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D 11228-11229

DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

FIFTH REGULAR MEETING OF THE FACULTY COUNCIL FOR 2013-2014

The University of Texas at Austin
Main Building, Room 212
Monday, January 27, 2014
immediately following the
General Faculty annual meeting


ORDER OF BUSINESS

  1. REPORT OF THE SECRETARY (D 11174-11187)—Dean Neikirk (professor, electrical and computer engineering).

  2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES.
    1. Minutes of the Regular Faculty Council Meeting of December 9, 2013 (D 11188-11222).

  3. COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT—William Powers Jr.
    1. Comments by the President.
    2. Questions to the President.
      From Can Kilic (assistant professor, physics): There is an issue about the hiring criteria for postdoctoral associates that is of importance to the physics faculty, and presumably to faculty in other science departments as well. After the last faculty council meeting, I asked Professor Hart what would be the most appropriate form in which this issue could be brought to the attention of the faculty council, and she suggested that I formulate it as a question to the President, and that I notify the council in writing in advance so that President Powers would have time to look into the matter beforehand. Therefore I am writing this email to explain the issue in detail.

      It is our understanding that the university requires that for a new postdoctoral associate position only those candidates can be considered who have obtained their PhD no more than three years ago. We have been given to understand that the reasoning behind this restriction is that otherwise people in postdoctoral positions can be exploited into staying in such positions for a long time before they can continue on to faculty positions. While this argument may indeed be an important consideration in other areas in research, we strongly believe that it is not appropriate for postdoctoral hiring decisions in physics, and that this one-size-fits-all rule for all departments across the university should be reconsidered.

      Most young physicists usually work 5-6 years (and sometimes longer) in postdoctoral appointments before any world-class University would consider them for a junior faculty position. There are in fact physicists who are considered leaders of the field today who have worked in three or more postdoctoral appointments before they were hired as faculty. If all universities imposed similar restrictions to eligibility for postdoctoral positions as UT Austin does, such prominent high energy physicists would have been forced to leave the field at the completion of their first postdoctoral appointment.

      Also, the above-mentioned restriction on hiring policy at UT Austin eliminates a large fraction of the candidate pool; in fact it is the more experienced and therefore more productive candidates that become ineligible for a postdoctoral position at UT Austin. This has negative consequences both for the quality of research that is produced at UT Austin, and also for those candidates that are more than qualified who nevertheless find themselves with one less position they can apply to in a job market which already has a high attrition rate.

      Therefore, we would like to ask President Powers whether he would consider a revision of this hiring restriction.

      From Michael Domjan( professor, psychology): I would like to begin by commending you for participating with President Obama in the recent White House forum on increasing educational opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged students. A major issue for such students is how to finance their education. Financial aid rarely pays all of the costs, and many students often have to find part-time jobs to make ends meet. For students moving to Austin from other parts of the state, finding part-time employment can be a daunting task, especially in the first year. They have to locate potential employers, fill out a different application form for each employer, travel from site to site for interviews, etc. It would be much easier for students to obtain part-time employment if such jobs were available on campus or were coordinated by a campus employment service. The UT Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates headed by Dean Randy Diehl also recommended that the University "offer more on-campus employment that both fulfills the financial needs of the students and helps keep them connected to the campus." I would like to inquire what progress has been made in incorporating on-campus employment opportunities for students as a part of their financial aid package.3

  4. REPORT OF THE CHAIR— Hillary Hart (distinguished senior lecturer, civil, architectural, and environmental engineering).

  5. REPORT OF THE CHAIR ELECT—William Beckner (professor, mathematics).

  6. UNFINISHED BUSINESS—None.

  7. REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES, SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES—None.

  8. NEW BUSINESS.1
    1. Resolution Regarding Implementation of Shared Services Plans (D 11173)—William Beckner.
    2. Revised Shared Governance Resolution (D 11171-11172)—withdrawn.2
    3. Faculty Rules and Governance Committee’s Proposed Changes to Faculty Voting Rights (D 11223-11227)—Martha F. Hilley (committee chair and professor, music).
    4. Faculty Educational Benefit Proposal from the Faculty Welfare Committee (D 11169-11170)—Blinda E. McClelland (committee chair and lecturer, biology).
    5. Cap Metro Community Involvement Presentation—Cecil Willie.

  9. ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS.
    1. The next Faculty Council meeting will be held on February 17, 2014, in MAI 212 at 2:15 PM.
    2. Nominations for the General Faculty Standing Committees can be submitted online now through February 7, 2014 <https://utdirect.utexas.edu/afgf/sc_list.WBX>.
    3. The nomination phase for election of college representatives to the Faculty Council will open on February 17, 2014. The final voting phase will open on March 17, 2014.
    4. The joint meeting hosted by Texas A&M University Faculty Senate will be held on March 3, 2014. Arrangements have been made for a chartered bus. Please let the Office of the General Faculty know if you plan to attend and would like to ride on the bus <fc@austin.utexas.edu>.

  10. QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR.

  11. ADJOURNMENT.
Dean Neikirk's signature
Dean Neikirk, Secretary
General Faculty and Faculty Council



Posted on the Faculty Council website on January 17, 2014.



1On January 22, 2014, the order of New Business was rearranged.
2On January 23, 2014, the resolution was withdrawn at the request of Professor Dana Cloud.
3The question was received on January 23, 2014, and transmitted to President Powers.