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Feb 03, 2010 Minutes

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

Guests: Sigler, O'Connor (University Star), Nielsen, Huffaker, Skerpan-Wheeler, Peeler, Susan Beebe.

Meeting called to order at 4:00.

1. Mace Bearers from the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Education and Fine Arts & Communication are still needed for May Commencement ceremonies.

2. Senators Stone and Melzer will serve as Texas State representative at the February 26 meeting of the Texas Council of Faculty Senates.

3. Revisions to the Faculty Senate Committee Preference Survey form and online posting process have been made.

4. Dr. Joann Smith will visit the Senate on March 2 to discuss the Senate's parking proposal.

5. Senator Bond will serve as Secretary at the Senate's February 17 meeting.

6. A scheduled three-year review of the Developmental Leave process is approaching. The Chair requested two volunteers.

Instructional Technology Concerns: Milt Nielsen, accompanied by the new Director of Classroom Technology, Kevin Huffaker, visited with the Senate to discuss faculty concerns about TRACS and the outages affecting internet services over the recent winter break. Mr. Nielsen noted that the classroom technology available to Texas State faculty is far better than most universities in our area, and that the technology is running well and maintained effectively. In the near future, classroom projectors will be upgraded to HD quality.

Regarding the outages that occurred during the winter break, Mr. Nielsen explained that there were two unplanned outages and one planned outage. A number of additional problems arose during these events because faculty did not know to contact the Help Center. IT will work to improve communications with faculty and across the University.

TRACS: Over the past eighteen months, the TRACS system has slowed or shut down five times. IT is exploring the causes of these failures. One cause for the problems with TRACS over the winter break was that the server reached its database capacity and shut down. Before this took place, the plan was to update the system during summer 2010, but the shutdown led IT to update the system in December 2009. Mr. Nielsen believes that the system is now more reliable because it is housed on better servers, as well as mirrored in two locations. He further noted that IT staff understand that TRACS is the most important feature of Texas State's technology, and so work hard to maintain it effectively. The new version of TRACS (3.0) will be more intuitive than the current platform, and will offered embedded communications tools so that faculty need not search for commercial programs outside the university.

Other IT issues: The University is working on increasing the amount of email storage space available to faculty. In the meantime, should faculty require extra storage space, they should contact Mr. Nielsen. Also, the University is developing a centralized back-up system for data on desktop computers, although there is not yet a timeline for that system.

University Research Committee Recommendations: Dr. Skerpan-Wheeler, Chair of the URC, noted that she will need to call two more meetings of the Committee to resolve several issues that arose during the last review cycle. The major concern for the Committee was that certain reviewers at the college level did not follow their college's stated review criteria, nor did they offer helpful responses to those applicants not recommended for funding. The Senate charged the URC with the following:
1. Insure that college guidelines are posted online by May for the subsequent fall application and review cycle;
2. Explore how members are selected for the college review groups, and whether ineffective members can be removed;
3. Consider the appropriate length of tenure on college review groups;
4. Consider whether Clinical Faculty can participate in the REP process as co-PIs.
The Committee will report back on these issues at an upcoming Senate meeting.


Parking Proposal: The Chair accepted a number of revisions to the parking proposal the Senate will forward to Dr. Joann Smith in advance of her meeting with the Senate on March 2.

Charge for the Academic Governance Committee: The Senate will forward to Dr. Peeler, Chair of the Academic Governance Committee, its charge that the Committee develop a precise definition of 1) voting faculty in an academic department and 2) faculty eligible to serve on Personnel Committees. The Senate hopes the Committee can develop definitions that do not require changes to the Constitution.

Revisions to PPS 7.14: Revisions to PPS 7.14 offered by Senator Conroy, focusing on the administration's responsibility to provide adequate funding for tenure-track lines so that departments would not need to rely heavily on per course and non-continuing faculty, were approved by the Senate.

A faculty member is concerned with the changes in the PPS relating to the definition of per course faculty. The current version allows per course faculty to teach up to three courses a semester. This change reduces the faculty member's benefits, since previously someone who taught two or more courses would receive retirement and insurance coverage. The Chair will discuss this change with Dr. Bourgeois, as well as the need for revisions to the PPS to more fully define the Senior Lecturer position.

New Business:
The Chair distributed data on the one-time research funding awards. $1.2 million was allocated from requests totaling $4.7 million. The award letter sent to awardees outlined the University's expectations for reporting on the use of the funds and on seeking other funds to leverage the award. Senators wondered about awards made to faculty not listed on the table of submitted proposals; the Chair will investigate how those awards were made.

2. A Senator noted that bus routes, especially those departing at 7:45 in the evening, do not reflect the recent changes to class time and pass times. Reconsidering the bus schedule might assist with parking issues and also allow more faculty to use the buses.

3. The chair explained that current hiring searches should continue, but that no new searches will be approved in the fall due to the budget crisis and related hiring freeze.

4. A Senator wondered whether PPS 6.11, governing the Presidential Awards for Excellence, allows lecturers to be nominated, since it mentions only Senior Lecturers as eligible along with the other traditional academic ranks. Are Clinical Faculty eligible?

5. Faculty are still concerned about limited parking for University-sponsored events in the evenings.

Minutes for 1/27 approved.