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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

Following are the minutes of the special Faculty Council meeting of May 16, 2007.

Greninger Signature
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty


MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
MAY 16, 2007


The first special meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2006-2007 was held in the Texas Union Quadrangle Room, 3.304, Wednesday, May 16, 2007, at 10:00 a.m.


ATTENDANCE.
Present: Urton L. Anderson, Judy Copeland Ashcroft, Lisa M. Bedore, Gary D. Borich, Douglas C. Burger, Linda J. Carpenter, Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Sherry L. Field, Luis Francisco-Revilla, Brian C. Gatten, Linda L. Golden, Oscar Gonzalez, Edmund (Ted) Gordon, Michael H. Granof, Sue A. Greninger, Charles R. Hale, Kenneth J. Hale, Ian F. Hancock, Martha F. Hilley, David M. Hillis, Troy L. Johnson, David Justin, Klaus O. Kalthoff, Robert C. Koons, Desiderio Kovar, Nancy P. Kwallek, Dominic L. Lasorsa, Samuel R. Long, Karl H. Miller, Joan A. Mullin, John H. Murphy, Kate Nanney, J. Patrick Olivelle, Jon E. Olson, Cynthia Osborne, Yolanda C. Padilla, Randall M. Parker, Keshav Rajagopalan, Kenneth M. Ralls, John H. Richburg, Peter J. Riley, Gretchen Ritter, Andrew C. Solomon, Janet Staiger, Vincent S. (Shelby) Stanfield, Nicole E. Trinh, Jeffrey Vaaler, Jeffrey Walker, Stacy Wolf, Sharon L. Wood.

Absent: Kamran Ali, Efraim P. Armendariz (excused), Eric J. Barron, Christopher J. Bell (excused), Susan N. Beretvas (excused), Randy Bomer (excused), Virginia G. Burnett (excused), Lisa J. Cary, Patricia L. Clubb, Miles Lynn Crismon, Penelope Davies, Gustavo A. De Veciana, Douglas J. Dempster, Randy L. Diehl, Andrew P. Dillon, Diana M. DiNitto, John S. Dzienkowski, Richard B. Eason, Stanislav Emelianov, Jeanne H. Freeland-Graves, George W. Gau, Linda V. Gerber (excused), Juan C. González, Bretna M. Hackert, Donald A. Hale, Roderick P. Hart, Fred M. Heath, Kevin P. Hegarty, James L. Hill, Lori K. Holleran (excused), Manuel J. Justiz, Karrol A. Kitt (excused), Desmond F. Lawler (excused), Steven W. Leslie, Wayne Lesser, William S. Livingston (excused), Raul L. Madrid (excused), Julia Mickenberg (excused), Stephen Myers, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Melissa L. Olive (excused), Alba A. Ortiz (excused), Thomas G. Palaima (excused), Shirley Bird Perry, Elizabeth C. Pomeroy (excused), William C. Powers (excused), Mary Ann R. Rankin, Soncia R. Reagins-Lilly, Wayne A. Rebhorn, Brian E. Roberts, Victoria Rodriguez, Lawrence Sager, Juan M. Sanchez, Dolores Sands, Christine E. Schmidt (excused), Paul R. Shapiro, James Steinberg, Frederick R. Steiner, Ben G. Streetman, Janice S. Todd, Gregory J. Vincent, N. Bruce Walker, John M. Weinstock (excused), Barbara W. White, Travis W. Witherspoon (excused), Paul B. Woodruff, Patrick Woolley (excused).

Voting Members: 47 present, 32 absent, 79 total.
Non-Voting Members: 3 present, 35 absent, 38 total.
Total Members: 50 present, 67 absent, 117 total.



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Because Chair Linda Golden (marketing) was detained, Chair Elect Doug Burger (computer sciences) called the meeting to order. He thanked everyone for attending the special meeting and said the unfinished business would be deferred until Chair Golden arrived. He reminded Council members that the next meeting was scheduled for June 18 and committee chairs that annual reports should be submitted electronically to the Office of the General Faculty. He thanked Professor David Hillis (integrated biology) for attending the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics meeting at Stanford University in place of Professor Michael Granof (accounting), who was unable to attend. Chair Elect Burger said he would be attending the System Faculty Advisory Council meeting on May 24-25; he said he would send a copy of the meeting’s agenda to any Council member(s), who might want to attend.

Chair Elect Burger asked Secretary Sue Greninger (human ecology) to present agenda item II. B., which recommended cancellation of the summer Faculty Council meetings in July and August (D 5373). She said the plan was to hold the June 18 Council meeting as an informal dialog with President Powers but not to hold the other two summer meetings unless important issues materialized. The motion was unanimously approved by voice vote. Secretary Greninger also presented item II. C, which was a motion to approve the tentative schedule of 2007-08 Faculty Council meeting dates included in D 5374. This motion was unanimously approved by voice vote. Secretary Greninger asked that all comments today be made into the microphones in order to facilitate accurate minutes of the meeting.

Chair Golden arrived and said she had been conferring with Vice President Patti Ohlendorf about student voting eligibility since this potential issue had been brought to her attention just one hour before the meeting. She then turned to the unfinished business section of the agenda.

I.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS.

A. Motion from the Educational Policy Committee on Plus/Minus Grading (D 5316-5318).

Chair Golden reminded Council members that a call for the question on this motion had occurred before the quorum call abruptly ended the May 7 meeting. She explained that this meant that there could be no further discussion of the motion prior to the vote on the motion at the current meeting. The motion, which recommended that the plus/minus grading system used for graduate courses at UT Austin be extended to undergraduate courses, was overwhelmingly approved by voice vote with only a few dissenting votes being heard.

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

Professor Desiderio Kovar (mechanical engineering and committee chair) explained that his committee’s motion had been originally presented at the April Council meeting, but the vote had been delayed until additional feedback on the legislation could be secured from Vice President Brian Roberts (technical services). He said his committee thought the Information Technology Committee could function effectively and with less scheduling difficulties if it were reduced from ten to seven members. The committee was recommending that two faculty representatives and one of the two Graduate Student Assembly representatives be eliminated. A second recommendation, according to Professor Kovar, was that at least two of the four staff committee representatives come from areas that were not specifically related to information technology. He said the staff representatives in the past had largely come from information technology positions and had “done a very good job.” However, the committee thought it would be helpful if the composition more broadly reflected staff positions across campus that are users of information technology. Professor Kovar said Vice President Brian Roberts supported the committee’s motion. Chair Golden then asked if there were any further discussion; since there was none, she called for the vote and the motion to update the composition of the Information Technology Committee was unanimously approved by voice vote.


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C.
Faculty Council Resolution concerning the Honor Code (D 5372).

Chair Golden said she and Professor Hillis had met with representatives from the Senate of College Councils regarding the group’s resolution asking the Council to endorse mandatory inclusion of the Honor Code on course syllabi. She said the students understood that the Council could not make faculty members comply with this practice because this would be a potential infringement on academic freedom. Chair Golden reported that the Faculty Council Executive Committee had endorsed a resolution she had drafted, which encouraged faculty members to orally in class and/or on the class syllabus help students to be aware of the Honor Code and to follow its provisions. Professor Yolanda Padilla (social work) suggested putting the Honor Code on Blackboard so students would see it every time they used the service. Chair Golden asked Secretary Greninger to be sure Professor Padilla’s suggestion was included in the current meeting’s minutes. Mr. Reid Long (Senate of College Councils representative) pointed out that an Honor Code link was already on the main page of Blackboard as the result of a Senate initiative. Professor Padilla responded that she thought spelling it out on the page rather than just providing a link might increase awareness. With no further discussion being offered, Chair Golden called for the vote. The resolution, which recommended “that all instructors, lecturers, and professors enhance student awareness of the University Honor Code at the start of each semester through written information in their syllabi, oral discussion in class or both,” was unanimously approved by voice vote.

II.
NEW BUSINESS.

A. Resolution Expressing Support and Sympathy to Virginia Tech (D 5370).

Chair Golden reported that messages of support and sympathy had been sent to various officials and elected representatives at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University shortly after the tragic loss of lives occurred there. She said a formal Council resolution was needed so it would appear in the Faculty Council records. The following formal resolution was unanimously approved by voice vote:

To the Students, Faculty, Staff and Board of Visitors at Virginia Tech (via their representative leaders),
Our thoughts and our hearts are with you. Our deepest sympathies for your losses and your crisis.
With Heartfelt Sentiments From All of the Faculty, Staff, and Students at the University of Texas at Austin, as adopted by each of our elected bodies: UT Austin Student Government (Andrew Solomon, President), Graduate Student Assembly (Brian Gatten, Chair), Staff Council (Erin Waneck, Chair), Faculty Graduate Assembly (Randy Parker, Chair), Senate of College Councils (Stephen Myers, Chair), and the Faculty Council (Linda Golden, Chair).

B. Cancellation of summer meetings of the Faculty Council (D 5373).

This legislation was approved at the beginning of the meeting.

C. Approval of meeting dates 2007-2008 (D 5374).

This legislation was approved at the beginning of the meeting.

D. Faculty Council Research Policy Committee Statement on Research Infrastructure Support (D 5371).

Associate Dean Peter Riley (natural sciences and committee chair) said his committee had focused on facilitating improvements to the research infrastructure across campus. He said Vice President Juan Sanchez (research) and Director Susan Sedwick (Office of Sponsored Projects) regularly


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  attended the committee meetings, which had resulted in a collaborative effort. As a result, two research grant specialists—one in engineering and the other in pharmacy—will be hired as a pilot effort to provide support for research at the college/school level. Associate Dean Riley said Vice President Sanchez’s office and the respective colleges were providing equal shares of the funding for these new positions.

Associate Dean Riley said he thought the University’s research infrastructure had been neglected, and this was unfortunate since grant funding has become more difficult to secure than in the past. Because of these two factors, he said it was important that UT Austin’s grant infrastructure be upgraded. He reported that the all-day grant-writing seminar sponsored by the Office of Sponsored Projects had been quite successful with 120 individuals attending; the College of Natural Sciences had covered the $35 registration fee for 45 of the attendees. Because demand for the event was so strong and resulted in a waiting list that could not be accommodated, Director Sedwick has agreed to sponsor additional seminars. Associate Dean Riley said this collaborative effort had offered an opportunity for his committee to “fulfill a useful function,” which he hoped would continue in the future.

Chair Elect Burger asked if the Research Policy Committee provides oversight for how indirect cost funding is spent. He said the principal investigators who had generated the indirect costs had seen no increase in funds since President Faulkner succeeded in getting the Texas Legislature to cease holding back 50% of these funds at the state level. Associate Dean Riley responded that he thought this would be an appropriate topic for the committee’s consideration. He said 75% of these funds were currently retained by the University’s central administration with the remaining 25% returned to the respective colleges. He said the funds had been helpful to the colleges but difficult to administer. Redistribution practices vary by college; for example, the College of Natural Sciences distributes 50-60% of the money it receives from the administration back to the units that originally produced the indirect cost funding. He said he thought “a little bit more” of these funds should be expended to support research infrastructure, but the finite amount of money involved and the scarcity of funds available to meet so many pressing needs had made this difficult to do. He said he thought this issue would be an appropriate topic for next year’s committee to consider under the leadership of Professor John Kappelman (anthropology).

Professor Gretchen Ritter (government and director of Women’s and Gender Studies) suggested that the committee needed to focus on ways to increase support for research and grantsmanship in the social sciences and humanities. She said faculty members generally perceive that these areas have been neglected to a greater extent than the “hard sciences.” She also suggested that the committee attend to the issues involved in increasing support for interdisciplinary research. She noted that one of issues involved the problem of shared overhead when there are co-principal investigators from different colleges. Associate Dean Riley said these were both good suggestions. He explained that pharmacy and engineering had been chosen for the pilot project involving grant specialists because they were “the only two colleges that really showed an effort and the ability.” He said that the College of Liberal Arts had been successful in attracting grant support, partly due to their having the Population Research Center. He agreed that a University-wide effort to improve the grant infrastructure had been lacking, and he thought it would not take a great deal of additional resources to make “a significant difference.” He said pursuing large, collaborative grants was a relatively new area that involved additional challenges, and he thought UT Austin had not been as successful as it needed to be in attracting these funds. He believed “a much higher level of technical assistance” on a University-wide basis was required for success in this difficult area.

Chair Golden thanked Associate Dean Riley and his committee members for the “excellent job” they had done during the year and said she was sure that next year’s committee would appreciate this input. She then thanked the chairs and members of all of the committees for their contributions to faculty governance during the past year. She said Vice President Roberts had asked her to inquire about the Council’s interest in participating in an information technology summit this summer or next fall. She said he was interested in knowing if a meeting that addressed

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  new regulations and compliance issues would be helpful. When no one responded, Chair Golden said she would tell him the matter was “totally open and flexible.”

Chair Golden reported there had been a good deal of research and discussion regarding the merits of handling the plus/minus grading vote electronically versus calling the special face-to-face meeting. After explaining she had chosen the meeting format because it was in keeping with the past tradition of the Faculty Council, she thanked everyone for attending and adjourned the meeting.


III. ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS.

A. Faculty Council meeting, June 18, 2007, Main 212 at 2:15 p.m.
B. Annual Reports of the General Faculty Standing Committees are due in the Office of the General Faculty.
C. David Hillis will attend COIA.
D. System Faculty Advisory Council meeting May 24-25.
E. Faculty Interest IT Question on Behalf of Brian Roberts.
F. Other announcements by the faculty.


IV. QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR — None.

V. ADJOURNMENT.
Meeting adjourned at 10:36 a.m.


Distributed through the Faculty Council Web site on August 10, 2007. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.