The first Special Meeting of the Faculty Senate for the academic year 1999-2000 was held in room 3.04.16B, Business Building, on September 30, 1999 at 3:30 p.m. with Dr. James Schneider, Chair, presiding.
Present: Ron Alexander, Raul Aranovich, Ron Ayers, Guy Bailey, Mark Blizard, Russell Briner, Patricia Harris, Wanda Hedrick, Robert Hiromoto, Michael Kelly, Constance Lowe, Louis Mendoza, George Negrete, F. Alexander (Sandy) Norman, Walter Richardson, Jr., James Schneider, Betty Travis, Raydel Tullous, Arturo Vega, Sandra Welch
Absent: Diana Allan (excused), Deborah Armstrong, Eugene Dowdy, Jahan Eftekhar, Keith Fairchild, Kellye Jones (excused), Jeanne Reesman, Tom Ricento (excused), R. K. Smith, Anthony Van Reusen (excused)
Total members present: 20
Total members absent: 10
Dr. James Schneider announced that Dr. Louis Mendoza had been elected as Chair of the Graduate Council in a run-off election.
In response to the Faculty Senate's request for clarification on the status of the Faculty Senate's Report, Recommendations Related to Academic Restructuring, Dr. Guy Bailey reported that he had discussed the academic organization at UTSA with officials from UT System. He was informed that they think it would be an opportune time to reexamine the organizational structure along with other governance issues. UTSA should do this reexamination very quickly and provide a restructuring proposal to UT System as soon as possible. There are several reasons for moving forward at this time, including increased enrollment that could provide additional resources to be allocated for restructuring. Dr. Bailey said that President Romo had recommended a committee be formed to develop a restructuring proposal. This committee would be jointly appointed by the President, the Provost, and the Faculty Senate. The difficulty is that the Faculty Senate's plan could not be used due to the quick timeline for presentation to UT System. He said that if the proposal is not submitted very quickly there is a strong possibility that restructuring would not occur.
Dr. Arturo Vega asked if there was any reason not to use a truncated version of the Faculty Senate's Report to generate a proposal in the allotted timeframe.
Dr. Bailey responded that the recommendation was to appoint a committee and charge it with a very short deadline. This committee will have to set some parameters and work with faculty in the various program areas.
Dr. Betty Travis stated that she would not like to see the process essentially start all over again in terms of investigating or researching what the Faculty Senate Academic Policy and Requirements Committee had already done. She also recommended truncating the Faculty Senate's Report and continuing from that point
Dr. Bailey said the Faculty Senate Report addresses the process for restructuring proposals. The new committee will make recommendations for restructuring. Those recommendations would then have to go before the General Faculty for a vote.
Dr. Sandy Norman stated that time compression was one thing but truncating input and analyses by faculty was a different matter.
Dr. Raydel Tullous noted that any changes in organizational structure would require changes in the governance structure also.
Dr. Bailey said that the committee would only make recommendations on issues such as whether to have departments instead of divisions, having department chairs instead of directors, and proposals for new colleges. The specifics of implementation would then go back to the faculty. The process recommended by the Faculty Senate could be followed in the future. He stated that, at this time, there is necessity to act quickly.
Dr. Vega noted that the report, Recommendations Related to Academic Restructuring, had not been approved by the University Assembly.
Dr. Schneider said that the Report on Recommendations Related to Academic Restructuring as approved by the Faculty Senate could be placed on the University Assembly Consent Calendar for the October 12, 1999 meeting.
Dr. Raul Aaronvich asked if the Faculty Senate was being requested to initiate a proposal for actual restructuring.
Dr. Schneider explained that his understanding was not to abandon or reject the work that the Senate had already done, but to informally suspend it. The new committee will be asked to incorporate as much as possible of the Senate's process into an accelerated procedure.
Dr. Bailey said that the administration had no set agenda for a new structure but this is an opportune time to propose changes that have been discussed by faculty for some time. Although some changes may not require much additional funding to implement, other issues such as logistics and space will need to be considered. He noted that while UT System administration believes that a more traditional departmental structure might be better for UTSA, they do not plan to mandate any changes. Dr. Bailey noted that he had received non-substantive proposals for a College of Education and a College of Engineering, which would be forwarded to the committee for their consideration.
Dr. Norman made a motion to reaffirm the Faculty Senate's position on the language in the UTSA Grievance Policy to include the term, "contractual rights."
Dr. Travis said that she feels very strongly that the idea of contractual rights should be included. One reason is that the Office of General Counsel (OGC) indicated that contractual rights are contained elsewhere in the policy; therefore, it can be assumed that it would not be that great a change to include them again. The concern is that OGC wants to omit the ability for faculty to grieve "contractual rights" through a hearing panel of their peers. Dr. Travis said that she expects accountability from administrators and it is during the peer hearing panel that administrators present their case and give reasons for their actions. She reported that at some of the medical school in the UT System faculty had received contracts with salaries that were decreased by as much as thirty percent. These faculty were told that they would have to make up the difference through grants, contracts, or other outside funds. The Chancellor told the System Faculty Advisory Council that this could happen at academic institutions as well. This possibility is another very strong reason to retain the ability to grieve contractual rights before a peer hearing panel.
Dr. Alexander asked if recent action taken by the UT System Board of Regents would have any consequences for the UTSA Grievance Policy.
Dr. Travis replied that the Regents had reacted to legislation from the State of Texas by amending the portion of the Regents' Rules that speak to tenure and promotions. They also outlined a grievance process and it is believed that eventually every campus will have to rewrite their grievance policy to conform to these changes. She said this possibility makes it even more important to bring closure to the issue.
Dr. Walter Richardson stated that one feature of the Regents' proposal that is troublesome is a ten-day time limit for presenting evidence, as well as other deadlines.
Dr. Vega asked if the Provost's Office had a sense of the time it would take for the Office of General Counsel to act on the Senate's proposal to keep the language of "contractual rights."
Dr. David Johnson said he felt it would be done very quickly.
Dr. Travis said her assumption, based on discussion with Dr. Romo's staff, is that Dr. Romo will endorse the Faculty Senate's language. Her belief is that Dr. Romo has respect for the opinions and work of the faculty.
Dr. Connie Lowe asked if it is anticipated that the Office of General Counsel will accept the language if the President endorses it or if the issue could keep going back and forth.
Dr. Travis said that OGC had told her if a policy does not conflict with state law or Regents' Rules, they will respect the wishes of the President.
Dr. Ron Ayers asked when the Senate could expect to know if the policy was approved by OGC.
Dr. Johnson said he felt this could be done without any delays and that he had not received any indication from OGC that they would not be in agreement with continuing to include contractual rights.
Dr. Vega moved the question for a vote on the motion that the Faculty Senate reaffirm the language in the UTSA Grievance Policy to include "contractual rights" in Section V.A.2. The motion passed unanimously.
Dr. Richardson stated that the issue of "receivership" is very important for the entire university. In addition to the question of the "receivership" of the Division of Mathematics and Statistics, there is also the question about the extent to which the Faculty Senate was, and in the future should be, consulted about such actions. If it is decided by the Office of General Counsel to place a division into "receivership" or or to dissolve it, should the Faculty Senate have an opportunity for input. He said that another item related to the "receivership" of the Division was that the entire report from the Office of the Provost was placed on UTSA's Web Page. This is an issue that the Faculty Senate needs to address. Since all faculty will be affected over the next few years about putting information on the web, they need to be concerned about a general policy on this issue.
Dr. Richardson said he felt it was very severe treatment to be informed, on the Friday prior to the beginning of classes, that the division had been placed in effect, into "receivership." Their divisional bylaws had been suspended, and a possibility existed that the entire program might be abandoned unless sufficient progress was shown in resolving issues of conflict within the division.
Dr. Vega said that the Provost had responded to requests from division faculty that something be done about the conflicts within the division. The Provost had decided upon such drastic action because of the seriousness of the conflicts. While conflicts exist in other divisions, those faculty members had not petitioned the Provost to act.
Dr. Louis Mendoza said that very important questions about process were being raised. He asked if the Faculty Senate wished to focus on what processes should be followed in similar situations in the future.
Dr. Travis said that the question concerned why the Division of Mathematics and Statistics was singled out. At what point does a situation become so bad that it is necessary to take this sort of action? She said that most faculty in her division did not know anything about the allegations that were placed on the Web. Dr. Travis said that the Senate might consider making recommendations to the Office of the Provost on a process to be followed should this action occur in the future. To be included could be such items as at what point should the action occur, at what point should the faculty be involved, and should the faculty have an opportunity to resolve their conflicts before the action is taken.
Dr. Ayers said that the process of taking testimony from all faculty in the Division was impressive. He felt that once that testimony was taken, something had to be done.
Dr. Robert Hiromoto said that the report showed the concern of the administration but he did not agree with the approach taken to resolve the problem. He said that confrontation will occur when bright people disagree and that good leaders are needed to guide the faculty. Unfortunately many divisions do not have strong leaders and are having similar problems. He said the problem was not with the faculty, but with the failure of the administrative structure. He stated his concern about the doctoral program in Computer Science and the need to develop other programs to support it. He noted that excellent faculty members had been hired to support a proposed doctoral program in Electrical Engineering but they were ill treated and had since left the University.
Dr. Patricia Harris said she was dismayed to see the documents related to the Division of Mathematics and Statistics on the Web Page but saw that the intervention resulted from a very bad situation. She said she was disturbed that time had not been spent preventing the problems. Issues of this sort concerned both the administration and the faculty. For example, the Faculty Senate worked on a grievance policy for several years, but never discussed how problems could be resolved before they reached the point where they entered the grievance process. She noted that when faculty have gone to the administration with problems, those problems have been about how faculty could do their jobs better. Although faculty respond affirmatively to administrative requests, when administrators are not responsive in turn there is nothing faculty can do. When problems begin to occur, people need to discuss them and see what can be done about the situation. Time needs to be spent solving problems. More thought needs to be put into how problems can be prevented. Dr. Harris said she was dismayed that the situation had to become very severe in the Division of Mathematics and Statistics before something was done. There are severe problems elsewhere affecting the University that are not being addressed. She said that UTSA's Problem Solving Office can assist in a mediation process and has people in the community who are willing to act as mediators. Dr. Harris recommended that the Faculty Senate should make problem solving an agenda item so that UTSA can get into a better prevention mode.
Dr. Schneider asked Dr. Bailey why the situation was publicized by being placed on the Web Page in such a way that it received general circulation
Dr. Bailey replied that the documents were released in their entirety to prevent selective dissemination by individuals who would obtain the documents by means of the Texas Open Records Act.
Dr. Vega said that he felt the testimony was so dramatic that it necessitated the intervention of placing the Division into "receivership" so that a course of action could be taken to resolve some of the problems. He stated his support of the Provost for taking the necessary steps.
Dr. Norman asked whether, during the faculty interviews, anyone suggested that the Provost take over the Division. He said he believed that a better process for handling this sort of situation would be to gather the information, do a critical analysis, and determine if the allegations were factual.
Dr. Bailey said that the division was placed into "receivership" because of the nature of the allegations. Even though the allegations might have been false, they were allegations of criminal activity and threats, which left no choice but to directly intervene. One option would have been to initiate a complete investigation by the police or other investigative unit. However, the use of conflict resolution mediation was the best solution within very limited options.
Dr. Travis asked why follow-up questions were not pursued to provide further evidence of proof of the allegations.
Dr. Bailey said that the first thing that had to be done in these situations was direct intervention and then the investigation could be conducted.
Dr. Travis reiterated that the Faculty Senate could recommend a process should this type of situation occur in the future. She agreed that there were strong differences of opinion but that most of the faculty had no idea of the seriousness of the situation. Although they had requested that the Dean and the Provost assist them with communication problems with the Division Director, they considered the difficulties to be governance issues. She said that she would hope that if a situation occurred that could require intervention, that faculty would be informed of the seriousness of the situation. They would then feel part of a solution rather than being considered the problem. Dr. Travis said that the Faculty Senate should also consider making recommendations about whether faculty should be involved in disciplining other faculty.
Dr. Hiromoto said that the University should be more proactive about problem solving. The University needs to get back on the right track because it is going in the wrong direction.
Dr. Harris said that division directors should be rated and rewarded according to their problem solving ability, not simply by their skill in doing paperwork. She said that although she empathized with the pain caused by allegations within the Division of Mathematics and Statistics, she would suggest that, rather than trying to determine a way to discipline faculty, the Senate should figure out how individuals can begin to talk to each other and start dealing with issues as they arise so that things do not become so serious.
Dr. Richardson said that there were documents missing from the packet of information sent to the Faculty Senate. These documents would indicate the work done by the divisional committees during the last academic year. Those committees took their responsibilities very seriously and did not feel that they were administering the division in place of the division director. They tried to resolve issues but the Division Director would not meet with them and the Dean did not counsel the Division Director. The faculty went to the Provost's Office only because they could not resolve their problems at the Dean's level. Dr. Richardson also said that the issue of post tenure review needs to be reexamined by the UT System and the Faculty Senate since this process put faculty against faculty.
Dr. Bailey said that the administration would have preferred to provide conflict resolution mediation but the allegations of criminal activity left no choice but to intervene directly. In the future, the use of mediation will be considered at an early stage. The Provost's Office will attempt to find ways that will alleviate such situations before they get to the point that such serious steps must be taken.
Dr. Ayers said he felt that placing the Division into "receivership" sent a message to everyone that problems at the college and division levels should be worked out within their areas to avoid being subjected to severe penalties.
Dr. Travis suggested that a Faculty Senate committee be charged with reviewing the issue of recommending a procedure or process that would be used in the future for similar situations.
Dr. Schneider agreed that this should be done.
Dr. Harris said that administrators should be more responsive to faculty and not just concentrate on the paperwork. She said she gets the sense that administrators never ask themselves if they could have handled a situation better.
Dr. Vega asked if there was some way to truncate the issue of "receivership" of the Division of Mathematics and Statistics so that the issue could be resolved sooner.
Dr. Bailey replied that the two-year timeframe is a maximum. The conflict resolution mediator has been told that the sooner things return to normal, the better it will be for everyone.
Dr. Richardson noted that conflict between faculty and administrators extends across the University and asked why the mediator plans to meet only with the faculty within the division. He stated that, at some point, meetings between faculty and administrators will be necessary in order to resolve conflicts.
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Last updated Sept. 1, 2005