January 26, 2009


A. Resolution Concerning Domestic Partner Benefits (D 6804).

Professor Alan Friedman (English) introduced the resolution that had been endorsed by the Faculty Council Executive Committee and commented briefly that domestic partner benefits are needed to improve UT Austin’s competiveness, excellence, and equity. He reported that all Ivy League institutions and all but two of UT’s peer institutions provide such benefits; the two that do not are currently seeking ways to offer such benefits in the future. Professor Friedman said this failure to provide partner benefits violates UT’s non-discrimination policy and that ways around legal impediments could be utilized here in Texas just as they have been in other states with similar impediments. There being no questions or objections, Chair Hillis called for a voice vote; the resolution was unanimously approved by the Faculty Council.

B. Report from the Intercollegiate Athletics Councils for Men and for Women.

Professors Mary Steinhardt (kinesiology and health education and women’s athletics council chair) and David Fowler (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering and men’s athletics council chair) presented a joint report from the athletics councils. Before beginning the presentation, Professor Steinhardt wanted to be sure everyone understood that the data referenced in the question following the COIA presentation compared the cumulative GPAs of all male and female undergraduates enrolled in all courses at UT Austin rather than those of student athletes, which she thought the follow-on discussion seemed to imply. She said she would present the main academic report regarding UT Austin’s athletics, and Professor Fowler would then discuss other highlights, budget information, and the NCAA certification process that UT Austin recently completed. She said Professor Fowler would also provide answers to the questions Chair Hillis had submitted to the athletics councils on behalf of the Faculty Council. She then proceeded to go through most of the Power Point slides that are included in Appendix D.2

Following Professor Steinhardt’s part of the presentation, Chair Hillis explained that the questions submitted by Council members for the athletics councils to address had been reviewed by the Faculty Council Executive Committee, reorganized into a reasonable number, and then sent to the two athletics councils.

Professor Fowler began his portion of the presentation3 by explaining that the athletics councils serve in an advisory capacity to President Powers. He introduced the following athletics council members who had come to the meeting: Professors Michael Clement (accounting), Isabella Cunningham (advertising), Robert Prentice (information, risk, and operations management), and Gretchen Ritter (government). Professor Fowler said the councils meet with the head coach and academic advisors each year to review each team’s GPA and APR; each student athlete’s academic record; and each incoming student athlete’s profile, grades, and selection process. He said the meetings with the coaches began approximately two year ago, and he had been impressed with the dedication indicated by the coaches for their student athletes to succeed academically.

Following Professor Fowler’s part of the PowerPoint presentation, he provided prepared answers to the following questions Chair Hillis had submitted on behalf of the Faculty Council:
  1. Many faculty members have a perception of a growing gap between athletic and academic aspects of student life, especially in he high profile sports. Do you agree that student athletes should be more fully integrated into the academic life of the university? If not, why not? If so, what are some specific ways we can work together to achieve this goal?

Professor Fowler said the athletics councils want and expect there to be full integration of the athletes into UT Austin’s academic life. He said Professor Steinhardt and he believe there is a reasonable level of integration already, but there is room for improvement and faculty involvement is welcome. He said he thought the information in the PowerPoint presentation indicated a number of the student athletes were performing well academically, meeting the requirements of their scholarships, and contributing positively in terms of community service.

Professor Fowler acknowledged that many of the student athletes come to UT Austin seeking--and indeed expecting--to become professional athletes. He said these aspirations consume a great deal of time and effort to fit in the requisite practice sessions and rigorous physical training in addition to their academic studies. Professor Fowler said this was not actually that different than the dedication required for a student to become an accomplished musician, artist, or outstanding professional in just about any career area. In addition, he noted that student athletes must meet NCAA requirements involving progress toward completion of their degrees in order to remain eligible for continued athletic participation.

Professor Fowler said once or twice a year opportunities are provided for faculty to visit with the student athletes, talk about degree programs, and provide advice on how to succeed academically. He invited Council member to come to these occasions, saying he thought this “would help a great deal if you would be willing” to participate.

  1. Without legislative change, President Powers has stated nearly 100% of our student body will soon be admitted under the top 10% admissions criteria. How will this situation impact athletic admissions? What percent of each of our current men’s and women’s teams is currently admitted under the top 10% criteria? How are exceptions currently reviewed and assessed now, and will that change in the future?

Professor Fowler said he had contacted Vice Provost and Admissions Director Bruce Walker for an answer to the top 10% question and received permission to quote from Dr. Walker’s response as follows:

The top 10% legislation has no effect on athletic admissions. The number of athletes we admit is controlled by the number of scholarships or roster spots each coach has for any one admission cycle, and any enrollment limit set by the university or imposed by state law, such as the top 10% bill. I can’t answer how many athletes are admitted under the top 10% because I don’t have a database of athletes. If we fill all available spots with top 10%, which is highly possible and likely, we would simply expand the number of spots needed to meet athletic recruitment requirements. We now do this for any program with special requirements. For example, we will admit the flute player that music must have for the orchestra, even if we have reached our overall numerical target for that class. We will see that geosciences has sufficient students for a functional freshman class, even if no top 10% students select this as their major.”

Professor Fowler said that the admissions director had parenthetically added, “We had to do this for the freshman who entered in the fall of 2008.” After repeating that Dr. Walker had been quite emphatic throughout his response that the top 10% rule had no effect on athletic admissions, Professor Fowler noted that there are approximately 95-100 new student athlete enrollees each year, which comprises about 1.7% of the entering freshman class. He reminded the Council that student athletes, who gain admission to UT Austin, must meet minimum NCAA requirements and be on a scholarship.

  1. Would UT’s athletics departments be willing to endow some academic-based scholarships for outstanding students who also attain a high level of athletic excellence (for example, students who participate in the para-Olympic games or achieve the highest level of practice in martial arts)?
Professor Fowler said the decision on such a funding request would not be made by athletics because athletics is responsible for funding NCAA sports. He said the administration is responsible for deciding how to use the considerably large sum of money that athletics provides to the university.

After thanking the Council for the opportunity to report on the activities of the athletic councils, Professor Fowler invited members to contact Professor Steinhardt or him with any questions they might have about athletics.

C. Final Report of the Gender Equity Task Force (D 6483-6652).

Co-chairs of the Gender Equity Task Force, Professors Gretchen Ritter (government) and J. Strother Moore (computer sciences), gave a PowerPoint presentation, which is included in Appendix E. The final report can be accessed online.

Professor Chandra Muller (sociology), a task force member who provided much of the data analysis, attended the Council meeting and was acknowledged by Professor Ritter.

Professor Ritter summarized the major findings from the task force’s work as follows:
  • Significant gender gaps were found in compensation, promotion, overall representation, governance, and leadership
  • Survey respondents indicated a much less positive overall climate for women faculty members than for male faculty members
  • Comparison data from peer institutions indicated UT trailed on several major gender equity measures

Professor Ritter said the task force recommended the university immediately address the above problems with on-going procedures to correct inequalities and establish new procedures that would prevent the return to such inequalities over time. In addition to presenting findings about differences that exist by gender here at UT Austin, the report included comparison data from peer institutions, reported incidences of discrimination and harassment, and specific recommendations for how the Faculty Council might become involved. For further details, see Appendix E.4

Following the presentation, Professor Larry Abraham (kinesiology and health education) asked if the recommendations of the task force were being directed through various standing committees since that was the typical way the Faculty Council worked. Noting the effort that had been expended by the task force, he asked if a process for faculty response had been established and offered the following suggestion, “…it seems like we need to plug this in to the way we work.” Professor Ritter indicated that task force members had met with a couple of the standing committees to discuss some of the recommendations, but the task force was external to the Faculty Council. She encouraged Council members and the Faculty Council Executive Committee to consider the issue Professor Abraham had raised and determine if any of the specific recommendations should be referred to committees for their study and potential action. Professor Moore pointed out that there were 31 recommendations in the task force’s report. He suggested that individuals familiar with how the Faculty Council operates could review the recommendations and identify those that would be appropriate assignment to specific committees. He said the task force had presented the recommendations to Provost Leslie and others and had made a great effort to document the current reality that exists so it would be possible to determine whether or not progress had been made in the future. Professor Moore said he considered the UT report to be challenge to other universities, who are facing similar problems, to study more extensively the situations that exist on their campuses. Although the task fore members had hoped to find comprehensive information from peer institutions to assist them in their work, Professor Moore said they generally found “much sketchier reports” than what the UT task force ultimately produced.

Professor Karrol Kitt (human development and family sciences and Faculty Welfare Committee chair) reported that her committee had received the report from Professor Ritter and talked with the provost’s office about actions currently underway. She said the Faculty Welfare Committee intended to focus on climate and work/family issues.

Vice Chair Janet Staiger (women’s and gender studies and radio/television/film) thanked Provost Leslie for funding the task force’s work and asked if he might like to comment on the administration’s response to the report. She said she understood that Vice Provost Judith Langlois was responsible for implementing many of the recommendations, and the Faculty Council will want to be updated about the progress being made by Vice Provost Langlois’ implementation team.

Provost Leslie complimented the task force for the quality of its work and thanked the members for the their diligence in completing the type of report the administration had wanted because it identified the important issues that need to be addressed. He said the implementation phase of the effort was just getting underway, and Vice Provost Langlois was organizing a committee to deal with legal issues that must be resolved, as well as putting together groups and committees to work on specific recommendations. He said some work could not be undertaken until the budget gets firmed up, but he said his office intended to aggressively work on implementing the recommendations.

Professor Carol MacKay (English) alerted Council members that a forum on the task force’s work was scheduled for February 4 and said its goal was widespread campus participation. She said there would be a panel comprised of deans and other members of the university community who would discuss the findings and recommendations, and answer questions from the audience. Chair Hillis thanked Professor MacKay and said her comment provided an opportunity for him to call attention to the announcements, which are listed below.

2 The complete transcription of Professor Steinhart’s verbal report that accompanied slides 1-19 of the PowerPoint presentation can be reviewed at the Faculty Council office; it is not included in the minutes since the PowerPoint included in Appendix D provides essentially the same content. A difference between this report and previous ones presented to the Faculty Councils is that the current report combines some data for both male and female athletes whereas previous reports were given separately for the two programs.
3 The complete transcription of Professor Fowlers’ verbal report that accompanied slides 20-28 of the PowerPoint presentation can be reviewed at the Faculty Council office; it is not included in the minutes since the PowerPoint included in Appendix D provides essentially the same content.
4 The complete transcription of the verbal report that accompanied thePowerPoint presentation can be reviewed at the Faculty Council office; it is not included in the minutes since the PowerPoint included in Appendix E provides essentially the same content.

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