MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
DECEMBER 9, 2013


VIII. NEW BUSINESS.

C. Faculty Welfare Committee Report on Faculty Education Benefit.

Dr. Blinda McClelland (committee chair) told the Council that the Faculty Welfare Committee is looking at initiatives to improve faculty members’ lives, professionally and personally, without costing the University a lot of money. She then introduced the idea of educational benefits for faculty members, similar to the program that is offered to staff. Dr. McClelland explained that currently UT staff members can take three hours of courses per semester for tuition-waived credit in the fall, spring, and summer sessions. Dr. McClelland outlined the restrictions that currently apply to staff and said she thought similar restrictions would apply to faculty. Three main points were given for the rationale for the proposal: 1) career development, 2) retention and recruitment of faculty, and 3) personal development.1 Dr. McClelland pointed out that many of our peer institutions provide this benefit to their faculty and, in some cases, to their spouses and children. She said that in fall 2013, approximately 220 staff members took advantage of the benefit—approximately 1 percent of the staff. By extension, she predicted that out of 2,494 full-time faculty members, twenty-five would enroll in a course using the benefit. The estimated cost for a three-hour tuition-waiver benefit was estimated to be between $2,059 and $2,366.

Hillary Hart reminded members that this is a report from the committee and that faculty members ought to send suggestions and ideas to Dr. McClelland as she planned to present legislation on the topic at the January 27 Faculty Council meeting.

Blinda McClelland followed this by pointing out that many schools also provide this benefit to alumni, retired staff and faculty. She then made an analogy of the benefit to flying on stand-by, “If an airplane door closes and there’s an empty seat, it’s gone. And so in this sense, having an empty seat in the classroom would be a terrific benefit for many of us at marginal, if not zero cost.”

Professor Domino Perez (English) asked if restrictions between degree seeking and non-degree seeking versions would apply and if there would be a limit to the number of hours one could take if non-degree seeking. Dr. McClelland was uncertain of the answer but thought the majority of faculty members would enroll as non-degree seekers as they already have terminal degrees. She noted that the staff benefit does not apply to dissertation courses and some restrictions applied to courses in the School of Business as well. Professor Domino followed with another question asking if the committee had considered special retraining programs where one could earn a certificate. Dr. McClelland said the committee had discussed online courses but determined that most faculty would not equate an online course or workshop with taking an actual one.

Professor Jon Olson asked if there is currently any restriction in grades. For example, can a course be taken pass /fail or does it have to be for a grade only? Dr. McClelland did not know the answer.

In closing, Dr. McClelland again encouraged Council members to contact her if they had additional questions or suggestions, not just about the Faculty Educational Benefits proposal, but any other aspect of faculty welfare that the committee can work on this coming semester.2


1See Appendix C for Examples of Professional Development
2See Appendix D for the complete PowerPoint presentation.
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