Oct 15, 2008 Minutes
Minutes for 10/15/08
Members present: Senators Feakes, Bond, Brown, Caldwell, Furney, C. Hazlewood, D. Hazlewood, Martin, Melzer, Shah, Stone, Warms, Wilson
Guests: President Denise Trauth; Provost Perry Moore; Gene Bourgeois, Assoc. Provost; Trevor Jack, University Star
Meeting called to order at 4:00
Runoff Elections for Senate Replacements: Runoff elections in Business and Fine Arts should be completed by next week.
PAAG Items: The topics for the President:
- Financial Crisis: At all levels across campus, there is widespread uncertainty regarding the current financial situation. What impact do we expect credit availability to have on the University: specifically, the issue of bond sales and construction plans, as well as any secondary impact on academic programs (Performing Arts Bld.) or university reserve funds? President Trauth responded that the financial crisis has had very little impact on the University at this time. The bond sales for the Nursing Building in Round Rock and the Undergraduate Academic Center were completed in August. HEAF money is being used to fund smaller projects. The biggest question is what the Texas Legislature will do. There are lots of statewide needs out there, including hurricane relief and public school funding. The Performing Arts Center is included in our legislative slate, since the President assumes that TRB’s will be issued this session. In response the a letter from the Governor asking institutions to be very restrictive regarding travel, President Trauth indicated that faculty travel will be protected. Faculty members need to travel in order to do their research since it is intimately connected to tenure/promotion issues. She indicated that it is too early to know how everything will play out. Regarding the Capital Campaign, President Trauth said we will stay the course and our goals will remain the same, although it may take longer than first planned to reach the campaign goal. The Texas economy doesn’t behave the same way as economies of other states. Donations to institutions come primarily from individuals and not foundations. Funds for student financial aid will probably require more interest, but direct federal loans should be ok.
- Legislative Session: Regarding the Legislative session, President Trauth indicated that debt service for five new buildings were our main priority: The Recital Hall and Theatre Centers for San Marcos (Total Cost: $60,000,000, TRB Request: $52,000,000), RRHEC-Health Professions #1 in Round Rock (Total Cost: $73,366,997, TRB Request: $73,366,997), the Music Building in San Marcos (Total Cost: $79,425,175, TRB Request: $79,425,175), RRHEC-Health Professions #2 in Round Rock (Total Cost: $63,508,763, TRB Request: $24,849,899) and the Engineering and Sciences Building in San Marcos (Total Cost: $84,479,925, TRB Request: $33,075,242). She did say that the first two buildings were our highest priority, but felt she needed to express all of our current needs to the Legislature. She did indicate that it was really hard to predict what will happen. We won’t even know exactly who our legislators are until after the November elections, but believes that we have an excellent reputation for doing more with fewer resources. The fact that we have donations to support construction of the Recital Hall is also a plus.
- Round Rock Campus: The Faculty Senate had several questions regarding the Round Rock Higher Education Campus. It is our understanding that Austin Community College is expected to vacate space at the RRHEC. What are the plans for that space, particularly in the Avery Building? Will there be a name change to reflect the change in ACC status? In addition, several departments (for example, EAPS and Computer Science) provide offerings at RRHEC that lead to the undergraduate degree. What will be the future presence of these departments at the RRHEC? With respect to ACC’s moving to an ACC building in Round Rock, President Trauth indicated that freed space will not go to increased administration there. The freed space will go to classrooms and faculty offices. The move will also speak to the need for more daytime classroom space. When asked if the name of the campus might change at Round Rock, President Trauth said that that will not happen for a very long, long time. Texas State owns the land and owns the debt service. The campus will continue to be called the Round Rock Higher Education Center.
- SACS: At the end of September, outside evaluators provided an early evaluation of the university’s progress towards SACS reaffirmation. After the presentations, many faculty expressed concern regarding the progress of the University, particularly in terms of student learning outcomes and the QEP topic. President Trauth indicated that the best service from consultants is that they point out the worst possible issues with high quality advice. With respect to student learning outcomes (there are more than two hundred program outcomes), they should be in pretty good shape by the end of the month and very much on target. Our QEP on advising and mentoring students is prospective. We can’t actually implement the QEP until we have the SACS visit. Provost Moore thinks we are ok in the area of student learning outcomes and that it goes to the very heart of the issue about what Texas State is all about: successful students and assisting students in discovering their professional interests.
PAAG Follow-up: The major discussion in the Senate with regard to the PAAG follow-up was about the conflict in requiring faculty members to be more active in University service with respect to the QEP while the administration is currently devaluing service with respect to tenure/promotion/merit considerations. Currently new faculty members do not interact with students in the same way as senior faculty members do. The Senate sees this as a direct result of devaluing service in advancement decisions. The long-term impact could cause the University to lose one of its most valued traits, its earnest concern for its students.
Presidential Committees: The following faculty members were recommended for membership on the following Presidential committees:
- Presidential Awards Committee for Scholarly/Creative Activities: Dr. Christopher Russian, Respiratory Care; Dr. Hassan Tajalli, Political Science; Dr. Jian Shen, Mathematics.
- Presidential Awards Committee for Teaching: Prof. Wilbon Davis, Computer Science; Dr. Karen Gibbs, Physical Therapy; Dr. Lucille Montondon, Accounting; Dr. Donna Vandiver, Criminal Justice.
- Presidential Awards Committee for Service: Dr. Robert Mooney, Health Administration; Dr. Jana Proff, Communication Disorders; Dr. Aditi Angirasa, Agriculture.
Faculty Employment Application: A new version of the faculty employment application was circulated. There were a couple of suggested revisions that the Chair will forward to the Provost’s Office.
Academic Computing Committee: Senator Stone was named as a replacement for the resigning Senator Meek on the Academic Computing Committee.
Development Leave Applications: There are currently twenty-one applications for Faculty Development Leave. At the October 29th and November 5th meetings, the Senate will review the applications. Concern was expressed that the number of applicants should have been closer to thirty, the usual number of applicants in a given year. The smaller number of applicants may have been the result of confusion about the new application cycle. Previously that there were two application cycles per year, but now there is only the one: in the fall semester.
- Bike Racks: The Senate will ask about the current status of installing bicycle ranks at the Speck Street Garage.
- Bus Overcrowding: A complaint was raised about bus overcrowding on Austin and San Antonio shuttles that requires riders to stand during the trip. This is a grievous accident waiting to happen. The Chair will inquire.
- Parking: The Senate discussed a complaint from a faculty member about parking.
Minutes: Minutes for 10/08/08 were approved as amended.