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April 12, 2000 Minutes

Senators Present:  R. Sawey, M. Conroy, B. Stone, B. Peeler, J.  Bible, A. McKinney, E. Skerpan-Wheeler,

M. Gillis, S. Gordon, T. Stimmel,  M. Blanda, O. Renick (Acting Chair)

Absent:  J. Hays, J.  McGee

Guests:  Acting University President, Dr. Bob Gratz, Acting VPAA, Dr. Pat Cassidy and Gay Kramptiz


I. Merit and Performance Evaluations

Dr. Gratz indicated that the University has not received the information from the State Comptroller's Office regarding verification of funds; however, the assumption is that the total pool will be approximately 5% (2-3% merit and 2-3% performance). The actual date for merit/performance raises to take effect is for September.

Discussion concerning the implementation of the merit review process was engaged. The merit review process will be conducted according to the latest revision of UPPS 7.10 wherein it is described that the chair of each department will notify each faculty member and make them aware of their relative ranking for merit (high, medium or low).

Senator Stimmel commented that some faculty in his department may not be aware that a merit review was undertaken. Senators Sawey and Blanda both commented that their respective departments had already completed the review.

Senators Conroy and Sawey then commented that the reviews of the chairs and deans of some departments and colleges have not been conducted.

It was mentioned that staff personnel are also being considered for merit and performance as well.

II. Recent Tenure/Promotion Cycle

After being questioned by Senator Gordon about the criteria for promotion to full professor, Dr. Gratz replied that when a candidate meets the criteria of the department and college, they are merely eligible for consideration by the upper administration. Dr. Gratz seemed to express concern that there is a misunderstanding regarding a favorable review of candidates at the departmental and college level, being translated into a "rubber stamp" at the university administration review level. He mentioned that it is the responsibility of the upper administration of the university to ensure the quality and prestige of the university and will evaluate closely the extent to which an individual candidate has met the criteria for promotion to full professor.

Senator Bible posed the question to Dr. Gratz as to whether there was interdepartmental comparison of candidates and commented on the fact that an individual may or may not be promoted based on the quality of the field in a given year. Dr. Gratz replied that a quota system was not in place that would maintain the same relative annual per cent of successful promotion applications. Dr. Gratz supported his comment by reminding the senate that 88% of candidates were awarded promotion to full professor last year.

Dr. Pat Cassidy corrected a statement made by Dean Cheatham (CAD/Fac. Senate meeting on April 5, 2000) concerning interdepartmental comparison of candidates. Dr. Cassidy's comment was that this practice is not in operation.

Senator Skerpan-Wheeler then queried about the definition of "sustained scholarly record". Dr. Gratz replied that particular attention would be drawn to the candidates' scholarly record since the last promotion then listed some recommendation to department and college review committees as follows:

1. Particular attention would be drawn to scholarly record since last promotion.
2. External reviewers are strongly recommended (required vs. optional).

Several senators then made comments and suggestions:

Senator Conroy suggested that the college review committees be formed earlier so that they could become better educated (by representative from VPAA office) on the criteria used at the administrative level of the university so that they may better advise the candidates.

Senator Bible suggested that the word "sustained" (in sustained scholarly record) needs to be defined better prior to review.

Senator Gordon commented that the college review committees need to know the criteria used at the upper level of evaluation.

Senator Sawey questioned whether the departmental PPS policies on this matter should be rewritten to reflect the criteria of the ultimate reviewers.

Senator Stimmel suggested that when there are a large number of candidates turned down for promotion, a meeting with the VPAA should ensue with the dean of the College to review the promotion criteria and policy. Dr. Gratz endorsed this sentiment and hoped that the deans would perform this function.

Senator Gillis queried whether the departmental PPSís on promotion were okayed by the VPAA office. In effect, is the VPAA stating that the departmental policies and criteria are insufficient.

Senators Bible and Stimmel both commented that deans need to be more in synch with criteria at the university level.

Senator Conroy expressed concern that the routine involvement of outside evaluators would even more heavily weight scholarly/creative activity, (thereby possibility diminishing the importance of teaching and service, which are already undervalued,) in the promotion and tenure process since this is the only area of the three that an outside evaluator would be able to address.

Senator Bible then asked whether "good teaching" is a foregone conclusion at the full professor promotion since the candidate would not even be considered for promotion if this were not the case. This idea came from a comment made by Dean Beck at the CAD/Fac. Senate  meeting. Dr. Gratz assured the Faculty Senate and all Faculty that teaching is very important and will be evaluated along with research and service.

Break at 4:50 pm

III. Developmental Leave

Several faculty members were interviewed and asked specific questions concerning their proposals for developmental leave requests. Questions concerning impact on scholarship, justification of efforts/time and project logistics (methodology, location, etc.) Half of the candidate files were reviewed with the remaining ones being scheduled for the next Faculty Senate meeting.

Faculty interviewed:

Edgar Laird: I propose: (1)  to explicate Ptolemy's philosophy of mathematics in relation to relevant schools of
thought (Peripatetic, Neo-Platonic, Stoic), (2)  to prepare an exhaustively annotated edition of the Latin translations (hitherto unedited and available only in medieval manuscripts and Renaissance incunabulae) of pertinent Ptolemaic writings, and (3)  to identify and analyze the uses to which Ptolemy is put by important  medieval thinkers such as Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, and Thomas Aquinas.

Jon Bible: I seek a leave to study the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution -- its history and how it has been interpreted since its inception in 1798.  The amendment, which literally prohibits suits by citizens against another
state, has been construed as banning suits against one's own state, and in a line of cases beginning in 1996 the Supreme Court has used this amendment to void federal anti-discrimination laws such as the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act insofar as they apply to state employees.  The Court now seems poised to strike down other laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act as well, which makes this an important and timely inquiry. I want to see if, as my early research indicates, the Court has misconstrued this amendment from the start and is now using it illegitimately as part of a blatantly result-oriented attempt to limit the scope of federal laws and the jurisdiction of the federal courts.

Dana García: During developmental leave, I shall study the role of intermediate filaments (IFs) in pigment granule movements in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Pigment granule movements in fish RPE are associated with changing light conditions. The specific objectives for this project are: (1)  to induce IF depolymerization in trout RPE, and
(2)  to test for effects of IF depolymerization on pigment granule movement. The research herein proposed will be carried out in Jürgen Markl's laboratory in Mainz, Germany.  Markl's group is interested in the hotly debated function of IFs.  I am interested in the mechanism of pigment granule movement.

George Burke: This proposal centers on excellence in teaching as viewed by students as consumers. I plan to visit 18 classes in the College of Health Professions (two in each academic unit) and conduct focus group interviews with students to learn what they believe to be indicators of teaching excellence.  Results will be recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using content analysis.  I will develop an annotated bibliography and guide to teaching which will be
presented first to faculty of the College of Health Professions and second to the entire faculty of SWT through the Faculty Advancement Center.

Denise Blanchard-Boehm: I will pursue the necessary work to fulfill the goals and expectations of a recently funded USDA grant, entitled, "The Socioeconomic and Environmental Impacts of NAFTA on the Rio Grande Valley of Texas." [The grant award does not provide any release time, except for one semester this summer.]  I will gather and statistically analyze data related to urban, social, environmental, and industrial development in USDA's District 12, a total of 20 counties. I plan to incorporate the information from this project into classes that I teach at the undergraduate and graduate level that relate to NAFTA and the US-Mexico border.  I will also produce a full-length report to be submitted to the USDA. I plan to write at least one major manuscript to be submitted to a leading refereed journal.