October 31, 2001
Senators Present: Blanda, Gillis, Blevens, Stimmel, Stone, Stutzman, Brennan, Hays, McKinney, Hindson, Peeler, Renick
Senators Absent: Carns, Sawey
Guests and Liaisons: Daniel Flaherty, Gary Aron, Victor Michalk, Steve Wilson, Neal Wilson, Sue Thompson, Stanley Stephenson, Linda Thomas, Miriam Echeverria, Margaret Vaverek, Albert Milhomme, Carolyn McCall, Phil Vardiman, Mike Moore (conjurer)
Meeting was called to order at 4:00 pm in Alkek 105.
Senators and Liaisons introduced themselves and chair Renick welcomed the Liaisons to the annual joint meeting. Chair Renick then introduced the nine goals that the Senate has established for focused attention for this year. He suggested that the Liaisons might want to become actively involved with the Senate goals should one or more of them seem of special interest. Chair Renick was able to report that he has been selected as the faculty representative on the search committee for President Suppleís replacement. His membership on that committee essentially fulfills the first Senate goal, to have representation on that search committee.
Some Liaisons wondered why the proposed university name change was not one of the Senate goals. This question provoked a lively discussion. It was pointed out that most Senators believe that the name change is a ìdone deal.î Senator Peeler is currently THE ONLY FACULTY MEMBER on a committee that was originally established to explore the possibility of the name change and is now actively pursuing ways of accomplishing it. The name is probably going to be Texas State University (if all the necessary voting bodies approve). A straw poll taken last year by the Senate indicated some faculty strongly for and some strongly against but that most were ambivalent. One Senator opined that perhaps faculty members were not considered major stakeholders in this decision because we just work here. Concern was expressed about how the other institutions in the TSUS might feel about this. The name change soap opera continues!
Senator Blanda encouraged the Liaisons to help the Senate with goals seven and nine, both of which involve keeping the lines of communication from the faculty to the Senate open and active. The Liaisons are a valuable source of information about issues and concerns that arise. One Liaison was pleased to see concern for academic honesty and wondered if there might be a companion goal of administrative honesty or ethics. It is hoped that the instrument to evaluate the VPAA and President Supple that the Senate will be distributing soon will, to some degree, address that issue. There was some discussion about how the results of these evaluations might be used and whether faculty actually know enough to evaluate the ìSuitsî. We will just have to wait and see. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! We hope that the information can be used to help administrators improve in their job performance.
After the break Carolyn McCall, chair of the Committee on Committees, explained the Faculty Senate Committee structure and how members were selected to serve on those committees. She mentioned that the Senate sends out a survey each year to ask faculty which committees might be of interest. The return is very small but it is from those responses that the replacements are selected. It was noted that few assistant professors are on these committees, perhaps because they are counseled to stay off those committees for the first few years of their career. It was cynically suggested that the low return of the survey might reflect the lack of value the University places on service when it comes to tenure, promotion, merit and performance evaluations. Oh, no! Say it isnít so! Sometimes, it may be that faculty donít see the rewards of being on these committees although some of them help to apportion fair amounts of money for various kinds of grants while others address important issues such as admission and curriculum. Liaisons were encouraged to help find willing committee members.
The remainder of the time was spent going around the table to ask for specific issues of interest from the Liaisons present.
Neal Wilson (and a whole lot of others) was concerned about the enormous salary increases for associate and assistant VPs when many departments canít hire adjuncts to cover classes.
Gary Aron expressed concern that the hiring freeze that was supposed to have been resolved by October has not been resolved. This means that faculty searches are delayed which makes hiring the top candidates difficult. Seems to me weíve heard this song before!
Miriam Echeverria was concerned that temporary faculty who are really permanent (rehired year after year) have no support for research or scholarly activities. These people need to be involved in developmental activities.
Steve Wilson expressed frustration (echoed across the campus) at the demand to increase SCHís while keeping classes small as a prestige factor.
Stanley Stephenson mentioned that it is difficult for faculty at the lower ranks when the electronically deposited checks are not in accounts on the 1st of the month when it falls on a Saturday (especially if the next Monday is a holiday). This reminded the Senate that the new policy to direct deposit travel reimbursements to the same account that the paycheck is deposited in is a major inconvenience for some faculty. We must be reminded that one size MUST fit all!
Daniel Flaherty expressed concern about the post tenure review process and administrative financial responsibility. Could football and Ph.D. programs be an issue here? Bet on it. The Senate hopes to continue to monitor this through the Budget Committee.
Phil Vardiman, as a new faculty member, was interested in mentoring for new faculty. He was assured that many departments have formal mentoring processes and to ask about one in his department.
Neal Wilson commented that the university seems to be growing and that is positive but there seem to be no new faculty lines appearing to take care of the growth.
Gary Aron was concerned that graduate students who were teaching assistants were required to take 9 hours each semester even when the only class they needed to take was thesis. This seemed inappropriate and costly for the student. There was also concern about the new increase in tuition.
Albert Milhomme was concerned about the functioning of personnel committees.
Margaret Vaverek mentioned that the Library Committee was working on a survey of comparable institutions to determine status of Librarians. They are now classified as staff at swTSU but they would like to have some classified as faculty and tenureable. This is not an uncommon practice elsewhere. She also expressed dismay at the increase in salaries for assistant and associate VPs when they discovered that the entry level staff position salaries would be cut 14% to bring them down to the 75% of base salary figure that the staff council had asked for. This would be for new hires, not those currently on staff. Is that cheap and punitive or just plain mean? She commented that it was now possible to be employed full time at SWT and be eligible for food stamps!
The Senate then selected a number of faculty names to be forwarded to the chair of the Presidential Excellence in Teaching Award Committee for possible membership on that committee.
The minutes of October 24, 2001 were approved as read.
Minutes indignantly submitted by Joan Hays