Faculty Senate Meeting
October 24, 2003
2-4 p.m.
UC Tejas 106-A

Present: Bala, Brendel, Canales, Cook, de Magalhaes, Friday, Harper, Kownslar, Melrose, Meyer, Morvant, Purdy, Sanders, Shepperd, Sutton, Winston, Zebda

Absent: Garcia, Ivy, Wooster

Guests: Debra Cortinas, Ed Gorecki, Sarah Heath, Sam Ramirez, Linda Sousse

Meeting began at 2 p.m.

I. Approval of Agenda: Crowley had one objection, stating that the presentation in IV. A.2. should have been made to Awards/Bylaws/Elections Committee first. He made a motion to eliminate IV.A.2 from the agenda, but the motion died on the floor. The Senate voted 11 for approving the agenda, 1 against, and 0 abstentions.

II. Approval of Minutes from September 19, 2003, Meeting: Canales recommended adding a verb to the last line of the first paragraph of II.C.A. The sentence will now read: "Crowley responded that while the report itself would last five minutes, any discussions could last longer if necessary." Minutes were approved unanimously with that revision.

III. Announcements

Brendel said that the Senate had several guest speakers for the meeting, who would appear in part IV of the meeting. No other announcements were made.

IV. A. Guests

IV. A. 1: Student Government Association: Ed Gorecki, president of SGA, spoke to the Senate about SGA activities and issues for this academic year. He said that the issues that SGA would be exploring this year included:

· The academic calendar;
· Evaluation of the Core Curriculum Program (including the use of seminars in the triads and tetrads). He added that there had been positive feedback from students about discovering strengths;
· Concerns from students who do not think they are prepared for the sophomore-level Biology classes; and
· Campus food services: options and costs.

He added that the biggest priority for SGA this year would be involvement in the "Rock the Vote" campaign, which is a nationwide effort to get students on campuses to register to vote.

Linda Sousse, Vice President of SGA, presented the document "Student Body Morale and Principle Elements" and asked if the Faculty Senate would endorse this document. Canales suggested that SGA limit the number of words in lines 25-26 of the document. Brendel said that, for Senate consideration, she would need to send the document to him; Brendel, in turn, would send the document to a committee for consideration before it came to the full Senate. Sousse said that she would send him the document.

IV. A. 2: Same-Sex Benefits at TAMU-CC: Debra Cortinas, director of Human Resources, spoke to the Senate about this topic. She said that the A&M System does not offer benefits to same-sex partners. Only a change in state law could allow the A&M System to offer these types of benefits. She said there were two parts of the code that addressed this issue: The Family Code and the Insurance Code. Cortinas added that partners in common law marriages (specifically involving a man and a woman) are eligible for benefits.

Cortinas said that, concerning insurance benefits, the A&M and UT systems are not in the same groups as other universities, and the A&M System is looking at the pros and cons of joining the statewide system. Under current law, it will not make a difference which group A&M joins.

When the Legislature meets, the A&M System usually looks at what they want to change.

Cortinas said that the employees at TAMU-CC had several options if they wanted to include same-sex partners in the benefits: (1) Work within the A&M System or (2) Work independently to change state law, although they should be careful about the system rules on political activism. She added that the system employees could attend (or view by TTVN) the system benefits committee meetings in College Station. The next scheduled meetings will take place on February 17 and April 20.

Sam Ramirez, the director of the University's EEO Office, added that even if federal law changes about benefits for same-sex partners, the states will probably drag their feet or even challenge the new law in court.

IV. B. Status of Proposal to Change Workload Policy: Brendel reported that he and Ivy met with Harper and Harvey Knull on this issue. A new version was distributed and discussed at this meeting and will be distributed to faculty.

IV. C. Status of Chair's Policy: Brendel also met with Harper and a small committee on this policy, and he reported that a new revision will be sent to several groups, including faculty and chairs.

IV. D. Tuition Policy Study: Brendel has been meeting with a committee chaired by Manuel Lujan and the committee has made some recommendations to the President's Cabinet.

IV. E. Status of New Faculty Orientation: Brendel said that both sessions went well and thanked everyone who participated. The next orientation would take place on November 7. He also said that the group would have a final meeting at the end of the academic year.

IV. F. Recap of Academic Council Quarterly Meeting: Brendel directed everyone's attention to the documents in the meeting packet.

IV. G. Bank Committee: Brendel said that the lease for the bank in the University Center was ending soon, and an RFP is going out. If anyone is interested in serving, please let him know soon.

V. Tabled Items: Affirmation for Administrative Staff: Brendel said that the Executive Committee decided not to move forward with this item because they felt that the timing had already passed.

VI. Academic Affairs (Bala)

A. 1. Update on Initiative I: Bala discussed departmental expectations of promotion and tenure and asked Harper for comments. Harper said that University standards had not changed but that they were open to interpretation. The question centers around where people would find explicit guidelines. She referred the Senators to page 12, Section B, of the meeting packet (Retaining Faculty). Harper said that two colleges had explicit standards: College of Business and the College of Education (for graduate faculty).

Harper said that the expectations did not seem to be common knowledge among the disciplines. For example, what does it mean to be engaged in scholarly activity? She added that each faculty member is held to minimum teaching, service, and scholarly expectations, and they need to be articulated.

A. 2.: Revision of Rule 15.01.01.C1 (Externally Funded Grants and Contracts): Approved unanimously.

A. 3.: Rule 33.01.01.C1 (Political Campaign Events on Property under control of Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi): There was discussion about part 3 (Discrimination Based on Political Viewpoint). Crowley asked Harper if groups with inflammatory views would be allowed to speak. Harper said that, according to the rules, they would be allowed to speak.

Friday requested an editorial clarification of part 6 (page 28 of the meeting packet) to indicate that the prohibition refers to a flyer that is placed on a windshield by another person, rather than the owner of the automobile. Harper agreed to follow up on clarifying that part.

The vote to approve the rule was 12 for, 1 against, and 0 abstentions.

VI. B. Faculty Affairs: Meyer reported that the committee was going to do a survey of perceptions of merit pay raises on campus. She passed around a draft of the survey and asked for input. She said that other possible issues for the committee included safety issues (students' bringing firearms to class); the voting rights of adjuncts. On the firearms rule, Harper said that the draft was still in Ray Hayes' office.

VI. C. Awards/Bylaws/Election (Melrose): Melrose said that the committee would continuing working on the initiative about investigating recognition and benefits for same-sex partners, and he hoped that the committee could come up with a motion for the Senate. Brendel said that Ivy was attending the Council of Faculty Senates in Austin, and she would bring up this issue with the other people at this meeting.

Melrose reported that the final nominations for the Piper Award would be sent on Monday, October 27.

VI. D. Budget and Analysis Committee (Zebda): Zebda reported that the committee has met twice. They have requested information on salaries and summer school but will have to wait on doing an analysis until they have received the information. Harper said that she would check on getting a copy of the University budget sent to the Senate office.

Concerning salary adjustments, Zebda said that the purpose was to get the University closer to the "Aspiration" schools; getting the salaries up to the national level would require more money.

Friday added that he had begun surveying schools on summer school salaries.

VI. E. Committee on Committees: Morvant reported that he had completed the appeal pool from all colleges, adding that the committee would meet at the end of next week to examine the turnover process of faculty within the appeals pool. The committee will also begin the feasibility study of 9/9 or 9/12 teaching load at that same meeting.

  1. Provost Report
  2. Harper reported that the University was one of 20 finalists for the STAR Award. This year, "Pathway to Science" has been nominated.
  3. Department Chairs/Evaluation Issues: Harper has received suggestions for leadership series for people new to administrative roles (chairs, directors, etc.). She will be setting up a series of workshops on budgeting, personnel issues, legal issues and strategic planning. The workshops will be open to anyone on Academic Council.
  4. Harper is involved with the evaluations of the Core Curriculum, as well as the NCAA subcommittees.
  5. The American Democracy working group is continuing their work.
  6. Harper reviewed the Academic Council documents, which were attached to the Senate meeting packet.

When Harper asked if there were questions for her, Zebda asked her about the workload policy decisions. He said that the original proposal was rejected by the Graduate Council and the Senate last year and asked why the policy was still being implemented. Harper explained her reasons for making the final decision, which were based on fiscal responsibility.

Zebda replied that there were still the issues of the morale of faculty chairing those committees, as well as motivations for serving on those committees in the future. He also said that there might have been too much emphasis on quantifiable data and not enough consideration of qualitative information. Morvant added that there were issues of quality and restricted enrollment; the college of Science and Technology will have more restricted enrollments in their doctoral programs than the College of Education. Harper replied that she understood these concerns but that she still had to make the final decision.

The Senate voted to extend the meeting time 15 minutes at 4 p.m. and at 4:15 p.m. The Senate approved a motion to adjourn the meeting at 4:30 p.m.

Meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Edward Kownslar
Faculty Senate Secretary/Treasurer