The regular meeting of the Faculty Senate for the academic year 2007-2008 was held April 10, 2008 at 3:30 p.m. in the University Room (BB2.20.04) with Dr. Sandy Norman, Secretary of the General Faculty, presiding.
Present: Diane Abdo, Rena Bizios, Rajendra Boppana, Susan Bruenger, Aaron Cassill, Sara DeTurk, Margaret Flores, Rhonda Gonzales, Amy Jasperson, Craig Jordan, William McCrary, John McCray, Patricia McGee, Jolyn Mikow, Sandy Norman, Dianne Rahm, Robert Renthal, Cherylon Robinson, Michael Ryan, Alan Shoho, John Simonis, Raydel Tullous, Karen Williams, Wan Yao
Absent: Marian Aitches, Mark Allen, Thad Bartlett, Karan Bhanot, Ron Binks, Lorenzo Brancaleon, John Byrd, Fengxin Chen, Mansour El-Kikhia, Juanita Firestone, MaryEllen Garcia, Timothy Goles, Eugene John, Melody Lo, Ashwani Monga, Debajyoti Paul, Nestor, Sanchez, Rocky Shih, Ted Skekel, Howard Smith, Jon Thompson, Judith Walmsley, Mary Zey
Guests: Jule Nordhaus
Total members present: 24
Total members absent: 24
Dr. Norman reported on the media’s negative reports regarding faculty and tenure. Dr. El-Kikhia asked Diane Abdo to draft the following resolution:
“When a faculty member of this institution is accused of violating a university policy, such accusation and the proof must be based on factual evidence, and not hearsay or mere rumor. Such factual evidence must be presented as part of the faculty members’ due process within the university’s disciplinary procedural structure. Since tenure protects a faculty members’ academic freedom, the faculty members’ tenure status is not relevant to the disposition of the accusation against him or her. Tenure is designed to provide job security, not to shield or provide immunity from wrong doing. Therefore, faculty members’ tenure status should not be a factor in determining his or her continued employment at the university in an administrative or teaching position.”
Upon reading the resolution, Dr. Norman suggested that a call for a motion and discussion be postponed until Dr. El-Kikhia returned and had an opportunity to review this resolution. A copy of the resolution will be forwarded to all Senators for e-mail discussion.
Dr. Norman reported that Dr. Yudoff will be leaving to become President of the University of California system. Dr. Kenneth Shine, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, has been appointed Interim Chancellor.
Dr. Rental reported on a proposal from the Department of English, Classics & Philosophy for a Minor in Religious Studies. The proposal was approved by COLFA, and Dr. Williams in Undergraduate Studies. The proposal meets all of the minimum requirements for the UT System for non-substantive degree programs. The Curriculum Committee recommends approval of this program.
A motion was made and seconded to accept the program as written with one correction to Paragraph B to read: “3 additional upper-division semester credit hours of religious studies.” The vote was called. 13 for and 5 against. The motion passed.
A discussion was held regarding the need for the current format for creating new minors needed to be more clearly stated. A motion was made and seconded to send a request to the Dean of Undergraduate Affairs to consider creating a more detailed format for proposed new minors.
The Senators discussed this motion. The motion was tabled and Dr. Norman directed that the motion be sent to the Curriculum Committee for further discussion.
Dr. Norman reported on the dissolution of the Earth & Environmental Sciences department. Last year, an external report recommended organizational changes to resolve academic and personnel problems within the department. Administration, however, did not follow the recommendations, and made the decision to dissolve the department. The dissolution has been very disruptive. The Master’s program was assigned to the biology department, and the Ph.D. program was assigned to the College of Engineering. The dissolution of this department has not been completed. The majority of the faculty have been reassigned to the new department of Geological Sciences; however, there are five faculty members who have not been reassigned. Some of these faculty members are due for their third year review or their tenure review. Currently, these five faculty members do not have a department in which they can be evaluated. The Committee is making the following recommendations: 1) the Faculty Senate will work with the Provost to develop an effective method of conflict resolution at the departmental level; 2) recommend that the five faculty members be reassigned to a department, and 3) the faculty should be involved in developing a programmatic home for the five faculty members.
A question was raised regarding the Ombudsman position. It was reported that this position was never approved by the Provost’s Office.
Dr. McGee reported on her meeting with the Student Government Association regarding posting syllabi on WebCT. The SGA feels that because other course materials are available on WebCT, it would take little effort to include the syllabus. The syllabus serves as an agreement between the student and the instructor concerning work to be completed, schedule of events, policies and expectations; they rely on the syllabus and refer to it regularly; they are used to it, and have expectations that the university provide them materials that can be accessed at any time through technology, and that this method supports reducing printing costs. The SGA feels it is necessary for students to be skilled in technology, and they learn technology by using it. The students acknowledge that WebCT may not be appropriate for all courses. They feel the university promotes the use of technology and that digital syllabi seems to be at odds with other materials digitally available. The university spends $72,500 for WebCT; however, only 1300 of 3000 courses are supported by WebCT.
The faculty discussed the students’ comments, and the pros and cons of mandatory posting of all syllabi on WebCT. They feel that this could be the beginning of the students asking for more course information, i.e., notes, quiz and answer solutions to be posted electronically.
Dr. Frederick reported on the Conflict of Interest Policy. The issue was referred to Legal Affairs who then referred it to System. They are recommending the body of the paragraph dealing with Honoraria remain the same because it was directed at administration; however, the summary beneath this paragraph should be changed to state that faculty who are invited to speak because of their academic expertise are entitled to receive an honorarium. A revised copy will be sent to Dr. El-Kikhia when it is returned from System.
Dr. Frederick reported that he is going to have a workshop on April 18 for the deans and department chairs to discuss promotion and tenure and mentoring. There will be no changes, just clarification to help strengthen the process. He is hoping to be able to accelerate the process next year.
He reported on the informal lunch meetings he is having with deans and department chairs to get feedback on current campus issues. One issue discussed is that the general faculty do not realize all of the responsibilities imposed on the department chair.
Dr. Frederick next reported on the budget. About $4,500,000 of new money has been invested in the academic side of the university. $2,000,000 has been allocated towards hiring new faculty (some of this money will be used next year for new hires); $1,600,000 has been allocated for merit raises (a 3% merit pool will be available this year), and another $200,000 will be used for promotional raises and a small amount for equity adjustment.
He discussed the compression study and stated that it would take some time for the university to build up a central pool of resources to be used in regularly adjusting salaries.
The university has invested some one-time money in creating a data warehouse for the campus. It is hoped that this will make the data gathering operation more efficient.
Dr. Frederick reported that the university is investing in a pilot program entitled “Master Graduate Instructor,” which will provide a special stipend for approximately 15 PhD students who are midway through their program.
He also reported on a meeting he had with System personnel regarding the university’s dependence on adjunct instructors. He stated that he would like to see a faculty description with a career path for non-tenure tract faculty with a terminal degree. Discussions are currently being held with department chairs; however, in order to hire this type of faculty, the university is going to need more space.
The Senators asked Dr. Frederick questions regarding the promotion and tenure process, compression studies, budget priorities, and faculty mentoring.
Because of a lack of a quorum, the vote for the Executive Officers will be held electronically.
There being no further business, a motion to adjourn was made, seconded, and unanimously accepted.