Oct 20, 2010 Minutes
Members present: Senators Melzer, Furney, Martin, Brown, Wilson, Hazlewood, Caldwell, Feakes, Morey, Huling, Warms, Conroy
Guests: Coolidge (Star), Trauth, Moore, Bourgeois, Dunn, Autrey, Myers
Meeting called to order at 4:00.
1. University Distinguished Professor Emeritus: Both the President and the Provost agreed that for now there should be two tracks for faculty seeking Emeritus recognition, one for those who previously were named University Distinguished Professors; and another for those who have made significant contributions to the University but were not named University Distinguished Professors, either because their professional duties did not match the criteria of that recently created title or they retired before that title was instituted. Eventually, the Provost explained, the two tracks would merge as fewer faculty fell into the second category.
2. Dean of University College and Director of the PACE Center: The President explained that the decisions about which programs and services should be placed under the new Dean’s supervision was based partly upon the current people involved in University College. Associate Dean Dave Nelson has supervised the BGS degree since it was created years ago, and will continue to do so under the new Dean. His commitment to the degree will insure its academic integrity. The Provost noted that this arrangement may be transitional, and he believes the BGS degree should be housed in a traditional academic college. He went on to explain that the new Dean will likely not be hired with tenure, nor will it be likely that the person will have a traditional faculty background and career history. As the President stressed, this position may be unique among universities our size, and so it will be refined in the coming years.
3. University Budget: Stressing that providing merit raises for faculty is the administration’s highest priority, the President warned that little can be decided until the University can see the effects of the upcoming legislative session, during which new budget cuts may be passed. As President Trauth has noted at past Senate meetings, the University has planned for budget cuts by reserving money, and is doing so again this year, with the goal of avoiding the necessity of cutting staff positions. In addition, vacant staff positions are being reviewed carefully to insure that they need to be refilled now. However, budget cuts deeper than those the University has planned for will require cutting staff positions.
Still, there is some positive news: the Coordinating Board will not base funding upon completed student hours, but will continue to base it upon attempted hours. The Coordinating Board has added a piece to the funding formula that will take graduation rates into account, but that piece will be based upon each institution’s unique student body, and Texas State will perform well in this category. A final reason for optimism is that state legislators may be open to making new money available for construction.
The President concluded by explaining that the University is in as good a position as any to face these challenges, but that – because Texas State already works with a leaner budget than many institutions – budget cuts affect us more.
Provost Moore discussed how the administration will face increasing enrollments during a period of economic uncertainty. In particular he noted that the administration would see merit raises as a higher priority than new hires. Even so, hiring new staff is crucial as the University grows, a situation made more urgent by the ongoing staff hiring freeze. To a question of how this policy would affect new programs and the related potential needs for new faculty, the President explained that those programs already online would move forward. In the upcoming strategic planning process, which will cover 2012-2017, the University will decide if other new programs should be initiated. Those considering new doctoral programs should insure that more than half of all graduates be able to find employment outside academia. As the budget situation improves, there will of course be more money for new programs and faculty. The Provost urged departments considering proposals for new programs to plan for them now by making strategic hires for the potential new programs when filling open tenure lines.
1. A Senator argued that it might be time to explore the effectiveness of the University’s current practice of automatically awarding three hours of assigned time for scholarly / creative activity. As faculty work harder to meet the needs of a growing institution, it might be wise to consider whether all faculty receiving such assigned time are actually undertaking the amount of scholarly / creative activities that warrant three hours of assigned time.
2. Regarding the PAAG discussion on creating two tracks for Emeritus recognition, the Chair explained that the administration has no timeline for when the tracks might merge.
Adjunct Hiring, Funding for New Adjunct Hires, and Resources for Meeting the Needs of Higher Enrollment: Dr. Bourgeois offered further clarification on the process for funding new adjunct hires to meet enrollment growth – a question that arose in the PAAG meeting. About $1.1 million for new adjunct hires will be considered by the President’s Cabinet to meet the needs of a larger student body. Also, there will be roughly $300,000 to cover M&O increases created by the larger enrollment. To fund ongoing Service and Maintenance contracts, departments will have access to new money in the amount of $150,000.
Piper Professor Committee Report: Dennis Dunn, representing the Committee, reported that the Committee had selected three faculty for recognition as winners of the Faculty Senate Everette Swinney Teaching Award. The highest ranked faculty member will be the University’s nominee for the Piper Professor Award. After suspending normal voting rules, the Senate moved to approve the Committee’s recommendations.
Doctor of Philosophy major in Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization (MSEC) vote: The Senate endorsed the University Curriculum Committee’s recommendation to approve the proposal.
Faculty Development Leave Application Process: 39 faculty have applied for Development Leave, with one applicant out of the country and unavailable during the dates scheduled for faculty presentations (October 27 and November 3). The high number of applicants and the fact that one applicant is unavailable led the Senate to reconsider its review process; the Senate voted to give faculty the option to waive their presentations to the Senate while stressing to applicants that no penalty would be assigned for doing so, nor any benefit gained from presenting. The Chair will notify all applicants of the new process immediately. In addition, the Senate will soon revisit the application process to decide if permanent changes need to be instituted.
1. A faculty member wonders whether retired faculty can keep their on-campus computer accounts. The chair will investigate this situation.
Minutes of 10/13/10 were approved.