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October 18, 2012

Dear Colleagues:

I am sending a brief report of the October 15 Faculty Council meeting as well as some comments regarding the meeting of the School of Undergraduate Studies and the meeting of the General Faculty, both held also on the 15th.

Interim Dean Larry Abraham held the UGS meeting and discussed the various programs within UGS (the Center for Strategic Advising & Career Counseling, Freshman Reading Round-up, Sanger Learning Center, Bridging Disciplines Program, and others). We were given the following data:
  • 2,116 undeclared students are in the School of Undergraduate Studies.
  • 16% of the incoming fall 2012 undergraduates enrolled in the School of Undergraduate Studies.
  • 200 students per academic advisor make UGS caseloads the smallest on campus.
  • 23 Signature Course faculty members are in the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
  • 62,000 people accessed Wayfinder for major and career information this past year.
  • 89% of FIG students surveyed felt that FIGs “helped me feel more part of the UT community.”
  • 67.5% of BDP alumni are enrolled in graduate programs or working in positions directly related to their BDP certificates.
Dr. Abraham also discussed the following new initiatives for 2012-2013:
  • Core Curriculum Transformation, 2012-16
  • College Readiness
  • Development & Facilities
  • Creation of a Campus-wide Interview & Recruiting Center
  • Enrollment Management & Graduation Rates
  • Academic Support
Details about these initiatives are available through UGS.

The fall meeting of the General Faculty followed with President Powers presiding. Professor Sue Greninger, Secretary of the General Faculty presented the minutes of the General Faculty meeting held January 23, 2012, and the annual report of the Faculty Council (D 9825-9866).

There were two submitted questions from faculty for President Powers.

Professor Xiaofen Keating (curriculum and instruction) asked:
My friend at UTSA told me that they got service salary increases every year in the last four years while our campus has not given everybody salary increases for three years. Please find out if it is true that UTSA did actually so. Thanks.
Professor David Eaton (LBJ School) submitted the following question with several parts:
Is it true that faculty and staff who allow or supervise students who travel out of the country on university-sanctioned educational programs have a liability risk in the event that a student is injured, killed, becomes ill, or causes damage to another party?

Has UT Austin articulated a policy that it will defend a faculty or staff member sued for an event that occurs during international student travel?

If such a risk occurs, does there exist insurance coverage that the UT System could purchase that would provide for a legal defense of the staff member or faculty member, if sued by the party who is harmed, including the student, the student's family, or a third party harmed by the student's action?

The President's response to both questions are available through the minutes of the General Faculty October 15 meeting, which will be available soon on the Faculty Council’s website.

William Beckner (mathematics) asked the president to comment on a recently announced agreement to offer online video courses with a consortium that includes Berkeley, Harvard and MIT, and UT’s role.

Another question regarding administrative salaries came from the floor from Professor Alberto Martinez (history). It is my understanding that the question has been submitted in writing and will be answered by President Powers as soon as possible.

Under Reports of the General Faculty, Colleges and Schools, and Committees, I was asked to give the report from the Committee to Nominate a Candidate for Secretary of the General Faculty. The committee nominated Professor Dean Neikirk, and he was elected unanimously.

President Powers thanked Professor Sue Greninger for her more than eight years of service as Secretary of the General Faculty.

A motion to adjourn the annual meeting of the General Faculty was made and seconded.

The second meeting of the Faculty Council began immediately following the meeting of the General Faculty. Professor Greninger gave the report of the secretary followed by a brief discussion of the minutes from the September 17 FC meeting. A motion was made and seconded and the minutes were approved as presented.

President Powers had comments for the Council on the following:

  • edX
  • Fischer Case
  • Medical School
Details on these comments may be found on the Faculty Council website in the minutes of the October 15 meeting—to be available soon.

I presented the Chair's Report with comments on the following:
  • UT System Faculty Advisory Council Fall Meeting, September 20-21, 2012
    -     Steven Mintz, Executive Director, Institute for Transformational Learning, UT System
      • primary mission is to enhance the quality of student learning on UT campuses
      • wants to work with us to identify our needs that ITL might address
      • wants to help provide resources that we might need to achieve our goals more effectively
      • is putting together a system-wide advisory council to work on this initiative
      • Dr. Mintz will be a speaker at the December 10 Faculty Council meeting
-     Representative Tryon Lewis, Member of Higher Education Comm.
    • talked about cuts to higher education in both sessions he has attended
      -     81st session - funding was down approximately $1.2 billion; over $500 million was higher ed
      -     in 2008-09, UT Austin funding was $747 million
      -     by 2012-13, UT Austin funding was $492 million - that is a $255 million drop in five years
      -     he went on to talk about the growth in Medicaid from 14% of the General Revenue (2001) to 20% of the GR (2011) - Medicaid is projected to reach 35% by 2023
      -     increases in Medicaid are directly related to decreases in Higher Education.
-     Session on Encryption and University Data
  • raised more questions than it answered. Murray Leaf, Chair, UT System FAC sent a follow-up to this discussion outlining the need to:
-     distinguish between different kinds of "data" that the university is obligated to protect and the kinds of "data" the university is not obligated to protect and cannot claim ownership of
-     define "data"
-     define "university-owned"
-     define "university data"
-     distinguish "intellectual property" faculty members produce that may be subject to patent as contrasted with information they produce that is subject to copyright
-     define the difference between university records and faculty records
-     distinguish faculty academic records that are not "university records" or "student records" under FERPA.
-     Raymund Paredes, Commissioner of Higher Education, THECB
  • spent most of his time with us discussing low-producing programs
-     "We don't have enough money to sustain low-producing programs."
-     "We are slicing the pie in smaller and smaller pieces... headed for mediocrity."
-     main goal is to reduce the number of degree offerings in order to maintain the programs that are producing degrees more efficiently.
  • Murray Leaf suggested the following:
-     SysFAC needs to work on three types of programs they feel are in jeopardy:
  • programs with important support functions that attract fewer majors - STEM, English, and Foreign Languages
  • programs where not offering degrees will affect few students but those students affected would have been likely to go into public school teaching
  • programs where not offering degrees, even though courses are still offered, will affect the ability to recruit faculty.
-     Pedro Reyes, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dan Sharphorn, UT System Attorney
  • regarding Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment:
-     several faculty in attendance brought up issues from their own campuses, some of which both Reyes and Sharphorn thought had been solved - - -
-     it is a work in progress!
On October 26-27, Chair Elect Hillary Hart and I will attend the Texas Council of Faculty Senates Fall meeting. Items on the agenda include:
  • Texas' $10,000 Competency-Based Bachelor's Initiative, panel presentation; Davis, THECB; Jones, TAMUC; Mangus, TAMUC; Esmaeili, South Texas College, TAMUC
  • Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Update, Parsoneault, THECB
  • Mobilizing Public Support for Higher Education Faculty Panel, Hilley, UT Austin; Stallone, TAMU.
There was one report of the General Faculty, colleges, schools and committees. Janet Staiger (past Faculty Council chair, past Faculty Rules and Regulations chair) presented the non-substantive revisions to the Threatened Faculty Retrenchment Legislation. These revisions may be seen at D 9987-10000 on the Faculty Council website.

Under new business there were two items.

Professor Mary Steinhardt (kinesiology and health education and faculty ombuds) presented the 2011-12 annual report of the faculty ombuds.

As chair of the Council, I presented a resolution from the FCEC regarding the conferral of degrees. This resolution can be found at D 9964.

The next Faculty Council meeting will be held in MAI 212 on November 19, beginning at 2:15 pm. As Alan Friedman stated in the chair reports from 2011-12, 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.

Best regards,
Martha Hilley
Chair, UT Austin Faculty Council, 2012-2013
mfhilley@austin.utexas.edu