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Faculty Senate Meeting Information

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Oct 14, 1998 Minutes


Senators Present: Bible, Conroy, Gillis, Gordon, Hays, Irwin, Pascoe, Renick,
Sawey, Skerpan-Wheeler, Stimmel, and Winek.

Senators Absent: Anderson and McGee

Liaisons Present: Linda Thomas (HIM)

Guests: John McGee (Ombudsman) and Margaret Vaverek (Lib)


Chair Bible called the meeting to order at 4:03 p.m.

FACULTY GRIEVANCE PROCESS:

The principal item on the agenda was a discussion of the current state of the
faculty grievance process. This was a follow-up to previous discussions of the
issue at the September PAAG meeting with President Supple and at the Senate/
Liaison meeting earlier this month.

Ombudsman McGee gave an overview of the university record on grievances since
he began his term as ombudsman. There have been seven grievance hearings; in
four, the committee ruled in favor of the administration (the president upheld
all four), and in the other three the committee ruled in favor of the faculty
grievant (the president overturned all three). In sum, in all seven instances
the faculty grievant lost. This record underscores the question of whether the
faculty grievance process is now essentially moribund.

There followed discussion of the mediation process, with some Senators
wondering if "mandatory mediation" should be required as a condition precedent
to the filing of a grievance. Ombudsman McGee pointed out that none of the
seven grievances had first gone through mediation and added that, while
mediation can be highly successful, nevertheless it depends on the willingness
of both parties to reach resolution; "mandatory mediation," therefore, is an
oxymoron. At the same time, the Ombudsman and the Senate were receptive to the
notion of offering mediation to the parties to a dispute with one of the
trained mediators on campus conducting the proceeding.

The Senate drafted the following resolution on mediation, to be voted on at the
next meeting:

University faculty grievance process policies should be amended to provide that
the Ombudsman will offer formal mediation to the parties to a dispute and that
a refusal by either party to mediate, or to mediate in good faith (as determined
by the mediator) if mediation is accepted, will become a matter of record to be
included in the file of the proceedings which is ultimately forwarded to the
president.

The Senate also drafted a second resolution, to be voted on at the next meeting:

The Faculty Senate views with alarm the uniformity with which the President has
ruled against faculty in grievance proceedings. Since the term of the current
Ombudsman began the Grievance Committee has ruled in favor of the administration
in four hearings, with all four rulings being upheld by the President; it has
also, however, ruled in favor of the faculty grievant in three instances, with
the President overturning all three rulings. The overriding concern is that
faculty rights are being eroded and faith in the grievance process is being
systematically undermined.

There was further discussion about one of the chief issues arising from one of
the two grievances of last spring that precipitated the current concern about
the viability of the grievance process: whether the merit review cycle should
be separate from the tenure and promotion cycle. As previous Senate minutes
note, the Grievance Committee found that the faculty grievant would have been
awarded more merit than she received but for the fact that she was promoted
that same year. The President, however, ruled that a chair may take a
promotion into account in determining how much merit a faculty member should
receive.

The upshot of this discussion was the drafting of the following resolution, to
be voted on at the next Senate meeting:

The Faculty Senate believes that merit and promotion decisions involving
individual faculty, although necessarily related in that they are based on
much of the same information, are ultimately separate and distinct, and that a
promotion is an impermissible basis on which to award a faculty member less
merit than he or she would otherwise have been awarded.

The Senate also discussed the role that deans should play in merit allocations
and concluded that there should be no change in current policy or practice.

FACULTY HANDBOOK -- DEFINITION OF FACULTY VOTER:

The Senate discussed a memo from Karen Brown, Chair of Social Work, to
University Attorney Fly, regarding the definition of "voting faculty" within a
department. The memo raised the question of whether a department could permit
certain people not within the definition of "Personnel Committee" to join that
committee in its deliberations on personnel issues. Attorney Fly concluded that
a chair should seek advice from all faculty who maybe affected by departmental
decisions, but that the field of eligible voters should be confined to those
faculty who are part of the Personnel Committee as defined in the Faculty
Handbook. Expressing appreciation to Chair Brown for referring this issue to
the Senate, the Senate endorsed Attorney Fly's conclusion and offered the
following resolution, to be voted on next week:

The Faculty Senate feels strongly that the applicable definitions of "voting
faculty" set forth in the Faculty Handbook and the Faculty Constitution must
control in all instances. Further, the Faculty Senate feels strongly that a
chair should seek advice from all faculty who maybe affected by departmental
decisions.

LIAISON MEETING FOLLOW-UP:

Librarian Liaison Vavarek reported that, although the new librarian career
ladder is in place, no one has received any money yet, apparently because the
relevant RBC's were not processed in a timely fashion. Raises will appear for
the first time in November paychecks, but will be retroactive to the beginning
of the year.

NEW BUSINESS:

Chair Bible announced the following items from CAD:

1. Dean Willoughby is assembling a task force to consider how much emphasis
should be placed on GRE scores in determining admission to the graduate school.

2. There has been extensive criticism of the proposed Academic Program Review
PPS, mainly that it requires too much constant review and provides no incentive
for innovation. It appears that the deans will take a fresh look at the draft
PPS at subsequent meetings.

Sen. Sawey presented a resolution that sexual orientation be added to the
Regents Rules on nondiscrimination.

Sen. Hays announced the upcoming meeting of the Texas Association of Faculty
Senates and called for suggestions in making her report. Among achievements
mentioned by Senators were revising procedures for developmental leave and the
research enhancement programs, implementing a career ladder for the librarians,
promoting chair and dean evaluations, and launching an ongoing effort to fine-
tune university merit pay and bonus policies. Foremost among our concerns is
the state of the grievance process.

Sen. Conroy inquired about what had happened to LET and requested a preliminary
report.

Sen. Stimmel reported increasing problems with advising, noting that the
Testing Center is becoming overburdened.

Sen. Conroy asked whether chairs of Senate committees should be invited to give
reports, starting with continuing chairs.

Sen. Renick reported that he had advised staff about the permanent life
insurance program option discussed at a previous Senate meeting.

The Senate discussed faculty appointments to the Honorary Degree Committee.
Ev Swinney and Beverly Chiodo were Senate choices.

The minutes of the Faculty Senate meeting of 10-7-98 were approved as amended:

Senate committee chairs should be invited along with liaisons to the President's
Senate/President end-of-semester social.

It was determined that the issue of the course fee audit be included as a PAAG
agenda item.

The Senate adjourned at 6:10 p.m.