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March 19, 2003 Minutes




Senators present: Renick, Conroy, Sawey, Peeler, Stone, James, Blanda, Gordon, Riepe, Frost, Hindson, Bell-Metereau, Brennan, Stutzman

Guests: President Trauth, Vice President Gratz, Librarians Margaret Vaverek, Leigh Kilman, Frank Fox, Selene Hinojosa, Lori Hughes, Associate Vice President Cassidy, ASG President Robert Doerr, University Star reporter Sally Villarreal

Chair Renick called the meeting to order at 4:00 and reviewed the agenda.

I.  Report on the Board of Regents meeting - Name Change
The meeting was relatively uneventful until discussion of the university name change emerged. When the regents decided not to vote on the change last year they didn’t predict that it would go to the legislature so soon.   Objections from Sam Houston and others had influenced the regents’ decision.  ASG meanwhile passed a bill in January to change the name to Texas State University this year.  The students have been respectful and open in this process.  They initially went to discuss fees and the idea of having a student regent, and the name change came up.  Senator Wentworth said he would file the bill, and alums had requested time on the agenda on both sides of the issue.  In a seven to two vote, regents said they preferred to have time to think about and study the issue.  Our financial situation is more serious and pressing issue, and President Trauth doesn’t want fallout from the issue that would impact the budget issue.

II.     Board of Regents Report on Budgetary and Other Issues:
Another important issue raised was the university’s ability to raise fees, not that we necessarily will do so.  This proviso will insure funding flexibility, should the need arise.

The regents discussed questions about study abroad, particularly to France. The original vote to cancel travel to France and Germany was rescinded the next day.

III.    Budget and reallocation:
Senator Sawey asked if deregulation of tuition would signal the state’s abdication of responsibility for funding public education.

President Trauth stated that the Texas House of Representatives is firm on a twelve and a half percent cut.  Senate is more generous and we hope a compromise will emerge.  Any cut will hurt us because of our debt service, which cannot be cut.  This proposed 12% cut amounts then to about a 17% cut. Chancellors of major systems met with the Lieutenant Governor and they will allow designated tuition to go up as much as three times the current tuition. Trauth does not believe this is the best way to fund higher education.  Texas at one time had low in-state tuition and now we’re in the middle.  This proposed change in funding may take us to the higher end, and this movement is wrong because of the hardships it will impose on many of our students.

Senator Hindson asked if the amount would be the same for all schools or vary from school to school.

President Trauth stated that she doesn’t believe there will be unanimity.  Some schools in no growth mode may see not raising tuition as a way to grow.  She is optimistic that the regents will allow us to do what we need to do in terms of tuition changes.  Comptroller’s numbers seem to be at 7%.  We’ve applied enrollment increase dollars to that.  Each VP was given a target.  Academic Affairs’ cut is roughly $380,000, and if deans are above their required amounts, they may want to apply that amount to cuts for next year.  Deans will receive targets for 2004.

Senator Blanda asked if the savings could be kept at the department level or if they would be transferred to the college.  Deans will probably decide if there is a carry-forward policy.  There will be incentives for people to benefit from any savings they make this year.

President Trauth met with faculty during open office hours, and noted faculty frustration with the uncertainty.  The range has gone from 17% to 6%, so we have to make contingency plans for higher and more modest cuts.  Protecting the academic sector is the highest priority, but we cannot make all cuts only outside of the classroom.  We have the goal of no lay-offs, but if we face a worst-case scenario of 17% cuts, the administration cannot promise to avoid lay-offs.

Nevertheless, the strategic planning process is still going forward, because eventually we will come out of this down cycle.

Vice President Gratz said we have looked at general shortfall and worst-case assumptions.

Senator Stutzman asked about the local side and the projected impact of enrollment, cuts of other non-faculty costs.

President Trauth said we couldn’t take dollars from fees to supplement the budget for faculty salaries or the academic core.  We will move dollars when we can into general revenue.  For example, academic advising fees will free up faculty position dollars.

Senator Sawey asked if student tuition does go up, would we be able to reduce athletic fees. Trauth said athletics serve an important function to engage students.

IV. Performance measures:
Retention has improved dramatically since 1996, and indications are that students graduating in less than six years will be improving continuously as well.

Senator Bell-Metereau said she hoped we would continue with initiatives started with the freshman retention programs.

Senator Gillis asked if the retention data was on the website, and Chair Renick said we would request the information from Dr. Studer.

V. VPIT issues
Continuing concern has to do with enhanced status for librarians.  Dr. Wyatt reported on the importance of maintaining quality librarians.  Follow-up recommendations will probably be adopted overall, with a few exceptions.  They were interested in national standards and benchmarks such as ACRL, for example.
We will recommend that we modify and adopt ACRL’s guidelines for the career ladder.  Provisions to assure librarians vacation time are state mandated, for example.  Response will be generally positive.

Senator Sawey asked President Trauth for comparison with UNC, and she said there was a real concern for status and compensation for librarians.  We don’t want a revolving door for professional staff.  The university has taken steps forward in this matter.  At UNC librarians were on the faculty, unlike here. This causes some problems at UNC, the most significant being research and allocation of work time.

The name “Enhanced” status is a generic term, and it seems that librarians are asking for reinstatement of what was used before Dr. Smith became president. The career ladder addresses monetary issues, but ACRL has guidelines for Academic status (not faculty status).

U.T. went through a struggle with monitoring core systems.  Higher education institutions prize more open computing environments than business does, and this leaves them more vulnerable to hacking.  Publicity leads to a flurry of attempts to infiltrate our own boundaries.  Hundreds of times a day there are attempts to compromise the system.

Senator Riepe expressed concern over access to student records that still requires the use of social security numbers.

Dr. Wyatt said we could use student I.D. number, noting that the program will take either number.

Senator Sawey said our core systems are secure, and we hope this need for security won’t compromise efforts to have a list serve.

Senator Frost said that we had to make the transition to PLID, and we will get information to faculty on how to do that.  They tested the list serve on Monday and we should be able to use that soon.

Chair Renick asked if the budget has affected research enhancement allocations. This summer, we should we go ahead with professional development.

Chair Renick announced that before spring break we determined that senate budget would not absorb any cut.  This will enable us to renew membership in the Texas Council of Faculty Senates.

VI:     Agenda for 3/20/03 meeting with the President:
Remaining language on sexual orientation.
Chair Renick asked about “dry” promotions, without raises
Chair Renick said he would make President Trauth aware of Chancellor
Urbanovsky’s promise to visit the faculty senate after the legislative session was adjourned.
Grievance process and letter from Bible and McGee, selection of the ombudsman.

Senator Blanda asked if the president were aware of the lawsuits pending, noting that regardless of the legal outcome, the adversarial attitude would create poor publicity for the school.

Senator Hindson said we are concerned only with procedural rules, not with particular faculty cases.  Does the faculty senate have the right to issue a censure against a chair or administrator?

Senator Blanda said the issue of retaliation has been raised.

Senator James said that someone needed to be in on the meeting who was in on the election of the ombudsman, such as Senator Peeler.

Senator Blanda suggested that Mike and or Ron could look into the situation, because it involves faculty and administration.

Senator James asked if we should wait for the ombudsman process to work, asking for her response in two weeks, say.

Chair Renick mentioned that in the past there was an ad hoc committee to look into a particular grievance.  We do not have the transcript of the Rudnicki hearing.

Senator Blanda noted that we have a lengthy report from Associate Vice President Covington on the status of research.

Senator Hindson asked if CAD is doing a committee on chairs or terms, and he wondered if there is anywhere in the state of Texas where chairs are paid as much more than faculty as ours are.

Senator Gordon suggested perhaps at A & M.

Chair Renick said that we needed to get grievances on track, in order to avoid the potential for bad publicity and litigation.

Senator Stutzman mentioned an article on culture of research at SWT:  What are the incentives provided to encourage the culture of research?

Senator Blanda said that the $800,000 on the table hasn’t been released.

Senator Brennan said that in her field she needed to publish a book, and it has nothing to do with grant funding

Senator Hindson asked for a future agenda item to be the role of athletics and the role of the faculty and faculty oversight.

Senator Frost noted that SWT has tried to be all things to all people, but president says we wonít be, and Frost wants to know what we’re going to shut down.  We’re trying to be more things with fewer resources.

VII. Facilities Issues Subcommittee
Senator Frost reported that before spring break there had been a gap between meetings and implementation, and Frost seeks direction from the senate on this issue.

Senator Peeler asked the purpose of a master plan.

It was noted that questions are from the entire senate, not from simply from the representative.

Senator Bell-Metereau said that academics should be at the center of the plan. Buildings for the core academic subjects should be at the geographical center of the university in the master plan, and support facilities, such as police, support services, and other auxiliary services should be in outlying areas. The center of the university should also be as close as possible to the center of San Marcos.

VIII.  Old business:
Workload pps.
Fall schedule being developed; 1st workload report generated.
Culture of research -- Bill Covington (digested report on 5 - year synopsis)
Instructional Technology; Milt Nielson - extent to which we would continue with their plan

Senator Gordon asked a question about not receiving minutes, and it came to light that Terry was waiting for emails entitled “Approved” in order to distribute the minutes.

Minutes of March 5th were approved with minor revisions.

Senator Sawey said he would need another faculty senator to be on librarian status committee, and Senator Brennan agreed to serve.

Meeting was adjourned 6:10.

Approved Minutes submitted by Rebecca Bell-Metereau 4/4/03.