|Chair's Report - November 19, 2012
I looked in horror to see that I had never completed the report from our third Faculty Council meeting. (And the students think they need a fall break!) Again, accept my apologies. I also realize that there is another report that is delinquent. Hopefully you will receive that report before our January meeting.
There were no corrections or questions about either the report of the secretary (D 10109-10113) or the minutes from our October meeting (D 10114-10132). I encourage you to go to each of these links particularly if you were unable to attend the second Council meeting.
Communications with/Questions to the President—There were no formal posted questions for President Powers. He did want to talk briefly about two different things:
There were no questions for the president.
- At the last Council meeting there was a question raised about the budget and a large increase in administrative costs at the same time of other cuts. To quote the president's response at the time, "I don't know where you are getting that. It isn't happening." President Powers proceeded to explain what had happened. The University received a one-time AUF allotment to cover the next biennium period. It was not recurring money. When that money came in, the University had to put a definition of some sort on that inflow. The label assigned, academic administration, meant it was being administered to academic programs, not that academic administrators were receiving raises or bonuses. The provost used this one-time money for TA's, courses being offered, or other academic expenditures. It has not all been allocated but is being spent in the academic units and colleges.
- The medical school - will be good for central Texas and good for the University. A steering committee will be going through the next steps of this process (i.e. a curriculum, organization, how things will run - a rethought curriculum of four years of medical education, accreditation, a dean of the medical school—this will probably come first). On the facility side, no formal decision has been made on location but the overwhelming opinion would be that it is coordinated with the campus, probably in the area of the nursing school. The pro-forma budget for this enterprise is not going to come from the current academic budgets on our campus.
Report of the Chair of the Council—I briefly spoke about the Texas Council of Faculty Senates meeting that Hillary Hart and I attended. This is a two-day meeting consisting of representatives of the faculty governing bodies from around the state.
On a brighter note I talked about a wonderful symposium I attended sponsored by Dean Soncia Reagins-Lilly—the Higher Education Student Veterans Symposium. Did you know that we have a Student Veterans Association (SVA) on campus? This all day meeting was packed with wonderful presenters—students, faculty, and administrators. Get hold of Soncia and let her tell you about the program. I am hoping to bring someone from SVA to the Council some time this next spring semester.
- Senator Kirk Watson was a featured speaker. He spent a lot of time talking about Proposition 1. We learned that he is a true champion of all things higher education.
- There was a panel discussing the $10,000 degrees as proposed by Governor Perry. This consisted of a representative from THECB, several people from Texas A&M Commerce and South Texas College. The two schools are working together to do a joint program. It was my understanding that the $10,000 ticket would be possible only if you entered TAMU Commerce with an associates degree in hand from South Texas College. TAMU Commerce plans to offer their portion of the degree year-round with a quicker completion yielding a lower cost.
- Catherine Parsoneault (THECB) gave a presentation on low-producing programs. We were promised a copy of her PowerPoint presentation. That has not come yet. When it does I will request that we are granted permission to post these slides on the Faculty Council website. Hillary Hart made a comment about the disadvantage of making decisions based on sheer numbers - five majors in a degree program at UT Austin is not the same as five majors in a program at Permian Basin where those students are probably going to be teachers in the public schools.
- I served on a panel with John Stallone from TAMU. We talked primarily about the need to change the "community" opinion of what we do. As individuals we can do a lot. We can be out own best advertisers in tellingabout exactly what we do at UT Austin and what we accomplish. We found that this i a problem no matter where you go in the state of Texas. Supposedly we all work about six to nine hours a week, either on MWF or on TTH and don't forget, we get three months off, with pay, in the summer. It is astounding to believe that there are people out there who actually believe this. Plus, we make lots of money!
Report of the Chair-Elect—Hillary Hart gave a report of the Dean of Students Task Force on the Student Conduct Board (SCB) outlining the structure and implementation of a new student conduct board. The SCB would allow students to choose a hearing by their peers rather than by a single staff or faculty member acting as a hearing officer.
Questions followed the presentation:
- A student alleged to have committed an academic integrity violation would have two possibilities - a) not to have a hearing or 2.a) have a hearing by a staff or faculty hearing officer or 2.b.) have a hearing by peers.
- The SCB would have thirty members, twenty-four students, six faculty or staff. Hillary had flow charts showing, in detail, the composition of the board and the need for alternates to be in place as well.
It was moved and seconded that the Council show an affirmation of support for the proposal as presented.
- The student panels are empowered to do what?
To decide the case and disciplinary action. An appeals process isalways available to the student after the decision is given.
- This seems problematic. Their peers are going to make decisions about disciplinary actions - they are going to be moving on whether the case has any validity? What is this replacing?
It is not replacing anything. It is in addition to the present process. It is a more expansive system for the students that allows the student to choose.
- Four years of PSAC students have worked on the Honor Code. Academic dishonesty is an issue we still need to address. A lot of places do not give this peer option. The main motivation is not that the present hearing panels are not doing a good job - it is getting more students involvement in the issue of academic integrity.
- What sort of studies have been done?
There is not a lot of hard data on this. Most experts will tell you that peer panels are a little more harsh on students than other panels.
Reports of the General Faculty, Colleges, Schools and Committees—Alan Friedman presented the Executive Summary and Final Report of the Ad Hoc Joint Committee of the Graduate Assembly and Faculty Council on Graduate Student Fellowships.
This committee was established in response to the actions taken last year by the administration regarding allocation of graduate student fellowships. It was a Faculty Council and Graduate Assembly combined effort. Surveys were done of graduate advisors and coordinators and a final report was produced and is posted on the Faculty Council website. I invite you to read the report (D 10042-10087) with special attention to the "findings and conclusions" as well as the seven recommendations. If you find yourself with a bit of time, the full report is also available through this link ( full report ) and would allow you to see in detail the Two questions came up at the GA meeting.
Professor Friedman opened the floor or questions:
- While there is an implicit acceptance on the part of the committee, OGS and the administration that faculty at the school, college and departmental levels need to be at least as involved with these awards as they were before, it is not stated as such.
- This committee should be ongoing or monitoring and the report examined annually and changes recommended as needed.
- What was the reason for moving this out of the Graduate School in the first place?
Friedman answered that you would have to ask the administration. President Powers answered stating, "Departments are in the process of recruiting graduate students." He explained that the financial aid packages need to go along with that strategy and a University-wide committee does not have the same knowledge at its disposal - they are not as attuned to that strategy.
- What is the timeline with OGS? When will these recommendations be implemented?
Dean Langlois stated that they have implemented the six recommendations and things should go much more smoothly this year.
In a follow-up question the same faculty member asked, "Are you saying that the colleges have the policies and procedures in place that faculty could look at?"
One again, I encourage all of you to go to the full report posted on the Faculty Council website—clarification is good!
Friedman quickly stated that he didn't think colleges and schools have created their own documents to implement this. Langlois said that all deans received a memo from her and the provost in October laying out the new ways to go forward. The colleges have those instructions and are rolling those out to departments.
Hillary Hart made such a recommendation. President Powers emphasized once again that faculty involvement should be in the relevant academic unit. The amendment in the form of an added recommendation is "Colleges and schools should make clear how they are involving appropriate departmental faculty in awarding graduate fellowships." The motion received a second and was passed.
Friedman countered by asking if they know to include faculty. Langlois's response was that they know it is the expectation of the joint committee and the graduate school. She suggested that someone add a recommendation to those of the committee that would be fully consistent with the graduate school's expectations.
I have thirteen minutes to wish you one and all a very happy new year!
Martha Hilley, Chair
2012-2013 Faculty Council