February 27, 2002
Senators Present: Renick, Boone, Stutzman, Margerison, McKinney, Hindson, Stimmel, Blanda, Blevens, Hays, Stone, Peeler, Sawey
Senators Absent: Gillis
Guests: David Doerr, Gordon Thyberg, Bob Northcutt
Meeting was called to order by chair Renick at 4:02 pm. Chair Renick mentioned that Dr. Wyatt, VPIT, will meet with the Senate on March 6th at 5 pm. Dr. Easter will also attend with the Academic Computing Committee recommendations. Chair Renick and Senator Blevens will be attending the Council of Texas Faculty Senates March 1-2, 2002. They intend to recommend that all the TSUS institutions evaluate their system using the AAUP governance model as a base line for finding strengths and weaknesses that can then be addressed by all the Senates in the system. They will also ask for reactions to the proposed name change. If you listen closely you will hear something akin to atomic blasts as this topic is discussed with certain of our sister institutions. CONTROVERSIAL!
Old Business (a whole bunch!)
Chair Renick presented to the Senate a document outlining the projected expenses for the Faculty-Staff Wellness Program. This budget incorporated the noon hour program as well as the evening program, which runs from 5-9 pm. Blanda moved and Stimmel seconded a motion not to act on this budget report because it did not, in fact, respond to the Senateís request. The Senate would like to know how much the noon wellness program costs by itself. It was surmised by several of our professional surmisers that this was the time that faculty and staff would be most likely to use the facilities. One Senator commented that the budget hired supervisors and then a supervisor to supervise the supervisors which seemed, perhaps, excessive. The motion not to act on the Wellness Budget Proposal was unanimous.
Chair Renick the passed out a document concerning the Lavalli hearing noting that the Senate cannot take a position on this since the hearing is progressing through the grievance mechanisms currently in place, including the newly state mandated hearing officers whom the university president is obliged to appoint. The Senate does wish to be alert to how the process, as it has begun to take shape, develops and how we might assure fairness.
Chair Renick was asked by a non-faculty person to introduce to the Senate the idea of enlarging the Senate by one additional Senator per College. That would mean seven more senators. In a somewhat languid discussion it was pointed out that the number of senators per College was based on the number of faculty in each College and to arbitrarily add another senator from each College would actually skew the representation rather than making it fairer. We will continue to entertain this possibility while rereading the representation clause in the constitution and by-laws.
The results of the faculty perception survey evaluating President Supple and VPAA Gratz is complete and a summary of the data and the comments made on the various instruments is now available on the Faculty Senate Web Site. The information was released to the two gentlemen in question on February 25, 2002, and the Senate agreed that the information would go public, including press releases, on February 28, 2002. The Senate thanked Drs. Stutzman, Sawey, and Stone and administrative assistant Aguirre for their diligence in seeing this process through.
Senator McKinney reported that her evaluation of the headway made on the various Senate objectives for this year continues to be a ìwork in progressî. Several have been completed, others are moving along with alacrity while one or two seem to be stalled. Stay tuned for the names of the fleet of foot as well as those of the sluggards.
A question posed by the Senate about insurance coverage for work-study students was answered in a memo from Ruth Ross to Michelle Massey as follows:
ìAll student workers (wage and work study) are covered by Workersí Compensation insurance if they are injured in the course and scope of their job.
The only students not covered by Workersí Compensation would be an internship position where the student does not receive wages from the university.î The Senate appreciated this clear and concise response! Rare in the heady atmosphere of academia.
Senator Blanda reported on the activities of the Academic Honesty Committee that was appointed to implement the recommendations of the Academic Honesty Task Force. Are you with me so far? The Task Force recommended that the university institute a ìModified Honor Codeî. The Academic Honesty Committee, which we thought was to put feet on this recommendation, seems to have stalled out with merely reinforcing that recommendation. Senator Blevens mentioned that steps taken to incorporate a modified honor code in the Mass Communications Department have been extremely successful. The Senate hopes that the committee will work diligently to find a way to implement this recommendation by Fall 2002. Questions might be directed to Senators Blanda, Blevens, and Gillis. I promise that none of these minutes have been plagiarized or obtained by other nefarious means.
The recently appointed Post Tenure Review committee was given the charge by Dr. Gratz to evaluate and ìtweakî the current PPS concerning the PTR process. The committee feels strongly that the document needs to be completely rewritten to include policy for documentation, requirements for departmental involvement, and a specific time line. The Senate expressed a passionate interest in the formation of a new committee charged with the task of doing a substantial rewriting of the PPS. Stay tuned.
Senator McKinney commented that a number of faculty have complained about the University Bookstore not ordering the right texts. Another Senator commented that the textbook orders are turned in months early but a notification of a text out of print appears one or two weeks before the class begins, making it difficult to get an appropriate text in a timely manner. It was noted that students are often able to get the same textbooks cheaper and faster via amazon.com. The Senate will investigate the issue in the coming weeks.
The minutes of Feb. 20, 2002, were accepted with the following addition: Wilbon Davis has agreed to serve on the Senate committee looking at the voting process used for selecting Senators. Maybe electronically? No more chads, dimpled or pregnant?
After a brief break (You cannot imagine how hard Chair Renick trys to herd the Senate through its agenda in a timely manner!) the Senate reconvened to visit with budget builder par excellence, Gordon Thyberg. There were several issues that were on our list to discuss but the first two so confounded the Senate that we had to stop there. We will continue to pursue these various issues but the following summary of the discussion should explain the dazed look on our faces at the end of the meeting. The topics were the Geography Ph.D. budget, projected and actual, for 2001, and Indirect Costs. According to the budget figures the Geography program is costing the reserves approximately $400,000 per year. (That may be more than athletics, folks!) The Senate would like to find out what it might take to make this and other PhD programs break even. This topic will be back, like the poltergeist. Dr. Sawey, Northcutt and Blanda will meet with Mr. Thyberg to explore this.
Then we turned our attention to Indirect Costs. Let me see if I can explain this to you. If I can I can probably exonerate Enron! For every dollar of indirect cost written into a grant the state withholds 50 cents of the money they would normally allot us. In other words they cut our support by that amount. That means the other 50 cents must be split in the following way. It takes 65 cents of that dollar to run the ORSP. You do begin to see the problem here, donít you? Another 40 cents of the dollar is to be returned to the Dean, Department Chair and PI. So far we are only 55 cents in the hole for every indirect cost dollar that we generate. Is that incentive to go out and obtain a grant or what? The reason this seems to work is that it is like a Ponzi scheme. The older accounts are supported by the newer accounts, which in turn will be supported by the newest accounts. We are assured that as we obtain more grants the fixed costs of administration will stay the same and therefore the indirect cost recapture will begin to pay off. There is also a move to try to get the state government not to penalize universities for obtaining grants by withholding support (that 50 cents on EVERY INDIRECT COST DOLLAR that I mentioned before). That means that at our current level of indirect cost generation we would only be in the hole 20 cents for every dollar. Perhaps we can get one of Arthur Andersonís accountants to help us here? At that point the entire Senate and guests succumbed to the MEGO syndrome (Mine Eyes Glaze Over). The Senate appreciated Mr. Thyberg's patient help and candor in guiding us through some of these bogs.
Senator Hindson will be visiting with Mr. Thyberg in the future to discuss athletic budget issues.
Senator Margerison, who has been substituting for Senator Brennan, informed the Senate the Senator Brennan will be back for our next meeting. The Senate thanked Dr. Margerison for his faithful attendance and valuable contributions.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:20 pm.
Minutes dazedly submitted by Joan Hays