FACULTY SENATE MEETING

Minutes

University Center, Concho Room

October 10, 2001

 

Attendance:

 

Rasheed, A., DelCarmen, A., Kribs-Zaleta, C., Depken, C., Formanowicz, D., Silva, D., Maher, D., Reinhartz, D., Patrick, D., Cantwell, D., Barrett, E., Gintole, G., Liu, H., Courtney, H., Amster, H., Clark, J., Priest, J., North, K., Porter, L., Rosado, L., Millican, M., Eakin, M., Jones, M.E., Clements, P., Elmasri, R., Shoults, R., Burke, S. (Student Congress), Maizlish, S. (Secretary), Kleiser, S., Wilding, T., Ingram, T., Sol, A., Schelly, Z., President R. Witt, and Chair T. Chrzanowski.

 

Call to Order:

 

2:35 p.m. Senate Chair Thomas Chrzanowski called the Senate to order. 

 

The Chair welcomed new and returning senators, and asked their patience while name tents are corrected.  Senators were reminded to state their name and department when addressing the Senate to assist the secretary taking minutes. 

 

The Chair explained to new members the process for on-line review of previous meeting minutes and asked them to become familiar with the Senate web site (www.uta.edu/senate) as soon as possible.  

 

Approval of Minutes:

 

The minutes of the May 2, 2001 meeting were unanimously approved. 

 

Remarks by the Chair:

 

The Chair reviewed the schedule for remaining Faculty Senate meetings as follows:  November 14, December 12, February 6, March 24, and April 22.  An e-mail will be sent to confirm dates. 

 

The Chair reported on the Faculty Advisory Committee meeting in Austin which he attended this summer.  Tom Scott, Vice Chancellor of Governmental Relations presented UT System highlights, but no information specific to UTA.  System schools received an 11% increase in funding, while non-system schools received only 9%.  Accountability was discussed.  An assessment inventory is being developed.  The UTA campus inventory is past due.  Medical coverage was discussed.  A lengthy presentation on open meetings and the Open Records Act included the information that Faculty Senate meetings are not classified as open meetings. 

 

The Chair and Sen. Reinhartz attended the fall FAC meeting recently.  Kerry Kennedy, a System compliance officer, presented lengthy information regarding all areas requiring compliance.  The Chair inquired if Kennedy was aware of the impact of compliance on faculty's ability to mentor, teach, and conduct research, which resulted in a heated discussion by all those present, giving Mr. Kennedy a new awareness of the effects of compliance regulations on faculty.  Dr. Gukian discussed the HIPAA legislation, a major federal plan to protect the confidentiality and portability of health records for university employees .  Texas has adopted and expanded these standards, and compliance will be both difficult and expensive. 

 

The Chair attended a reception for the Regents this summer, and reported that they are very pleased with UTA's enrollment, degree plans, research, and particularly with President Witt. 

 

The coming year promises to be a very active one for the Senate.  Some issues to be dealt with include the following:

 

Process for election of Senators and committees:  Elections have previously been held in

 September, the Senate has met in October, and committees have not been established until November.  This allows little time during the remaining school year for committees to accomplish their tasks.  Also, issues arise during the summer months and committees are not in place to deal with them. 

 

Apportionment is an important issue and must be addressed.

 

Upgrades of the Faculty Guide:  New faculty are receiving this document, which is extremely outdated and contains incorrect information.

 

Periodic Review of Academic Administrators must be revised and weaknesses in the policy must be reviewed.

 

Post-Tenure Review documents must be revised, in keeping with the two-year plan. 

 

Summer compensation must be addressed for faculty who teach graduate students.  

 

The Faculty Salary Survey was received last year and needs to be mined for trends and developments. 

 

Faculty Development Leaves should be expanded from the present number of 10. 

 

Academic Receivership has become a serious issue on the San Antonio campus, and appears to be a way to affect program abandonment.  This must be referred to committee for review and assessment of concerns.

 

The process for election of committee chairs needs to be changed.  Chairs will be elected at today's meeting and they will meet with the Chair immediately following this meeting to receive their charges. 

 

Senators are asked to indicate their presence by initialing the roster being circulated around the table, and to check the attached page for corrections to their e-mail addresses or phone numbers

 

Sen. Reinhartz noted that many of the compliance issues from the FAC meeting related to workplace safety and agreed with the Chair that compliance detracts from teaching and research.  Regarding the HIPAA issue, he agreed that there may be no answer to the gap between cost and quality.  The new regulations would require extensive paperwork for situations such as an athletic trainer taping a student's ankle, or someone using an eye wash in a chemistry lab. 

 

Remarks by the President:

 

President Witt acknowledged the burdensome nature of compliance policies as they filter down to the campus level and the need to add staff to address these challenges.  He stated that the academic year is off to a good start, in spite of national events last month.  A Special Situations Task Force was formed in response to those events, and has met several times.  The Senate Chair is a member of this group.  Campus security policies and procedures are being reviewed and revised.  A document detailing these procedures will be distributed soon. 

 

Provost Wright will soon receive the final budget allocation to cover faculty recruiting.  These funds are a combination of permanent dollars and “soft” funds to cover hiring and start-up expenses. 

 

An aggressive construction program is underway on campus.  A new 50,000 square foot Fine Arts Annex will also house Campus Support Services near the police station on Davis Street.  Groundbreaking is set for early spring 2002.  All existing Fine Arts programs and staff will be relocated to this new facility, and the space they currently occupy will be reallocated.   Another new building is planned on North Pecan Street to be shared by Continuing Education and rental tenants with compatible programs, such as the Texas Workforce Commission.  Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring 2002.  Funding of $19.6 million has been received toward a new Science Building, and President Witt anticipates receipt of an additional $13 million in PUF funds, for a potential total of $29.6 million.  While this is less than the original proposed budget of $43 million for a 185,000 square foot facility, a committee led by Science Dean Neal Smatresk is seeking alternative solutions to the budgetary restrictions, which include conversion of existing lab space in Science Hall to classroom use, and occupancy of the entire Swift Center by the High Energy Physics group.  President Witt is optimistic that a creative approach will yield a good quality building and substantially more classroom and lab space.  This building will require a longer planning and construction phase due to the complexity of the space requirements. The University will issue bonds to provide support for both the Science and Fine Arts buildings. 

 

Ground was broken two weeks ago for new apartments, which are anticipated to open in August 2002.  An additional apartment building has been approved near the west side of campus, which would allow tenants easy access to facilities in the Activities Building.  The Coordinating Board understands the demand for housing, with all current facilities at 100% occupancy and a waiting list of 1,100 students.  Plans are underway for an additional residence hall slightly smaller than Arlington Hall, which is projected to open in September 2004. 

 

Sen. Cantwell complimented the President on plans for new facilities, but expressed concerns regarding the distance to the new Fine Arts Annex.  He suggested a tram service between the main campus and the new building on Davis Street,  He also inquired about any plans for a new library, additional study space for students, and any updated procedures regarding phone-in bomb threats and the resulting evacuations. 

 

President Witt responded that plans for a new library were on hold due to the more pressing need for new science facilities  The Library’s role and facility needs are changing rapidly.  The answer may not be a new single facility, but multiple smaller facilities with a specific focus.  Electronic access to research materials would provide more study space for students.  He asked for further comments from Tom Wilding.

 

Tom Wilding agreed that his experience in the past five years indicated that physical space was much less important that the availability of digital information.  The physical facilities have been quite crowded, but that is a good indication that they are being utilized.  Without exception, students are using technology over hard copy documents.  This issue has become much more important than the need for additional physical space. 

 

Sen. Cantwell inquired about the availability and demand for hard copies of classics, and about the shortage of study space. 

 

Sen. Wilding reiterated that students now prefer digital and electronic sources.  He reported that regular surveys of available study space indicate no shortages, although usage is at an all-time high. 

 

Sen. Cantwell indicated his support of the idea of multiple library facilities. 

 

President Witt addressed the issue of providing tram service to the new Fine Arts Annex by expressing optimism for such expansion in the future, but that the current funding climate would not permit this step in the distant future.  He agreed that easy access to classrooms was important to both students and faculty, and hopes that some of the space to be converted in Science Hall will help alleviate the current situation. 

 

Vice President Dunn chairs the Space Committee, and advised that the campus is currently at its peak classroom capacity during “prime time” classroom hours.  She is working closely with departments to minimize the distance faculty must travel to their classrooms and to meet their equipment needs in the classroom. 

 

President Witt advised that Sen. Cantwell’s concern regarding bomb threats will be addressed in the document to be distributed soon by the Special Situations Task Force.  This policy is modeled after those at Penn State and Los Alamos National Laboratory.  It will include a one-page tip sheet and a more lengthy handbook on a variety of situations.  Regarding the evacuation of classrooms, he advised that all calls of a threatening nature are taped and reviewed instantly by the Police Chief, who has the authority to call for an immediate evacuation if the situation warrants such action.  Campus administration will work with UT System when possible on these issues, while keeping the decision making process as centralized as possible.  A concern for avoiding unnecessary closings must be balanced with safety, and the University will err on the side of caution.  The new policies will facilitate smooth evacuation procedures and assist police in determining quickly if an area is safe for reentry. 

 

Vice President Dunn discussed an alternative site plan for evening classes.  Day classes will convene at a central location, depending on the scale of the event.  Alternate locations will be kept confidential to prevent duplicate threats. 

 

Sen. Cantwell suggested that a penalty should be implemented for those engaging in bomb threats.  The Chair advised that this is already addressed in the Faculty Guide. 

 

Sen. Reinhartz asked Sen. Wilding for an update on current use of off-site storage for library materials and inquired if we were declining donated collections due to space shortages.  Tom Wilding advised that no materials have been declined and that off-campus storage has not yet been increased, although it may be in the future.  The Library is attempting to locate new materials in digital form due to demand, which lessens space requirements.  Current collections of print resources that are replaced in digital form may need to be relocated or disposed of.  Space is available in Austin, and more will be available in approximately 15 months.  Distance has not been an inconvenience, with a return time on stored items of 48 hours.

 

Sen. Reinhartz inquired about the cost of this off-site storage.  Sen. Wilding replied that to date, no costs have been incurred. 

 

Sen. Eakin inquired about the existence of policies governing off-site data storage.  President Witt advised that Vice President Keith McDowell was currently reviewing backup procedures and reassures him that the mainframe computer is backed up daily and data is stored off-campus in a fireproof, bombproof facility.  All financial records are stored in Austin.  Admissions and Financial Aid are backed up and stored daily.  Maximum potential loss of data is currently limited to one or two days work.    The Deans’ Council has begun a review of this issue at the individual college level.  More isolated units who do not use the mainframe system may be at some risk. 

 

The Chair asked President Witt for an update on the UT students attending classes here on a provisional status.  President Witt advised that approximately 166 students are registered and appear to be doing well.  Every effort is being made to retain them. 

 

Sen. Porter asked if these students enrolled in fall 2000 or 2001.  Vice President Dunn responded that they entered this fall.  She also added that their SAT scores and class ranks are much higher than our average student population, and indicated that they are receiving special attention in an effort to retain them beyond their freshman year.  Dr. Witt noted that many of them opted for the Honors program. 

 

Sen. Amster asked what information has been given to foreign students in light of recent proposed legislation in California seeking a six-month moratorium on student visas.  President Witt described efforts of our International Office, led by Dr. Judy Young, which include contact and support by letter and e-mail.  The greatest possible flexibility is being shown to students from countries affected by the war, as well as to students called up for military duty.  Faculty and staff have 15 days available for military duty with full compensation, and after that must rely on vacation time.  The administration has taken steps to ensure the safety and peace of mind of our international students, including escort services and personal phone calls from the Chief. of Police. 

 

Sen. Cantwell asked to comment on this issue, but was declined by the Chair in the interest of time. 

 

Committee Reports:

 

There were no Committee Reports. 

 

The Chair advised the Senate that certain time frames are required by the adoption of certain policies, and that committees must begin working year round to address faculty issues.  The faculty grievance policy met its first test this summer with a faculty member who challenged a termination.  The Chair referred this matter to Sen. Formanowicz, since he was available during the summer.  This matter was the only committee action to be reviewed.

 

Old Business:

 

Reports received from all university standing committees are available on the senate website as links on the May 2, 2001 meeting minutes. 

 

Proposed revisions to Periodic Review of Tenured Faculty required two changes.  The proposed change to the part-time tenured faculty clock was referred to Office of General Counsel and rejected. 

 

The Chair outlined progress on the Periodic Review of Academic Administrators.  Provost Wright and Vice President Williams are undergoing review.  The electronic election was performed successfully.  The review committees are working under the leadership of Dean Smatresk (Provost) and Tom Wilding (Williams.)  The Provost Review Committee is ready to conduct the required electronic survey of faculty and is set to begin interviews with faculty and staff.  They hope to have a final report completed in late December.  The Williams Review Committee is also making progress. 

 

Sen. Silva advised that many Liberal Arts faculty have concerns regarding the confidentiality of electronic voting.  He proposed discussion at the committee level regarding faculty oversight of the electronic process. 

 

Sen. Reinhartz expressed concerns regarding eligibility for committees.  Non-administrative faculty seem to be in the minority on these committees.  Tom Wilding noted that the Deans on the review committees were appointed, not elected.

 

Sen. Elmasri asked for clarification on the current electronic voting system.  The Chair advised that in the original election, results were reported to Asst. Vice President Moore (former Chair) and to the Chair during the transition.  He stressed that electronic voting is rapid, convenient, and confidential.

 

Sen. Silva inquired about the chain of command in electronic elections.  He stated that an electronic ballot doesn’t allow for changes or for questions to be asked. There should be a point of contact.  The Chair agreed to refer these issues to committee.

 

Sen. Porter asked that the Senate revisit the issue of revisions to the drop policy which were proposed six to eight years ago,.  Their report was forwarded to the next level, but no action appears to have been taken.  She feels the current drop policy is too liberal and allows students to drop for the wrong reasons with only financial penalties.  Sen. Porter requested that this issue be assigned to the appropriate committee.  The Chair requested that she research previous minutes to determine the disposition of the previous action and bring that information to the Senate at the next meeting.  Sen. Porter mentioned that this item went to Undergraduate Assembly, but that no action was taken.  The committee had compiled data comparing our policies to those of other universities, etc.  The Chair agreed to refer this item to committee.

 

Sen. Liu asked the Senate to address the issue of a 4% raise cap for GRAs who are paid from grants and often hired at very low wages until they are able to prove their capabilities.  She stated that more flexibility is needed to assess student performance and reward outstanding performance accordingly. 

 

Dr. Witt responded that this is a difficult problem worthy of the Senate’s attention.  The State mandated an across-the-board raise of 4% this year.  Administrative units were required to stay within those guidelines to insure equity across the campus.  Departments that have funds available can apply to the Provost for exceptions, but Dr. Witt reiterated concerns about equity among departments for similar positions and asked that the Provost be kept in the loop.

 

The Chair agreed to ask the Budget Liaison Committee to address this issue, and suggested that Sen. Liu join that committee.

 

Sen. Amster brought up several concerns, including problems with the Bookstore ordering sufficient numbers of texts to cover increased enrollment, and the amount of credit given for Ph.D. students who take 5000 level courses.  It was suggested that if doctoral students are enrolled in 5000 level courses, the course numbers be changed to 6000.  Austin may have some control over this. 

 

Announcements

 

There were no announcements.

 

The Chair instructed the Senators to adjourn to form committees and elect chairs, who will then meet with the Chair.  Sen. Porter asked for clarification of the committees’ roles and charges.  The Chair provide the following explanation:

 

Statutory Committees:

 

Executive Committee: This committee is composed of the officers of the Faculty Senate. This committee shall be responsible for calling meetings, circularizing the faculty for agenda items and preparing the agenda for each meeting, conducting the meetings, and distributing the minutes to all voting members of the faculty.

 

President's Advisory Committee: The Chair, the Chair-Elect/Vice Chair, the Texas Council of Faculty Senates representative and five members of the Faculty Senate (one from each undergraduate college and one representing the School of Social Work, the School of Urban and Public Affairs, the School of Education, the School of Architecture, and the School of Nursing, collectively) shall act as a faculty advisory committee to the President and the Provost. The Committee shall meet with the President and Provost prior to each Senate meeting.

Committee on Equity: The purpose of this committee is to hear any faculty member or associate of the faculty who feels that he or she has not been given equitable treatment in matters other than those pertaining to tenure, termination or non-renewal of appointment of faculty, or academic freedom.

Committee on Tenure and Academic Freedom and Responsibilities: The committee shall advise the President on policy concerning faculty tenure, academic freedom, and responsibilities.

 

Faculty Senate Standing Committees

 

Operating Procedures Committee: The function of this committee involves the internal operations of the Senate. It is concerned with the Handbook of Operating Procedures and acts as the administrative arm of the Senate.

Research and Development Committee: The committee handles research work and various studies that may come up during the year.

Academic Liaison Committee: This committee is concerned with broad policies and acts as a liaison between the Senate and the Graduate and Undergraduate Assemblies.

Special Projects Committee: The function of this committee is to handle any item that does not fit logically somewhere else. Its charge specifically includes the Professor Emeritus award selections, which are made directly to the President.

Budget Liaison Committee: This committee involves itself with any action concerning the budget and works with the President, the Provost, and the Vice President for Business Affairs.

Student Services Liaison Committee: This committee is charged with problems relating to student life and student activities. The President of the Student Government shall also be an ex officio, non-voting member of this committee.

Ethics Committee: This committee is concerned with broad policies.  It recommends changes that need to be made to eliminate alleged violations.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 4:10 p.m.