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Dec 02, 2009 Minutes

Members present: Senators Feakes, Wilson, Brown, Stone, Morey, Shah, Conroy, Hazlewood, Caldwell, Bond, Martin, Warms.

Guests: Sigler, Hohensee, Trauth, Moore, Bourgeois.

Meeting called to order at 4:00.

PAAG Meeting:
1. President Trauth reported that the Board of Regents approved a two-year increase in advising fees to fund the QEP program. The Regents also approved the University's plans for the new Undergraduate Education Building, and announced that the search for a new Chancellor is underway; an interim Chancellor will be named, if needed.

2. Discretionary Accounts: According to President Trauth, recent discussions at CAD regarding the use of discretionary accounts have arisen over a particular situation, rather than a common practice. To avoid difficulties, units should insure that employee donations to discretionary accounts are not then used by the same people who made the donations, since this would raise concerns with the IRS should those individuals claim tax exemption for the donations.

3. Status of PhD Programs: PhD proposals in Developmental Education and in Material Sciences Engineering and Commercialization are under development with authority from the Coordinating Board. There are currently no other proposals in the Provost's Office, although there are a number of units interested in pursuing PhD programs in the future. While the Coordinating Board's resistance to new PhD programs remains, the University must plan for the possibility that the resistance may eventually abate. Several new hires have been the result of such planning. Regarding Prop. 4 (Emerging Research University Status), the President and Provost stated that Texas State is in a good position, both geographically and politically, to soon be named an Emerging Research University, and plans for new PhDs are clearly an important element of that goal.

4. Potential for Equity Adjustments / Appropriate Use of Merit Money: Texas is in a better financial position than many other states, and one sign of this is that the Regents approved a 5 % tuition increase, 3% of which will go toward merit raises. However, the 2011 legislative session will likely have a major impact on university budgets. Should Texas find money unexpectedly, Texas State will renew efforts to make all faculty and staff salaries equitable. In particular, though, staff hires and salaries must be considered soon.

President Trauth noted that, because the University is on a 100% merit system, units must have discretion to distribute merit money based upon their own expectations and policies. The President also argued that such an environment requires that merit distribution should be more inclusive, though not descending into what might be called "performance" raises. Merit money should be reserved for meritorious efforts, but a broader body of faculty should be included.

Provost Moore explained that he considers equity to be "long-term merit." However, such use of merit money should arise only when there have been long periods without merit raises or money, which has not been the case at Texas State in recent years. He is aware of the realities of salary compression, particularly as it bears on higher salaries for new hires, but noted that those requesting equity adjustments need to offer a professional record as strong as more recent hires.

Dr. Bourgeois added that he does not think it is appropriate to use merit money for equity adjustments, but realizes that the definition of merit is a matter for personnel committees.

5. Cancer Awareness Month Update: The President is supportive of cancer awareness, but does not think it is appropriate for her to make proclamations supporting such initiatives since such initiatives can have unforeseen consequences; moreover, there are many worthy causes and all deserve support and benefit from the public's awareness.

In December 2010, the deadline for online grade submission will be one full day earlier than it has been, so that changes to the academic calendar – in particular, adding two "reading days" – can be accommodated.
2. As of Summer 2011, mini-session will be ended, creating flexibility in the summer calendar. A number of proposals for the summer calendar are in the works, and the Chair will apprise the Senate of them as they progress through committees.
3. The survey of faculty interest in exploring a plus / minus grading system resulted in a near 50 / 50 split. After discussing this result, the Senate voted not to pursue investigating the viability of such a grading system.


UREP Committee Report Vote: Dr. Skerpan-Wheeler returned to discuss her reading of the University policy on the REP process, noting that the CREC is given the authority to adjust funding for lower-ranked proposals. Since this is what one College recommended for two of its proposals, and their recommendations are allowed by the policy, the REP Committee supports their decision. The Senate then voted to approve the recommendations of the UREP Committee.

Committee Preference Poll and Procedures: The Chair would like to move the date of the preference poll to January; the Senate agreed with her request. The Chair will invite Dr. Davis, Chair of the Committee on Committees, to discuss this change and the current format of the preference poll. 

Workload Reduction for Service Commitments: The Chair reported that the Provost's Office has agreed to fund assigned time for the Chair of the Senate, but would like a formal proposal outlining the Senate's interest in providing assigned time to chairs of committees that demand significant time commitments. In developing its proposal, the Senate will explore which chair positions warrant assigned time, and whether there should be a pool of assigned time funds from which the Senate might choose from year to year based on current needs.

New Business:
1. The Chair will invite Dr. Joann Smith to the Senate meeting on January 27 to discuss the faculty's ongoing concerns about parking as well as the Senate's difficult relationship with the Transportation and Parking Committee.
2. President Trauth has agreed to fund a celebration recognizing fifty years of shared governance at Texas State, to take place at the Senate's May 5, 2010 meeting. The chair will create a committee to develop plans for the celebration.