The first Special Meeting of the Faculty Senate for the academic year 1998-99 was held in room 3.04.18, Business Building, on September 22, 1998 at 3:30 p.m. with Dr. Arturo Vega, Chair, presiding, and Dr. Sheila Johnson, Secretary
Present: Ron Alexander, Deborah Armstrong, Donde Ashmos, Ron Ayers, Eugene Dowdy, Patricia Harris, Robert Hiromoto, Sheila Johnson, Michael Kelly, Constance Lowe, James McDonald, Lalatendu Misra, F. Alexander Norman, Tom Ricento, Walter B. Richardson, Jr., R. K. Smith, Betty Travis, Raydel Tullous, Maggie Valentine, Anthony Van Reusen, Arturo Vega, Matthew Wayner, Sandra Welch
Absent: Guy Bailey, Mansour El-Kikhia, Susan Nordhauser, Jeanne Reesman, Clemencia Rodriguez (excused), James Schneider (excused)
Total members present: 23
Total members absent: 6
Dr. Arturo Vega requested that the Senators who were not at the planning meeting submit written comments after their review of the notes from the meeting.
Dr. Vega summarized the history of the Grievance Policy. Approximately three years ago, the Texas Faculty Association suggested that it was time for faculty to reexamine their institution's grievance policy. The UTSA Faculty Senate developed a revised policy after studying the issue for a full academic year. Their recommendations were forwarded to the University Assembly. The University Assembly approved the policy and forwarded it to the President. At the end of the academic year, the policy was submitted by the President to the UT System. The UT System Office of General Counsel made changes to the language that was approved by the Faculty Senate and the University Assembly.
Dr. Vega stated that the issue to be considered during the meeting was whether the Senate would reaffirm the decision made by the previous Faculty Senate in its creation of the policy or whether the Senate would allow UT System to decide what the policy should be. He said there are weaknesses and advantages in both the proposed and adopted language in the policy; therefore, if the Senate decides to affirm the version approved by the previous Senate, there would be a need for additional discussion about how the Senate might change the policy to improve it.
Dr. Vega had requested Dr. Gary Raffaele and Dr. Rudy Sandoval review a memorandum from Ms. Helen Bright, UT System Office of General Counsel, in which she responded to the concerns of the faculty as presented to her during a meeting in Spring 1998. Both Drs. Raffaele and Sandoval expressed their opinions to the Senate Chair, who provided those responses to the Senators. Drs. Raffaele and Sandoval felt that the burden of proof is heavy in both sets of languages, such that it would be difficult for any grievant to prevail.
Dr. Betty Travis said that when the faculty met with Helen Bright they asked if the policy approved by the Faculty Senate and University Assembly could be the university's policy or if faculty had to accept the policy as is currently in the Handbook of Operating Procedures. Ms. Bright told them that they could keep the policy as originally adopted but the Office of General Council felt their policy was better. Dr. Travis expressed concerned that the latest communication from the Office of General Council indicated that the grievance policy in the Handbook, which had been changed by the UT System, was the policy under which grievances would proceed.
Dr. Walter Richardson reiterated that the Office of General Counsel has taken the approach that the policy in the Handbook is the policy that is in force. He quoted from Ms. Bright's letter: "It is suggested that grievances proceed under the policy as it exists and if problems should occur as a result of this provision, that the matter then be evaluated." Ms. Bright gave two examples where a grievant could grieve under the criteria proposed by the System but not under the criteria adopted by the Senate and Assembly. Dr. Richardson said the differences regarding what issues are grievable come from the UT System position that the Handbook of Operating Procedures does not constitute a contract between a faculty member and the institution.
Dr. Matthew Wayner asked if there should be a motion to reaffirm the wording in the policy that was passed by the Faculty Senate and the University Assembly?
Dr. Richardson responsed that he felt it essential to make that statement. If UT System can selectively dictate policies to all components, the entire idea of faculty governance is called into question.
Dr. Vega reported that Dr. Sandoval felt that the language being used in both versions was heavily onerous with subtleties of the words and the use of legalese making it virtually impossible for a grievant to prevail and the burden of proof is so high that no one would win.
Dr. Donde Ashmos asked how the UTSA policy differs from the policy at UT Austin?
Dr. Travis responded that the UT Austin policy was initially used as the model for UTSA. She reported that the UT System Faculty Advisory Council plans to oppose having a uniform grievance policy for all components and will make an endorsement that each individual component be allowed to develop its own policy.
Dr. Wayner made a motion that the Faculty Senate reaffirm the language in the original grievance policy approved by the Faculty Senate and the University Assembly. Motion passed.
Dr. Ricento reported on the first part of the charge to the committee which was to consider revisions to the bylaws, such as changing the membership terms from two to three years; electing a vice-chair rather than a chair-elect; and the time and frequency of the Senate meetings. The committee sent a memorandum to all members of the UTSA faculty asking them to make a choice from the following: 1) extend the term to three years, 2) keep the term as is, 3) no opinion. The responses have not yet been tabulated but it appears that faculty want to keep the terms as they are. Some faculty expressed concerns about whether they could get support from administrators to accommodate their class schedules if the terms were changed to three years.
Dr. Travis pointed out that the bylaws were changed two years ago but those changes had not been approved yet. She asked if the committee plans to incorporate the changes that were recommended in the proposed bylaws currently on hold.
Dr. Wayner stated that introducing additional changes at this time would cause further delays on the urgent issue of having the bylaws approved so they can be implemented.
Dr. Vega agreed that there should be appreciation for the work already done and recognition that some issues have been addressed but there are other things that need attention. The bylaws as currently proposed are awaiting the President's approval and are not in effect.
Dr. Richardson explained that the difficulty in getting approval appears to be the intent of the change in the bylaws to have the Faculty Senate report directly to the President. Under the new bylaws, legislation would go directly to the President rather than go to the University Assembly as it does now. He said the Assembly does not necessarily need to be dissolved, as it would still serve a specific function for staff and students.
Dr. Travis suggested the Senate request that the President act on the proposed bylaws and that the President be reminded that the Senate is very concerned about the status of their bylaws. She said that additional changes could be incorporated later by going through the process again.
Dr. Johnson made a motion for the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Bylaws and Shared Governance to request that the President act on the proposed Faculty Senate bylaws by signing the bylaws.
Dr. Vega made a friendly amendment to the motion that the Chair of the Faculty Senate communicate with the President that the Senate is waiting on his action on the proposed bylaws. Then the request of the Committee would reaffirm the Senate's request.
Dr. Johnson accepted Dr. Vega's amendment to her motion
Dr. Lalatendu Misra asked if the President has final approval or if the bylaws must also be approved by UT System?
Dr. Ricento responded by quoting from the current bylaws: "All amendments are subject to approval by the General Faculty, and the President and final approval by the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs prior to Handbook of Operating Procedures inclusion."
Dr. Vega called the question on Dr. Johnson's motion that the Faculty Senate Chair communicate with the President and that the Faculty Senate request the Committee on Bylaws and Shared Governance speak to the President as well. Motion passed.
Dr. Ashmos reported that the second charge to the Committee on Bylaws and Shared Governance covered four issues: 1) appointment and terms of office of division directors; 2) appointment and terms of office of deans; 3) role of division and college; and, 4) merits of advisory council to the President. The Committee is requesting feedback from the Senators on these issues.
There appears to be increasing interest in the development of a system of rotating terms for division directors in order to place more faculty governance in the hands of faculty and to minimize so many permanent appointments in an administrative capacity at the division level. Issues being discussed include whether division directors should be elected or appointed. The Committee would like to know the views of the Senate about rotating terms of office for division directors within the existing faculty.
Dr. Travis said that another issue is that many faculty feel that UTSA has matured sufficiently as an institution to change from a divisional to a departmental structure.
Dr. Ashmos agreed that the issue is related, but separate.
Dr. Sandy Norman said that perhaps there should not be universal procedures for every division or every department given the relative difference of sizes in division and their particular needs. He said that the determination of whether division directors are appointed or elected might be an issue for the division forum to decide.
Ms. Constance Lowe agreed that the Division of Visual Arts has a unique situation and the rotation of directors would cause serious problems for them. She said the manner in which Visual Arts runs its programs requires a huge amount of time and expertise and to constantly shift the responsibilities of the division director every four to six years would dilute the strength of their programs.
Dr. Richardson agreed that perhaps this decision should be made division by division. He said that one concern is that division directors are hired from outside of the university at very high salaries. While a certain pay differential is perhaps justified because of the administrative responsibility, he felt that could become excessive. Then if the director does not remain in the position, it is difficult to justify that they return to a faculty line position at a higher salary than if they had been hired in a researcher/teacher position. He said that the rotation method appears to work well at other institutions in the state.
Dr. Johnson asked if the faculty, in any of the divisions, have any input into the hiring of a division director. She asked that it be noted that the faculty should have a percentage of the deciding vote however the division directors are chosen.
Dr. Ashmos said that it would make division directors more accountable if they had to go back to being a faculty member after having evaluated faculty performance for a few years. She said the evaluation of division directors would be even more important if they are chosen on a rotational basis. The division directors should still be evaluated even though they do not become permanent administrators.
Dr. Harris agreed that division directors need to be evaluated and that the feedback needs to be taken seriously by administration. She said that division directors should be proactive, capable, and ethical managers.
Dr. Travis said that it is also important to have a very good administrative structure within the division. She said the administrative assistant positions should be at a higher pay level to ensure they would be capable of handling more of the tedious paperwork. This would allow the division director to operate exclusively at the decision making level.
Dr. Ron Ayers said that if there is even the possibility of changing to a rotational basis, there should be a pool of faculty members with management skills. The institution should have a formal mechanism for development of these skills.
Dr. Ashmos asked for the opinion of the Senators on how the appointments of deans are made, the length of time in office and if there are any recommendations that the position of the dean be on a rotational basis.
Dr. Johnson said that faculty should also have more input into the selection of deans.
Dr. Misra said that, traditionally, department chairs are considered faculty while deans are administrators and do not rotate. He said that a stronger evaluation instrument is important.
Dr. Travis said that evaluations also need to be more frequent. A dean is not evaluated until after the sixth year in the position, so the evaluation is not conducted until the dean's seventh year.
Dr. Harris said it would be difficult to recruit someone as a dean if they were being asked to serve for a specified length of time. She agreed that an effective evaluation system was necessary and that deans must know that they can be held accountable.
Dr. Ashmos summarized that faculty need to have a more meaningful role in the search and selection of a dean; there needs to be a more regular, better quality evaluation system of the deans; but there is not much interest in a rotational system for deans.
The committee's observation of college forums is that they meet once a semester when the dean discusses his agenda and faculty are there to listen.
Dr. Travis recommended that a faculty member should chair the faculty forum. She said that the secretary of the forum can add items to the agenda and can request meetings but the dean presides over the forum.
Dr. Ashmos said that in the original university charter, college level forums were intended to be a mechanism by which faculty could make policy recommendations that go forward. However, the forums are not at all being used that way. She agreed that a having a faculty member as the chair would be important. She reported that the deans told the committee that they felt faculty are not very interested and there is no faculty ownership in governance in the colleges.
Dr. Misra said it was not clear what the faculty forum is supposed to do after they discuss the issues. He asked if the faculty forums should report in some sense to a university wide body like the Senate.
Dr. Ashmos reported that there is very little activity in the colleges in terms of strategic planning. Faculty are not participants in that area.
Dr. Ashmos reported there is a great variance in the relevancy of the forums at the division level. She asked if the Senate felt that the chair of the division forum should be a faculty member instead of the division director.
Dr. Ricento referred to the original governance documents that envisioned that the forum would propose university legislation to the Assembly on its own initiative Members of the college forum who participated on the College Faculty Advisory Council would report to the Assembly and could also advise the college dean on issues within the purview of the faculty. In other words, the forum would be a policy generating body that brings forth legislation to the Assembly.
Dr. Robert Hiromoto said he felt the major problem is that the deans or division directors do not lead. They do not have a direction and know where they want to go. All of this is coupled to some sort of evaluation.
Dr. Ayers said that his experience is that when there is something to be done, the dean appoints an ad hoc committee that reports to him. Then he reports back to the faculty during the forums held twice a year. In considering the issue of the faculty forums, the role of the ad hoc committees must also be considered because it seems as if these committees that the deans appoint have most of the responsibility.
Dr. Travis agreed that the existing committee structures that have been set up in the bylaws are being bypassed.
Dr. Ashmos reported that related to the issue of the forums is that there are no additional responsibilities at UTSA associated with someone being promoted to full professor.
Dr. Ricento reported that the committee reviewed the merits of having faculty involved at the highest level institutionally in the decision making process. Should faculty take part in the discussions where the decisions are made about the distribution of funds? He reported that at some institutions faculty are very involved with budget decisions and are full voting members who have a voice in the direction of the university.
Dr. Vega agreed that faculty need to understand the systems by which budgets are developed and priorities are established. Faculty must live by the budgets but no one knows how the numbers are generated or what they mean.
Dr. Vega asked for clarification of the role between the Faculty Senate and the Council of Advisors.
Dr. Ricento said the Council is being perceived as a group that would meet with the President and the Executive Officers to be involved in decision making in terms of distribution of funds.
Dr. Vega said it appeared that this would build another layer between faculty and the administration. Adding another University Assembly type group would hurt the current governance structure, which is already weak.
Dr. Travis said that she would need to see how the Council would fit into the overall existing structure before a recommendation is presented.
Dr. Michael Kelly asked what action would be taken on the proposed bylaws if the President does not respond favorably to the Chair's request to approve them. He said that, perhaps, the Senate should consider doing only what is absolutely essential to continue to get the work done and not attempt to make major structural changes at this time.
Dr. Vega said he would wait for the President's response and then reconvene the Senate to take whatever action is appropriate.
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Last updated Sept. 1, 2005