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Feb 2, 2011 Minutes

Members present:  Senators Feakes, Stone, Huling, Wilson, Melzer, Morey, Payne, Warms, Martin, Conroy

Guests: Sigler, Zamora (Star), Grimes, Bourgeois

Meeting called to order at 4:00.

Announcements:

1. The Joint Senate / CAD meeting has been rescheduled for March 30.

2. The open faculty seat on the Excellence in Diversity Award Committee has been filled.

3. Transportation consultants are on campus as part of the updating of the Campus Master Plan.  A safety committee will be created, for which a faculty member is needed.

4. The Chair has contacted Van Wyatt about the changes to the computer refresh cycle, and confirmed that there has been a cut in funding from previous years.  He will be invited to the Senate to report on the change and its effect.

PAAG Meeting:

1.  Legislative Progress: The President explained that it is still very early in the legislative process, even though many bills have already been introduced.  The University is focusing its attention on bills impacting funding for higher education.  Among the issues of concern is that some budgets eliminate Texas Grant funding for new students, although those on the Grants will continue to receive them; overall, this proposal would reduce Texas Grants by 40%.  Such a change also may affect our enrollment, as well as the number of low-income students who attend Texas State.  A further complication is that decisions on the budget will not be finalized until after the University must send funding offers to prospective students.

Another concern is whether there will be funding for new construction.  The President reported that there is some talk of possible funds being made available, and that because construction costs are down this is a good time for building and for obtaining loans for construction.

Although much is still unknown, the President and the Administration are preparing for the most severe budget cuts – those proposed by the House.  Texas State is the most efficient university among the 38 institutions in Texas, and thus is in a good position to weather the impact better than others.  The President is committed first to the classroom and those services supporting classroom instruction, and then to preserving all full-time positions currently at the University.  The Provost iterated that the highest priority is not to release employees due to budget constraints.  However, to fulfill this goal other sacrifices will likely have to be made: larger class size and more work for the staff as the University grows.

Dr. Bourgeois explained that he is telling departments that proposed fall schedules should be maintained for now, with adjustments for reduced enrollment made, if needed, in summer once final numbers are known.

On February 14, the President will speak before the Senate Appropriations Committee; a similar visit to the House Appropriations Committee will be set soon.

1. Texas State University System: President Trauth does not see the System increasing centralization or the power of the Chancellor, conjecturing that instead concerns are due to new methods of a new Chancellor.

3. Low-Producing Programs: The concern is for those programs in which courses may be full but the program is not graduating many majors.  The Coordinating Board has recently shown interest in low-producing programs.  Texas State has far fewer such programs than many other institutions, but will encourage those programs to work to increase their graduation of majors as well as to seek alternative means of raising enrollments.  In particular, the programs in French and German are being watched carefully.

4. 120-hour Rule: The Chair distributed a table of programs that are above 120 hours.  The Provost explained that the Coordinating Board is asking about universities’ progress on reducing programs over 120 hours.  At Texas State, a number of Engineering programs are being asked to explore ways to reduce hours, as are programs in Social Work, Art, Nursing, Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Respiratory Care.  A common complaint from programs is that our core requirements include too many hours.

5. New University Club: To questions from the faculty, the President explained that her goal for the new University Club was to create a sit-down restaurant with a good ambience and a central location.  She and the Provost will investigate the possibility of allowing departments to reserve tables for job candidate visits, as well as concerns about crowding on Fridays.

BREAK

PAAG Follow-up: The Senate expressed its thanks to the President and Provost for their visit and discussions.

Faculty Definitions: An email announcing the two forums on faculty definitions was sent recently to liaisons; the Chair received two questions regarding the status of administrators as members of personnel committees.  As stated in the PPS, Chairs serve only as ex-officio members of personnel committees for tenure and promotion votes.  The Faculty Handbook may need to be revised to offer the Senate’s position on the status of Associate Deans whose classification is at least 50% faculty.

Presidential Awards: Unresolved is whether lecturers are eligible for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, since the PPS lists only ranks of Senior Lecturer and above.  The Senate will suggest that the policy be revised to include lecturers and clinical faculty.  In addition, Dean Brown has asked about the eligibility of those faculty in non-traditional faculty assignments, such as those in the University College and the Honors Program.  The Senate thinks their eligibility should be explored, but that any suggestion for eligibility must insure that the solution is equitable.

New Business:

1. The Chair has received communication from the Transportation and Parking Committee asking the Senate’s view on graduate teaching assistants being allowed to purchase red restricted permits.

2. The Chair will revisit the incorporation of the Honor Code Statement onto the cover of Texas State blue books.

3. A Senator asked that it be stated more explicitly in University policy that faculty should be a part of the process for purchasing artwork for new buildings.

Minutes of 1/26/11 were approved.

Adjournment.