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Feb 13, 2008 Minutes

Minutes for 02/13/08


Members present:

Senators Stone, Bond, Feakes, Furney, Hazlewood, Hindson, McGee, McKinney, Meek, Melzer, Ogletree, Shah, Winek


Guests: University Attorney Fly; Dr. Beth Wuest, Acad. Dev. & Assess.; Dr. Nicco Schuler, Acad. Dev. & Assess; and Amanda Venable, University Star


Meeting called to order at 4:00.



Legal Update on Perception Survey: University Attorney William Fly met with the Senate to discuss legal issues related to the Faculty Senate’s Perception Survey of Deans and Academic Administrators.  Mr. Fly reported, as general comment, there is almost no exposure to liability for the Senate. He further added that true statements are not actionable. The State of Texas defends entities of the University and the State is immune to torts and as an entity of the University, the State and the University would have to defend the Senate and the individual Senators if a lawsuit was filed. He indicated that statements of opinion provide more protection for entities than statements of fact.  False statements of fact are actionable but statements of opinion are not.  He did say that authors of comments on the survey might be discoverable through open records and that an administrator, if done the “right way”, might be able to retaliate.  In response to a question of whether the Senate’s survey results being posted on a server external to the University or on a University server would make a difference with respect to liability, Mr. Fly said no; he doesn’t see any material difference with regard to where such survey results are posted.  In parting,

Mr. Fly encouraged the Senate to seek responsible, constructive comments from the faculty regarding the University’s administrators.


University Curriculum Committee Recommendation: The UCC recommendation regarding degree name changes in the School of Music and the recommendation to delete the BA major in Chemistry were presented.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the recommendation.  It will be formally voted on at the next meeting.


Budget Policy Discussion: Discussion among the Senators revealed that the College of Science is the only College in the University that does not have a college budget committee.  Discussion continued on what actual policy statements should be on file at each College.  Policies on annual evaluation, merit policy and promotion/tenure were mentioned.  Also raised was a question of whether there should be a College policy regarding the interpretation of what should be considered a terminal degree.  It was decided to leave the policy issues on the agenda for the coming joint meeting between the Senate and CAD.




Quality Enhancement Plan: Drs. Beth Wuest and Nico Schuler met with the Senate to discuss the Quality Enhancement Plan that is being developed to support the coming SACS review.  They are working on a plan that outlines a course of action for long-term institutional improvement, with special attention to student learning (changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or values).  The Plan will complement ongoing university initiatives and seeks broad-base support from various constituent groups including administration, faculty, students, alumni, centers and institutes, support services and external constituents.  Key ingredients of the Plan are

  • A focused theme, creative and vital to improvement of student learning
  • A definition of “student learning” appropriate to the focus
  • Engagement and support of constituent groups
  • Importance of theme, including empirical support
  • Well-defined goals
  • Review of best practices related to the theme
  • An implementation framework including timelines, leadership, resources and assessment schedule
  • Comprehensive evaluation plan

Wuest and Schuler presented an estimated timeline, requested a Senate representative to serve on the Quality Enhancement Committee and urged faculty to watch progress at Faculty should offer suggestions to



Senate Replacement:  Senator Davidson, Music, will be unable to attend most of the Senate meetings during the Spring semester.  It was decided that a temporary replacement should be named.  Chair Stone will explore the possibility of a replacement.


Developmental Leaves for Chairs: Chairs want to be able to apply for Developmental Leaves.  The Provost has suggested that there might be a separate category for chairs, but he didn’t think it was reasonable for chairs to compete with faculty for developmental leaves.  Chairs would probably have to be on some kind of administrative leave.  There was some discussion as to what would happen to a chair’s administrative stipend should he/she be granted leave.  Does a chair on leave get the stipend or does a replacement chair get it when a chair goes on leave?  The discussion will continue.


Items for the CAD Agenda: Topics considered for the joint Senate/CAD meeting included:

  • Chair evaluations and communication with departmental personnel committees
  • Academic Governance Report items
  • Selection of Interim Chairs: should there be some minimal role of personnel committees in the selection process
  • Policy to distribute Budget Information


Info Items: 

  • Academic Advisors:  There will be at least twenty-five new academic advisors.  Of course, this will involve a desperate search for vacant office space.  Retired faculty may lose offices as a result.
  • New Vita Format:  Everyone has been asked to update his or her vita to reflect the new format.
  • Possible Changes in Tenure/Promotion:  There is discussion of some changes in the tenure/promotion process.  At the departmental level, there is consideration of a faculty member chairing the Personnel Committee; and at the college level, all chairs being replaced by faculty in the College Review Group.


Minutes:  Minutes for 02/06/07 were approved as amended.