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MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF October 27, 2008

IV.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR.

After thanking President Powers for his remarks, Chair Hillis reported that the Faculty Council Executive Committee had been exploring methods to more effectively and efficiently promote faculty participation in shared governance at UT Austin. The two areas of focus that have been chosen are increasing the efficiency with how Council business is transacted and strengthening the roles of University Standing Committees in contributing to decision-making on campus. He reported that the Executive Committee had met with administrators to discuss ways to promote these goals. He then requested that Council members send their specific suggestions and ideas on how to accomplish these goals to him or to any of the other Executive Committee members for consideration.

Chair Hillis said he had received comments and inquiries from a number of faculty members expressing concern about the on-going Board of Regents’ study regarding the future of the Brackenridge campus. He reported that the request to include faculty representation on the Brackenridge Tract Task Force had been turned down and had stimulated a great deal of raised concern regarding how faculty might have input into the process. Chair Hillis reported that he had contacted Cooper, Robertson & Partners, LLP, the consulting firm hired to conduct the review and make recommendations to the Board of Regents. As a result, he had met with representatives from the firm about the major issues and concerns he had heard from faculty members, which included the University’s need for space for convenient future expansion, the status and future of graduate student housing on the Brackenridge Tract, the importance of the field laboratory to remain available for the on-going, long-term scientific research being conducted there, and the importance and mechanisms of incorporating faculty input into the review process. Chair Hillis described the meeting as “very productive” and reported that Mr. David McGregor, a representative from Cooper Robertson, had agreed to make a presentation at the November Council meeting regarding the process and procedures the firm is following to conduct the review. Chair Hillis said Mr. McGregor would also address “how faculty can provide input and get involved.” Chair Hill said Mr. McGregor has indicated he is “interested in seeking faculty input,” and a mechanism will be provided for that to occur. Chair Hillis reported that Cooper Robertson is holding a series of workshops during the first week of November to present preliminary information to the public, and faculty members are welcome to participate. He asked faculty members who were interested in attending the workshops to contact him in order to receive additional information regarding dates and locations.

Chair Hillis then introduced the new faculty ombudsperson, Dr. Mary Steinhart (kinesiology and health education), to the Council and welcomed and congratulated her to the new position.


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