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Feb 04, 2009 Minutes

Minutes for 02/04/09

Members present: Senators Feakes, Bond, Brown, Caldwell, Conroy, Furney, C. Hazlewood, D. Hazlewood, Martin, Melzer, Minifie, Shah, Stone, Warms, Wilson
Guests: President Trauth; Provost Moore; Assoc. Provost Bourgeois; Dr. Pat Cassidy, Chemistry/Biochemistry; Rebecca Swindal, Staff Council Representative
Meeting called to order at 4:00
Info Items:  The Chair announced some informational items:
  • ITS Packet: The Chair distributed packets highlighting various services available to faculty from Instructional Technologies Support (ITS).
  • University Highlights Brochure: The Chair circulated a brochure created to solicit donations to the University.
  • April PAAG: The April PAAG date has been moved to April 15, 2009.
  • City Sponsors Local Home Ownership: The Chair announced a program initiated by the City of San Marcos that will provide a $5,000 forgivable loan to new faculty members who buy a home in San Marcos.
  • Relocation Service: Also, the Chair indicated that Human Resources can refer new faculty a relocation service that is available.
  • Faculty Development Leaves: All leaves recommended by the Senate were approved by the Administration. Also, the Administration provided extra funding for five extended leaves. The recipients were: Dr. Maria Daniela Ferrero, Department of Mathematics; Dr. Alberto Giordano, Department of Geography; Dr. Nico Schuler, School of Music; Dr. Julie Westerlund, Department of Biology; Dr. Ha-Chin Yi, Department of Finance and Economics. 
PAAG Agenda:
  • Distance Learning: President Trauth responded to the Senate query: “With the increasing number of distance learning classes, the Faculty Senate would like toknow if any effort is being made to evaluate and modify relevant policy and procedurestatements to accommodate the varying teaching environments. For example, the proceduresoutlined in UPPS 07.10.01, Honor Code, are not easily applicable to the distance-learningformat.” She indicated that Dr. Debbie Thorne, Assoc. Vice President for Academic Affairs, was starting up a committee, the Extended and Distance Learning Steering Committee, to evaluate and modify such policies, and to specifically consider whether the Honor Code is applicable to the distance-learning format. In the interim, individual questions should go directly to Dr. Thorne.
  • Scholarship Funds: Regarding the item: “The financial situation has resulted in significantly lower income revenues in many of ourexisting accounts used for Scholarship funds. In many of these accounts, the lack of incomeprevents the utilization of the account balance. Has the University made any contingency plansto provide temporary resources to ensure that we are able to continue funding these scholarshipstudents?” President Trauth responded that the situation was very serious. These funds are down approximately $650,000, or 20%, from where they should be. Several of the funds prohibit payouts from the principle in the accounts and there is not enough accrued interest to fund scholarships. The McCoy Fund management has indicated that it will cover all existing scholarships with other funds and will make a judgment regarding new scholarships later in the spring semester. Faculty salaries associated with these funds will be paid using other sources of money if interests are too low. Teaching loads may have to change but there will be no cuts in faculty salaries. Some options that were discussed were possible use of extra departmental funds that might be contributed. Also, possible new donations to unrestricted accounts will be solicited.
  • Tuition Revision: “Although the Faculty Senate recognizes that the outcome of the current legislative sessionwill determine the status of tuition revenue in the State, we would appreciate hearing yourthoughts regarding the University’s plans in the case of reduced tuition revenue. For example,how would reduced tuition revenue impact current tuition revenue bonds?” Here, President Trauth said she was very nervous. Bonds for the Undergraduate Center and the Nursing Building were sold in August and will be paid for by legislative appropriations, so those projects are safe. However, the Governor has just sent out a letter asking state agencies to propose how they might cut their budgets by 2.5% in order to replenish his Rainy Day Fund.  Such a cut wouldrepresent approximately $2.9 million at Texas State. The bigger issue is whether the Legislature will freeze tuition increases. Our best hope would be that a cap on tuition increases would be linked to some form of Legislative appropriation increase for the University. Our Board of Regents has already approved a tuition increase for the fall and new students are being recruited based on that tuition increase. There is no evidence that the higher tuition is driving students away. In fact, quite the contrary, student enrollment is increasing. A change in legislation will certainly impact current plans. For example, a 3% pay increase would require approximately $5 million, so a tuition freeze would probably mean no raises. 
  • Round Rock Programs: “Does the university have any plans for expanding the number and kind of degree programsoffered at the Round Rock campus?” President Trauth said there are no new plans for expanding programs at Round Rock. While we are seeking a third new building at Round Rock, that building will not have general classrooms. When ACC moves out, there will be increased classroom and office space, but the only long-term move to the Round Rock campus will be the College of Health Professions, and that move is several years away. She mentioned that Round Rock is not a branch campus and there will be no separate governance structure added there. While there are five new building on the current legislative agenda, realistically, one new building in San Marcos and one in Round Rock are about the best we can hope for.
  • Grievance Policy. Both President Trauth and Provost Moore indicated the Senate’s recommendation of changing the grievance process from having a single hearing officer to using a panel of faculty members and administrators was feasible. We will be working for a final resolution.
PAAG Follow-up:  Concern was expressed concern over the administration’s lack of contingency plans for the possibility of scholarships not being awarded due to the low interest return on some endowments. Senators expressed a need for more proactive action to insure that awards continue to be distributed. It was decided to invite Dr. Rebecca Prince, Vice President for University Advancement, to discuss the issue with the Senate.
PPS 6.04, Piper Award Recognition:  Senators Martin and Brown recommended minor changes in PPS 6.04 that will be forwarded to the Administration. In the process of their investigation regarding what needed to be changed with regard to the PPS, they recommended the Senate consider possible amendments to the Senate’s Standing Rules. They, together with
Dr. B. J. Friedman, Family & Consumer Science, will compile possible revisions to recommend to the Senate.
Other PPS Recommendations:  The Senate considered other PPSs that are up for review:
  • PPS 7.18, Clinical Faculty Appointments: Such appointments are used primarily in the School of Social Work. Indications are the PPS is working well and needs no significant revision.
  • PPS 7.19, Research Faculty Appointments:  There was some question regarding whether this PPS was still needed. The Chair will look into the issue.
New Business:  
  • Disciplinary Review Team: A complaint was raised regarding possible inappropriate action by the Disciplinary Review Team (DRT), which investigates alleged student organizational misconduct. The Senate decided to invite Dr. Joanne Smith, Vice President for Student Affairs, to discuss the issue and the impact such perceived action by the DRT has on faculty advisors for student organizations.
Minutes:  Minutes were approved as amended for 01/28/09.