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Oct 3, 2007 Minutes

Members present:

Senators Stone, Bond, Feakes, Hazlewood, Hindson, McGee, McKinney, Meek, Melzer, Ogletree, Shah, Wilson

Guests: The Senate Liaisons and Scott Thomas, University Star

Meeting called to order at 4:00.

 

Senate/Liaison Meeting Agenda:  The Senate met with the Senate Liaisons in the Reed Parr Room.  Discussion:

·         Chair Evaluations:  PPS 1.10 , Section 5 d. indicates the Dean’s annual evaluation process for chairs includes “providing evaluation results along with recommendations for improvement of job performance to the department’s chair/director, faculty and staff.”  And Section 6 requires that every four years, the Dean “provide a summative review of the chair’s/director’s performance to the faculty/staff of the department….”  Discussion around the table with the liaisons and senators indicated that only about half of the departments had received such reports.  The Senate will continue to monitor compliance/noncompliance to this PPS and will probably undertake an audit at some point later in the year.

  • Service for Faculty: Given the current research environment and the low emphasis on service, particularly during the tenure and promotion process, the Senate is concerned about the number of tenure-track faculty on the roster of committees and would like to know if there are any concerns at the departmental level.  Discussion from the liaisons on what to do revealed that in many departments service is so devalued that junior faculty have to be discouraged from carrying out interesting service projects and are told no one has ever been denied tenure for lack of service.  Some departments give course release to faculty for service projects, and in others much departmental service is provided by senior lecturers and lecturers.  There seemed to be a genuine concern that unless the service role becomes a more valuable component in faculty advancement, individuals will cease to be involved and the University, as a whole, will suffer the consequences.

·         Start-Up Clause: The senate is concerned about the start-up clause that is being included in new faculty contracts for those who receive start-up funds. Discussion with the liaisons revealed that some new faculty turned down the offer of start-up funds because of the clause. This raises the question: “exactly what does the added clause in faculty contracts mean and what actual impact will the clause have on tenure/promotion decisions?”

  • Printing/Paper: Discussion revealed that about half of the represented departments have printers available to their faculty.
  • Departmental Governance: Regarding the selection of interim chairs for a department, the discussion indicated that if there was a good relationship between the department and the Dean, such transitions seemed to go smoothly.
  • Draft UPPS 04.04.xx: The liaisons agreed with the Senate that several sections of the Drug & Alcohol draft UPPS were overly broad and invasive, and support the Senate’s moral position to make the draft relevant for all University employees.

Concerns from the Senate Liaisons:  The liaisons had an opportunity to express concerns they felt were important:

  • Operation and Function of the Bookstore:  It was expressed that personnel at the University Bookstore were very uncooperative on certain issues.  This will be the topic in a future Senate agenda.
  • Travel to Round Rock Campus:  Concern was expressed over the recent decision to pay for travel to and from the RR campus in a lump sum at the end of the semester, for fear that the payment would incur a tax liability.  It is not clear at this time whether the reimbursement will be the result of a single travel application or a salary adjustment.  The situation will be monitored.
  • Personnel Decisions:  A concern was raised that some chairs have been voting on departmental personnel decisions and trying to control faculty voting by not allowing secret ballots.  Page 34 of the current Faculty Handbook clearly states that “all personnel decisions shall be reached by secret ballot…,” and that “chairs do not vote, even to break ties.”  Liaisons and Senators should occasionally remind their chairs to read the Faculty Handbook.
  • Health Care: A Liaison raised an issue that the health care coverage at Texas State is not nearly as good as other systems and costs more.  Texas State coverage is controlled by ERS, by legislative mandate.  Also mentioned was the dental care plan that provides no local service;  the nearest dentist in the plan is in Kyle.  Only the President and the Legislature can pressure ERS to change the situation.
  • Governance Celebration:  There is a plan in the works to celebrate the 50th anniversary of faculty governance at Texas State.
  • Budget Transparency:  What’s happening to money inside each academic department and how are faculty involved in departmental budget matters?  The issue of budget transparency bears upon of how budget priorities are set and how departmental expenditures are made.

 

PAAG Agenda:  The Senate decided on two issues for next week’s PAAG agenda with President Trauth:  the Drug & Alcohol UPPS draft and the Start-up clause in new faculty contracts.

 

New Business and Info: 

  • University Fund Donation:  Senators are encouraged to contribute.
  • Governance Committee Appointment: Dr. Susan Macey, Geography, was appointed to the Governance Committee.
  • Health Care:  Senators in attendance were encouraged to explore the possible formation of a coalition at the meeting of the Texas Council of Faculty Senates to express concern regarding ERS health coverage for higher education.  Legislative action is necessary to provide any significant change.

 

Minutes:  Minutes for 09/26/07 were approved as amended.