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March 26, 2003 Minutes




Approved Senate Minutes

March 26, 2003

Senators Renick, Conroy, Sawey, Peeler, Stone, James, Blanda, Gordon, Riepe, Frost, Hindson, Bell-Metereau, Brennan, Stutzman

Guest:  Professor Walter Rudzinski

Chair Renick called the meeting to order at 4:05 and reviewed the agenda.

I.     Grievance and Ombudsman discussion
        Chair Renick opened the discussion by noting that historically the grievance process at SWT seems to be inadequate, since no faculty member has ever been successful to our knowledge.

Professor Hindson requested a history of the grievance process, and Professor Rudzinski reported on his own short involvement with the office of ombudsman.

Senator Sawey raised the issue of trust and questioned professor Rudzinski about his role in the Rudniki hearing.

Senator Blanda asked if he was aware that faculty have already hired lawyers, and Senator Rudniki said he was out of the loop on that issue and that this was beyond his scope.

Senator James asked if he was aware of the process and the need across campus for the ombudsman to help parties avoid getting to the stage of the lawsuit.

Professor Rudzinski responded that he had just been in the position for two months and a couple of cases have been resolved.  Vice President Gratz responded to one query after nine months.

Senator Gordon asked what the ombudsman would do if he conducted an investigation and it was clear that the faculty member was in the right.

Professor Rudzinski said he would probably go to the chair first and then possibly to the dean, and that if he were successful the issue would just kind of die out.  He stated his desire to remain objective in the process and not take sides.

Senator Bell-Metereau suggested that in disputes between faculty and administration the difference in power made it so that objectivity and fairness might not be accomplished simply by being even-handed, since the administrator had a great deal more power and less to lose than the faculty member did.

Several senators wanted to establish a way for the information received by the ombudsman to also go through the Faculty Senate so that we could be alerted early on the problems.  Faculty Senators could then monitor procedures and possibly try to work with faculty members who might trust the senate to address their concerns.

A committee of six people, with three faculty and three administrators, considered the applicants for ombudsman.  The three faculty favored a different choice from the three administrators, and the president chose the candidate favored by the three administrators.

It was concluded that this issue of faculty involvement in the grievance process should be RTA'd for a future PAAG meeting.

II.    Workload
        Senator James reported on the workload revisions, offering suggested revisions to the current description.  Senator Stone moved and Senator Gillis seconded approval of the suggestion to change in the pps. to require chairs to provide a copy of the individual and a summary of departmental workload to faculty for their assessment and response.

        Senator Blanda reported on the CAD meeting, noting that Vice President Gratz said the final payback for 2003 would be $380,251.  Some deans have already identified funds in excess of the required amount.  Next year's projected deficit is 12.5%, although this does not take into consideration debt service.

Senator Sawey pointed out that it also did not take into considerations new lines and layers added to administration.

Tuition increases may cover some of the proposed cuts.

IV.     Post-tenure Review
        Senator Stone said that procedurally the committee is fulfilling all of the requests, but that this doesn't include the involvement of the faculty senate.  It was not clear if we wish to have performance based on the three categories of teaching, scholarship and service or if we wish to limit consideration to teaching.  Our measures for service and teaching are inconsistent across the university.  Several senators noted that the legislative intent is to empower faculty, and the Texas Faculty Association managed to have language inserted to the effect that only performance demonstrating such things as "dereliction of duty" and "incompetence" would be adequate grounds for post-tenure dismissal.

The discussion will be RTA'd to a future agenda.

V.     New Business
         Senator Peeler brought up the confusion over the facilities committees.  It was agreed that this would be RTA'd to next week's agenda.
         Other items for discussion will include the following:
1) Use of social security numbers
2) Election of representatives for college research committee
3) Developmental leave applications
4) Approval of minutes for 3/19/03

The meeting was adjourned at 6:15.

Approved Minutes submitted by Rebecca Bell-Metereau on 4/4/03.