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March 9, 2011 Minutes

Members present:  Senators Feakes, Stone, Wilson, Hazlewood, Payne, Furney, Morey, Conroy, Warms

Guests: Sigler, Gross (Star), Bajackson, Fox, Martinez, England, Nielsen, Stewart

Meeting called to order at 4:00.

Announcement:

  1. Senate elections are underway in four colleges.  The Chair discussed a number of problems that arose as the final list of candidates was being developed, primary among them that several eligible faculty did not remove their names from the voting list, thus leading to difficulties with the initial voting results.  Final run-off elections will open on March 21.
  2. On April 20 a photographer will take a photo of current Senators, for installation in the Senate meeting room.

Interactions with the Press: Three faculty from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Gilbert Martinez, Kym Fox and Bob Bajackson, visited the Senate to discuss guidelines for Senators responding to questions from the press, as well as their views on the Senate insuring that their meetings are open and that information on Senate issues reaches faculty and the broader University community.  Among the issues discussed was that the panel believes Senate meetings are governed by the State’s Open Meetings Act, and so Executive Sessions should be kept to a minimum and the Senate should be as transparent as possible.  In addition, they argued that student journalists from the University Star should be treated as professionals, accorded the rights of any reporter; the panel noted as well that all student reporters are held to the highest ethical standards.  Kym Fox explained that it is the policy of the Star, as with any newspaper, not to share a story with subjects before publication.  She encouraged Senators to contact reporters if they see errors in stories.  Even so, Mr. Martinez explained, journalists are not held to standards of absolute accuracy, according to rulings by the Supreme Court.  Mr. Bajackson added that everyone takes the Star very seriously, and that he hears often from faculty on the value of stories on Senate activities.

The panel responded to a number of topics raised by the Senators:

  1. The law requires that only one party in a conversation be aware that it is being taped.
  2.  In order to help reporters gain context for the stories they cover, it might be helpful to invite them to meet the Senate each semester to discuss its methods and the topics it explores.
  3. Senators should refer to the Chair questions about the Senate or its discussions.  If a reporter asks a person to respond in his / her capacity as a faculty member, that person should have the freedom to express his / her views.  Moreover, it is always wise to ask a reporter for the context of questions.

Texas Council of Faculty Senates Report: the report on the recent TCFS meeting was tabled until a later meeting.

Faculty Definitions Update: The Chair distributed a timeline for revisions to the PPS.  She plans to remove from the Faculty Definitions email to faculty the sentence regarding voting on recommendations.  The Senate will decide later if a faculty vote on revisions should be called.

BREAK

Academic Computing Committee Report: Chair Tim England presented the Committee’s recommendations, on which the Senate will vote at the March 23 meeting.  He noted that the goals of the ACC have been consistent over the past few years.  Mr. Nielsen added that he has been impressed with the diligence of the Committee in completing this important task.

Faculty Senate Committee Assignments: The Senate returned to its discussions of the Committee on Committees recommendations for 2011 committee assignments, voting to approve a revised roster of committees.

New Business: At the request of a Senator, the Chair will ask that the results from the latest Survey of Chairs be released.  She will bring them to a Senate meeting, as well as exploring what information is made available to the University, and how.

Minutes of 3/2/11 were approved.

Adjournment.