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Oct 22, 2008 Minutes

Oct, 22 2008 Minutes

 Minutes for 10/22/08

Members present: Senators Feakes, Brown, Caldwell, Furney, C. Hazlewood, D. Hazlewood, Martin, Shah, Stone, Warms, Wilson
Guests: Dr. Bill Peeler, Theatre & Dance; Trevor Jack, University Star
Meeting called to order at 4:00
Info Items: 
  • Runoff Elections for Senate Replacements: The runoff elections in Business and Fine Arts are completed. The new Senator from Business is Dr. Jana Minifie, Department of Management and the new Senator for Fine Arts is Dr. Michel Conroy, Art and Design.
  • Bike Racks: Regarding the bike racks for the Speck Street Garage, Paul Hamilton, Manager of Shuttle Systems of Auxiliary Services reported that the PO for the order had been cut and he would ask for approval from parking services to install the racks as soon as they arrive.
  • Overcrowding on Shuttle Service from Austin and San Antonio: Paul Hamilton, Manager of Shuttle Systems of Auxiliary Services, responded by e-mail to questions from the Senate regarding service:
1.       Are there laws restricting the shuttle buses from transporting passengers, particularly on the highways, while they are standing?

No.  While we view the inability to seat all passengers as less than satisfactory customer service, the practice of allowing standees on buses and trains, (intercity or local), is legally allowed by both Federal organizations, (the FTA <>  and the FHWA <> ), which oversee roadway and transit safety.  Given that passengers from systems all over the U.S. have been riding buses standing and seated, it is worth noting that bus travel is 26 times safer than driving a car, (National Safety Council).  I don't personally like standing any more than the next person but given the current demand, it has become a fact of life during the spring and fall semesters and will likely remain so until next fall at the earliest, (see more details in second response).  It is also a trend which is following local and express commuter service from systems in cities as diverse as Capital Metro in Austin to the MTS in San Diego, California.
2.       Is the university going to increase the number of shuttle buses to Austin and San Antonio to help alleviate the crowding on the buses?

Not in the short-term.  BT Interurban currently deploys 17 buses per day to Austin on Monday and Tuesday, 16 on Wednesday and Thursday, and 8 on Friday.  Given that I am often, (4-5 days per week), a rider on the first morning bus, I can tell you I’d love to be able to deploy more service; the truth is that we are at capacity.  We have received a grant which will allow us to purchase two additional Interurban buses for Austin and San Antonio service.  However, unlike deciding to purchase a car, it takes about a year between grant award and receipt of a new bus.  It will be about this time next year before we can even consider additional capacity.
While San Antonio has one of their 6 routes near capacity, and they have seen marked increases in ridership since the service was reestablished 2 years ago, they are not experiencing the same crowding issues as the Austin side of our Interurban service.  However, the short-term answer is simple, and has already been the case several times this semester; if our bus reaches standing capacity, our driver will disallow addition passengers to board. Again, this is not an optimum response to demand.  However, if demand stays high in the interim, the answer to being left behind will be the same as it has been for years in large cities with high peak travel demand, (whether boarding a train or bus at rush hour); folks will often have to wait for the next bus.
Academic Governance: Dr. Bill Peeler, Department of Theatre and Dance and Chair of the University Governance Committee met, with the Senate to discuss the committee’s charge for the next academic year. Last year’s charge was to investigate departmental documents on annual evaluation, promotion/tenure and merit/performance. The charge was difficult to complete due to the reluctance of chairs to reveal whether such documents even existed at the departmental level. Even an appeal by the Provost to produce such documents failed. Associate Provost Bourgeois has indicated that all departments now have documents on file regarding merit/performance in the Provost’s Office. It was decided to limit the committee’s charge for this year to focus on merit/performance policy to see if departments are meeting academic governance standards of process. This will involve what reasonable standards should be, what is actually happening on campus and whether departments are meeting those standards.
Phased Retirement:  The Senate discussed the Phased Retirement Program as it exists on campus. It is governed by UPPS 04.04.51, which indicates the Phased Retirement agreement is for a period of from one to three years. Considering the current economic times, the 1-to-3 year agreement seems too short and should be extended. A motion was made and seconded to request that section 04.04 of UPPS 040.04.51 be changed to reflect an agreement period from one to five years for a Phased Retirement agreement. The motion was also amended to recommend pen/ink changes in the document at the same time. The motions will be considered at the Senate meeting after faculty development leaves have been considered.
Honor Council:  The following faculty members have been recommended to serve as college representatives to the University Honor Council:
  • Applied Arts: Dr. John McLaren, Criminal Justice
  • Liberal Arts: Dr. Victoria Smith, English
  • Science: Dr. Ron Sawey, Computer Science
  • Education: Dr. Marilyn Goodwin, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Education: Dr. David Wiley, HPER, as Chair
  • Other representatives will be recommended at a later meeting.
Development Leave Applications:  There are twenty-three applications for Faculty Development Leave. Applications are available for review by Senators on TRACS for the first time. The Senate will consider a final vote on recommendations in three weeks. Applicants to be interviewed next week are:
  • Dr. Richard Dixon, Geography
  • Dr. Kathy Fite, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Dr. James Ott, Biology
  • Dr. Charles Ney, Theatre and Dance
  • Dr. Kate Peirce, Journalism
  • Dr. Ha-Chin Yi, Finance and Economics
  • Dr. Daniel Lochman, English
  • Dr. Chinna Natesan, Marketing
  • Dr. James Garber, Anthropology
  • Dr. Eric Kirby, Management
  • Dr. Nico Schuler, Music
Minutes:  Minutes for 10/15/08 were approved as amended.