April 13, 2009


A. Proposal to Authorize One- and Two-hour Course Flags (D 6967-6968).

Professor Lawrence Abraham (chair, Educational Policy Committee and associate dean designee, School of Undergraduate Studies) explained that the original core curriculum reform legislation specified that courses carrying content flags would be offered as three-hour courses. He said this was because the courses designated with flags were expected to provide content beyond the elements that merited the flag. He explained that as core components have been implemented, it became clear that some colleges and schools were interested in developing flagged courses that provided one or two credit hours. In a collaborative effort, the Educational Policy Committee had worked with undergraduate studies personnel to develop proposed guidelines that would allow such courses to exist and to specify the minimum portion of the course grade that must relate to the flagged content. Because the original legislation stipulated that courses carrying the quantitative reasoning flag should have at least half of the grade in a three-hour course related to quantitative reasoning, Professor Abraham said he did not see how it would be possible to offer one-hour courses that could meet the original requirement for the flag designation. Chair Hillis opened the floor to discussion of the proposal. There being no questions, he called for the vote and the proposal unanimously passed by voice vote.

B. Motion to Update the Core Curriculum Course Lists for the Undergraduate Catalog, 2010-2012 (D 6976-6981).

On behalf of Dean Paul Woodruff (undergraduate studies), Professor Abraham presented an updated core curriculum list to be included in the Undergraduate Catalog, 2010-2012. He said the list had been developed in consultation with the Undergraduate Studies Advisory Committee and the provost’s office in order to fulfill the core curriculum requirements specified by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Professor Abraham explained that the list would be updated every two years as new catalogs were issued. Although the motion sought approval of the entire list, Professor Abraham briefly described each section and explained the changes from the previous list as presented in D 6876-6981.

After Professor Abraham moved that the list be approved and the motion was seconded, Chair Hillis opened the floor for discussion. Vice Provost John Dollard (information, management, and analysis) asked for permission to speak since he was not a member of the Council. There were no objections so permission was granted. Vice Provost Dollard asked how a one-hour course, as approved in the previous motion, could satisfy the English composition flag, which this proposal indicated, involved three additional hours. Chair Hillis said his understanding was that a student could have a course that separately satisfied the flag requirement, but would still need the three additional hours in that area. Mr. Cale McDowell, deputy to Dean Woodruff, explained that wording in the catalog sometimes mentioned flag requirements in terms of flags and other times referred to them in terms of hours. He said this terminology had evolved because it sometimes was difficult to communicate the requirements to students; however, in this particular situation, Mr. McDowell said the wording said that a student needed three hours of coursework that was specified as a writing flag.

Professor Brian Evans (electrical and computer engineering) noted that there were no specific engineering courses listed in the science and technology part II requirement, which addressed courses in science, engineering, and technology dealing with problems facing society now and in the future. Professor Abraham responded that course development was underway but would not completed for inclusion in the next catalog. He said the departments in engineering were being asked to offer courses that would be appropriate for non-majors, and he hoped that coordination between the departments and the undergraduate studies school would bring this to fruition.

Professor Bill Beckner (mathematics) said this issue had also been discussed at a meeting of the Committee on Undergraduate Degree Program Review, and there was general agreement that development of engineering courses was a good idea, and an attempt was underway to encourage the various engineering programs to suggest course ideas.

Chair Hillis said he thought the new proposal regarding part I of the science and technology section was not a problem, but the current requirement was written up in a way that was quite confusing. He said the document says there must be six hours of coursework in a single field of study, and then it lists six-hour sequences in astronomy, biology, chemistry, geological sciences, and natural sciences, physical sciences, and physics followed by an isolated biology and physics course. Chair Hillis said he thought students would be confused as to how they could possibly take those isolated courses as a six-hour sequence. He said he thought those two courses were for the Plan II majors, and could be taken in combination with another biology course in a six-hour sequence. Mr. McDowell concurred with Chair Hillis’ statement, saying there was a footnote in the catalog copy that begins to explain this process. He said he thought it would be a good idea to add more to the explanation in the next version of the catalog. When the biology department determined that there was too much overlap between 301E and 301L and between 301E and 301M for both of those courses to count, he said that left only BIO 301D as a non-science major introductory biology course to be paired with 301E. According to Mr. McDowell, this was generally what students were advised to do by the Plan II office. He said there had been students who took 311C then left for non-science majors and later finished the sequence with 301E. In some cases, according to Mr. McDowell, students deviate from the 301D sequence, but the advising aids make it clear what they should be doing. He said he thought it was possible to improve understanding by updating and clarifying the catalog copy.

Professor Chris Bell (geological sciences) said he thought the English and rhetoric wording section was confusing with flags and hours referred to in the same paragraph. He recommended the following change in wording: “delete the words, “one of” in front of the writing flag or substantial writing component. It’ll just read, “three additional hours in this area of the statewide core curriculum are satisfied by the completion of the writing flag or substantial writing component courses required by every undergraduate degree program.” After considerable discussion between Professors Abraham and Bell, a consensus developed that the wording should be changed to say, “are satisfied by completion of three hours of the writing flag or substantial writing component courses.” Because Professor Abraham, who had made the original motion, and Professor Beckner, who had seconded it, both agreed on this new wording, Chair Hillis declared that this was essentially a friendly amendment to the motion. There being no further discussion, Chair Hillis called for the vote, and the motion as amended unanimously passed by voice vote.

C. Resolution in Support of Creating a Staff Ombudsperson Position at UT Austin (D 6966)

On behalf of the Faculty Council Executive Committee, Chair Hillis introduced the following resolution, “The Faculty Council supports the Staff Council in their mission to secure an ombudsperson for staff personnel at The University of Texas at Austin.” Staff Council Representative Denise Berry announced there would be a brown bag luncheon to discuss the staff ombudsperson issue. She also endorsed the proposed resolution. There being no further discussion, Chair Hillis called for the vote, and the motion was unanimously passed by voice vote.

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