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Nov 17, 2010 Minutes

Members present: Senators Stone, Brown, Martin, Wilson, Melzer, Caldwell, Feakes, Morey, Huling, Hazlewood, Furney, Payne, Conroy

Guests: Coolidge (Star), Batura, Sigler, Nussbaum, Bourgeois

Meeting called to order at 4:00.

Call to Order and Announcements: Senator Huling will serve as Chair of the committee undertaking a summative review of Dean Smart.

Building Update: Nancy Nussbaum visited the Senate to provide an update on current building projects and the progress of items in the University’s 2006 Master Plan. Ms. Nussbaum noted that the University is undertaking a Master Plan update, with the assistance of Broadus Planning. Four key areas will be explored: the transportation system, sustainability, student housing, and infrastructure / utilities. Of these, the first item is already being reviewed.

The transportation system will be examined to see if the goals expressed in the 2006 Master Plan are still appropriate for the University. Three groups of specialists will visit the University to review the current state of the campus and to make recommendations. In addition, sometime in January there will be review sessions open to the entire university community. Based upon the findings of these reviews, the Broadus group will update the Master Plan. Ms. Nussbaum explained that, in spite of the update, there will be no major changes to the Master Plan since money is limited, with available funds coming mostly from HEAF.

A new Master Plan will be developed in 2014.

There are some $600 million worth of projects in the current Master Plan. Five of them lack funding; four of these have been submitted for tuition revenue bonds: a new Engineering Building, a Music Building, and two Health Professions buildings in Round Rock.

Currently there are hundreds of smaller projects underway across campus. Besides these, the Matthew Street Garage opened this summer, and the North Campus Housing Project is underway. Coming projects include the relocation of the track; and the stadium expansion, which will increase capacity to 30,000 seats at a cost of $24 million. Among the other projects discussed by Ms. Nussbaum are a Housing / Residence Life Building that will centralize their efforts; the University Academic Center (now underway); the Bobcat Trail Mall Redevelopment; the research greenhouse (underway); and the Performing Arts Complex, the designs of which will be unveiled in spring (groundbreaking is set for next April, with an opening date of April 2013).

URC Recommendations: Drs. Skerpan-Wheeler and Blanda distributed the URC’s recommendations for research projects. Dr. Blanda noted that reserve funds will be used to raise all partially funded projects to 85% of their total requests. Overall, $400,000 was available for funding, although $50,000 of that total was drawn from supplemental funds provided on a two-year, temporary basis by the Provost. Dr. Blanda asked the Senate to urge the administration to make that supplement permanent.

Dr. Skerpan-Wheeler stated that the process went very smoothly this cycle, and thanked the Senate for the assigned time that allowed her to supervise the process more effectively. She did, however, mention two problems that arose.
1. Some proposals did not identify a principal investigator, which led to confusion about processing the requests effectively.
2. In one college’s review committee, two representatives did not attend the full review meeting, and thus their scores were not counted since policy requires representatives to be present for the entire meeting. Dr. Skerpan-Wheeler explained that Chairs may need to make accommodations for their departments’ representatives to attend review meetings. The URC will revisit this concern in the spring.

There was discussion about unusually low scores given by one reviewer. The URC will explore ways to insure such a situation does not occur in future.

The Senate will vote on the URC recommendations at its next meeting.


Overview of the AAUP Conference: this item was tabled until a future meeting.

Development Leave: Dr. Bourgeois asked the Senate to clarify its practices for deciding when faculty are eligible to apply for Development Leave. The PPS governing Development Leave states that only tenured faculty with at least six years of service can apply for Leave. Since tenure occurs in the sixth year, one should not be able to apply until the seventh year, with Leave starting in the eighth. One solution would be to include in the Chair’s email announcing the start of the Leave cycle the date of last Leave that would make one eligible to apply. Moreover, the Senate will work on revised wording for the PPS that will make policies clearer. A Senator suggested the following revision that would cover both the question of tenure and years of service, as well as eligibility after last leave:
To be eligible to apply for Development Leave, a faculty member must be in at least the sixth year of service since being hired or from the start of a previous Leave, and must have tenure.

PAAG Agenda Development: the next PAAG meeting is December 1. Among the items the Senate will suggest for the agenda are
1. The University’s recent agreement to join the Western Athletic Conference in light of current budget concerns.
2. A Legislative update focused on faculty job status as well as the proposed dismantling of the Coordinating Board.

New Business:
A Senator would like explanation of the recent changes to the computer refresh cycle. Milt Nielsen will be invited to discuss the issue, as well as the availability of Microsoft Office 10 for faculty computers on campus.