University Faculty and Associates
The Spring Meeting of the University Faculty and Associates was held at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, 2005, in the E.H. Hereford University Center Rosebud Theatre. President James D. Spaniolo presided.
Provost Dana Dunn introduced a video which celebrates research excellence and achievements at UTA.
[Video focusing on Research at UTA was aired.]
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT.
Last fall at this meeting, I noted
that UTA welcomed, not only its largest student enrollment in history, but also
the largest group of new faculty. The faculty
who joined us were our most impressive single group of faculty to join us at
one time. I’m pleased to report that
next fall, we will welcome another 35 colleagues to campus and their
credentials are equally impressive. For
example, Dr. Richard Billo joins us as associate dean of engineering and a
faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Dr. Billo comes to us from
We are not only bringing more new faculty to campus, we are also initiating concerted efforts to provide better support for our new colleagues. This year, following a recommendation from the Committee on the Status of Women and Minorities, the Office of the Provost launched a new Faculty Mentoring Program. This program matched senior UTA faculty with those in their first three years on a voluntary basis. The early reports are that it has been a tremendous success and I would like to thank those of you that participated in this program. We will continue the program next year and will expand its scope, both in terms of size and programming, and we will be responsive to the feedback we’ve received from this year’s participants.
similar vein, we recently had a conversation with the
For some time we have needed a better vehicle for communicating with our campus and external audiences about our research achievements. In the fall, we are going to initiate a new UTA research magazine designed to showcase the breadth and excellence of our scholarly achievements. We expect it to be an effective tool for highlighting the great work conducted at UTA.
UTA has come a long way but we still have progress to make over the next few years to become a major nationally recognized research university. That is our mission, to become a major nationally recognized research university where ground breaking research is synergistic with outstanding teaching. Our students have the privilege of being taught by scholars who are creating and applying new knowledge.
important indicator of a university’s research prowess is its annual
expenditures on highly competitive federally sponsored programs. In 2004, UTA increased its federally
sponsored research expenditures by almost 40% over the previous year. And we will continue to significantly
increase this number each year. Last
July, UTA was selected over the
A second key ingredient of research success is our graduate students. In particular, a key measure of an institution’s status is the number of doctoral degrees granted each year. Since 2000, we’ve increased the number of doctoral students by 38%. We will continue to increase both the quantity and quality of our graduate students by allocating more funds for their support. This fall, we are taking an important step in this direction by providing fellowships designed to offset designated tuition and fees for doctoral level GRAs in science and engineering.
past year we have remained active at improving the campus infrastructure which
will enhance our teaching and scholarship and improve the overall appearance of
the campus. Our new physics and
chemistry building will provide much needed laboratory space. The new facility will also house a state of
the art planetarium. The Physics Department
has already hired the director for the new planetarium, Dr. Robert Bonadurer,
previously of the Minnesota Planetarium.
We expect this planetarium will bring thousands of new visitors to our
campus every year. Once the Chemistry
and Physics Departments have relocated, we will begin renovation of their
vacated spaces to create additional classrooms, offices, and laboratories. Across
campus, we just recently held the grand opening for the
speak, students are voting on a referendum that will lead to enhancing the
capacity and attractiveness of our campus.
This Student Life Initiative, championed by the Student Congress, would
include an 18 million dollar expansion and renovation of the
There’s another project on the horizon. There has been a vision of having a bell tower on campus for many years. We’re working on a new version of that vision to serve as a central focal point for our campus, a clock tower. Most campuses have a physical symbol which focuses the attention of the university community. While still in the preliminary discussion stage for this, projects like this are necessary to build traditions. A graduate class in architecture is providing the intellectual and creative juices for bringing together a proposal. My goal is to find a way to fund the project with private donor dollars.
A final building project is a new engineering research building which would significantly expand our engineering facilities. We currently have a request pending for a tuition revenue bond before the Texas Legislature. We believe this expansion is necessary to provide critical research, office and teaching space to our growing engineering departments.
Facility planning for the campus also continues. We will soon be announcing the firm that has been selected to update our campus facilities and our campus master plan to reflect our recent additions and our future plans. We also continue the challenging task of keeping our current buildings in working order. In January we moved our computing data center from the basement of Davis Hall to a building close to UTA’s Automated Research and Robotics Institute to provide room for expansion. This summer we will close University Hall for approximately two months while we install fire suppression equipment and remove asbestos. We recognize that this will be inconvenient for those of you who office, work and access services in University Hall. I want to thank you for your cooperation, patience, and understanding for this critically necessary project which will be completed at the end of the Summer.
Last fall, we announced that we would begin to replace our antiquated student information system with a new system called MyMav. I’m pleased to report that this project is proceeding on schedule. Officials from OIT, Academic Advising, Student Enrollment Services, and Accounting and Business Services have been working diligently to make sure our transition to the new system is a smooth one. To date much of the work on the project has been behind the scenes. By the time we gather again in the fall, we will have more concrete results to share with the campus and will begin to train the campus community on this new system.
Before the implementation of the MyMav system, we will make a significant change in the way we conduct day-to-day business with our students. For several years now, e-mail has been considered an official means of communication between administration and faculty. Beginning in the fall, we will make e-mail our official communication with students as well. We have recently expanded our server capacity to accommodate the anticipated increase in usage of student e-mail accounts. In the fall, tuition bills, academic advising notices, scholarship and financial award notices and other business related communications will now be delivered to student e-mail accounts instead of their home mailing address. This will allow us to save postage and printing costs and increase the efficiency of delivering important information to students. It acknowledges that e-mail is a way of life in terms of communicating in the twenty-first century.
Let me say a word about the Texas Legislature. The House and Senate bills related to Higher Education Appropriation are significantly different. The Senate version provides more dollars to higher education. However, it uses a new funding formula that reduces the amount of money we would receive for classes in engineering, education and nursing. This is not something we have looked upon favorably and we have spoken in opposition to changing the formula. The House version provides fewer dollars but uses the old formula, the one that we would prefer. We would like to see a compromise which includes the Senate dollars distributed by using the House’s formula. We’ll see how close we get to that ideal dream in the next few weeks.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the Legislature process, we do not have definite word about the amount of money that will be available for merit raises. We expect to have a merit pool available for faculty and staff and we have directed administrative offices to conduct merit evaluations so that when the pool becomes available the appropriate adjustments can be made. It is likely that this exercise will not be completed until sometime this summer.
We continue to recognize that salaries are not as competitive as we want them to be and believe that providing competitive salaries for our faculty and staff is a high priority. This year, for the first time, our most research active faculty received either a one-time research excellence award or a supplement to their professional development account. The total for these supplements was a million dollars. I recognize that these awards are not a substitute for a permanent increase in salary. However, the Provost and I believe that they demonstrate our commitment to act, not just to talk, about salary competitiveness. It also recognizes that excellence can be rewarded in many creative, yet tangible, ways.
Contrary to what you may have read, the tuition increase that was recently approved is consistent with the Board of Regents pledge to keep tuition increases modest this year at five percent. The tuition increase for most students is at or below five percent and for some it could be much less. A student taking 3 or 6 hours will have an increase of 5%. A student taking 9 hours will also have an increase of 5%. A student who takes 15 hours will see an increase of slightly less than 5%. Only students taking from 10-13 hours will see increases higher than 5% and we’re hopeful that many of these students will add one additional course to speed their time to graduation which is in the interest of the state of Texas as well as the interest of our students. We also provide students the opportunity to receive a discount if they pay their tuition on time. Students who take 30 hours per academic year and earn a 2.25 grade point average will earn a $200 rebate. I’m appreciative to the members of the tuition review committee for their thoughtful and conscientious review of our tuition proposals and their contribution to UTA. This modest tuition will help us maintain our momentum in building a stronger, more vibrant university.
Fall Semester, the Provost and I held a number of strategic conversations where
we solicited input from faculty, staff, students and members of the community
on a variety of issues. The comments from
these conversations were used to guide our redrafting of the university’s
planning priorities. The new priorities
were shared with the campus community for reaction. Faculty Senate was especially helpful in
drafting those proposed priorities.
After a comment period, I adopted the priorities that will guide our
planning for the next academic year. While the campus was revising planning
priorities, the Long Range Planning Committee conducted a SWOT analysis to
identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the
university. Three weeks ago, I joined
the provost, the deans, our vice president for communications and our vice president
for research for a two-day retreat that was facilitated by Dr. Sheldon Eckland-Olson,
the Provost at UT Austin. The purpose of
the retreat was to begin the challenging assignment of developing institutional
goals and objectives related to planning priorities and making difficult
strategic choices. The work on the
strategic plan will continue over the summer and, by next fall, we expect to
have a draft of the plan available for campus comment. In an environment of limited resources, we
cannot be all things to all people nor can we meet every legitimate or pressing
need. The reality is that we need to
make choices and at times these choices will be difficult and will not be
embraced by everyone. The purpose of
this planning exercise is to provide a framework for making these difficult
decisions and it’s critical that each of you be involved in the process. The strategic plan is not, nor should it be,
my vision for The University of Texas at
arriving at UTA, I’ve made building traditions and creating an exciting campus
culture one of my priorities. I believe
that an exciting and engaged campus environment will go a long way to helping
UTA recruit and retain the best and the brightest faculty, staff and
students. Creating this environment will
require effort and participation from all of us. Today the second of five candidates for Vice
President for Student Affairs concluded his visit to campus. Dr. Kent Gardner has held this position for a
number of years and has lead the division of Student Affairs during a time of
tremendous growth at UTA. We all wish
him well in his retirement and his new teaching role in the
the campus environment for students is just one aspect of enhancing the campus
culture. For some time now, faculty on
this campus have desired a faculty club where they could meet, gather
informally with colleagues and host visitors for meals while remaining on
campus. I am pleased to announce that
either during the fall semester or early in the spring semester, we will open a
faculty club. It’s going to be in Davis
Hall. We moved the computing and data
center off campus to
Each year we have the honor of recognizing the faculty who have made outstanding contributions in teaching, research and service. Last week, we recognized a number of your colleagues during Academic Excellence during the President’s Convocation. Today we would once again like to recognize faculty who received teaching or research awards as well as those who are recipients of the faculty development leaves and research enhancement grants. The names of those who received the awards are printed in the program. I would like to take this opportunity for those award winners who are here today to please stand so we can recognize you. I’ve had the chance to hear the introduction of the award winners the last two years and it is almost overwhelming to think of the impact that they have made on our university. I want to congratulate you once again.
I want to invite you all to a new event which will I hope be a new tradition on our campus. We’re calling it a Commencement Convocation – not a commencement ceremony. It’s not replacing any school or college commencement ceremony. It’s an all university commencement convocation to be held Friday, May 13th, in Maverick Stadium. We’re inviting all of our 2200 students graduating in the Spring. We’re going to have Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson with us to be our keynote speaker. One of the Board of Regents, Robert Estrada, will also be there. We’re going to have the band. It’s going to be a UTA family community celebration. I hope it will be the beginning of another tradition at UTA in which we can take great pride.
ADJOURNMENT. The meeting adjourned at A reception followed.
Recorded by Janis Walkup