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

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

MAY 5, 2008

The first meeting of the voting members of the 2008-09 Faculty Council was held in Room 212 of the Main Building on Monday, May 5, 2008, at 2:15 p.m. David M. Hillis (integrative biology), chair of the 2008-09 Council, presided.


Present: Lawrence D. Abraham, Mark I. Alpert, William Beckner, Christopher J. Bell, David P. Birdsong, Randy Bomer, Daniel A. Bonevac, Dean A. Bredeson, Cynthia J. Buckley, Douglas C. Burger, Bradley W. Carpenter, Lee R. Chesney, Richard H. Crawford, Elizabeth Cullingford, Edwin Dorn, Luis Francisco-Revilla, Alan W. Friedman, Steven J. Friesen, Scott J. Fulford, Alexandra A. Garcia, Robert B. Gilbert, Andrea C. Gore, Sue A. Greninger, Patricia I. Hansen, David M. Hillis, Emily A. Jung, Erhan Kutanoglu, Robert P. Lieli, Mark G. Longaker, John E. Luecke, Carol H. MacKay, Raul L. Madrid, Hunter C. March, Lauren A. Meyers, Gretchen Murphy, Dean P. Neikirk, Gordon S. Novak, Edward W. (Ted) Odell, Alba A. Ortiz, Thomas G. Palaima, Priyanka C. Pathak, Keshav Rajagopalan, Kenneth M. Ralls, Janet Staiger, Mary A. Steinhardt, Nikita Storojev, Paul K. Tchir, Darlene C. Wiley, Clark R. Wilson.

Absent: Urton L. Anderson (excused), Tawny L. Bettinger, Daniel J. Birkholz (excused), Hans C. Boas (excused), Pascale R. Bos (excused), Neal M. Burns, Lorenzo F. (Frank) Candelaria, Lisa J. Cary (excused), Namkee Choi, Molly E. Cummings (excused), John S. Dzienkowski, Brian L. Evans, Kevin M. Foster, Daniel S. Freed (excused), Gary Geisler, Michael H. Granof (excused), Darlene Grant, Charles R. Hale (excused), Susan S. Heinzelman, Neville Hoad, Elaine K. Horwitz (excused), LeeAnn Kahlor, Karrol A. Kitt (excused), Mary C. Neuburger (excused), Domino R. Perez, Gretchen Ritter (excused), Frankie Shulkin, Shannon Speed.

Voting Members:


Chair Hillis called the special meeting of the 2008-09 Faculty Council to order, welcomed everyone, and extended an invitation to the newly-elected Council members to stay for the regular May meeting of the 2007-08 Council, which would immediately follow adjournment of the special meeting. Chair Hillis said the purpose of the special meeting was to choose a chair elect for the 2008-09 Council as well as executive committee members representing the following committees: Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets, Educational Policy Committee, and Faculty Welfare Committee. On behalf of the Faculty Council Executive Committee, which served as the nominating committee, he thanked the nominees who were willing to run for Council officers for the coming year.


Chair Hillis called on each candidate to make a brief statement. Professor Alan Friedman (English) read a statement prepared by Professor Michael Granof, who was unable to attend. Chair Hillis read a statement prepared by Professor Karrol A. Kitt (human ecology) because she also was unable to attend the meeting. The other candidates gave brief presentations highlighting their experiences, qualifications, and interest in serving as an officer of the 2008-09 Faculty Council. After the presentations were completed, Chair Hillis informed the voting members that there was a slot for write-in nominations on the ballot. Members cast their votes on the paper ballots that were then collected and tallied.1

A. Election of the chair elect.

Professors Dean P. Neikirk (electrical and computer engineering) and Janet Staiger (radio-television-film, women’s and gender studies) were the nominees; Professor Staiger was elected.

B. Election to the Executive Committee of a member from the Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets.

Professors Michael H. Granof (accounting) and Thomas G. Palaima (classics) were the nominees; Professor Granof was elected.

C. Election to the Executive Committee of a member from the Educational Policy Committee.

Professors William Beckner (mathematics) and Alan W. Friedman (English) were the nominees; Professor Friedman was elected.

D. Election to the Executive Committee of a member from the Faculty Welfare Committee.

Professors Steven J. Friesen (religious studies) and Karrol A. Kitt (human ecology) were the nominees; Professor Friesen was elected.

1 Due to the humor in the statements by Professors Michael Granof (accounting) and Thomas Palaima (classics), who were vying to be the executive committee representative from the Faculty Budget Advisory Committee, Chair Hillis suggested that their presentations be posted for everyone’s enjoyment. Although candidate statements are not typically included in the Council’s minutes, the secretary has agreed to include the two statements in Appendix A, primarily to show that service on the Faculty Council can actually be entertaining. The secretary hopes the other candidates will not perceive the omission of their statements from the minutes as an intended affront to them personally or to their candidacy; the secretary is very grateful for their willingness to run for office. It is important to understand that Professor Granof’s statement was written by him and then read by Professor Friedman because Professor Granof could not attend the meeting whereas Professor Palaima had to extemporaneously deliver his rebuttal.


  Chair Hillis thanked outgoing 2008-09 Chair Burger for his service to the Faculty Council and the University. He then briefly summarized Chair Burger’s many professional accomplishments in computer sciences and his upcoming leave of absence from the University to join Microsoft in a strategic research capacity. After saying he wished Chair Burger great success in his new position, Chair Hillis said part of him hoped Chair Burger would eventually return to UT Austin because he will be so deeply missed. As a token of appreciation for his leadership of the Council, Chair Hillis presented Chair Burger with an analog barometer, saying the gift was chosen “to remind him that sometimes there’s a beauty in functionality in the analog world that can’t be replaced by the digital world.” Chair Hillis explained that the barometer was special because it had a switch on the back to “monitor from afar how the Faculty Council was doing, whether we’re stormy or subject to change or being, hopefully, fair or sometimes very dry.”

Chair Burger said he had enjoyed chairing such an accomplished body as the Faculty Council and working with the executive committee and administration. He complimented Professors Ortiz and Golden for their outstanding work over the previous two years and said he was certain that Professor Hillis would do a “fantastic job as chair next year.” In acknowledging the gift he had just received, Chair Burger said his recent work had sought to move away from the digital paradigm and toward analog computing as circuits approached atomic scale.

Chair Hillis said he was interested in changing Faculty Council operations in a similar manner to that initiated by Chair Burger. He said he welcomed and would be very receptive to the suggestions and recommendations from Council members on how to facilitate meaningful discussion and debate at the meetings on important issues while minimizing the attention usually paid to routine matters. He said he thought many individuals would like to see faculty governance “ramped up” with the faculty playing a more active role in decisions regarding University issues and policies than has generally occurred in the past. After expressing his appreciation to President Powers for hosting breakfast meetings for Council members during the past year, Chair Hillis said these meetings had provided an opportunity for open interaction and idea sharing between faculty members and administrators.

Chair Hillis then closed the meeting by saying he would announce the election results during his chair elect report in the regular May meeting of the 2007-08 Council, which was about to begin.


A. David Hillis is in the process of making General Faculty Standing Committee assignments for next year. You will be receiving your formal letter in campus mail soon. Thank you for your willingness to serve.
B. 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; be sure to mark your calendars. It is an all-day event.
C. The 2008-09 Faculty Council meetings are posted on the Faculty Council's web site.


The meeting adjourned at 2:40 p.m.

Distributed through the Faculty Council web site on July 31, 2008. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, WMB 2.102, F9500.



Statement of Professor Michael Granof

Candidate for Faculty Council Executive Committee Representative
from the Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets

Driven by polls that show this election too close to call, I’ve decided to go negative--a first in the annals of Faculty Council elections. My opponent, Professor Palaima, is an esteemed professor of classics, one who enjoys an enviable international reputation for his scholarship, but he knows squat about University budgeting. It’s all Greek to him. If he were to be elected, we would have the only University budget in the world written in Linear B, the ancient script decipherable only by Tom and three or four of his academic ilk throughout the world. To be sure, neither can I understand The University of Texas budget. Nobody can. It’s incomprehensible, but I’m a CPA, and I know something about creative accounting. Hence, I, unlike Tom, can fake it.

My opponent is well known for his Austin American Statesman columns disparaging UT athletics. In fact, however, his criticisms are nothing but a transparent attempt to get the athletic department to placate him with luncheons with the coaches and invitations to luxury suites at football games. Skybox Tom’s heroes are the very ones who created big time sports. The Olympics were not exactly a Texas creation, yet Tom has yet to either distance himself from or denounce those who venerate the founders of our sports traditions. In fact, if Tom is elected today, then tomorrow the West Mall is likely to be transformed into a stadium for chariot races.

Now, for the positive. Everyone knows that Sir Thomas has little tolerance for the foibles of mankind in general, let alone University administrators in particular. Indeed, whenever he gets frustrated with some misguided decision or failure on the part of the University administrator, which happens multiple times a day, he vows to withdraw completely from University governance and never say another word at a Faculty Council meeting. A few years ago, when I was a member of the Executive Committee, I bet Tom a six-pack of Guinness Beer that he couldn’t go an entire semester without speaking up at a Faculty Council meeting. I won the bet 10 minutes into the September meeting. Taking beer from Tom is like Halliburton taking money from the federal government. Upon making the bet, I planned to request that the University administrators fund any potential loss, in the unlikely event that I had to pay up. They, after all, would be the prime beneficiaries of Tom’s vow of silence. Hence, when I won the bet, I felt a moral imperative to present these administrators with the spoils of my victory, which I did. I now pledge that if I’m elected today, I will increase substantially the stakes of our next bet from a six-pack to a case or more. This time, when I win, I will distribute the winnings to the entire Faculty Council. This of course will do little to alleviate our looming budget crisis, but it will make it ever so slightly more tolerable.

The only legitimate way that Tom can win this election is if he adopted as his campaign theme, “Tom Palaima, the lesser of two evils.” For that, unquestionably, is irrefutably correct.


Statement of Professor Thomas Palaima

Candidate for Faculty Council Executive Committee Representative
from the Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets

I will use the podium…so you can see me for what I am. You can see me for what I am. Michael has the advantage of having a written script ahead of time, which I wasn’t allowed to see. This may have violated the terms of this debate, but what I was going to say is that all of these kinds of accusations and even the quality of us candidates is irrelevant, as we know from looking at our national elections.

What we should be concentrating on is our ministers. You notice Michael said nothing about his rabbi or his political platforms. Now, if I am elected, I can claim I have not talked to a minister in a church for the last ten years. I’m nominally Episcopalian, but coming out of the Roman-Catholic tradition, I can tell you we view Episcopalianism as “Religion Light.” There’s no sin, and there’s no—you can move in the direction of a certain belief, which is what attracted me to it, because this is my chief qualification for being on the Faculty Council.

The second is, that besides ministers, we have to find out what our associations are with old radicals that we may have known back in the past. Now, I can’t say that I knew any Weathermen or SDS people, but I did know the late Clifford Antone. It was one of the great experiences of my life to become good friends with Cliff through another UT—a few UT people—Glen Richter, Kevin Mooney, who is now down at Texas State, and Gavin Garcia. Some of you may know them. I had gone to Antone’s for years and years and would talk to Cliff occasionally, but I was literally in awe of him, and I just could never bring myself…. But when I got to know him in the last two years of his life, and even involved him in UT events—I thought this was a real hallmark of this institution to allow a two-time criminal onto our faculty—that showed great, seriously, showed great openness of mind. One of my fondest memories—in fact, I’m very good friends with Claude Ducloux, some of you know him—the son of Walter Ducloux, and we had a kind of musical dinner where we had Cliff at one end and Claude at the other. So, a top representative of the legal profession and a top representative of the blues tradition at the other end—I thought that was a wonderful thing. That’s as close as I can come to having radicals in my past.

I think in terms of quality of our humor and rhetoric, you can be the judge of that. I also think that Michael and I are very alike. He’s my best friend here at UT that I’ve made outside of the classics department through participation in the Faculty Council. We’re hard and fast friends, and we viewed this election with a good degree of irony, and we knew that whoever loses would be the happier man. With that note, I will conclude.