View in portable document format.
DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of May 5, 2008.
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty and Faculty Council
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
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: 37 present, 40 absent, 77 total. Non-Voting Members: 7 present, 30 absent, 37 total. Total Members: 44 present, 70 absent, 114 total.
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.
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.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.
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.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES.
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.
III. COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT.
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.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR.
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.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR ELECT.
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.
VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS.
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.
VII. REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES, SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES—None.
VIII. NEW BUSINESS.
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.”
IX. ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS.
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.
X. QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR—None.
Chair Burger adjourned the meeting at 3:32 p.m.