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Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of February 19, 2007.

Greninger signature
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

FEBRUARY 19, 2007

TThe sixth regular meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2006-2007 was held in the Main Building, Room 212, Monday, February 19, 2007, at 2:15 p.m.

Present: : Kamran Ali, Urton L. Anderson, Judy Copeland Ashcroft, Lisa M. Bedore, Gary D. Borich, Douglas C. Burger, Virginia G. Burnett, Linda J. Carpenter, Marcus S. Ceniceros, Gustavo A. De Veciana, Diana M. DiNitto, John S. Dzienkowski, Miriam R. Estrin, Amy D. Forestell, Luis Francisco-Revilla, Linda L. Golden, Oscar Gonzalez, Juan C. González, Sue A. Greninger, Bretna M. Hackert, Charles R. Hale, James L. Hill, Martha F. Hilley, David M. Hillis, Lori K. Holleran, Troy L. Johnson, David Justin, Klaus O. Kalthoff, Karrol A. Kitt, Desiderio Kovar, Nancy P. Kwallek, Dominic L. Lasorsa, Desmond F. Lawler, Steven W. Leslie, Wayne Lesser, Raul L. Madrid, Julia Mickenberg, Karl H. Miller, Joan A. Mullin, John H. Murphy, Kate Nanney, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, J. Patrick Olivelle, Alba A. Ortiz, Randall M. Parker, Elizabeth C. Pomeroy, William C. Powers, Kenneth M. Ralls, Soncia R. Reagins-Lilly, Wayne Rebhorn, John H. Richburg, Peter J. Riley, Gretchen Ritter, Brian E. Roberts, Danielle R. Rugoff, Juan M. Sanchez, Christine E. Schmidt, Janet Staiger, Jeffrey Vaaler, Gregory J. Vincent, N. Bruce Walker, Stacy Wolf, Paul B. Woodruff.

Absent:: Efraim P. Armendariz, Eric J. Barron, Christopher J. Bell (excused), Susan N. Beretvas (excused), Randy Bomer, Luis A. Caffarelli, Lisa J. Cary (excused), Patricia L. Clubb, Miles Lynn Crismon, Penelope Davies (excused), Douglas J. Dempster, Andrew P. Dillon, Richard B. Eason, Stanislav Emelianov, Linda Ferreira-Buckley (excused), Sherry L. Field, George W. Gau, Linda V. Gerber (excused), Edmund (Ted) Gordon, Michael H. Granof (excused), Donald A. Hale, Kenneth J. Hale (excused), Ian F. Hancock, Roderick P. Hart, Fred M. Heath, Kevin P. Hegarty, Manuel J. Justiz (excused), Robert C. Koons, Judith H. Langlois (excused), William S. Livingston (excused), Melissa L. Olive (excused), Jon E. Olson (excused), Cynthia Osborne, Yolanda C. Padilla (excused), Thomas G. Palaima (excused), Shirley Bird Perry, Mary Ann R. Rankin, Victoria Rodriguez, Bonnie P. Rust, Lawrence Sager, Dolores Sands, Berkley B. Scroggins, Paul R. Shapiro, Vincent S. (Shelby) Stanfield (excused), James Steinberg, Frederick R. Steiner, Ben G. Streetman, Janice S. Todd, Jeffrey Walker, John M. Weinstock (excused), Barbara W. White, Sharon L. Wood (excused), Patrick Woolley (excused).

Voting Members:
49 present
29 absent
78 total.
Non-Voting Members:
14 present
24 absent
38 total.
Total Members:
63 present
53 absent
116 total.



The written report appears in D 5232-5237. Secretary Sue Greninger reported that the General Faculty approved the natural sciences core curriculum legislation (D 5189-5190), with only one faculty protest received in the Office of the General Faculty (OGF). She also announced that her office would be posting proposed curriculum changes for the Faculty Council in a new summary format on a trial basis. She said the new format is being tried in an effort to separate the legislative review process from the actual catalog production process, which is primarily the responsibility of the Office of the Registrar. It is hoped that the new format will make the proposed changes easier to understand during the legislative review process and encourage early coordination when the changes in a degree program will impact course demand and availability across campus. Chair Linda Golden (marketing) added that the OGF has been working with the provost’s office to refine the review process so it will provide the Faculty Council with the needed information to perform its oversight and review of proposed curriculum changes. She said this process needed improved coordination to deal with legislation that will result from the recently enacted curricular reforms. She explained that legislative classification used in the past would still be followed, with exclusive legislation being handled on a no protest basis; proposals having a foreseeable impact on other programs will be considered at Council meetings.


Minutes of the Faculty Council Meeting of January 22, 2007 (D 5238-5277) were approved by voice vote.


A. Comments by the President.

President William Powers reported that the Texas legislative session where major budgetary issues were under discussion had been his principal priority in recent weeks. He reported he had testified on the Legislative Budget Board’s formula-driven “base budget,” which had projected a 3% decline in general revenue for UT Austin. He explained that general revenue projections are only a “starting point” and do not include all funding sources, such as UT Austin’s tuition revenue bond. President Powers said he thought it “would be stunning and extremely unlikely” for UT Austin to receive in the end a 3% reduction in general revenue funding. Noting that the governor, lieutenant governor, and house speaker had all called higher education an “extremely high priority,” the president said he was “cautiously optimistic that we’re going to make progress” on the budgetary issues. He also cited tuition flexibility and the top 10% rule as being important issues under deliberation that would impact UT Austin.

When Professor Martha Hilley (music) asked President Powers if he would comment on the standardized testing requirement proposed by Governor Perry, the president said specific information was limited this early in the legislative session. He said there were various methods for measuring progress, but the current methods were problematic since they have not tracked progress of the same cohort of students over time. President Powers said he did not think a standardized exam, like the TAKS test used during grades K-12, would be used to assess student progress. He thought the governor and legislators wanted to know if institutions of higher education in Texas were attentive to how effectively and efficiently funds were being expended and to benchmarks that were appropriately measuring the progress being made. Citing his op-ed piece that appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, President Powers emphasized, “one size does not fit all in these benchmarks.” He said important measures for UT Austin included the amount of federal research funding received and the number of faculty members named to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science. He said he thought elected officials wanted to know what progress the University has made toward meeting its


  articulated goals, such as improving the faculty-to-student ratio. He closed by saying the administration is carefully monitoring the legislation being considered this session.

B. Questions to the President — None.


Chair Golden welcomed Dr. Judy Ashcroft and congratulated her on being recently appointed Dean of Continuing and Innovative Education. Chair Golden reported that she and Chair Elect Doug Burger (computer science) had attended the Texas Council of Faculty Senates over the past weekend, and former Chair Alba Ortiz (special education) had been re-elected treasurer of the organization. The keynote speaker at the meeting was Representative Donna Howard, and legislative issues similar to the ones highlighted by President Powers

Chair Golden thanked Council members for their service on the University’s standing committees of the General Faculty. She said she thought the next three Council meetings would include recommended legislation from the committees as well as degree program changes from the colleges/schools. She then asked Professor Ken Ralls (mechanical engineering and chair of the Committee on Committees) to share information about his committee’s need for Council members’ assistance. Professor Ralls reported that the original deadline for nominations for membership on standing University committees had been extended for a week. He recommended that Council members encourage their colleagues to nominate themselves or other faculty members for committee service. He said he planned to ask each committee chair to determine if the function and composition statements posted on the Faculty Council Web page needed to be revised and if any committees might no longer be needed. He reminded the Council member that each standing committee of the General Faculty had been asked to elect a chair elect who is a member of the General Faculty.

Chair Golden thanked Vice President Patti Ohlendorf (institutional relations and legal affairs) for sponsoring a joint breakfast meeting of the Faculty Council and the Graduate Assembly on March 29 from 7:00-9:30 a.m. at the Campus Club. She said Provost Steve Leslie, Undergraduate Studies Dean Paul Woodruff, and Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Victoria Rodriquez will be the featured speakers at the event. She also acknowledged Professor Randy Parker (special education and Chair of the Graduate Assembly) who also serves on the Faculty Council Executive Committee to facilitate information sharing between the two legislative entities on campus involving faculty.


Chair Elect Doug Burger said his attending the Texas Council of Faculty Senates’ meeting resulted in his feeling “really proud and fortunate” to be a faculty member at UT Austin. He reported that representatives from other Texas institutions expressed considerable concern about the burdensome accreditation process of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and its growing demand for additional curricular requirements. Chair Elect Burger said representatives from other Texas institutions were also concerned about how low their salaries were compared to national averages as well as average salaries paid at comparable institutions in terms of size and geographic location. He reported that some representatives had discussed the efforts currently underway by some union organizations to lobby for legislation requiring that faculty pay levels at Texas institutions be brought up to parity with national averages.

Chair Elect Burger reminded Council members to notify the Office of the General Faculty if they planned to attend the luncheon during the joint meeting of the UT Faculty Council and the Texas A&M Faculty Senate on March 5 at the Texas Stadium Club. He reported that a number of elected officials have been invited to the meeting, but their attendance was unpredictable due to the uncertainty of the legislative session schedule. He said the program would include remarks by the presidents and provosts of each institution, a legislative update, and panel discussions on the following two topics: (1) improving academic leadership through unit governance and (2) faculty governance at the University level. The first panel will include Admiral Bob Inman, who served on the Commission of 125, and


  department chairs from both institutions who have been successful in implementing changes that have moved their departments forward in terms of productivity and prestige. The second panel will feature former chairs of the UT Faculty Council and former speakers of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate who will share their insights about what they perceive worked well and what did not during their leadership of the respective governance bodies.



A. Report from the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

Dean Paul Woodruff reported he was optimistic about the progress being made in implementing curricular reform measures recently adopted at UT Austin. He said he had progressed from being a “dean of an idea” in September to a “dean of a box of files” to currently having a functioning office in FAC 406 where someone actually answers incoming phone calls. He said there had only been two new staff members hired and the remaining staff had come from other existing units that have now been incorporated under the Office of Undergraduate Studies, including Connexus, Longhorn Scholars, and the Bridging Disciplines Program. In addition, he reported that his office is now coordinating “group-learning communities,” which include the Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs), Honors Center, Senior Leaders Program, and other similar programs. He complimented Ms. Cassandra Alvarado, who coordinates these group-learning programs, by saying she is “doing a great job.”

Dean Woodruff said he had encouraged his staff to “dream about where undergraduate studies might move as it develops” and had allocated some time to this planning element. To accomplish this, staff members have reviewed the mission and programs of undergraduate studies or their equivalents at other universities. He announced that the deans and chairs will be asked within the coming week to complete a survey instrument for his office on needed planning information. The survey will seek to determine how administrators think the new curriculum reforms can be “shoe-horned” in with existing degree program requirements and what courses their programs might offer to help students meet the new requirements. He said he was pleased with how well a meeting with mechanical engineering had produced a plan for incorporating the flagged courses into its major requirement. In this degree program, he said the signature course might prove a little harder to integrate than the flags, but a strategy is being developed with the help of Associate Dean David Dolling and Professor Philip Schmidt that is progressing quite positively. In the College of Fine Arts, Dean Woodruff said the opposite situation seemed to be developing where the signature course appeared easier to incorporate than the flagged-course requirements. He said this type of coordination and planning seemed to validate the need that had been recommended by the Task Force on Curricular Reform for the establishment of an administrative office for undergraduate studies.

Dean Woodruff said he expects the first-year signature courses and certain flags to be required “across the board” in the 2010-2012 Undergraduate Catalog and a good number of degree programs to be in “complete compliance” with the new reforms by that time. However, he said achieving this target date as mandated in the legislation would require the same on-going “good will” that he has thus far experienced.

Dean Woodruff announced that a University lecture series, which is being designed to give all first-year students a common intellectual experience, would be presented by distinguished speakers and followed by panel discussions featuring faculty members from across campus. He said these lecture/discussions would possibly occur in the Erwin Center and be accompanied by a video stream so those unable to attend in person could benefit from the presentations. The students will then be engaged in discussion of each lecture in their signature course discussion sections or


  in their FIGs. He said he expected FIG enrollment to include about one-half of the entering freshman class by the time this lecture series is implemented.

With regard to signature courses, Dean Woodruff explained that three prototypes had been tested last fall. These included a large lecture course taught by Professors Jay Banner and David Allen, six first-year seminars, and a program called “Difficult Dialog” funded by the Ford Foundation. He said efforts were underway to keep funding generated for the dialog program, which addresses highly controversial issues such as race and gender orientation. Dean Woodruff said the three formats had been successful, but he was not yet sure if the dialog program fit the signature course concept. This coming fall, Dean Woodruff plans to offer a large lecture signature course himself in philosophy, and the Banner-Allen course will be repeated. He said he hopes there will be at least six large-format signature courses offered in fall 2008 as efforts ramp up to provide enough courses in 2010 to serve all freshmen. He said the freshman seminars have been renamed first-year seminars because that is the standard terminology at other universities, and these courses are being increasingly seen as signature courses. In fall 2008, all of these seminars will serve as signature courses and advance screening will be in place to assure that each one meets the goals and requirements of the signature concept.

Dean Woodruff reported there was a good deal of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea that learning communities for freshmen facilitate academic success. He distributed some preliminary data that indicated higher rates of retention and graduation as well as higher actual GPAs relative to a set of entering predictors, such as SAT scores and high school GPAs, among freshman seminar enrollees compared against non-enrollees. Saying the data should be taken “with a grain of salt,” Dean Woodruff explained that a reasonable criticism of the findings might ask if the better students were more likely than poorer students to take advantage of freshman seminars. However, he said he thought that there was “good reason to expect that students who have been woven into the University community through a small class experience taught by a professor are going to feel more comfortable here and be better learners afterwards.” In addition, he said there had been positive feedback from both students and professional advisers regarding FIG participation, especially among the smaller colleges and schools. He said these programs offer proactive advising in an informal setting that seems to foster a positive sense of community.

Because of the positive feedback regarding the first-year learning communities, Dean Woodruff said plans were underway to expand these programs. The 130 FIGs offered in 2006 are expected to increase to 176 in 2007. If FIG-like communities, such as honors programs or small major groups, are categorized with the projected number of true FIGS planned for the coming year, Dean Woodruff said he expects such community-oriented programs will reach about one-half the first-year students. As a result, he now perceives the Task Force’s goal of providing such opportunities to all freshmen to be “a wonderful and very realizable dream” that is economically achievable. In addition, he said there is great interest in expanding the first-year seminar program to where it could ultimately be available for each entering freshman. After recognizing Executive Vice Provost Steve Monti for his encouragement and support in this effort, Dean Woodruff said this would be “magnificent” accomplishment for a large state university. However, he acknowledged that additional funding will need to be raised to fund such reforms and that incentives will need to be offered to encourage faculty involvement. Planning now calls for the seminar offerings to be almost doubled from 44 last fall to 85 during 2007-2008. In order to integrate this many new seminars next year, Dean Woodruff said a few would be offered in the spring and summer rather than all 85 being offered in the fall semester. He said this quick expansion had been facilitated by the new policy of reimbursing departments $12,000 for each seminar offered. Dean Woodruff said he expects the amount of funding may need to be increased in the future and other models of funding explored in the planning for fall 2008.

Dean Woodruff said expansion of the various courses and programs had incurred problems in finding available space on campus. For fall 2007, the demand for small rooms for the seminars has been met by finding spaces in residence halls. Dean Woodruff said he thought combining academic development in residential environments was “one of the finest things that can happen in


  a University.” He said he was seeking funding for a new space to be created, hopefully by 2008, which would provide four to six seminar rooms that could be utilized to accommodate a total of 75-100 seminars through usable round-the-clock scheduling. He said his dreams involved “optimistic thinking, which is the only kind we’re allowing right now in undergraduate studies.” Saying his office was receiving tremendous support from President Powers and Provost Steve Leslie, Dean Woodruff said he was optimistic the University would experience “something quite revolutionary with undergraduate education over the next few years.” He thanked the Faculty Council for its support and said he looked forward to interacting with the Council in the future as the reforms progress and modifications in the original plans may be needed.

Following Dean Woodruff’s presentation, Professor Desmond Lawler (civil engineering) asked about the budgetary consequences of the reforms. He said he thought what could be accomplished in the short term would be unsustainable over time without a large addition of new faculty positions. In addition, he expressed concern about the negative impact this might have on the regular curriculum needs of specific degree programs. Dean Woodruff said he agreed with Professor Lawler that this could be a problem, but he was hopeful that the administration will provide the needed additional funding. Saying he had no guarantees, Dean Woodruff said he envisioned that the administration might trade new faculty lines for commitments on the part of the deans for offering future seminars. He said he thought financial incentives might be needed to entice faculty to teach seminars on an overload basis, particularly in colleges/schools where teaching responsibilities are “stretched thin.” There will need to be a balance between large lecture courses and small seminars that will need adjustments on an on-going basis, according to Dean Woodruff. He thought the large-lecture format was probably the easiest way to meet the needs of 7,000 freshmen, but he realized this approach would involve a massive training effort to provide adequate numbers of skilled teaching assistants. Dean Woodruff said the implementation of the reform measures would “require a strong commitment on the part of the University to support this initiative with faculty lines.” He concluded his report by saying he expected that his office and the provost’s office would “continue to push on this.”

Chair Golden complimented Dean Woodruff on the progress being made and thanked him for his presentation. She also complimented the Faculty Council for their successful work during this year of change.



A. Each Standing Committee should elect a "chair-elect," as provided in the revision of the rules and regulations by the Faculty Council last spring: "During the first half of the spring semester the voting members of each committee shall elect a chair elect, who shall assume the office of chair on the first class day of the following fall semester for a term of one year. Faculty members of the committee whose terms of service extend through the following year or who are eligible for reappointment to the committee are eligible to be elected as chair elect. A chair elect whose term of service does not extend through the following academic year will be reappointed for an additional term."
B. The Standing Committees should submit reports for action by the Faculty Council at the March and April meetings no later than March 1 and March 28, respectively.
C. General Faculty At-Large Elections, nomination phase, are scheduled for February 26 through March 9.
D. General Faculty At-Large Elections, nomination phase, are scheduled for February 26 through March 9.
E. Joint Meeting of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate and the UT Faculty Council, held at UT on March 5.
F. Breakfast with Provost Leslie and Dean Woodruff for Faculty Council and Graduate Assembly, March 29, 7:00-9:30 a.m. at the Campus Club. This joint faculty governance event will be held


  at the Campus Club and feature words by and informal discussions with newly appointed Provost Steve Leslie and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Paul Woodruff. In summary, please “save the date.”
G. The Faculty Council annual photograph will be taken on April 16 at 2:00 p.m. on the south steps of the Main building, immediately preceding the Faculty Council meeting.



Chair Golden adjourned the meeting at 3:12 p.m.

Posted on the Faculty Council Web site on March 15, 2007. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.

  Updated 2013 October 18
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