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Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of May 5, 2008.

SAG signature
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty and Faculty Council

May 5, 2008

The ninth regular meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2007-08 was held in the Main Building, Room 212, Monday, May 5, 2008, at 2:40 p.m.


Present: Lawrence D. Abraham, Mark I. Alpert, Judy Copeland Ashcroft, Christopher J. Bell, Gary D. Borich, Douglas C. Burger, Linda J. Carpenter, Elizabeth Cullingford, Luis Francisco-Revilla, Jeanne H. Freeland-Graves, Alan W. Friedman, Linda V. Gerber, Linda L. Golden, Edmund (Ted) Gordon, Sue A. Greninger, Martha F. Hilley, David M. Hillis, Klaus O. Kalthoff, Desiderio Kovar, Desmond F. Lawler, Steven W. Leslie, Robert P. Lieli, Reid Long, Carol H. MacKay, Raul L. Madrid, Robin D. Moore, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Jon E. Olson, Alba A. Ortiz, Thomas G. Palaima, William C. Powers, Keshav Rajagopalan, Kenneth M. Ralls, Soncia R. Reagins-Lilly, Brian E. Roberts, Janet Staiger, Vincent S. (Shelby) Stanfield, Mary A. Steinhardt, Nikita Storojev, Pauline T. Strong, Jeffrey K. Tulis, Jeffrey Vaaler, Clark R. Wilson, Sharon L. Wood.

Absent: Kamran Ali, Urton L. Anderson (excused), Efraim P. Armendariz, Matthew J. Bailey, Eric J. Barron, Tawny L. Bettinger, Daniel J. Birkholz (excused), Hans C. Boas (excused), Virginia G. Burnett (excused), Lisa J. Cary (excused), Patricia L. Clubb, Miles Lynn Crismon, Molly E. Cummings (excused), Gustavo A. De Veciana, Douglas J. Dempster, Randy L. Diehl, Andrew P. Dillon, John S. Dzienkowski, Richard B. Eason, Sherry L. Field, Kevin M. Foster, Brian C. Gatten, George W. Gau, Juan C. González, Michael H. Granof (excused), Darlene Grant, Bretna M. Hackert, Donald A. Hale, Kenneth J. Hale (excused), Ian F. Hancock (excused), Roderick P. Hart, Fred M. Heath, Kevin P. Hegarty, James L. Hill, Neville Hoad, Manuel J. Justiz, Karrol A. Kitt (excused), Robert C. Koons, Nancy P. Kwallek, Dominic L. Lasorsa, Wayne Lesser, Michael J. McFarlin, Joan A. Mullin, John H. Murphy, Stephen Myers, Cynthia Osborne, Domino R. Perez, Shirley Bird Perry, Elizabeth C. Pomeroy (excused), Mary Ann Rankin, John H. Richburg, Gretchen Ritter (excused), Victoria Rodriguez, Lawrence Sager, Juan M. Sanchez, Dolores Sands, Paul R. Shapiro, Andrew C. Solomon, Shannon Speed, James Steinberg, Frederick R. Steiner, Ben G. Streetman, Nicole E. Trinh, Gregory J. Vincent, N. Bruce Walker, Barbara W. White, Travis W. Witherspoon, Stacy Wolf, Patrick Woolley, Paul B. Woodruff (excused).

Voting Members:
Non-Voting Members:
Total Members:


Chair Doug Burger (computer sciences) called the meeting to order and welcomed the Faculty Council members to what he expected to be the final meeting of the 2007-08 academic year.


The written report appears in D 6235-6244. Secretary Sue Greninger (human ecology) reported only one of the five recommendations included in the Educational Policy Committee Proposal to Improve Course Availability for Undergraduates (D 3835-3837) and approved by the Faculty Council in May 2005 had been approved by the administration. She said the recommendation approved by the administration specified a list of information that must be included in a course syllabus that is provided to students on the first class day of the semester. She said the list of information to be included had been modified by the administration to include additional items that were not in the legislation approved by the Council. The complete listing of required information is included in section VI. A. of the secretary’s report (D 6235-6244) on the Faculty Council web site.


Minutes of the Regular Faculty Council meetings, which were held on March 24 (D 6218-6228) and April 14, 2008 (D 6245-6263), were approved by voice vote.


A. Comments by the President.

President William Powers said he enjoyed the campaign speeches in the special meeting of the 2008-09 Faculty Council, which was held immediately before the current meeting. He congratulated the Council for the work accomplished during the 2007-08 academic year and said he was looking forward to working with the new Council in 2008-09. He also extended his congratulations to Professor David Hillis (integrated biology and chair elect) for his recent election to the National Academy of Science. President Powers told Chair Burger he had been “a really superb chairman and would be missed during his leave of absence to work at Microsoft. He also complimented Chair Burger on his work involving technology transfer and invited Council members to show their appreciation with a round of applause. He also complimented the two former chairs—Professors Alba Ortiz (special education) and Linda Golden (marketing)—for their work by saying both he and the Council had been blessed with good Council leadership.

B. Questions to the President.

President Powers said the first two questions he would address could be classified as comments due to their general nature regarding his thoughts about the breakfast meetings held this year and the functioning of the Policy and Planning Advisory Council (PPAC) he initiated last summer. Regarding the breakfast meetings, President Powers said he perceived the breakfasts as being “very helpful” in terms of providing an opportunity for him to informally converse with Council members and to obtain ideas. He said the amount of business that is typically conducted at regular Council meetings had been surprising to him since he assumed the presidency. Although the business is important, he said he thought there was a continuing need for the breakfast meetings, or possibly some sort of retreats, and he expected the deans and other administrative officials would be interested in participating in these informal gatherings in the future. He reported the discussions at the breakfast meetings had largely focused on two important topics: (1) the need for faculty’s involvement in the capital campaign and other fundraising activities, and (2) the importance of supporting strong leadership at the unit or departmental level, as recommended by the Commission of 125.

He said he firmly believed that the “two organic units in educational institutions” are the campus/institution itself and the specific departments or research units “where things get done.”



He said the specific units are where faculties and programs are developed, and the University needs to empower these units with information regarding their future budget prospects so strategic planning and growth can occur. Although students and alumni identify with some of the colleges/schools, such as engineering and business, he said he thought bonding was greatest through departmental affiliations. He pointed out that further work was needed to empower these specific organic units to pursue fundraising activities and other means of support to meet areas of resource inadequacy and to facilitate growth. Although these needs had been discussed initially regarding specific units on campus, President Powers said he thought this was an issue of major importance across the entire campus. He said participating in the informal discussions with Council members had expanded his awareness regarding such issues, and he believed that some form of informal meetings and discussions should continue in the future.

Regarding PPAC, President Powers said the intent of establishing this group was to gain a sense of campus-level needs and “how to align the budgets with those needs.” He said the group had met more often than he had expected and had spent a good amount of time gathering and analyzing data from the twelve public institutions against which UT Austin is generally compared. Because there is keen competition between UT Austin and major private institutions in recruiting faculty and students, data were also included from such institutions as Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. President Powers said reviewing these data helped PPAC members focus attention on where the University’s resources needed to be allocated to make further advancements. Although a number of areas were identified, according to the president, the areas that surfaced repeatedly were UT Austin’s lack of competitiveness in faculty compensation and graduate student support. He said the non-competitiveness of UT Austin involved the overall faculty compensation package that includes not just salaries, but he said it encompassed the lack of sabbatical leaves, travel funds, and exemptions from tuition for the children of faculty members. Although the findings were not surprising, President Powers said PPAC’s work had been useful in accumulating data regarding the extent of the problem and had resulted in what he called a “commitment” to the idea that improving faculty compensation is “something we’ve simply got to address if we’re going to move forward” here at UT Austin. The president said Provost Steve Leslie summed up the situation quite well by saying that when UT Austin is competing with such outstanding institutions as Princeton, Berkeley, Yale, Stanford, and Michigan for faculty that we’re either in that game or we’re not. Regarding the need for increased funding to support graduate students, President Powers said it was a fact that the most outstanding faculty members want to work with the most outstanding graduate students and vice versa. He said the limitations on office and laboratory space for graduate students and faculty adversely impacts the University’s competitive status.

President Powers commented that he was concerned about regulatory discussions occurring at both the national and state levels pertaining to assessment and accountability issues in higher education. He said there were numerous proposals and discussions focusing on performance measures that were needed for various purposes, such as improving faculty productivity. He said he was concerned that these discussions dealt primarily on structural concerns “without addressing the issue of are we going to support these jewels that have produced so much over a long period of time.” He also noted the tendency in these discussions for participants to emphasize the need for various different institutes and/or specific programmatic themes as essential for the future. He said he believed the need for a broadly defined base of support for faculty and graduate student support was the key issue to emphasize because the other concerns “are just bells and whistles.” He said he thought any of the nice-to-have institutes and programs would not be all that useful when “hanging on a skeleton that has osteoporosis.” President Powers expressed concern that these key basic support issues needed increased attention and were, in his opinion, largely being overlooked and ignored at both the national and state levels.

Professor Larry Abraham (curriculum and instruction) read the following questions, which he recently submitted such that President Powers received them just before the Council meeting began:

Recently, there’s been an increased use of several faculty titles such as distinguished senior lecturer, clinical professor, clinical associate professor, and clinical assistant


professor. These titles are not yet uniformly represented in the Regents’ Rules or the Handbook of Operating Procedures, which means that the individuals so designated have uncertain status in such areas as voting status in general faculty ballots, eligibility to serve on faculty committees, eligibility to serve in departmental governance, and eligibility to participate in graduate education. Is there an ongoing systematic administrative effort to clarify such questions by deliberating and then editing our written operating procedures? If so, what criteria are being used to determine the status to be assigned? Or, is this a matter to be dealt with by one or more standing faculty committees?
After referring to the questions as “very important” ones, President Powers said he wanted to initiate discussion on the issues but could not fully address the complexity without additional preparation time. He said the proliferation that has occurred over about the last seven years at the University to recognize and reward individuals in non-tenure track positions had produced both positive and negative outcomes. Because faculty legislation, administrative decisions, Regents’ Rules, laws, and regulations have impacted the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP)over the years, President Powers said the resulting document contains inconsistencies and is difficult to use. He noted that a compliance committee had recently noted these areas of concern, which resulted in a substantial long-range project being initiated. He said it would take two to three years to work through the backlog that had been identified and then the project would be an on-going one. For example, President Powers said he thought first-time principal investigators or newly-appointed clinical professors should not have to go through the HOP to determine their responsibilities, rights, and restrictions. He said he would like to see specific information on the University’s web site that includes a checklist of what individuals appointed to a specific job titles or positions can do and absolutely must do to fulfill their responsibilities. In addition, he thought the web site could include references for where to get additional information, answers to frequently asked questions, and discussions about common issues and problems.

President Powers indicated that some of the issues that needed to be addressed, such as voting rights for the individuals with clinical and research appointments, will involve difficult policy decisions. One issue he mentioned was the potential impact of the increase in non-tenure track positions on the role and functioning of faculty governance. He recalled that the tenure and tenure-track faculty in the School of Law had realized that the increasing proportion of non-tenure-track faculty positions could influence “the balance of faculty governance on a curriculum issue.” In addition, the law faculty had been surprised that rules regarding voting rights in the various governance documents were quite specific in some areas but unclear and inconsistent in other areas. President Powers said voting rights were a major policy matter that could not be resolved by just “a bureaucratic cleaning up of the HOP.” Although he thought attention to voting rights had not been considered when the new clinical and research positions were created, he said he perceived that the Faculty Council would want to review these matters from a faculty governance perspective. President Powers suggested that the Faculty Council Executive Committee discuss how to proceed in addressing these important governance issues at its next meeting.


After thanking President Powers for his kind remarks, Chair Burger said the opportunity at Microsoft would allow him to implement ideas that he and his colleagues had been working on for the past eight years, and he looked forward to the practical experience and the possibility of returning to the University in the future. He said he thought the Council’s past year of work had been very successful and the members deserved a great deal of credit for the passage of the following legislation: voluntary plus/minus grading for undergraduate courses; changes to core curriculum course lists; elimination of the Committee on Student Affairs, which had become relatively inactive in recent years; endorsement of the principles of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics; and recognition on student transcripts of certifications earned from authorized programs at UT Austin. In addition, Chair Burger noted that the newly configured Committee on Undergraduate Degree Program Review had been initiated this past year and provided improved communication between colleges/schools regarding changes in degree


  requirements that could impact other programs. He said the approval and implementation of the revised faculty grievance process and its publication in the HOP was a “very valuable achievement.” He said there had been some progress with regard to procedural matters, such as setting a specified ending time for meetings and improving the nomination process for slates of candidates that are recommended by the Council to the president. To further streamline procedures, Chair Burger recommended that the presentation, discussion, and vote on routine legislation be handled in one meeting rather than spread out over two meetings. He said this would allow the Council to devote more meeting time to important fundamental issues and long-term challenges facing the University.

Chair Burger said he had worked with the administration on two non-Council activities he believed were strategically important to UT Austin and would strengthen departmental units, especially those involved in technologies that can be commercialized and transferred outside the University. He said the process for technology transfer had been streamlined and would involve fewer interfaces with the central administration than before. Under the new rules, he indicated that revenue from licensed technologies developed at UT Austin would flow back to the units--colleges and departments--that produced it, giving them an incentive to work on further technological research and development. He explained that the faculty members could place gift funds they have raised along with those provided by their departments in these flexible, strategically-invested accounts to use for long-term needs and to establish “war chests” to enhance their capabilities to compete with other institutions for major grants and contracts. Chair Burger thanked Executive Vice Provost Steve Monti and Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty for their guidance and support in establishing the accounts.

With regard to the PPAC, Chair Burger said he would send out a brief report of how his department, computer sciences, had implemented ideas he had gained from his participation on the council. He suggested that this information might be used as the basis for guidelines by PPAC for recommended practices in other departments.

In closing, Chair Burger again recommended that the Council spend less time on items of relatively low importance in order to spend more time on substantive issues in the future. Because he thought many members of the General Faculty were unaware of the work done by the Council and the standing committees, he suggested that the Faculty Council Executive Committee explore methods to disseminate this information and encourage greater faculty participation in governance matters. He then asked Chair Elect Hillis to report on the 2008-09 election results for chair elect and other executive committee members.


Chair Elect Hillis described the 2008-09 slate of candidates for chair elect and executive committee representatives as “outstanding” and reported the vote tally indicated that all of the candidates had received significant support in the election. He then announced and congratulated each of the following elected officers: Chair Elect, Professor Janet Staiger (women’s and gender studies; radio/television/film); Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets executive committee representative, Professor Michael Granof (accounting); Educational Policy Committee executive committee representative, Professor Alan Friedman (English); and Faculty Welfare Committee executive committee representative, Professor Steven Friesen (religious studies; formerly classics).

Chair Elect Hillis said he would be deciding on committee assignments very soon. He reminded the members who had not submitted their committee preferences to immediately do this so he would be able to take their interests into account when making the assignments. He closed by expressing his sincere gratitude to all of the candidates for agreeing to have their names placed on the ballot and their willingness to serve.



A. Faculty Grievance Committee Proposal to Revise the Handbook of Operating Procedures 4.03, Teaching Assistant and Assistant Instructor Grievance Procedures (D 6174-6183).

Professor Friedman (committee chair) said he thought this legislation was a good example where action could have occurred at the same meeting when it was presented because he recalled there had been no discussion on the proposal at the April Council meeting. He summarized the legislation as being a revision of the HOP such that the grievance process for assistant instructors and teaching assistants would be similar to the process recently approved for faculty members. He said there were two differences between the graduate student and faculty grievance processes. The first is the final decision for graduate student grievances would remain on the UT Austin campus at the presidential level and not go forward to the Board of Regents, as was the case in faculty grievances. He said the second difference recognized that graduate student instructors were under the supervision of specific faculty members and therefore provided for a “slight curtailment of what academic freedom means for graduate students” in comparison to that of faculty members. Since there were no questions or discussion, Chair Burger called a vote on the proposal by show of hands, and the legislation was unanimously approved.

B. Educational Policy Committee Motion on Rules for Designation as “College Scholars” and “Distinguished College Scholars” (D 6197).

Professor Desmond Lawler (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering and committee chair) said the recommendation from his committee had resulted from a request by the president’s office to clarify the eligibility criteria for honors awarded at the annual University of Texas at Austin Honors Day. The issue involved confusion about whether or not the courses that counted in the grade point average calculation used for determining honors status included only courses taken in residence at the University. Professor Lawler said the general viewpoint was that only in-residence course counted, but the eligibility statements were not explicit. The committee’s proposal recommended that the eligibility statements be modified to include the “in residence” qualifier, such as in the following example from item 2 of the legislation: “the student must have completed twelve semester hours of coursework in residence in either the spring or fall semester of the previous calendar year.” Since there were no questions or discussion, Chair Burger called a vote on the proposal by show of hands, and the legislation was unanimously approved.



A. Approval of meeting dates 2008-09 (D 6214).

Secretary Greninger presented the proposed list of 2008-09 meeting dates and said the list had been sent to the president’s and provost’s offices for cross checking against what was known at this time about schedule availability. Professor Alba Ortiz (special education) moved approval, and Professor Friedman seconded the motion. The legislation was unanimously approved by voice vote.


B. Cancellation of summer meetings of the Faculty Council (D 6215).

Secretary Greninger presented legislation proposing cancellation of the summer Council meetings scheduled for June, July, and August of 2008 unless an emergency required that a meeting be called. Professor Martha Hilley (music) moved approval, and Professor Hillis seconded the motion. The legislation was unanimously approved by voice vote.

Both Chair Burger and Secretary Greninger reminded committee chairs that their annual reports were needed so they could be compiled into a summary report for the Council. Chair Burger also asked that everyone save March 2 date next year for the joint meeting of the Council with the Texas A&M Faculty Senate. Chair Burger closed the meeting by thanking everyone for “a wonderful year.” He expressed special thanks to Professor Linda Golden, last year’s Council chair, for her generous assistance by saying, “You really helped to make this a fantastic year, and I deeply appreciate your help and support.”


A. Annual Reports of the General Faculty Standing Committees are due in the Office of the General Faculty.
B. 2008-09 Faculty Council members’ preferences for Standing Committee appointments are due.
C. Next year, UT Austin's Faculty Council will host the Joint Meeting with Texas A&M's Faculty Senate, which has been scheduled for March 2, 2009; so continuing members, be sure to mark your calendars. It is an all day event.



Chair Burger adjourned the meeting at 3:32 p.m.

Posted on the Faculty Council web site on July 31, 2008. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.