THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT SAN ANTONIO
DOCUMENTS AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
SUMMARY MINUTES OF THE
FACULTY SENATE MEETING
OF MAY 8, 2003
The sixth regular Meeting of the Faculty Senate for the academic year 2002-2003 was held in room 4.03.08, on May 8, 2003 at 3:30 p.m. in the John Peace Library Building with Dr. James McDonald, Chair, presiding, Dr. John Rundin, Secretary.
Present: Diane Abdo, Ron Ayers, Guy Bailey, Steven Boyd, Felecia Briscoe, David Bruenger, Janis Bush, Aaron Cassill, Jan Clark, Manuel Diaz, Mansour El-Kikhia, Norma Guerra, Eugene John, Michael Kelly, Melvin Laracey, Randy Manteufel, Raquel Marquez, Kenneth Masden, James McDonald, George Negrete, Frank Pino, Chris Reddick, Walter Richardson Jr., John Rundin, Mike Ryan, Linda Shepherd, Ted Skekel, Woodie Spivey, Sandra Welch, Kenton Wilkinson, Mary Lou Zeeman, and Weining Zhang
Absent: Rosalie Ambrosino, Gerard Barloco, Ron Binks, Fred Bonner, Steven Brown, Lars Hansen, Ni (Phil) He, Vic Heller, Paul Jacobs, David Johnson, Melissa Killen, David Larson, Terri Reynolds, Ricardo Romo, Todd Ryska, Joseph Stafford, Minghe Sun, Armando Trujillo (excused), and Yiuman Tse (excused)
Total members present: 32 Total members absent: 19
Dr. Bailey began his report by referring to the previous meeting. In that meeting, he was asked questions about Personnel Decisions Incorporated (PDI), the company hired to conduct evaluations of administrators. Dr. Bailey explained that PDI's approach uses categories with a certain number of participants per category. Those participants are selected to reflect gender and ethnic distribution. In this way, the University ensures a well-rounded picture of a faculty member's performance. Additionally, Dr. Bailey said the University insisted that each department be represented by at least one person; otherwise some smaller departments would have been left out of the process. Dr. Bailey said if the experiment with PDI works, the University would continue it. If not, the University will develop a new plan.
Dr. Bailey was asked how the University would assess the surveys conducted by PDI? He responded the University has feedback from the last three years. The data will be compared. If the feedback on the survey is different from the data, the University will know there is an issue that must be resolved.
Dr. Bailey reported everyone would receive a letter from President Romo about the budget situation in the relatively near future. The letter would try to alleviate some of the fears about the impact of the budget cut and to assure everyone that there will not be any layoffs. Dr. Bailey said the University has prepared well for this crisis and should not be adversely affected. In order to offset the effect of a reduced budget, the University has increased minimum class sizes and issued some travel constraints. Dr. Bailey said enrollment growth should also help to offset budget reductions. As a result, he believes that the University will be able to hire some new faculty and give some pay raises in the biennium.
Dr. Frank Pino voiced a concern about the University's fiscal picture and its effect on academic programs. He said Foreign Languages, specifically Spanish, has been deeply affected already and cited three examples: 1) a five-year program that was rated as an exemplary program was basically dismantled; 2) the class size has started to increase, which does not promote quality teaching; and, 3) there has been a decline in the sections that are offered. Further, Dr. Pino saw a lack of commitment on the part of the institution to promote the Foreign Languages program.
In response, Dr. Bailey emphasized that UTSA and the administration are committed to promoting the Foreign Languages program, and they would like to see them increase enrollments. Dr. Bailey said he would be happy to discuss ways to improve the program with the departmental faculty if he was asked to do so.
A question was asked about minimum class sizes and whether downtown classes would be considered an exception to this rule?
Dr. Bailey replied that every class would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Decisions will depend on the department, the course offering, and other criteria. In order for an exception to be made, the department chair will need to forward a request to the Provost's Office.
B. Senate Chair - Dr. James McDonald
Dr. McDonald told Senate members that Aaron Cassill would accompany him to the June meeting of the University of Texas System Faculty Advisory Council (SYSFAC) in Austin as part of a transition into his term as Senate Chair.
Dr. McDonald reported on the return of student evaluation materials to faculty. He said he had discussions with Robert Nelson, the chairman of SYSFAC, and Liz Mitchell, University Legal Counsel. Through those discussions, Dr. McDonald ascertained that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) directs educational institutions to maintain copies of educational records. Student evaluations would seem to fall under that category. However, Jim Mattox, the attorney general in 1983, seemed reluctant to give back student comments because they could lead to bias and retaliation by an instructor if the handwriting or nature of comments were recognized. As a result of this conflicting information, Dr. McDonald suggested inviting Liz Mitchell to speak to the Senate at its first meeting in September. During discussion, several suggestions were made to try to clarify the issue, such as asking the attorney general for a new ruling, finding out how other states interpret the law, and examining other university system's procedures. A suggestion was also made to hire someone to type the comments or having evaluations on-line, thereby avoiding the possibility of an instructor recognizing a student's handwriting. Finally, the Senate decided to ask the Office of General Counsel to clarify the Texas Open Records Act and what that meant for the scanning and retaining of student comments on teaching evaluations. The following resolution was drafted:
As we, the Faculty Senate at the University of Texas at San Antonio, understand it, student comments on teaching evaluations are not subject to the Texas Open Records Act. Therefore, duplication and retention of records does not appear to be legally necessary. Why this change? We request clarification beyond what we already know.
Motion made and approved to accept the resolution.
C. Secretary of the General Faculty - Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia
Dr. El-Kikhia told the Senate that he received an accountability form from SYSFAC. He said he would send each Senate member a copy of it in order to provide some feedback. To explain, SYSFAC is in the process of revamping Regent's Rules related to accountability. In order to make it favorable toward faculty, faculty must be involved in the process.
Additionally, Dr. El-Kikhia said the Assembly had revised the bylaws for elections. Now, the Senate will elect faculty membership to the Assembly. That membership includes general faculty as well as faculty senators.
1. Curriculum Committee - Dr. Ann Eisenberg
Dr. Eisenberg's committee recommended approval of four proposals. The first two proposals were from the College of Education and Human Development for Bachelor of Arts degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies for grades 4-8 Education with certification options. The two options were Mathematics and Science and Language Arts, Reading, and Social Studies. The second two proposals were from the Department of Criminal Justice to add two concentrations to the Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. The first concentration was in Economic Crime Investigation; the second concentration was in Forensic Science. The proposals were approved.
2. Academic Policy and Requirements Committee (AP&RC) - Dr. Steven Boyd
Dr. Boyd sent the Senate members a copy of UT Dallas's Academic Receivership Policy. Receivership was defined as a situation that arises in a department where it is incapable of governing itself in the eyes of the academic administration. Therefore, day-to-day operation of the department is more directly controlled by the Provost's Office rather than the department itself. According to Dr. Boyd, it is good to have a contingency plan in place to deal with this issue on an ad hoc basis. As a result, Dr. Boyd asked the Senate members to review the policy during the summer and recommend action in the Fall. The reasoning for using UT Dallas's policy was because SYSFAC claimed it was a more enhanced version of System's original policy.
Dr. Boyd also reported on the committee's work to review and revise the grievance procedure. The committee recommends a set of guidelines that will expedite the process. For example, everyone that is appointed to be a grievance panel member must be trained at the beginning of the year. Further, besides streamlining the process, Dr. Boyd's committee suggested voluntary early mediation to solve some of the grievances without having to go through the full process. By doing this, the Subcommittee and the Grievance Panel would be collapsed into one entity. Dr. Boyd suggested the Senate members review the revised grievance procedures and act on it in the fall.
The AP&RC was also asked to study the issue of administrator evaluations. He said the committee tried to participate in the evaluation of administrators this year, but its participation was inadequate. Therefore, the committee determined it was not suited for this task. Instead, the committee recommends an ad hoc committee of tenured faculty be appointed to take over the process. The recommendation was approved.
The final recommendation from the AP&RC was to approve the revised policy on research space reallocation. He said some substantive changes were made by the Provost's Office as well as the revisions that were discussed at the previous Senate meeting. The revised policy tightens the regulations and makes clear that recommendations go forward at every level and decisions come down from each level. During discussion, the third bulleted item was deleted because it was redundant with bulleted item one. Further, a suggestion was made to clarify the fact that research space will not necessarily be reassigned to the same department. After discussion, the motion was approved.
3. Teaching Effectiveness and Development Committee (TEDC) - Dr. Felecia Briscoe
Dr. Briscoe reported on the survey developed by the TEDC. She said it was sent to all of the department chairs, but few have responded. Dr. Briscoe asked the Senate members to encourage their department chairs to complete and return the surveys. In order to have quality results, a majority of them need to be returned.
4. Ad Hoc Committee on New Faculty Issues - Dr. John Rundin
Dr. Rundin reported the committee had been generated to answer various complaints that new faculty have about the University. He said some new faculty have reported experiencing unpleasant surprises after being hired by UTSA. These include not being informed that UTSA is trying to move toward becoming a more research-oriented institution, that UTSA does not offer discounts on tuition and fees to faculty spouses and children, that faculty's first paychecks are not issued until October 1, that UTSA's health benefits do not take effect until September 1, and that domestic partner benefits are not offered at all. Further, because new faculty are appointed on September 1, they have great difficulty obtaining identification cards, library services, parking privileges, etc. before that date. This greatly hinders their ability to prepare for upcoming classes. As a result, the committee recommends more information be provided to prospective faculty during the interview process. Further, Human Resources should make adjustments to more efficiently handle the problems that new faculty encounter. Finally, the departments might do more to make these new faculty members feel welcome by establishing an institutional mentoring program. Hence, the committee suggests that an ad hoc committee be formed to look at the issue of mentoring next year. After discussion, a vote was taken, and the report was approved.
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Last updated June 2, 2005