writing a comment. When Professor Crismon said it would be difficult to prove who actually made the check mark on the form, Professor Hackert said faculty and administrators would have to live with some assumption of integrity. He concluded that a check box might not need to be required on the form, but it was important to protect the identity of the students who provided comments. Professor Crismon suggested that the actual writing might be a good method of waiving FERPA rights since other marks could be more readily disputed.

Chair Ortiz thanked Professor Hackert and urged that the committee continue to seek legal clarification on the issues raised by Faculty Council members. She encouraged Council members to submit suggestions to Professor Hackert regarding the proposed recommendations.


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VIII.
NEW BUSINESS — None.

IX.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS — None.

All events of October 17 were cancelled since the September 19 Faculty Council meeting due to scheduling difficulties. The annual photograph and open house have been rescheduled for November 21. The only agenda item for the October 17 meeting will be presented at the General Faculty meeting on October 27.

A. Open house at the new Office of the General Faculty location, WMB 2.102, immediately following the Faculty Council meeting on October 17.
B. General Faculty meeting, October 17 (preceding the Faculty Council meeting).
C. The photo of Faculty Council members will be taken on October 17 on the south steps of the Main Building at 2:00 p.m. prior to the General Faculty meeting.

X.
QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR — None.

XI.
ADJOURNMENT.

Adjourned at 3:28 p.m.

Distributed through the Faculty Council Web site on October 10, 2005. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.