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D 11379-11380

DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

SIXTH REGULAR MEETING OF THE FACULTY COUNCIL FOR 2013-2014

The University of Texas at Austin
Main Building, Room 212
Monday, February 17, 2014
2:15 PM


ORDER OF BUSINESS

REPORT OF THE SECRETARY (D 11351-11364)—Dean Neikirk (professor, electrical and computer engineering).

  1. APPROVAL OF MINUTES.
    1. Minutes of the Regular Faculty Council Meeting of January 27, 2014 (D 11366-11378).

  2. COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT—William Powers Jr.
    1. Comments by the President.
    2. Questions to the President—Appendix A.

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

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

  5. UNFINISHED BUSINESS—None.

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

  7. NEW BUSINESS.
    1. Update on Travel Management—Patricia L. Clubb (vice president for university operations).
    2. Discussion of Kevin Hegarty’s report to the Faculty Council —Hillary Hart.
    3. Resolution in Support of the Texas Memorial Museum (D 11365)—William Beckner.

  8. ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS.
    1. Urgent: RSVP to fc@austin.utexas.edu for Joint Meeting with Texas A&M Faculty Senate in College Station on March 3, 2014.
    2. Conversation with the president and provost, February 18, Etter-Harbin Alumni Centerm 3:30-4:30 PM.
    3. The next Faculty Council meeting will be held on March 17, 2014, in MAI 212 at 2:15 PM.
    4. The nomination phase for election of college representatives to the Faculty Council opens February 17, 2014. The final voting phase will open on March 17, 2014 <https://utdirect.utexas.edu/afgf/sc_list.WBX>.

  9. QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR.

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



Posted on the Faculty Council website on February 14, 2014.

Appendix A
Question to the President

Dear President Powers:

UT has responded to the recent ice storm events, but in some cases has failed to notify UT faculty, staff, and students of closures in a timely manner.

The messages on my phone for Jan. 28 illustrate the problem:
4:55 AM: UT open for normal operations today
8:20 AM: UT closed until noon
11:26 AM: UT is now closed for the day.These were the right calls, but not timely. By 8:20, most staff would be at UT or traveling to UT. At 11:26, I had already arrived at campus to prepare for my 12:30 class.

I have spoken with Bob Harkins about this. Although some changes have been made, I believe UT should adopt policies based on two principles:
  1. Given that weather forecasts are not always accurate, and acknowledging that closure has a cost, UT should err on the side of safety for faculty, staff, and students. Since employees and students feel pressure to come to campus if it is open, a delayed announcement of closure may cause some people to attempt travel to campus when it is unsafe.
  2. In nearly all cases, UT should give notice at least 1.5 hours ahead of each change in open or closed status.
This would include, for example:
Notification by 6:30 AM (or, preferably, in time for the 10 o'clock news the night before if forecasts warrant) of a closure until 10 AM
(6:30 being 1.5 hours before a work start time of 8:00 AM).

Notification by 8:30 AM if the 10 AM closure is to be extended to 12.

Notification by 10:30 AM if the 12:00 closure is to be extended.

A precautionary closure until 10 AM has a relatively low cost if the weather event turns out to be a false alarm. The cost is mitigated by the facts that Austin weather often improves during the morning and that these ice events are rare in Austin.

Coordination with the many local agencies is useful for making the best decisions. However, coordination should not be allowed to delay timely notification; when uncertain, a delay of a few hours should be announced in a timely fashion to allow gathering more information.

Will UT adopt policies that provide timely notification of weather closures?

Thank you.

Gordon Novak, Professor, Computer Science