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Dec 03, 2008 Minutes

Minutes for 12/03/08

Members present: Senators Feakes, Brown, Bond, Conroy, C. Hazlewood, D. Hazlewood, Melzer, Minifie, Shah, Stone, Wilson
Guests: President Trauth, Provost Moore, Assoc Provost Bourgeois
Meeting called to order at 4:00
PAAG:  President Trauth, Provost Moore and Assoc. Provost Bourgeois responded to the Senate’s PAAG items:
  1. PPS 8.10 Tenure and Promotion Review: Over the past month, Personnel Committees across campus have been engaged in Tenure and Promotion decisions. As a result, questions have been raised regarding modifications to PPS 8.10 Tenure and Promotion Review that apparently occurred during the Spring 2008 semester. Specifically, paragraph 30 states: “At a meeting of the personnel committee, with the chair/director presiding in a voting capacity, the personnel committee will discuss and vote by secret ballot to recommend or not to recommend each of the candidates for tenure and/or promotion.” Chairs have historically not voted during the Personnel Committee meeting and the revised PPS is now in direct conflict with the statement on page 38 of the Faculty Handbook which indicates that the “chair/directors preside at these meetings, but they do not vote, because they submit their own independent recommendation.” In effect, the revised PPS grants the department chair/director two votes in the process, the first with the Personnel Committee and the second as the chair/director. This revision also creates an environment where the chair/director can steer the proceedings of the Personnel Committee. In addition to the content concerns of the PPS, there are concerns regarding the PPS review process because the Faculty Senate has no record of being involved in this modification. The Faculty Senate requests that PPS 8.10 be changed immediately and would appreciate input on both the content and review process for PPS 8.10.
  2. Selective Admissions Structure: With increasing enrollment, in combination with external accreditation standards, some areas have foundit necessary to limit the number of students declaring a major within their College. As a result, students areunable to pursue their career goals directly and, in effect, bide their time until they can gain admission into thedesired College. Alternatively, many of these students have opted to minor in their chosen field, increasing thenumber of minors to an extent that is unwieldy within the College. In the McCoy College of BusinessAdministration, for example, the number of minors has escalated dramatically. A major selective admissionsstructure could provide a means of distributing students throughout the University in a defined and manageablemanner. Could you discuss plans for confronting the increasing numbers of students within such majors, giventhe continued growth of the university?
  3. Concealed Handguns: Recently, there has been increased interest, from both faculty and students alike, in the issue of ConcealedHandgun License holders carrying concealed handguns on campus. The Faculty Senate is interested in youropinions regarding this issue.
  4. Legislative Strategy: With state elections completed, the Faculty Senate would appreciate an update regarding the upcomingLegislative cycle and any strategies, or modifications to existing strategies that may have occurred as aconsequence of the election results.
With respect to PPS 8.10 in item 1., Dr. Bourgeois responded that the phrase, “presiding in a voting capacity,” was a typo that was not removed from a draft of the document after a motion in CAD failed. He has already taken steps to correct the document to reflect that chairs do not vote in personnel decisions since they already have the opportunity to record their judgment of a candidate. He also indicated that he would contact chairs of department to determine whether the typo had had any significant impact on the current tenure/promotion process. Also, brought up in the discussion was a question about item 38 of PPS 8.10 that states: “The chair/director is responsible for seeing that the comments accurately reflect the discussion about the candidate. “ The statement appears to indicate that a chair can direct how recommendations from a personnel committee can be written up. Dr. Bourgeois will change the item to reflect that chairs cannot edit personnel committee recommendations. (not done yet)!
Regarding selective admissions in item 2., Provost Moore indicated that there is probably no way to avoid selective admissions. Noting that the McCoy College of Business Administration is concerned about the number of minors, he said that if the load of students is significant, a department can make admissions more stringent, particularly if a major needs a specific minor. He is willing to leave such restrictions to a particular college, but cautioned that such restrictions could impact both enrollment and retention. The Provost will talk to AVPEM Heintze and Dean Smart about the issue. He indicated that retention is supported more favorably by getting students into classes they are interested in rather than into classes the University says they must take.
Regarding concealed weapons in item 3., President Trauth distributed a statement from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) that states its Board of Directors belief that “concealed carry” initiatives do not make campuses safer and offer documentation to support that there is no credible evidence to suggest that the presence of students carrying concealed weapons would reduce violence on our college campuses. She indicated that there has been lots of dialogue on the subject, but believes that college campuses are the safest places for young people to be, and that the handout reflects her view on the subject.
Regarding funding for higher education in item 4., President Trauth indicated that there will be enormous pressures on the Legislature to deal with the economy and the aftermath of hurricane Ike. She said our legislative agenda is the same as it was in August, where she outlined plans for projected construction. She said our recent advances for merit raises and expansion of faculty lines are directly related to tuition deregulation and that studies indicate that not only colleges have benefited from the deregulation. State agencies may have been helped more since the deregulation freed up more funds for the agencies. She did say that one of our highest priorities for the future is to raise more money for student scholarships.
PAAG Follow-up:  Chair Feakes will forward a note to President Trauth thanking her for straightforward discussions at PAAG meetings during the year. The Senate will continue to review PPS 8.10 Tenure/Promotion for any other possible changes. 
M & O Budgets: A question was raised regarding the recent distribution of departmental budgets for the coming year. Have departmental M & O budgets remained the same, increased or decreased for the new cycle? The Senate will monitor the issue.
REP Recommendation: The Senate approved a motion to accept the REP recommendation on faculty research enhancement grants. It will be forwarded to the Provost.
Worklife Council Recommendation: The Senate, by majority endorsement, supports the recommendation for the University to enter a contract with UT Advantage to obtain their proposed worklife and employee assistance program. The cost would be $1.91 per month per employee, approximately $70000 per year.
SACS Issues:  The Senate will discuss issues with Assoc. Provost Bourgeois regarding the draft documents on academic freedom and faculty governance at its next meeting.
Minutes:  Minutes for 11/19/08 were approved as amended.