Chair Neikirk said he hoped there would be open discussion from the floor at the October Council meeting with increased participation from Council members. In an effort to facilitate participation, he said he would be asking some of the various Standing Committees of the General Faculty to present their objectives and plans of work for the year and would be providing an opportunity for Council members to provide feedback and suggestions. He said the following sentence in this year’s State of the University Address had particularly caught his attention: “we will either lead change or have it dictated to us.” He said he thought this was a critical time for the Faculty Council and the committees to become especially engaged in meeting the needs of the University.
He said he expected that many UT faculty members had seen the efforts undertaken to create a relatively simple metric for valuing individual faculty members at Texas A&M. Chair Neikirk explained this report was originally posted on the Texas A&M web site, but it had been removed after a large number of complaints were made about the quality of the data presented. He said he thought this measure had likely been imposed on the Texas A&M faculty and had been unfavorably received. He cautioned that when economic conditions are adverse it was exceedingly important for the Faculty Council to “remain very, very engaged” and not fall prey to a bunker or foxhole mentality.
He said he felt the return of the financial exigency legislation to the Council should not be seen as a rejection by the president and provost, and a resolution was close at hand. With regard to the Council’s resolution regarding college/school curricular procedures, the Council asked that each college/school (1) hold an annual faculty meeting, (2) establish an educational policy formulation committee that was either elected by the faculty or selected in such a manner that proposed curriculum changes would be presented to the full faculty for approval or protest, and (3) provide for faculty review and approval of that governance process. From the responses thus far, Chair Neikirk reported that the following colleges and schools had met all three of the criteria: architecture, business, education, geosciences, Graduate School, information, natural sciences, nursing, pharmacy, public affairs, social work, and undergraduate studies. He said the following four colleges/schools have submitted plans that met the first two criteria but have not provided an opportunity for approval by their faculty: engineering, fine arts, law, and liberal arts. For these four, the Faculty Council will provide assistance to their Council representatives in gathering faculty comments and questions. Chair Neikirk reported that only the College of Communications had not yet submitted a plan. He invited all faculty members to review the college/school plans now posted on the Council web page, and he added that he thought they would be pleased with the results (see Appendix C). He added that even the programs that have not secured faculty approval for their governance procedures appeared to have generally sound content.