Minutes

FACULTY SENATE MEETING

January 27, 1999

Rio Grande C, University Center

 

Attendance:

Senators: Amster, H., Beehler, P., Bradshaw, D., Bredow, J., Cantwell, D., Chapa, J., Chrzanowski, T., Del Carmen, A., Dunn, M., Elmasri, R., Feigenbaum, I., Han, C., Hanson, J., Ingram, T., Jones, M., Kellner, H., Luo, T., Maizlish, S.., Morrow, E., Munch, J., Nelson, K., Porter, L., Price, K., Raja, M., Rodnitzky, J., Rome, R., Rycraft, J., Schelly, Z., Watkins, T., West, R., Wilmore, E., and Yardley, M., Head of Libraries T. Wilding, Provost G. Wright, and Chair B. Ellwood. Guest speaker: Dr. D. Dunn.

 

Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order by Brooks Ellwood, Chair.

Approval of Minutes:

Senator Maizlish suggested that his agreement with President Witt on page seven belongs on page eight after the paragraph that begins with Senator Hissong.

A spelling error was noted for the December 2, 1998 Faculty Senate minutes regarding Senator Bradshaw’s name and this was corrected. Secretary Beehler noted that it was correct on the version she sent to Chair Ellwood. Chair Ellwood believes it may have something to do with the web and will check on it since similar changes have occurred on previous Faculty Senate minutes this year.

Senator Kellner requested that on page five "employees" be replaced with "members of the unit".

The minutes were approved pending these corrections.

Remarks by the Faculty Senate Chair:

Chair Ellwood noted that the next two Faculty Senate meetings will be held at Nedderman Hall, Room 100, and University Center, Rio Grande Ballroom, respectively, due to the current renovation of Davis Hall.

Chair Ellwood began by stating that the meeting today will primarily deal with Faculty Senate documents. He noted that the Evaluation of Administrators document will go to System this week. He then stated that some minor changes in the Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure document, coming from the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, will be addressed today. He then commented that as

Senators, the documentation that we have which governs our behavior as faculty members, needs to be correct and in order. He also noted that these documents and the Faculty Senate by-laws have been posted and will continue to be posted on the web as we get updated versions.

Remarks by the President:

Chair Ellwood noted that President Witt was not here today because he was in Austin. Chair Ellwood then suggested that we go directly to the Provost’s remarks.

Remarks by the Provost:

Provost Wright began by stating there were several matters he wanted to comment on today. First, President Witt sends his apologies for being at mandatory meetings of all UT System presidents and not being here today. He stated that President Witt and he will be going to Austin on a regular basis over this Legislative session. On those occasions, they will meet primarily with the legislative group from this area, but also with select people throughout the State of Texas. He also noted that they have already been notified that they will need to be available for testimony before several legislative subcommittee groups. Then he commented that they feel pretty optimistic because of a legislative briefing that they attended in early January, 1999. At that briefing, a number of very positive comments were made about UTA, and what this institution means to Arlington, to north Texas, and to the state of Texas.

Provost Wright then commented that perhaps one of the more exciting activities that President Witt, Vice-President Dan Williams, himself, as well as a number of faculty at UTA have been working on over the past year is the campus master plan. This is something that is required of all the University of Texas schools to update their campus master plan. He stated that President Witt at some point in the near future, will come forward with the campus master plan so the whole community can see it.

Provost Wright then commented about the spring 1999 enrollment. He stated that as of the close of registration, the total head count for spring 1999 was 18,040 students. This compares to 18,507 for spring 1998. In other words, we are down by 2.5 percent. He also stated that these numbers are at the end of the registration period as opposed to the official census date figures. He continued by stating that the rate of decline at UTA for the third straight semester has been slowed. For example if one compared summer 1996 to summer 1997, there was a ten percent decline. That was then cut in half this past summer (1998). Also, if you look at the total head count for fall 1996 to fall 1997, we experienced a 6.1 percent decline. If you look at fall 1997 to fall 1998, it was a 3.2 percent decline. Then if you look at the spring head count, spring 1996 to spring 1997, we were down 5.5 percent; spring 1997 to spring 1998, we were down 4.5 percent, and now a 2.5 percent decline.

Provost Wright stated that President Witt is required by the Legislative Budget Board to give enrollment estimates and these have to be as close as possible to being accurate. President Witt believes fall 1999 will be flat with fall 1998. In other words, we are somewhere around 18,662. He then stated that they do not have data on the current semester credit hours but they anticipate that these figures will be encouraging because of the new winter intersession term where we generated approximately 3,100 semester credit hours that count for this spring semester. A total of 1,145 students signed up for the winter session classes and 1,025 completed the entire intersession. This has been judged a success and we have already talked about expanding the winter session for next year. He noted that we definitely will have a May "mester" this year and that the brochures and course lists for May will be out in approximately two weeks.

Provost Wright then announced that a new Associate Vice-President, Dr. Jerry Smith, was hired to help with the enrollment situation. He will assume his position on March 1st. Provost Wright commented that the administration is confident that Dr. Smith will help us identify our competitive niches, increase the student applicant pool, and positively affect enrollments. However, because Dr. Smith does not arrive until March 1st, the Provost commented that the administration is very concerned right now about decisions students will be making for next fall. In light of this, there are several things the administration is currently doing. For example, the Provost stated that this past Saturday, UTA launched a new initiative with the Dallas Independent School District. It is an outreach program whereby counselors and teachers from approximately 20 Dallas’ high schools will be working with students at their respective schools. These guidance counselors and teachers will be paid by us to work at the school, to inform their high school juniors and seniors about UTA and to make sure they go through the required steps to register at UTA. We are also planning to do the same type of thing at Mountain View Community College and with TCJC Southeast.

Provost Wright also stated that the administration has hired a part-time recruiter who has extensive experience in the Arlington community to work on the TCJC campus–hopefully helping to ease the student’s transfer experience from TCJC to UTA.

Provost Wright then commented on enrollment management. He personally thanked the department chairs and the enrollment management point person in each unit. He explained that over the Christmas break, Dana Dunn and his office had a list of names from all of the academic areas of the person whom she could reach if students registered to such an extent that we needed to add another class in any area. He commented that we had people who were on call to facilitate overcoming enrollment problems. He explained that the Provost's office appreciates those efforts and also appreciates the efforts of faculty members who called students during the semester break. He commented that we must continue our efforts in the area of student retention and suggested that our faculty continue to take the lead in this area because what we do or don’t do in the classroom is essential to that entire effort.

Provost Wright’s final comment was about community service that the faculty provided. He stated that whenever he and President Witt meet with legislators, they are often asked what faculty are doing over and above what we’re doing in the area of research, teaching and so forth, (e.g., ‘How do you serve the community that you’re in?’). In that regard, he shared a letter that President Witt received from an organization called the Payne Springs Cemetery Committee about Faculty Senate Chair, Brooks Ellwood. Provost Wright read the letter about Chair Ellwood to the Faculty Senate and thanked him for his time. The Faculty Senate applauded Chair Ellwood.

Questions for the Provost:

Senator Rodnitzky asked, "What kind of people and students are we enrolling? I think maybe the biggest variable and contingent may be the quality of students coming in. I’ve been asking this question since the first of the year…" The Provost apologized on behalf of the President and recalled from the last Faculty Senate meeting that that information was being developed. He asked Vice-Provost Dana Dunn if she had a comment about it. Dr. D. Dunn responded that she understood that there were some preliminary figures about it in the UTA Fact Book, and that she believed the UTA Fact Book should be available in every department.

Senator Cantwell asked about how to improve student attendance to classes and thereby improve student retention. Senator Cantwell also asked why faculty receive W-2’s on January 24, instead of at the end of December. Provost Wright responded that he will check when and why the W-2’s are generated and distributed as they are at UTA. Provost Wright then responded that The University of Texas System formed a committee last year to look into the issue of student retention, and that UTA has been addressing this situation for more than two years. He also agreed that there was some validity to Senator Cantwell’s question as well as to what Senator Rodnitzky was alluding to earlier about the quality of students entering UTA and how it may affect student retention.

Senator Hanson then commented that by informally polling his students in class about ways to improve student retention, he has learned two things typically stand out from the student’s point of view. They are: student problems at the Financial Aid Office and the Bursar’s office, such as students not getting their financial paychecks on time or they get tangled up in the Bursar’s office. Senator Hanson also asked about how the DISD program mentioned earlier would be evaluated. Provost Wright answered the second question first. He said he was not sure exactly, but in his discussions with those involved with the program, he believed that if we normally receive x number of applications from a certain high school, and then receive x number of completed new applications from the same high school, we’ll then be able to compare whether or not the number increased. He also commented that there are some high schools in Dallas that have made very few enrollments at UTA and we are not sure why. We are hoping that this new program will help here.

Provost Wright then commented that President Witt has informed his staff that customer service is a priority at UTA and this message has been relayed to Dr. Jerry Smith. Senator Hanson agreed and said students just want to be treated like people and sometimes that’s all it takes to keep a student from getting completely frustrated and going somewhere else. The Provost agreed and said we need to be more flexible to help students and have staff working in their offices answering phones especially at 8:00 am and 1:00 pm.

Senator Amster commented about student recruitment at the graduate level. The Provost responded that at the last Dean's Council meeting the President proposed ways that we can encourage and generate additional graduate enrollment.

Senator Nelson asked two questions. First, Biomedical Engineering has requested funding from the Centennial Fund to initiate a new program and wanted to know when it would be decided and granted. The Provost responded he did not know and that he should ask President Witt at the next Faculty Senate meeting. His second question concerned the possibility of providing more student jobs on campus such as custodians and groundskeepers since he had seen this situation work as an undergraduate. The Provost responded that when the University System Retention Committee met last year, he and Dr. D. Dunn were two key people on that committee. He stated that was one of the issues that was discussed at length. He also said that having students work on campus at various jobs, but especially working with faculty would be an important retention tool. He also commented that the entire University of Texas System is requesting additional funds to help out in that area.

Committee Reports:

Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee

Senator Maizlish responded that the Committee is examining the impact of retention policies on academic freedom. He also added that the Committee’s deliberations are on-going and they have met several times.

Old Business:

"A motion was made from the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee to modify the wording of the Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure document," stated Chair Ellwood. Senator Maizlish suggested that Chair Ellwood read the motion. Chair Ellwood responded,

"To remove ambiguities found in the Faculty Senate By-Laws we are suggesting that the wording of the Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure document be changed to indicate that appeal for promotion only is to the Equity Committee of the Faculty Senate. Therefore, we move that the Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure be changed so that part 5.3 reads as follows:

In cases which involve denial of tenure, a faculty member may appeal recommendations made by the Provost to the University Hearing Panel (as defined in the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures). The faculty member will be afforded opportunity to submit written statements or documentation in support of the appeal or to make oral presentation before the committee.

In cases involving only promotion to a higher rank, appeal of the Provost's recommendations may be made by a faculty member to the Faculty Senate Committee on Equity. The faculty member will be afforded opportunity to submit written statements or documentation in support of the appeal or to make oral presentation before the committee.

 

Chair Ellwood continued, "Now, in addition to that, there is a handout that you see here which if you didn’t get you might want to get. It has the old wording of 5.3 and it has the new suggested wording. And underlined in the new suggested wording are the changes. And what precipitated that is the By-laws of the Senate. I will read to you under the Committee on Equity what the purpose of the committee is:"

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 nonrenewal of appointment of faculty or academic freedom.

Chair Ellwood continued, "That’s the Equity Committee. Under the Committee on Tenure and Academic Freedom, the responsibilities are:"

The committee shall advise the President on policy concerning faculty tenure, academic freedom and responsibility.

Chair Ellwood commented that what was being recommended here was that specific aspect of the grievance, ‘… in cases involving only promotion to a higher rank….’ that would defer that individual to the Equity Committee. Chair Ellwood then stated to Senator Maizlish "So as I understand it, Steve [Maizlish], the Committee moves that the new wording be accepted. Is there a second?" A second was obtained. Chair Ellwood then asked if there were any comments.

Senator Bradshaw then asked if the changes were simply clarifying what more or less has been the practice anyway. Chair Ellwood responded, "Correct." Senator Bradshaw continued, "To split those two at that point?" Chair Ellwood stated, "let me say that the reason for this is that there is a case currently where an individual has requested a hearing on promotion who is, the individual is already tenured. And, because, in writing, we have the Guidelines going to the hearing panel, this individual has interpreted the guidelines quite literally. The argument that we make that this is a matter for Equity is not going to sway or change this individual. So, we need you to be explicit in the wording to conform with the By-laws."

Senator Cantwell asked if this was not admitted in the institutional supplement of the State? Chair Ellwood replied that "We are talking about rewording the document that we, as the Senate, have just passed to conform with our By-laws….. These guidelines are what the Senate has passed as guidelines to govern promotion and tenure."

Senator Rycraft asked, "If someone is grieving a lack of promotion and it comes into the Faculty Equity Committee, is that the final resolution? Or can they then go up to the panel if they don’t like the Faculty Equity decision?" Chair Ellwood responded, "As I understand the process, after the entire chain of command has been extinguished and the individual has not had redress, the individual goes to the Faculty Equity Committee or the Chair of the Committee on Equity from the Senate. That committee then evaluates the complaint and writes a recommendation to the President which then is simply a recommendation to the President. The President then can deny or agree. And if the President denies it, then there are no other avenues of recourse within the university. And because it is not a job issue in that it is not, they don’t lose their job because they haven’t lost tenure. Rather, promotion is considered to be an honorary rank. That’s the reason why it’s a different pathway."

Senator Cantwell discussed Senator Rycraft’s question for clarification. Chair Ellwood said, "There are specific procedures that the Equity Committee has laid down which are in writing."

Senator Porter asked, "Do I understand correctly that the only place where this arises is in the Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure? Does the HOP say anything at all about this? So, in other words, if we make this clarification here, that will cover all the avenues …?" Chair Ellwood responded, "As I understand it." Senator Porter continued with a suggestion about the wording of the motion. She suggested:

Appeal of the Provost's recommendations may be made by a faculty member to the Faculty Senate Committee on Equity.

Chair Ellwood asked if this was an acceptable change. After hearing none, the motion was called and carried with no opposition.

There was no further Old Business.

New Business:

Chair Ellwood stated, "Under New Business there is a motion from Senator Courtney. Is Senator Courtney here?" No one responded. Then Secretary Beehler pointed out that Courtney was not listed on the Faculty Senate membership list. Chair Ellwood said he would check on it, and asked if there was any New Business. There was no new business.

Announcements:

Chair Ellwood reminded the Senators to sign the attendance log.

Adjournment:

A motion was made and seconded for adjournment. The meeting was adjourned.