The University of Texas at Austin- What Starts Here Changes the World
Services Navigation

UT Direct

View in portable document format.



Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of October 16, 2006.
SAG signature
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

OCTOBER 16, 2006

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


Present: Kamran Ali, Urton L. Anderson, Efraim P. Armendariz, Christopher J. Bell, Susan N. Beretvas, Gary D. Borich, Kamran Ali, Urton L. Anderson, Efraim P. Armendariz, Christopher J. Bell, Susan N. Beretvas, Gary D. Borich, Virginia G. Burnett, Luis A. Caffarelli, Lorenzo F. (Frank) Candelaria, Linda J. Carpenter, Marcos S. Ceniceros, Gustavo A. De Veciana, John S. Dzienkowski, Miriam R. Estrin, Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Sherry L. Field, Amy D. Forestell, Luis Francisco-Revilla, Linda V. Gerber, Linda L. Golden, Oscar Gonzalez, Juan C. González, Sue A. Greninger, Bretna M. Hackert, Charles R. Hale, Kenneth J. Hale, Ian F. Hancock, Kevin P. Hegarty, James L. Hill, Martha F. Hilley, David M. Hillis, Lori K. Holleran, Troy L. Johnson, Klaus O. Kalthoff, Karrol A. Kitt, Robert C. Koons, Dominic L. Lasorsa, Desmond F. Lawler, Steven W. Leslie, Wayne Lesser, William S. Livingston, Raul L. Madrid, Julia Mickenberg, Karl H. Miller, Stephen A. Monti, Joan A. Mullin, John H. Murphy, Kate Nanney, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Melissa L. Olive, J. Patrick Olivelle, Jon E. Olson, Alba A. Ortiz, Cynthia Osborne, Yolanda C. Padilla, Thomas G. Palaima, Randall M. Parker, Elizabeth C. Pomeroy, William C. Powers, Kenneth M. Ralls, Mary Ann R. Rankin, Soncia R. Reagins-Lilly, Wayne Rebhorn, Peter J. Riley, Gretchen Ritter, Brian E. Roberts, Danielle R. Rugoff, Bonnie P. Rust, Berkley B. Scroggins, Paul R. Shapiro, Janet Staiger, Vincent S. (Shelby) Stanfield, Janice S. Todd, Jeffrey Walker, John M. Weinstock, Stacy Wolf, Sharon L. Wood, Paul B. Woodruff, Patrick Woolley.

Absent: Eric J. Barron, Randy Bomer, Douglas C. Burger (excused), Lisa J. Cary (excused), Patricia L. Clubb, Penelope Davies (excused), Douglas J. Dempster, Andrew P. Dillon, Diana M. DiNitto (excused), Richard B. Eason, Stanislav Emelianov, George W. Gau, Edmund (Ted) Gordon, Michael H. Granof (excused), Donald A. Hale, Roderick P. Hart, Thomas M. Hatfield, Fred M. Heath, David Justin, Manuel J. Justiz (excused), Desiderio Kovar (excused), Nancy P. Kwallek (excused), Judith H. Langlois (excused), Shirley Bird Perry, John H. Richburg, Victoria Rodriguez, Lawrence Sager, Juan M. Sanchez, Dolores Sands, Christine E. Schmidt (excused), James Steinberg, Frederick R. Steiner, Ben G. Streetman, Jeffrey Vaaler, Gregory J. Vincent, N. Bruce Walker (excused), Barbara W. White.

Voting Members: 64 present , 14 absent, 78 total.
Non-Voting Members: 15 present, 23 absent, 38 total.
Total Members 79 present, 37 present, 116 total.




The written report appears in D 5030-5034.


Minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of September 18, 2006, (D 5067-5094) were approved by voice vote.


A. Motion from the General Faculty Rules Committee to modify the Function of the Faculty Welfare Committee (D 5025).

Professor Sue Greninger (human ecology and committee member) reported that Professor Philip Varghese, Faculty Rules Committee chair, could not attend due to his class schedule. She said the committee had unanimously approved a recommendation proposed by the Faculty Welfare Committee to expand their function to include monitoring and evaluating the implementation of all legislation pertaining to faculty welfare. Since there was no discussion, Chair Linda Golden called for the vote on the Faculty Rules Committee motion; the motion unanimously passed by voice vote.

B. Motion from the General Faculty Rules Committee to modify the Composition of the Faculty Committee on Committees (D 5026).

Professor Greninger reported that the Faculty Rules Committee had approved a recommendation proposed by the Committee on Committees to add the Faculty Council chair elect as a non-voting, ex officio member to the Committee on Committees. She explained that because last year’s chair- elect, Professor Golden, had also served on the Committee on Committees, coordination regarding committee appointments had worked more smoothly than in previous years. When Professor Janet Staiger (women’s and gender studies and radio-television-film) asked why the chair elect needed to serve on the committee as opposed to just receiving advanced notice of the Committee on Committee’s recommendation before making his/her nominations, Professor Greninger responded that the dual service provided improved information sharing and flexibility when assignments of prospective committee members and the length of their respective terms were being considered. Chair Golden added that building the dual role into the governance infrastructure helped to prevent communication gaps that can occur. There being no more discussion, Chair Golden called for the vote, and the motion unanimously passed.


A. Comments by the President.

President Powers thanked everyone for their service in faculty governance. He said he was “extremely proud” of the debate and discussion that had occurred on curricular reform over the last two years. After complimenting the Faculty Council, especially Professors Alba Ortiz (special education) and Linda Golden (marketing), as well as the Education Policy Committee, deans, faculty, and students for their “thoughtful commentary and debate,” President Powers emphasized the importance of curricular reform to the University and said he was “optimistic that something very good will come out of this Faculty Council meeting today.” He said Dean of Undergraduate Studies Paul Woodruff was ready to initiate many of the programs involved in curricular reform and again expressed his gratitude for the work that had been accomplished.


B. Questions to the President.

President Powers said his written responses to the questions raised by Professor Tom Palaima (classics) at the last Faculty Council meeting, which are attached in Appendix A, had apparently generated a follow-up set of written questions/comments from Professor Palaima. Pointing out that he had just received the new set of questions/comments as he entered the Council meeting room and therefore had not had an opportunity to read them, President Powers said he preferred to respond to the new set at the November Council meeting or in writing before the meeting. Professor Palaima’s response, which was distributed to Faculty Council members at the October meeting, is attached in Appendix B.

Professor Palaima said he thought the issues he had raised about athletics and academics were serious ones, and they were shared by others, including the following individuals with whom he had communicated: former chancellor, Hans Mark; former Austin mayor, Gus Garcia; former provost, Sheldon Ekland-Olson; former Penn State University president, Bryce Jordan; UT students and student senators; and faculty representatives on the National Drake Group and the Knight Commission. He said there was concern among students and faculty members about (1) student athletes receiving special services that are not available to students who do not participate in intercollegiate athletics at UT Austin, (2) imbalances in funds raised for athletics vs. academics, and (3) imbalances in space allocation on campus for athletics vs. academic facilities. He pointed out the athletic program at Ohio State University had contributed $5 million to the renovation of that university’s Memorial Library and Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and his wife had generously contributed personal funds and time to capital campaigns for academic purposes at Penn State.

Professor Palaima said he was primarily concerned about student athletes being successful in their academic pursuits and equity issues in allowing such a larger percentage of major-sport athletes to enter UT Austin with sub-standard SAT scores compared to that of the total freshman admittees. Equity questions were also raised by Professor Palaima regarding what he called the “outrageous salaries” paid coaches when compared to faculty salaries. He said he thought it was “educationally wrong” to reward $40,000 to the UT basketball coach for the academic performance of his team, and this was a good example of how athletics was not treated like any other academic unit on campus. Professor Palaima said that he did not see how the faculty could talk about educational reform at UT when practices, such as offering these types of coaching incentives and requiring contributions to the Longhorn Foundation as prerequisites for the purchase of game ticket, were allowed to continue even if they were technically within the letter of the law.

Vice President Patti Ohlendorf clarified that the student fees, as identified on the federal report mentioned in Professor Palaima’s written response, were not mandatory. She said the fees were voluntarily paid by students in order to get athletic packages at reduced prices. She also clarified that the $1.3 million in direct institution support, which was included in the federal report mentioned by Professor Palaima, resulted from management of the Erwin Center by UT’s Intercollegiate Athletics for Men and Women. She said about $14 million of the $93 million actually involved University events held in the Erwin Center for non-athletic purposes, such as graduation ceremonies.

President Powers assured Professor Palaima that he would read his written comments and answer any additional questions in a forthright manner just as he had done on the previous set of questions. He said he thought the role of athletics at an academic institution is “a very important one.” He said he knew Vice President Ohlendorf and Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds joined him in taking a serious interest in athletics and academics at UT Austin. He complimented athletics on the “good year” they had last year and specifically the financial benefit the University had realized due to the national championship in football. He then announced that athletics was transferring over $2.5 million to the support of academic programs and services at UT Austin. He said some of the funds were specifically earmarked to support the undergraduate curriculum reform efforts being guided by the new Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Paul Woodruff.


  Professor Palaima responded by saying he thought just taking a “share of the pie” from athletic funds would be a problem because “that pie is poisoned” if problems about the academic qualifications of athletic recruits and the educational experiences of student athletes while they are here at UT were not seriously addressed. He said the claim that our graduation rates for athletes were poor due to coaching transitions could not be made now that the NCAA statistics account for transfers to other institutions. He pointed out that UT Austin is still at the bottom of the Big 12 with a graduation rate of 40% in comparison to other institutions, such as Oklahoma’s 52% and Notre Dame’s 92%. Professor Palaima again lauded Coach Paterno for his emphasis on academics and his role as an inspirational model for students. He said the fact that Congress was beginning to look at the athletic program issues was good because he thought the whole system was “out-of-whack” and needed to be changed. He concluded by saying that unless athletes at UT were treated as real student athletes, any funding being transferred from athletics to academics should be perceive as “unclean money.”

President Powers said he agreed that “the experience of the student athlete and the finances are different issues” and they both need to be seriously addressed. He said there were issues where he disagreed with Professor Palaima, and he thought the athletics department took very seriously the experience of the student athlete, both in terms of recruiting and providing a rich academic program of study. President Powers said he thought the transfer of athletics funds to academic programs here at UT was significant and indicated there was concern about the academic experience of all undergraduate students. He closed by thanking Athletic Director Dodds and the athletics program for their generosity.


Chair Linda L. Golden introduced and congratulated the new Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Brian Roberts. She then thanked Debbie Roberts and Jenny Morgan for providing nametags for the meeting and introduced in absentia Monika Pham, the student assistant who is working this year in the Office of the General Faculty and Faculty Council.

Chair Golden shared the remarks she had made following President Powers installation and State of the University address for the benefit of Council members who were unable to attend the celebration. Read her remarks online, D 5056.

Chair Golden also reported on the University of Texas System Faculty Advisory Council meeting that she and Past Chair Ortiz had attended on October 12-13. She said the meeting had focused primarily on the financial difficulties at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston that have resulted from the rising costs of charitable medical contributions due to the high rate of medically uninsured in Texas.

Because Chair Elect Doug Burger was out-of-town and unable to attend the meeting, Chair Golden reminded everyone about the joint meeting of the UT Austin Faculty Council and the Texas A&M Faculty Senate, which will be held here at UT Austin on March 5, 2007. She invited Council members to submit ideas to Chair Elect Burger or the Office of the General Faculty and Faculty Council regarding what topics they would like to have addressed in the meeting’s breakout sessions. President Powers encouraged Council members to attend the joint meeting, saying that it allowed idea sharing by faculty members involved in faculty governance at the two institutions. He said he and President Bob Gates were jointly presenting a program entitled “Horns and Aggies Together for a Change” in various communities across Texas to emphasize the importance of tier-one research universities to the state’s economy, culture and leadership. He said he felt the bond between the two institutions was increasingly important and that coordination at every level should be pursued.




Chair Golden briefly highlighted the curricular reform process followed during the past two years, which had resulted in the Educational Policy Committee’s motion under consideration by the Faculty Council. She said the motion was “a broad strategic road map” that would allow departments, schools and colleges to begin the curricular reform process. She explained that the actual degree program proposals from colleges/schools would come back to the Faculty Council for approval just as they have in the past. Since Professor Archie Holmes (electrical and computer engineering and chair of the committee) was out-of-town and unable to attend the meeting, Chair Golden announced that Professors David Hillis (integrative biology and the committee’s new chair-elect) and Rob Koons (philosophy and member of the committee) would present the motion.


Intent of the Motion from the Educational Policy Committee on Curricular Reform.

Professor Hillis explained that he would present a general statement about the intent of the motion, and Professor Koons would present the actual motion and answer Council member questions. Professor Hillis read the following statement that had been distributed in written form to Council members:

The intent of this motion is to provide a broad set of goals and objectives for curriculum revision with specific suggestions and schedule for implementation. It is not a literal set of rules with no flexibility. The new dean of undergraduate studies, working together with a faculty-staff advisory group, shall develop and execute realistic strategies to achieve and assess these goals and objectives. The Faculty Council shall exercise its oversight responsibility through periodic evaluation of the overall progress of curriculum revision through its review and approval of undergraduate degree plan legislation submitted by the faculties of the individual colleges and schools.

B. Motion from the Educational Policy Committee on Curricular Reform (D 5011-5019).

Professor Koons briefly highlighted the activities of the Educational Policy subcommittee that had reviewed the feedback received last spring regarding the task force’s proposal. He said the process sought to accomplish three goals: maintain the task force’s momentum for reform, preserve the “spirit and essence” of the task force’s recommendations, and incorporate changes that addressed the criticisms raised last spring about the recommendations. In order to accomplish these broad objectives, the committee had chosen to leave out detailed issues, such as class size and TA involvement, in an effort to preserve opportunities for the new dean of undergraduate studies and his advisory committee to “engage in experimentation, assessment, testing, and revision.” Professor Koons summarized the major differences between the current legislation and the initial task force recommendations as follows:
(1) The nature/culture designation for the signature courses was eliminated, and a recommendation that the freshman course focus on a contemporary issue has been added, which Professor Koons hoped would be broadly interpreted.
(2) The sophomore signature course would still be interdisciplinary but would have a disciplinary home and be expected to fulfill one of the other distribution requirements.
(3) Flagged courses were clarified to include standards for each of the skill areas they would satisfy; courses in five of the six areas will be required to have 35% of the course grade based on the specified flagged skill in an effort to meet this reform measure with existing resources.
(4) Thematic strands were now encouraged but not required as a part of the core, largely due to administrative complexities involved at an institution where students do not follow a single track of study.
(5) The science and technology course requirement was clarified to allow that one of the three required courses could focus on science or technology and its relevance to society.


  Professor Koons concluded his remarks by saying the motion being considered by the Faculty Council would “keep us on track in a continuing dialog about what every well-educated person needs to learn in the 21st Century and in maintaining our ongoing effort to raise our curricular standards to that ideal.”

Dean Woodruff expressed his gratitude to the Educational Policy Committee on its work in refining the task force recommendations. He said the motion reminded him of a “detailed zoning ordinance that’s been passed for a city that’s already been well developed.” He said he perceived his job as primarily involving negotiation rather than compliance enforcement, and he had already started meeting with some of the administrators who are responsible for curriculum in their colleges/schools. He said passing the Education Policy Committee’s motion on the floor would allow his interactions with administrators to be more specific. He said he expected that variances would be necessary in some cases, and these would likely come back to the Educational Policy Committee and the Faculty Council.

Professor Desmond Lawler (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering) introduced an amendment on behalf of Chair Elect Burger to reword the natural sciences requirement. The motion, which had been approved by the Educational Policy Committee, sought to change the requirement’s wording from “broaden the existing nine-hour natural science requirement to allow that three of these nine hours be a science or technology course that examines their effects on society today and in the future” to “broaden the existing nine-hour natural science requirement to allow that three of these nine hours be a rigorous natural science or engineering course that also examines the effects of the subject on society in the present and/or future.” Professor Kenneth Ralls (mechanical engineering) seconded the motion.

Professor Koons said he agreed with the insertion of the word “natural” before science on pages seven and fifteen of the motion, but he opposed the use of the word “rigorous” and the substitution of engineering for technology. He said all requirements should be rigorous, and the use of the term implied that other requirements were not. He also said that he thought the word “technology” was used because it allowed departments outside of the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Sciences, such as the College of Pharmacy or the information technology section in the McCombs School of Business, to offer courses that met this requirement. When Professor Jon Olson (petroleum and geosystems engineering) asked if the amendment’s intent was to limit courses to those in the College of Natural Sciences and why the word natural was needed if technology were retained, Professor Koons responded affirmatively, saying that natural sciences would apply to courses in the College of Natural Sciences as opposed to courses in the social sciences, such as economics and sociology. Professor Olson said he was not against the motion, but he thought the wording was “making it flexible on one side and not on the other.” After noting that there was a separate social sciences requirement in the core, Professor Koons said he thought the intent was to allow one of three courses to focus on natural science or technology and therefore allow courses in engineering and other fields to meet the requirement.

Speaking in favor of the amendment, Professor Hillis said many science faculty members had expressed concern that the Educational Policy Committee’s motion potentially weakened the existing science requirement and was not congruent with the recommendations in the reports of the Task Force on Curricular Reform or the Commission of 125. He said the amendment presented by Professor Lawler broadened the requirement to allow courses addressing engineering and technological issues as an option within the science requirement. Professor Hillis also pointed out that Professor Koon’s comments about the amendment were his own personal opinions and not those of the Educational Policy Committee, which had approved the amendment before its submission to the Faculty Council for consideration.

Professor Palaima agreed with Professor Koon’s objection regarding the need to delete the word “rigorous” from the amendment. He said he did not understand why the original wording of the


  motion would not allow engineering courses to be included in the requirement and expressed concern that the amendment reflected “factional interests weighing in to make sure that their own turf is protected.” Professor Lawler said task force members thought that engineering courses could be allowed to meet the requirement and that he didn’t have a problem with the inclusion of the word technology in the amendment. He said he did not think the use of the word “rigorous” in the amendment implied that other courses were not rigorous, but the intent was to clarify that courses meeting the requirement were science and technology courses rather than science and society courses.

Professor Olson asked if the dean of undergraduate studies would have the responsibility of determining which courses met the requirement and if there would be an appeal procedure in place for those courses that were not initially approved to be reexamined. He said he thought the amendment “watered down the requirement” and the original motion’s wording should be retained. Dean Woodruff said he anticipated there would be an advisory committee for undergraduate studies comprised of equal numbers of associate deans, who are responsible for undergraduate curricular decisions in their respective colleges/schools, and senior faculty members. He expected this advisory committee would create a subcommittee charged with the responsibility of defining the content of requirements and recommending specific courses as meeting the eligibility requirements.

Professor Karl Miller (history) said it was difficult to form an opinion regarding the amendment without exploring the operational details, and it was frustrating that the details would not be determined until after the vote on the amendment had occurred. He said the issue of rigor applied to all areas, and the important question was who would decide whether a given course met a particular standard or requirement. He thought it was unnecessary to include rigorous in the motion if, for example, the natural sciences faculty or history faculty got to determine which courses met their respective requirements. However, if this determination were made elsewhere, Professor Miller asked how the department or college/school would be able to state that a particular course counted toward a specific subject matter requirement. Chair Golden responded by saying there would be a series of checks and balances in reviewing curricular matters, including Dean Woodruff’s advisory committee, committees of the Faculty Council (e.g., the Undergraduate Degree Program Review Committee), and the Faculty Council itself. Professor Wayne Rebhorn (English) pointed out that the issues regarding the terms “engineering and technology” had been resolved by Professor Lawler’s acceptance of the word technology. He suggested that the word “rigorous” be dropped because it was not needed in the amendment and was unnecessarily complicating matters.

Professor Lawler said he agreed with Professor Rebhorn that the word “rigorous” should be omitted and that the word “engineering” should be changed to technology. He then restated his amendment to the motion to the following: Broaden the existing nine-hour natural science requirement to allow that three of these nine hours be a natural science or technology course that also examines the effects of the subject on society in the present and/or future.

Professor Janet Staiger (women’s and gender studies) said she thought the original motion was preferable because the newly-worded amendment implied that the focus would be on the effects of the subject of natural sciences and technology on society rather than on the effects of science or technology on society today and in the future. Professor Hillis said he preferred that only the word “rigorous” be dropped from the revised amendment, but he thought including the word “technology” was problematic since there is no department or college/school of technology on campus. As a result, Professor Hillis said it was unclear who would be in charge of determining which courses met a technology standard. Professor Lawler agreed with Professor Hillis

Professor Chris Bell (geological sciences) said he thought the amendment should be broadened beyond the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Engineering to include the Jackson School of Geosciences. Cale McDowell (law student and task force member) said he thought the general consensus of both the Task Force on Curricular Reform and the Educational Policy Committee


  was to include technology and that courses from architecture and other disciplines could qualify to meet the requirement. He said one of the advantages of the new central administrative structure was that it provided a mechanism for handling requirements that cannot be mapped to a specific department.

Professor Hillis said the problem with including technology but not defining what the word actually means would allow a course in the history or philosophy of science to meet the requirement. Although such courses were “perfectly reasonable,” he said faculty in natural sciences, and perhaps engineering, would perceive this as weakening the current science requirement. When Professor Koons suggested a friendly amendment to drop the word rigorous, keep technology, but insert the phrase “with substantial scientific content” after the introduction of natural sciences or technology course, Professor Hillis said the faculty in the sciences would object because of their concern about wide variations in each individual’s definition of substantial scientific content. Professor Olson expressed concern that the amended motion would have no impact on engineering courses since they already incorporate the effects on society. He felt that tightening the language through the amendment defeated the purpose of building more flexibility into the three-hour requirement. Associate Dean Mark Berstein (communications and member of the Educational Policy Committee) said members of the committee this past summer intended for the requirement to be a “real science course” that included a substantial component that addressed the implications and impact on society. When Professor Staiger asked if the intent of the changed wording was to ensure that one of the three natural sciences classes would address societal effects, Professor Lawler responded that he did not think that was the intent of the task force or of the motion. He said that many of the courses offered in science and engineering already address these issues, but students who take only a small number of science courses might need a specific course that focused on societal impact. When Professor Cynthia Osborne (public affairs) asked if students would be restricted from meeting the requirement by enrolling in three courses that included the impact on society component, Professor Hillis said students could take any of the science courses that currently satisfy the requirement and he thought most of the courses in natural sciences actually did address societal impact. He said he thought the intentions of both the Task Force on Curricular Reform and the Educational Policy Committee were to allow one of the three courses to be either an engineering or natural science course, but the original wording of the motion did not make this clear.

When Professor Janice Todd (kinesiology and health education) asked if three of the nine hours were still required in another discipline and if this could be a natural sciences course, Professor Hillis explained that this was the wording in the current core science requirement where two courses can be in the same natural sciences discipline but the third course must be in another natural sciences discipline. He said the amendment would allow the course in the second discipline to be an engineering course rather than a natural science course.

When Chair Golden asked for Professor Lawler to restate his motion, Professor Lawler eliminated the word “rigorous” and presented a motion that agreed with the recommendations of Professor Hillis. The restated motion was the following: “Broaden the existing nine-hour natural science requirement to allow that three of these nine hours be a natural science or engineering course that also examines the effects of the subject on society in the present and/or future.” When Professor Julia Mickenberg (American studies) asked if the societal impact component were required or optional, Professor Hillis said the wording “and also examined” clarified that the component was required.

Professor Palaima said if a rigorous communications course focusing on technology and its impact on society could be cross listed as an engineering course in order to meet the proposed requirement, then he would have no objection to the amendment. However, if this were not possible, then Professor Palaima said he viewed the proposal as just protecting engineering’s turf. Professor Hillis said he was not protecting turf, and as a faculty member in natural sciences, he thought the amendment was actually inviting other colleges to share three hours of what has been an exclusive nine-hour natural sciences requirement in the past. Professor Hillis said science


  faculty members had emphasized they did not want courses without a substantial science or engineering component to be counted for this requirement, and one way to monitor this was to have faculty members in a given discipline responsible for determining which courses met the criteria. He said he thought that a course that was offered by a program outside of science and engineering could qualify, but it should have a substantial science or engineering component and be approved by faculty members that are scientists and/or engineers.

Professor Rebhorn said he thought the points being raised were repetitious and reminded everyone that a vote was previously underway. Chair Golden said it would be necessary to revote on the amendment since there were discrepancies in the votes counted by different individuals. A revote by show of hands on the reworded amendment presented by Professor Lawler on behalf of Professor Burger failed by a margin of two votes, 27 to 25.

Professor Lawler then introduced a second amendment that proposed a change in the requirement that 35% of the course grade in a flagged course for writing, global cultures, U.S. cultural diversity, ethics and leadership, or independent inquiry be changed to 33%. Professor Lawler explained that this change would allow colleges/schools to offer one-unit courses in a flagged area. Sharon L Wood (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering) seconded the motion.

Professors Kamran Ali and Charles Hale (both of anthropology) expressed concern that even the original 35% requirement for courses meeting the global culture or cultural diversity would not adequately prepare students for today’s world. Mr. McDowell offered a friendly amendment that the course content requirement for a flagged area of 33% be changed to one-third. Professor Mickenberg asked if there might be discussion on the difficulty of quantifying and evaluating a portion of the course grade. Dean Paul Woodruff said he would have “to work with a certain element of trust” with regard to these specific requirements. However, he emphasized that allowing one-unit courses would enhance adoption of this particular aspect of the proposed curricular reform in colleges where the current degree requirements leave little room for additional courses. When Professor Linda Ferreira-Buckley (rhetoric and writing) asked if 33% of the grade meant the same thing as 33% of the course content, Professor Koons responded that this issue involved the fallacy of false precision. He said the subcommittee thought it was better to use a number than a vague word, such as substantial or primary, and it was easier to quantify with some degree of reliability the course grade than the actual course content. When Professor Joan Mullins (rhetoric and writing) asked for a clarification regarding offering one-credit courses that meet flag requirements, Dean Woodruff said that certain colleges, such as engineering, might be able to meet flagged requirements only if granted variances allowing one-hour courses in certain flagged areas. He said the adoption of the one-third requirement would allow him the opportunity to consider such variances and would be helpful in his negotiations with deans. Professor Lawler said he would accept the suggestion made by Mr. McDowell and change his amendment to say that all references to the 35% grade requirement for flagged courses in writing, global cultures, U.S. cultural diversity, ethics and leadership, or independent inquiry be changed to a one-third requirement. There being no further discussion, Chair Golden called for the vote, and the revised amendment passed by voice vote.

Because of his concerns that protests from the natural sciences faculty would be sufficient to require a General Faculty meeting and vote on curricular reform, Professor Hillis moved that the section in the committee’s motion labeled “Science and Technology Course” be deleted, and the current natural sciences requirement (six hours in one discipline and three hours in another discipline for a total of nine hours) be retained. After the motion was seconded, Professor Staiger asked if a quorum were present. The number of voting Faculty Council members still present at the meeting fell one short of the required 40 required for a quorum. Professor Staiger said the reason she called for a quorum was that the legislation under consideration was important, and she appreciated Professor Hillis’ concern about not wanting to have to call a General Faculty meeting on the issue. She said she hoped the differences could be worked out before the next Council meeting and that the delay would be beneficial rather than harmful to Professor Hillis’ position.


  Professor Hillis said he would like to give an explanation for why he introduced the amendment. He said the defeat of the first amendment presented by Professor Lawler was the reason he had proposed that the science and technology course section be deleted. Professor Hillis said he was surprised that the motion was so controversial and that it did not represent “protection of turf” as it had been described earlier in the meeting. He said the amendment had been designed to bring engineering courses into the available mix of alternatives for students. He said he knew a large number of scientists would protest the original wording in the motion because they perceive it as weakening the current natural sciences core requirement. Professor Hillis explained that he wanted to prevent protests in order to facilitate passage of curricular reform and to prevent having to hold a General Faculty meeting and vote on the motion.

Professor Todd said she objected to the amendment because she felt that the original motion was a positive change for undergraduates and reflected the charge of the Commission of 125 regarding curricular reform. She also said she had found some of the terminology expressed at the meeting about the social sciences unpleasant and that everyone deserved “a sort of equal sense of respect for what they do in their classrooms.” Mr. McDowell said he was amenable to Professor Hillis’ desire to minimize protests, but he wanted the science and technology course section preserved. He thought it was a good strategy to break off the controversial section and vote on it separately because this would allow the remainder of the major proposed legislation to be handled on a no-protest basis. Professor Staiger reminded everyone that the quorum call precluded any further motions from being considered. She said it would be good if some of the controversial areas could be worked out before the next Council meeting.

Professor Hillis said he wanted to respond to Professor Todd’s comments. He said his comments were not meant to demean non-science courses, and he wanted to apologize if his words had caused that perception. He said he just was trying to emphasize that faculty in a specific subject matter area were the appropriate ones to review and approve courses that were being considered to meet that area’s core courses. With regard to Professor Todd’s comment about the Commission of 125’s recommendation, Professor Hillis said he thought the Commission was arguing in favor of increasing the science requirement in the University’s curriculum. He said some of the science faculty felt that allowing a course to be offered in engineering was already weakening the science requirement here at UT Austin. As a result, he said he thought it was important that the science and engineering faculty have responsibility for determining which courses would qualify to meet this requirement.

Professor Ortiz said she thought it was a misrepresentation to say that faculty from specific departments or colleges/schools would approve courses as meeting a specific area. She said Dean Woodruff’s office and his advisory committee would be responsible for reviewing course content. In addition, the Faculty Council has an Undergraduate Degree Program Review Committee that will be involved in how courses fit into degree plans. She also recommended that it might be wise to consider including natural sciences, engineering and technology together so the concerns of all could be addressed. Professor Miller asked if Dean Woodruff could clarify this matter regarding who would make decisions regarding whether or not a course meets certain requirements and who would be on the advisory committee if the departments and colleges/schools were not responsible for this function. Professor Ortiz said the introduction provided by Chair Golden had indicated that proposals for degree plan changes will continue to originate in the departments and colleges/schools. These proposals would continue to be reviewed by the Undergraduate Degree Program Review Committee. In addition, there would be an advisory committee making recommendation to Dean Woodruff at this time because of curricular reforms. She said the Faculty Council Executive Committee is currently working with Interim Provost Monti and Dean Woodruff to develop a process so we will know how these two groups will interface. After review by these committees, the proposed legislative changes will continue to be forwarded to the Faculty Council for action as has been done in the past.

Chair Golden added that each college/school and many departments have undergraduate curriculum committees involved in reviewing proposed degree changes. After gaining approval at


  the departmental level, there will be a review by the college/school curriculum committee. Although the process varies across the campus, it is still at the departmental level that most curricular legislation is initiated. The assignment of members to the Undergraduate Degree Program Review Committee has been suspended briefly to wait for the curricular reform proposal to be decided and to iron out the interface issues involving the various entities involved in the review process.

Dean Woodruff pointed out that oversight of changes to the requirements in the 42-hour core resided with the Coordinating Board. He said he is just beginning to explore the way this process works and expects that proposals submitted to the Coordinating Board may require revision, which will mean further review by the Educational Policy Committee and the Faculty Council. Chair Golden mentioned that the Handbook of Operating Procedures dictates a structure and procedures that also must be followed.

Professor Miller responded that the explanation regarding the review process was helpful, but he was still concerned about who decides what counts toward a particular area requirement. He said he was interested in knowing if the signature courses could be used to fulfill the U.S. history requirement and how that possibility might impact over the long-term on the history department. Although Professor Miller supported the intentions of the curricular reform legislation, he said there were issues that needed clarification before he would feel fully comfortable with the proposed legislation. First, he wanted to know if the sophomore signature course would be used to fulfill the U.S. history requirement and whether U.S. historians in his department would be responsible for deciding which courses qualify to meet this requirement. Professor Miller’s second concern was that he feared the current curricular reform proposal would institutionalize casualization of the UT faculty. He said he was concerned this would happen when the department’s best full-time faculty members were asked to teach signature courses and then the regular major-oriented teaching responsibilities of these faculty members would be covered by part-time faculty members. This would mean that there will not only be an institutionalization of the use of casual faculty, but the departments would end up not serving the instructional needs of its majors. Professor Miller then asked if additional full-time faculty lines would be provided to compensate departments for the professors assigned to teach signature courses. Dean Woodruff responded to Professor Miller’s question by saying the proposed motion made no change to the current procedures. He said he thought there were guidelines from the Coordinating Board indicating that history and government courses were to be approved by the departments of history and government, respectively. With regard to casualization, Dean Woodruff said no one he had interacted with thus far wanted that to happen, and he expected that as new positions were made available to improve the student-faculty ratio, those departments contributing to the new core requirements would be able to make “an extra strong case” that they should receive new positions.

Danielle Rugoff (Student Government) said the representatives of student organization had taken curricular reform very seriously, enjoyed seeking out the input from students, and were looking forward to what would happen to the motion. Marcos Ceniceros (Student Government) said he thought students were disappointed that the motion could not be acted upon due to the lack of a quorum. He said some of the students wanted to request a roll call vote but decided against the idea because they knew many people had to leave for other commitments due to the length of the meeting. When he said he wanted the record to show that official business should not have continued after the quorum call because it was unfair to those who had to leave, Chair Golden responded that no official business had continued. After she noted that there was a call of adjournment, Professor Hillis asked Council members to send him their ideas about how to resolve the objection from the natural sciences faculty. He said his amendment to remove the section on the science and technology course from the Educational Policy Committee motion should still be on the floor for consideration at the next meeting since the amendment and its second were made before the quorum call. He said he agreed with Mr. McDowell’s suggestion that if the controversial part were removed from the motion, the rest of the motion could be moved forward if someone would reintroduce that as a separate motion. He said he supported passage of this important legislation and hoped that a “contentious battle” over what he perceived as relatively


  minor wording issues would result. He said he hoped a way would be found to clarify the motion so the wording assured natural science faculty members that they would retain the responsibility for determining which courses met the core science requirement. Chair Golden agreed the vote on Professor Hillis’ amendment had only been suspended until the next meeting. She said she thought the discussion that occurred during the meeting was extremely important even though an official vote could not occur.



A. Save the date for a holiday party at Professor Martha Hilley’s home on December 17, 2006.

B. Joint Meeting of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate and the UT Faculty Council will be held at UT on March 5, 2007.

C. The president will hold his General Faculty meeting on December 11 at 3:45 p.m., immediately following the Faculty Council meeting.

D. The Intercollegiate Athletics Councils will report at the next Faculty Council meeting on November 20.

E. 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.

F. Standing committees need to provide names of elected vice chairs to the Faculty Council office.

G. Standing committees, please advise on selected date for a very brief oral report: November 20 or December 11 Faculty Council meeting.



Chair Golden adjourned the meeting at 4:27 p.m.

Posted on the Faculty Council Web site on November 16, 2006. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.


Appendix A
President Powers’ Response to Questions Posed by Professor Thomas Palaima (PDF)

Appendix B
Reply from Professor Thomas Palaima to President Powers' Response (PDF)

  Updated 2013 October 18
  Copyright | Privacy | Accessibility
  Comments to or
  Contact Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary,
  General Faculty and Faculty Council