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Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of April 16, 2007.

Greninger Signature
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty


The eighth regular meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2006-2007 was held in the Main Building, Room 212, Monday, April 16, 2007, at 2:15 p.m.

Present: Christopher J. Bell, Susan N. Beretvas, Gary D. Borich, Douglas C. Burger, Linda J. Carpenter, Penelope Davies, Gustavo A. De Veciana, Miriam R. Estrin, Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Sherry L. Field, Amy D. Forestell, Luis Francisco-Revilla, Linda V. Gerber, Linda L. Golden, Juan C. González, Sue A. Greninger, Bretna M. Hackert, Kenneth J. Hale, Ian F. Hancock, Kevin P. Hegarty, James L. Hill, Martha F. Hilley, David M. Hillis, Lori K. Holleran, Troy L. Johnson, David Justin, Karrol A. Kitt, Desiderio Kovar, Nancy P. Kwallek, Dominic L. Lasorsa, Desmond F. Lawler, Steven W. Leslie, Raul L. Madrid, Julia Mickenberg, Karl H. Miller, John H. Murphy, Kate Nanney, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Melissa L. Olive, J. Patrick Olivelle, Alba A. Ortiz, Cynthia Osborne, William C. Powers, Kenneth M. Ralls, Wayne A. Rebhorn, Peter J. Riley, Gretchen Ritter, Brian E. Roberts, Juan M. Sanchez, Berkley B. Scroggins, Janet Staiger, Vincent S. (Shelby) Stanfield, Jeffrey Walker, John M. Weinstock, Patrick Woolley.

Absent: Kamran Ali, Urton L. Anderson, Efraim P. Armendariz, Judy Copeland Ashcroft, Eric J. Barron, Lisa M. Bedore (excused), Randy Bomer, Virginia G. Burnett, Luis A. Caffarelli, Lisa J. Cary (excused), Marcus S. Ceniceros, Patricia L. Clubb, Miles Lynn Crismon, Douglas J. Dempster, Andrew P. Dillon, Diana M. DiNitto (excused), John S. Dzienkowski, Richard B. Eason, Stanislav Emelianov, George W. Gau, Oscar Gonzalez, Edmund (Ted) Gordon (excused), Michael H. Granof (excused), Charles R. Hale, Donald A. Hale, Roderick P. Hart, Fred M. Heath, Manuel J. Justiz (excused), Klaus O. Kalthoff, Robert C. Koons (excused), Judith Langlois, Wayne Lesser, William S. Livingston, Joan A. Mullin (excused), Jon E. Olson (excused), Yolanda C. Padilla (excused), Thomas G. Palaima (excused), Randall M. Parker (excused), Shirley Bird Perry, Elizabeth C. Pomeroy (excused), Mary Ann R. Rankin, Soncia R. Reagins-Lilly (excused), John H. Richburg, Victoria Rodriguez, Danielle R. Rugoff (excused), Bonnie P. Rust, Lawrence Sager, Dolores Sands, Christine E. Schmidt (excused), Paul R. Shapiro (excused), James Steinberg, Frederick R. Steiner, Ben G. Streetman, Janice S. Todd, Jeffrey Vaaler (excused), Gregory J. Vincent, N. Bruce Walker, Barbara W. White, Stacy Wolf (excused), Sharon L. Wood, Paul B. Woodruff.

Voting Members: 44 present, 34 absent, 78 total.
Non-Voting Members: 11 present, 27 absent, 38 total.
Total Members: 55 present, 61 absent, 116 total.



After calling the meeting to order, Chair Linda Golden (marketing) announced that the meeting was dedicated to the memory of Professor Emeritus H. Paul Kelley (educational psychology), who died on March 31, 2007. Former Faculty Council Chair Alba Ortiz (special education) honored the memory of Professor Kelley by providing highlights of his professional and personal achievements during his distinguished career here at the University. After completing his doctorate at Princeton University, Professor Kelley served in the U.S. Navy as a research psychologist and then came to UT as an assistant professor in educational psychology and as coordinator of the Measurement Services, Testing, and Counseling Center. In addition to his teaching, research, and administrative responsibilities as director of the Measurement and Evaluation Center, Professor Kelley served as secretary of the Faculty Senate and secretary of the General Faculty for a total of 20 years. In recognition of his outstanding service, Professor Ortiz noted that Professor Kelley received the Civitatis Award in 1997, which was the first year this award was made at the University.

Professor Ortiz also commented on the diversity of Professor Kelley’s interests beyond his academic achievements. She said he was a devoted fan of the Lady Longhorns and a member of the Longhorn Foundation and the Fast Break Club. He also was a member of the administrative board of the United Methodist Church and the Council of Ministries as well as a long-standing member of Singers Unlimited.

Professor Ortiz said many here on campus have fond memories of working with Professor Kelley and share his loss with his wife and high school sweetheart, Mrs. H. Paul (Decoursey) Kelley, and their three sons and family members. Saying she would especially miss his “wonderful, warm, and welcoming smile,” Professor Ortiz asked Council members to join her in a moment of silence to remember “a friend, colleague, mentor, and great citizen of the University, H. Paul Kelley.”

Professor Desmond Lawler (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering) called attention to the tragic news about the deaths and injuries that had occurred earlier that day in the shooting incident at Virginia Tech University. Professor Lawler said he thought it would be appropriate for the UT Austin Faculty Council to prepare a brief memoriam that would be included in the May 7 Council meeting’s minutes to honor the victims and express our deep sadness regarding the tragedy. At Professor Lawler’s request, Council members joined in a moment of silence for the Virginia Tech community.


The written report appears in D 5324-5329. Secretary Sue Greninger (human ecology) updated the report to indicate that item D 3835-3837, a proposal from the Educational Policy Committee to improve course availability for undergraduates that was endorsed by the Council in May 2005, should now be classified as pending the president rather than pending the provost. She said a letter from Provost Steven Leslie arrived after the secretary’s report was posted for the Council meeting and indicated the provost had forwarded the following recommendations to President Powers:
approval of the creation of a new symbol, N, that is assigned when a student drops a class for a documented, non-academic reason;
disapproval of add and drop policies that would allow students to add courses up until the fifth class day and not allow them to drop courses after the fourth class day;
approval with modification of the provision requiring a course syllabus be provided students by the first class meeting and specifying content to include in the document (the provost’s modification was to list additional items he thought should be included in the syllabus);
disapproval of the provision that would limit the number of times a student could repeat a course except where specific situations existed; and
approval with modification of the provision that would limit the number of Q drops a student could receive after the fourth class day without a documented non-academic reason (the provost’s modification was to change the number of allowed Q drops from three to four).

For additional details regarding Provost Leslie’s recommendations to President Powers on item D 3835-3837, please see 2006-2007 Legislative Status at the following URL:



Minutes of the Faculty Council Meeting of March 19, 2007 (D 5331-5356) were approved by voice vote.


President Powers said he would respond to the questions that had been submitted before he made his other comments.

Questions to the President.

Professor Lorenzo Sadun (mathematics and former chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee) had submitted written questions in advance to the president regarding the respective roles of the Grievance Committee and the president’s office in handling grievances, particularly those pertaining to tenure decisions. These questions are attached in Appendix A.

Since Professor Sadun is not a current member of the Council, Professor Ortiz, who is a member of the Faculty Grievance Committee, asked the Council’s approval for Professor Sadun to be recognized. Professor Sadun said he was particularly interested in hearing President Powers’ opinions regarding the policies and procedures that former President Faulkner had agreed to follow regarding the grievance process. President Powers said some of the issues addressed by the questions had arisen in the context of a tenure-related grievance so he could not disclose information specific to that case, but he could answer Professor Sadun’s questions in general. President Powers said that even if he could not address all of the questions at the Council meeting, he would be addressing them the following day when he would be meeting with the current Grievance Committee chair and chair elect.

President Power said he had served on a committee a few years ago with Professor Ortiz that he thought “vastly improved” the grievance process. He said the tenure grievance procedure is generally governed by the Regents’ Rules, which stipulated that tenure grievances could only be based on illegality. President Powers said members of the committee on which he previously served thought there should be some type of appeal process. In addition, President Powers said he thought transparency had been improved by allowing candidates to be aware of the information in their files, add new information, and/or respond to new information that had belatedly been placed in their files. He said there were still some situations where this process has not been completely followed; in one case this year where the process had not been followed, he said he had agreed to adopt the recommendation of the Committee of Counsel on Academic Freedom and Responsibility.

President Powers said approximately a month and a half of time this year had been inserted between the delivery of administrative tenure decisions and the actual “final decisions” being rendered. He said those faculty members who were denied tenure or promotion in December were allowed during this time to review their files and bring additional material to the administration’s attention. President Powers said there was one case this year where a decision was changed following the process. He said that under the protocol previously used, this situation would likely have ended in a grievance being filed and the grievance then being dismissed because nothing illegal had occurred. According to President Powers, the earlier committee’s efforts to provide a more linear process had been helpful in his managing to process 128 tenure and promotion decisions this year. He said he was committed to implementing the committee’s recommended procedures and to working out any problems that still remain.

President Powers said that some of Professor Sadun’s questions dealt with whether UT’s procedures complied with the law, which he said generally referred to the Regents’ Rules. With regard to the question whether someone who is no longer an employee could bring a non-tenure



grievance, President Powers said he made his decision based on attorneys’ opinions. He said he felt the decision he made was correct since it was based on requirements of the law and not on policy issues about how the grievance process should work.

President Powers said he was certain former President Faulkner was “committed to the general notion that we ought to have a fair and cooperative grievance process,” but he did not think the former president would agree to a process that did not comply with the Regents’ Rules. He said this issue deserved further discussion at the meeting he would be having with the current Grievance Committee leaders. He said he wanted to follow whatever agreements the former president had made, but he thought there could be some differences of opinion as to what those agreements actually were. He said he was willing to follow the agreements to the extent that they were “within campus policies rather than what’s required by law.” Acknowledging that the particular grievance that Professor Sadun was responsible for administering took a long time to get underway, President Powers attributed much of the delay to the transitions occurring in both the president’s and provost’s offices. Although he said this was not the expeditious resolution such issues deserved, President Powers said he did not “think there was a run-around” involved in that particular situation.

President Powers said Regents’ Rules stipulate that the members of the panel should ascertain whether they have a conflict of interest involving a specific case and that the grievant could raise questions regarding potential conflicts of interest involving panel members. He said the administration did not intend to appoint panel members where there was an obvious conflict of interest and would expect the grievant to raise the issue if there were a reason why a particular individual should not serve on a panel. He said this matter could be an issue for further discussion in the meeting with leaders of the current Grievance Committee.

President Powers said he thought Professor Sadun questions pertained to the issue of what could and could not be raised in tenure-related grievances versus non-tenure grievances. He said he considered those issues as being addressed by the Regents’ Rules; the same was true, according to President Powers, regarding whether a person who was no longer an employee could grieve. In such cases, he said he did not think the grievance panel should act because it is not within its jurisdiction. President Powers said he thought, “The charge to the grievance panel ought to comply with the law concerning the jurisdiction of the grievance panel rather than being something that the grievance panel itself would determine.”

With regard to Professor’s Sadun’s questions concerning how the “gray areas in the law or in the Regents’ Rules” should be handled, President Powers said he thought there were two ways a gray area can exist in the law. The first, according to President Powers, is that the law is not very clear or does not contain a “provision that literally answers the question.” However, legal results can occur in such situations based on the structure or purpose of the rules. In these cases, President Powers said it was necessary for lawyers to render their best judgment of what is required. The second type of gray area is where the Regents’ Rules leave policy and procedural matters for each campus to interpret. President Powers said he was committed to discussing these gray areas with committees and even with a particular grievance panel if it were unclear what the right policies should be. Saying he hoped this was a step toward answering Professor Sadun’s question on gray areas, President Powers said it was essential that he and the campus follow the law. On areas not addressed by the law, President Powers said it is important to determine through dialogue what our University community wants its policies to be. He said he was committed to working with standing committees and the Faculty Council to develop and implement such policies.

Professor Sadun asked President Powers to address the philosophical issues regarding UT’s grievance procedures and the use of hearing tribunals to decide tenure cases. In the past, according to Professor Sadun, the process conducted up though the hearing panel had been faculty run with the administration taking over the process after the panel rendered its decision. Professor Sadun said Regents’ Rules do not mention a Grievance Committee at all with regard to tenure cases. Under an agreement the Grievance Committee had with former President



Faulkner, the philosophy was to allow the process to be faculty-run as much as possible with the president having the final authority and being sure the process complied with the requirements of Regents’ Rules. He said the requirements as to what was grievable were followed, but there was considerable faculty involvement in managing the process. When he recently had a grievant who raised a conflict of interest question, Professor Sadun said he sought to speak individually with the panel members about the alleged conflict in order to set the issue before the panel for a decision. He said he was told that this process would be inappropriate, and the only communication he could have was to brief the panel as a group because the process involved a presidential tribunal and not a grievance case. Saying this was quite a change from the way similar matters had been handled in the past, Professor Sadun asked President Powers if he thought it were a good idea to follow the “model of a faculty-controlled process with administrative control at the end?” He said if this model were not to be followed anymore, then “that’s a big change to the rules under which we’re living.”

President Powers replied, “I think I endorse the model that you’re describing.” He said it was important to comply with Regents’ Rules in the early stages of the process, and he thought one of the issues had been whether the case was grievable from a legal standpoint. He said in such a situation he felt it was appropriate for him to consult with lawyers to determine what is grievable and what is not. With regard to the communication issue, President Powers said he believed that Regents’ Rules require that the members of the panel make this determination. According to President Powers, this would mean that the panel member in question is assigned to make this individual determination, but the decision can be reviewed by the president just as any other decision made by the panel. President Powers said he understood that Professor Sadun was asking to evaluate each individual on the conflict of interest issue in the process of panel member selection; if this were the case, the president said, “there may just be confusion.” President Powers said he was in total agreement that the grievant should be able to raise a conflict of interest issue before the panel, but that was not the issue that had been presented to him with regard to the case in question.

Professor Julia Mickenberg (American studies) said she was told that she could view her file but was discouraged from doing so when she recently went through the tenure process. Since she had been asked to participate in a panel sponsored by the Faculty Women’s Organization on tenure and promotion, she wanted to know whether or not she should encourage others to review their files for accuracy. President Powers responded that the rules provide that an individual being considered for promotion or tenure has the right to review the contents of his or her file, and procedural obstacles should not hinder this process. However, he said the question of should an individual exercise this right is an entirely different question and suggested that a candidate might ask friends and colleagues for their advice. President Powers said that providing a month and half between the initial and final decision regarding tenure and/or promotion allowed a candidate facing a potential negative outcome some time to more carefully look at the contents of the file. However, he said some individuals might prefer to review the file earlier in the process before a judgment has been made. The important issue, according to President Powers, is there should not be any “official or bureaucratic discouragement” hindering the file review process by candidates.

Questions from the President to the Faculty.

Chair Golden explained she had added a new item to the agenda after the idea emerged that President Powers might want to ask questions of the faculty. She said she thought the Faculty Council was an appropriate body to address such questions. President Powers said his interest in asking questions grew from his concern that the complexity of the University required a relatively rigid “silo” type of decision-making process involving specific entities, such as the Deans’ Council, Vice Presidents’ Council, Faculty Council, or Student Advisory Committee. He said he thought it would be helpful to have more dialogue throughout the University community during what he called the “architectural stage” of the decision-making process rather than the typical process where a finished product, such as a report or set of recommendations, ended up on his or the provost’s desk. Often, according to President Powers, these finished products,



which have involved a lot of hard work and time, overlook key issues such as Regents’ Rules or financial constraints. He said that the complexity of the University made it difficult for interested parties to get involved at the beginning stages of the process, but he thought it would be worthwhile to seek input and dialogue from across campus during the early rather than the later stages of the process.

President Powers said he thought the issues identified in the Faculty Council survey were quite congruent with those discussed in the Deans’ Council and the Vice Presidents’ Council. The president said that a robust faculty leave program and improved graduate student stipends had emerged from the different groups as being important to the future of the University. He said he would like input on what the administration should be working on and what choices the faculty would be willing to make to achieve these goals.

As a hypothetical example, President Powers said if 1% of the University’s $1.8 billion budget were redirected into a high priority item that 1% would generate $18 million a year, which if compounded over 5 years would total approximately $90 million. Assuming an amount such as this were allowed to grow over the length of a capital campaign, then the total would be approximately $125 million or something over a $2 billion endowment. He said decisions regarding what goals should be pursued with resources such as this cannot be addressed only by the administration but would need to be the priority of the entire University. He said he would like to know what the faculty would like to pursue in order to move UT Austin forward and what can be done throughout the institution to make this happen. He asked if the goal should be a faculty leave program rather than graduate student stipends or vice versa. President Powers said pursuing such a goal would mean we might not be able to pursue some of our other priorities, but it would create a process where overall priorities are “in touch with the priorities” of individual faculty members and departments across the University.

Another question faculty members need to think about, according to President Powers, is what it actually means to empower departments so they can do their planning. He said this issue, as well as the others he had mentioned, needs increased dialogue because the priorities we set “inevitably mean other things are not priorities.” He said it could be useful to see if this dialogue can be built into the structure of our decision-making on campus, including the Faculty Council. For example, President Powers said the Educational Policy Committee could work more closely with the deans in developing policy initiatives. This might help identify problems that could be worked out collaboratively on the front end of the legislative process.

Chair Golden said an idea under discussion was the possibility of the Faculty Council holding a town meeting for such dialogue to occur sometime during the summer months. Although the schedule of summer Council meetings is generally cancelled, she said one of the summer dates might be reserved for such a meeting to occur.

Comments by the President.

When Professor Lawler asked President Powers to comment briefly on the budget, President Powers said there were three extremely important issues for UT Austin that are under consideration by the Texas Legislature: the top 10% rule, tuition flexibility, and the budget. He reported that The University of Texas Board of Regents passed a resolution supporting a 50% cap on the number of students enrolled under the top 10% requirement. He described the likelihood that a cap of this type will be passed by the Legislature as “touch and go.” Although there has been a great deal of discussion at the Legislature on tuition flexibility, President Powers said he did not think there would be a major change in the capability of the University to set tuition rates. However, because Texas A&M had to decide on the percentage increase in their tuition for next year at an inopportune time, President Powers said the Aggies’ announcement of a 13% increase had placed tuition flexibility back on the Legislature’s agenda.

President Powers said the House’s budget included a 2.2% increase in general revenue for UT Austin if the tuition revenue bond is excluded. He explained that the tuition revenue bond was



approved without funding during the special session, which means the bond amount is not included in the operating budget. He said the Senate’s budget includes more money for higher education than the House’s budget, but the funding structure authorized by the Senate is totally based on formula funding. This situation could result in a reduction of 1.8% in general revenue funding for UT Austin; however, President Powers said he thought this would be modified because it imposes such a penalty on the University. He explained that this problem exists because student credit hours here at UT Austin during the past decade have been a decreasing percentage of the overall student credit hours earned in Texas. In the past, according to the president, there have been hold-harmless funds that bolster funding to UT Austin; he expects this to be done again, but the amount of funding is a big question at this time.

President Powers reported the initiative, “The Horns and Aggies, Together for a Change,” had succeeded in gaining some leverage with legislators. One positive result is that the House’s budget still includes a competitive knowledge funding provision. This provision would return $1 million to a campus for every $10 million of external research funding that is generated. He said this provision, if passed, would only net about $13 million for UT Austin over the next biennium. He said the inclusion of the provision is important because it signals for the first time a recognition of the research mission of the flagship institutions. President Powers said it is important that this provision get into the Senate’s bill or that at least some hold-harmless funding be provided to compensate for this resource need for the University. Saying that he is an optimistic person by nature, President Powers said the next six weeks would be very important for UT Austin as the legislative session winds down.


Chair Linda L. Golden invited Professor Wayne Rebhorn (English and member of the ad hoc Committee on Salary Compression) to report on developments regarding the salary compression issue he had raised in a question to President Powers at the December 2006 Faculty Council meeting. This agenda item, which was originally scheduled to appear under Section IX, was moved earlier in the meeting to accommodate Professor Rebhorn’s need to attend a promotion and tenure meeting.

Professor Rebhorn said he had sent a proposal to Chair Golden recommending the development of a mechanism to provide periodic substantial merit salary increases to full professors, who over a certain period of time accumulate a dossier of accomplishments that would be worthy of promotion again to the full professor level. After discussing the proposal with the Faculty Council Executive Committee, Chair Golden decided to appoint an ad hoc committee to study the issues and make recommendations. Professor Larry Abraham (curriculum and instruction and kinesiology) chaired the ad hoc committee, which included the following members: Professors Nancy Kwallek (architecture), Karrol Kitt (human ecology), Desmond Lawler (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering), and Wayne Rebhorn (English).

Professor Rebhorn said the ad hoc committee determined though its deliberations that there were problems in three salary-related areas at UT Austin: salary compression, salary inequities within departments, and salary inequities by gender. Based on the committee’s report, he said Chair Golden was asking the Faculty Welfare Committee and the Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets to study these problems and make recommendations to address the inequities. Professor Rebhorn said he was hopeful that some remedies would emerge during the fall 2007 semester. Chair Golden said the charge to the two committees had been drafted and would be delivered to the committee chairs within the next day or two. She said the Faculty Welfare Committee would be charged with pulling together the input from both committees and reporting back to the Council by the end of the 2007 fall semester. She thanked Professor Rebhorn for his report and expressed her gratitude to the ad hoc committee members for their service.

Chair Golden reported on developments that had occurred as a result of an issue raised last fall by Professor Thomas Palaima (classics) regarding classroom note-taking for athletes. Chair Golden said she had asked a subcommittee comprised of representatives from the University’s Intercollegiate Athletics Councils for Men and for Women to review the matter based on issues raised in the Faculty


Council meeting. Professor Mary Steinhardt (kinesiology and health education and chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Council for Women) served as chair of the subcommittee, which was comprised of Professors David Fowler (civil engineering and chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Council for Men), Isabella Cunningham (advertising), Robert Duke (music), Martha Hilley (music), and Gretchen Ritter (government and women’s and gender studies). Noting that the subcommittee had deliberated at great length, Chair Golden summarized the content of the letter from the subcommittee. With regard to the specific note-taking matter, the committee members rendered the following opinion, “In this instance, we feel secure in stating that academic integrity was upheld.” Chair Golden said that on behalf of the Faculty Council Executive Committee, she was accepting the letter as closure to the note-taking issue that had been raised before the Council. She thanked the subcommittee members for their work in investigating the situation and rendering a judgment from their findings.


Chair Elect Doug Burger (computer sciences) reported on the activities of the ad hoc Committee on Academics and Athletics. The committee is co-chaired by Professor Burger and Professor David Hillis (integrated biology); committee members include Professor Linda Ferreira-Buckley (rhetoric and writing), as well as Professors Steinhardt, Fowler, and Palaima. Chair Elect Burger said the committee was examining the relationship between athletics and academics and looking for ways to align the interests of the two in a way that would enhance the academic mission of the University. He said there had been several productive meetings with Athletic Directors Deloss Dodds and Chris Plonsky. One outcome was that the directors had offered to hire a public relations firm to more formally study ways that this goal could be achieved. The committee met with Julian Reed, a supporter of the University and public relations expert; Don Hale, vice president of public affairs here at the University; and other publicity specialists to brainstorm ways to get citizens of Texas to perceive UT as an academic as well as an athletic “powerhouse.” Chair Elect Burger said the committee welcomed suggestions from Council members of academic accomplishments or specific anecdotal examples of exciting work being done on campus that might be use in spots on television or on the big screen at athletic events.


Proposal to Revise the Principles for the Development of the Academic Calendar (D 5314-5315).

Professor Ken Ralls (mechanical engineering and committee chair) asked if there were any questions regarding D 5314-5315, which he had introduced at the March 19 Faculty Council meeting. When Professor Lawler asked if the three day Thanksgiving holiday related to the fact there had been Saturday classes in the past and if it might be clearer to say two days rather than three, Professor Ralls responded that three was correct because there might be Saturday classes. Professor Lawler then asked why item 8 in the legislation cancelled Saturday classes if there weren’t any. Professor Ralls responded that he had checked on this and determined that no classes are held on Saturday after the last class day, which falls on a Friday. When Professor Lawler said he thought the three days of the Thanksgiving should be specified as Thursday through Saturday to clarify that Wednesday was not a holiday, Professor Ralls said he would accept that as a friendly amendment.

Professor Lawler said he thought item 7 was also confusing where it said the long semester should begin on Monday whenever possible because he thought the fall semester usually starts on Wednesday. Although Professor Ralls pointed out that the spring semester usually starts on Tuesday, he said he thought it was useful to retain the wording because it would be desirable to start classes on a Monday. He said the day that the start of classes in the fall is dependent on when Labor Day occurs and the mandated period between the end of summer school and the beginning of the fall semester. He said the Calendar Committee had seriously considered the constraints caused by when summer school classes end. Although Professor Lawler again said he did not understand having a statement in the principles that is never followed, Professor Ralls said he preferred to leave the wording on item 7 as stated in the motion. When Chair Golden


  asked if the friendly amendment were in a stalemate, Professor Lawler said he was willing to leave item 7 as it was stated in the motion, but he thought his suggestion on item 3 had been accepted. When Chair Golden suggested that a parenthetical statement Thursday through Saturday be inserted after holiday on item 3, Professor Ralls said he accepted that change. Chair Golden then asked if there were any additional discussion on the motion as amended in item 3. Since there was none, she called for the vote, and the motion unanimously passed by voice vote.


Educational Policy Committee Motion Regarding Plus/Minus Grading for Undergraduates (D 5316-5318). Professor David Hillis (integrative biology and committee chair) introduced a motion that the Faculty Council recommend that the plus/minus grading system currently used for graduate courses be extended to undergraduate courses. The grades and decimal equivalents for this proposed system is the following: A (4.00), A- (3.67), B+ (3.33), B (3.00), B- (2.67), C+ (2.33), C (2.00), C- (1.67), D+ (1.33), D (1.00), D- (0.67), and F (0.00). According the proposal, a student’s GPA would be calculated by dividing the number of hours taken into the number of grade points received.

Professor Hillis gave a summary of the long history of this issue at UT Austin, which goes all the way back to 1969. Although faculty-governing bodies have previously approved motions to change the grading system to a plus/fail model, the proposals have not been supported by the administration. According to Professor Hillis, the Student’s Association conducted surveys in the early 1980s and reported that plus/minus grading was supported by a majority of students and faculty. This year Professors Alan Friedman and Elizabeth Cullingford of the English department asked the Educational Policy Committee to revisit the topic in view of the positive acceptance of the system in UT’s graduate programs and the administration’s increased interest in undergraduate curricular reform.

Professor Hillis reported that scholarly studies indicate that grouping error is reduced when the number of grading categories is increased up to approximately 12-14 categories. The Association of Collegiate Registrars and Administrative Admissions Officers, according to Professor Hillis, has recommended that universities adopt plus/minus grading. After researching the grading systems used by the 11 peer institutions that UT Austin uses for comparison purposes. the Educational Policy Committee discovered that UT Austin was the only University that did not use a plus/minus form of grading for undergraduate courses. Professor Hillis said that 8 of the 11 institutions use the same system that is used at UT Austin for graduate courses, and two use borderline grading that involves only one grade between A and B, and B and C, etc. The remaining peer institution uses a decimal scale from 0-4 that results in 41 separate grading categories. Professor Hillis emphasized that plus/minus grading is now the dominant form of grading used at major U.S. and Texas universities; here in Texas, proposals are under consideration to adopt plus/minus grading at each of the Texas institutions that have not yet changed. He reported that over 80% of all AAU classified universities used plus/minus grading in 2001, according to a survey conducted by the organization.

Professor Hillis summarized the following arguments his committee had considered for adopting a plus/minus system:
1. Plus/minus grading allows for more accurate representation of students’ performance.
2. Plus/minus grading makes it easier to assign grades in borderline cases.
3. Plus/minus grading may be used to reduce grade inflation.

The arguments against adopting such a system, with the committee’s response, are listed below:
1. There is no overwhelming need to change the system.
Response: Faculty who have no need for pluses and minuses, or do not choose to assign pluses and minuses, can continue to use the current system. Grading in some courses may


  be more qualitative in nature, so that a finer distinction of grades than the existing letter grades is unnecessary. Faculty would not be required to use plus/minus grading but would have the option.
2. The assignment of minuses can have a negative effect on minimum requirements for GPA.
Response: It is true that a student who needs to maintain a 2.0 grade average cannot do so by consistently earning C-minuses (which would result in a grade point average of 1.67). But that seems entirely appropriate. Students who need to maintain a B or C average would need to maintain a legitimate B or C average, and not simply “squeak by.”
3. Since faculty are not required to use pluses and minuses, this difference could lead to inequities for students with different professors teaching the same course.
Response: There is nothing to ensure uniformity of grading in the present system, and it is not clear that the addition of pluses and minuses would increase inequity. The choice about whether or not to use pluses and minuses is likely to be determined more by the nature of the course (courses that use qualitative versus quantitative grading, for instance) than by different professors for the same course.
4. There is concern that the use of a plus/minus grading system could lower GPAs for “A” students (since there is no plus to balance the lower GPA for a minus in the case of an A). The concern is that top students might be less competitive than they have been for graduate school, fellowships and other achievements based on GPA.
Response: This is the flipside of arguing that plus/minus grading is potentially a tool to combat grade inflation. The effect on top students, however, is at least as likely to be positive. Top students who receive the occasional B are much more likely to benefit from the B+ grade. Also, faculty who now assign very few As may be more willing to assign A minuses. In any case, given that all of our peer institutions use plus/minus grading, this change would increase the equity of comparisons for students from different universities.

Professor Hills reported that the vote was 13-2 in favor of the motion in the Educational Policy Committee. The opposing votes were cast by two of the four student members of the committee. When Professor Linda Gerber (marketing) asked for an explanation of the basis on which students were objecting to the proposal, Professor Hillis said the resolution from the Senate of College Councils included an objection to the optional aspect of the proposal. He said he thought there might be a misunderstanding on the part of some students because the word “optional” did not appear in the motion; however, he said there is no way that the system could be mandatory since faculty members cannot be forced to use the pluses and minuses in the new grading system. Although it was not part of the student’s resolution, he had heard one student express concern about the increased difficulty of maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Professor Hillis said this would be true, but the result would be a more meaningful and accurate reflection of achieving a perfect 4.0 average.

When Professor Lawler said he thought such a major issue as changing the grading system needed a period of public comment, Professor Hillis said the vote on the motion would occur at the May meeting in accordance with the convention of introducing legislation and voting on it the following month.

Reports from the Committee of Counsel on Academic Freedom and Responsibility.

1. Promotion and Tenure Guideline Recommendation to the Provost's Office.

Professor Tess Moon (mechanical engineering and committee chair) gave an informational update regarding changes to the promotion and tenure guidelines that will become effective in fall 2007. She said the guidelines had resulted from investigations by the Committee of Counsel for Academic Freedom and Responsibility (CCAFR) into faculty claims that the University failed to follow appropriate policies and procedures in their tenure and promotion evaluations. She reported that CCAFR found that materials, which were often negative, had been added to candidates’ dossiers without their prior knowledge. She said that the candidates often did not learn about the added information until they received notification of pending terminal appointments. Because these cases raised due process


  issues, Professor Moon said CCAFR members had worked with the provost’s office to supplement the guidelines with directives that would (1) keep candidates informed regarding the contents of their dossiers throughout the review process and (2) allow candidates to review and respond to any materials added to their dossiers after their initial review. In addition, according to Professor Moon, a listing of resources for assisting candidates through the review process had been included in the guidelines. She said the changes incorporated into the fall 2007 guidelines had also been included in the president’s memo to deans and department chairs regarding fall 2007 promotions and could be accessed along with related documents on the provost’s Web site. On behalf of the committee, Professor Moon thanked Executive Vice Provost Steven Monti and Associate Vice President Dorothea Adams for their assistance in getting the guidelines drafted and implemented.

2. Update on Electronic Course Instructor Surveys.

Professor Moon updated the Faculty Council regarding developments pertaining to the electronic Course Instructor Survey (eCIS). She said student comments provided through eCIS are subject to public release provided any personally identifying information about the author or other students is first redacted. Student comments provided through the traditional Course Instructor Survey (CIS) conducted in the classroom, however, are not subject to public release due to an exception from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act that resulted from a ruling issued by the Texas Attorney General. She explained that the Attorney General had ruled that student handwriting is personally identifiable and therefore must be treated as confidential pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This means, according to Professor Moon, that a faculty member’s choice of using the eCIS or the traditional in-class CIS “is not just saving trees or improving turnaround times, but it’s also about public release of student comments whose authors cannot be forced to bare any responsibility for what they write whether it’s true or not, whether it’s damaging or not.” She said this potentially damaging aspect of public release of unsubstantiated comments was of concern to faculty groups. As an example, she reported that the University of California System solicits only handwritten rather than typewritten student comments on their surveys to avoid FERPA-related issues and has directed the administration at each of its institutions to work with its respective faculty senate to develop ways “to optimize student feedback without compromising faculty privacy.” Professor Moon said CCAFR wanted UT Austin’s administration to adopt a similar approach to the one in California. At present, she said the provost’s office has agreed to notify faculty members here at UT Austin of the implications of using eCIS several weeks before they must choose between the electronic and paper survey forms. In addition, the provost’s office has agreed that faculty participation in using eCIS will be optional during its trial stage, which is expected to last five to seven years. Although these policies are subject to reassessment at the end of the trial period, the provost’s office has agreed to consult with CCAFR regarding any changes in requirements for faculty who participate. Professor Moon thanked Provost Steven Leslie and Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment Director Judy Ashcroft and her staff for their assistance in helping her committee members understand and deal with eCIS issues this past year.


Recommendation to Update the Function of the University of Texas Libraries Committee (D 5319).

Professor Ken Ralls moved that the first sentence of the function statement for the University of Texas Libraries Committee be modified to include the phrase “including the branch libraries” at the end of the sentence. He said his committee had held meetings at branch libraries, and he felt faculty members who do most of their work at the Perry-Castaneda Library need to be aware of other library resources on campus. Chair Golden asked if there were any questions or discussion


regarding the motion. Since there was none, she called for the vote; the motion passed unanimously by voice vote.

Recommendation to Update the Function and Composition of the University of Calendar Committee (D 5320-5321).

Professor Ralls (committee chair) moved that the committee’s function statement and composition be changed to the following:

FUNCTION: To make recommendations to the Faculty Council and to the president concerning the calendar. The Calendar Committee will review the Principles for the Development of the Academic Calendar each year. If changes are needed, the committee will submit a recommendation to the Faculty Council in time for consideration at the Council’s April meeting. If no changes are needed, the committee will confirm in its annual report that it reviewed the principles and recommended no changes.

COMPOSITION: Four members of the General Faculty, two staff members, one graduate student, and two undergraduate students. Student members shall be appointed by the president in the fall from panels of names submitted by the appropriate student governing bodies and shall include one representative from Student Government, one from the Senate of College Councils, and one from the Graduate Student Assembly. One of the student members shall also be a member of the Faculty Council. In addition, every year the chair of the Faculty Council shall appoint two members of the Faculty Council for one-year terms as members of the committee. The committee shall elect its own chair and vice chair, who shall be members of the General Faculty. A representative of the Office of the Registrar shall serve as administrative adviser without vote.

Professor Lawler asked several questions pertaining to whether or not the committee intended to omit all or only part of the third sentence in the composition description. This sentence, which was fully lined out in the motion, said the following: “One of the faculty members and one of the student members shall also be members of the Faculty Council.” Professor Ralls said he thought the faculty member did not need to be a Faculty Council member because the chair of the Council would appoint two members of the Council to the committee. When Professor Lawler asked if it were correct that “the motion on the floor from the committee is to include the student part of the sentence but not the faculty part,” Professor Ralls responded affirmatively. Chair Golden called for the vote, and the motion passed unanimously by voice vote.

Recommendation to Update the Composition of Information Technology Committee (D 5330).

Professor Desiderio Kovar (mechanical engineering and committee chair) moved that the size and composition of the Information Technology Committee be changed for improved efficiency and breath as follows:

a) Reduce the number of members of the general faculty to five; reduce the number of student members by one by eliminating the second Graduate Student Assembly representative.
b) Specify that at least to of the staff member representatives NOT be employed in IT-related areas.

COMPOSITION: Five members of the General Faculty, four staff members, and three students. Staff members shall be appointed to two-year rotating terms by the president, from a panel of names submitted by the Staff Council. At least two of the staff member representatives shall not be employed in IT-related areas. One student member shall be appointed to a one-year term by the president in the fall from a panel of names submitted by each of the Student Government and the student senate, and one member shall be appointed to a one-year term by the president from a panel of names submitted by the Graduate Student Assembly. In addition, every year the chair of the Faculty Council shall appoint two members of the Faculty Council for one-year terms as members of the committee. The committee shall elect its own chair and vice chair, who


shall be members of the General Faculty. The vice-president for information technology shall serve as an ex-officio member without vote. A representative from each of the following shall be selected by the president to serve as an administrative adviser without vote: the division of innovative instruction and assessment, the college and school technology coordinators, financial affairs, department chairs.

When Executive Vice Provost Monti asked if the proposal had been discussed with Information Technology Vice President Brian Roberts, Professor Kovar responded that the vice president had not been present at the meeting when the committee voted on the proposal. Executive Vice Provost Monti said that Vice President Roberts was in the process of reorganizing Information Technology advisory groups, and he thought it would be a good idea to delay the vote on the motion in order to allow time to coordinate efforts rather than proceed in a piecemeal approach. Professor Kovar agreed with this approach so the motion will be carried forward to the May Council meeting.

Report of the Committee to Nominate Faculty Members for Appointment to the Intercollegiate Athletics Councils for Men and for Women and to the University Co-op Board of Directors (D 5322-5323).

Chair Golden reported that the Faculty Council Executive Committee had served as a nominating committee in developing slates of faculty names to be forwarded to President Powers for his consideration in naming new appointees to the Athletics Councils and Co-op Board of Directors.

The panel of faculty nominated for appointment in 2007 to the Intercollegiate Athletics Council for Men is as follows:
  Michael B. Clement, associate professor, accounting
  Calvin Lin, associate professor, computer sciences
  Alba A. Ortiz, professor, special education
  Thomas G. Palaima, professor, classics
  Janet Staiger, professor, radio-television-film

The panel of faculty nominated for appointment in 2007 to the Intercollegiate Athletics Council for Women is as follows:
  Jacqueline L. Angel, professor, public affairs
  Michael J. Churgin, professor, law
  Diana M. DiNitto, professor, social work
  Susan S. Heinzelman, associate professor. English
  Robert A. Prentice, professor, information, risk, and operations management

The panel of faculty nominated for appointment in 2007 to the University Co-op Board of Directors is as follows:
  Alan W. Friedman, professor, English
  Steven Goode, professor, law
  James A. Nolen, Jr., senior lecturer, finance
  Darlene C. Wiley, professor, music

On behalf of the Faculty Council Executive Committee, Chair Golden moved that the slates be endorsed as a block unless there were objections. Since there were none, she called for the vote on her motion, and the motion unanimously passed by voice vote.

Resolution from the Senate of College Councils on Encouraging the Placement of the Honor Code on Course Syllabi (D 5357-5359).

Kate Nanney (Senate of College Councils representative to the Faculty Council) summarized how the student governing organization had worked with former President Faulkner to successfully promote the adoption of an Honor Code at UT Austin in 2004 and was continuing


  its efforts to incorporate the code into the culture of student life. She then introduced Stephen Myers, the new Senate chair, who recently authored a resolution regarding the Honor Code that was subsequently approved by the Senate of College Councils. Mr. Myers said the resolution asked that the Faculty Council require the Honor Code be included on all course syllabi. He said his discussions with Faculty Council Executive Committee members had made him aware that faculty could not be required to do this since it would infringe on academic freedom. He said he was therefore asking the Faculty Council Executive Committee to discuss and compose a resolution or proposal that would recommend or encourage faculty members to support the Honor Code by discussing it in class, possibly on the first day of school, or to include it on their course syllabi.


The Standing Committees should submit any motions and/or reports for action by the Faculty Council at the May 7th meetings no later than April 26.
Annual Reports of the General Faculty Standing Committees were due in the Office of the General Faculty no later than April 15, 2007. Please get these in right away so your Faculty Council Executive Committee (FCEC) and FCEC+ can focus on any matters that you might have that can be acted on this academic year (up to and including our May 7th meeting).
Nominations for Civitatis Award due in the Office of the General Faculty by Friday, April 20.
Nominations for 2007-2008 Faculty Council Officers due April 23.
2007-2008 Faculty Council members’ preferences for Standing Committee appointments due May 4.
UT Remembers, Friday, May 4: An annual day of remembrance honoring members of The University of Texas at Austin community who died in the previous year. For schedule of events, go to


Chair Golden adjourned the meeting at 4:12 p.m.

Posted on the Faculty Council Web site on May 3, 2007. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.


Appendix A
Questions to the President
April 16, 2007

Dear President Powers,

Many of the problems in a pending grievance case stem from a big unresolved question: what is your understanding of Presidential Hearing Tribunals that handle appeals of tenure denials? The Grievance Committee had a working agreement with President Faulkner that such tribunals would be, in essence and as described in HOP 3.18 II.A.4.a, grievance hearings. Some of the procedures had to be tweaked to comply with Regents Rules, but most of those changes were formalities.

The handling of a current case has been a radical departure from that agreement. Instead of the Grievance Subcommittee's review being the gateway, with a pro-forma meeting with the Provost to satisfy RR, the Provost meeting was treated as central and took many months to set up. When it came time to set the ground rules for the hearing, my meeting with administration attorney Jeff Graves was a one-way briefing rather than a two-way consultation. When I raised the problem of issues being ignored for procedural reasons and suggested that the Grievance Committee might convene a hearing under HOP 3.18 and its own authority, that possibility was explicitly rejected in your letter to the grievant. (Although staff lose their right to grieve when they leave The University, there was no prior ruling on whether former faculty can pursue grievance cases that were filed during their time here. Your letter said, for the very first time, that they can't. This has broad implications for all UT faculty.)

In February, when I began to plan to meet individually with each proposed Hearing panel member to ensure that there were no conflicts of interest, as provided for in our local procedures, I was told that such meetings would be inappropriate because it is a presidential panel. This month, when considering what sort of recording would be allowed at the hearing, Jeff Graves made a unilateral decision that took the matter out of my hands entirely.

The cumulative effect of these decisions is to drastically reduce the role of the Grievance Committee in these proceedings. Did you understand and approve this diminution of the faculty's role? If so, why was the Grievance Committee not consulted, or even informed, of the change in policy? If not, what can be done to keep the ad hoc decisions of this case from creating a bad precedent for future cases?

I understand that you will be meeting on April 17 with representatives of the Grievance Committee and discussing the proposed revisions in wording of HOP 3.18. However, my questions are not about the wording of our own regulations, which are legally trumped by Regents Rules anyway. My questions are about how you view the large gray area between what Regents’ Rules require and what Regents' Rules allow. Do you share President Faulkner's broad view of the Grievance Committee's role? Or do you think that Presidential Hearing Tribunals are essentially administrative procedures with minimal faculty input, and that HOP 3.18 is not pertinent for tenure denial cases?

Lorenzo Sadun
Professor of Mathematics
Chair, 2005-6 Faculty Grievance Committee