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Sept 23, 2009 Minutes

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

Liaisons: Allen, Sigler, Keeley, Lane, Mooney, Lockhart, Taylor, Weill, Davis, Spencer, Norton, McWilliams, Hindson, Minifie, Winek, Montondon, Homeyer, Stephan, Trinidad.

Guests: Moore, Hohensee, Collins (University Star).

Meeting called to order at 4:00.

Liaisons Meeting:
1. Space Allocations: Provost Moore outlined for the senators and liaisons the current challenges the University faces in finding space – in particular offices for full-time faculty. He first noted that growth at the University is a positive situation, both because it shows the State Legislature we have needs for funds and new buildings, and because the University has a responsibility to meet the needs of the San Antonio-Austin corridor and the citizens of Texas. Growth has not, however, meant a lowering of academic standards.

For the Provost, the most pressing need is finding faculty office space, and he explained several plans for opening on-campus space to offices: Lampasas needs renovation, as do ASB and Old Main. The Academic Building should be completed in 2012, allowing several departments to move and opening their current locations: Derrick and Psychology. The Provost is also chairing "Partners for Progress," a group which is developing a research park in San Marcos. A research facility in the park will allow the University to shift research labs off- campus, freeing space on-campus.

The rodent infestation in Commons has made renovating that building much more urgent, but in the meantime office space there will be lost. Since Commons is a historical building, whatever renovations need to be done will be undertaken, but the Provost will monitor whether much of the funds for renovation comes from academic funding sources. Should this be the case, he will argue that Commons be converted into an academic building.

2. Major / Minor Grade Calculations: Using current computer systems, Texas State GPAs are calculated differently from Major / Minor GPAs: for the latter, courses taken at other institutions will replace lower grades for those same courses taken at Texas State. This can lead to students graduating with GPAs at Texas State below the minimum required for a particular major, since the off-campus courses raise their Major / Minor GPAs above the minimum. Both the Senate and the liaisons believe there should be a consistent policy for calculating GPAs, based upon in particular the need to maintain academic standards. The Senate encouraged liaisons to explore with their colleagues whether this is an issue they wish the Senate to pursue. Among the questions raised in the discussion was the need to examine the impact on financial aid if the University should change the current practice.

3. Honor Code: The Senate asked the liaisons to discuss with their colleagues the proposed changes to the Honor Code PPS, in particular whether the Honor Council should deliberate on academic penalties assigned by faculty in their courses.

4. Parking: Growth on campus has led to many parking problems in recent weeks. Encouraged by the Provost to offer solutions, the Senate asked the liaisons for their ideas. Among the suggestions offered were to make a certain number of red spaces reserved 24 hours a day, to investigate whether there is an adequate number of handicap spaces on campus, to keep red lots restricted later than 5:00 PM to reflect the increased number of late-afternoon and evening classes, to use parking gates more effectively, and to bar first-year students from parking cars on campus.

One additional concern was that Paring Services often tickets visitors to campus who do not have parking permits: for instance, parents who make repeated visits to campus to drop off their children for Music outreach programs. Could some plan be developed to allow such visitors to park without purchasing a parking permit?

5. Other liaison concerns:
a.  Is there faculty interest in instituting a plus / minus grading system at the University?
b.  Are there plans for an event to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of faculty governance at Texas State? The chair will explore creating such an event in the coming months.


Liaison Meeting Follow-up:
1.  Senators like the idea of creating 24-hour red reserved parking spaces, and will raise the issue with Parking Service. Data will need to be gathered to find out how many such spaces would be sufficient.
2.  The Senate will invite representatives from Advising and Financial Aid to discuss the potential impact of changes to the method for calculating GPAs. In addition, some Senators would like to discuss the fairness of including in GPAs those courses students have failed but eventually passed after a third or subsequent attempt.

Representation on Faculty Grievance Committee: The Chair gathered a list of nominees for the three Senate positions on the Committee, with the Senators also arguing that an alternate should be named. Among the qualities needed for the faculty chosen should be having institutional memory, being a full professor, being fully engaged in University affairs, being committed to the grievance process, and being outspoken and willing to challenge the positions of the administration when necessary.

Once the list of faculty willing to serve is compiled by the Chair, the Senate will vote; first, though, the Senate seeks to insure that those selected comprise broad College representation.

New Business:
1.  The following reports were distributed: Enrollment, University Contributions, and the Collegiate Learning Assessment.
2.  Dr. Bourgeois will visit on 10/14 to discuss current tenure and promotion policies and practices.
3.  The Senate voted to urge President Trauth to name April 2010 as "Cancer Awareness Month."
4.  Revisions to the PPS on faculty-led study abroad programs will be discussed at a future meeting.
5.  A faculty member urged the Senate to explore ways to investigate the cost-effectiveness of delivering courses to students, as well as the cost-effectiveness of faculty doing research.
6.  A faculty member asked the Senate to investigate whether an alternative to the University Club (housed in the now-closed Commons Building) is planned.

Minutes of 9/16/09 were approved.