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University of Texas System
Faculty Advisory Council
Special Meeting

Meeting Minutes: September 17, 1996

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1. The meeting was opened at 2:00 pm by Chancellor Cunningham who asked Alan Cline if he wished to present a few words.

2. Alan presented comments including:

  • We also want accountability but are concerned that the proposed bill by the Senate Education Committee would have an unwanted result.
  • Presentation of current methods of review for promotion and tenure and the outcomes of this process. Showed the documentation etc. included in this process.
  • Pointed out that some people do not make it through the initial process and leave. It is very difficult to receive a tenured position in a university.
  • If faculty don't continue to carry out their responsibilities, there are serious consequences.
  • If tenure is weakened, then our place in the market will be seriously weakened. We would have difficulty hiring people, they will choose schools with a stronger tenure system.
  • Salaries are much greater on the outside, something must entice people into academics, historically, security was that something extra.
  • If tenure is withdrawn, faculty will do those things that will give them the better reviews rather than things that are challenging and that they really want to do.
  • We will lose faculty through resignations or dismissals, and these faculty will be older faculty.
  • We would like to work with the Senate Education Committee to develop something that will work.

3. Chancellor Cunningham introduced a representative from the Austin Statesman and then introduced Senator Ratliff.

4. Comments from Senator Ratliff:

  • Nobody brought this problem to me, its something that the public feels. They feel that the tenure system is a featherbed. (He read a comment in an article about tenure.)
  • There is a feeling that nobody should have a job for life.
  • Everyone of the people here today knows one or more members of your department that should be sent packing.
  • He has no problem with the way we go about tenure, it does a good job.
  • He first brought this suggestion to several chancellors.
  • He understands that people who don't pull their load don't get the raises. But there doesn't seem to be any consequences for those who continue to receive no raise because they still aren't pulling their load. He says that some faculty feel this is long overdue.
  • We must compete with faculty salary, but our chances of getting the money for salary increases are not good unless we show accountability.
  • If we don't do this, the legislature may look to more and more adjunct faculty as a way out this problem. We should pay more for full professors in the classroom, but they should be accountable.
  • He feels that the legislature will let us solve the problem ourself if we do it in a timely fashion and if the solution is meaningful.

5. Questions

Q - Please elaborate on getting out of this tenure business.

A - Trend is toward adjunct faculty and if the problems within the tenure system aren't addressed this trend will continue. Many faculty would rather have an adjunct situation than go through the tenure process. If that is fostered it would destroy our university. We have mechanisms in place that will address the problems.

Q - Is the problem with tenure mainly to do with teaching or research?

A- Neither, its the perception of a guaranteed lifetime job.

Q - Can the current tenure be changed legally?

A - The attorney general won't rule on the proposal in it's current form.

Q - Do other professions such as a consulting engineer have to take a yearly exam?

A - No, but I'm not guaranteed an income.

Q - Was there any thought of tying accountability of administrators to the bill?

A - No, but I'll be glad to add it. Cunningham pointed out that administrators are evaluated.

Q - Most faculty work much harder than the picture painted here. People do get booted. If there is a problem in an industry, who is responsible to make sure that things work?

A - The person at the top.

Q - The roots of tenure is to protect academic freedom. With post tenure review, who is reviewing whom? Isn't that protection important?

A - Only if it doesn't protect the incompetent.

A - Tenure protects the creative people who might not get a good evaluation from their peers.

Q - Do you want people to be fired?

A - If they are incompetent.

Q - What about referring poor evaluees to the teaching excellence center?

A - That could happen with the legislation.

Q - What evidence do you want to see that this works?

A - A public perception that the legislature has addressed this problem and positive reports back from faculty. No particular gauge from the outcome.

Q - What will be defined as "below standard" and who decides if further action is warranted?

A - Our assessment system should provide a standard by which incompetence is recognized or measured. You have to set the standard.

Q - Is there a tie between this bill and higher salaries?

A - No.

Q - How much deadwood is there?

A - Probably at least 2 or 3 %. I don't really know. The perception of the public is probably higher.

Q - Do we need to educate the public?

A - The public expects us to put something into place.

6. Chancellor Cunningham thanked Senator Ratliff for his comments. Senator Ratliff responded that Texas is not unique, its going on in other systems. He wants to give universities more money for having a full professor in the classroom.

7. The FAC moved into special session.

Guests and new members were introduced.

  • Ivor Page- We didn't change his mind. He isn't going to back down very easy. Where do we go next?
  • Alan Cline- Two parallel efforts, one from the legislature and one from the UT System.
  • Richard Diem-Question becomes which of the two proposals are the best ( or worst).
  • Gerald Brazier-Does everyone have a copy of the most recent draft of the UT proposal?
  • Francie- We are working on the next draft which should be out in a couple of days. (A copy of the current draft was distributed.)
  • Richard Diem-The presidents are already considering how they would implement the proposal.
  • Gerald Brazier- Summarized the UT proposal.
  • Alan Cline-I feel that the Chancellor takes the property rights issue more seriously, but how close is the linkage between the review and revocation of tenure?
  • Betty Travis- We shouldn't rush into this without sufficient faculty input into the process.
  • Bill Davis-How widespread is the dissatisfaction about higher education among the legislature? We need to talk to our state legislatures and find out their feelings.
  • Mo Mahmood-If Ratliff is going ahead with his bill and the UT System goes ahead with its proposal, we'll end up with two evaluation requirements.
  • Alan Cline-If we can weaken the legislative proposal it will weaken the need for a UT plan.
  • Jack Gilbert-Ratliff doesn't like A&M's plan and maybe Cunningham wants to be able to put his plan on the table.
  • Herold Poelzer-This system can be abused and will be a problem with academic freedom.
  • Alan Cline-Will academic freedom sell to the legislature?
  • Richard Diem-Minn. and CA are the states where this is the biggest issue. Can't sell the academic freedom issue.
  • Bill Davis -We're in trouble if we can't sell the main point of our tenure system.
  • Lois Hale-We need to see how Teel Bivins feels about this issue and I will volunteer to visit with him.
  • Mike Siciliano-I think we can make a case for tenure by educating the public and the legislature. We need to show that this bill will destroy tenure.
  • Alan Cline-We will have three people including Getman, a TFA rep & its director at our meeting on the 26th and 27th.
  • Herold Poelzer-This bill will destroy tenure and that should be the main focus.
  • Betty Travis-Senator Ratliff is trying to sell accountability but its really an attack on tenure.
  • Daniel Chan-Evaluation is the responsibility of administrators, but that was passed over.
  • Art Bronson- We need to tie in administrators.
  • Reuben McDaniel-What is meant by the statement that faculty should not preside over this bill?

A - We shouldn't preside over passing this bill.

  • Ted Pate-We need to document outstanding people in our fields that would have received poor evaluations by their peers during their careers.
  • Jay Freireich-The threat to tenure may be coming from within the UT System.
  • Jim Bartlett-I don't like Ratliff's plan, but I like the UT plan even less because it really hurts tenure. I would favor yearly evaluation if done properly.
  • Jay Freireich-Our 7 year tenure system weeds out the competent instead of the incompetent.
  • Ivor Page-We need to find a way to solve the problem that he (Ratliff) perceives, that we can live with.
  • Alan Cline- Should we take a straw vote?
  • Betty Travis-We need more time.
  • Alan Cline-Is the train heading down the track or can the FAC slow it down?
  • Francie Frederick-The FAC will be listened to, but I think that the Chancellor wants to take something to the Regents.
  • Bill Davis-We don't know how strong the legislature feels and also that the legislative plan may be better. The UT plan may be "always winter but never Christmas".
  • Richard Diem-Shouldn't we contact other legislators. This same proposal for lower Ed was stopped several years ago. The chancellor at Minn. did exactly the same thing.
  • Alan Cline-Senator Barientos said that 11 senators could stop this and gave him a list that included mostly minorities, since minorities were concerned that gains made by minority faculty might be lost if this passes.
  • Jay Freireich-The legislation is not the problem, the administrators want to steamroll this through. We need to do our homework within the system.
  • Betty Travis- Our homework assignment is to have each of our FGO's pass resolutions that we need more time to study this issue.
  • Alan Cline-Betty will you work up a model resolution? Can we conduct business?
  • Lynn Little-Yes, we can conduct business pertaining to the issue for which the meeting was called (i.e. tenure review).
  • Mike Siciliano-The FAC should represent this concern. Can we make a minority report to the Regents if necessary?
  • Francie Frederick-Yes and each Senate President can address the Regents. The next Regents meeting is Nov. 14 at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.
  • Gerald Brazier-We do need a strong voice on each campus.
  • Mike Siciliano-The Senates need some help from us. We should come up with an alternative proposal to present to them.
  • Betty Travis-Time is too short to come up with something.
  • Reuben McDaniel-We should ask each FGO to support delaying any consideration by the Regents until the Feb. meeting.

Reuben McDaniel made a motion and Mike Siciliano seconded the following resolution: "The UT Faculty Advisory Council requests that the Board of Regents postpone consideration of the Post-Tenure Review proposal until their February meeting."

Mike Siciliano made the following amendment to add to the resolution, seconded by Mo Mahmood: "in order for the UT FAC adequately to address and study the many issues associated with the proposal."

After much discussion, the amendment passed.

The amended motion passed 18-0 and reads as follows:

"The UT Faculty Advisory Council requests that the Board of Regents postpone consideration of the Post-Tenure Review proposal until their February meeting in order for the UT FAC adequately to address and study the many issues associated with the proposal."

Reuben McDaniel made the following motion seconded by Richard Diem: "The UT FAC asks each component faculty governance organization to support the UT FAC's resolution that the Board of Regents postpone consideration of the Post-Tenure Review proposal until their February meeting."

The motion passed 18-0.

  • Herold Poelzer-We shouldn't do anything to weaken academic freedom.
  • Ivor Page-We should ask the Executive Committee to write a position paper.
  • Mike Siciliano- Will provide his position paper.

Meeting adjourned at 4:25 pm.

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