MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
March 22, 2010
VIII. NEW BUSINESS.
Proposal from the Faculty Rules and Governance Committee Recommending Changes to the Voting Rights for Non-Tenure Track Faculty (D 7980-7981).
Dr. Hillary Hart presented this legislation to extend voting rights to all non-tenure track faculty that meet certain criteria; she said action on the legislation is expected at the May Council meeting. Dr. Hart explained that the Handbook of Operating Procedures specifies the following faculty members as voting members of the General Faculty: all professors, associate professors, and assistant professors as well as all instructors and lecturers who have had a total of four or more long session semesters of service of those ranks at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Hart said the new definition of voting faculty members would change “instructors and lecturers” to “non-tenure track faculty,” retain the same teaching duration, and add the following criteria to the non-tenure track faculty:
- are appointed at least 50% of the time at a UT Austin unit,
- have an academic title,
- are not students because in fact teaching assistants and assistant instructors, those are academic titles, and
- have the possibility of continuing employment in their position.
Dr. Hart said the rationale for the proposed changes was primarily to recognize that new job titles are being used across the University that were not previously used in large numbers, such as clinical professor and research professor and to provide greater equity to faculty serving in capacities that were not mentioned in the Handbook of Operating Procedures. She said additional changes in the legislation were included to update wording and clarify meanings, such as departmentalized school, joint appointees, and center-based faculty members. Chair Staiger said Council members needed to review the materials before the next meeting and provide feedback. She said one issue the committee had a difficult time deciding was whether or not an administrator should be allowed to vote in the department on an item that he or she would be essentially voting on later when the item was sent forward from the department and thus have two votes on the item in question.
Executive Vice Provost Steve Monti said the term “as detailed in the budget” referred historically to only lecturers. He said at one time a limited group of lecturers who had been at the University for a long time were actually listed by name in the budget and were accorded voting rights, but all others were hired on an annual basis and did not have voting rights. Vice Provost Monti said there are no lecturers listed by name in the budget now so the wording of the proposal needed clarification as to whether or not all lecturers or non-tenure track faculty will be accorded voting rights. He also said that the reference to continuity of appointment was unclear and wondered if only those with multiple year appointments would be allowed to vote or if some other measure of continuity would be used to determine voting rights. He also said continuity of service for college voting rights had been changed in 1999 from two consecutive semesters to four semesters. When Chair Staiger said the committee had used the information from the on-line Handbook of Operating Procedures, Vice Provost Monti said the on-line version was not up-to-date, and he had consulted Faculty Council documents to determine the current legislated requirements. He also agreed that joint appointments needed careful attention and recommended against striking the provision allowing a department to vote on the voting rights of faculty members who are paid less than half time by the department. He said leaving that provision intact would provide a mechanism for handling all joint appointments. He also questioned why certain faculty titles had been deleted in the proposed legislation. For example, he said UT Austin had individuals with the title of associate professor emeritus, and he expected there would be others with this title in the future. In addition, Vice Provost Monti said the legislation included visiting assistant professors, when this title does not exist here at UT Austin. Dr. Hart thanked Vice Provost Monti for the information, and Vice Provost Monti said he would be willing to work with Dr. Hart and her committee on the technical details of the proposal.
Professor Eileen Fowles (nursing) asked if the four semesters had to be contiguous or if serving in an academic position every fall over four years would meet the voting rights requirement. Dr. Hart said the original language did not address the issue. She asked if the Council wanted the requirement to be for contiguous service over four semesters in order to clarify the language. When no one spoke up, Professor Fowles said she had just been curious but there was no need to change the wording.