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Sept 11, 2002 Minutes


Approved Senate Minutes

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Senators present: Bell-Metereau, Blanda, Brennan, Carns, Conroy, Gillis, Frost, Hindson, James, Peeler, Renick, Sawey, Stone, Stutzman

Guests:  President Trauth, VPAA Gratz, AVPAA Cassidy, Margaret Vaverek, Dr. Joan Hays, Dr. Theron Stimmel

Chair Renick called the meeting to order at 4:00 and asked all present to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11/01.

Chair Renick welcomed President Trauth and VPAA Gratz to the first PAAG meeting of Dr. Trauth’s presidency and then profiled the PAAG agenda items.

1.      Recognition of former Senators completing terms in May 2002
2       A review of the "State of the University" address
3       President's Letter to the Senate concerning shared governance
4       Dean and Chair evaluations - IDEA survey
5       Faculty workload reporting
6       Other - Modified honor code and around the table

1. On behalf of the senate, Senator Brennan presented plaques to Drs. Joan Hays and Theron Stimmel in appreciation of their valuable contributions to the senate and commendable service to the faculty.  Dr. Audrey McKinney’s laudable service was also acknowledged, although she was in class and not able to attend the presentation ceremony.

2. President Trauth greeted the senate and expressed her pleasure that there is, through PAAG meetings, an established direct line of communication between the administration and the senate.  The President confirmed her intention to continue PAAG meetings.

President Trauth then recapped the ten leadership values that will guide her presidency. Public universities exist to serve the public.  In making decisions we must look out as well as in.  We must ask what the local community, the state and the country need from us. Excellence and high quality are the phenomenon of local level, small endeavors that add up--not the result of presidential actions.  The President must create an environment in which departments can work for excellence.

The university is in the business of graduating students--that is our core enterprise. Undergraduate students constitute the greater part of our student body and therefore are our greatest focus.  All activities must be aligned with our core enterprise. There is no dichotomy between teaching and research.  The proper model is research infused education. Building and maintaining community within the university is an ongoing and constant endeavor.  The planning process is a means to enhance community. Resource allocation and reallocation must be directly tied to the outcomes of the planning process.  It is critically important to be strategic.  We must articulate our strengths and align resources according to identified priorities. The university must be flexible and nimble enough to take advantage of opportunities. This will be an open administration committed to being ethical. The direction the university takes will be the result of a shared vision.

The senators directed questions to President Trauth on her remarks. Senator Stutzman questioned the President on the gap between planning and implementation.  The President allowed that there is often a difference between the plan (front door) and the way things are really done (the back door.)  She confirmed her determination to exercise discipline and close the back door.

Senator Bell-Metereau posed a question about the psychological aspect of change and the difficulty of changing long standing patterns.  The President stated her belief that an open, inclusive process and a shared vision will be able to affect change.

Senator Hindson asked about the Provost system at UNCC and how it differs from SWT’s VPAA structure.  The President answered that the Provost system identifies the academic component of the university as paramount--everything else supports academics.

Senator Hindson also asked how chairs are selected at UNCC.  Chairs there serve 3 year renewable terms.  They are not elected, but are not appointed with strong support from the faculty.  Senator Hindson then asked if it might be possible to adopt renewable terms for chairs at SWT and the President answered that yes, she is willing to consider it.

Senator Conroy queried the President on her expectations for teaching, research and service for faculty in each rank.  The President disavowed a set formula of percentages assigned to each of the three areas because evaluation is relative to the diverse disciplines across campus.  The principle evaluation will be the department level peer review.   Therefore peer mentoring that provides feedback to newer faculty is crucial.  Service should be light for untenured faculty.  Problems with teaching can be fixed through training and feedback.  The administration’s review of promotion applications will be substantive and will ensure that expectations are uniform across campus and that national standards are met.

Senator Peeler questioned the President’s statement that our core enterprise is to graduate students and pointed out that there can be a difference between educating students and graduating students.

Senator Carns posed a question about the approval process for doctoral programs, which served to segue to agenda item #3.

3. In her convocation address and earlier, in her July 30th letter to the senate, President Trauth committed to forming a presidential committee to critique the existing planning process.  "A Presidential Committee will be established this Fall to thoroughly evaluate the academic planning process, including the process for selecting doctoral proposals."  The President reported that Dr. Joan Hays has agreed to Chair this committee.  Faculty will comprise the majority on the committee and it will conclude its work by the end of the semester.  The committee will identify what is broken in the present process and will articulate faculty concerns, it will not design a planning process.

Senators Sawey, Frost, Blanda and Stone sought clarification on whether this committee would examine new program issues such as start up costs and environmental assessment of the demand for new programs as the July 30 letter indicated.  The President answered that these issues would be considered as part of the whole review, that she did not support dis-aggregating aggregates. Hmmm.

4. VPAA Gratz was asked whether faculty will have access to the Chair and Dean evaluation IDEA survey results so that faculty might have a sense that problems identified in the survey are being addressed.  VPAA Gratz will bring the question to the Deans at the next CAD meeting.  When asked about assessing the Chair and Dean evaluation process, Dr. Gratz stated that since we now have 3 years of data, an assessment would be appropriate.

Senator Frost commented on the negative impact on faculty morale when our performance is subject to constant scrutiny and evaluation while there is a seeming lack of accountability and review for administrators.

President Trauth and VPAA Gratz agreed to extend their stay past the scheduled PAAG hour in order to cover the remaining items on the agenda.

5. Concerns about autocratic and inconsistent workload policy assignments have been brought to the senate.  Questions were directed to VPAA Gratz about the lack of consistency in the manner Chairs assign faculty workload.  The recent Chair actions are apparently prompted by an "effort to follow policy and assure workload distribution equity."  The VPAA has pointed out to Chairs that 12 units are to be considered a normal workload and that 9 units are the minimum.  Academic Affairs is now asking for documentation justifying 9 unit workload assignments.

Senator Hindson asked if other universities in Texas consider 12 units the normal workload.  The VPAA did not know.

6. Due to the lateness of the hour, the Academic Honesty Policy was RTA’ed to the next PAAG meeting.

At 5:25 Chair Renick gave the President and VPAA the list of senate prioritized objectives for the coming year.  He thanked them for meeting with the senate and called for a short break before continuing.

* Status Report on Senate Priorities/Objectives for 2002-2003
The list of senate prioritized objectives accompanies these minutes.  Chair Renick asked senators to identify 2 objectives they are willing to take a leadership role in carrying out and 2 objectives in which they are willing to participate.  Two senators will be assigned to lead each objective and each senator will be involved in 2 objectives.

Senator Frost suggested that the senate next compose action steps for each of its objectives.  He also suggested that, in the service of alignment, the nominees to the Hays Committee serve as the subcommittee for objective #1.

* Dean Israel's letter to the senate addressing the doctoral proposal in Aquatic Resources was distributed to senators.

* Senators Blanda, Sawey and Stone were elected senate nominees for the presidential committee to evaluate the academic planning process (aka the Hays committee.)

* Old Business
The minutes for the August 7th and August 28th meetings were approved as corrected.

Senators Hindson and Stone asked what has become of the Post Tenure Review Committee since they were named to this committee and it has not met.

* New Business
Approval of the minutes for the September 4, 2002 meeting was RTA’ed.

Chair Renick adjourned the meeting at 6:05.