The seventh regular meeting of the Faculty Senate for the academic year 2006-2007 was held April 12, 2007 at 3:30 p.m. in the University Room (BB 2.06.04) with Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia, Chair, presiding.
Present: Diane Abdo, Rosalie Ambrosino, Thad Bartlett, Ron Binks, Rena Bizios, Carola Wenk (for Rajendra Boppana), Mansour El-Kikhia, Juanita Firestone, MaryEllen Garcia, Kirsten Gardner, Heather Hill, Eugene John, Craig Jordan, Paul LeBlanc, John McCray, Patricia McGee, Jolyn Mikow, Sandy Norman, Debajyoti Paul, Dianne Rahm, Robert Renthal, Michael Ryan, Rocky Shih, LJ. Shrum, Ted Skekel, Raydel Tullous, Judith A. Walmsley, Karen Williams
Absent: Mark Allen (excused), Rajendra Boppana (excused), Lorenzo Brancaleon (excused), David Bruenger, John Byrd, Aaron Cassill, Fengxin Chin, Timothy Goles (excused), Amy Jasperson (excused), Eduardo Jimenez, Melvin Laracey, Melody Lo, Steve Murdock (excused), Elizabeth Pate (excused), Thomas Ricento, Cherylon Robinson (excused), Mariela Rodriguez (excused), Ron Rutherford (excused), Nestor Sanchez, John Simonis, Jon Thompson, Wan Yao (excused)
Total members present: 28
Total members absent: 22
Dr. El-Kikhia requested permission from the Faculty Senate to place the presentation of design concepts for a faculty club at the beginning of the meeting rather than at the end. Permission was granted.
Dr. Lewis presented the work of six architectural students, who designed solutions to meet the programmatic requirements of a place for faculty to dine, to socialize, and to have meetings-a casual
atmosphere that the faculty can call their own. He encouraged the faculty senate to look at the plans (on display) and the way the space was allocated in the designs. Students conducted research and compared their finds to other campuses of comparative size throughout the country. Dr. Lewis and his students are eager to hear any last minute input on the program process, in addition to information already received from a questionnaire. He also suggested the possibility of performing a rudimentary cost analysis and the potential of moving the concept further as well as looking towards funding sources such as writing grants.
(Dr. El-Kikhia requested permission from the faculty senate to allow Dr. Harris to speak for two minutes as well. Permission was granted.)
Dr. Harris discussed the concept of a cyber mall, where major retailers across the United States generally offer small rebates to people who shop online at their stores. The cyber mall enables non-profit organizations to receive rebates, based upon how much members spend at that site. Through this venture, significant amounts of money could be raised.
Dr. El-Kikhia stated that this summer the institution will start reviewing and revising the HOP, and he asked the faculty senate to be involved in the process. The administration is considering revising the promotion and tenure policies. So, he wants the faculty senate to insist that all changes to the HOP should come through faculty.
Dr. EI- Kikhia commented that he is unaware as to why the department of earth sciences was eradicated, and stated that it would be discussed during the open forum. However, a faculty senate member suggested that it was significant enough to discuss before people left the meeting. A discussion ensued where faculty senate members shared concerns and opinions.
Dr. El-Kikhia made a motion that the faculty senate form a committee to investigate the facts and report backto the senate about the circumstances and the consequences to both the students and the residual faculty. Motion made. Seconded. Approved.
The new committee will have three members: Dr. Sandy Norman, Diane Rahm, and Rocky Shih.
Dr. Norman shared that at the last university assembly meeting Dr. Romo presented information about upcoming budgets and the growth of the university.
He stated that one critical issue the senate might want to consider is the motivation related to the dissolution of the environmental science department.
The curriculum committee members was in favor of the biology minor and areas of concentration request, as well as the request to add several areas of concentration to the bachelor of science degree in biology. The core curriculum course proposal in music was also approved by the curriculum committee.
However, after Dr. Renthal and Dr. Williams discussed these responses with the faculty senate, the biology minor request was withdrawn, to return to the biology curriculum committee for further discussion, and to be presented at a future faculty senate meeting.
A motion was made to table until May the proposal for a minor in criminal justice, and the new admission criteria to the bachelor of science in biology program. Motion made. Seconded. Approved.
(see notes under Reports-at beginning of meeting)
Dr. Ambrosino shared her perspective on the dissolution of the environmental science department. The Provost indicated that the reason for the immediate dissolution of the environmental science department was because of concerns regarding safety and threats of violence. She stated that there have been a number of leadership changes in the college of sciences, and a lot of tension has developed within some of the departments. There were allegations involving issues related to safety and professional conduct, which got in the way of providing a climate conducive to student learning and faculty governance.
Dr. Ambrosino stated that she and Dean Perry were concerned about this situation, and Dean Baker recommended before he left that the department be disbanded. However, she wanted to see if other solutions could be used. Dr. Perry asked each department to conduct a self-study. The department of physics had a successful review. Environmental sciences performed their self-study in good faith as well. However, the external reviewers raised a number of issues, including issues of professional and safety conduct. At that point, it was the second time in two years the university had been put on written notice. Dr. Ambrosino alerted the president, and a meeting with legal counsel and office of general counsel from the UT system was held to temporarily address concerns and provide safety issues to get people on firm ground. The decision was made to create a separate department. At the moment, a decision has not been made as to what it will be called.
There were also boundary issues regarding involving students in department concerns.
The decision was made to move the PhD program to the college of engineering. Students will continue to have access to the courses they need to graduate. The chair of the civil engineering department is meeting with each student to discuss where they are with their dissertations, so that those students can finish and be successful.
In the meantime, the faculty in that department who are not part of the geology program have been asked to work with other programs in either the college of sciences or elsewhere in the university.
Anyone interested in a copy of the report must request it through the committee of information.
Members of the faculty senate expressed concerns about and asked questions regarding the urgency of the dissolution of the environmental sciences department. Dr. Ambrosino responded that the immediacy was a result of the university not having a HOP in place right now. She would like to constitute a committee, to begin in May, that can create drafts of the HOP to be presented to the faculty senate during the fall semester.
Dr. El-Kikhia expressed that he would like for the faculty senate to get involved inthe process.