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                                                                                7 November 2011

Dear Colleagues,          

Here are the highlights of the Second Regular Meeting of the Faculty Council of the University of Texas at Austin for 2011-2012   Monday, October 31, 2011:

           It was announced that this year’s recipient of the University’s Civitatis Award is Professor Martha Hilley of the Butler School of Music.      

           In response to questions from the faculty, President William Powers commented, on the following issues:

            1) Gender Equity
             In 2007 women full professors made 95.5% of men; as of Sept 2011 the gap narrowed to 98.1%.  The salary gap between women and men assistant and associate professors was not statistically significant in 2007; nor is it now.  In 2007 28% of tenured and tenure-track were women; now it’s 30%.  During 2009-12 27 of 75 faculty hired to tenured positions (36%) were women; 8 (10.7%) were women of color.  Budget constraints have prevented us from doing better.

            2) The Austin American Statesman article "Do college ratings of professors make the grade?," particularly the availability of faculty personnel files and evaluations to open records request.
            Such stories, along with budgetary constraints, negatively impact our ability to recruit and retain top-level faculty.  Faculty must feel valued and supported, and comfortable in devoting their careers to this institution.  Gratuitous attacks on faculty and false accusations hurt not only them but also the institutional mission.  Having said that, it’s important for everyone to know that Texas is an “open records” state, which means that even candid personnel assessments are available through freedom of information requests.   In general, it should be presumed that the “Faculty Information System” and the UT “Dashboard” are publicly available; the only likely exceptions are medical records.  This situation will make honest evaluations far more difficult than they already are.

           3) MyEdu
            The Regents invested $10 million in this company on their own, without consultation with the campuses.  Their hope is that this partnership with a company already used by many of our students will help them to manage their schedules, navigate the path to their degrees more efficiently, provide necessary academic information.  Sites will be designed for each campus, and we will use what serves our students well.  We will need to insure that the information is accurate, meaningful, and used for appropriate purposes. 

            Chair Elect Alba Ortiz reported on:
            1) the meeting of the Texas Faculty Governance Organizations;
            2) the Ad Hoc Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics (pdf)

            Mary Steinhardt, the Faculty Ombudsperson, gave her annual report.

            Lee Ann Kahlor, Associate Professor of Advertising, and Charlotte Canning, Professor of Theatre and Dance, were elected to three-year terms on the Undergraduate Studies Advisory Committee.

            Acting on its authority to confer degrees (see the Handbook of Operating Procedures, Chapter 1, Section III) the Faculty Council delegated for the academic year 2011-2012 the approval or disapproval of all candidates for degrees to the respective deans.

            A Motion to Update the Core Curriculum Course Lists for the Undergraduate Catalog, 2012-2014 was approved.

            Motions were also passed:
            1) to revise the Basic Education Requirements;
            2) to make D- the minimum passing grade for courses used to fulfill core curriculum requirements except when those core courses are also required in the major field or are required as prerequisites for courses in the major (this motion was somewhat contentious because some faculty feel that D- is an inadequate passing grade; but since F is UT’s only failing grade, the majority considered it inappropriate to have identical grades in the same core course be adequate for some students but not for others – unless the course was also being used by a student to satisfy a major requirement);
            3) and to preclude ROTC courses from substituting for legislatively required core courses in either history or government.

            Again, please contact me or any member of the Executive Committee with your comments and thoughts regarding actions that we have taken or that you think we should take.


Alan Friedman
Chair, UT Austin Faculty Council, 2011-12