Faculty Senate Minutes
March 23, 2007

Present: Bantell, Bickley, Buck, Causgrove, Cook, Elwood, Fugate, Hartlaub, Johnson, King, Lucero, Orser, Pierson, Pohan, Reuter, Talley, Thomas, Waheeduzzaman, Wingfield, Winston, Yellen.

Absent: Lewis, Murray, Oliver.

Guests: Mike Sherger, Carlos Huerta.

The meeting was called to order at 2:02 p.m

I. Approval of 2/16/07 minutes – A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes of the February 16, 2007 meeting. The minutes were approved.

II. Guest Speaker – Carlos Huerta, Core Curriculum – Dr. Huerta presented a summary of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) rules for the core curriculum. On page 12 of the summary, is Chart I, listing the areas for the 36 hours which must make up the first part of the core. The minimum number of hours to make up each university’s core is 42, and the maximum is 46/48. On page 14, is Chart II, from which we must choose at least 6 hours to complete the core. Our Core Curriculum for 2007 is listed on page 20. It includes College Algebra, and includes 9 hours from Chart II, which are Speech, Economics and Ethics, to equal a 45 hour Core.

One issue Dr. Huerta noted that is problematic for our Core is that we offer 4 hour courses to satisfy a 3 hour requirement. The First Year Seminar is not in the Core, but it is a University requirement for first year students. It can be waived for transfer students.

According to Dr. Huerta, Speech and Economics can be negotiated. 1998-99 was the last time the University held discussions about changing the core. Senators discussed meeting the 120 hour requirement, and licensing or certificate requirements and completing all core and University requirements.

III. Texas Council of Faculty Senates – Waheeduzzaman – delayed until Waheed’s later arrival.

IV. Speaker’s Comments – Cook attended Provost’s Council in Hartlaub’s absence. She reported Dr. Orser is serving as Interim Provost until Dr. Kirby assumes that position. Most of the issues were budgetary concerns. Cook reported that faculty concerns included: 1. the change of mission from research to teaching, and how that would affect faculty; 2. the calendar; 3. Distrust of the administration, as Dr. Wheeless' resignation was the outcome of an unpopular administration. Cook was asked what the concerns from colleges were. The concerns included financial restrictions, programs were cut and positions not filled.

Hartlaub met with President Killebrew on March 7, the Wednesday before Spring Break. This was Hartlaub’s first communication with the President. He was asked about Dr. Wheeless, and Hartlaub commented positively that she listened to faculty, and listened to the Speaker. There is concern from faculty that the real story regarding Dr. Wheeless is not forthcoming.

Talley of the Calendar Committee provided an update. We will continue with the Fall calendar, and look again at the Spring calendar. The plan is to have the Faculty meeting on the Monday of the week the Fall Semester begins.

V. Committee Reports/Action Items
1. Faculty Affairs Committee –
Yellen presented two policies as action items: Policy 12.01.99.C1.03 – Responsibilities of Full-Time Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Members, and 12.01.00.C1.01 – Academic Rank Descriptors for Tenure-Track Faculty. The Committee recommends approval, and Yellen moved to approve. The motion was seconded and both policies were approved.

Timeline for Evaluation of Chairs and Deans – the Faculty Affairs Committee recommends no change to this policy. The Provost had wanted to evaluate Deans every other year, but the Senate would prefer to evaluate Department Chairs every year also.

Background checks – Lucero asked the question the Committee had about background checks: What is the driving concern behind this issue, is it a requirement or law? Hartlaub added that more and more schools are doing background checks on new faculty. It is important to do if anyone will be working with minors. Because we will be having minors on campus with the High School program, we may need to comply. Orser will learn more about background checks already required for summer camp personnel, and other activities. Lucero also listed information the Committee and the Senate needs before a decision can be made. Some of the questions are: what information will be gathered, how will it be used, who will have access to the information, will there be allowance for due process (for example, to correct errors), is there a statute of limitations. Orser said this is on the agenda for the President’s Cabinet, he will get more information at that time.

Hartlaub added that he received a new tenure document from the Provost’s Office. There was not time to send it through the Committee, so he will forward to Senate as a whole to consider at the next meeting.

2. Awards, By-laws and Elections Committee –
Bickley presented a proposed By-laws change which cleaned up the language in Chapter II. Officers of the Senate, and Chapter III. Committees of the Senate, Executive Committee. The changes allowed for a larger pool of candidates for Speaker, and described the make-up of the Executive Committee. She moved to approve the change in by-laws, which much be approved by a 2/3 majority of Senators present. The motion was seconded and the change was approved unanimously.

Bickley reported that the election process is underway for the Senate, and encouraged everyone to vote for the nominees from their Colleges. She also noted that the deadline for the CASE Award is March 30. This award will not need to be submitted to the College Awards Committee. The deadline for the Regents’ Award is April 27, with each College Award Committee setting its own deadline.

Hartlaub added that he is running for Senate again, and he will run for Speaker of the Senate.
Cook will not run for Deputy Speaker, Bickley will not run for Secretary. He encouraged Senators who are continuing in their positions to consider running for office.

3. Committee on Committees –
Thomas explained that the faculty survey for committee assignment went out and some were returned. The Committee is still looking for volunteers for certain particular assignments. An election for the Faculty representative on the Calendar committee will be held at the next Senate meeting.

4. Academic Affairs –
Causgrove provided a handout consisting of the summary of changes to the undergraduate and graduate catalogs. The committee recommended approving the undergraduate catalog copy for the College of Liberal Arts. Causgrove moved to approve, the motion was seconded and approved by the Senate. Causgrove then provided information regarding 2 new minors for Mechanical Engineering Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology. These are currently majors in the College of Science and Technology, and they do not need to add any courses; they are just providing for a minor. It was moved and seconded to approve the minors, and the motion was passed. Causgrove then moved to approve the undergraduate catalog copy for the College of Science and Technology. It was seconded, and the motion approved by the Senate. Causgrove then moved to approve the graduate catalog copy. The motion was seconded. This catalog copy has been approved by the Graduate Council. The motion passed. All catalog copy was approved. Causgrove wanted to single out Kathy Winston for special recognition, as she did a great job with the catalog process. Winston thanked the Committee, as they made the catalog better. Hartlaub thanked the Committee for working on this arduous task.

5. Budget Committee - tabled until Waheed arrives.

VI. Other Issues
1. Barnes & Noble books to library – Buck reported that Ed Gorecki, the President of the Association of Graduate Students, had a proposal to assist students in getting access to textbooks. His proposal consists of the following: Encourage faculty to donate desk copies of textbooks to the Library to put on Reserve. If there are not enough desk copies, then students may donate their textbooks to the library after they have completed their class – students may be able to get a tax deduction for the donation. A third option would be to have the Library purchase textbooks to place on Reserve if a student requests it. Buck suggested that the Senate create an ad hoc committee to explore other possibilities.

Bickley noted that it is against the Library’s Collection Development Policy to accept textbooks into the collection. We recommend that faculty put any extra textbooks on reserve. She suggested that the University find donors or add to scholarships to assist students with purchasing textbooks.

Hartlaub asked Waheed to review the Texas Council of Faculty Senates meeting on Feb. 16-17, 2007. He noted a few items from his report. Donna Howard, a Texas State Representative, noted that 30% of faculty will retire by 2015. Texas will need to add 5,000 faculty to teach 600,000 students. Most attendees appreciated hearing about the growth of TAMUCC, and talked about the proposed expansion with the Oso Golf Course. David Young, the Governor’s Advisor for High Education explained that funding and evaluation criteria for colleges and universities might rest on the performance of graduates on the Major Field Test. The College of Business currently uses this instrument, but it may not be feasible for every subject. He also attended a session on SACS Accreditation. Waheed noted one item he learned form the meeting: Texas faculty salaries are 15% below the comparable national average.

Hartlaub noted that he would like to continue to send representatives to this meeting. He felt it was a valuable group and Senate will fund one or two representatives to attend two meetings per year.

Bantell discussed the summary of the merit questionnaire that Senators received at the last meeting. Merit money flows from the Provost to the Deans. The budget people generally figure 3% of a unit’s salary cost and that becomes the pool. This year it will be $1.1 million for the University.

Hartlaub asked what Senate proposes to do with the information from the Merit Survey. Senators talked about equity and transparency. All colleges do not apply merit equally or consistently within colleges. Thomas reminded Senators about the Cost of Living Adjustment. If everyone got COLA, then merit would go to truly deserving faculty. Hartlaub noted that since there is not COLA, merit effectively becomes COLA. It was asked if there could be a separate budget for COLA and for merit.

Orser noted that a 3% salary pool necessitates a $5.00/credit hour increase in tuition, or $1 million. We generate 200,000 credit hours per year. Orser explained some of the budget discussion that the administration is now working on. They would like $500,000 to address equity issues, $800,000 to go to scholarships, $300,000 to pay increased utility costs, $500,000 for new faculty and staff positions. The total comes to $3.77 million increase in our operating budget, which translates to a $17/credit hour increase in tuition. They probably won’t ask for that much, as it is clear that students are already reaching a limit in the amount of tuition they can afford. Orser also noted of the incoming freshman class, 1/3 of the first year students does not return the next year. After another year, ½ of the students leave. Recruiting and retaining students is important to the University’s bottom line. Hartlaub remarked that everyone would look at merit differently if everyone got a cost of living adjustment.

After some discussion, Orser offered a suggestion that we come up with best practices of how merit pay is awarded among our peer institutions, asking how satisfied faculty are with the process. Hartlaub requested that Senators send suggestions on how to address this issue to Waheed.

Hartlaub is gathering information on the renovations to Corpus Christi Hall. Faculty were unhappy with hearing about the renovations in the newspaper. They were also unhappy with the cost of the renovations. Killebrew, in his meeting with Hartlaub, said he had nothing to hide, and explained the extent of the renovations, which included replacing and upgrading the air conditioning. Hartlaub met with Lovitt to learn the details. New rooms are similar to Bay Hall, but not as nice. He is still collecting information and will present something next time. He did caution Senators that some rumors about CCH were not true.

Buck moved to extend the meeting.

Reuter noted that when he purchases things for his department, he uses a reasonable approach. He also pointed out that the University is not “corporate America”, and our President may not be able to have an office comparable to CEOs in large corporations. Other points were made regarding communication, budget transparency and finding out after the fact. New classroom chairs in CCH are being assembled, faculty did not know about them, and now it looks as if they were being tossed a bone.

In his meeting with the President, Hartlaub mentioned that faculty would like more communication with the President. Killebrew was surprised, as he didn’t think Furgason communicated with the faculty much. It is a new administration, and communication and trust must be established. Killebrew did say faculty had a “can do” attitude. After more discussion, the consensus was that Senate will wait to hear more from Hartlaub as he obtains more information.

VII. Provost Comments
Orser spoke regarding what he can do to assist Interim Provost Kirby to get started. He asked Senators for the top issues and frustrations. Responses included visiting/adjuncts, SACS, line budget items, and the Fall Schedule. Orser asked that we send our comments to Hartlaub or Silliman at the Faculty Senate address, and they will be forwarded to him.

VIII. Adjournment
The meeting was adjourned at 4:24 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Sally Bickley, Secretary