Members present: Senators Feakes, Caldwell, Furney, Bond, Hazlewood, Conroy, Shah, Stone, Morey, Wilson.
Guests: Bourgeois, Carranco, Sigler, Hohensee.
Meeting called to order at 4:00.
1. The Chair is seeking Mace Bearers for December commencement ceremonies. Senators Conroy and Wilson agreed to serve, and the Chair will raise the issue again at the next Senate meeting.
Texas State H1N1 plans: Dr. Carranco, Director of the Student Health Center, visited the Senate to outline the University's plans for a possible outbreak of the H1N1 virus. Dr. Carranco noted that this particular virus affects the very sort of population one finds at a university, with the highest number of deaths among those from 25 to 64 years old. He further explained that the vaccine now being developed may not be available until late October, may require two injections a month apart, and will need a two-week period after the second inoculation before the vaccine is effective; thus, those who receive the inoculation will not be protected until mid-December. The University has ordered 30,000 vials of the vaccine, and is exploring the most effective way to distribute it to the University population. He urged everyone to obtain the seasonal vaccine that is now available from doctors and local pharmacies. The University has 2,000 doses; students will be the first population offered this vaccine. Should doses remain after student requests are filled by the Health Center, they will be distributed to faculty and staff.
Dr. Carranco noted that most health professionals believe the only effective plan for reducing the likelihood of an H1N1 outbreak is "social distancing" (closing schools, suspending large events, staggering work schedules, encouraging people not to congregate, and isolating affected individuals). Following this advice, the University will urge affected members of the University population to go home if at all possible, and for at least five days. If departure for home is not possible, individuals will be isolated on campus for the prescribed five days.
According to Dr. Carranco, there as yet have been no cluster of H1N1 cases, but the University is watching for such clusters so that it can react effectively. He expects hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cases this semester.
Start-up Funds: Dr. Bourgeois offered the Senate additional information on the revisions to the process for awarding start-up funds to new faculty, noting first that the Provost will no longer include in contracts the clause stating an expectation for matching the start-up funds with external grants. Among the issues of concern to the Senate has been what constitute "start-up funds" that faculty will need to match in grant activity. Dr. Bourgeois explained that generally these funds apply to materials required for faculty to initiate their research, and doubted that in future such things as funds for Graduate Research Assistants or travel would be included.
Regarding the tracking of start-up fund awards and matching grant activity in the faculty evaluation process, Dr. Bourgeois argued that departments' personnel committees have access to all contracts and can thus assess grant activity in relation to this expectation. He also advised that Bill Covington's office keeps such data. The Senate expressed an interest in seeing this data in the near future.
Liaisons Meeting: The Chair currently is receiving the names of new liaisons. The Senate will meet with them on 9/23 (JCK 11th Floor), when Dr. Moore will present to the Senate information on space issues at the University – a topic of significance to all at the University and thus an appropriate topic for the liaisons' meeting.
1. The Equity and Access Committee needs two faculty appointments. The Chair has asked the Senate to send her nominations.
2. Several vacancies exist on committees overseeing the Presidential Excellence Awards. The Chairs seeks nominations from the Senate.
3. College REP Committees: The Senate has been asked if it is acceptable for department chairs to serve on college REP committees, particularly in colleges with very small departments and in which all faculty might be applying for grants. The Senate feels that chairs should not serve, and suggests that such colleges create committees of no fewer than three members to review applications, should a situation arise in which there are too few faculty for every department to be represented directly.
4. Office hours: A faculty member asked the Senate about University requirements governing office hours. According to PPS 4.01, a faculty member is normally expected to hold a minimum of five hours of office time per week on an announced schedule, and the faculty member should be available for student conferences at other times by appointment. In addition, the faculty member asked whether online office hours could count for a faculty member's stated office hours to fulfill the expected five hours. Although the Senate knows of no rule prohibiting this approach, it is interested in exploring what proportion of a faculty member's office hours can and should be online, and will return to this issue at an upcoming meeting.
5. Discussion of the revision to the Honor Code PPS was tabled until a future meeting.
Minutes of 9/2/09 were approved.