November 15, 2010



Resolution from the Faculty Rules and Governance Committee Regarding Conferral of Degrees (D 8460).

Professor Staiger said the HOP suggests that the UT Austin faculty can decide whether or not to delegate the review of candidates for degree conferral at graduation to the deans. Historically, the Faculty Council used to routinely pass a resolution each year to delegate this function to the deans, but the practice ceased around 2000. Since this is one of the six functions that the Regents’ Rules grants to the faculty, Professor Staiger said the Faculty Rules and Governance Committee was recommending that this practice be resumed. She added that delegating this function is useful because the review of records is detailed work that is actually performed by staff in deans’ offices across campus. She said the committee was proposing the following item for immediate action by the Council:

RESOLVED: In reference to the Handbook of Operating Procedures, Chapter 1, Section III: Faculty Council, 1 A. Authority and Functions, and D. Approval of Degree Candidates, the Faculty Rules and Governance Committee recommends that the Faculty Council, by affirmative vote, delegate for the academic year 2010-2011 the approval or disapproval of all candidates for degrees to the respective deans.

She said the committee had also suggested that a statement from the Faculty Council chair be included in the commencement ceremony delegating this authority to the deans, but this was only a side note and not part of the resolution.

Professor Alan Cline (computer science) said he had no objection to the resolution; however, he said he had wondered for years if there were a legal issue involved with the way the conferral of degrees was actually worded at graduation, given that participation in the ceremonies often preceded course completion and exam completion when December graduations used to be held. He said he wondered, if the Faculty Council chair were going to add his or her approval in this process, to whom exactly was conferral of degrees at these ceremonies actually being awarded. Discussion ensued between Chair Neikirk, Vice President Patti Ohlendorf (legal affairs), Professor Staiger, and Professor Cline regarding this matter. Professor Staiger said she thought the language made degree conferral dependent on completion of satisfactory work and therefore provided for a legally based contingency. Vice President Ohlendorf agreed this was true, but said she would check that the language was carefully worded since the process of Faculty Council delegation of authority had not been followed in recent years. After saying reminders would be issued to be sure this was adequately addressed and clarified, Chair Neikirk restated that the resolution pertained only to the Faculty Council delegating authority to the respective deans for 2010-11 and did not include the suggestion about commencement participation. Since there was no further discussion, he called for the vote, and the resolution unanimously passed by voice vote.

Professor Staiger said the Faculty Rules and Governance Committee was planning to reintroduce legislation on faculty voting rights at the December 6th Council meeting.

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