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April 15, 2009 Minutes

Minutes for 04/15/09

Members present: Senators Feakes, Bond, Caldwell, Conroy, Furney, C. Hazlewood, D. Hazlewood, Melzer, Minifie, Shah, Stone, Warms, Wilson
Guests: President Denise Trauth; Provost Perry Moore; Assoc. Provost Gene Bourgeois; Dr. Pat Cassidy, Chem/Bio Chem; Rebecca Swindal, Staff Council Representative; Kosaku Narioka, Univ. Star
Meeting called to order at 4:00
PAAG:President Trauth responded to the following items:
Phased Retirement: Many policy and procedure statements have been under review this past year, including thepolicy regarding phased retirement, UPPS 04.04.51. The Faculty Senate has made aproposal to modify paragraph 04.04 to include the potential of a one to five year contract, as opposed to a one to three year contract. Although this modification has not been accepted, the Faculty Senate believes strongly that this option should be made available. With the current financial status, a five-year option would be more appealing to faculty considering the phased retirement option. The Faculty Senate would appreciate hearing the President’s comments on this proposed modification. President Trauth indicated the issue was a complex one. The most expensive University items are faculty salaries and the University’s funding will probably be flat for the next couple of years. With every phased retirement, there is a request from Chairs for a new faculty line and the commitment of five years as opposed to three creates too many unknowns at this time. The use of more part-time faculty and adjuncts will also make the FTE ratio go up. Actually, a number of phased retirements have been extended beyond three years, but in uncertain times, it is better to consider extensions at the end of the three-year period rather than at the beginning of the period.
Nepotism: The Faculty Senate continues to be concerned about nepotism on campus. Although theadministration has made attempts to alleviate the direct reporting between couples,conflicts of interest appear to remain and the Senate continues to receive concerns from thefaculty. Given the seriousness of some of the concerns, the Faculty Senate wouldappreciate hearing the President’s opinion on this matter. President Trauth indicated that by hiring couples, the University has the opportunity to get two exceptional new faculty members when it might get neither if there were only one position available. Of course, the perception of personal preference should always be avoided and there should be a clear policy with transparency of evaluation. She invited the Senate to share specific instances of conflict with the Provost to try to alleviate any misconceptions, and asked for suggestions to develop evaluation procedures that will work better in the future.
Development Leave Recommendation: The Faculty Senate has been working on potential revisions to the current development leave process. One recommendation for the process is to have the President’s Office sponsor a development leave symposium at the end of each cycle, during which approximately 3 faculty members can present their results to the University community. The Faculty Senate would appreciate any comments that the President has on this proposal. President Trauth indicated that leaves are extremely important and can jumpstart research programs in new directions. A true evaluation process and recognition of accomplishments are worthwhile goals. We should do everything possible to increase the number of leave applicants and recipients. Last year, there were only twenty-seven applicants. The University could easily support more leaves. Faculty with an interesting project should certainly consider applying for development leave.
Legislative Update: The Faculty Senate would appreciate an update on the legislative session. President Trauth indicated that during the Legislative Session, it was “never over till it is over.” There are still six weeks to go. She mentioned four points:
  1. The State Senate has proposed a budget that includes no tuition revenue bonds. Without the bonds, the Performing Arts Center and the Professional Building in Round Rock are in jeopardy. There is the potential of receiving stimulus dollars, but that too is a long shot.
  2. Formula funds look good for the coming biennium. The current formula in the Senate is favorable for Texas State.
  3. Deregulated tuition may come to an end. Two bills that have come forward that would have the least negative impact, proposing a mixture of public revenue with private tuition, i.e., if tuition is restricted, additional state funding will be provided. Of course, here again nothing is certain.
  4. With regard to pay raises, the University is proceeding under the assumption that an average 3% merit raise can be provided, but here also, the raises may not materialize.
Another issue that was discussed was the pending concealed handgun legislation. It is gaining momentum and may happen. Neither the University nor any of its agencies, including the Faculty Senate, can support nor oppose any legislation, but individuals should certainly express their opinions to their individual legislators.
Texas State Vita: When asked about the degree of conformity to the PPS to the University’s CV format, the Provost indicated that what is required is that the information be listed on the temple be included and entered in the order listed on template A or B and that the headings for which a faculty member does not have entries should be deleted.
PAAG Follow-up:Senator Minifie will work on suggested specifics for improving the University’s nepotism policy. It was also noted that the University’s Retired Faculty Association is continuing to pursue a resolution on the issue of phased retirement at Texas State.
Grievance Policy:There were some final adjustments to the suggested changes for the faculty grievance process. The Senate approved the recommendations and they will be sent to University Attorney Fly.
Faculty Development Leaves:Revision of the development leave process continued and some consensus was achieved regarding specific concerns expressed by Senators. The following items were agreed upon:
  1. Faculty submitting proposals should be encouraged to route their proposals through a Faculty Senator from their college. During the process, the Senator is encouraged to provide input and recommendations to strengthen the proposal.
  2. The entire Faculty Senate should be involved in the review process for each proposal.
  3. The presentations to the Faculty Senate should continue and the process should be optimized to enhance the efficiency and atmosphere of the process.
  4. The faculty who receive development leaves should be recognized in a substantial way. The faculty could be recognized through marketing (for example, Hill Views) and there could be a post-award symposium, sponsored by the President’s Office, to acknowledge the accomplishments of the faculty members.
  5. A subcommittee, representing the broad viewpoints of the Senators, should be created to develop the specific process.
  6. In its report to faculty applicants, the Senate rankings of the applications will not be included.
Piper Professor Policy:Recommended changes to PPS 6.04, Piper Professor Award Recognition, are essentially done and will be considered next week.
New Business: For consideration next week: Piper Professor. Also, the Senate will consider distribution of the Faculty Perception Survey of Chairs and Academic Administrators.
Minutes: Minutes for 04/08/09 were approved as amended.