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March 2, 2011 Minutes

Members present:  Senators Hazlewood, Wilson, Feakes, Martin, Stone, Huling, Payne, Morey, Brown, Conroy, Warms

Guests: Sigler, Gross (Star), Moore, Bourgeois, Sanders

Meeting called to order at 4:00.


  1. Attendees at the recent CAD meeting discussed the Internationalization Report authored by the President’s Task Force on Internationalizing Texas State.  The Senate will consider the report at an upcoming meeting.

PAAG Meeting:

  1. Student Perception of Instruction (SPI): The Senate is concerned about reports that some departments have been encouraged to explore the possibility of offering the SPI online, even though the HB 2504 Committee charged with developing the SPI has consistently argued that the surveys should not be offered online, worried that such a format will lower the response rate as well as skew the results.  The Provost explained that he was unaware of the plans to move the SPI online; he recently spoke with Dr. Thorne about the pilot program.  The Provost noted that he would accept the committee’s suggestions: if the committee does not want to see the SPI moved online, he will agree.  Even so, he discussed the complications of giving two evaluations in one class session, and also explained that the paper version of the SPI has created a lot of new work for the Testing Center.  He is also curious about analyzing the results of running a few departments’ SPI online.  Whatever the decision, he stated that departmental evaluations are most important for helping faculty improve their teaching.
  2. 120-Hour Degree Plans: The Chair recounted that some departments have been told they must reduce the number of required hours in their degree plans to meet the State’s 120-hour rule, and must do so within a few weeks.  Reiterating what he said at recent Senate and CAD meetings, the Provost explained that some degree plans are at the top of lists detailing hour requirements for major degree plans in Texas, and such departments should review their plans to see if there are ways to reduce hour requirements.  He encouraged departments to model degree plan reporting on the methods used at other Texas institutions.  His main concern is that Texas State not have degree plans that are the highest in the State regarding hour requirements.  He would like to see departments investigate their degree plans and over the next year to come up with suggestions for possible reductions in required hours.
  3. Graduate Commencement Ceremony: A number of Senators have expressed interest in Texas State creating a separate commencement ceremony for graduate students, at which each student could be hooded and recognized individually.  The Provost stressed that the President believes it is important for undergraduates and their families to see Texas State awarding graduate degrees, both as a sign of the University’s prestige and as an example to inspire undergraduates.  Moreover, the Provost explained, it is impossible to anticipate the length of graduate commencement ceremonies since the number of graduates can vary widely across the various academic sessions, from many in the spring to only a handful in the summer.  He encourages all colleges to consider offering their own hooding ceremonies, perhaps on the same day as their respective commencement ceremonies.  He will also explore ways to highlight the graduate students at commencement ceremonies.
  4. Lyndon’s U-Club: Updating an issue raised at a previous meeting, the Provost reported that it is now possible for departments to reserve tables at the U-Club, facilitating meetings with job candidates.


PAAG Follow-Up: 

  1. SPI: The Chair reported that the HB 2504 Committee met recently, reasserting their rejection of using an online system for conducting the SPI.  The Committee also made plans for developing a PPS covering administration of the SPI.  The Senate will ask the Provost to terminate the planned test of an online SPI system; a similar memo will be sent to the President.
  2. 120-hour rule: A Senator wondered why we can’t be advocates for open reporting of degree requirements, rather than making it difficult for students to ascertain the true number of hours they will need for a particular degree plan.  There are methods of suggesting that degree plans meet the 120-hour rule, but in cases such as degrees requiring teacher certification, institutions may be hiding essential elements of the degrees purely to appear in compliance.

PPS 7.05, Faculty Workload: A task force is revising the faculty workload policy, with a new draft currently being distributed to a number of groups on campus for review.  On April 1, a revised draft of the PPS will be submitted for the formal review process.  The Chair asked Senators to send her feedback on the latest revisions.  The Senate and Dr. Bourgeois explored a number of possible revisions to the draft, including paragraphs on reimbursement for accrued workload credits, credit for teaching graduate classes, and the definition of “large class.”

Dr. Bourgeois noted that some departments will have to create or revise their workload policies once this revised PPS is approved.  Among the changes he cited was that there are now only 13 codes for assigning workload credit, an important streamlining of the previous policy.

Minutes of 2/23/11 were approved.