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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY FOR 2008-2009

Following are the minutes of the General Faculty meeting of Monday, October 27, 2008.
Greninger signature
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY FOR 2008-2009

I.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

Minutes of the 2007-08 regular meeting of the General Faculty, which was held on October 15, 2007, and published as D 6297-6299, were approved by voice vote.

II.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE FACULTY COUNCIL, 2007-2008.

On behalf of Secretary Sue Greninger, David Hillis, 2008-09 Faculty Council chair, presented a brief overview of the annual report, which was published as D 6341-6384. Chair Hillis reported that legislation regarding the following revisions of the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) received approval: discovery and rights of parties when a formal hearing occurs, role of the provost in grievance procedures, and disciplining of a faculty member. He said the legislation approved by the Council for inclusion in the HOP regarding grievance procedures for teaching assistants and assistant instructors is under consideration but not yet approved. Establishment of a plus/minus grading system for undergraduates was approved and is being implemented. However, the proposal to add an honorary A+ grade to the new undergraduate grading system died after a similar proposal failed to gain approval by the Graduate Assembly for amending the existing graduate grading system. The legislation refining the designation criteria for college scholars and distinguished college scholars was also approved. Chair Hillis announced that approvals from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the final version of the amended motion on curricular reform and the motion to change core curriculum course lists for Undergraduate Catalog, 2008-2010 had been received. He also reported that the following legislation approved by the Council did not gain approval by the UT Austin administration: (1) a recommendation from the Admissions and Registration Committee regarding a change in enrollment policy for non-degree seekers and (2) a recommendation by the Educational Policy Committee regarding improvements in undergraduate course availability. Chair Hillis said these two pieces of legislation had been returned to their respective originating committees for further consideration.

III.
DISCUSSION OF ANNUAL REPORT—None.

IV.
COMMENTS BY AND QUESTIONS TO THE PRESIDENT.

Since there were no questions submitted prior to the meeting for President Powers to address, he invited questions from the floor. Professor Mary Neuburger (history) asked President Powers if the top 10% rule had increased diversity at UT Austin. President Powers said diversity had been increased during the decade that the top 10% rule has been in place. He said the rule had been particularly helpful in the early years when ethnicity could not be used in admission decisions. He recalled that only about 43% of the incoming students during that period entered under the top 10% rule. President Powers said he thought the major factors that had facilitated the growth of diversity on campus were the following: increased minority high school enrollment, scholarships, UT’s outreach efforts, and programs such as the Longhorn Opportunity Scholars. He said he thought these factors had been important both during the time when ethnicity could not be considered and later after the Hopwood ruling was overturned and the Grutter decision occurred. He said the University’s admissions centers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Harlingen had been instrumental in increasing diversity through their recruitment effort. According to President Powers, about a quarter of the top 10% enrollees currently are either Hispanic or African American. However, the president said he was concerned the top 10% rule was now becoming an obstacle to further growth in diversity, and he thought future progress would be enhanced if half of the incoming students entered UT under this rule and the other half entered under a holistic admissions process.

When Professor Neuburger asked how this recommended mix could be achieved under the current regulations, President Powers replied it would require a modification of the top 10% rule. If such a modification occurred, he said it would be approximately a top 7% rule at present. In this case, the target percentage would be announced a year in advance so high school juniors know what is needed for guaranteed admission. President Powers said he thought this process would be preferable to the University selecting specific students for admission from among the top 10% of a class. He said the details of the modified plan would have to be worked out.

When Professor Neuburger asked about the financial impact of the current top 10% rule on out-of-state enrollment and tuition revenue, President Powers said this issue was not the primary problem. He said the percentage of the Texas students entering UT Austin this fall, who met the top 10% rule, was 81%, up from 71% last fall, and he expected this percentage would continue to climb. Due to UT Austin’s limited capacity, he indicated that there was very little discretion to admit students with special talents, skills, and career interests. He said there were good students, including some who fell only a percentage point or two below the top 10% cut; however, these students may have served as student leaders, won academic competitions, have the ability to play an instrument needed by the band or orchestra, started a business, or volunteered for important community service activities. President Powers said increased transfer student enrollment would benefit the University as well as facilitate the state’s on-going policy to improve integration of higher education institutions across the state. In closing, he called for greater flexibility in terms of the admission process than the one currently in place to provide for the diversity being sought for UT Austin.

V.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS—None.

VI.
REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES.

A. Committee to Nominate a Candidate for Secretary of the General Faculty.

Chair David Hillis (chair of the nominating committee) reported that Sue Alexander Greninger (human development and family sciences) was the committee’s choice for the secretary position. Also serving on the nomination committee were Professors Janet Staiger (radio-television-film), Alan W. Friedman (English), Michael H. Granof (accounting), Steven J. Friesen (religious studies), and Susan S. Heinzelman (English).

VII.
NEW BUSINESS.

A. Election of the Secretary of the General Faculty.

President Powers asked if there were any nominations for secretary from the floor. Since there were no other nominations, he called for the vote. Professor Greninger was unanimously elected to serve for the calendar year 2009.

VIII.
REMAINING QUESTIONS TO THE PRESIDENT—None.

VIX.
AJOURNMENT.

The meeting adjourned at 2:34 p.m.

Distributed through the Faculty Council web site on June 29, 2009.