November 16. 2009


C. Ideas of Texas Presentation.

Mr. Paul B. Walker (special assistant to President Powers) introduced himself, saying he had been at UT Austin for about ten weeks and launched the Ideas of Texas Project two weeks ago. He said his initial mission was to engage the alumni, and his agenda involved eleven initiatives largely designed to accomplish that objective. He said the first initiative, The Ideas of Texas, was designed to generate creative thought and problem solving through “crowd-sourcing” among UT alumni, faculty, staff, and students. The project’s goal is “to advance the University” and demonstrate that the ideas of individuals from within the UT Austin community are valued by the administration. Although the project was initially planned only for alumni involvement, it became clear that expanding the effort to include other members of the UT community would provide increased benefits. Mr. Walker’s PowerPoint presentation explaining the goals, theoretical and historical background, web-based methodology, participation incentives, and expected outcomes of The Ideas of Texas is included in Appendix B. He emphasized the interactive aspects of the process, saying the votes cast about posted ideas would generate discussion and evaluation, such that the “best ideas would rise to the top.” He said the president and other administrators would review the ideas at the end of each semester, implement them if possible, and recognize the individuals who submitted them. Because transparency is important to the process, the reasons why ideas could not be implemented will be explained.

When discussing the guidelines for submitting ideas, Mr. Walker emphasized that contributions would not be moderated before being posted, but moderation could occur afterwards. So far, he said two posts had been removed, largely because they were comments rather than ideas; in both cases, the contributors were sent notes suggesting they reword their comments as ideas for reconsideration and potential posting. He also explained that the initial launch in November would not follow the planned sixty-day timeframe but would run through the spring with presidential recognition occurring near the end of the semester.

Professor Linda Golden (marketing) noted that metrics related to employee morale were not included and asked if any were planned. Mr. Walker said there were two surveys conducted by Human Resources (HR) that would be used to monitor morale levels and other issues. He said the project team had an HR representative, who would be responsible for keeping the project members aware of issues involving employee morale. Mr. Walker asked Council members to participate by contributing ideas, reviewing the postings, commenting and voting on the ideas, and providing feedback about the initiative. After he said that he and Mr. Jeff Wentworth would gladly answer questions about the project, Chair Staiger asked Mr. Wentworth to stand so Council members would be know who could answer their questions. She then thanked Mr. Walker for his presentation.

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