The regular meeting of the Faculty Senate for the academic year 2007-2008 was held March 13, 2008 at 3:30 p.m. in the University Room (BB2.20.04) with Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia, Chair, presiding.

  1. Call to order and taking of attendance
  2. Present:  Diane Abdo, Mark Allen, Karan Bhanot, Rena Bizios, Rajendra Boppana, Lorenzo Brancaleon, Susan Bruenger, Aaron Cassill, Fengxin Chen, Sara Deturk, Mansour El-Kikhia, Margaret Flores, Mary Ellen Garcia, Rhonda Gonzales, Amy Jasperson, Eugene John, Craig, Jordan, William McCrary, Sandy Norman, Debajyoti Paul, Robert Renthal, Cherylon Robinson, Michael Ryan, Rocky Shih, Ted Skekel, Raydel Tullous, Judith Walmsley,

    Absent:  Marian Aitches, Thad Bartlett, Ron Binks, John Byrd, Juanita Firestone, Timothy Goles, Melvin Laracey, Melody Lo, John McCray, Patricia McGee, Jolyn Mikow, Ashwani Monga, Dianne Rahm, Nestor Sanchez, Alan Shoho, John Simonis, Howard Smith, Jon Thompson, Karen Williams, Wan Yao, Mary zey

    Guests: Jule Nordhaus 

    Total members present: 27
    Total members absent:  21

  3. Approval of minutes of February 14, 2008.
  4. Reports
    1. Senate Chair – Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia
    2. Dr. El-Kikhia reported on the Sys Fac meeting in Austin.  One of the new regents, Prentice Gary from Houston, spoke.  Also, Vice Chancellor Keith McDowell, the vice chancellor for research and technology transfer, discussed an issue dealing with commercialization and tenure, and whether or not it should considered as part of  a precondition to tenure.  The Sys Fac opposes this issue, and wrote another version to keep tenure and commercialization separate.

    3. Secretary of the General Faculty – Dr. Sandy Norman
    4. Dr. Norman reported that the issue of commercialization might be good for faculty members who patent either mechanical devices or chemicals.  This is an initiative that the governor’s office put together and brought to the System suggesting that commercialization be put into the consideration for tenure without any consultation with faculty.  Past experience with the governor’s office suggests it is not a good idea for them to be making decisions about academic tenure.  The faculty needs to be aware of this.

      Dr. Norman also reported the Health Affairs Committee developed two new proposals, one having to do with  non-compete clauses in contracts.  These clauses prevent faculty from being attracted to another UT System institution.  He reported that we don’t have these clauses in our faculty contracts, but it is common at the medical branches.  The faculty needs to be aware and keep a watch for this.

      The second proposal was a UT System policy to make all campuses smoke free.  The resolution has been tabled until next meeting.

  5. Unfinished Business
    1. Course Evaluations:  Dr. Rajendra Boppana reported that the focus groups have met and they are taking comments and incorporating them into the questionnaire.  The recommendations will be made available to the Faculty Senate on RowdySpace and discussed at the April meeting.  These recommendations will then be sent out to entire faculty to receive feedback. Upon finalization of the recommendations, the course evaluation will be sent to the administration.
    2. The Border Fence at UT Brownsville:  Dr. Norman reported that he sent a sample resolution from the UTSA faculty to the Sys Fac supporting the position of not running a fence through the middle of the UT Brownsville campus.  Sys Fac forwarded the resolution to the UT System.
    3. HOP:  The HOP is continuing to be revised. All of the revisions will be put on RowdySpace.  Dr. El-Kikhia requested that the Faculty Senate share this information with their colleagues and get input to share with David Johnson and his committee.  The comments can be put on RowdySpace. 
  6. New Business
    1. Nominating Committee:  Dr. El-Kikhia requested that the Nominating Committee begin the process to receive nominations for his replacement. 
    2. Posting Syllabi on WebCT:  Dr. El-Kikhia received both positive and negative responses regarding this issue.  The Faculty Senate discussed these responses, their personal views and preferences, and the legal aspects of posting syllabi on WebCT. 
    3. Mark Allen made a motion stating that the faculty should provide each student with a syllabus that constitutes the contract for the course and that it be provided electronically.  The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

    4. Curriculum Committee – Dr. Robert Renthal
      1. BAAS in Mexican American Studies
        The Committee was asked to evaluate a request to discontinue the BAAS in Mexican American Studies.  The committee reviewed the recommendation and unanimously agreed.  A motion was made that the BAAS in Mexican American Studies be discontinued.  There was no discussion.  The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.
    5. Graduate Consent Calendar –  Dr. Bill McCrary
    6. No items

  7. Provost Report – Dr. John Frederick
  8. Dr. Frederick introduced himself to the Faculty Senate and gave a brief history of his academic career. 

    He reported on his meeting with Vice Chancellor David Prior regarding commercialization and tenure.   He stated that Dr. Prior believes the System should not be setting criteria for promotion and tenure, that an institution should not set criteria for promotion and tenure, but that the criteria should be set at the college and department level.  He reported that Dr. Prior plans to draft a statement outlining what issues should be taken into consideration at tenure, and among them could be the issue of including commercialization, when appropriate. 

    Dr. Frederick commented on non-compete clauses.  He stated that he has not heard of this, but does understand how it works, mostly in the context of medical doctors.  He would be disturbed if this type of language entered into faculty contracts.  He stated, however, when a faculty member is being recruited by another UT System university, the president of recruiting university will call the president of the UT System university where the faculty member is employed and inform him of this fact as a courtesy.

    Dr. Frederick discussed the issue of dean’s incentives and conflicts of interest.  He disagrees with the conflicts of interest that have been previously cited because there are no competitions for tenured slots.  Faculty are judged on their own merits.  The one issue that he is willing to pursue is the issue of disciplining faculty.  He also stated that all forms of scholarship and research whether funded or self funded are valued.

    Dr. Frederick discussed the ethics policy.  A bill was passed in the legislature which required all public institutions to develop an ethics policy and have their faculty sign it.  In December, the UT System drafted an ethics policy as a model template for their institutions to use.  Part of the mandate handed down, either by the UT System or by the legislature, required that the ethics policy be signed by January 1, 2008. This caused UTSA to rush into developing an ethics policy.  They took the template provided by the System, with some modifications, and adopted it as the UTSA Ethics Policy.  The HOP requires that new policies be reviewed by the Faculty Senate.  This did not happen because it was rushed through by the System.  Dr. Frederick will receive the Faculty Senate’s input on the ethics policy, however, he feels there is not a lot of room for change, since UTSA adopted a template that was provided to by the System. 

    Dr. Frederick answered questions regarding honorariums for faculty.  His response was if it is an opportunity because of your administrative position with the university, you should decline the honorarium, but if it is a request because of your expertise in your particular field of study, it is OK to accept the honorarium. 

    Mark Allen proposed the following resolution:  “You may not accept an honorarium for services you would not have been asked to provide, but for your official status, although you may accept an honorarium for services you have been asked to provide because of your professional expertise as a teacher, artist, or scholar.  For example, you may not accept a gift for payment for giving a speech, if you would not have been asked to provide the speech, but for you official appointment as assistant, associate or full professor, but you may accept such an honorarium for giving a speech if you have been asked to do it on account of your professional expertise in your field of study.  In either case, you may accept meals, transportation, lodging in connection with your services, as long as those services are more merely perfunctory or superficial.  Also, you may accept a gift of very minimal value, such as a plaque or coffee cup.” Dr. Frederick will review this resolution and see if the policy can be changed.

    Dr. Frederick stated that he will make sure that future policies are not arbitrarily made without the first being presented to the Faculty Senate for review.

    Dr. Frederick answered questions regarding time used for consulting and the salary compression issue.

  9. Adjournment
  10. There being no further business, a motion to adjourn was made, seconded, and unanimously accepted.