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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

 
Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of October 15, 2007.

signature
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

 

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
OCTOBER 15, 2007

  The second regular meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2007-2008 was held in the Main Building, Room 212, Monday, October 15, 2007, at 2:39 p.m.

ATTENDANCE.
Present: Lawrence D. Abraham, Urton L. Anderson, Judy Copeland Ashcroft, Daniel J. Birkholz, Hans C. Boas, Gary D. Borich, Douglas C. Burger, Linda J. Carpenter, Patricia L. Clubb, Elizabeth Cullingford, Molly E. Cummings, Gustavo A. De Veciana, Kevin M. Foster, Luis Francisco-Revilla, Jeanne H. Freeland-Graves, Alan W. Friedman, Brian C. Gatten, Linda V. Gerber, Linda L. Golden, Edmund (Ted) Gordon, Darlene Grant, Sue A. Greninger, Bretna M. Hackert, Kevin P. Hegarty, James L. Hill, Martha F. Hilley, David M. Hillis, Neville Hoad, Klaus O. Kalthoff, Karrol A. Kitt, Desiderio Kovar, Nancy P. Kwallek, Desmond F. Lawler, Steven W. Leslie, Robert P. Lieli, Reid Long, Carol H. MacKay, Raul L. Madrid, Michael J. McFarlin, Robin D. Moore, Joan A. Mullin, Stephen Myers, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Alba A. Ortiz, Cynthia Osborne, Thomas G. Palaima, Elizabeth C. Pomeroy, William C. Powers, Keshav Rajagopalan, Kenneth M. Ralls, Gretchen Ritter, Brian E. Roberts, Paul R. Shapiro, Andrew C. Solomon, Janet Staiger, Mary A. Steinhardt, Pauline T. Strong, Nicole E. Trinh, Jeffrey K. Tulis, Gregory J. Vincent, Clark R. Wilson, Travis W. Witherspoon, Patrick Woolley.

Absent: Kamran Ali, Mark I. Alpert (excused), Efraim P. Armendariz, Matthew J. Bailey, Eric J. Barron, Christopher J. Bell (excused), Tawny L. Bettinger (excused), Virginia G. Burnett, Lisa J. Cary (excused), Miles Lynn Crismon, Douglas J. Dempster, Randy L. Diehl, Andrew P. Dillon, John S. Dzienkowski, Richard B. Eason, Sherry L. Field, George W. Gau, Juan C. González, Michael H. Granof (excused), Donald A. Hale, Kenneth J. Hale, Ian F. Hancock (excused), Roderick P. Hart, Fred M. Heath, Manuel J. Justiz (excused), Robert C. Koons (excused), Dominic L. Lasorsa (excused), Wayne Lesser (excused), John H. Murphy (excused), Jon E. Olson (excused), Domino R. Perez, Shirley Bird Perry, Mary Ann Rankin, Soncia R. Reagins-Lilly (excused), John H. Richburg, Victoria Rodriguez, Lawrence Sager, Juan M. Sanchez, Dolores Sands, Shannon Speed, Vincent S. (Shelby) Stanfield, James Steinberg, Frederick R. Steiner, Nikita Storojev (excused), Ben G. Streetman, Jeffrey Vaaler (excused), N. Bruce Walker, Barbara W. White, Stacy Wolf (excused), Sharon L. Wood (excused), Paul B. Woodruff (excused).



Voting Members: 52 present , 25 absent, 77 total.
Non-Voting Members: 11 present, 26 absent, 37 total.
Total Members 63 present, 51 absent, 114 total.


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I.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.

The written report appears in D 5607-5620; there were no questions or corrections to the report.

II.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

The minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of September 17, 2007, (D 5622-5674) were approved by voice vote. The State of the University address appears in the minutes of the special Faculty Council meeting of September 19, 2007 (D 5675-5680); approval was not required.

III.
COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT.

A. Comments by the President— None; the president made comments at the annual meeting of the General Faculty meeting that occurred immediately before this regular October Council meeting.

B. Questions to the President— None; the president did not receive submissions of questions prior to the meeting and no questions were asked at the meeting.

IV.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR.

A. Update from the Faculty Grievance Committee.

At the invitation of Chair Doug Burger (computer sciences), Professor Alan Friedman (English and Faculty Grievance Committee chair) announced that legislation regarding the grievance process had at long last been approved. Professor Friedman presented a brief chronology of the events that had occurred since September 2004 when the grievance committee members voted to suspend the handling of all new grievances. He said the committee members felt at that time, if they continued with the status quo, they would be “legitimizing a sham grievance process” when they wanted one that would be “fair, just, and transparent.”

Professor Friedman said the revision that was worked out by a subcommittee of grievance committee members who met with campus and system attorneys was a compromise. However, he said the final revised policy adhered to important basic principles, clarified intentions, improved language and procedural consistency, and provided flow charts that spell out the options for both the grievant as well as the administration. In addition, Professor Friedman said the committee members were pleased that the Office of the Ombudsperson had been established and incorporated into the process because he believed this was beneficial to the entire UT community, including the administration.

He said he did not think the legislation that was finally approved achieved all that the committee members thought was needed. He noted that the president still has the major role in appointing members of the grievance committee and the hearing pool as well as in determining whether non-renewal of non-tenured faculty may even be grieved. In addition, legal representation for the administration by staff lawyers is more readily available in comparison to what the grievant can affordably and conveniently secure.

Professor Friedman asked Council members to review the revised grievance policy, which is published in section 3.18 of the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures and can be accessed online .

He said his committee wanted to know if the faculty thought the revised procedures were generally acceptable or if the committee had compromised too much.


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  Professor Friedman thanked the following administrators for their contributions in developing, negotiating, revising, and compromising to get the legislation approved during the last few years: Former President Larry Faulkner, Former Executive Vice President and Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson, President Bill Powers, Executive Vice President and Provost Steve Leslie, Executive Vice Provost Steve Monti, Vice President Patti Ohlendorf, Associate Vice President Susan Bradshaw, and UT System Managing Attorney Helen Bright. He also expressed gratitude on behalf of himself and the entire UT Austin faculty for the hard work and tenacious spirit provided to this prolonged legislative effort by the following grievance committee leaders: Professors Sue Heinzelman (English), Alba Ortiz (special education), Martha Hilley (music), Lorenzo Sadun (mathematics), Janet Staiger (radio, television, film; women’s and gender studies), and Mary Steinhardt (kinesiology and health education). Chair Burger then thanked Professor Friedman for his report, and Council members applauded.

B. UT System Faculty Advisory Committee Report

Chair Burger reported that newly–appointed UT System Vice Chancellor David Prior had addressed the System Faculty Advisory Committee at its recent meeting by discussing the UT System’s breadth of competitiveness. The vice chancellor also acknowledged the need for a flagship research institution within the system. Chair Burger said the report on system-wide health and retirement benefits included no major changes, but the advisory committee members had expressed an interest in improving the options available for faculty in both benefit areas. He noted that the system has created two new incentive programs that are designed to attract outstanding new faculty to UT institutions. The first is a new Stars Plus program, which is focused on supplementing the existing Stars Program by providing additional funds and matching funds for start-up packages and laboratory renovation/construction. Chair Burger said the second initiative provides funding packages that can supplement private donations. According to Vice Chancellor Prior, about $5 million has been allocated to match private donations, but a good portion of the money has not been utilized. Chair Burger said faculty members should take advantage of these resources, and he would see that information about the two opportunities would be available on the Faculty Council web site.

C. Policy and Planning Advisory Council (PPAC).

Chair Burger reported that PPAC, which President Powers discussed in his State of the University address, had already met several times. The faculty representatives on this council, which is expected to provide advice on budget and strategic priorities, are the current and former chairs of the Faculty Council. Chair Burger said he and former Chair Linda Golden (marketing) welcomed suggestions, comments, concerns, and other input from faculty members to assist them in serving as the faculty representatives. He said the initial PPAC meetings had involved information gathering about the University’s budget and budgetary process as well as an analysis of the attributes and strategic priorities of outstanding universities.

Chair Burger said he was planning to build on the efforts initiated last year by former Chair Linda Golden to analyze and help the General Faculty Standing Committees increase their effectiveness and influence. He said his goal was to work with the chairs of these committees to determine how to make them more “robust” than they have recently been. Chair Burger said that some of the committees were more active and involved than others; however, he said he wanted to explore ways to empower some of the less engaged committees by increasing their responsibilities with regard to the functioning of the University. To get his priority operationally underway, Chair Burger plans to contact committee chairs in the coming weeks.

V.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR ELECT.

Chair elect David Hillis (integrated biology) reported on two informational items. First, he announced that the ad hoc Faculty Council Committee on Athletics and Academics would be


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  meeting within the coming week to discuss the recommendations issued by the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA). He said he was hopeful that the meeting would produce a subset of the recommendations for the consideration of the Faculty Council at a meeting in the foreseeable future.

His second item regarded the Brackenridge tract located off of Lake Austin Boulevard that is under review by the Board of Regents to determine its best use for supporting the University. Professor Hillis said he was concerned that there have been no faculty representatives on the subcommittee that is analyzing the Brackenridge tract and preparing recommendations for the Board of Regents to consider. He said he thought it was very important that faculty members be involved in the development and implementation of the University’s master plan and the analysis of how this tract can best serve UT Austin, especially since the site is currently used for long-standing biological research and for student housing.

VI.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS—None.

VII.
REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES, SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES—None.

VIII.
NEW BUSINESS.

A. Report on initiatives from the Office of Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement.

Vice President Gregory Vincent (diversity and community engagement), who is beginning his second year in this position, reported on the initiatives his division has undertaken. He said one of his principal priorities is to increase the diversity of the faculty and leadership of the University. He said this is an essential step in setting the groundwork for attracting students from diverse backgrounds at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. He said he had focused his efforts during the past two years working with deans and department chairs to recruit about 30 new faculty members from underrepresented backgrounds. A second priority has been faculty retention. Of the 56 affiliates of the Center for African and African American Studies last year, ten received formal external offers from other institutions that were trying to attract them away from UT Austin to other institutions. Of the ten faculty members who received formal offers, Vice President Vincent reported that UT Austin was able to successfully retain seven. He also said he was pleased to see so many of the faculty members from diverse backgrounds succeed in earning promotions and securing tenured status.      

With regard to the community engagement aspect of his portfolio, Vice President Vincent said that this area involves the extent to which UT Austin succeeds in “connecting our resources to the needs of the community.” UT Austin has responsibility for five outreach centers with one located in each of the following cities: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and McAllen. Both UT Austin and Texas A&M originally set up these centers through joint sponsorship. Now, however, UT Austin is the sole sponsor of all of these centers. In the case of the Houston center, Vice President Vincent explained that the center offers supplemental instruction to eighth to twelfth graders in six high schools. Of the six valedictorians from these high schools, five participated in the UT Outreach Center in Houston. Four of the five were offered full scholarships to UT Austin, and two of the four chose to attend UT Austin. Across the state of Texas, Vice President Vincent’s office is funding after-school work experiences and summer instruction for approximately 1,300 students.

Dr. Kevin Foster (curriculum and instruction) has served as the Faculty Community Engagement Fellow for the division during the past year and a half. In this role, he has partnered with school districts, primarily the Austin Independent School District, to help at-risk, male, minority students remain in school and achieve academic progress according to their individual capabilities. Vice President Vincent said his division is providing instruction for both high school and middle school


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  students as part of this partnership program involving Dr. Foster. In addition, Vice President Vincent reported on several innovative and cultural initiatives here on campus that his unit is helping to support along with other campus entities, such as ensembles developed through the College of Fine Arts.

Vice President Vincent said he believes it is productive for him to collaborate with deans, chairs, and faculty members regarding specific themes that will promote diversity and strengthen the University’s academic programs. To facilitate development of ideas that will accomplish these goals, especially in programmatic centers such as Women’s and Gender Studies, Asian American Studies, and Mexican American Studies, Vice President Vincent reported that Dr. Ted Gordon (African and African American Studies) has recently been named associate vice president for thematic initiatives and community engagement. Examples of programmatic themes that have been developed include Latin American urbanism developed with the School of Architecture and overrepresentation of minority students in special education programs developed with the College of Education. In addition, Vice President Vincent stressed the importance of increased efforts targeted toward improving diversity among graduate students here; he challenged Council members to formulate with their colleagues specific plans to accomplish this important objective.

B. Annual Report of the University Faculty Ombudsperson (D 5606).

Professor Stan Roux (biological sciences), who is beginning his fourth year as the Faculty Ombudsperson, reported he had conferred with 41 tenure-track faculty, lecturers, and assistant instructors from nine different colleges/schools this past year. He said this number was equal to the average number of faculty he met with during his first two years as the ombudsperson. He said his work as ombudsperson had involved about five hours each week, which matched very closely the estimates he received from other universities before taking the position here. When he was considering the position, former Executive Vice President and Provost Olson told him that the major goal for this new position was to improve faculty moral. Professor Roux said he felt the new office had contributed to faculty moral because conferring with the ombudsperson is a less adversarial way to resolve disputes than filing formal grievances and he had received positive feedback from some of his clients about the process. He thanked the University administration for its willingness to try this new approach and providing financial support for the office.

When asked by Professor Golden if there were recurrent themes in the problems he had seen during the last three years, Professor Roux said there had been a larger number of tenure conflicts during his first year of service than during the subsequent years. Aside from that difference, he said he had not seen any particularly noticeable trends. When Chair Burger asked if he needed an assistant ombudsperson to help with the caseload, Professor Roux said that as long as the time required stayed around five hours per week that he was willing to keep doing the job with the compensation of two months summer pay. During the second year when the time required rose to seven hours per week, he thought an assistant might be needed. However, since the time required has dropped down to about four hours per week, Professor Roux said he thought one person could handle the caseload. He said he thought there could be a situation where a client might not come to see the sole ombudsperson if s/he felt uncomfortable with having that individual know about the problem or situation. He thought this could happen if a faculty member from his college or a faculty member he had known for years had a problem and was reluctant to confer with him. In cases such as this, he said the lack of an alternate ombudsperson could limit access. He said it could be useful to have someone else who could handle such a situation and therefore it might be wise to continue the debate about relying on a sole provider.

Professor Ortiz suggested that perhaps members of the grievance committee could serve as alternates in such situations. She also asked if it would be possible to explore how well informed faculty members are about the availability of the service. Professor Roux responded that this had concerned him because during his first year 51 different individuals had consulted with him, which was higher than the 37 and 41 individuals during the second and third year, respectively. During the first year, he recalled that an article about the service ran in the Austin American


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  Statesman, which he felt raised awareness about the new service. He said he was so busy with all that he has to do as a regular faculty member with a large research lab and classes to teach that he can only devote about the five hours per week that the function has required. As a result, he had not pursued promotional efforts beyond making presentations at the orientations for incoming chairs and new faculty members. He said he would give this further thought and would appreciate any suggestions that the Faculty Council and its members might be willing to offer. Professor Ortiz added that after all the difficulties the Faculty Grievance Committee and Faculty Council had endured seeking approval for the new position, she had worried quite a bit about who could successfully perform such a challenging role that would prove beneficial to the faculty. She then generously complimented Professor Roux on the quality of work he had provided UT Austin as its first ombudsperson. After she said that Professor Roux “has been just outstanding,” Council members broke into a round of hearty applause to show their gratitude.

When Professor Joan Mullin (rhetoric and writing) asked if there were any preventive measures that the University might take to reduce the number of disputes and potential grievances, Professor Roux said he thought training with regard to conflict resolution for department chairs could be beneficial. He said he thought a brief workshop comprising a couple of hours in one day could help prevent some of the cases he has seen where a small amount of empathy and open communication might have easily helped to resolve the issue.

Chair Burger thanked Professor Roux for his report and said he thought the University was fortunate to have Professor Roux serving in this capacity.

IX.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS.

A. Institutional Compliance Program.

Chair Burger introduced Mr. Rudolf Green, Director of the Office of Institutional Compliance, who is an attorney and has been at the University for about six months in his new position. Mr. Green said he was hired after the position he currently holds was elevated to one of full-time status that reports directly to the president following a peer review of UT Austin in 2006. He said the most common faculty involvement with his office will be in the form of emails about required compliance training that will come from his office. Also, his office will notify supervisors of employees who do not comply with the required training in a timely manner.

He explained that these compliance requirements have their roots in the passage of the 1990 Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which regulated the length of sentences judges were to use for certain criminal offenses. Compliance regulations became even more complex with the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley law in 2002. The compliance laws provided for safe habors to exist that offer protection from prosecution or from the assessment of very high monetary fines against the employer when employee(s) are found guilty of criminal activities. The safe harbor can be utilized to protect the employer as long as the business or non-profit organization can prove that it had an effective compliance program in place when the legal transgression(s) occurred.

Mr. Green said faculty and staff must understand that the training and other compliance requirements are not arbitrary, as they are sometimes perceived to be. Because of the complexity of regulations and the high level of potential risk faced by employers if found in noncompliance, Mr. Green said having an effective compliance monitoring system in place is absolutely essential for employers today. He explained that his office is focusing on the collection of activity reports that could be extremely detrimental to the well being of the University. To facilitate compliance, a help line has been established and linked to the UT Austin web site where reports or complaints can be filed about any activity that raises potential concern. This help line can be accessed at the following URL: http://www.utexas.edu/administration/oic/reporting.html.

If preferred, anonymous reports can be filed by having a third party contract group, the Network, take the complaint, classify it, and then file it. Mr. Green said he wants to help employees


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  understand what to do in order to avoid compliance problems in the first place. In addition, he is asking employees to participate in helping him to identify and find noncompliance problems so they can be corrected before their consequences escalate to a serious level that could be detrimental to the entire University.

X.
QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR—None.

XI.
ADJOURNMENT.

Chair Burger adjourned the meeting at 3:26 p.m.



Posted on the Faculty Council web site on November 8, 2007. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.