Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes

University Center, Concho Room

May 3, 2000 @ 2:30 P.M.

 

Attendance:

Senators: Amster, H., Cantwell, D., Chrzanowski, T., Clark, J., Courtney, H., Cowan, E., Del Carmen, A., Elmarsi, R., Hanson, J., Hunter, S., Imrhan, S., Jones, ME., Kellner, H., Koymen, A., Maizlish, S., Maxwell, P., Morrow, E., Nestell, M., Nussbaum, C., Payne, F., Porter, L., Raja, M. K., Rasheed, A., Reinhartz, D., Reinhartz, J., Rycraft, J., Schelly, Z., Shipman, B., Silva, D., Wilmore, E., Yardley, M., Head of Libraries J. S. Alexander for T. Wilding, President R. Witt, Provost G. Wright, and Chair Michael Moore.

 

Call to Order:

The last meeting of the year was called to order by Chair, Dr. Michael Moore.

Approval of the Minutes:

The Chair called for approval of the Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes of March 15, 2000.  A motion was made and seconded.  During discussion, Senator Porter suggested, the following revisions for clarification: 1) on page seven, first paragraph, second to last line, that rather than “A faculty member usually does not have those options.”  It would be clearer to say ‘A faculty member does not accrue vacation time nor comp time.’ 2) In the second paragraph, second to last line, she recommended that rather than 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…” it be changed to “…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…” The Minutes were approved with the revisions. 

 

Comments by the Chair:

Chair Moore reported that Sharon Smith, our student representative was re-elected.   Sharon won by a student-landslide of 100 plus votes.

 

Chair Moore reported that the Grievance Policy, the Upward Review of Administrators, Post-Tenure Review, Family Leave document, and the Privacy document, all approved by the Faculty Senate have been sent to Austin for sign off. 

 

Chair Moore commented that some of the Senators would not be returning.  A notice from Moore and President Witt was sent to those Senators and their Chairs so that the Departments could conduct elections for replacements.  . 

 

The fourth announcement concerned the Ethics Guidelines on Compliance.  The training is available on the web.  Staff members will be required to go through this training.  Faculty members are urged to complete this training, as well.  The URL is:  http://trainingpost.uta.edu/utaet.  The Faculty Senate was encouraged to complete the training for several reasons, such as finding items that are not quite like the document that was passed, and as a means to encourage other departments and faculty members that it is not difficult to complete. There are currently 10 to 12 modules, which take little time to complete and certificates of completion can be printed. 

 

A copy of the Renovation Plan list is available for members to take back to their departments. 

 

A memo relating to the health care plan states that there will be substantial changes, although it is unknown at this time what exactly what changes will be made.  Human Resources department urges everyone to not make an assumption that the existing plans will rollover. It will be different than what it has been in the past. 

UT FAC Report:

 

Senator Moore reported: The utilization of a Faculty Satisfaction Survey has been approved.  Requests for proposals will be coming out soon from the System office.  The time of completion seems to be to start the survey in the fall with a year cycle so that it will be ready the following year.  An Exit Survey has also been approved to be given to all UT System employees that would be leaving.  It will cover questions such as why you are leaving, Tenure and Promotion decisions and questions regarding salaries, private sector, and childcare. 

 

A number of updates have been received.  One update concerns the K-16 initiative; another deals with how some campuses are dealing with student comments about faculty teaching.  Privacy issues were also discussed and the access to data that can be made available. Chair Moore stated that he would be happy to email a copy of the minutes to individuals who were interested.   

 

Comments from the President:

President Witt stated that the compliance training would begin in late summer or early fall.  He discussed the fines that are due when violations of the rules and regulations occur.  Well-intentioned faculty and staff from universities around the country have gotten into some “fairly serious problems in terms of fines to the federal government because they unknowingly violated rules, regulations, and policies.  A concerted effort has been made to make the compliance training as painless as possible.  It only takes approximately an hour to go through all of the modules.  It is an extremely high priority with the Board of Regents.  We will be expected to report the extent to which our faculty and staff have gone through this….” 

 

Comments from the Provost:

Provost Wright stated that he is required to submit a report regarding post-tenure review at the last Faculty Senate meeting of each academic year.  A total of 54 faculty were notified that they were to be reviewed during the 1999-2000 academic year.  Eight of those people were not reviewed for many reasons resulting in a total of 46 faculty being reviewed under the Post-Tenure Review policy of the University. All 46 of the faculty successfully passed their Post-Tenure Reviews. In addition, Provost Wright reported that one faculty member, who had been required to complete additional work last year before he or she could complete their Post-Tenure Review, has now successfully completed Post-Tenure Review. “This means that the two years that UTA has operated under a Post-Tenure Review Policy, 103 faculty—46 this year and 57 last year—have successfully completed Post-Tenure Review.

 

Questions and Answers:

Senator Schelly asked if the controversy between UTA and the telephone company had been investigated.  President Witt answered, “There have been discussions with the telephone company, as well as with UT System.  They anticipate sometime early in June we’re going to have a fairly definitive report on what additional options may be open.”

 

Senator Cantwell summarized his concerns regarding the problem of healthcare.  He is still investigating this issue.  He expressed a desire to have a representative from Medicare to provide information to faculty members.  In addition, he remarked on the issue of safety for grounds care employees and their need for ear and nose protection.  Finally, he expressed concern over the new dormitory being built of wood and it’s potential for fire hazards.  President Witt responded, “I’ll pass your concern about the grounds workers on to Physical Plant.  With respect to the new residence hall, which will be a wood and brick structure, it will be well furnished with sprinkler systems; there will be a “no smoking” policy; there will be training at the beginning of the semester so that everyone is aware of appropriate exits; and it will be a very safe facility.”

 

Senator Judy Reinhartz asked for information about why health insurance and companies that UTA has access to keep changing and choices becomes less and less available.  President Witt responded, “I’ll answer as best I can, and I’ll make a note to see if I can obtain some follow-up information.  I think the short answer is that each year the System attempts to negotiate a maximum amount of coverage possible at a reasonable cost… I do know that in considering the rate increases for the coming academic year, the experience figures for UT Arlington were such that one of the larger increases in rates will hit our campus.  Each year the providers of coverage review experience.  They come up with quotes and System tries to negotiate a package of options that involves the smallest possible increase in cost with the smallest possible decrease in flexibility and coverage.  They will have figures in the relatively near future regarding the rate of increase.  If in an individual is a single person with coverage only on himself or herself, the state will continue to cover the cost of that coverage.  So, the increase in cost, the impact of that, will be borne by people who have spouse coverage or spouse and family coverage.”

 

Senator Reinhartz recommended that the UT System work with other systems in order to work as a larger group.  She suggested looking at K-12, as well.

 

Senator Wilmore supported Senator Reinhartz suggestion.  She believes it is an excellent idea.  She stated that as a school board member, she knows the issue of insurance is “a very big deal because of cost-loss ratios….  It is a very big deal with all the local school districts in Texas.  If we could all merge our resources together and have a much larger pool to pull from, that’s really a very good idea.”  President Witt responded that he would follow-up and “find out if it has been considered, and if not, ask that it be considered.”

 

Committee Reports:

Chair Moore stated that Senator Dennis Reinhartz’ report on the Master Plan is available in hard copy.  He also stated that a report from the Family Leave Committee is available.  It was stated that the Student Services report would be discussed under old business.  Chair Moore also stated that he did not believe the following committees had met:  Tenure and Academic Freedom and Equity, Operating Procedures, Research and Development, Budget or Academic Liaison, or the Ethics Committee.  He asked if the Special Projects Committee had a report. 

 

Old Business:

Regarding the Grade Change Policy, Senator Porter remarked that changes were minor.  She reminded everyone that a Grade Change Policy was already in place in the Undergraduate and Graduate catalogs.  The recent changes, however, are merely a means to emphasize that grade changes must begin with the instructor.  These changes are to ensure that the instructors are always the first resource when grade change appeals are begun.  Senator Kellner asked if the instructor left the university and is teaching elsewhere, did that mean that leaving the university automatically removes that instructor from the process. It was determined that in such circumstances the grade change appeal  would fall on the next level.  A motion was made to call to question.  A vote was obtained.  The motion passed. 

 

New Business:

Chair Moore stated that the first item concerned the election of new officers.  Senator Kellner discussed procedures that the Nominating Committee had followed.  The nominations were as follows:

 

            Chair-Elect:                                          Senator Chrzanowski

                                                                        Senator D. Reinhartz

Secretary:                                             Senator Kellner

            Parliamentarian:                                    Senator Bredow

                                                                        Senator Millican

            Texas Council Of Faculty Senates:        Senator Amster

                                                                        Senator Hanson

 

There were no nominations from the floor.  Each candidate gave a brief summary of his or her skills and backgrounds, except for the candidates for Parliamentarian, who were absent.  Votes were taken and the results are as follows:

 

Chair-Elect:                                          Senator Chrzanowski

            Secretary:                                             Senator Kellner

            Parliamentarian:                                    Senator Millican

            Texas Council Of Faculty Senates:        Senator Hanson

 

Regarding the Texas Council on Faculty Senates position, it was proposed that the utilization of both nominations be considered in order to serve as a backup and additional source of information and support.  It was suggested that if the Senate agreed, revision of the By-Laws be considered in order to allow more than one representative.  Senator Kellner suggested that the other individual be considered as an alternative representative in order to have coverage in the absence of the elected representative.

 

Continuation of New Business:

Chair Moore stated that there were three new items that did not appear on the agenda.  He stated that two members of the Faculty Senate, Barbara Shipman and Michael Yardley have been serving on the Program Review Committee for the past couple of years and it is time for replacement. Senators Kellner and Clark volunteered to fill the vacancies.  A vote was taken to approve Senators Kellner and Clark to these positions.  The vote passed by acclamation. 

 

The next item under new business pertained to a resolution on salaries during special sessions and for distance education.  A motion to consider this was made and seconded.  During discussion, several Senators remarked on the apparent unfairness of the salaries and variable compensation for courses during special sessions.  Senator Schelly stated that he did not see any difference for the summer courses as the same problems existed there, as well.  Senator Kellner answered that he believed the summer courses capped at $6500.00, but the principle is the same.  “In this case,” continued Kellner, “then we would have three different models, the summer school model…” and special sessions model, and Distance Education model.  After further discussion, Chair Moore responded, “Some would argue that there was a fair amount of idiocy prior to that in that there was tremendous inequity across the university, with some departments receiving a third, some receiving a twelfth, some receiving a tenth.  And at least now, it has been standardized across all units.”  President Witt responded, “I guess it’s appropriate that I do speak as author of the current idiocy.  One of the first things—I’ll try to put this in perspective—that I observed when I arrived here in 1995, was something that I probably would not characterize as idiocy.  I think it was arrived at by well-meaning and well-intentioned individuals.  I would characterize it as something that I perceived then to be extremely unfair.  I perceive today to be extremely unfair.  I believe very strongly in the market mechanism.  I will not attempt, because I don’t think it would be appropriate or reasonable, to argue that a professor of English or a professor of History is inherently worth less than a professor of Electrical Engineering or Finance.  All are valued and equally important members of the community.  But the nature of the market dictates what faculty salaries are in various disciplines.  And, if we are to attract the kind of colleagues we want, we must pay market prices.  Once we have done so, we end up with a faculty salary structure that may result in a brand new assistant professor of Finance or Information Systems earning $75,000 or $80,000 for a nine-month term with no experience.  While one of the most senior, respected and proven colleagues in another department, perhaps in Liberal Arts, looks at his or her department salary structure and knows that figure in their lifetime probably is not a reasonable expectation, regardless of performance, regardless of service.  That is a system that, although imperfect, I don’t know how we resolve it.  I think we must be sensitive to market prices.  But, there is a point at which I believe, as a community, we have to draw a line.  What Chairman Moore alluded to was what I found when I started looking at salary structures.  Certain colleges had garnered larger summer operating budgets over the years than other colleges.  They were in a position to pay a month, six weeks, or more for a single summer course.  While in other colleges, faculty members would receive a tenth or less.  In other colleges, the budgets were so tight that for the university to deliver the curriculum it had to deliver to serve its students, faculty members would receive a tenth for their first course, and half of that for their second course.  In one college, the only way they could meet their curriculum was to take the pool of dollars and then let the faculty decide, we will divide that number of dollars by the number of sections to be taught and we will each accept the same salary.  I believe that was wrong then.  I believe it is wrong now.  I took no pleasure in having to recommend that we cap salaries. As the university becomes healthier in the future, it will be possible to begin to increase that cap.  But for the foreseeable future, we will continue to have to have a cap.  With respect to the information in the resolution, to clarify one point—for distance education courses taught during the summer, we are operating with the $6500.00 cap. With respect to the intersession courses, I think Professor Kellner is correct when he states those courses do, in fact, generate the same tuition, designated tuition, and formula funding.  They generate most, but not all, of the same fees because we operate on a pro-rata basis to try to be fair to the students.  We don’t charge full parking fees and certain other fees.  But they do generate the same tuition, designated tuition, and formula funding.  They are offered over a three-week period.  Students are limited to one course so that they will have adequate time.  Although it’s an intense experience, they will have adequate time to be able to complete the courses.  They have been well received.  As of this morning, we learned that enrollment in Maymester is tracking approximately 50 percent ahead of enrollment in last year’s Maymester.  Is $3500.00 per course a salary that I view as ideal or even appropriate?  Ideal, no, appropriate under the circumstances, yes.  Will it be increased over time?  The answer is “yes”.  Philosophically, I can’t disagree with Professor Kellner.  We are talking about different pay for delivering a … course. The $3500.00 was selected based on what we felt we could reasonably invest in an experiment.  The experiment appears to be working.  The $3500.00, to be completely candid, was selected at a time when the university’s finances were very strapped.  I now believe we are reasonably close to turning the corner….  And we will, over time, increase the amount of money for participating in intersession. Again, the salary is set at $3500.00 for the coming winter session.  It will increase to $4000.00 after that.  As our financial condition improves, it would be my hope, over time, to be able to increase it beyond the $4000.00.”

 

Senator Cantwell remarked that the keepers of the purse, which include Chairmen, Deans, and the President’s and Provost’s Offices, are all involved.  He believes that it becomes difficult to understand things if you are unable to see all aspects of the issue.  However, he feels that a cap on salaries resulted in a loss of control of the purse strings and thereby may contribute to a loss of incentive to solve the problem.  He suggested that due to the multiple aspects of the issue, it be tabled for later discussion.  The motion failed.  There was no further discussion.  After Call to Question, the motion was seconded with one objection.  An unidentified Senator remarked that this problem had been corrected, as stated by President Witt.  Chair Moore stated, “Against my better judgment, I’ll break precedence since this is the last meeting of the year and allow that as a friendly amendment.  We still have before us a motion to accept and second….” Senator Schelly asked, “Can we include the regular summer courses into this resolution?”  An unidentified Senator answered, “It seems to me, Senator Schelly, that the regular summer courses are the baseline that this resolution is aiming toward.”  Senator Schelly remarked that it still falls under the general statement for equal service that you get equal pay.  “If somebody is teaching during the whole summer just as he or she would be teaching during the spring or fall semester, should get the same pay.”  Chair Moore remarked, “…It seems to me that … the resolution before us, is to bring a cap of $3500.00 in Maymester and winter session to the one-tenth level up to a cap of $6500.00.  In other words, to treat it like summer cap.  And your (Senator Schelly’s) intent is to treat summer as fall or spring which would be an important but separate issue.” 

 

Senator Porter asked President Witt, “So, what you have assured us is that in the following winter’s semester, it will still be the same schedule.  But, after that it is going to $4000.00.”  President Witt confirmed that it would go to $4000.00 effective Maymester of next year.  He remarked that he would “…commit to reviewing the pricing again, once we see where we are in the spring session 2001, because I’ll have a better read then on the base period and know what we’re looking at base period to base period.  We’re not dealing with an impossible figure in terms of ratcheting this up over time.  My only concern is I don’t want to make a commitment today based on a best estimate of where we are going to be base period to base period and find out that we’re coming up short.  Then the only way to balance things is to cut sections, which would be counter-productive.  The singular most unpopular thing I have done since I have arrived—and I identify engineering and business faculty around the table who are nodding their heads—there are individuals who have some compensation per course in some cases go from $12,000.00 per section down to $6500.00.  I look forward to the day when that cap can go up.  I look forward to the day when $3500.00 can go up.  It should go up.  It will go up as fast as we can do it in a fiscally proven manner.”

 

Senator Chrzanowski pointed out that the resolution contained no time limits or deadlines, which could later be interpreted as the faculty may be happy with remaining at the cap of $6500.00, even if it “takes 20 years from now” to get there.   He suggested there was no point in making this resolution except for to voice dissatisfaction with it. 

President Witt responded, “And I would vote in favor of not being happy with the current salary structure too.  And to underscore the importance of what was just said, so that you all know the direction of my thinking; I am more inclined to go from a tenth to a ninth than I am to increase the cap, because I am still concerned that we should draw a line—be responsive to market rates coming in.  But once people are members of the community, try to do something to deal with the disparity.  In going from a tenth to a ninth, it would help everyone, but proportionately, it would help our lower-paid colleagues who salary is capped by market pressures.”

 

Senator Rasheed suggested that the cap should reflect the cost of living increases. 

 

After further discussion, Chair Moore stated, “…Passing this is not going to force the coffers to come open and our salaries to raise.  We are, the truth of the matter, an advisory board, and probably the direction that Tom is suggesting is the appropriate one; that is, we express our displeasure, if that’s what we have, if we want to put a time horizon, or when we would like things equalized.  We could do that as well.  And the truth of the matter is that I forward it to President Witt and he says ‘thank you’.  And I think he knows, by now, we are already displeased with it.  Maybe that point is already accomplished.  We are not going to require a budget action.  We will not effect a change in that way….”

 

Senator Hanson recommended that we vote it down now, and have the person who offered the resolution come back with another one and/or create a committee to really look into this.

 

Senator Wilmore asked, “Why not pass this now and wordsmith it as a modification next year?”

 

Chair Moore suggested an option, “…working on a plan to slowly ratchet up faculty salaries, which mentioned…cost of living.  We don’t have such a thing.  There should be ways to…we’re all compressed and suppressed from where we should be.  He [President Witt] has agreed to start some informal discussions on that over the summer.  So it may be appropriate, although I know we have a second and a motion to call to question, to table this for the summer.  Those who are interested, let me know if you would like to work in such an informal working group to periodically meet with the President or whomever he would designate to, not only tackle this issue, but also the broader issue of faculty salary compression.  It’s just an idea from the Chair.  Obviously, it needs to be a motion from the floor.” 

 

Senator Kellner expressed concern at the mixing of different issues at different times.  “I’m a little bit of the belief that if a committee on faculty compensation, as a generalized problem, were to sit down, we would find that one part of it is financed from another part of it is financed from another part of it.  And, we would find money being moved around in a way that wouldn’t address a particular issue and maybe might not address any issues particularly well if they are not kept separate and defined clearly.”

 

Senator Porter remarked that UTA has been losing faculty to other institutions due to low salaries.  This is of great concern to the faculty as well as to the university.

 

Chair Moore stated, “There is a motion before the floor that was seconded and there was a call to question.  Are there any other discussions for calling to question on the resolution?”  A vote was taken on the resolution.  The resolution passed.

 

Chair Moore remarked on one final matter, “It was brought to my attention by Senator Maizlish from History on behalf of some of his colleagues.  We discussed the issue with the President and the Presidential Advisory Committee.  That pertains to the faculty development leave program….  We have had some time now to watch this thing work.  There are some folks among us that have some questions as to whether or not it is working as effectively as it might be.  I don’t think there is any question that it’s a good program, but there are questions raised, for example, as to ‘What role does seniority play in this process?  Should rank be considered?  Are all units following the same review procedures at the lower levels?’  I’ve had a meeting with the Provost where we talked about a number of these things.  He’s indicated that he’s willing to follow-up with the various units to make sure that we’re all following the same procedures at the lower levels.  [Also], an effort to publicize—sort of a fruits of these rewards--so that we all get a better sense of community.  I think many of us have no idea of what kind of award is considered meritorious by the community. We thought it might be better to change that to a point where half of the membership cycles off every year, a two-year committee.  So you may have some ability to educate the people that were there before.  It was also thought that we, starting next year, refer probably to our Research and Development Committee this issue to consider other matters such as the role of rank or whatever issue that you think might be appropriate.  I would like to take a few moments now, if you have thoughts on this, if you could air those thoughts.  I’m not looking for a motion.  If you have some thoughts or concerns that you have for faculty and development leave, if you would let me know now, or perhaps email them to me over the course of the summer.  We could get these to the Research and Development.  But I do think the way we approve a program, a good program, is to learn from our experiences.”

 

An unidentified Senator stated, “My understanding is most established universities, or a lot of them, faculty development leave is a way to compensate those who have been there for a long time so they can renew their research or energy of sorts….”

 

Senator Payne stated, “Traditionally, it’s at the major university that the sabbatical comes up.  It’s about every seven years.  Time is a factor.”

 

Senator Jones stated, “Having served on that committee, not this past year, but the year before, I think you articulated some of the issues very well.  I really, strongly, advocate that they be addressed, particularly now that there is a little bit of history.  Because it’s very difficult to serve on that committee without any real guidelines, it’s difficult to decide who is really as meritorious and whether it’s a tenure-seeking individual or one who is already tenured and balancing all of those additions to their proposals….  It is very clear-cut where the committee should begin.”

 

Senator J. Reinhartz stated, “We weren’t sure in terms of who received the announcement.  Is it the Dean’s level, the Chair’s level, faculty level?  The notification, and again the systemizing the process of signatures.”

 

Senator Maizlish stated, “I strongly endorse what Senator Jones said.  The issues of having received previous awards … for the same project… a lot of these same issues come up and decisions are very, very difficult.  It is sometimes easier to fall back on what is basically arbitrary, but some kind of impersonal kind of standard.  In a sense, that is … they really don’t know what the qualifications are because there is that lack of clarity because it swings around various committees and how they think….”

 

Senator Porter remarked, “Another thing to consider, I think, is the clarity of the instructions that are sent out to people who are applying.”  She described an incident where the instructions were not clear or were missing. 

 

Chair Moore suggested that everyone talk to their colleagues who have been through this process and then share the concerns with him over the coming weeks.  He would gather them and get the committee to look at them.

 

Announcements:

Senator J. Reinhartz stated that she had just heard on the news about the Comptroller finding money for merit.  She was curious how that will play out and asked for further clarification about the merit among campus merit raises.

 

President Witt responded, “I will start sleeping nights because the merit raises we just decided on were based on the presumption that she would find the money.”

 

Senator Chrzanowski then addressed Chair Moore and stated, “I hope the rest of this Senate would join me in saying ‘Thank you, for a job well-done.’”

Adjournment:

A motion to adjourn was made and seconded.