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Oct 11, 2000 Minutes

Senators Present:  Blanda, Blevens, Brennan, Gillis, Hays, McKinney, Peeler, Sawey, Skerpan-Wheeler, Stimmel, Stone,Stutzman

Senators Absent:   Renick

Call to Order:  4:05 p.m.

Open Records Act and Faculty Concerns (Bill Fly, University Attorney)

Fly updated the Senate on a number of issues related to the open records act and faculty interests including the following:

 a. Faculty Personnel Files
Most of the records contained in a faculty member's personnel file are public record and must be provided upon request.
This would include such issues as evaluations by chairs, peers and students. (The handwritten portion of a student's evaluation may be omitted to protect the privacy of the author.) The primary exception to this rule would be issues of "no legitimate concern to the public" which could be embarrassing to the faculty member such as personal crime victimization,health issues, or personal financial information that is not related to cd fs job performance.

Home addresses, social security number and information about the faculty members family may only be withheld if the faculty member has marked the privacy request box on his personnel data sheet.

 b. Tests and Student Records
The open records act would provide a student access to their educational records including tests that are in a faculty member's possession. While there is no definitive case law on the issue, it would appear that all grades and test answers would clearly be open records. However, the test items or questions may not have to be disclosed.

Faculty Retirement Issues (Suji Singh Retirement Programs Committee Chair)

Singh briefed the senate on some concerns that have arisen related to the Voluntary Modified Employment Program (VME). The primary problem is that under the current system a faculty member that is 50% fall and spring is eligible for summer teaching without any loss of annuity benefits while a faculty member who is 100% one semester and 0% the remaining semester would have a loss of annuity benefits if they taught during the summer. This problem occurs because of the way TRS counts semesters in whole months with a long semester being 5 months and a summer semester being 2 months. Therefore if employed 100% one long semester and 100% one summer semester the "total" employment exceeds the 6 months period allowed under TRS. Because our current VME program states that TRS and ORP members will be treated the same it prohibits the ORP members from summer teaching if they are employed 100% one long semester. Therefore the committee has proposed the following:

"Faculty members in SWTís VME program will be provided with the same summer teaching opportunities they had before their participation in the VME program barring conflict with existing state or federal law."

The Retirement Programs Committee also wishes to suggest a change in the way sick leave is handled for employees that are leaving university service. The committee has proposed the following:

"A retiring faculty member must be compensated for unused sick leave at a rate not less than the existing hourly minimum
wage at the time of retirement."

Both of these items will be returned to the agenda for discussion at a later date.

Curriculum Committee Report (Dr. Roy Martin)

The curriculum committee brought two non-substantive program change proposal recommendations to the senate. After adiscussion of space and financial impact of the proposals the following actions were taken:

Proposal for a Certificate in Computer Information Systems
Motion to accept (McKinney/Blanda), passed with two abstentions (Sawey/Stutzman).

Proposal to Redesignate Department of Music to School of Music
Motion to accept (Gillis/Peeler), passed.

Old Business  None

Informational Items:

Reminder that the joint CAD/Senate meeting is 1:30 to 3:30 on Tuesday and there will be no regular senate meeting on Wednesday.

Sam Houston Post Tenure Review Study will be available in the senate office for any interested parties to review.

New Business

Discussion of the faculty senate conducting a Vice-presidentís and Presidentís Faculty Satisfaction Survey much like have been conducted at some other universities. -RTA

Minutes for 10/4/00 - (approved as corrected)

Adjourned  5:52 PM