Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes

University Center, Concho Room

March 15, 2000 @ 2:30 P.M.

 

 

Attendance:

Senators: Amster, H., Ardekani, S., Cantwell, D., Chrzanowski, T., Clark, J., Courtney, H., Cowan, E., Del Carmen, A., Elmasri, R., Hanson, J., Hunter, S., Ingram, T., Jones, M E., Kellner, H., Maizlish, S., Maxwell, P., Millican, M., Morrow, E., Nestell, M., Nussbaum, C., Payne, F., Porter, L., Rasheed, A., Reinhartz, D., Rycraft, J., Schelly, Z., Silva, D., Wang, B. P., Wilmore, E., Yardley, M., Head of Libraries T. Wilding, President R. Witt, Student Congress, S. Smith, and Chair Michael Moore.

 

Call to Order:

 

The meeting was called to order by Chair, Dr. Michael Moore.

 

Approval of the Minutes:

 

The Chair called for approval of the last Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes of February 2, 2000.  A correction was requested for the spelling of Senator Ardekani’s name.  A motion was made and seconded.  The Minutes were approved.

 

Comments by the Chair:

 

Chair Moore announced that several topics were to be covered, including, but not limited to, the adoption for the same number of appellate levels for both Undergraduate and Graduate students.  Second, for informational purposes only, the UT FACT Group is promoting the TEATH Proposal, which he believes will get a fair amount of discussion.  Essentially, it advocates that there be TAAS-like tests at the university level.  Next, he pointed out that the advertisements are now airing regarding UTA.  There has been good response at this time.  Additionally, he remarked that a summary on the Texas Council of Faculty Senates was included for review.  Senator Amster was then asked to make her report.

 

 

Texas Council of Faculty Senates Report

 

Senator Amster stated that Representative Rob Junell provided tables on faculty salaries.  She felt that UTA salaries, as reported, showed higher than real UTA salaries. With salary increases within the past few years up to 72 percent, Junell proposed that it was unreasonable to request more than a three percent salary increase.  Senator Amster believes that there was a need to get exact figures and check (compare) these figures.  The salaries reported are average salaries are meant to include all tenurable lines, including instructors from all eight institutions.  

 

Royce West, the chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, presented a theme of a “seamless education system with one Board of Education which would included Kindergarten through University, so that the bulk of students could progress from one grade to the next and one institution to the next without realizing any ‘bumps’ in their training.”  Senator Amster reported that this was a very controversial proposal.  It was viewed as not very reasonable. 

 

Further, she reported that one of the main difficulties has been recruiting teachers for the public schools who will stay.  There is an enormous turnover and a reduction in the ability to recruit new teachers each year.  There appears to be a “brain drain away from Texas”, especially with regard to technology.  Students who are interested in technology appear to go elsewhere rather than remain in Texas.  She reported that there is a need to create a new tier 1 university in Texas instead of upgrading to a tier 2. 

 

Senator Amster continued, “Phil Turner, the Dean of Library and Information Services at the University of North Texas proposed a number of guidelines for policy on distance education. The main points of Turner’s discussion appeared to be that every distance education course is a joint product of the instructor who prepared the materials and the University that provides the resources and the technological side of it and may also promote it.  A joint sharing of the benefits—like the money and the release time and other kinds of shared responsibilities such as ratings of courses and responsibilities for entering all the email that comes in—needs to be negotiated in such a way that there is a financial estimate made of these joint contributions for each of the parties.  If the university puts more financial resources into it, they should get relatively the same proportion of resources back.  There is no provision, she reported, for what happens in the long-term; if the faculty member wants to change the course or retract it or make some kind of editing.  One problem discussed also focused on the coercion of some faculty into producing a distance education product. 

 

Senator Amster also discussed the Roundup where each university attending presents a one-page summary of what is new, what is happening, and what is controversial at their university.  She presented a few of the highlights:

 

Senator Amster also remarked that Rob Janell indicated that enrollment has not increased much in the past ten years.  However, FTE has increased 16.6 percent.  The appropriations increased 43.5 percent.  Faculty salaries appeared to show an increase. 

 

Senator Amster stated that a final business meeting was then held at which there was an election of officers and the establishment of a study group to look into the virtues and problems with English education.

Comments from the Provost:

 

Provost Wright was not able to attend. 

 

Comments from the President:

 

President Witt stated that the budget process is moving along, and that budget instructions have gone out to the colleges and schools.  For the upcoming year, the legislature provided a three percent faculty merit raise pool.  An additional percentage point will be generated centrally, but not from the colleges and schools.  Further, he stated, the Biennium did not provide any merit raise money for staff.  “Given the state of our staff salary structure,” he stated, “that’s something that untenable.  We will generate four percent for staff internally….  In both categories the four percent will be merit based.” 

 

The promotional advertising for the university has been introduced and is generating very favorable responses.  In the area of Distance Education, alone, the response has increased 100 percent.  He remarked that many people are saying they are very pleased with the positive impact.  He is confident that “as the other five promotional themes role out over the course of the next several months, that the long-term impact of this program in terms of visibility, stature, image of the university, ultimately enrollment is very positive.” 

 

President Witt informed the Faculty Senate that the university was currently wrestling with a difficult issue.  To better serve the students, a policy has been adopted to keep more skeleton crew and staff available during break periods.  Both sides of the case can be argued.  There has been expressed concern by the staff regarding pay and equity of pay or comp time, and how to synchronize community schedules with UTA schedules—particularly where the children of the staff are concerned.  On the other side, the ability of the university to provide services to students during this time is a major advantage for the students.  The university is working toward developing a centralized location for the skeleton crew to work, probably in Davis Hall, in order to eliminate the need for all of the academic units to be open.  Campus-wide volunteers will also be utilized in return for comp time.  Overtime compensation will also be looked into as another option.  President Witt remarked that he did not know what the final answer will be, but feels certain it will fall short of completely satisfying all the concerns raised by staff. 

 

In reference to Senator Amster’s remarks regarding distance education, President Witt hoped there had been no coercion.  The UT System and the Board of Regents feels very strongly that it is important that distance education to take on an increased role in the state.  “As we move forward,” he stated, “we will undertake some experiments designed to address many of the concerns that have arisen in the FACT. I would like to think that working together with the faculty that are involved in distance education, that we’ll be able to come up with a model that will allow faculty members to look at the delivery system and feel that the instructor has been appropriately recognized and supported, that the content developer has been appropriately recognized and supported, and the Center for Distance Education has a viable economic policy.  We are growing quite rapidly… I anticipate the rate of growth and the development of course content to continue.”

Questions and Answers:

 

Senator Schelly asked how royalties were handled in Texas and by UTA.  President Witt responded that he is anticipating the situation here to be comparable to Austin.  All of the royalties from a textbook accrue to the author of that textbook.  Senator Schelly asked if Internet publications were to be handled similarly.  President Witt responded that he and Vice-President Dunn were currently working toward that.  “…Quite candidly, the only reason it’s become more complex than I thought is, in part due to something Senator Amster mentioned.  We put a distance education course out on the net and it enrolls five or six students and is being taught out of state and is in effect being handled as if the professor is teaching a continuing education course.  By the time you get through taking instructor salary out, promotional costs out, technical support costs out, you are probably headed toward not having very much left for the content provider.  Once you get up into a reasonable course level or course size, it should be possible to come up with that royalty figure that would pose to the content developer.”

 

Senator Cantwell provided a health care update regarding how a local clinic informed him that they could not treat anyone who was eligible for Medicare.  He stated he is concerned with the pattern he sees for HMO’s and healthcare limitations.  He made several suggestions which he felt would not shut out the employees—including suggesting that UT System support HMO’s that also utilize Medicare.  President Witt responded that he would convey Senator Cantwell’s concerns to the UT System.  Chair Moore commented that he would take those concerns to the larger Faculty Senate group, as well.

 

Senator Morrow voiced concern over the recent audit stipulations regarding policing of computers and software installed on those computers.  She asked if the responsibility of installing software falls on the individual faculty member, then why is the department also responsible.  She posed a question asking if the department must go into individual file cabinets to ascertain if a faculty member is breaking copyright or could they go on the basis of trust unless there is reason to believe that a faculty member is involved in these illegal activities.  President Witt responded that this was a sensitive area.  He stated that he would talk with the people in Davis Hall to see if an alternative was available which would help us deal with the issue of installing faculty software.  All software on UTA computers must have adequate documentation that proves they are authorized to have it.  He hoped that, over time, education would show the importance of having only documented software on university computers. 

 

Senator Amster questioned the validity that UT Austin is trying to centralize all of the distance education courses.  President Witt responded that UT Austin is not the driving force behind the UT System telecampus program.  UT System has a distance education mission which involves the development of courses on a voluntary basis. 

 

Senator Rasheed responded to Senator Morrow’s concerns and suggested that a print out of the hard drives with a signature saying no unauthorized software is on the computer.

 

Vice-President Dunn stated that we had been informed that if software installed on university computers must have the documentation for that software on campus and must be available to that department.  Further, she remarked that home computer software that is installed on the home computer should not be installed on the university computer at work.  President Witt stated that he would check further on this to see if it is possible to make a copy of the documentation to be left in the department would be acceptable. 

 

Senator Kellner asked if there was a university policy concerning software on a particular professor’s machine that was created by that professor.  President Witt stated that he did not know.  Chair Moore stated that if it was a product of the software—like a Word document or Excel spreadsheet—he did not believe there would be a problem since that was not the actual software.

 

Senator Payne remarked that it could be viewed as the professor’s intellectual property.

 

Senator Cantwell asked if there was a policy wherein the faculty must remain on campus or remain available during spring break or did the faculty still have “freedom of choice”.  President Witt answered that the university has no policy on this.

Committee Reports:

None.

 

Old Business:

 

Questions regarding Post-Tenure Review were posed.  The chair of the committee, Senator Judy Reinhartz, was not available.  However, Senator Maizlish indicated that he would be willing to answer any questions regarding Post-Tenure Review.  Chair Moore stated that through the oversight of the Faculty Senate and the Administration and the UT System, a clause in the earlier version of the document stating that faculty having joint appointments and/or were in schools or centers were to proceed to Section D.  However, when you looked at Section D, it had no mention of how that procedure should work.  Therefore, the motion for an incorporation for a procedure for those who hold joint appointments and/or are in schools or centers is one which mirrors the procedure used for faculty that are in colleges that have departments.  He explained two different scenarios.
”An individual faculty member could be in a joint appointment within the same unit…and would then have the evaluation begin at the Dean’s level, obtaining information from both department chairs they are working for.  If the appointment is across units, we are allowing the faculty member to choose which unit they might want to start with.”  Another major change involved providing notification letters once this procedure was concluded.  “There is a clause in each of these sections now which says the faculty member will be notified of the results of their review,” Moore concluded. 

 

A motion was made and seconded to accept this for discussion.  Hearing no discussion, there was a Call to Question.  A vote was taken.  The motion passed.

 

Regarding the Grievance Policy, Chair Moore remarked that it had been passed at a previous Faculty Senate last year.  There were several changes—largely grammatical—suggested.  A motion was made and seconded for the Faculty Senate to consider these changes as a block.  A Call to Question was made and seconded.  A vote was taken.  The motion passed to accept the changes as a block.

 

 

 

New Business:

 

Chair Moore stated that Senator Porter, Chair of the Family Leave Committee, would address issues regarding the Family Leave Policy.  Senator Porter recognized several members of the committee for their contributions to the committee.  She then discussed a brief history of the Family Leave Policy and its definition regarding major illness of self, family member or the request of family leave necessary for the birth or adoption of a child for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  She also provided information regarding the current policy, which had been “in default” since 1993 and listed some of the potential problems within that policy.  She pointed out that staff who need to take family leave are required to take their sick leave, comp time, and vacation time.  A faculty member usually does not approve vacation of comp time.  Family leave is also difficult to obtain because other members within the department may be asked to take up the slack.

 

Senator Porter suggested the policy should pertain to faculty and not include staff.  She stated that this should be added to the Faculty Handbook of Operating Procedures.  In addition, she proposed that a pool of money for replacement pay hires be established at the Provost level to improve the consistency with which these policies are administered and would not deplete a department’s own budget.  Second, she recommended that individual units determine if the courses should continue or be cancelled, in order to determine if a replacement is needed.  Next, in terms of a faculty member needing to take sick leave, she recommended the faculty member take the remainder of the 12 weeks at no pay or they could opt to return to the department and perform non-teaching duties with pay.  Additionally, she stated that if over four weeks of family leave were requested, then a replacement must be hired.

 

A motion to accept for discussion was made and seconded.  Senator Cantwell stated that alternative ways to handle this should be provided and/or anticipated as part of the policy.  Unusual circumstances should be considered, he felt, as should the possibility of other faculty members volunteering to fill in for a faculty member requesting family leave. 

Senator Hanson responded that Senator Cantwell’s comments were in accordance with the committee’s suggestions for the Family Leave Policy. 

 

Senator Amster asked if it should be called Family and Medical Leave Policy in order to cover areas that may not necessarily be classified as family-related.  Senator Chrzanowski responded that family leave dealt with family-related issues for up to 12 weeks.  Medical leave, however, could go over the 12-week period.  He suggested that some form of policy should exist.  Senator Amster suggested that perhaps it should be termed “Short-term Family and Medical Leave Policy.”

 

Senator Millican asked if a policy for extended leave existed.  Senator Porter responded that a policy for extended leave did exist; the Catastrophic Leave Policy is a separate policy that utilizes a sick pool. 

 

A Call to Question was made and seconded regarding the name of the Family Leave Policy.  A vote was taken.  It was agreed to change the name of the policy to Family and Medical Leave Policy. 

 

Senator Millican proposed that a line be added to reference extended leave for catastrophic leave in the Handbook of Operating Procedures.  A Call to Question was made and seconded.  A vote was taken and the motion was approved.

 

Hearing no other discussion on the proposal, and having received a Call to Question, which was seconded, the amendment was accepted.

 

 Chair Moore discussed the Grade Change Policy.  A motion was made and seconded to accept this as a policy.  Senator Cowan asked if there already existed a policy on grade changes.  Chair Moore responded that research indicated an absence of a policy on this matter.  Senator Chrzanowski suggested the policy be amended to use faculty member rather than the term instructor.  A motion was made and seconded to accept this change.  A vote was taken and the change was accepted.  Further discussion resulted in the motion to accept a change suggested by Senator Del Carmen to change the wording to say the faculty member is no longer with the university.  After a Call to Question, a motion was made and seconded to vote on the acceptance of this change.  The change was approved.

 

In another change Senator Schelly suggested the word “student” be deleted since a student may not be the one initiating the process.  The recommended wording would become, “Any appeal process for a grade change request must begin with the department or unit.”  A motion was made and seconded to accept the change. A vote was taken to accept the change.  The motion failed. 

 

Senator Kellner’s suggested amendment stating that “If a student attempts to appeal at a level above the department or unit …” was then on the floor.  Senator Jones asked if the catalog had a policy statement regarding the appeal process.  Chair Moore responded that the catalog currently states that the process is that a student can appeal.  “It outlines the process by going to the department, resolves it with the faculty member formally.  A grievance committee or department or other units is next.  And then you go to the department chair and then the dean.  What is not covered in that policy right now is the possibility that it may start at another level and somebody else may unilaterally make a decision.  That’s where we are trying to get some language….” After further discussion, Senator Amster suggested the word student be stricken from the text, resulting in “Any attempt to appeal at a level above the department….”  A motion was made and seconded to accept the amendment.  Senator Kellner asked about the second half of the sentence.  He suggested, “Any attempt to appeal at a level above the department should be referred back to the department…”  Chair Moore remarked that it was incomplete and that further change was indicated.  Senator Millican recommended the following, “Anyone attempting to appeal at a level above that of the department or unit, must be advised that the grade change request begin with the department.”  The motion was seconded.  Hearing no discussion, there was a Call to Question.  A vote was taken with both ayes and nays.  However, the amendment passed. 

 

Senator Payne remarked that the second sentence be changed to replace the last word “department” with “faculty member”.  The motion was seconded and a Call to Question was made.  A vote was taken and the amendment was approved.

 

Senator Cowan discussed the need to have language prohibiting any administrator from making a grade change above the faculty member.  Senator Chrzanowski suggested that the committee hear the words of the Senate and rewrite this trying to incorporate the recommendations and bring it back at a later date.  He moved to table the item.  The motion was seconded and a vote was taken.  The motion was approved.

Nominations Committee:

 

Chair Moore discussed the Bylaws which requires that one person representing each of our colleges and/or units and schools for the Nominations Committee.  Nominations could also be taken from the floor.  This committee must select a slate of officers.  Chair Moore asked that the committee stay after the meeting long enough to select a Chair.  Further, he requested that their work be completed a week prior to the next Faculty Senate meeting. 

 

Senator Schelly agreed to represent the College of Science.  For Liberal Arts, Senator Kellner was selected.  Senator Bredow was selected to represent the College of Engineering.  Senator Munch was selected to represent the College of Business.  For the schools and centers, Senator Rycraft was selected.

Announcements:

 

Chair Moore announced that at the last Faculty Senate meeting it was agreed to act as cosponsors for the “Copyright in the Digital Age Symposium” being hosted by the Library.  The scheduled date is March 29, 2000, from 2:00 till 4:00 p.m.  He encouraged everyone to attend.  He also noted that the Library has a new Digital Media Lab with some new technology resources available.  The web address regarding this is www.uta.edu/library/dml.

Adjournment:

 

A motion to adjourn was made and seconded.