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Faculty Welfare Committee

Committee Members
Elizabeth Abel, nursing
Patrick Brockett, information, risk, and operations management
Wallace Fowler, aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics
Andrea Gore, pharmacy
Hillary Hart, civil engineering
Joan Neuberger, history
John Sampson, law

Faculty Council Appointees
Douglas Burger, computer sciences
Martha Hilley, music

The full committee met three times during the 2005-06 year, and the travel grant subcommittee met another two times. Products of this committee were a final report authorized by former President Faulkner (Recommendations of the Implementation Committee on the Status of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty) and a proposal for a new travel grant program authorized by Provost Ekland-Olson. Meeting and event dates, along with the issues discussed, are presented below.

September 2005

Hillary Hart convened the committee at the Faculty Council Meeting.

October 6, 2005
  • Election of Vice Chair — Martha Hilley was nominated vice chair of the committee and elected by an email vote shortly after the meeting.
  • Recommendations of the Implementation Committee on the Status of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty — This report had been sent to the president in July 2005 – Committee agreed to keep pushing for its official publication.
  • Faculty Travel Grants — Committee members decided to gather more data from peer institutions on travel support offered to faculty from central administration. These members volunteered to form a subcommittee to develop recommendations for a new travel-grant program: Joan Neuberger, Wally Fowler, Doug Burger, Andrea Gore, and Hillary Hart.
November 8, 2005

The committee met with Provost Ekland-Olson to discuss increasing the level of monetary support for faculty travel to research meetings. The provost made clear his support for the increase and stated the need for a “robust, well-reasoned” faculty travel program. The committee was taxed with developing a proposal that presents the basic structure (not the monetary details) of such a program. This proposal should make three to five recommendations on priorities and on how to structure the funding, keeping in mind that the program’s mission is to enhance the scholarly reputation of both individual faculty and UT Austin as a whole.

November 18, 2005

Subcommittee members agreed that $1,200 is the target travel award, given the level of support offered at UT’s peer institutions. They also determined to devise a program that could achieve that level of support within three years and to revise the travel grant application form to discourage those with other (research) funds from applying.

The biggest challenge is to try and ensure that the funds go to those who need them most, but after much discussion, the decision was made to keep the travel awards equal for all faculty (tenure-track and senior lecturers) from all colleges and schools, as they are currently. Deciding who is most deserving is difficult and potentially open to abuse at worst and unfairness at best.

December 12, 2005

Hillary Hart presented the Implementation Committee report to the University Leadership Council and to the Faculty Council on behalf of the Faculty Welfare Committee. Both groups expressed strong support for the report, Recommendations on the Status of Non-Tenure Track Faculty. These recommendations, aimed at providing a better career path at UT Austin for lecturers, include a new title (which requires Board of Regents approval) and timely review and promotion. Because the Faculty Council had already approved a very similar report two years before, a vote was not considered necessary. Dr. Hart thanked President Faulkner for constituting the original committee (the Langlois Committee) and for having the vision that UT could be a leader in developing policies that recognize the significant contribution of lecturers to many universities’ teaching mission.

This report was presented to the UT lecturer community at a thank you breakfast on April 20.

January 24, 2006

The faculty travel grant subcommittee met to discuss the draft proposal prepared by Andrea Gore, Joan Neuberger, and Hillary Hart. The proposal was subsequently revised and sent to Provost Ekland-Olson on February 3, 2006.

After some feedback from the provost, the subcommittee developed another proposal with an interim plan for allocating different amounts of travel funding to different UT units, depending on past use of travel grants, average faculty salary, and some other factors.  This proposal called for hitting the target — $1,200/year for each eligible faculty member presenting at an academic conference — within three years. This award would be receipt-based, with conference-related expenses up to $1,200 in any given year being reimbursed. This revised proposal was sent to the provost on April 3, 2006.

On May 12, 2006, the provost informed the UT deans and other officials that the original, target award was being implemented for all eligible faculty, commencing with the 2006-07 budget.

The subcommittee celebrated with an unofficial happy hour.

Hillary Hart, chair

  Updated 2006 August 29
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