Faculty Senate Meeting

Minutes

University Center, Concho Room

November 3, 1999 @ 2:30 P.M.

 

Attendance:

Senators: Amster, H., Ardekani, S., Bredow, J., Chrzanoski, T., Chuong, C., Clark, J., Courtney, H., Courtney, M., Crowder, W., Del Carmen, A., Han, C., Kellner, H., Maizlish, S., Maxwell, P., Millican, M., Morrow, E., Munch, J., Nestell, M., Nussbaum, C., 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 T. Wilding, President R. Witt, Provost G. Wright, Student Congress, S. Smith, and Chair M. Moore.

 

Call to Order:

The Chair, Dr. Michael Moore, called the meeting to order.

Approval of the Minutes:

The Chair called for approval of the last Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes of October 6, 1999. A motion was made and seconded.

 

Comments by the Chair:

Chair, Michael Moore discussed the electronic posting of the Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes to the web. ACS also provided a mailing list which, it is believed, reaches every faculty member and administrator.

Chair Moore stated that he had received in the mail a notice from the UT System about local hearings to be scheduled about the Chancellor search. For the forms to fill out or for anyone who is interested in attending the meetings, please contact the Chair.

Chair Moore also discussed the need for Committees to choose a Chair of the Committee. He encouraged everyone to "roll up your sleeves and pitch in and schedule meetings so that we can get on with some of the business."

The UT FAC Meeting which the Chair and Senator Hans Kellner attended in Austin dealt with privacy issues on campus, i.e., email, posted mail, faxes, voice mail etc. Campuses were asked to gather information and report back.

A second issue related to grade changes wherein a student’s grade was changed and where the faculty member was not notified. Again, campuses are asked to gather information and report back.

Health care and the availability of insurance cards were reported as moving quite slowly on some campuses.

Campuses also reported on post-tenure review. Things seem to work rather smoothly here as compared to some other campuses.

FAC is currently working on two surveys: an exit survey to be given to faculty as they depart the university in order to determine why they are choosing to leave; and a repeat of a survey from six years ago, the Faculty Satisfaction Survey, to determine what contributes to satisfaction working at the university.

Senator Kellner stated that the number one concern in the State of Texas as noted by the Student Advisory Council (SAC) was bandwidth (computers).

Senator Amster reported on her meeting at the Texas Council of Faculty Senates. A representative of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, described in detail the Workforce, Education and Technical Course Manual where slelected vocational and technical courses would be allowed as transfers to an academic department—especially, Criminal Justice, Engineering, Computer courses, and maybe Nursing. Senator Amster also discussed the argument by community colleges supporting the transfer of Associates Degrees from community colleges that would mean that students would earn lower division credit for those degrees and never need to take another lower division course in order to get their degree from UTA. She suggested the Faculty Senate gather some input on this topic. Next, the issue of requiring a field of study in Elementary Education besides education has been implemented. Currently, they are starting with the fields of Music, Business and Interdisciplinary Studies. Business, Engineering and Engineering Technology will be added next year. Finally, Senator Amster discussed "Roundup" where each university presents what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s bothering them. Some of the highlights included several universities setting aside some of the salary increase money to be used for equity raises in order to correct inequities they have identified; some universities also have a separation of funding for faculty and administrative salaries; reviews of administration every three years instead of six years has been implemented at UTD; several universities reported relief time from teaching for the Faculty Senate Chair and for some officers during the first semester; and most universities had special meeting rooms and/or offices for the Faculty Senates—many with secretaries.

 

Comments from the President:

President Witt stated that Proposition 17 passed which was very important to the UT System and Texas A&M System. It will substantially benefit UT Arlington in the future.

He discussed the two new buildings for the Campus Master Plan that is moving forward. The bookstore is ahead of schedule with the Residence Hall being on schedule. The bookstore should be ready right after the first of the year.

At the Coordinating Board Meeting in Austin, last week, the results of this year’s ARAPP Research Funding Competition. This year approximately 60 million dollars will be spent. UT Arlington will receive approximately 1.8 million dollars "which positions behind only one academic university, in the UT System and that is UT Austin. It positions us as the number one university in the Metroplex…"

Following up on Senator Cantwell’s request to look into the issue of use of social security numbers and potential problems with numbers being used inappropriately. This is still under investigation. However, having two sets of numbers to deal with instead of just one—the social security number—appears to be problematic, particularly with UT System health care and payroll. President Witt, however, anticipates a final report to be ready by the next Faculty Senate Meeting.

 

Comments from the Provost:

Provost Wright discussed a K-16 initiative program in which the university will be working to strengthen the relationship with the public schools. The UT Arlington campus has a variety of such programs, such as science programs, education programs, other summer programs, student volunteers who read to young people, as well as funds raised by sororities and fraternities that assist the public schools. "… This is a very important aspect of the mission of this institution."

 

Questions for the President and Provost:

One unidentified Senator questioned the President regarding the publication of grade distributions on the university website. President Witt responded that it was currently under discussion. If it were to be placed on the web, the university would do it. President Witt added that this information is not being made available in response to an open records request or freedom of information request. "President Smith and the Student Congress expressed a strong expression of interest in having access to this information. "They were aware," he continued, "that they could file a freedom of information request and obtain it…. We knew they had a right to have the information…. With respect to any decision to put it on the web, if we make a decision that the students do have a right to this information, my thinking would be that making it as accessible to them as possible, facilitating their use of it, would not be inconsistent with the decision to make it available in the first place."

Senator Cantwell asked if there were someone that could keep up with this and monitor it. President Witt stated that Vice-President Dan Williams, the university’s official Open Records Officer, would handle all requests that fall under Open Records and Freedom of Information Act and must be funneled to him. The response goes from his office to the requesting party when the request is a legitimate one. "I’ll refer your suggestion to our Compliance Committee at the university … and see if there is some way of incorporating within the charge of that group some sort of a monitoring procedure for privacy issues."

Senator Amster asked Provost Wright if UT Arlington was going to participate in the new investigation and recruitment of high school students into the university early as part of a way of evaluating whether high school has any value or for whom it does. Provost Wright stated there is currently no plan to change the normal way for students to finish up high school and come to college. Dr. Dunn is our point person of distance [education] and there are high school districts that are very interested in some of the programs and course offerings we have here that they believe might assist them in the public schools.

Senator (unknown), asked if anyone on this campus or at the System level or even in the legislature is monitoring the impact of that Post-Tenure Review process. Chair Michael Moore responded, "I do know we had to file a report with the System. Then we, faculty and representatives, were required to report it at the UT FAC. There were not large numbers of people that were put into some sort of corrective or mentoring kind of roles which is probably the best way to describe it." Those numbers, which were shared at the UT FAC meeting, can be made available.

 

Committee Reports:

Chair Moore discussed the Student Services Committee. Dr. Laurie Porter was elected as Chair. Their agenda contains two important issues—"Under what conditions can student grades be changed without faculty input?" Details such as when and how it may occur should be up coming. And, "…it has been suggested that we add a graduate student representative to our body. We have Sharon Smith from the Undergraduate Assembly. The graduate students have a similar representative body and we might want to add them as an ex-officio member."

The Tenure and Academic Freedom Responsibilities Committee discussed the report regarding membership on the Post-Tenure Review Committee, the issue of a time line for when a faculty member undergoes a review, and the issue regarding the recommendation for a third year review of that faculty member up for promotion.

Senator Porter discussed the Family Leave Committee Report. Currently they are gathering information for review and familiarizing themselves with similar Family Leave policies at other campuses and institutions.

Chair Moore stated that he was not aware of any other committee that has met. He encouraged all committees to meet.

Old Business:

Senator Chrynowski was to Chair the committee to handle the nomination and election of Vice-Chair.

Senator Chrynowski met and requested nominations for candidates. Three members had agreed to serve in this capacity: Dr. Laurie Porter, Dr. Dennis Reinhartz, and Dr. Elaine Wilmore. Ballots were passed out for voting. Votes were counted. A run-off between Dr. Reinhartz and Dr. Porter was required. New ballots were handed out. Votes were counted. Dr. Dennis Reinhartz was elected as Vice-Chair.

Senator Cantwell asked if there was a log on who was requesting information on faculty. President Witt indicated that the original letter received which describes what they’re asking for; our response letter if it requires clarification and the estimation of the costs involved; and then a copy of the materials that we released is shared with the department. Senator Cantwell countered that if someone is requesting information, that request is subject to examination under the Freedom of Information Act. President Witt answered, "We make a copy of the original request. We attach it to the memo to your department letter. We would have the cover memo from Dan Williams, a copy of the request so you would know who had asked for the information, and a copy of our response." President Witt stated he would check and follow up on this.

The cover document to accompany the faculty grade distribution was discussed. Chair Moore indicated that the students have requested this information and it has been determined that it’s something they are entitled to and have a right to. The Chair called attention to a draft of a cover page is intended to make students aware some concerns when accessing this information. For example, that it’s not a guarantee; that grade distributions in the future will be similar to this; that you should be conscious that a 4000 level course is going to have a different kind of grade distribution than a freshman core course. The Faculty Senate is being asked to see if there were things that needed to be added or changed. "This is not," he said, "intended to be an endorsement by the Faculty Senate. It is not considered to be our document. This is a document the Student Congress is proposing. They are the ones that are going to publish it. It is a courtesy on their part to allow us to put this kind of cover letter in there so to the extent that the data are going to be used, they might be used in the fashion that could be as helpful as they might possibly be."

Senator Maizlish argued that he felt the entire cover sheet should be deleted. He believes it suggests faculty support, endorsement, and sanction of what is going on. He also stated that the publication of these grade distributions will have an inflationary effect on the grades, will degrade the value of the UTA degree. Ultimately, he felt it could hurt long-term enrollment at the university by making those distributions public. He felt there should be nothing that could indicate their support of what was going on. President Witt asked if it would be acceptable to the Congress to have the letter that goes out come out under the heading of the Congress. The Student Congress Representative stated there was not a problem.

Senator Reinhartz stated support of his colleagues concerns. He expressed concern on how this will impact our foreign students since it will be accessed all over the world via the web. He cautioned against going on the web with this information. He asked if this was the beginning of the process or the end of the process and wished to know where we were to go from here. He felt this was not the end. He felt the information they were ultimately after were the kind of information that would help them make informed course decisions.

Senator Courtney asked what the criteria were for the difference between public and private information regarding faculty activities. President Witt responded that relatively little information is really private. The list of restricted information is very, very small.

Senator Crowder stated his concerns how this information would be used. While it is not the faculty’s job to control how students use this information, he was concerned that students’ choice of the path of least resistance to find easy classes might lead to misuse. However, he did not see any reason why they did not have as much information as possible concerning the courses available and which courses would suit them better than others.

Senator Clark asked if graduate courses were included. President Witt responded affirmatively. Senator Clark was concerned with the small classes where two students would have their grades posted. This could be a confidentiality issue. President Witt responded that Vice-Provost Dunn has recognized that problem and is working on limits to be placed on the courses posted to have student enrollment over five or ten. This may reduce the issue of privacy and still capture over 95% of the courses offered.

Senator Maizlish remarked that there is a consistent relationship between grades and student evaluations. However, he felt that high grades would probably have higher evaluations.

Chair Moore asked if there were any other comments about the content of the document outside of Senator Kellner’s suggestion which is appropriate—to add the description of the grades and evaluations. No further comments or questions were presented.

 

Campus Master Plan:

Chair Moore announced that the Campus Master Plan is now available in the Deans’ offices and the Library. He asked each faculty member to look at it. A motion was made and seconded to appoint a committee of volunteers to review the document. Volunteers were Senator Kellner, Senator Dennis Reinhartz, Senator Millican, Senator Elmasri, Senator Schelly, and Senator Judy Reinhartz. Senator Dennis Rienhartz was appointed as Chair for the first set of meetings and asked to report at the next meeting.

New Business:

There was some discussion regarding Post-Tenure Review of faculty members who have joint appointments and who are administrators. Information will be obtained from the Provost’s office regarding the interpretation of the policy.

Senator Kellner asked that the university databases be updated to include those faculty members who are still employed and delete those employees no longer employed at UTA. He also commented on the percentage rate of errors, including misspelling of names. President Witt stated the fall or spring semester could be used to draw for summer in order to try and reduce errors.

Announcements:

Chair Moore reminded members to meet for their committee meetings after the Faculty Senate. He also discussed Mr. Wilding’s kindness in opening up the Library to serve as a surrogate faculty club. He encouraged faculty members to attend the next meeting that will be announced over UTA Today and the UTA Messenger.

 

Adjournment:

A motion was made and seconded to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned in order for the committees to meet.