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Jan 30, 2002 Minutes



Approved Senate Minutes

January 30, 2002

Senators present:  Renick, Boone, Stutzman, Margerison, McKinney, Hindson, Stimmel, Blevens, Blanda, Hays, Stone, Gillis, Peeler, Sawey

Guests:  David Doerr, University Star reporter

Chair Renick gaveled the meeting to order at 4:02 pm.

The Senators welcomed Mike Boone (EAPS) who is replacing Mike Carns who was substituting for Marianne Reese.  Please make a notation on your scorecard.

Dr. Blevens was asked to report on his committee's evaluation of the AAUP Indicators of Sound Governance document in relation to the established priorities of the Senate for 2001-02.  The discussion centered on the frustration of the Faculty Senate members when recommendations are made in good faith but often ignored.  This is a primary indicator that there is a breakdown in the governance process.  And example of this was the recent activities of the Curriculum Committee.  This is a Senate Committee and yet, when the Senate does not approve an item that the Curriculum Committee has approved the Senate seems to have no veto authority.   President Supple has frequently reiterated that the faculty owns the curriculum but that seems to be only when it is propitious to do so.  The upshot of the discussion, as we circled the wagons, was that we did not intend to adopt these governance guidelines as a whole, but rather to use them in an exploratory way. Suggestions for strategies to regain a certain amount of authority over the curriculum were made but stopped short of shredding all offending proposals in the quad at high noon (but just barely).

Chair Renick mentioned that the Texas Council of Faculty Senates would be meeting in Austin on March 1-2, 2002.  Senators Renick and Blevens intend to participate.  Included as a separate activity will be a meeting of representatives of the Senates of the TSUS who will then meet informally with the Chancellor of the TSUS.  The opportunity to visit with the other Senates of our system and with Chancellor Urbanovsky is always an enlightening experience.  In addition the System offices in Austin have an absolutely beautiful view of the state capitol and the surrounding downtown area.  It is worth the price of admission.

Chair Renick reported on the activities of the Presidential Selection Committee.  Because these proceedings are confidential chair Renick practiced his evasive language techniques and scored an 8 out of a possible 10.  A recommendation had been made to the committee to review possible executive search firms, one of which MIGHT be called upon to help secure a high quality pool of candidates.  This review is taking place but one has not yet been selected.  The goal of the committee is to have the selection process complete by Aug. 31, 2002.  Cheers were heard in Senate chambers!

The Senate then turned its attention to guests and topics for future meetings.  On the top of the list is a visit with VPIT Van Wyatt.  Questions and topics that the Senate would like to discuss included:
1. Do support systems and groups actually do what they are set up to do? Senate members were concerned that when a system group was asked to do something and responded that it "couldn't be done," was that just "teck group speak" for  "we just don't want to do that." (Now why would any of us think that?)
2. Is there a desire to make sense of the "tech culture" and the technical language?  One often needs a translator but is afraid to ask.
3. What is the reliability of the machines?  This includes the classroom machines as well as personal machines.
4. Is it possible to get simple user instructions for the classroom technology so if a faculty member forgets they don't have to go and hunt up a techie.
5. Is the charge of the Academic Computing Committee being changed?  If so,  how and why?
6. Find out how groups can obtain distributions lists and send email to those lists.
7. Explore how to obtain simple domain names so that professional organization webs can be hosted by an appropriate professional faculty member. Is it possible for student organizations to do this as well?
8. How is the refresh cycle process working?  Why does it seem to take so long to get equipment in place when it has been approved?  One Senator was extremely smug, having just been blessed with a new (out of the box)  computer, not a "trickle down" one.
9. How are negotiations for "metro lines" which would allow toll free calls to  Austin and San Antonio proceeding?

The discussion then turned (degenerated?) to how much faculty time was chewed up keeping equipment running.  It often is necessary, if a class is to proceed, for faculty to trouble shoot.

Another topic of intense interest is that of the budget.  Questions the Senate hopes to ask Mr. Thyberg (and perhaps other important people and their minions) include:
1. How is the cost of the athletic program impacting other parts of the university budget?  The answer "Not at all." will naturally be laughed out of the room.
2. We would like to see exactly how the Geography PhD is doing financially. This would mean all hidden costs, all reserve funds, all generated income. We would like to include Presidential Fellow Bob McLean in this visit.
3. One Senator was very interested in finding out how the surplus of the bonds that were rolled over to finance the Athletic Facilities (rumored to be about $175,000.00, give or take a nickel or two) was being used.  Inquiring minds want to know!

After the break the Senators returned with new energy and resolve, ready to ask the hard questions.

The next topic of interest is the overall cost of Athletic Programs.  Based on the reading of the book Beer and Circus, the Senate continues to be concerned about where the money for athletics really comes from and who covers the deficits.  How much does the University "eat" each year.  Are Athletics paying their fair share of the maintenance of Jowers or is the noon exercise group going to have to do this on their own?  The Senate would like to see an analysis of Athletic budgets for when SWT was NCAA, Division II and Division I.  There was also a desire to look at where the golf fees charged for students taking a golf class at the Aquarena Golf Course go. This item was RTA'd so that further research and strategizing could be accomplished.  Preparation is always admirable.

At this point it was noted that the University Star was tape recording the meeting.  It has been a policy of the Senate not to have sessions taped.  That being the case the reporter was asked to cease taping for the time being.  The Senate will revisit this issue at the next meeting.

The Senate, in receipt of a budget for the noon wellness program from Dr. Pankey, wondered, collectively, how structured this program was and to what degree it is utilized.  It was noted in passing that the budget figures from Dr. Pankey included evening as well as noon activities.  This topic was RTA'd.

Senator Hays has been charged with creating a resolution for Senate consideration concerning the charges for personal long distance phone calls on the University phone system.

Senator Peeler was very concerned about how work-study students are used.  Certain of the positions require specific skills but students with those skills cannot be hired to fill those positions because they are "on a waiting list" even though the position exists and they have the federal funds approved.  Is there some micro managing going on somewhere?  Why would we think that?

The minutes were approved with typographical corrections

The Senate then went into executive session to discuss how the results of the Presidential and VPAA evaluations would be analyzed and then disseminated.  These will be made available to all interested parties in the near future.

Minutes fractiously submitted by Joan Hays