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May 06, 2009 Minutes

Members present: Senators Feakes, Bond, Brown, Caldwell, Conroy, C. Hazlewood, D. Hazlewood, Melzer, Shah, Stone, Warms, Wilson

 
Guests: President Denise Trauth; Provost Perry Moore; Assoc. Provost Gene Bourgeois; Dr. Dan Lochman, Assoc. Dean of Liberal Arts; Dr. Michael Hennessy, English Chair; Susan Beebe, English; Nancy Wilson, English; Rene LeBlanc, SLAC; Dr. Pat Cassidy, Chem. & Bio. Chem.; Dr. Susan Morey, Mathematics;Kosaku Narioka, Univ. Star
 
Meeting called to order at 4:00
 
PAAG:President Trauth discussed several issues with the Senate:
 
  • Writing Intensive Course Designation: The Provost has repeatedly addressed faculty at the University and expressed his passionate support of undergraduate education. The Faculty Senate appreciates this commitment, but believes this commitment to undergraduate education necessitates courses that have a significant writing intensive component. As a result, we are very concerned about the recent modification to the criteria for the designation of a course as writing intensive. The Policy and Procedure statement (PPS 4.01) that defines the criteria was modified by a sub-committee, but the modifications were never vetted through the correct review process (which includes the Faculty Senate). Therefore, the currently reviewed and accepted policy defines, as one criterion, a writing intensive course as one which has a minimum of 65% of the course grade based on written work. At a recent CAD meeting, the deans accepted a 50% or more criteria primarily because of the burden resulting from the higher percentage in large classes. This is ultimately a curricular issue, one that has not been reviewed by the University Curriculum Committee, and the Faculty Senate questions the logic of diminishing the quality of writing intensive courses rather than providing appropriate support for the courses; or, alternatively, removing the designation from courses which are unable to meet the criteria. A handout provided by Provost Moore gave a history from 1988 for the writing intensive designation, which showed approval of the 50% minimum for written course work by the University Curriculum Committee (01/09) and the Faculty Senate (02/09) when each group approved PPS 2.01. It was pointed out that the inclusion of the 50% designation in PPS 2.01 had been only to agree with PPS 4.01, which was not approved by either group, so the Senate still feels that the 65% designation should be the correct one. The Provost indicated that both he and CAD had come to the same conclusion and that both PPS 2.01 and PPS 4.01 would be changed to reflect the minimum designation for written work in writing intensive courses as 65%. Also, it was agreed that the writing intensive requirement should be reinforced at the upper level within a student’s designated discipline and that the University would offer more developmental seminars and incentives for faculty in order to better teach writing intensive courses.
  • Tenure and Promotion Cycle: The Faculty Senate recognizes that the Tenure and Promotion letters have been distributed to all candidates. We would appreciate a summary of the results for this year, including the overall success rate. Additionally, there have been some comments regarding early applications for Tenure and Promotion and we would appreciate hearing your viewpoints on the subject. A recurring concern of the Faculty Senate is the faculty affected by the transition of the Department of Social Work from the College of Health Professions to the College of Applied Arts. The Faculty Senate recognizes that some faculty within the Department of Social Work elected to apply early to have their evaluation remain within their original college. President Trauth indicated that the recommendations for tenure/promotion will go to the Board of Regents, Texas State University System, at the June meeting. She mentioned that the quality of the applicants was extremely good and that procedurally, the tenure/promotion process has been greatly improved. She did say that she was somewhat concerned with the number of candidates who were applying for early tenure, meaning application for tenure before the end of an individual’s probationary period. She stressed that tenure was basically a lifetime commitment on the part of the University to a faculty member and that such decisions should be made very carefully. She said it should be rare for a person to go up for tenure early even though early denial does not impact the final tenure decision, and she advises faculty not to go up early. Most faculty will need the full probationary period to develop their research and teaching programs to the level that they will qualify for tenure. Provost Moore added that while the applicants for promotion to Professor were generally very good, a very high level of accomplishment in teaching and research with strong support from the department and college is required. He suggested that associate professors should consider their research agenda as the highest priority and minimize their service commitments.
  • Legislative Update: President Trauth indicated that this is one of those sessions where the University will not know clearly what is going on until the session is over. Tuition regulation, handguns on campus, and tuition revenue bonds are issues that will have an enormous impact on the University. While continuing to seek benefit to the University whenever possible, she said that we don’t really know what will happen and we’ll only know when the session ends.