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Chair's Report - January 28, 2013

I opened the meeting with a request for a moment of silence to honor Ted O'Dell, Professor of Mathematics and Linda Glessner, Director of  Continuing and Innovative Education, both lost earlier in the month of January.

Report of the Chair - I gave a brief report on the UT System Faculty Advisory Council meeting held at the UT System on January 24-25. Much of my report dealt with the business handled by the Academic Affairs and Faculty Quality Committee of which i am a member:

  • Resolution regarding Domestic Partner Benefits - This resolution is posted on the Faculty Council web site
  • Low-Producing Programs - A report is being prepared by Dr. John Lamb, UT Tyler and Dr. Lisa Cain, UTMB Galveston. This is in response to the Coordinating Board Staff's Recommendation to Increase the Threshold for Low-Producing Programs. This increase would raise the minimum number of graduates at the baccalaureate level from 25 to 40 over 5 years, from 15 to 25 over 5 years at the master's level and from 10 to 15 over 5 years at the doctoral level. We have heard that the THECB has decided to postpone action on the staff recommendation. I will find out at the next SysFAC meeting on February 28-March 1 what has happened with the postponement over the last two weeks.
  • Student Debt - This report from a UT System Task Force can be found at: http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=College+%22Credit%22:+Reducing+Manageable+Student+Debt&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 - just copy and paste the URL into your browser. It is over 60 pages but if you read the Executive Summary you will get the gist of the entire report. There are three sets of recommendations covering Degree Completion, Costs and Returns and Transparency and Decision Support. It is worth your time to read this Executive Summary.
  • Core Competencies - Very few campuses have finished their changes to incorporate the core competencies. I know that the School of Undergraduate Studies has been hard at work and hopes to have reports on all areas soon.

Report of the Chair Elect - Hillary Hart talked about the speakers from Thursday morning of the SysFAC meeting.  Regent Bobby Stillwell who opened his remarks with "I think the Regents ought to work for you, not the other way around." Professor Hart reported that this received enthusiastic applause! Both Regent Stillwell and Vice Chancellor Pedro Reyes talked about the THECB and their "confusion" regarding their approach - should be coordinating, not regulatory. Reyes discussed the legislation calling for guns on campus. He feels it is going to pass. Dan Sharphorn, Deputy General Counsel, talked about the conflict of interest and commitment policy that has come down. I requested that discussion about this new policy be postponed until we have been able to respond to the Chancellor's request on February 1.

Dr. Hart gave a brief report from the SysFAC Governance Committee, of which she is a member. Their main topic was encryption. A resolution will come from this committee saying - and I paraphrase - encryption should not be done in such a way as to impede faculty doing their work. If a faculty member has no Category I data, highly secure data, on their personal computer they should be able to sign a waiver.

Kel Seliger, newly appointed chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee talked about outcomes-based funding.  Up to ten percent, but probably not more than ten percent, of formula funding will be tied to various student outcomes - graduation rate, etc. Seliger stated, "If I carry the bill, because it is not a bill yet... it will be developed with help from faculty."

Professor Hart also reminded those in attendance about the Joint Meeting with A&M, February 28th, at The University of Texas Club.

Unfinished Business - Legislation dealing with Fall Break Proposal. There was extensive discussion about the proposal and I would suggest that you go to the minutes of the January 28 meeting to read in detail about the comments. A vote was taken with the following result: 29 yays; 23 nays; 3 abstentions. The proposal passed and will next go to the General Faculty.

Reports of the General Faculty, Colleges, Schools and Committees - Dean Neikirk gave a report of the status of legislation pertaining to faculty voting rights. Neikirk opened with the following statement, "I am not presenting language to be voted on today. I am here to seek the advice of the Council on what I would phrase as being fundamental principles that we've been trying to implement."

As with the discussion regarding Fall Break, I would suggest that you go to the Faculty Council web site and read the minutes for a detailed summary of the comments. The discussion was extensive.

New Business - I gave my deepest apologies to Vice President Juan Sanchez for having held him captive for the entire afternoon. He was forced to leave the meeting before we could get to him. He will come to the February 18 meeting and answer questions regarding Conflict of Interest. My apologies also to those who waited all afternoon to have their questions answered.

President Powers was not able to attend this Council meeting, In his absence I made an announcement about the change in our current Honor Code. There is now a new Student Honor Code. In order to retain a Code of Conduct for the entire university community, what is now called the Honor Code a hs been renamed the University Code of Conduct. I asked Andrew Clark from the Senate of College Councils to make a statement about the new Student Honor Code.

The meeting adjourned at 4:11 p.m.

Martha Hilley, Chair
2012-2013 Faculty Council