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March 6, 2002 Minutes



Approved Senate Minutes

March 6, 2002

Senators Present:  Sawey, Stone, Hays, Blanda, Stimmel, Hindson, McKinney, Brennan, Stutzman, Boone, Renick

Senators Absent:  Peeler, Gillis, Blevens

Guests:  Bill Covington, David Easter, Van Wyatt,  Mark Busby

Chair Renick called the meeting to order at 4:00 pm Renick time.

The Senate welcomed Senator Brennan back from her brief maternity leave.

Indirect Cost Recovery
Bill Covington (ORSP) was present to continue the discussion begun last week with Gordon Thyberg concerning indirect cost recovery through grant budgets.  Covington stressed that this is a critical issue to the University.  This past year $400,000.00 in  indirect costs was recovered.  A percentage of this money will go back to the college, department and PI.  A UPPS, based on a PPS originated by Covington, will be written to govern this process.   He mentioned that Oct. is the distribution month but because of some delays it was February this year.  He humbly promised to do better.  The distribution generally will be as follows.  The Geography Ph.D. program gets back 45% of what it generates in indirect costs.   (It was of interest to the Senate that each new doctoral program will negotiate the percentage of designated indirect costs that it gets.  The new Education doctoral program will probably not get 45%.)  Otherwise, once the recovered amount has been determined, 35% goes to the college, 25% to the department, 20% to the PI and 20% to ORSP.

The ORSP is changing the way indirect costs are recovered.  In the past those costs were taken as the grant was closed out.  They will now be recovered on a monthly basis.  Almost $2,000,000 in indirect costs (Yes! $2,000,000!) was recovered recently, partly because there was a catch up period.   Approximately $1,000,000 of this will be distributed this year.  $600,000 of that goes to support the research infrastructure while the above mentioned $400,000 will be distributed in the percentages mentioned in the above paragraph.  The University has continued to infuse the
recovered amount with the amount that the State takes back. (Remember that 50 cents out of every dollar earned through indirect cost recovery is taken back by the State.)  Dr. Covington pointed out that as we approach 80 -100 million in grants we will break even without the infusion from the University.  Once we go beyond the break-even point the recovered money will help us get faculty and programs.   Although there is a move on the part of Texas Universities to persuade the State to let universities keep ALL the recovered costs, because of the recession which was maybe not a recession, the legislature is not likely to consider giving up that source of revenue this session.  The Senate was also reminded that many grants do not allow for "indirect costs" to be included in the budget.  The University must decide on a case by case basis whether to waive those costs.  Go ye and write more grants!

Academic Computing Committee
After a brief but invigorating break the Senate reconvened to hear from David Easter, chair of the Academic Computing Committee.  Dr. Easter explained the ranking procedure used to determine which proposals would be funded.  This ranking procedure used a "normalizing" equation that assigned scores based on the rankings from the various committee members.  Funds were then awarded based on the overall numerical ranking.  There was sufficient money to fund approximately half of the proposals.   Hays moved and Blanda seconded that the Senate accept the recommendations for proposal funding made by the Academic Computing Committee.  The motion was accepted unanimously.  Dr. Easter then brought two recommendations to the Senate for amendments to its charge and composition.  These recommendations are as follows:
     Revised charge:  The Academic Computing Committee reviews and makes recommendations to the Senate for budgets, policies and procedures relating to student computing and faculty instructional resources, and serves as liaison between the Technology Resources and Instructional Technologies departments and the university faculty via the senate.
    Revised composition:  Replace Director of Computing Services with Director of Technology to reflect name change.  Add Director of Instructional Technologies.
Stimmel moved and Hays seconded a motion to accept these recommendations.  The motion was accepted unanimously.

VPIT Wyatt joined the Senate to talk about a number of issues that had come up over the past several months.  He first distributed a spread sheet that listed the various projects currently being overseen by his office.  The sheet indicated projected completion dates and status information for a variety of projects that gave a clear picture of what the office is attempting to accomplish.  It was somewhat impressive, even to the ever suspicious Senate.  Wyatt then began to respond to a number of questions that the Senate had asked.  They are as follows:
 1.  Do tech support people respond negatively to faculty questions because they CAN'T do what is asked, or WON'T?  Wyatt suggested that it could be either but that it should be reported so that the terminally unwilling can be weeded out or cultivated.  Did you get the garden metaphor here?  Poetic!
 2.  What about jargon or "tech speak"?  Wyatt agrees that this is a problem that needs to be addressed.  Information should not be "coded"!
 3.  What is the reliability of the tech machines and are they being used appropriately?  Wyatt says that the "refresh" program is working.  Classroom technology is not up to speed because of deferred maintenance issues.  (Why are we not surprised?)  It will probably take two years to get it up to speed but it may be
 4.  Why does the distribution of the "refresh" machines seem so slow?  Some departments seem to be behind for some individuals.  Wyatt's greatest concern is to get approximately 800 computers a year distributed in a smooth manner.  He opined that this might not fit an individual's preferred schedule but as far as he is concerned, "Anytime within the year is on time."  One can't have 800 computers sitting on the loading dock waiting to be installed.  Chair Renick suggested an implementation schedule, a semesterly posting.  Dr. Wyatt thought this a good idea but cautioned that it would still need flexibility as departments might need to reorder priorities. There was animated, but rarely hostile, discussion.
 5.  How can faculty get up-to-date distribution lists without asking for royal permission? There are currently 5 or 6 major subset lists being updated daily.  Senate can access those through Debbie Banks.  (This is to keep me from trying to sell herbal supplements to my colleagues via the email, I guess.)  They are still setting policies to regulate these and to incorporate ways to unsubscribe from lists.  Sawey was particularly concerned about being able to develop a current departmental/college list for polling a specific Senate constituency.  Wyatt says that an active email directory is due to come on line in fall of 2002 that will allow one to build a distribution list by "double clicking" on the desired names.  Still a big commitment of time if you are in a large department!  McKinney was concerned because the current process has made it impossible for the Philosophy Department to send out reminders about the Philosophy Dialogue Series.  Wyatt said to call him because this process should NOT be hard or slow.  The Senate will have easy access to mass distribution according to Dr. Wyatt.

Other items under discussion included:
 1.  Student access to web services.  This will be a major project and will shift from the VMS and require reengineering of the servers and web site.
 2.  Domain names.  We need to accommodate this and help faculty to host a professional site or journal.  The sponsoring organization should be willing to pay something for this service.   This is probably about a year away.  Current web sites of this nature will not be hunted down and scrambled.
 3.  What about metro lines?  There is an effort to cut down on long distance costs.  Toll free lines to Austin and San Antonio is still being considered.  Austin is a more likely probability.
 4.  Has the technology expenditure been worth it in increased productivity?  Not yet.  We still need to increase education on how to apply the technology so that it does generate value.  (I'd say it has done a lot.  I type all my own tests, papers, letters.  I have become my own secretary!)
      As always, Dr. Wyatt was cordial and encouraged Senators to bring him concerns and problems. He seems to welcome knowing what the issues are from the faculty perspective?  What a concept!

Old Business

1.  Renick reported on the Texas Council of  Texas Faculty Senates conference in Austin.  He encourages continued involvement.  Senator Hindson reminded the Senate that our by-laws have us elect a representative when we elect other officers.
2.  We may want to revisit the evaluation of the President and the VPAA and extend it to the Deans.  Deans are currently being evaluated but the information might be more widely distributed.
3.  The results of the evaluation of the President and VPAA are out and have appeared in some of the media.  Be sure and catch it on the Senate Web Site.

The minutes of February 27, 2002 were approved with two additions.  Perhaps I slept?

The meeting was adjourned at 6:23 pm.
Minutes unctuously submitted by Joan Hays