November 19, 2012


Chair Martha F. Hilley (music) reported on the two-day meeting of the Texas Council of Faculty Senates that she attended with Chair Elect Hillary Hart (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering). Senator Kirk Watson was a speaker at the meeting, and he spent an hour discussing the importance and merits of Proposition 1. Chair Hilley noted that the senator is, “not just a champion of UT Austin, and not just a champion of all things Austin—he’s a champion of all things higher education. And that was a great message to hear—that he was in our ball park to support us.”

There was also a presentation by a representative from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on developments occurring with regard to the $10,000 competency-based bachelor’s degree program. Chair Hilley said the point was made at the meeting that such a program was not appropriate for every school and not for every student. A collaborative approach by Texas A&M University at Commerce and South Texas College (McAllen) was under development , which would provide the following two degree opportunities: (1) the first would enable students coming in with credits from another institution or an associate’s degree to obtain a bachelor’s degree in fifteen months for a total of no more than $5,600, and (2) the second would allow students with no prior college credits to attend a year-round program and earn a bachelor’s degree in about three years for $14,000 to $16,000. The two institutions plan to roll out these new programs within the next two years.

Chair Hilley also mentioned a presentation at the Texas Council on Faculty Senates by Dr. Catherine Parsenault of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on low-producing programs from across the state. Professor Hilley reported she had requested that the presentation be sent to her so that it could be posted on the Faculty Council website for members to read. Next, Chair Hilley reported on a panel discussion at the meeting, in which she and Dr. John Stallone from Texas A&M University discussed the image of higher education and academics. She said a main point of the discussion was the misperceptions the public and decision-makers seem to have about higher education faculty. All faculty members need to assume responsibility for working toward dispelling the following myths: (1) that some faculty members come to the University on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to teach for an hour or so, while the rest come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour and a half, (2) that all faculty members make a lot of money, and (3) that all faculty members are off and don’t work for three months in the summer. She said it is important for faculty members to talk to the general public about their work and their accomplishments to help convince everyone of the value of their work and dispel these misperceptions.

Lastly, Professor Hilley reported on a higher education symposium by the Student Veterans Association that she had attended. Professor Hilley said the symposium, sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students, was “fantastic,” and she highly recommended that faculty members get to know about the activities and impact that association provides.

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