The second Regular Meeting of the Faculty Senate for the academic year 1999-2000 was held in room 4.03.08, John Peace Library Building, on November 9, 1999 at 3:30 p.m. with Dr. James Schneider, Chair, presiding.
Present: Ron Alexander, Raul Aranovich, Deborah Armstrong, Ron Ayers, Guy Bailey, Mark Blizard, Russell Briner, Eugene Dowdy, Keith Fairchild, Patricia Harris, Wanda Hedrick, Robert Hiromoto, Kellye Jones, Michael Kelly, Constance Lowe, Louis Mendoza, George Negrete, F. Alexander (Sandy) Norman, Tom Ricento, Walter Richardson, Jr., James Schneider, Betty Travis, Raydel Tullous, Anthony Van Reusen, Sandra Welch
Absent: Diana Allan, Jahan Eftekhar, Jeanne Reesman, R. K. Smith, Arturo Vega
Total members present: 25
Total members absent: 5
Dr. Walter Richardson asked if funds budgeted to the Division of Engineering for the next five-year period would overcome some of the compliance issues.
Dr. Bailey responded that the funds were allocated for laboratories and the hiring of new faculty and should be adequate to satisfy ABET's standards. Another issue that must be addressed is the advising of engineering majors. ABET requires that upper division majors are advised by faculty but at UTSA advising is sometimes done by a professional advisor hired specifically for that purpose. Procedures have now been changed in Enrollment Services so that students can be flagged if they have not met with an advisor. In addition, faculty members in the Division are addressing retention issues.
Dr. Robert Hiromoto asked if the possibility of a College of Engineering had anything to do with the accreditation of the Engineering Program.
Dr. Bailey said that while ABET did not specify that there should be a separate college, his experience was that accrediting agencies always want more autonomy of the units that they are accrediting. Also some of the financial needs of the Engineering program could be addressed by the existence of a College Development Board.
Dr. George Negrete asked if there were faculty attrition problems in the Division of Engineering and, if so, what was being done.
Dr. Bailey replied that there are attrition problems in several disciplines, including Engineering, Computer Science and Information Systems. Faculty in these areas can go into private industry and receive higher salaries than the University can pay. There is a need to bring in new faculty and to assist them to develop their laboratories. The Office of the Provost has begun setting aside funds to be used as start-up money for these purposes. Dr. Bailey noted that the space deficit remains a problem. The Coordinating Board estimates that UTSA has a 450,000 square foot deficit. The completion of the academic building currently in the planning stage will only relieve 25% of that deficit. He stated that 69 faculty searches have been authorized for next year. If three-fourths of those faculty are hired, the problem of lack of available office space will be greatly accentuated.
Dr. Bailey responded that funding for 1999-2000 would total $12 million, a large portion of which would be allocated to construction of a new academic building on the 1604 campus. It is expected that, in the future, UTSA will receive larger funding allocations as a result of this proposition. These funds can be used for equipment, buildings and other capital improvements.
Dr. Tom Ricento asked what kind of input was being requested about improving graduation rates.
Dr. Bailey said that one issue under discussion was "curricular alignment". This concept would ensure that students receive the preparation they need in order to succeed at the university level. They would come prepared to meet the expectations of university courses. He said initiatives could involve research, but the issue is still very open to other means.
Dr. Robert Hiromoto asked if a change in faculty responsibilities would be required and how this effort would affect remedial education.
Dr. Bailey replied that institutions are not being asked to realign their mission but to work collaboratively with other institutions across the state. The concepts would be to build on the strengths of the faculty by harnessing the available talent and getting it in the right place. Remedial education would be one way universities could work collaboratively with public schools. Dr. Bailey said that a part of the retention problem was that people come to the campus with inadequate preparation. This is a matter of working with the public schools on their retention issues and with preparation for college.
Dr. Raul Aranovich stated that, on one hand, faculty are being told that the University is too big, that it lacks classrooms, space, and faculty needed to deal with the current students and, on the other hand, the Legislature is asking that institutions graduate more students. He asked if this factor would become a part of strategic planning in the future.
Dr. Bailey responded that UTSA would have to plan strategically and would have to inform the State Legislature and UT System of the need for more space and resources if enrollments are to be increased. According to projections issued by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, UTSA will have 23,000 to 24,000 students by 2010. He said that additional resources would have to be made available in order to handle that type of enrollment.
Dr. Bailey reported that there had been potential security breeches during the summer with people trying to tap into University records, including the student information system. The University hired a security firm that specializes in handling these types of problems. This was done very quickly because of the potential consequences.
Dr. Sandy Norman stated that his understanding was that some of the work done by this team prevented faculty access to certain servers on the campus. He asked if anyone on campus with computer expertise had been consulted prior to hiring the Security Team.
Dr. Bailey said he did not know who had been consulted, but that he would ask the Associate Vice President for Information Technology, Jeff Noyes, to speak to the Senate and clarify what had been done on this issue and to address other technology issues.
Dr. Bailey said there had been no official change in scheduling summer sessions, with the one exception being a proposal that classes would be scheduled Monday through Thursday only. The reason for not holding classes on Friday is that most UTSA students work, with Friday being an important workday for them. Classes held Monday through Thursday would be more convenient for the students. Dr. Bailey said that the second reason was that, in some divisions, it had been difficult to have enough tenured and tenure-track faculty to teach. He stated that it will be very important to have tenured and tenure-track faculty teaching during the Summer 2000 session since that would be the beginning of the base year for the budget. Dr. Bailey noted that, even though UTSA officially has two five-week sessions and one ten-week session, some divisions have offered other alternative sessions in the past. The attempt, at this time, was to coordinate starting dates in order to reduce the number of census dates. He said that the Office of Admissions and Registrar needs to have common starting dates for all sessions so the census dates will be the same. Dr. Bailey noted that the administrative offices would keep the same hours as they had during previous summers. He said that nothing was official yet and he would appreciate questions or comments.
Dr. Tony Van Reusen said that the information had raised questions and concerns in the Division of Education meeting. He stated that, while he personally liked the idea of flexible scheduling, it could be devastating to others. Dr. Van Reusen read a statement that a colleague had asked him to convey to the Faculty Senate:
"The proposed 2000 summer schedule is another example of UTSA's unwillingness to align its espoused theory of student centered, learner centered to its theory in use. As I have written with a colleague and a number of organizational scholars have cited, this misalignment of espoused theory with theory in use is symptomatic of a dysfunctional organization. For the past few years, UTSA has been espousing the importance and value of being a learner centered environment, yet the learner (i.e., students) are given little opportunity to have input on discussions that would directly affect their education at UTSA. I'm guessing this is another top down initiative being proposed without any meaningful dialogue across the major stakeholders, i.e., faculty, students, community. The lack of discourse on issues affecting multiple stakeholders is representative of an autocratic regime who is unconcerned about its clientele. This is one of the reasons why I feel UTSA has not been endeared to by the general San Antonio community.
From my perspective, the proposed 2000 summer schedule, is about one thing - generating money, pure and simple. While university officials espouse the flexibility of the proposed schedule, I do not believe they even considered the impact on student learning this schedule would have. Nor, more importantly, did they conduct focus groups or consult in any meaningful way with students about the proposed changes. The espoused flexibility built into the proposed schedule reflects an insensitivity to the value of reflection in the learning process. With the new schedule, there would be no time for student reflection on learning. As William Schmidt from Michigan State U. wrote several years ago when asked to describe the mathematics curriculum in America, "it's a mile long and an inch deep," i.e., the proposed summer schedule would proliferate summer learning as a thin veneer of low level learning.
At a time when the university is supposedly concerned about student learning and retention, I can't understand why they would propose a summer schedule that is so detrimental to the concept of learner centeredness unless there was an ulterior motive driving this issue - like the generation of new and more money. This schedule is just another example of the insensitivity on the part of UTSA to be responsive to its students. For the Division of Education, the proposed summer schedule would permit its students to take courses only during the 1st five week session. They could not take and I venture to guess the Division of Education faculty would not offer any courses during any of the three week sessions and the proposed 2nd five week or ten week session (due to teachers returning back to school two weeks prior to the proposed ending of the proposed 2nd five week session) and the perception that learning requires reflection and can not be hammered into short intensive periods of time. Although, I am acutely aware of the impact on the Division of Education, this issue affects how learning is perceived beyond the Division of Education. I challenge any academic discipline across the university to show that they could develop meaningful three week courses where their students would garner a deep understanding and cognitive level of learning, instead of the thin veneer, surface learning. For faculty, we could develop three intensive courses, but the question is what would students gain from these types of courses. I venture to guess, very little in the way of meaningful learning.
Furthermore, I submit that if UTSA feels meaningful learning can be achieved in three week sessions then they should consider implementing it during the regular fall and spring semester. Imagine, students potentially could graduate in 1/3 of the normal time required. What they would learn and if they would survive such trivia learning is the real question?
In conclusion, let's get serious about what we believe in. If UTSA is truly committed to student centered or learner centered understanding, then let's create dialogues across stakeholder groups and be sensitive to their responses. Otherwise, let's not be hypocritical by saying one thing and doing another. Until UTSA aligns its espoused theory to its theory in use, this university will continue to operate in a dysfunctional manner. Let's turn this ship around and learn to "Walk the Talk." If UTSA is serious about creating a learner centered environment, then let's match our behavior to our words. In the words of a famous Japanese philosopher, we must align ourselves "for the sake of the children [students]."
Dr. Ricento noted that the three- or four-week options were being done now. There are, however, some courses that should not be taught in a three-week session, so decision making about schedules becomes even more crucial.
Dr. Bailey agreed that the proposed configurations were not new and the attempt was to standardize some of the things that are already being done in order to coordinate census dates.
Dr. Schneider asked who would make the final decisions.
Dr. Bailey said that the Deans' Council and the Academic Administrative Council were discussing the issue.
Dr. Schneider suggested that the Senators request input from their faculty and convey this information to their academic administrators.
Dr. Johnson responded that there was no progress at this time.
Dr. Harris reported that the Committee had reviewed a proposal from the Director of the University Honors Program, Dr. Ann Eisenberg, to change the criterion for graduating summa cum laude from 4.0 to 3.9. The Committee had asked Dr. Eisenberg to make her rationale clear and explicit and also to provide estimates of how many students would graduate under each standard. Dr. Eisenberg responded to the Committee that, under the 4.0 standard, .4% were eligible in 1998-99; if the standard were lowered to 3.9, 1.3% would have been eligible. Dr. Harris said that the Academic Policy and Requirements Committee recommended approval of the proposal. The motion to approve the recommendation of the Academic Policy and Requirements Committee passed.
Dr. Armstrong reported that the Committee was in the process of conducting the election of three ad hoc committees and nominating ballots had been included in their agenda packets. Elections will held by mail-in ballot for the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committees on Administrator Evaluation, Course Evaluation Instruments and Faculty Salary Compression.
Dr. Ricento asked if these committees were meant to be ongoing.
Dr. Schneider replied that they were ad hoc committees at this time but might become standing committees in the future.
Dr. Armstrong noted that the nominating ballots were due on November 9, 1999, but that deadline could be extended.
Dr. Ricento made a motion to extend the deadline to return the nominating ballots to November 16, 1999. Motion passed.
Dr. Briner reported that the Curriculum Committee had reviewed a program proposal for a new undergraduate degree, "Bachelor of Arts and Sciences". The Committee had philosophical comments and concerns, as well as questions about some items discussed in the proposal. The proposal will be referred back to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences for clarification about the issues of concern.
Dr. Schneider asked the Senators to inform him about their methods of communication with their division faculty. He said he would assemble their ideas and circulate them among the Senators.
Dr. Aranovich asked if the minutes were posted on the Web Page. Dr. Schneider responded that the minutes are posted as soon as they are approved.
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Last updated Sept. 1, 2005