January 24, 2011


A. Proposed Changes to the Voting Rights of the General Faculty in the Handbook of Operating Procedures (D 8512-8513).

Professor Janet Staiger (radio-television-film, and chair, Faculty Rules and Governance Committee) said the legislation she was presenting could have been listed under unfinished business because it was initiated about a year and a half ago. She explained that changes in faculty titles from lecturers to clinical professors, which were considered at the time to be a good idea, had the unintended consequence resulting in these faculty members losing their voting rights. This occurred because voting rights were not provided for new faculty titles, such as clinical professor or research professor, in the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP). When legislation was initiated to remedy this situation, according to Professor Staiger, concern was expressed because it was thought increased numbers of clinical and research faculty would likely be appointed if UT Austin were to ever have involvement with a medical school. She said there was concern that granting voting privileges to faculty members whose primary appointment resided in institutions other than UT Austin would be problematic. In addition, then Executive Vice Provost Stephen Monti had suggested that the proposal’s wording was based on an incorrect version of the HOP. A serious effort was undertaken to find the most recent version of the HOP’s wording that pertained to voting rights when changes to the HOP were being updated over the summer. From this research, it was determined the wording that Dr. Monti had thought was the correct version in his notes could not be verified by records of approved legislation. Professor Staiger said she thought the version of the HOP used in the current legislation was the correct one, and the Standing Committee on Rules and Governance was ready to recommend approval of D 8512-8513. However, she added that the committee might be introducing another amendment later this year to deal with what some members called double dipping. This concern involved whether or not the same individual should be allowed to vote at multiple levels or should have to choose only one level for voting. The question here pertained to whether an individual who voted as a faculty member at the departmental level should later get to vote again at the college level or some other administrative level due to his or her position. Professor Staiger said she thought this issue could be handled as a minor amendment later but should not hold up the major change to faculty voting rights being presented at today’s meeting.

With regard to D 8512-8513, Professor Staiger reported that she had noticed a couple of slight variations in the legislation from the earlier posting two weeks ago and would make note of those differences during her presentation. She said the broader questions addressed in the current proposed legislation dealt with the voting rights of faculty members at the General Faculty or University level as well as at the college and departmental levels. She explained that that the proposal changed the wording from “lecturers” in the current rules to “non-tenure track faculty” to be more inclusive so the clinical and research faculty members, who meet the other criteria in terms of level, duration, and location of their appointments, would have voting rights at the General Faculty level. She further clarified that the criteria for General Faculty voting rights for instructors and non-tenure track faculty would be a total of four or more continuous long session semesters of service at these ranks at UT Austin that additionally met the following: (1) appointments during this duration of service must be at least 50 percent time as a UT faculty member, (2) appointments where the primary academic home is UT Austin and not another institution, and (3) non-student status. Professor Staiger said the other language in the proposal was intended to make it clear that non-voting members of the General Faculty would consist of those in visiting statuses (professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and visiting Harrington Fellows); those in emeritus titles; and those in non-tenured positions, who have not met the previously explained criteria. She added that non-voting members have the privilege to attend meetings with the right to speak even though they cannot vote.

Professor Staiger noted that there are structural differences among units across campus in that there are departmentalized schools as well as non-departmentalized schools and colleges. With regard to Section V.A. of the legislation, she said that departmentalized schools had been added because these units function the same as colleges. Although the criteria for voting faculty members in colleges and departmentalized schools are the same as for the General Faculty as previously discussed, Professor Staiger said there was interest in some of these units to have broader faulty voting rights for their unit’s business than that provided for General Faculty matters. To provide for this, she said the following provision was included in the proposed legislation, which could be initiated in the 2011 fall semester if the voting rights legislation ultimately received full approval at all levels:
V.A.4. Colleges and departmentalized schools may create more liberal voting criteria provided the rules meet these minimal standards. These voting rules shall be reported to the provost and Office of General Faculty and reaffirmed or revised every three years. These rules shall operate for the entire academic year and shall be determined prior to the start of a fall academic year.
In addition, Professor Staiger said the language in the proposed legislation clarified that a faculty member holding dual titles would have voting rights in both colleges or departments provided the faculty member holds a 50 percent appointment in each unit.

Professor Staiger said the wording in Section V.B. of the proposed legislation was changed from what was originally posted to clarify the situation with regard to the College of Pharmacy, which is a college rather than a school, and to make it clear that non-departmentalized schools and colleges are equivalent units with the same faculty voting rights and privileges as faculty in departments. She said this means that a faculty member would have voting status in a department or non-departmentalized school/college on departmental/non-departmentalized school/college business if the faculty member holds a full-time appointment at the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, instructor, or any non-tenure track title. She further explained that these positions pertained to faculty lines. In addition, she said the wording was clarified to indicate that a faculty member would have departmental or non-departmental school/college voting rights if he or she held joint appointments in two or more departments at any of the ranks listed above, if the sum of which corresponded to a full-time appointment at UT Austin and the appointment in the represented department constitutes at least 50 percent of that time. She pointed out that underlining of the word “two” was inadvertently omitted in the original posting of the legislation.

Professor Staiger explained that the provision allowing non-departmentalized schools to liberalize their voting criteria for non-departmentalized business was provided as long as the minimal standards required for General Faculty voting rights were met. She emphasized that this liberalization of voting rights provision pertained to non-departmentalized schools but not to departments in the proposed legislation. The non-departmentalized schools who liberalize their voting rights must report the new criteria to the provost and the Office of the General Faculty; the rules must be determined prior to the fall semester of an academic year, operate for the full year, and be reaffirmed or revised every three years.

Because the current rules do not address voting rights in academic centers and the number of centers has increased in recent years, Professor Staiger said Section V.C. had been added to the proposed legislation. She said the proposed legislation indicates that an academic center is to determine its own voting rights criteria and report it to the provost and Office of the General Faculty; the rules must be determined prior to the fall semester of an academic year, operate for the full year, and be reaffirmed or revised every three years.

Because the motion had come from the Rules and Governance Committee and did not therefore require a second, Chair Neikirk said the floor was open for discussion. Professor Karen Rascati (pharmacy) said her college had more liberal requirements for voting on college matters, but she thought the minimal requirement statement in the proposed legislation was vague. When Professor Staiger said the minimal standards would be full-time, tenure or tenure-track faculty, Professor Rascati responded that her college had voting faculty members that were not full-time. Professor Staiger responded that the college would need to expand voting rights to the part-time faculty on whatever basis the college decided. Professor Rascati then asked how doing that would meet the minimal requirements. Professor Staiger said the minimal requirements were what was specified in the HOP, and if the college wanted to liberalize who could vote, it would need to establish its criteria. Professor Rascati asked if the college approved voting rights for its part-time faculty members, then would it be able to expand voting rights to more faculty members within the college? Professor Staiger responded in the affirmative, but she added that the college would need to report to the provost and the Office of the General Faculty the criteria it had established for it college’s voting rights and who could vote when there was an election.

Chair Neikirk asked if there were further questions. Since there were none, he called for the vote, and the Council unanimously passed the voting rights legislation by voice vote. After noting that this legislation had taken a long year and a half to develop and refine, he thanked everyone and said the legislation would now be presented to the General Faculty for a vote. Professor Staiger clarified that major legislation, such as this, had be presented to the full faculty; if twenty-five protests are received, then the legislation would have to be discussed and acted upon at the General Faculty meeting on February 14. She added that major legislation requires the approval of both President Powers and the UT System following approval by the General Faculty.

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