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Feb 18, 2009 Minutes

Minutes for 02/18/09

Members present: Senators Feakes, Bond, Conroy, Furney, C. Hazlewood, D. Hazlewood, Martin, Melzer, Minifie, Shah, Stone, Warms, Wilson
Guests: Micky Autrey, Dir. Of Curr. Serv.; Rebecca Swindal, Staff Council Representative; Jordan Gass-Poore, University Star
Meeting called to order at 4:00
Info Items:  The Chair announced some informational items from the CAD meeting:
  • PPS2.18-Curriculum Committees: There was some dissention expressed regarding the College Curriculum Committees. Deans can no longer make appointments to the committee, but the revisions were approved over some objections.
  • PPS8.03-Annual Evaluation of Deans: The Provost was not satisfied with suggested revisions to PPS 8.03. It was decided that Dr. Bourgeois would offer an amended version to address his objections to the current revision.
  • Academic Calendar: The Academic Calendar now provides a total time of one week between the end of SSII and the Fall semester. The calendar will be in effect for the next ten years.
  • CAD: Concern was raised in the Council of Academic Deans regarding a possible 2.5% decrease in funding for this academic year, compounded by a possible two-year freeze on tuition increases. The group is working on a contingency plan. If both of the above happen, it will probably mean there will be no new faculty lines or no merit increases in the near future.
  • Scholarship Concerns: The Chair announced that Dr. Rebecca Prince, Vice President for University Advancement, will meet with the Senate at the March 4th meeting to discuss concerns.
UCC Recommendation:  The Senate approved the recommendation for three new programs: a Certificate in Autism, a Certificate in Learning Disabilities/Inclusion, and a Certificate in Behavior Disorders/Positive Behavioral Supports – all from Curriculum & Instruction; a name change from a minor in U.S. Ethnic Studies to a minor in Diversity Studies, from the Center for Multicultural and Gender Studies; and changes to PPS 2.01, Courses, Additions, Changes and Deletions, which were recommended for approval by the University Curriculum Committee.
Mace Bearers:  Mace Bearers for the Spring Graduation Ceremonies will be Senators Feakes and Melzer, with Dr. Byron Augustin, Dept. Of Geography, serving at the Liberal Arts Ceremony. Dr. Bert Neely, School of Music, will be asked to serve at the Fine Arts and Communication Ceremony.
Faculty Grievance: The recommended revisions to the wording of the procedure for a faculty grievance follows:
Grievance Hearing Procedures
All faculty who file a grievance are entitled to a hearing before the Faculty Grievance Committee. The Chair of the Committee will notify the parties of the date for a grievance hearing and require the parties to submit multiple copies of their documentary evidence, as well as a list of witnesses and a short description of each witness’s anticipated testimony. All such material must be submitted to the committee at least five class days prior to the hearing. The Chair will contact each witness and ask him not to discuss his potential testimony with other witnesses or any of the parties involved in the case. If more than one grievance has been filed against the same person, the Chair of the Committee may decide to consolidate the grievances into one hearing. The Chair of the Grievance Committee will communicate with the parties prior to the hearing in an effort to stipulate facts, limit the number of documents, and limit the number of witnesses. The grievant determines whether the hearing is public; or private, in which case attendance shall be limited to the parties, one representative, (if desired), previously disclosed witnesses, and the Faculty Grievance Committee. After a grievance is filed, no punitive action related to the grievance may be taken against the grievant until the conclusion of the grievance hearing. No individual or university, college, or departmental committee may act on the grievance while it is pending before the Faculty Grievance Committee. The grievance hearing will be located at a neutral location outside the home department of the grievant.
The Chair of the Grievance Committee will preside at the hearing, ruling on all objections and insisting on appropriate conduct. Witnesses will not be required to testify under oath and strict rules of evidence will not be applied. Witnesses will not be allowed to be present during the testimony of other parties or during opening statements. The Chair will assure that the proceedings are orderly by affording both parties the opportunity to make opening statements, present witnesses and exhibits, cross-examine the other party’s witnesses, and make closing statements. At each stage the grievant, who bears the burden of proof, will go first and the respondent will follow. The Chair will arrange for the recording of the proceedings and either party may make copies of the recording. The use of lawyers and other advisors is discouraged, but the grievant may use a lawyer in an advisory capacity. Neither an advisor nor a lawyer for the grievant may ask questions of the committee or any witnesses. The advisor or lawyer should communicate only with the person he is representing. The university will provide a lawyer for administrators only if the grievant brings a lawyer.
During the hearing, the Faculty Grievance Committee may ask questions of any witness or request copies of documents deemed relevant although not submitted into evidence. Neither party may direct questions to the Committee members; all questions must be directed to the Chair. When the hearing is completed, the Committee will deliberate in a closed session and reach a finding by majority vote. Normally it is expected that within ten class days the committee will deliver a report, including the vote on each request, signed by each member of the Committee; with recommendations on each request for relief in the grievance, including, if necessary, a signed minority opinion, to the President. Normally, within twenty class days, the President will take such action as he/she deems appropriate and will notify all interested parties of the nature of that action in writing.
After the hearing is concluded and before the President has acted on the Committee’s recommendations, neither party to the grievance, their agents, or any faculty member acting on behalf of the parties, shall initiate any direct communication with any Committee member or with the President regarding any issue related to the hearing.
  1. This statement should be included as part of the PPS, not as an attachment or as a link.
  2. Upon acceptance of the revised policy, changes will need to be implemented in the Faculty Handbook.
The Senate will consider formal approval of the recommendation next week.
Piper Professor:  Discussion continued regarding ways to improve the application process for selection of the University’s nominees for Piper Professor. Senators Martin and Brown will bring further suggestions to the Senate. Senator Conroy will draft a Texas State application form modeled on the Piper Foundation form, but in Word format.
Faculty Perception Survey:  Wording for the announcement of the Faculty Perception Survey of the President, Provost and College Deans was discussed. The e-mail announcing the survey will go out March 2.
New Business:
Writing Intensive Courses: A question was raised regarding Article 45 of PPS 4.01, Conduct and Planning of Courses, which states: “In courses identified as Writing Intensive (WI), a minimum of 50 percent of the course grade must be based on written exams or assignments, and at least one assignment must be 500 words or more in length.” Collective recollection was that the statement previously had required a minimum of 65% of the course grade be based on written exams or assignments rather than the current 50%. Senators did not recall whether the Senate had actually approved the change from 65% to 50%. Chair Feakes will seek out the history of the PPS revision and report back to the Senate.
Parking Permit Fees: A question was raised regarding whether parking permits could be a pre-tax payroll reduction. It turns out that is exactly the case. The Parking Permit Payroll Deduction form indicates that: “Deductions will occur over a nine-month period beginning with the October 1 paycheck. The amount drawn will be pre-taxed and equivalent to one-ninth of the annual permit cost.”
Term Limits for Chairs:  A faculty member issued a request that the Senate pursue a requirement that chairs be formally reviewed for reappointment by their departments every two years. PPS1.10, Role, Evaluation and Step-Down Salaries of Department Chairs and School Directors, indicates that each Chair/Director must go through a summative review at least every four years, and that a formal survey of department/school faculty will be a part of that review. The Faculty Handbook states on page 34 that “The appointment of the Department Chair is the prerogative of the Provost and the President,” with no mention of term limits. Requests for term limits for chairs come up periodically in the Senate, but to date no term limits for the appointment of chairs/directors exists.
Nepotism:  Allegations of nepotism were raised with regard to a college of the University. More background information will be sought on the issue.
Promotion/Tenure:  The question of a possible alternative to “up or out” tenure decisions and yes/no annual renewal decisions (e.g. approve with qualifications) was raised. The up or out nature of tenure is dictated by the Regents’ Rules. The Clinical Faculty status and extended probationary periods were suggested as options available if acted on prior to tenure application. Sections 11 and 12 of PPS8.10, Tenure and Promotion Review, speak to suspension of the tenure clock. The Provost makes decisions for extended probationary periods.
Minutes:  Minutes were approved as amended for 02/11/09.